An Important Announcement to Our Community

August 20, 2019 | Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit

We wanted to share the news that Scott Kaufman has announced that he will be stepping away from his day to day role as CEO of the Jewish Federation in order to focus his efforts on leading a number of innovative and collaborative projects aimed at strengthening Jewish communities.

Scott began his involvement as a volunteer and soon became deeply involved in Jewish communal work and the efforts of the Federation. He joined the professional team in 2007 and was promoted to CEO in 2009. Over the next decade, Scott led the organization through a variety of changes and challenges, including navigating the steep economic downturn and recession. Through Scott’s bold, forward-thinking leadership, the Jewish Federation remains healthy and well-positioned to continue to serve and steward the community long into the future. 

During Scott’s tenure, the Jewish Federation increased its endowments and other assets from $450M to nearly $700M, the highest level in its history. The Centennial Fund was launched and has now raised close to $240M to support a variety of core Jewish areas. Federation also grew its unrestricted Annual Campaign from $28M to over $33M, with eight consecutive years of increases, and the number of donors to Federation’s Annual Campaign grew from 9,200 to 11,000 during a time when umbrella organizations across North America were experiencing steady declines. Perhaps most importantly, over $800M has been distributed to Federation’s agencies and service recipients during Scott’s time as CEO, critical funding that supported the organization’s mission of taking care of those in need and building a vibrant Jewish future.

Among his many breakthrough initiatives and innovations, Scott led the effort to reimagine young adult engagement in metro Detroit, creating a diverse and vibrant environment that has greatly influenced the retention and involvement of young Jews in Detroit. CommunityNEXT, NEXTGen Detroit and subsequent affinities-based approaches to outreach and engagement have become national models used in communities across North America. The impact of this effort is apparent in the recent Detroit Jewish Population Study, which documents a stable community after many years of out-migration and decline. It also reveals that Federation has tripled its number of donors under the age 40, a statistic which bodes well for the future. 

Scott is notably responsible for instilling a collaborative and forward-thinking approach to partnership with Federation’s agencies and other Jewish organizations, leading to groundbreaking programs such as JHELP, the Youth Mental Health Initiative (We Need to Talk), and the Community-Wide Security Program. More than any single program or statistic, however, his legacy will be defined by the spirit of trust, cooperation and Menschlichkeit that permeates Jewish Detroit. 

On a personal note, we are deeply grateful to Scott for his remarkable commitment and service. While we will greatly miss his many talents as an exec—along with his warmth, humor and tremendous personal integrity— we are excited for him to continue his journey as a creative visionary and leader.

Regarding the transition, Scott will continue to serve as CEO over the coming months. Beyond that, he will serve as a consultant to Federation as well as continuing to lead the development of JLIFE, a groundbreaking new platform to connect individuals with meaningful engagement events and programs. Propelled by Scott’s vision, JLIFE has the potential to transform Jewish connectivity and engagement in Detroit as well as throughout North America.

A search committee will be formed and will begin an extensive national search in the coming weeks. We also look forward to honoring Scott and celebrating his extraordinary work, on behalf of the Jewish Federation as well as a grateful community.

Beverly B. Liss
President, Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit

Alan Jay Kaufman
President, United Jewish Foundation of Metropolitan Detroit

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