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Change in Action

December 29, 2005 By:
Roy Freundlich, JE Feature
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Harold S. Goldman

As 2005 was coming to a close, leaders of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia came together to announce the January release of its annual "Report to the Community."

The report provides a comprehensive review of business strategy, 2005-06 funding, examples of community impact and demonstrates results and accountability for the organization's operations, programs, initiatives, and responsibility to donors and the Jewish community.

The third year of implementation of Federation's Strategic Philanthropy plan - a business transformation that focuses operations on community priorities and impact, and meeting donors' philanthropic needs - is highlighted.

In addition to operational changes this year, Federation faced the challenge of losing some highly-regarded staff members, including its former chief operating officer, Sol Daiches, Ph.D., who died in March. Although difficult at times, the turnover and modification of staff positions was managed systematically in keeping with Federation's priorities and goals.

"As a result of our staff's professionalism, our centers and departments have maintained the same high level of proficiency during the final phases of our business transformation and staff transitions," said Beryl D. Simonson, Federation board chair.

A key element in Federation's new business plan is regular assessments of organizational effectiveness. Federation has aligned existing and new positions as necessary to enhance efficiency through coordination of efforts.Vacancies and existing tasks are evaluated and updated to be mission-oriented and in line with community needs.

"Federation's operational efficiency and effectiveness are an essential part of the added value donors expect from us in ensuring that their gifts are used wisely," said Harold S. Goldman, Federation president.

Filling the post of senior vice president of Financial Resource Development is an example of a recent change at the executive level. "Through the leadership and enthusiasm of Ande Adelman, this position is producing the synergies and organizational focus envisioned by our strategic initiatives," said Simonson.

Federation takes the responsibility of running a tight and effective organization very seriously, explained Goldman, but "helping people and strengthening the Jewish community is first and foremost in Federation's organizational planning."

"The importance and fulfillment of Federation's mission guides all of our activities, and there is always more work that must be done to strengthen our community," said Simonson.

"We were very careful over the past three years to ensure that as we implemented changes," said Goldman, "our community's priority programs and services were not only fully sustained, but enhanced when necessary."

Despite the challenges inherent in a large-scale business transformation, Federation's three centers - a key aspect of its strategic plan - report results that impact community priorities.

Federation's Center for Jewish Life and Learning expanded community outreach programs such as "Shalom Baby!" It brings Judaism into public spaces; facilitates Jewish day-school enrollment; and sponsors innovative educational programs, such as "Teach Your Children Well," and the highly successful national pilot program, "Nurturing Excellence in Synagogue Schools."

The Center for Social Responsibility expanded its "Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities" program, enhancing support for seniors, and other self-sufficiency programs. Federation also responded to the needs of Jewish communities affected by weather-related crises and successfully managed its Hurricane Relief Fund.

At Federation's Center for Israel and Overseas, essential educational programs are provided to the Jewish community along with timely, factual information, such as Israel's Disengagement Plan. The center also supports Israel through cultural and relief programs, programs for integration of Ethiopian Jews, and innovative social-service initiatives like the "Mobile Therapy Room," which provides psychological and intervention services for children and families experiencing trauma in remote areas of Israel.

Federation's 2005 campaign is poised to meet the goals set at the beginning of the campaign year.

"Our staff, in partnership with our volunteers, is doing a tremendous job in helping raise the funds necessary to meet our community's needs," said Ande Adelman, senior vice president of Financial Resource Development.

"In addition to the generosity of our donors, our successes this year reflect the commitment and resiliency of our staff," added Goldman. "With every challenge we faced, their reliability and professionalism prevailed."

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