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October 16, 2013 By:
Searching for Leader With Vision to Steer Federation
The search for the next CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia is gaining momentum, and the official job description suggests the community is looking for someone with the vision and skills to bring Philadelphia’s central Jewish fundraising body to the next level.
DRG Executive Search, the New York-based firm hired to manage the search process, has widely distributed a job description that reads in part:
“Federation’s leadership and other members of influence in the community view the appointment of a new CEO as a unique opportunity for renewed vision and fundraising momentum — both for Federation and for the Philadelphia Jewish community as a whole.”
The candidate will “have both the vision to guide the Jewish community into the future, as well as experience in community building and leading organizations through change. “
“It is expected that the incoming CEO will be a leader and resource to volunteer leadership and professional staff in addressing Federation’s opportunities and challenges.”
The next CEO will replace Ira Schwartz, who left the position in May after seven years leading the organization.
Alex Stroker, who had been the Federation’s chief operating officer, is serving as interim CEO.
In 2012, Federation raised $24.8 million in its annual campaign, plus more than $33 million in bequests and contributions to its endowment. Its operating budget for FY 2014 is projected to be $8.3 million.
Before developing a job description in conjunction with the local search committee, DRG interviewed and surveyed a variety of community stakeholders, including Federation senior staff and lay leaders, agency executives, rabbis and other communal leaders.
According to the DRG posting, those giving input “stressed a desire for much greater transparency, accountability, communication and collaboration throughout the community.”
David Edell, president and co-founder of DRG, called the discovery process “hugely helpful,” as it helped identify “what people are pleased with and excited about” as well as perceptions of some of the challenges facing the community.
Among the qualities the search committee is seeking, according to the job description: “The new CEO must have a personal passion for Jewish community, continuity and peoplehood, and be able to inspire that passion in others.”
Susanna Lachs Adler, who is chairing the 14-member search committee, said a lot of time and effort went into seeking community input and developing the job description.
“We wanted to be very candid about what we’re looking for,” she said, presenting both the challenges and the strengths of the Philadelphia community.
She said they had hired DRG to cast a wide net and professionalize the search process.
The next CEO could come from the philanthropic world, from the business world, from academia or be an internal candidate, according to Sherrie Savett, the president of the Federation and member of the search committee.
“I really do believe this would be one of the most coveted jobs for a great Jewish professional,” she said. “This is a vibrant city with vibrant institutions.”
We want someone to help “make the Federation more engaging and more creative, to build on the great things we already do.”
Edell said his firm is now engaged in recruiting and vetting potential candidates to present to the committee.
Lachs Adler said the committee hopes to begin interviewing candidates in late November and December.
The job posting can be found at: www.drgnyc.com. Click on “Current Searches.”