Shep Englander — Federation Journal
‘Talk About’ with Shep Englander: Jewish Family Service to ‘Take Hard Look’ at Organization
This Q&A series features my conversations with community leaders and tackles high priority and high interest issues in Jewish Cincinnati with candor and purpose.
This month I sat down with Liz Vogel, the new CEO of Jewish Family Service, to introduce her to the community and to discuss her vision for the future of the organization.
I’m Shep Englander, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati. And I’m happy to have with me, on her second day on the job, Liz Vogel, the new CEO of Jewish Family Service. Jewish Family Service is the social service agency for our Jewish community. They work with all kinds of needs and all kinds of people—people who are having issues with income to people who are just older and need some support, and everything in between. We’re very fortunate to have Liz taking the agency to the next level, and we’re going to get to hear from her today—how she got here, and where she plans to go. Liz, first of all, welcome.
Thank you, Shep.
So glad to have you here leading one of our partner agencies whom we care so much about.
It’s an incredible feeling and a very humble feeling to be able to be engaged in this kind of work on behalf of our community and the people we serve.
Wonderful. Welcome again. I’d love to hear a little bit about what you’ve done in your career that led you to this moment and where you’re coming from.
I have kind of a varied background because I started in communications, then I started a small business with my husband. So I have that mixed corporate and entrepreneurial background, which was relevant. But in most recent years, I spent time working at Mercy Health and Mercy Health’s insurance company HealthSpan before joining Cedar Village, and I feel like that path kind of coalesced all those skill sets into making this into a terrific opportunity for me to bring forward the business background with the care delivery background and marry in what really matters to me, which is my community. And it lets me express my faith in my daily work, which is a pretty incredible opportunity.
That’s wonderful. I can understand why the search committee wanted someone with your broad background and passion at the same time. Tell us a little bit about what it means to you personally and where you think the community will see JFS going in the future.
JFS has a tremendously talented staff—highly educated, highly skilled, highly experienced. So I’m really privileged to step in and work with a group of people of this caliber. I think in terms of my vision, it’s really to be the strongest partner we can be to our sister agencies, to the Federation, to the Foundation, and to the donors who are entrusting us to steward their resources to help repair the world and make it a better place. And so to me, I’m really looking at the relevance of everything we do. And I think it’s very typical and expected that an agency, any organization, every few years, takes a hard look at what they’re doing, and why they’re doing it, and what they do best, and what they should be doing. And so that’s the strategic planning that will begin really soon because we want to be sure that we are of the highest relevance to the community that we are serving.
We’re a very generous community, and the Federation is able to make large investments in JFS programs. And yet, even with all the funds that we have, there is never enough to do everything for everyone, and so I’m so glad that you’re taking a hard look at what’s most important and what the priorities are. Those are always some of the most difficult but most important decisions to make.
And we’re living in a time where things are changing very, very rapidly. You and I have children the same age, and they’re growing up in a different world than the one you and I grew up in. And that alone I think causes us to take a hard look at what are the needs of the community in 2018, and where do we think they’ll be in 2019 and 2020, and get ahead of it. So that’s part of what I hope to do.
We’re fortunate to have a leader who’s looking to the future, who’s thinking strategically, who sees the broad needs of the community and who fits into our culture because I like to believe that Cincinnati’s Jewish community is the most collaborative in the country. And we get to benefit from that. We invited the JFS staff to move into what was originally planned just to be the Federation staff offices, and took down the walls and built out workstations, and it ended up so that Liz and I are separated by just a one-inch piece of styrofoam. So we literally will be working very closely together.
Literally and figuratively.
I look forward to it. Thank you so much for talking with us today.
Thank you for having me.
Please take a minute to let us know what you think.