Danielle V. Minson — Raising the Bar
A Home for Collaboration
If you came to our annual meeting last week, thank you. If you did not, we missed you! The Amberley Room barely held its overflow audience, and the energy was upbeat and warm. I’ve excerpted the highlights of my speech on the importance of collaboration, below:
One of the reasons Cincinnati punches above its weight class is that collaboration is already in our DNA. However, tonight I want to go further. Collaboration seems a simple idea, right? It’s like a familiar, everyday apple we don’t bother to really see. What I want to do tonight is to shine up that apple. When we really pay attention to collaboration, we see its importance.
We can only get to collaboration when we have a common vision. So I want to start by digging deeper into what our common vision is.
Our plan for our Jewish community is Cincinnati 2030; C2030’s vision is “Creating Our Home Together.” The Federation’s vision is: “To build a flourishing, inclusive, and diverse Jewish community.” I see these as complementary.
Creating a home, the vision for C2030, means we focus on people to make a home. A home is not just four walls and a roof over our heads. That is a house. A home is something entirely different. A house becomes a home when we support and protect the people inside.
This vision means we want everyone to live a full and meaningful life. “Full and meaningful” seem invisible perhaps, compared to the bricks of a house—but they are just as crucial. Creating a home means connection, belonging, and community. And we’ve stepped up. That’s why our early focus has been on engagement, on youth mental health, on inclusion of those with mental or physical disabilities, and on the fights against social isolation and antisemitism and hate.
I spent five years working in Philadelphia at their Federation before returning to Cincinnati. I came back because it’s home. I feel rooted here. This is where I grew up. This is where I was confirmed, became a bat mitzvah, and even graduated from Sunday school at Adath Israel. I’m anchored here and feel safe, supported, and part of something bigger than myself. Jewish Cincinnati has always been home for me—and this C2030 vision is to make it home for everyone.
What we need now is a careful process that makes sure that all are heard, are willing to talk, and are able to listen with respect. That process is collaboration. But collaboration in turn, I have found, requires a commitment to being relational. That means we listen, and we build trust.
I believe that if we want the work to be transformational, it has to be relational.
What does that look like for us? It means we listen more than we talk. We take others’ description of their lives and politics seriously, no matter if we disagree. We listen to people inside, as well as outside, the Jewish community, and we listen to the both/and that is interfaith families, and so much more. We have empathy, and we take the time to decide the best course of action, together. In short: we build trust. We must create safety for the broadest possible group, so the most vulnerable among us also feel like they belong.
For example, we as agency executives meet regularly. Two weeks ago, we were discussing how we needed to move away from a focus on programs, to seeing how each one of us can contribute to fulfilling our community vision. This is causing us to rethink how we work together. Each one of us has multiple roles to play in achieving our community priorities. Now that is hard work. And we are good at it.
Ultimately, collaboration means a commitment to our shared success. Collaboration builds trust, creates efficiencies, allows for natural handoffs, and fosters shared accountability.
Can you see why this shiny apple, collaboration, is important? This apple is part of an orchard, that we will continue to harvest for years, to empower us to realize our vision. The bottom line? Collaboration makes us a stronger community.
In the end, what’s clear is that we need all of you. These next seven years to 2030 will be a journey and an adventure. But with a common vision, and collaboration to power the process, our house will become our home.
Danielle V. Minson
Jewish Federation of Cincinnati
PS: The rain during our Israel at 75 event made it impossible to show this special video of the work your Cincinnati dollars do in Israel: I am so pleased to share it here.
PPS: Here is the video of our annual meeting, for those of you who missed it.