Shep Englander — Federation Journal
Cincinnati 2020 in 2017: John Silverman
Each installment in this series features a different perspective on Cincinnati 2020, the Jewish community’s collaboration to build an engaged and empowered Jewish community by the year 2020.
This week, we hear from John Silverman, former Vice President of the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati’s Planning & Allocations (P&A) Committee. Silverman is Incoming President of the Mayerson JCC.
Federation: How did you first get involved in Cincinnati 2020? What is your role now?
Silverman: I think all of us have a role in Cincinnati 2020. The community-wide initiative is about engaging more Jews now and for the future. My role at the Federation—and now at the J—in some manner relates back to that goal. It is how we continue to have a vibrant Jewish community.
What has the Planning & Allocations Committee done differently in the past year that pushes forward the Cincinnati 2020 goals?
P&A has progressed from being solely about the “A,” to more about the “P.” Don’t get me wrong—allocating dollars is tremendously important and a big responsibility. However, our planning role has grown as we have become the community’s eyes and ears into many of our agencies and programs. We are looking at things like metrics, how our agencies are measuring success, where we see redundancy between programs, and where we see gaps in services.
Why should Planning & Allocations be important to the community?
P&A’s work has led to new programs like the creation of the Jewish Innovation Funds for new ideas, the development of the Inclusion Task Force, and the centralization of our college internship programs. These are just a few of the recent improvements for our community. Our community’s support of the Federation Annual Campaign gives us the fuel for these ideas, but it’s the 90 P&A volunteers who provide the vision and dedication to get it done.
How can we help others understand the importance of the Planning & Allocations process?
P&A is at the core of Cincinnati 2020. P&A works with 34 different community programs. From senior services, to our schools and synagogues—P&A not only has significant impact on these programs and agencies, but this committee is where our new community leaders are coming from. I am the perfect example. I had almost no Jewish education or background. To use a current phrase, I was “Jew-ish!” Then I volunteered for P&A: I learned and became engaged in our community, and now I start my term as the JCC president with the knowledge that I would not be here today and would not be in this position without P&A. I’m eternally grateful to the Federation and specifically to P&A. It literally changed the course of my life.
What does the future of Planning & Allocations look like through the lens of Cincinnati 2020?
The future looks great. We have terrific leadership and great bench strength—all of whom recognize the important role they play in making Cincinnati 2020 a huge success.
Has Cincinnati 2020 been successful so far? How do you measure its successes?
I’m sure there are multiple quantitative means to measure the success of 2020, but I measure it in the faces of new volunteers coming up through the process. I measure it in the new programs that come from a focused group of volunteers and professionals, all of whom have their eye on the ball. And I measure it by people like me—who had almost no Jewish involvement prior to Cincinnati 2020.
What do you hope the community accomplishes through Cincinnati 2020 in the next five years?
At the end of 2020, there will be no fanfare—no sign that reads, “Great job, you made it.” I’d like to see us look back with pride. See the new ideas that have come to fruition. See the remarkable relationship between the Jewish Federation, the Foundation, and the JCC, and realize that, yes, we are a great community. We are a great Jewish community.
Find out more about Cincinnati 2020 and its impact to date on the community, or meet the other people interviewed in this C2020 series. Find out more about the Jewish Federation’s Planning & Allocations Committee.
Cincinnati 2020 is just one of over fifty programs and agencies funded by the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati.
The Jewish Federation of Cincinnati: We look at the whole picture, taking into account the diverse needs of the entire community. Together we can do almost anything.