Our Then, Our Now and Our What’s NEXT

June 18, 2015 | Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit

NEXTGen Detroit, the young adult division of the Jewish Federation of the Metropolitan Detroit, held it’s 4th Annual Meeting at the West Bloomfield JCC on June 3rd. More than a meeting, the event was truly a celebration of the past year’s successes, an occasion to honor leaders and a tribute to Federation’s long history of inspiring and engaging young adults to get involved in their Jewish community. Once the Junior Division, then the Young Adult Division (YAD) and now NEXTGen Detroit, the department has been hard at work for 77 years providing Jewish experiences, leadership opportunities and community connections for the young adults of Metro Detroit.

“As the third President of NEXTGen Detroit, I truly inherited a legacy,” said Jay Hack, NEXTGen Detroit’s Immediate Past President. “For nearly eight decades, the Detroit community has made the ‘next’ generation a priority. But in the last three years with the birth of NEXTGen Detroit, young adult engagement moved to the forefront of our efforts— and looking around the room at the Annual Meeting, it was clear to see that this investment has certainly paid off.”

Jay Hack took office in 2014 with a platform that focused on inclusivity and activism. Hack worked to ensure that all those new to the NEXTGen Detroit community felt welcomed and that all those already engaged felt empowered to grow as leaders, as volunteers, as ambassadors and as activists. Under his leadership, NEXTGen Detroit held its first leadership program specifically for women, which was attended by over 40 people and featured Florine Mark as the guest speaker. Hack also brought the internationally recognized Civility Project program to Detroit to help Board members have difficult conversations surrounding Israel, and he rallied the NEXTGen Detroit community to come out and support Israel at several anti-BDS events.

The evening was also a farewell to Miryam Rosenzweig, NEXTGen Detroit’s first Director, who will now be moving into a new position as Senior Director of Community Development at the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit.

“Almost four years ago, Scott Kaufman and Robb Lippitt called me and shared a vision — that together we could change how communities engage with young adults. I knew then and there that I wanted to be a part of that vision. I wanted to be a part of their team, and I wanted to make this happen,” said Rosenzweig.

“Now, I can look back and see what this community, our lay and professional leadership and all of those who supported NEXTGen Detroit have created. Together, we have changed a national conversation about the role communities play in engaging young adults.”

In three years, Federation’s young adult community grew from 1,500 to 5,000 participants and from 1,000 to 3,100 donors. Detroit’s NEXTGen department is now a model that is studied and replicated across North America with dozens of communities coming here to learn from its success. Most recently, Phoenix, Toronto, Pittsburg and St. Louis have visited. NEXTGen Detroit has also consulted multiple non-sectarian organizations including the United Way and the Association of Chinese Americans.

The presentation of the Mark-Lis Family Young Leadership Award was also a highlight of the Annual Meeting. Many who have served on a Federation young adult board have risen to become some of the most influential leaders in the community. The award was created in 1993 to honor one such leader every year.

“This year’s recipient was Board member Adam Blanck. As the creator of Pitch for Detroit, Co-Chair of this year’s EPIC Event and an active participant in programs that work to rebuild and grow the city, Adam is the embodiment of a committed and passionate new generation of Jewish Detroiters,” said NEXTGen Detroit Associate Director Jessica Goodwin. “Adam has made the City of Detroit his home, and in the process, he has helped to make it a home for many other young Jewish adults.”

The event also included the passing of the gavel from Hack to the 2015-2016 NEXTGen Detroit President Steve Migliore and welcomed eleven new Directors to the NEXTGen Detroit Board. Migliore’s Presidential platform will focus on four areas: service, leadership, action and investment.

“I am humbled to have the opportunity to lead such a remarkable group of talented and driven individuals who make up this year’s Board of Directors,” said Migliore. “Together, we will build on the pillars of the past and grow our community service efforts and our focus on leadership development. We will foster community feedback and discussion, develop non-traditional engagement efforts and expand affinity programs to broaden our opportunities for outreach and engagement. I am invested in expanding our education and enrichment initiatives to communicate and demonstrate the numerous ways that dollars impact lives, and I am confident that this will allow us to connect with our members in a way that we previously haven’t.”

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