Message from the President and CEO

A Message From the President/CEO Saul F. Levenshus
Published Thursday, February 28, 2019
by Saul F. Levenshus, President/CEO

"Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it." George Santayana. Twenty years ago the JCC’s move to the Campus was a huge leap of action. It literally changed the course our agency had been on and, to the satisfaction of those most closely associated with us at the time, it lifted us up to achieve new heights. With this knowledge firmly entrenched in our institutional memory data bank, 12 years ago, the JCC Board initiated a proactive process to determine the future needs and direction of the agency. The board considered where the JCC had been, where we were at the time, and what the JCC needed to do to continue to grow and develop, to meet the emerging needs of our members and our community. The most consistent stream of thought back then was, “we need to do something now to avoid the mistakes we made at our previous home on Rampart Street. We need to ensure that our programs, services, and facilities remain adequate and relevant. We need to protect the investment our community made to get us to this point”.  

And so in 2006, the JCC Board and staff undertook an 18-month strategic approach to determine how to best meet member needs, address emerging competition in the area, and invest in our future here at our relatively new Campus home. In partnership with our sister agencies at the Campus, a collaborative plan was designed to strengthen and support the efforts of each of the agencies at the Campus, but alas, our timing was unfortunate. The downturn of the economy in 2008 prevented us from moving forward. Fundraising efforts stalled before they ever got off the ground and a new plan had to be developed simply to maintain JCC operations and sustain the high quality of services our members had come to expect.

Fortunately, we are endowed with a loyal base of members and supporters and an outstanding team of professional and volunteer leaders. Despite poor timing and an inability to mount a Capital initiative in 2008 to support a series of broad based improvements and upgrades, the JCC managed to continue moving forward. Sustained solid programming and wise use of resources enabled the JCC to make the necessary annual investments in facilities and personnel to address our annual challenges and maintain solid financial footing.

Fast forward 10 years (2018). The economy has recovered and yet many of our needs remain unresolved. Space continues to be a premium and our competition is ever present. While fortunately we look nothing like our facility at Rampart ever looked, the need for our facilities and programs to remain adequate and relevant were never more apparent. So, once again, the JCC Board undertook a strategic process to protect our home and our standing in the community.

Several times over the past year I have used my article in the Center Peace to hint at plans being made here at the Campus to upgrade and improve facilities while creating several new activity areas that are designed to respond to our most loyal users/members. Case in point, we recently announced that our aquatics complex is getting a new addition. A Splash Pad is being added in the northeast corner of the complex and is designed to appeal to our families with young children. In addition, in the months ahead a new family changing station will be added to the Sports & Fitness lobby just before you exit the doors heading to the pool, also intended to serve families with young children.

And once again, there are plans for a good deal more to come. Planning continues on the development of several new spaces that will enable the J to reach multiple populations from young families to adults as they age. We hope to impact our sports and fitness users and to strengthen our ability to appeal to a larger segment of our surrounding community. Over the past 8 months we have hosted several focus group meetings to introduce some of our plans and to elicit feedback to ensure we are on the right track. And, while we will never be able to meet everyone’s individual needs, the feedback we’ve received so far has been extremely helpful.

So what’s next? Well, the process continues to unfold. We are continuing to collect feedback on many levels and I hope to have more to share in the near future. The JCC will be conducting more focus groups in the months ahead and the Jewish Federation will be undertaking a community needs assessment survey in the weeks ahead. As a result, the feedback we gather will help advance our collaborative community efforts to ensure that community dollars are effectively and efficiently invested to meet emerging community needs, secure our future, ensure a successful outcome, and avoid repeating history.

President & CEO

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