Ten Years and Counting

November 22, 2022

While entering into his 11th year as the CEO of the JCC of Greater Baltimore, Barak Hermann recently reflected on the past decade in that role. He shared his thoughts and reflections of the past 10 years.

Being the CEO of the JCC of Greater Baltimore is such an honor, and this is the fourth JCC in my 28-year career. I came to Baltimore in November 2012 after a rigorous interview process. I remain completely energized by the opportunity to succeed the incredible Buddy Sapolskyzl after his 18 illustrious years. Buddy was invaluable in onboarding and mentoring me right up to his passing in September. I miss him dearly.

The past ten years have been full of reimagining, restructuring, refocusing, and reframing the role of the JCC in our community. Since our inception in 1854, our JCC has responded to the trends and demographic changes in Jewish life. We have continued to act thoughtfully and strategically through innovation and entrepreneurial thinking. We embrace our role in cultivating, strengthening and stewarding community partnerships. The support of the J’s incredible Board, our dynamic board chairs, our lineup of talented, passionate, and hardworking professionals… and so many community supporters and funders – most notably The Associated – have helped us weather many challenges including bomb threats, a global pandemic, and fiscal challenges. I have been blessed to work with amazing colleagues and continue to be surrounded by phenomenal people.

With that said, here’s my top 10 highlights looking back at the past decade:

  1. Investing in staff structure and ensuring a talent pipeline. I love how we develop staff internally and welcome new people to our professional team
  2. Adopting a JCC Strategic Plan in 2016 that resulted in our focus on three engagement centers: Youth & Families, Sports & Wellness, and Arts & Culture
  3. Reimagining the Gordon Center for Performing Arts into a multi-disciplinary community theater and Baltimore County’s premier arts destination
  4. Launching J Camps after closing Camp Milldale
  5. Partnering with LifeBridge Health to create a comprehensive wellness education platform
  6. Birthing 4Front as a hub for Jewish teen leadership
  7. Curating our new J Life platform to offer joyous Jewish experiences to families
  8. Establishing our new and healthy balance sheet that has provided much needed reserves and dollars for strategic investment post-pandemic
  9. Redesigning our Governance platform and developing a thought partner model and Councils to maximize the involvement of our volunteer leaders
  10. Embracing the J’s diversity into the Jewish and larger community so all feel welcomed at the JCCs. This includes sharing our Jewish values, ethics, and celebrations with the broader Baltimore community.

While we have a lot of work to do, I am excited to move forward with everyone. Much love and gratitude for all your support these past ten years! 

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