After a remarkable 25 years as the CEO of the Palm Beach Federation, Jeffrey Klein has now announced that he will retire from that position in June 2012. In his announcement to the community, Jeff noted that federations across the country are facing vacancies at the senior professional level; finding a successor worthy of a great community will be one of the Palm Beach Federation's greatest challenges.
I have always felt that one of best measures of the success of Federation CEOs is the quality of the staff the CEO has built. Jeff Klein, like Chicago's Steve Nasatir, has constructed a spectacular senior professional team. I know that they are focused at rebuilding communal FRD after the disaster that was and is Madoff -- the catastrophic event that impacted Palm Beach as no other federation. Knowing Jeff, many on the Palm Beach staff and so many lay leaders there, this focus won't be lost in transition.
Another measure of professional success is the quality of a community's lay leadership. Jeff was blessed with a terrific line of strong, knowledgeable leadership -- Irwin Levy, Alan Shulman, Gene Ribacoff, z'l, Sandy Baklor, Arlene Kaufman and the current Chair, Mark Levy, come to mind -- good friends, great leaders. All leaders who would challenge the professional staff and who understand the lay-professional partnership.
Jeff Klein has been one who early on identified issues with regard to our national system. Often he was a lone voice for change, rebuffed by those who found comfort in the status quo. Jeff always expressed himself on matters related to the bigger picture. While we did not speak on the subject, I always felt that I would find common cause with Jeff on matters of common concern.
We have written before of the shallow talent pool in the federation field. Palm Beach would have had to stretch to find a successor if it were otherwise and the Federation will have real difficulty finding a successor to Jeff Klein because of the superlative leadership Jeff has provided when there is but a thin veneer of great professionals "out there." I have a suggestion: instead of a job description for the search process, I would suggest a single sheet of paper with two words on it: "Jeff Klein." Let Jeff's successor live up to that and the community will be so well-served..
My congratulations to Jeff, Carla and the Klein Family.