About six years ago, when my oldest daughter was about twelve or thirteen, she looked at me one day and said, “Daddy, I have finally figured out what you do for a living.” Now, let me preface this by saying that I started working at the Jewish Federation shortly after she was two years old, and became the Executive Director when she was five, so essentially, for her entire life, I have been in the position I am now. I said, “Really sweetheart, and what is that?” Looking me straight in the eyes with a very earnest look and a smile on her face, she responded, “You schmooze.”
Some of you may have heard me tell this story before, but I was just thinking about it as I was sitting down to write this week’s column. You see, there are some professions or occupations that you just know what they do like a doctor, lawyer, teacher, etc. However, as an Executive Director, it is sometimes harder to explain what exactly I do.
Jewish Federation’s mission is to build community by strengthening and enhancing Jewish life. This is something I strive to do each day. So I thought I would “pull back the curtain” and share a little bit of what I am working on right now.
For starters, it is “budgeting season”. For the last several weeks, I have been analyzing our monthly financials to try and project what the 2022/2023 Fiscal Year will look like. Although this is a challenging annual task, thankfully I have a system. But, just because I have a system, it does not make the task of trying to figure out what kind of income and expenses we should anticipate in the year ahead, especially as we continue to be impacted by COVID. This has made budgeting the last couple of years even more difficult.
Then comes security. This has been on my mind a lot since the attack in Colleyville this past December. I am currently working on developing a draft of a comprehensive security plan for our community that will include frequent security training sessions for people to attend – both virtually and in-person. My goal with this plan is to not only make sure the Jewish Federation is doing everything within our power to keep the community safe, by closely working with our community partners, Security Community Network, and local law enforcement, but also to keep the community informed about what is being done in order to keep our community feeling safe.
Both of these “big” projects are in addition to the regular day-to-day tasks that come with running a non-profit. This includes conversations and meetings with my staff to stay informed and give input on projects they are working on or programs they are getting ready for like Camp Gan Shalom or this year’s Jewish Book Festival. Plus I also try and stay up-to-date with as much of what is going on around our community. We are also beginning to think about our next Federation FOCUS newsletter that will be mailed out in the next two months so I am thinking about and discussing what we want to make sure is included in the next issue.
And of course, I also love the opportunity to speak with community members every chance I get. So I guess my daughter was partially correct. I really do enjoy the conversations with our community members and hearing how they are doing and learning how the Jewish Federation has impacted their lives or what they would like to see us doing. (If you would like to share your thoughts with me, please email me – email@example.com.) But, as you can see, schmoozing and engaging with community members is only a small part of what I do.