Esther Leah Ritz Emerging JCC Leaders Institute a Fantastic Learning Experience

ELRIt’s time to sign up for JCCs of North America Biennial, taking place in Baltimore from May 15-18. Leaders from across the JCC Movement will be on hand to learn with its best and brightest.

And how did they come to their positions and learn to lead? Some have been nurtured through the movement, taking part in past programs and training like the Esther Leah Ritz Emerging JCC Leaders Institute (ELR), which allows new lay leaders who show potential to get the most from their Biennial experience.

Jeff Tuvlin, who attended ELR in 2012, makes the case for where such investment can take you. He began as a board member for a combined JCC/Federation, attended ELR and has focused his interests more intensely on the JCC of Louisville. Today, he serves on JCC Association’s board of directors, and is chairing ELR at this year’s Biennial because he thoroughly understands its benefits.

When I first heard about Esther Leah Ritz Emerging JCC Leaders Institute, I was serving on the board of our combined Jewish Federation/JCC in Louisville. I was very interested in the way programming reaches and engages people and was serving on our program cabinet, reviewing our offerings to see what did and did not work.

Someone convinced me that I should attend ELR at the 2012 JCCs of North America Biennial in New Orleans. There, I met JCC Association Vice President Dori Denelle, who oversees the emerging leaders program. I also met my peers from around the country; lay leaders also ready to explore the ways they could do more for their JCC.

I got so much out of connecting this way. The key thing I took away from the experience is that ELR allows someone interested in Jewish leadership to find his or her place. It enables you to identify your skills, work on them, and take that interest and make it tangible. For me it was a vehicle to explore how leaders actually make things happen—how they go from wanting to be a leader and give their time to being one and seeing results.

Biennial overall was a fantastic experience. It was so eye opening to see JCC leaders from all over North America and realize that we are all in this together. I really felt the power—and the comfort—of the collective, realizing that it wasn’t just me and my agency struggling through a variety of issues, changes and obstacles, but that so many others were dealing with similar things, be it budgetary constraints, funding matters, or demographic changes.

And what really came across loud and clear was the thing that connects us all is the Jewish piece. We all want to further our JCCs’ ability to connect our Jewish communities, not only to the JCC, but also one Jew to another, one community to another, and with Jews around the world. That fueled a lot of the excitement at Biennial, and really made it a worthwhile experience.

I’ve been asked before why people should attend Biennial. In short, it’s a way to invest in your JCC, by making an investment in your leadership. ELR in particular does this, but the whole experience is geared around what you can take back home to serve your JCC. I’m very interested in the lifecycle of volunteering, and in that respect, what goes around comes around in the most positive of ways.

This Biennial should be no different. We have new national leadership in JCC Association’s CEO and President Stephen Hazan Arnoff, and a new infusion of ideas and programming. I think it will be an outstanding opportunity to up your JCC leadership game.

I hope the investment my JCC made in me will serve as an example for others. Four years ago, I was an emerging leader. Today, I’m chairing the very program that really got me hooked. Dori and I have really focused on providing a substantial program of leadership development for our ELR participants, so I hope more JCCs than ever send participants.

Know someone who could benefit and enjoy ELR? Encourage them to attend as part of this outstanding program. ELR participants get the full Biennial experience—networking, seminars, plenaries, delegation bonding, not to mention, fun—while taking part in an extraordinary opportunityto focus on developing leadership skills to assist their JCC when they return.

For more information about the Esther Leah Ritz Emerging JCC Leaders Institute contact Dori Denelle or 651-452-2219.

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