Growing up in the 1970’s and 80’s, I fondly remember listening to Casey Kasem review the top songs of the year every December. It was fun to hear great music and listen to a song that may have been popular 11 months earlier which I completely forgot. Like Casey Kasem did, I also take time at the end of the calendar year to reflect back on what our Federation has accomplished. Just yesterday during our annual staff recognition program, our team helped me recall some of our major achievements by filling in their recollections in our Zoom chat (please remember that some of these are based on our fiscal year ending in June):
- Federation had one of its most successful Community Campaigns in recent history giving us the ability to provide every one of our local agencies with additional unrestricted dollars during this challenging year.
- Our Foundation had one of its most successful years adding over $22 million in assets to its corpus. Today, our Foundation which holds not only Federation owned assets, but the assets of most Jewish organizations and synagogues in Greater Pittsburgh, has approximately $290 million under management.
- Our Community Security team completed the installation of the Bluepoint system into nearly all our institutions working with children. This is a huge investment by our Federation with no upfront costs to any of the synagogues or agencies.
- We relaunched our Safety Respect Equity (SRE) initiative which we had initiated just prior to the shooting in 2018. In the last month, we conducted three separate trainings with our Board, staff and management team to focus on how we build a safe and respectful work environment.
- We started a Jews of Color Task Force to ensure that we are doing all we can to be inclusive of all parts of our diverse Jewish community.
- Federation responded to the changes generated by the pandemic by learning about the specific agency and communal needs and securing and distributing funds to address so many of them. This has been done in a transparent partnership with our eight beneficiary agencies. Our board approved our latest $1 million in grant funding this past week. We have provided millions of dollars to the community.
- We moved programs online with incredible precision resulting in high levels of participation and satisfaction. Our first virtual Super Sunday took place this past week. The community Tikkun Leil Shavuot moved online in May with record breaking numbers of participants. Fundraising programs, Jewish Foundation Community Scholar classes, our Annual Meeting and Partnership2Gether programs all went virtual keeping community members connected.
- Internally, our operations adapted to our new pandemic reality. We moved to an app based expense software platform. We changed our payroll provider. We added capabilities in Human Resources. We moved fully to an Office 365 platform helping us with staff collaboration. While these may sound boring to you, they make us more efficient and effective as an organization.
- We publicly announced our 2022 Mega Mission to Israel!
There is much more the Federation and the agencies we fund accomplished in this crazy year of 2020. While I hope 2021 starts to bring some sense of normalcy, imagine what we will achieve together next year. Together, we accomplish so much more than acting alone.
I send special thanks to our staff not only for helping me compile the above list (and other items I did not include in this email) but more importantly for their professionalism, tenacity, flexibility, creativity, responsiveness, positive attitude and every other adjective you can dream of that resulted in our accomplishments. I am so proud to be part of this team.
Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom and an early happy New Year. And please, wear your mask!
P.S. As I stated above, yesterday was our staff appreciation gathering when we recognize staff tenure milestones in five year increments. We made one exception to the five year increments to honor and thank Milo Averbach for his 34 years of service as our CFO and to mark his retirement at the end of the year. We wish Milo much happiness in this next phase of life and will be forever grateful for his contributions to our Federation and our community. Earlier this week, we held a surprise car parade to honor Milo. I am sharing a few pictures below. Toda Raba, Milo.