I hope that those of you who attended the now completed GA 2017 had an opportunity to look around and think about the incredible strides that the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles has taken since the last General Assembly in that great City. Under a succession of excellent Board Chairs there has been one constant, the terrific professional leadership of Jay Sanderson.
I think back to my first visit on behalf of UJA, to that Community, in the 90's -- at a time the Federation was millions of dollars in arrears on its allocations payments; a significant part of the historic communal leadership alienated from the Federation; so lacking in lay leader succession planning that a Campaign Chair was plucked from literally out of nowhere; at a time that the number of six figure gifts to the campaign could be counted on the fingers of two hands.
And, today, under Jay's great professional-lay partnership: the development of a series of creative and pioneering young leadership efforts exemplified by YALA -- Young Adults of Los Angeles; page after page in the Federation's Annual Report of major gifts and the contributors; a community revisioning in Federation 20/20 to increase engagement and resources; one terrific lay Board and Campaign Chair after another.; and a rededication to communal values.
To me, the JFGLA is a Phoenix not just rising (not the Phoenix, mind you); the community has risen. And, with all on his plate, Jay Sanderson has taken the time to offer mentoring -- the mentoring he never received when he became LA's President and CEO -- to new colleagues. He has also taken the time to criticize -- often in the strongest terms -- this Blogger for my errors; for Jay does not suffer fools...and from my first meeting with him has always...always...let anyone within earshot know how he feels and what he believes.
Bottom line, Los Angeles is a remarkable example of the product of the best in lay-professional partnerships and what a strong partnership with visionary leadership can produce.
I wish we saw this in many more places.