Community is at the core of the new Jewish Leadership Initiative (JLI). The Jewish Community Board of Akron (JCBA) developed this new, no-cost program, in collaboration with Leadership Akron, to help develop and connect younger adults in the community.
Described as “professional development with a Jewish twist,” JLI grew out of the JCBA’s Community Concierge program, which has welcomed many Jewish newcomers to the Akron community. “Meeting with younger adults, eager to become involved in the community, showed there was an opportunity there—to connect people and develop leaders in a younger generation,” says Community Concierge Cathy Baer.
“After we met with Leadership Akron, the idea for a Jewish track to compliment CLI came together,” says JCBA campaign director Julie Katz, who is co-coordinating JLI with Baer. “We are not replicating CLI, but rather addressing leadership issues specific to the Jewish community. We have consulted with past JCBA Board presidents for topics and Rabbi Lee Moore of the Lippman Kanfer Fund for Living Torah for content.”
“I have participated in previous Leadership Akron events,” says Brad Savage, who is participating in JLI this fall. “It is a great way to meet other business professionals and expand your contacts. This is especially useful when you're brand new to town like me. JLI and programs like it promise useful dialogue and communication among our groups and like-minded individuals.”
JLI used Leadership Akron’s Community Leadership Institutes (CLI) as a model. Leaders in the Jewish community will be facilitating the program’s sessions this fall (dates subject to change):
- September 18 - Community
- September 25 - Conflict Resolution
- October 9 - Tzedakah and Community Responsibility
- October 30 - Social Networks
- November 6 – Peoplehood
Each session will take place at a different Jewish agency or synagogue, which speaks to JLI’s objective to include all of the community in this program. At press time, 22 individuals applied to participate in JLI, which begins in September. Leadership Akron offered spots in CLI for seven JLI participants (paid for by JCBA), to further their development in the greater Akron community.
"I’m thrilled to see the excitement around the Jewish Leadership Initiative," says Rick Spector, president of JCBA. "Developing upcoming leaders in the Akron Jewish Community provides for individual growth as well as future community leadership."
“JLI offers the perfect opportunity to teach as well as learn about future Millennial program directions, interests and communal needs— what may work and what does not— if we take the time to listen and then act upon what we learn,” adds David Koch, CEO of JCBA.
The program kicks off on Sept. 7 with a cocktail reception for participants, as well as leaders of the Jewish agencies and congregations. JLI does not cost anything for participants, which includes free babysitting services during the program sessions.
“This is an amazing opportunity to meet Akronites (new and old), become involved with the community, and develop leadership skills,” says Erin Katz, who serves on the JLI steering committee.