Danielle V. Minson — Raising the Bar
Cincinnati 2020 in 2017: Mike Epstein
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, we hear from Mike Epstein, a member of the SAFE Cincinnati Advisory Committee.
What is your current title, both in regards to SAFE Cincinnati and in terms of your involvement with Cincinnati 2020?
Mike: Let’s start with my title at work. I serve as the Senior Director of Risk Management & Business Continuity at The E.W. Scripps Company. In addition to risk and continuity, I also oversee physical security programs for Scripps. With regard to SAFE Cincinnati, I am honored to serve as a member of the SAFE Cincinnati Advisory Committee.
How did you first get involved in (or hear about) Cincinnati 2020? What is your role now?
Until recently, I wasn’t familiar with Cincinnati 2020. As I have learned more about it, however, I have realized I am in one of the initiative’s target demographics—cultural Jews who are not currently involved in the Cincinnati Jewish community. Until I became involved with SAFE Cincinnati, my participation in the community could most easily be described as “driving through Amberley Village every now and then to visit friends or family.”
It was my role at Scripps, and my nearly 20 years of crisis preparation and management experience, that led Scripps COO Adam Symson to connect me with Federation CEO Shep Englander and COO Avi Ram and to SAFE Cincinnati. Adam knows I’m passionate about what I do, and he guided me toward an organization he knew I would enjoy supporting.
What does Cincinnati 2020 mean to you, given your involvement with SAFE Cincinnati?
In a word, engagement. Just as I have become involved in the Jewish community through my work with SAFE Cincinnati, Cincinnati 2020’s goal is to engage more of the Jewish community with each other and with our shared organizations, leading to a stronger whole. As a community, the most important step we can take toward a safer tomorrow is to begin to engage and to take ownership of our safety today.
Why should Cincinnati 2020 and SAFE Cincinnati be important to the community?
Bad things will happen. At some point, we will face physical and/or cyber security threats and natural disasters. Our community has been the target of several incidents just this past year. The goals of both SAFE Cincinnati and Cincinnati 2020 start with strengthening the Jewish community. A strong community will be better positioned to respond to future threats.
Do you think the link between Cincinnati 2020 and SAFE Cincinnati comes across to the Cincinnati Jewish community? How can we help others understand the connection to and the importance of Cincinnati 2020?
Many people don’t know what SAFE Cincinnati does. In part, that’s because our initial tasks were target hardening and protecting our physical locations. Neither required community involvement, and because of the nature of the work, releasing efforts to the public would have compromised their effectiveness. Now, however, we are beginning to focus on educating the public about actions they can take to improve their awareness of their surroundings and to respond to incidents.
What does the future of SAFE Cincinnati look like through the lens of Cincinnati 2020?
I see two answers to that question. First—organizational support. We need to strengthen our constituent organizations to better respond to adversity, and we need to provide a core resource set to support them (from incident management and communications expertise to resource management and potentially financial support). SAFE Cincinnati and its committee serve that role.
Second—empowering community members. Our goal is to get them to raise a hand when they see something wrong and to lend a hand to offer support to their neighbor. SAFE Cincinnati can facilitate that process. Very few of our organizations have the resources to manage every potential threat. However, together through SAFE Cincinnati, we have the strength, expertise, and diversity of experience to meet any challenge.
What do you hope the community accomplishes through Cincinnati 2020 in the next 5 years, both in terms of supporting families, and otherwise?
This is where my professional role and my role in SAFE Cincinnati parallel each other. While there are and will be many more ideas, options, and solutions to vet over the coming months and years, my hope rests on one point—communication. From the organizational level to our individual families, I want our members to feel confident that when something adverse happens, we will not only inform them but also help them respond. At the same time, I want our community members to have an outlet to share their concerns and needs during quiet times, so our organizations can more effectively respond in times of crisis.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Our ability to feel safe today, to respond to man-made and natural disasters and to feel safe after a crisis requires each of us to participate. For our community members, that’s adhering to the tried and true mantra, “See something, say something.” For our organizations, that’s taking appropriate steps to increase preparedness with planning and incident management capabilities, supporting not only physical security, but for the variety of impacts we could see as a community. For SAFE Cincinnati, that is supporting both community members and organizations with educational and financial support.
Cincinnati 2020 is our community’s collaboration to build an engaged and empowered Jewish community by the year 2020.