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Reimagining: Changes spring to life
June 1st, 2012
In June 2011, the Milwaukee Jewish community expressed its dreams for the future at the Community Summit convened by the Milwaukee Jewish Federation.
As a follow-up, the Strategic Action Session (SAS) was held in August and used this input to create “road maps” — pathways for these dreams to be made into reality.
The Transition Team was then formed to oversee the next phase of the Reimagining process. Under its guidance, the Vision Work Group took on the task of articulating the community’s dreams in the form of a Vision Statement, and the Structure Work Group created a visual representation for the new way the MJF will function.
The Vision Work Group began with the Community Dream Statements created at the Summit as a foundation. The new Vision Statement has been through numerous drafts, as input and feedback have been collected and integrated from MJF’s executive committee, board of directors, and other community groups.
Currently consensus on final wording is being sought, while certain core themes have remained constant:
• A warm, welcoming, inclusive community that engages all and is ever-changing.
• Fostering connections and a feeling of peoplehood between Jews locally and around the world.
• Continuity of Jewish values through lifelong Jewish learning, nurturing of the next generation by fostering its growth and leadership.
• Developing the funds necessary to ensure success in all these areas.
The new MJF operating model was carefully created to correlate with these elements of the Vision Statement and visually reflects changes that are under way and yet to come.
The Structure Work Group resisted utilizing a traditional hierarchical model at this stage, choosing instead to clearly show a radical move toward collaboration and teamwork. The resulting diagram shows two intersecting circles representing:
• Outreach, Engagement, and Leadership Development.
It was clear at the Summit that the community looks to the Federation primarily to develop funds. Second, the Federation is in a unique position to reach across and make connections throughout the Jewish community’s diversity, and convene it around issues that affect all.
The Federation has heard the clear call to focus on fund development and bringing the community together. The Structure Work Group’s main task was to discern how best to re-structure the MJF so its resources are optimally mobilized in these two key areas.
It became clear that increased collaboration between fund development and outreach efforts would be necessary — that these two areas must co-exist harmoniously and work in tandem. In fact, it was felt the lines between them should be blurred, depicted in the diagram with a dotted line, to show that ebb and flow will happen between them.
Financial Resource Development and Outreach efforts have some distinctions, as depicted by using two different shades of green for their circles. But the green circle in which they overlap will be an exciting place of growth from this point forward.
“Blurring the lines” and seeing a decreasing the separation between the working areas of the Federation, and also between Federation and the community at large is now the clarion call.
As the Transition Team and the Work Groups have been about these tasks, the draft Vision Statement and Operating Model have already been driving change.
They have been foundational to the formation of a job description for the next CEO of the Federation, the internal restructuring of financial resource development staffing, revisions to the governance of the Women’s Division, the development of new Weinstein Fellows curriculum, next steps for the Coalition for Jewish Learning, and planning of this year’s Annual Meeting and next year’s campaign strategy.
The Communication Work Group has begun to meet and tackle the dual tasks of communicating the progress of Reimagining to the community and building mechanisms for better communication within the community.
Videos are already increasingly being used in communications around the community, and this Work Group will be thinking about how to use this medium even more to inform and create exciting and vibrant connections. Bringing color, music and motion to presentations at the Annual Meeting is also on their task list.
What does this look like behind the scenes? The draft Vision Statement and the Operating Model are constantly being brought to meetings to begin conversations. As departments and organizations are rapidly moving to higher levels of collaboration, meetings are including more participants around each table.
For example, Campaign meetings are now attended by Caren Goldberg, executive director of the Jewish Community Foundation, and Ro’ee Peleed, community shaliach (emissary from Israel), in order to strengthen connections between their work and that of the Campaign.
In addition, many non-Campaign MJF staff members recently pitched in to help out by calling donors in order to improve the current campaign’s achievement.
As new areas of collaboration are identified, cross-pollination occurs, synergic energy is released, new ideas are spawned and excitement is created.
There is much more to happen in the Federation’s Reimagining process, but in many ways the future is already here.
Jen Vettrus is the transition coordinator of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation.