Seventeen young men and women who are emerging leaders are being groomed for future leadership roles in the greater Philadelphia Jewish community. They have been handpicked by a steering committee comprised of high-level Federation leaders who are eager to mentor and share their insights with their successors.
Veteran Jewish communal leaders Steve Cozen and Ron Rubin headed up the selection process for The Institute for Advanced Jewish Leadership, which began on September 10. They were looking for individuals who shared their commitment to Judaism, the Jewish community, and to the land and people of Israel. "Ron and I wanted to engage people who were not merely involved in Federation but had already demonstrated a successful track record of active leadership," said Cozen, a vice president of Federation, who has been involved with the organization for more than 35 years.
Cozen believes strongly in Federation's mission. "I have always felt that there is a need for a centralized Jewish organization to provide fundraising and to serve as a meaningful coalition between the religious efforts of our rabbis and synagogues, and the ecumenical efforts of the Jewish people who live in this region," he said, adding "then and now, Federation has tried to meet this need."
He has watched with satisfaction as Federation began the complex process of transformation towards a strategic philanthropy model. "Federation, over the past 12 to 18 months, has evolved from its former role as the epicenter of Jewish life in Greater Philadelphia to its important new function as a catalyst providing strategic vision — an organization that can make important things happen," Cozen said.
"To keep this momentum going, Federation must inspire and engage high-level, current and future leadership," said Rubin, a past president of Federation and a senior advisor to JFRE, the Jewish Federation Real Estate group. Rubin and Cozen put together a committee that many regard as the "Who's Who of Jewish Philadelphia." Committee members include: Leonard Barrack, Federation president; I Michael Coslov, Federation Campaign chair; Gary Erlbaum, co-chair, Federation's Center for Israel and Overseas; Tony S. Schneider, incoming chair of Federation's Policy, Strategy and Funding Committee and a member of Federation's board of directors; Betsy Sheerr, convener of Federation's Leadership Development Advisory Committee, which recommended the Institute's creation. Sheerr also is a past vice president of Federation. Also lending their energies to the Steering Committee are Joseph Smukler, former Federation board chair; and Ann and Murray Spain. Ann Spain is a long-time member of Federation's Women's Philanthropy board and her husband, Murray, is a member of the Federation board of directors.
Institute convener, Mark Fishman, exemplifies the type of rising Jewish leader that Cozen and Rubin are interested in engaging. He serves on the Federation board and has worked closely with Federation professional Rob Meyer, who directs Federation's Leadership Development, to bring new talent to the Philadelphia Jewish community. Despite the demands of being president of Fishman Tobin, Inc., one of the nation's premiere children's apparel companies, he somehow finds the time to serve on the boards of Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, the Center for Learning and Leadership, the Cancer and Blood Institute of Hahneman Hospital, as well as on the Board of Overseers of Duke University School of Law, where he earned his J.A.
Jewish communal leadership is in Fishman's gene pool. His father, the late Bernard Fishman, was a former Federation vice president and served on the boards of Akiba Hebrew Academy (now known as Barrack Hebrew Academy), the Philadelphia Geriatric Center (now known as the Abramson Center for Jewish Life), Jewish Theological Seminary and Hahnemann University.
His mother, Annabelle Fishman, was recently honored at Federation's Lion of Judah luncheon for her longtime commitment to women's philanthropy. In 1978, Fishman founded the Daughters of Rachel, forerunner to Lion of Judah. Her reason for her philanthropic involvement is simple, yet eloquent. "If Jews don't help other Jews, who will," she said, adding, "I'm proud to see my passions being passed on to the next generation, both in my family and in my community."
In his role as convener, Mark Fishman worked closely with Stewart D. Friedman to develop the Institute's curriculum. Friedman, a management professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, serves as faculty leader for the Institute. His area of expertise is organizational behavior, work and life integration, and leadership. Based on his experiences at Wharton, and his work at the Ford Motor Company, he published a book, Total Leadership, which is the basis for the Institute's curriculum.
Throughout the course of the next year, Institute members will meet monthly and learn from major philanthropists and Jewish communal leaders how to define and achieve their legacy as leaders in all aspects of their work, home, community and personal lives.
At the group's opening session, Federation President Leonard Barrack and CEO Ira M. Schwartz discussed the importance of cultivating the next generation of Federation leadership. "One of my goals when I joined Federation 12 months ago was to make sure that the leadership pipeline will never run dry. This initiative is putting this concept into action. The men and women selected to participate in this Institute exemplify the type of leadership this community needs and deserves," said Barrack.
Future sessions will focus on understanding the history of the Greater Philadelphia Jewish community, defining and addressing critical needs and priorities, and creating meaningful social change.
Institute members will travel to Israel together on a mission in May 2009.