“Linda, are you getting ready?” was the question I was often asked by friends and family in the months leading up to my assuming the role of Chair of the Jewish Federation of Ottawa.
As I explained last month at our AGM, the answer eventually hit me: I’ve been getting ready for this role my entire life.
I retired seven years ago after a 30-year career spanning the field of human resources, business ownership of both an international recruiting firm and a technology training company, and ultimately as CEO of the Soloway Jewish Community Centre (SJCC).
I mirrored this professional life, as well as my personal life, with volunteer opportunities that augmented my experiences and priorities. I chose to do this because one without the other wasn’t enough.
My volunteer activities started as a teenager under the mentorship of my uncle, community leader Hy Hochberg. I have enjoyed senior volunteer positions in a variety of organizations including ORT, Hillel Academy, Jewish National Fund, SJCC, Hillel Lodge, Hillel Campus Life, Lion of Judah, Women’s Annual Campaign, Federation, Dragon Boat Israel, Queensway-Carleton Hospital and Heart and Stroke Foundations, and the Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival.
Professionally, I have served on the boards of the Women’s Business Network, the Board of Trade, the Human Resources Professional Association and the Jewish Community Centres of Canada and North America.
As you can see, I am dedicated to the Jewish value of Tikkun Olam, repairing the world. I have put my time, energy and commitment into ensuring that we have a vibrant, growing, diverse and cohesive community. I share this passion for volunteerism with my husband of 35 years, Steven, and our children, Lorne and Jessica.
All of these experiences, personal and professional, have brought me to this moment, making me, indeed, ready to take on some serious goals during the next two years.
Our community has been clear in its desire that Federation needs to focus on outcomes driven by innovative and forward thinking leadership. Be bold was the key message we heard in our community consultations as we built the new strategic plan: be innovative and create positive, sustainable change. I take this message very seriously as I know each one of the Federation Board members does. Boldness, innovation and positive change are the key features that need to permeate everything we do. Our community has asked us not to be traditional but, instead, to step out, take risks, be bold, in line with the key goals and key deliverables of our strategic plan.
This boldness is going to take a lot of energy from all Federation Board and staff members. It is very easy to follow the same old pattern and stay in our comfort zone, but that is not the mandate the community has given us.
We have an incredibly talented Board of Directors: Stuart Ages, David Appotive, Harold Feder, Stacy Goldstein, Jennifer Kardash, Steven Kimmel, Mike Shahin, Jason Shinder, Hartley Stern, Arlene Wortsman, and Lenora Zelikovitz. This leadership team is highly skilled and deeply committed to the success of our community.
I now ask all of you to join us in this commitment. Please think about how to apply the principles of boldness, innovation and positive sustainable change to your role in our community. Then share your ideas with me. I want to hear from you because I know this community is also ready to take on this challenge.
Linda Kerzner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.