Annual Meeting - notes from David K. Koch, CEO, JCBA

A year ago in this auditorium we celebrated 100 years of the Jewish Federation in Akron and announced that work would soon begin on the new Albert E and Janet L Schultz Campus for Jewish Life.

A little over a month ago many of you gathered outside to celebrate the formal dedication of the Schultz Campus. 

This past year has been a blur of building activity at 750 White Pond Drive and I want to thank you for your support and understanding during the projects. I hope that you agree that our Campus looks beautiful.

Much of this Campus building and infrastructure – including the stuff you don’t see - was built in the early 70’s and through the years, much maintenance and capital replacement has been deferred.

Not spending money does not always translate into saving money, especially when it comes to building and infrastructure.

Over the summer, Campus Operations will deliver to the Boards of each of the JCBA beneficiary agencies located on the Schultz Campus – Shaw JCC, Lippman School and Jewish Family Service, a detailed list along with cost estimates of the work that must be done over the next 1-5 years and beyond. Much of the work is “back of the house” and long overdue.

We need to keep the campus looking good and running efficiently and we must invest regularly to accomplish that.

The JCBA continues to serve in its role as a Campus resource – beyond accounting and financial oversight - for the Shaw JCC, The Lippman School and Jewish Family Service.

For example, in the past 18 months, the JCBA has added two fulltime professionals, Nurit Kohl in marketing and most recently, Julie Katz in fundraising to work for the benefit of each of the Campus agency. Let us leverage these valuable resources.

By focusing on a consistent message, brand identity and coordinated Campus fundraising and marketing effort, we lever our impact and increase our overall effectiveness – together - in the long term.

By now you have read about our Jewish Community Concierge Program, a program allocation in the JCBA budget, staffed by Cathy Baer. Community Concierge is a way to welcome and connect new and nearly new singles and families into our Jewish community with jobs, housing, and personal connections. 

What you probably do not know – and I think that this is important - is that Cathy has worked directly with 13 new Jewish families or singles since beginning active Concierge work this past Fall! Nine of whom have- or are in the process of - moving to Akron.

Plus, in the Fall, 3 children will attend Lippman School and 3 children will attend the JCC ECE. Good stuff!

The JCBA is doing its best to help grow Jewish Akron, one family and one single at a time. Soon, we will broaden our effort by proactive marketing in key cities within about a 500 mile radius of Akron.

You can learn more about how the Community Concierge program works from the brochures at each table.


Tonight, I am pleased to report that the 2015 Campaign closed having raised $1,328,204 exceeding our goal of $1.3 million. Thank you to everyone who made an investment in Jewish identity and continuity.

Your continued support in the Annual Campaign is vital to the Jewish community – here in Akron, in Israel, in the FSU and South America. Wherever in world Jews are in need.

In addition to reaching and exceeding our $1.3 million 2015 Annual Campaign goal, 88 new or returned donors made pledges this year. And, it is so important for everyone who uses the programs and services offered by the agencies here at the Schultz Campus, and who believes in Jewish continuity and paying it forward, to participate.

Consider the modest size of the JCBA Annual campaign relative to other annual campaigns in the Akron area and elsewhere. Even a small investment in the JCBA Annual campaign makes a large impact. Thank you.

We can never say thank you too many times.

And, I want to thank our good friend Mike Segal for his work as 2015 Annual Campaign chair, for helping make this year’s campaign a success.

The Talmud features a parable which mentions that a carob tree takes 70 years to bear fruit; meaning that the tree planter will likely not benefit from his or her work, but plants in the interest of future generations.

Every member of the Jewish community can help insure an Akron Jewish future by creating his or her own endowment and a Jewish Legacy. It all begins with you. Plant your own tree for the future.

Greta Foster is always available to discuss creating a bequest or other type of planned giving vehicles.

Please take a copy of the 2015 Annual Report and be informed as to just how busy our Jewish community has been this past year, how our endowment has grown and how various funds are allocated and invested and how many lives we touch every day.

Glance at the list. How many programs that benefit from a JCBA financial investment have you, your family and friends been a part of this past year? Without JCBA financial support, many programs would simply not exist.

The Annual Report has a new format with more details and less narrative – just the facts, if you will - and you may also find it online at our website. We welcome your feedback. Tell us how we’re doing.

Many thanks to our friends at Toshiba Business Solutions for donating the printing. They are great business partners.

Tonight, I want to thank each of you for all you do. You are the reason why we have this Campus and Jewish programming in the first place.

I’ve known many of you for years, (and that’s not just because we’re related). And, I know how personally invested you are in Jewish Akron. We all are.

I value every professional staff member on this Campus. And we have an awesome staff. You work hard to deliver quality programs, often without recognition, and without you this place just wouldn’t work. Please – all professional staff from every agency - stand and be recognized.


I want to take this opportunity to thank Tohar & Ofri Kait, our community shlichim (Israel emissaries) for the amazing job they’ve done for us since last September. Many of you have gotten to know them and understand what wonderful friends of the community they’ve become and the mark they have left here though their innovative Jewish programming. 

Sadly, they will be leaving us next month and returning to their family and friends in Israel.  We wish them both N’siah Tovah, a safe journey and much success.

I am particularly proud to see how the JCBA’s investment in providing programming dollars for 20 to 30 year olds is beginning to bear fruit.  Rubber City Jews (RCJ) has become a connected community providing our next generation with monthly opportunities to be together socially and for more serious and topical conversation throughout the year. 

The beauty of the RCJ program is diversity in that it is open to all types of personalities, interests and religious backgrounds. My special thanks to volunteer and RCJ Leora Cohen and her volunteer board for planning and facilitating a popular and relevant program with little professional staff involvement.

The JCBA has also invested in a refreshed Teen Program, staffed by Sam Chestnut with lots of help from Tohar & Ofri. Thanks to Sam for taking the ball and developing a program that includes both experiential learning and community service pieces for our high school aged students.

My sincere thanks to all outgoing Board members, from every agency, who will be recognized later in tonight’s program. Many of you serve on multiple Boards and committees, and not just in the Jewish community.

I appreciate that, despite being pulled in so many directions, you have chosen to share your talent in service to the Jewish community.

Welcome to our new Board members and those continuing to serve.  The community is counting on you to make the tough decisions in most challenging times and help us define and insure our future.

Board work is not an easy volunteer job, if you do it right. I hope that you find your next year of service to be a rewarding experience and a worthwhile investment of that most valuable of assets – your time.

There is a list of all agency officers and trustees at each seat. Take that list with you and don’t hesitate to engage Board members with your questions and concerns during the year.

I continue to represent the Jewish community in the greater Akron secular community as a Trustee on the NEOMED Development Board, being a member of the Bluecoats, as well as supporting the activities of the Akron Chamber and United Way.

I try to reinforce the fact that the JCBA really cares about being part of and giving back to the greater Akron community through my volunteer participation.

My thanks to the Board for its continued confidence in my role as CEO.  Know that I take the responsibility seriously and it is an honor to serve the Akron Jewish community.

Many thanks to Debbie Shifrin, for the leadership role she has taken in her term as JCBA president. More about Debbie in a few moments.

I leave you with this thought. One person’s candle furnishes light for many. The JCBA is one candle that furnishes light for so many. Thank you all being a part of it.


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