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As you may know from Ed Caseâ€™s blog post last week, this is a very exciting time in the history of InterfaithFamily. Three years ago, Ed and the Board of Directors began thinking about and creating a transition planâ€”a plan that included Edâ€™s desire to remain involved in the organization, but not, as he would put it, â€śin charge.â€ť
So about two years ago, IFF began looking for a presidentâ€”someone who could work with Ed, learn about the organization from the inside, and when the time was right, become the CEO. At the time, I was a disenchanted lawyer looking for an opportunity to have a more meaningful impact on the world, and when I saw the job announcement, I thought, â€śWell, thatâ€™d be a dream job.â€ť
You see, Iâ€™ve been a fan of InterfaithFamilyâ€™s work for a long timeâ€”in my personal inbox, I have IFFâ€™s email newsletters dating back to 2005, when my now-spouse and I started dating, and I started thinking, â€śWell, I really ought to figure out whether I can build a life with someone whoâ€™s not Jewish.â€ť Like many of you, I found solace in the stories of the people I read about on InterfaithFamilyâ€™s website, and inspiration from its resources: The only reason my kids say the Shema before bed every night is because I took IFF/Philadelphiaâ€™s â€śRaising a Child with Judaism in Your Interfaith Familyâ€ť class with Tami Astorino, and it seemed like a good idea.
I was thrilled when, after seven rounds of interviews spanning the East Coast, I became the president of InterfaithFamily. My family and I packed up our home in Philadelphia and headed north to Boston, and the day the Pew Report came out, I began working at InterfaithFamily.
Tomorrow, 16 months later, we take the next step forward in that plan, as I become the CEO and Ed transitions to the new position of Founder.
The conventional wisdom is that founders should depart when successor CEOs take over. But thatâ€™s not the right model for us. For us, the â€śmutual successâ€ť strategy is what makes senseâ€”the one where Ed will remain on as the Founder of IFF, focused on what he does bestâ€”advocacy and key funding relationships. As IFF Board Chair Lynda Schwartz said to me once, â€śDonâ€™t be afraid to do what makes sense.â€ť And for us, this transition makes sense.
One of the key reasons it makes sense is Ed. We have logged a lot of hours and miles together on planes, trains and automobiles. Weâ€™ve eaten in some of the best and worst restaurants around the country. Ed has been a mentor, a guide, a source of humor and wisdom. He is one of the most generous people Iâ€™ve ever metâ€”with his time, with his resources, with himself. And it is his drive and get-it-done-now attitude that have been the force behind IFFâ€™s growth. I am so very glad heâ€™s staying on in his new role, because I count him as a trusted advisor, and will continue to do soâ€”and heâ€™s got important work still to do. We will all have an opportunity to thank him on October 22 at a special day of learning and appreciation that weâ€™re planning in Boston.
We are a very different organization than we were when I joined in October 2013. We have more than doubled the size of our staff to 24 (and soon to 29) and launched communities in Boston and Los Angeles, an affiliate in Clevelandâ€”with Atlanta and a community for another major city to come later this year. Weâ€™ve added capacity to our national staff to better support whatâ€™s going on in local communities, and to increase our advocacy and training efforts.
I often say that the hardest part of our work is finding the right people to join our teamâ€”and it is a remarkable team, without exception. We work hard with too-few resources, and the only reason we get as much accomplished as we do is because we have a smart, savvy accomplished staff, and a board thatâ€™s got our back every step of the way. I am grateful for their collective know-how, smarts and commitment to the hard work we do. I am especially thankful for COO Heather Martin, who has been a friend from the beginning and has clarity of purpose, the ability to make things happenâ€”and a way of making it look easy.
We are, of course, not done. I am humbled by both the responsibility and opportunity to continue to play a role in helping shape a world where interfaith families see the value, relevance and joy in making Jewish choicesâ€”and are accepted by the Jewish community in doing so. My promise to you is that we will do everything we can to support interfaith families, and those who want to work with them. Together with your input and collaboration, we will continue this important work.
Over the next months, I hope to meet many more of you than I already have, and deepen the relationships Iâ€™ve begun with many others of you, to thank you for your commitment and to share how we will continue to expand our work. In the meantime, please feel free to reach out and share your thoughts, your family story and your hopes for the Jewish future. My door is always open.
Jodi Bromberg can be reached at jodib at interfaithfamily dot com