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Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver

June 23, 2017 | 29 Sivan 5777 | Shabbat Candlelighting at 9:03 p.m.

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On Tuesday evening we held our Annual General Meeting, where we elected new directors and a new Board chair, and reported on our progress operationalizing our 2020 Strategic Priorities, including the strategic planning process undertaken by the Jewish Community Foundation.

I am pleased to report that we generated more than $11 million to change lives locally, in our partnership region in Israel, and around the world. This is comprised of a record $2.3 million distributed through the Jewish Community Foundation, $320,000 in donors’ special project funding, and, of course, the record $8.5 million annual campaign result. This outstanding achievement is the result of thousands of generous donors, hundreds of dedicated volunteers, a team of incredible lay leaders, and staff supporting them at our office. This year’s Annual Campaign result, for example, would not have been possible without the stellar work of our professional staff, led by campaign director, Michelle Pullan, who recently left her position here. We owe her a debt of gratitude for her commitment to community, the strength of the relationships she has built, and her ability to inspire those who worked with her.

I invite you to review our Annual Report mini-site and learn more about how we are delivering on our financial resource development goals, and the highlights of our year, including the work we are doing in the regional communities, our progress on community security, the results of the Affordability Summit, and the success of our young adults program – and much, much more.

One of the outcomes of the AGM was the election of our new Board chair, Karen James. We are absolutely delighted to welcome Karen to her new role. She has a long history of volunteer leadership both with our Federation and throughout the Jewish community. There is no one better positioned than she to lead our organization to new heights. We welcome Karen to her new role, as well as all the directors elected that evening. You can find a full list of our Board of Directors here.

I am also pleased to announce that Diane Switzer was appointed an honourary life director. Diane has served our Federation as a canvasser, a team captain, chair of Women’s Philanthropy, as Board chair, as immediate past chair, and is currently a Foundation trustee. In 2016 she was honoured with Jewish Federations of North America’s Kipnis-Wilson/Friedland Award that recognizes a Lion of Judah who demonstrates commitment to the global Jewish community by setting a high standard for leadership and philanthropy.

Welcoming new leadership goes hand in hand with saying farewell to those whose terms have concluded. It has truly been an honour to work alongside and learn from our outgoing Board chair, Stephen Gaerber, who has moved into the role of immediate past chair. As I said at the AGM, Stephen is everything this community deserves in a leader, and our organization is better for having had him at its helm over the past two years.

I want to share with you some big news from the Jewish Community Foundation, which was reported on at the AGM. On behalf of Jewish Federation’s Board of Directors and the Foundation’s Board of Trustees, I am very pleased to announce the appointment of Marcie Flom to the position of executive director of the Foundation. Until now, Marcie has held dual roles with our Federation and the Foundation, and now she will be able to focus solely on legacy giving. Marcie’s development experience, solid record in major gift fundraising and her knowledge of planned giving, combined with her donor-centric approach, perfectly positions her to lead the Foundation through the next phase of growth.

This newly created role is one of several outcomes of the strategic planning process recently undertaken by the Jewish Community Foundation under the leadership of chair, Judi Korbin, and with professional guidance from a leading strategic management and development consultant. It is a central component of the three-year operational plan which Foundation trustee, Lisa Pullan, was instrumental in developing. The Foundation’s new strategic and operational plans were driven by Jewish Federation’s 2020 Strategic Priorities, and will serve to support the organization’s overall goals of generating the resources required to address the community’s current, emerging and future needs.

This is the first time since the economic downturn in 2008 that the Foundation has invested in staff resources, which will position the Jewish Community Foundation to grow and, in turn, positively impact the long term sustainability of our community.

Our AGM was also an opportunity to honour our volunteers, and, as I wrote last week, we were delighted to present the Young Leadership Award to Bryan Hack and Mike Sachs; the Elaine Charkow Award to Lisa Pullan for her ongoing leadership role in Women's Philanthropy; and the inaugural Bob Coleman Award to Risa Levine for her leadership role on the local allocations committee and positively impacting our partner agencies.

Volunteers are the backbone of our Federation, our partners and indeed our community. Mazel tov to all the incredible volunteers who were honoured. If you would like to get involved, I hope you will contact us.

Shabbat shalom.

Ezra S. Shanken
CEO, Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver