Developing Executive Leadership

The ELI IV Cohort with Bernie Marcus, Elisa Spungen Bildner, Rob Bildner, and Jeremy J. Fingerman.

Investing in talent development and growth has been key to the achievements and successes of our field and remains a top strategic priority for Foundation for Jewish Camp moving forward.

Last week, I had the privilege and honor to experience the graduation of the fourth cohort of Foundation for Jewish Camp’s Executive Leadership Institute (ELI).  As I watched 16 dedicated camp directors from across North America celebrate the culmination of their 20-month fellowship elevating their leadership and management skills, I felt truly inspired and energized.

The ELI program is designed to help each camp director realize their potential to become an even more effective leader for their camp through structured workshops, cohort experiences, individual mentorship, 360 degree feedback, the use of customer feedback data, and the implementation of an individual project back at their camp.

New to the ELI program this cohort, Fellows traveled with peers and faculty members to visit several camps outside their own geography. For many of the ELI fellows, this was the first opportunity to visit other camps in session during the busy summer. And, importantly, they appreciated the rejuvenating time with peers, much needed during summers filled with complexity, challenges, and anxiety.

In seeking new experiences, pursuing further learning, and forging deeper connections, the ELI IV cohort models the best of Jewish camp – and indeed, the best of the Jewish community. They show us that the best leaders prioritize lifelong learning. They remind us that our colleagues and friends are our most precious resources, and when we share our knowledge generously, we enrich one another, our organizations, and our communities.

We are grateful for the Marcus Foundation’s long-standing commitment to Jewish camp and its continued confidence in FJC.  Back in 2005, the Marcus Foundation gave FJC its first $1 million grant to establish the Executive Leadership Institute.  Now 14 years and four cohorts later, the results have helped to advance and galvanize our field.

Bernie Marcus, Chairman of The Marcus Foundation, delivered an inspiring commencement address to the ELI IV graduates.  In addition to sharing leadership lessons from his experience as co-founder and first CEO of Home Depot, Bernie recounted his own positive experience as a scholarship kid from Newark to attend Cedar Lake Camp (part of NJY Camps).  He challenged the cohort to remain connected to and supportive of each other, continuing to share lessons, trends, and opportunities to adapt to our rapidly changing world.

The 16 Fellows join an elite group of now 68 ELI alumni who have benefited from this transformational investment in their professional growth and development.  Over 60% of their predecessors remain in our field; almost 90% continue working in the Jewish community.  FJC’s ELI program will continue to pay significant dividends for years to come.

Even though we may come from different Jewish camps, denominations, movements, and regions across North America, we’re ultimately all connected as one field and one family.

We thank you for being part of our Jewish camp family, and extend our warmest wishes to you and your loved ones during this season of gratitude.

About the Author
Jeremy J. Fingerman has served as CEO of Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC) since 2010. Prior to joining FJC, he had a highly-regarded 20+ year career in Consumer Packaged Goods, beginning at General Mills, Inc, then at Campbell Soup Company, where he served as president of its largest division, US Soup. In 2005, he was recruited to serve as CEO of Manischewitz.
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