In her 1996 book, It Takes a Village, Hillary Clinton made a well-known African proverb part of American society’s lexicon of often uttered idioms. While it is not exactly clear where in Africa this proverb comes from, the original words pertained to the idea that a child is raised by more than just his/her parents. The experiences they have and the lessons they learn come from multiple people in their lives.
Although the teaching has been usurped from its original meaning, the fundamental concept that it takes the efforts of many people, working together to accomplish a goal, complete a project, or work towards bringing about a wanted change still remains.
What I find so interesting is that this same concept has been part of the fabric of the American nonprofit world since 1917 when the federal government created the tax incentive for people to donate to organizations like the Jewish Federation. What started as a way to support people and causes in need, the nonprofit sector makes up the third leg of the workforce, along with the public and private sectors.
One of the brilliant parts of the nonprofit world is that in order to qualify under the IRS’ 501(c)3 tax classification, every organization needs to have a group of community members who make up the nonprofit boards. The purpose is to ensure that community dollars are spent responsibly to help the organization fulfill its mission.
For this week’s message, I want to highlight the Jewish Federation’s Board of Governors and the work they do to help myself and my staff work to fulfill our mission to strengthen and enhance Jewish life in our community. I can assure you that the success and impact we make each day would not be possible without the tireless support and dedication of community members like you who believe in the important work we do.
Currently made up of eleven community members who live throughout our community, they help guide, establish, evaluate and advise me and my staff on the organization’s policies, programs, and financial decisions.
For the last almost four years, John Carlton has been the Jewish Federation’s President and Chief Financial Officer. Under his leadership and guidance, along with the rest of the Board (Julie Miller (VP), Julie Solberg (Secretary), Marcia Alper (Governor), Julie Bank (Governor), Mickey Bernath (Governor), David Levy (Governor), Stuart Miller (Governor), Oran Reznik (Governor), Irv Tons (Governor), and our newest board member Jeanine Mann (Governor)), the Jewish Federation has expanded its programming and reach by establishing programs like our annual Every Person Has a Name and the Jewish Food Festival while working to strengthen our role as the Jewish voice in the community.
Their collective desire and goal is to make sure that the Jewish Federation is having the kind of impact on the lives of community members that people expect. And as the Executive Director of the Jewish Federation, it has been an incredible pleasure working with and for them and their predecessors to help make this happen.
I know that there is still a lot of work that can be done… rest assured that with this village, the Jewish Federation will continue its work to make this happen.