Danielle V. Minson — Raising the Bar
Cincinnati 2020 in 2016: Barb Miller
Each installment in this series features a different perspective on Cincinnati 2020, the Jewish community’s visionary plan for building an exceptional future. This week, the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati’s new President, Tedd Friedman, interviews Barb Miller, its Director of Community Building.
How did you first get involved in Cincinnati 2020?
At the time Cincinnati 2020 was launched, I was Director of Planning and Allocations and worked closely with Andy Berger and Sharon Stern, who were leading the initiative at the time. During the initial phase of Cincinnati 2020, the Federation convened community leaders and a smaller steering committee from all of the local agencies, congregations, and organizations to create a mission statement and a vision statement for this initiative and to set priorities. Both professional and volunteer leaders determined what we should achieve and accomplish in the next ten years to ensure we have a strong, vibrant community in 2020 and beyond. In 2015, under your leadership, we convened a second leaders forum to determine where we were and where we needed to go. At the beginning of this year, we hosted a Cincinnati 2020 Israel Forum to look strategically at how we as a community engage with Israel.
What does Cincinnati 2020 mean to you?
Ultimately, Cincinnati 2020 means more Jews, more engaged! It means we are a community that strives to care for our most vulnerable, connects and welcomes all, and fosters collaboration to create meaningful ways of engagement and diverse ways of observing a Jewish life.
Why should Cincinnati 2020 be important to the community?
Because it is our future. It is looking strategically at the investments we make to ensure a strong Jewish community. It means our agencies and congregations create meaningful programs that align with their missions and have a direct impact on members of our community. It means we are working together, steering the boat in the same direction. And, it means we are transparent. Measuring the outcomes and impact we are having, and ensuring our investments are moving the needle.
Has Cincinnati 2020 been successful so far?
I believe we have been exceptionally successful. I think we have changed. We trust one another, and our agencies and congregations are working together. Examples are the 508 participants from nine local congregations traveling together on the 2016 Congregational and Community mission to Israel with support from The Jewish Foundation and convened by the Federation. The teen initiative that is about to be launched under the leadership of the Mayerson JCC. The newly reinvented JVS Career Services, which is working in collaboration with the Esther Becker Networking and Mentoring Coordinator of the Federation and the ACCESS program of the Mayerson JCC to bring and retain young people to Jewish Cincinnati like never before. New internship opportunities for college students in Cincinnati’s for-profit world through Hillel’s Careers Cincinnati program, and in Israel through the Onward Israel internship program, as well as expanded internship opportunities in Jewish communal work through the Workum program. The way Jewish Family Service, the Mayerson JCC, and Cedar Village are collaboratively developing new transformative ways to meet the growing needs of our seniors. I could go on and on.
Did anything about Cincinnati 2020 or the collaboration itself surprise you?
We are blessed to be part of a community where our rabbis from Humanistic to Modern Orthodox streams of Judaism communicate with one another. Where our agency executives meet regularly together, where Jewish communal professionals from ten different agencies participate in a professional development program that meets regularly throughout the year to learn more about leadership and Jewish text. We could not do this if we were too big. We could not do this if we did not have the ear of the leadership of the Federation and The Foundation. We could not do this if we were not simultaneously forward thinking and always looking backwards. So no, I am not surprised. I am proud!
What does the future of Community Building look like through the lens of Cincinnati 2020?
Building community is critical to the success of Cincinnati 2020. This initiative is about all of us, all of our agencies, all of our organizations, all of our congregations, and all of us whether we are affiliated or not, religious or not, Israeli or not, GLBTQ or not. We have an opportunity to dream big; to be a light unto other communities in our city. The more we communicate and speak with one another, the more we can work together to achieve success.
What do you hope the community accomplishes through Cincinnati 2020 in the next five years?
Ultimately, I hope our community becomes a destination city, particularly for young people. I believe they are beginning to see the tremendous affordable lifestyle they can have in Cincinnati. Not only is the larger city becoming highly attractive, but Jewish life in Cincinnati has never been more vibrant, and is getting more so by the day! I hear that said more and more when I go out of town, by the way. People know about us. I’m truly proud to live in Cincinnati. I am proud of the way this community has changed in the 17 years that I have worked for the Federation. And I am confident that my children and grandchildren will have an amazing Jewish life in this city.