Who Will Head The Major Jewish Federations of America?

Federations Scramble To Replace Retiring Leaders

Kurt Hoffman

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

Published January 06, 2014, issue of January 10, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 3)

The retirements come as Jewish fundraising generally, and federation fundraising in particular, faces a growing crisis. According to the Pew Research Center’s survey of American Jews, only 46% of Jews ages 18 to 49 reported donating to Jewish organizations, compared with 66% of Jews ages 50 and up. Meanwhile, only 14% of New York-area Jews ages 35 to 49 gave to the local federation in 2011, compared with 42% of people ages 75 and up.

Four of the 20 large community federations in JFNA’s network will be seeking a new executive director in 2014: New York City, Philadelphia, Greater MetroWest-New Jersey and the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties. Dallas’s federation, which is slightly smaller, is also hiring a top executive. That’s a large number of vacancies for top jobs at federations, where successful leaders often last decades.

The 2014 vacancies appear to be just the tip of a broad generational turnover. John Ruskay, who is retiring from the New York City federation, has held his job since 1999; Max Kleinman at MetroWest has been there since 1995. Other large federations seem likely to seek new executives soon: Barry Shrage has led the Boston federation since 1987; Steven Nasatir has led the Chicago federation since 1979, and Stephen Hoffman has led the Cleveland federation since 1983.

It’s not yet clear whether these leaders have cultivated replacements within their organizations. But it appears that the number of eligible, desirable applicants seeking major federation jobs like these is small.

“The challenge facing the Jewish community on the professional side is attracting top talent,” said Bradley Laye, interim CEO of the federation in Dallas, which is currently searching for a CEO. “There’s a dearth of quality professionals at these levels.”

CEO salaries paid by large federations vary widely. The best-paid large federation CEO, Stephen Hoffman in Cleveland, earned $722,000 in 2012; the worst paid, Jason Shames in Northern New Jersey, earned just $225,000.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel: http://jd.fo/i4UDl
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • "There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference." Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the roots of Israel's conflict with Gaza.
  • Shalom, Cooperstown! Cooperstown Jewish mayor Jeff Katz and Jeff Idelson, director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, work together to oversee induction weekend.
  • A boost for morale, if not morals.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.