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Board of Directors Updates and Community News

From the Board - June 16, 2017

Barbara Green to Stay On as Executive Director

It is with great pleasure that we announce that the Board has voted unanimously to offer Barbara Green the position of Executive Director, and that she has accepted. We will begin immediately to negotiate a new contract.

After reviewing Green's performance over the past nine months, the Board determined that she has exceeded our expectations and has the skills necessary to lead the organization at this critical time. This will also allow leadership to focus on the important work ahead of us, without the distraction of conducting an external search.

When Green was hired in September as our Interim Executive Director, we asked her to provide us with an organizational assessment and to develop and implement a plan for integrating the SEED Early Childhood School. Over the past nine months, she has done all of that and more, improving the synagogue’s administrative functions and working collaboratively with staff and the Finance Committee to propose a balanced budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year. She has also significantly increased the level of transparency about Temple Beth Am’s financial status and operations.

For the past 22 years, Green has made a career of being an interim executive director, working for numerous nonprofits and guiding them through leadership transitions. Many of them have asked her to stay on as executive director, and she has always refused – until now.

“One of the most rewarding things about being an interim ED is that I get to use both my consulting and leadership skills to help organizations successfully navigate change and increase their effectiveness,” Green says. “I see a lot of opportunity for exciting changes as we develop and implement Temple Beth Am’s three-year strategic plan. Plus, this is the first time I’ve worked in a Jewish organization, and I love working in an environment that is so values-driven.”

Synagogues of our size are most successful when there is a shared leadership structure at their center: while the Executive Director and the Senior Rabbi each have separate spheres, they must work together toward a common vision for the organization. Rabbi Ruth A. Zlotnick is enthusiastic about the partnership with Green, especially as we are in the midst of a strategic planning process that includes developing a new vision for Temple Beth Am’s future.

“Barbara is mission-based, collaborative, and wise,” Rabbi Zlotnick says. “It's a joy to work with her and I’m thrilled that she will be around to work on implementing the strategic plan.”

The staff are also excited that Green will be staying on, as are many Temple Beth Am members. At the Annual Meeting last month, one of the top comments on the strategic plan was “Keep Barbara Green.”

Among her many other skills, Green brings a deep knowledge of board governance and leadership development.

“I have learned so much from Barbara in the short time she’s been here,” says Shelly F. Cohen, president of Temple Beth Am’s Board of Directors. “With her ongoing direction, I look forward to further empowering the Board and growing a strong pipeline of lay leaders who will guide Temple Beth Am as we chart a course for our next 60 years.”

Board of Directors Installation

New Board Members group pic e HappsOn Friday, June 9, Temple Beth Am held an installation for the new additions to our Board of Directors for 2017-2018: Steve Abramowicz, Heather Camp, Barbara Droker, and Gary Goldbaum. During the installation, Interim Executive Director Barbara Green welcomed the new members and thanked the outgoing ones - Gail Broder, Jeremiah Isgur, Larry Katz, and Joel Magalnick - for all of their time, energy, and effort in helping build our thriving temple community. Read her speech here.

The new four new Board members took part in a Q&A with Temple Beth Am Communications Lead Rachel Román on their hopes and goals for the future of temple life at TBA. Read the Q&A.

From the Board - April 25, 2017

 Congregational Budget Meeting and Annual Meeting

Thank you to everyone who attended the congregational budget meeting on Sunday, April 16. Because many of you were not able to attend, we’re posting the PowerPoint presentation, along with notes, so you can see what was discussed.

TLDR: for the first time in several years, we are proposing a balanced budget (with a small surplus). This is primarily thanks to our planned refinance of the K’hilah Center mortgage, as well as our acquisition of the early childhood school from SJCC.

Our goal for having a separate meeting to discuss the budget was twofold: we wanted to allow time for those who are interested in a deep dive into the numbers to do so, while still having plenty of time for other business at the Annual Meeting; and we wanted to allow an opportunity for input before the Board votes to approve the budget on April 20. (In past years, congregational review of the budget has come after Board approval.)

At the Annual Meeting (mark your calendar for Sunday, May 21 at 10:00 AM) we’ll focus on the strategic plan. Members of the Strategic Planning Task Force will present a preliminary draft, so that we can get your reactions and suggestions. The strategic plan is intended to be a living document that will outline our priorities for the next several years; in turn, those priorities will be reflected in future budgets.

This is an exciting time at Temple Beth Am as we learn together what a synagogue must do to stay relevant and vibrant in the 21st century. Come to the Annual Meeting and help us plan that journey together.

From the Board - March 1, 2017

 Interim Executive Director Barbara Green Contract Extension

Last September, we welcomed Barbara Green to Temple Beth Am as our Interim Executive Director. In just these few months, we have benefited tremendously from Barbara’s 20+ years of experience as a professional interim ED. Those of you who read her columns in the Bulletin have had a glimpse into a small fraction of the work that Barbara is doing.

We had expected that Barbara’s tenure would be six to nine months, while she did an organizational assessment and then helped us to create a job description for the new executive director. Because of some other key projects in which Barbara is involved, the Board voted at our February meeting to extend Barbara’s stay with Temple Beth Am through the end of the calendar year. This will give her the opportunity to see through the current budgeting process, the acquisition of the SEED Early Childhood School, the K’hilah Center refinance, and the strategic plan. Critically, until the strategic plan is completed, we will not have a clear picture of all the attributes we are looking for in the new ED.

Our new timeframe is to post the ED job opening in the Fall and have the successful candidate on board in January 2018.

From the Board - September 14, 2016

 Welcome Interim Executive Director Barbara Green

Please welcome Barbara Green, who started work this week as our interim executive director. Barbara is an organizational development consultant who, over the past 20-plus years, has served as interim ED at about two-dozen (mostly local) nonprofit organizations, including University Heights Center, Artists Trust, and, most recently, Bellevue Botanical Garden Society. She has extensive experience in guiding organizations through leadership transition and strategic planning, skills that will be extremely helpful as we move toward final acquisition of the Early Childhood School (ECS) from the SJCC a year from now. The search committee was impressed with the scope of Barbara’s knowledge across the range of nonprofit management, including finances, HR, and organizational stewardship.

We received nearly 30 applications for the interim ED position and interviewed a total of six candidates. All were highly qualified for the position; the committee agreed unanimously that Barbara stood out as the best fit for us from among a strong field.

When we advertised for an interim ED, we anticipated that the position would last three to six months, during which time we would search for an incumbent for the regular position. One consistent theme we heard from all of the candidates that we interviewed was that we should allow six to nine – perhaps even 12 – months to fully assess our needs, especially with the addition of the ECS, develop a new job description for the executive director position, and conduct the search.

We’re very glad to have Barbara guiding us in this process. She's excited to be a part of the Temple Beth Am team and looks forward to meeting everyone! Yasher koach to the search committee!

From the Board - August 29, 2016

 Executive Director Search

As you know, Executive Director Jan Glick departed at the end of July to return to his non-profit consulting practice. This vacancy, coming at a time when we are actively working out the logistics of the Early Childhood School (ECS) acquisition, gives us an opportunity to reflect on the skills we’ll need to run the combined organization. The Board began visioning on this process at our upcoming retreat on August 28.

We are currently advertising for an interim executive director who will serve for three to six months while we develop a new job description for the ED position and conduct a search. For the interim position, we are focusing on financial management and organizational development expertise.

In the meantime, know that we are not without executive oversight. We are indebted to those congregants (including Treasurer Carole Aaron, Greg Berkman, 1st VP Margy Crosby, and Betsy Maurer) who have stepped up to assist staff by overseeing our finance and HR functions.

We will keep you updated as things progress. In the meantime, if you have any questions you can send them to president@templebetham.org.

CantorVictorGeignerweb

 From the Board - May 27, 2016

 Introducing...Cantor Victor Geigner!

It is with great pleasure and anticipation we announce that Cantor Victor Geigner has agreed to be the first ordained cantor of Temple Beth Am. He will officially join us on August 1, 2016. 

Cantor Victor and his wife Shirley fell in love with Seattle in 2015 when they traveled here from Florida to officiate at the wedding of a congregant's son. Little did they know that just a year later, they would be calling Seattle home.

Cantor Victor is excited to build on Temple Beth Am's musical tradition. He brings a wealth of experience and - more importantly - ruach (spirit) to our congregation. Originally from Buenos Aires, he began his career there as a Chazzan (cantor) when he was just 16 years old. He has served congregations in Argentina, Bolivia, and Florida. The search committee was struck by his warmth and his ability to sing music from across musical genres. An Ashkenazi Jew from Argentina, he is comfortable with both Yiddish and Ladino, and his repertoire includes both Ashkenazi and Sephardic music. Those who heard his audition look forward to Cantor Victor leading us through our familiar liturgy and introducing us to new melodies. 

He is currently the Cantor at Temple Beth-El in Fort Myers, Florida. In his various posts, he has led B'nai Mitzvah programs for youth and adults, led worship from the Bima, performed life cycle events, and provided pastoral care (among many other functions and responsibilities).

We're getting to work planning an official installation for Cantor Victor in the fall, as well as other opportunties for him to meet his new congregation.

Before that happens, though, we have the opportunity to take our Hats Off to Wendy next week. Please join us to honor Wendy Marcus at Kabbalat Shabbat services on Friday, June 3, and at a very special klezmer concert on Saturday, June 4. For more information and to purchase tickets for the concert, please see our event page.

Going forward, we can rest assured that the music program Wendy built here at Temple Beth Am will be handed off to someone who is as passionate about Jewish music, as eclectic in musical style, and as warm and mensch-y. The voice may be different, but that indefinable spirit of music at Temple Beth Am will remain the same. 

From the Board - May 9, 2016

 Well Wishes for Jan Glick 

With gratitude for all he has done for our community in his five years as our Executive Director, we share that Jan Glick has announced his decision to transition from Temple Beth Am effective July 31, to return to non-profit consulting.

At a time when our congregation sorely needed his skills, Jan joined us as interim Executive Director in 2011, and was asked to take the ongoing role a year later. Throughout his time with us he has been a thought leader who has strengthened our congregation, drawing on deep experience gained with non-profits in Seattle and around the country. Jan had literally “written the book” on non-profit turn-arounds and drew on its lessons to help us structure our L’Dor V’Dor program for annual support commitments and helping us manage tight budgets. Most recently, he was a key voice as we considered bringing the Early Childhood School from the SJCC to TBA. Throughout, he has been a mensch and a friend for our staff and lay leaders.

Jan and his family have been members of Temple Beth Am for over ten years and his time of service to us has been a labor of love. With our budget stabilized and the ECS transition beginning, Jan has let us know he feels ready for a new chapter.

We are fortunate that we have several months to show Jan our appreciation. During that time, we will map out a transition plan and review our office operations to ensure we are consistently providing outstanding congregant service.

Jan, thank you for all you have done for your community and will do to effect a strong transition. We look forward to continuing to welcome you and your family with titles even better than Executive Director – congregant and friend.

 From the Board - April 25, 2016

 Finding the Indefinable in Our Cantorial Search

    Amid the flurry of preparations for Passover, last week also brought intense activity of a different kind: a recommendation from the Cantorial Search Committee to extend an offer to the person who (we hope) will become Temple Beth Am’s first cantor. On Thursday, the night before Passover, the Board unanimously accepted the recommendation.

    As with the rabbinic search two years ago, we must maintain our candidate’s confidentiality just a bit longer until we can successfully negotiate contract terms. In the meantime, we can share some additional information with you about the search that brought us to this momentous occasion.

    Back in October, we filed our job description with the American Conference of Cantors (ACC), the cantorial association affiliated with the Union for Reform Judaism. We received several applications from ACC cantors, but none of them appeared to be our bashert. We also received a few unsolicited resumes from other candidates, but our agreement with the ACC precluded us from looking at other cantors while we were still working with that organization. In mid-March we withdrew from the ACC search after concluding we had seen all the candidates we could expect through their efforts.

    At that point, the committee was free to look at the non-ACC resumes to see whether any of them seemed promising. One in particular stood out. Following the same procedure – phone interview followed by Skype interview followed by in-person visit – and using the same basic questions we’d used with ACC candidates, the committee determined that this candidate is a worthy successor to our beloved Wendy.

    To be fair, all the candidates we engaged with were talented and accomplished cantors. As with the recent searches that brought us first Rabbi Jason Levine as our assistant (now associate) rabbi, and Rabbi Ruth Zlotnick as our senior rabbi, we were