Keeping JCC at center of Dallas Jewish life

By Ben Tinsley

DALLAS — Angela Aaron Horowitz, incoming chairman of the board for the Jewish Community Center of Dallas, laid out her vision for the future of the JCC during the organization’s 136th annual meeting Thursday, June 11.
The 7 p.m. meeting was held in the Zale Auditorium at the Aaron Family JCC, 7900 Northaven Road. It was chaired by Monte Hurst and Marilyn Schaffer with the theme, “The Past Leads Us to Our Future.”
Horowitz’s comments centered on her plan to use the competing principles of “disruptive innovation” and “sustaining innovation” to keep the Dallas JCC the local epicenter of Jewish existence.
Horowitz said she learned about these principles when attending a recent National Jewish Leadership conference sponsored by the Jewish Federations of North America. They are reviewed at length in Clayton M. Christensen’s 2003 book, The Innovator’s Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth.
A disruptive innovation, for example, helps create a new market and value network — in the process displacing an earlier technology and disrupting an existing market and value network.
Conversely, a sustaining innovation only evolves existing markets and networks with better value and doesn’t create new ones. This way, firms can only compete against each other’s sustaining improvements.
Horowitz offered a few examples of these principles to the audience.
“When was the last time you used a pay phone or a phone book?” Horowitz asked. “The smartphones each of us own — except for my dad — have changed and disrupted what we once knew to be common. It has not only eliminated the need for pay phones and phone books but cameras, photo albums and so much more. All because of disruptive innovation.”
Likewise, the JCC faces similar challenges as new technologies and new interests compete for the attention of members, Horowitz said.
“How will we make sure the JCC remains the center of Jewish life in our community?” Horowitz asked. “We have to be careful not to do the same thing the same way.”

A place to stay, meet

Horowitz outlined her vision, set 10 years in the future: A membership of 10,000 strong. Working-class tennis facilities. A “Club J” for Jewish teens and young adults and families of all ages. A wellness center that is the model for JCCs nationally. A big-seat theater. World-class conference centers. A sports and fitness center double the current size. Competitive youth sports organizations. And online adult education for Jewish learning.
“To accomplish this will take all of us working together under a new shared vision,” Horowitz said. “Inclusiveness will be the key to achieving all of this. We will join with others in new partnerships. This will include working with corporate sponsors, foundations and other Jewish agencies. … It will also require us to raise significant support through capital campaigns in order to achieve this vision.”
The end result?
Youngsters want to play sports at the JCC.
High schoolers want to hang out there. Young adults want to hang out there. Adults want to exercise there.
“And seniors want to live longer there,” Horowitz said.
After concluding her comments, Horowitz received a standing ovation.
Also during the program, Ellen Ungerman was honored as Leader of the Year. Richard Aston received the Sam Slusher Award. And Kacey Cohen and Blake Levinson became this year’s Hank Bodner Award winners. These awards are named in tribute to past leaders of the JCC.
Additionally, a slate of new officers and board members were selected by the nominating committee to serve two-year terms.

Those elected

The 2015-16 JCC officers who were unanimously approved by the audience include Angela Aaron Horowitz, chairman of the board. The vice presidents are Doug Baer, Andy Dropkin, Monte Hurst, Jay Liberman and Ellen Ungerman.
The members of 2015-16 board of directors continuing their service are David Friedman, Sherry Goldberg, David Greenstone, Marc Grossfeld, Laurie Judson, Sandy Kuntz, Lisa Lieberman, Alex Prescott, Marilyn Schaffer, Steve Schneider, Ruthie Schor, Jill Tananbaum, Jonathan Tobolowsky and Mike Weinberg.
Board members nominated for election — and unanimously approved — were Kim Cuban, Mike Horowitz, Zev Shulkin and Michael Waldman.
Board members nominated for re-election — and unanimously approved — were Neil Beckerman, Rachel Kramer, Liz Liener, Esther Meyers, Michael Ochstein, Lori Ordiway and Wendy Stanley.
During the CEO’s remarks, Artie Allen gave great praise to the many accomplishments that can be attributed to outgoing Chairman Scott Cohen — including a new website, a new hospitality manager, roof renovations, new hallway bathrooms and an expanded group exercise studio.
“Without safety and security, we have nothing,” Allen said. “Scott has increased security measures on campus. We now have automatic gates, a new security desk in the lobby, police officers on duty and the upcoming installation of a new guard house — and these have all been championed by Scott.”
During his comments, Scott Cohen gave equal praise to Allen and thanked him for being a great partner the previous two years.
“Artie Allen is the right man at the right place at the right time doing the right things,” Cohen said. “… So much of our success is a direct result of his leadership.”
While thanking his friends and colleagues at the JCC, Cohen discussed his late grandfather Erwin Waldman. Cohen said his grandfather would be proud of the work the JCC has accomplished.
“The J is in a great place,” Cohen said. “But we will get better. We will get stronger.”

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