“Frequently, we discuss and measure what we do in very tactical terms,” said JVS Career Services’ new board chair, Denis Joseph. “We talk about running scholarship and internship programs. We talk about coaching job seekers. We talk about recruiting for organizations inside and outside of the Jewish community. And many other things.”
During JVS Career Services’ Annual Meeting, which was held virtually over a video call on June 22nd, Joseph was approved as the new board chair. For the last 80 years, JVS Career Services (JVSCS) has been helping connect Cincinnati residents with careers they love. However, Joseph wants to continue to push the organization to innovate and reinvent itself. “I want to invite us to view this work in even more strategic terms,” he said, “because when we view it just a bit differently, our stakeholders will see that the potential impact is greater than they imagined, and it may even inspire us to go about doing the work in ways that lead to more powerful outcomes.”
COVID-19 has forced JVSCS to reflect and look for new ways to reach its clients during a time of unprecedented unemployment. “As the demand for our services continues to grow, we’ve been able to swiftly realign our business structure to put a greater focus on job seeker services and career coaching,” said JVS Career Services’ CEO Joni Burton.
As part of that realignment, JVSCS is offering online seminars that give hundreds of community members access to the organization’s professional career coaches. “The number of participants taking part in our virtual programming continues to increase,” said Burton. “And we are actively preparing to help more individuals, as needs will likely escalate in the near future.”
Currently, more than 1,100 clients and program participants are working with JVS Career Services, an increase of 32% from this time last year. This number includes people who have been laid off and those who fear they may soon be laid off.
“While the way we currently talk about the mission and vision at JVSCS is centered on employment, we are actually helping create a stronger workforce in our community,” said Joseph. “The value creation from our work is exponential. The people filling the jobs are the ones allowing organizations to offer new services, build new locations, launch new projects, acquire new accounts, innovate, turn themselves around, and grow.”
Joseph went on to say that identifying “high octane” talent and helping companies develop that talent makes JVSCS a catalyst for economic renewal in the Cincinnati area, and with record unemployment due to COVID-19, that role is more important now than ever.
For the past two years, Joseph has served as JVSCS vice chair under Lori Frischer, whose term as board chair has come to an end. “Without Lori and the rest of the leadership team, we couldn’t have pivoted with the speed and agility we did this spring to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak,” Joseph said. “It was an impressive feat, but it once again put on display the competencies that differentiate JVS Career Services from other organizations.”
Looking back over her two years of leadership, Burton noted that Frischer often pushed her to make hard decisions. “I could always count on Lori for her direct communication, and to challenge me to be a better leader,” she said. “Two years went by quickly, but Lori’s impact on JVS Career Services will continue to be felt; she helped us obtain our three-year grant from The Jewish Foundation, which will help us build the organization.”
A new executive board was approved during the meeting. It includes Joseph as board chair, Vallie Freeman as vice-chair, Ryan Silverman as treasurer, and Leon Seserman as secretary. Other board members also include Frischer as immediate past chair, Robert Oestreicher as previous past chair, and Sandy Kaltman, Mickey Fishman, Howard Kaplan, Alan Brown, and Jamie Rosen as managers.
JVS Career Services is proud to point out that Joseph, Frischer, and Freeman are members of the prestigious and selective Wexner Heritage Program. Founded in 1985, this program helps educate up-and-coming Jewish community leaders in the history, thought, texts, and contemporary leadership challenges of the Jewish People. It is through this training that JVSCS hopes to create strong, Jewish community leaders to take our community into the future.
The outgoing board members, who are: Jess Davidson, Adam Baker, Nina Loftspring, and Jeffrey Stern, were also recognized for their work and dedication.
“I would like to share how proud I am to be a part of an organization whose importance to the community has never been as great as it is today,” said Frischer. “Our intentional focus on jobs and careers from internships to second-acts are our driving force.”
With a future driven by COVID-19 uncertainty, JVS Career Services may be needed now more than ever. With strong and passionate leadership, and an organizational willingness to embrace change and innovation, JVSCS stands ready to meet whatever challenges are coming, and to continue to help Cincinnati residents connect with careers they love.
“We’re going to keep doing what keeps us great, and deal with the challenges that arrive,” said Joseph. “We’re going to seize the opportunities to make this agency a driver of important initiatives in Jewish Cincinnati.”