Lee Leichtag, founder of the Leichtag Foundation and of blessed memory, believed deeply in investing in talent. It brought him so much joy to mentor young entrepreneurs.
We have applied that principle to how we invest in our staff, programs, and grants strategy at the Leichtag Foundation. When I took on the role as Chief Talent Officer of the Leichtag Foundation, it was with the express desire to have a staff person dedicated to using every asset and lever we have to shine a light on the individuals doing the demanding work in our community. I try to channel the energy of my beloved colleague Naomi Rabkin of blessed memory every day as I approach my work. She told me her own talent in life was to surface and maximize the strengths of her colleagues.
We cherish the people on our team and are devoted to their continued growth as stewards of the Leichtag legacy, leaders in the social sector, and influential voices in the Jewish communal field. Through the process of focusing on staff development and retention, we have witnessed firsthand that enabling people to work with their strengths, we are more efficient and effective. There is not one employee who was hired or promoted into a role that previously existed in the same way. When we hire and evaluate each individual team member from interview and beyond, we constantly assess their strengths and adapt their position, so their responsibilities maximize their skills to the highest level. We pay close attention to the community-wide Leading Edge Employee Engagement Survey which shows that turnover, especially in junior to mid-level positions in Jewish organizations, is high. Therefore, developing a deep bench of diverse skill sets is critical to the health of an organization.
We are fortunate at Leichtag Commons to not only be able to invest in talented staff, but to provide them with a platform to experiment with programs on our property. Each program we curate intends to uplift interesting, dynamic, innovative, thought provoking, multi-layered performers, speakers, thought leaders and artists, to share their work with our Commons community. We see Leichtag Commons as a physical space where people can play and test the latest ideas.
Lastly, we honor the legacy of Lee and Toni Leichtag by investing in talent through our grantmaking. This is also a core strategy to accelerate our Foundation’s impact. We have high expectations of our partner organizations. We want them to strengthen the community in meaningful ways, address urgent needs, and solve complicated problems. We also want them to be sustainable. With such ambitious goals, it is important to identify partners that are well-positioned for success, and this begins in the screening process where we prioritize high quality leadership. Over time we have learned that organizations with strong leaders are more likely to have inspired staff, effective programs, efficient systems, and innovative practices.
Once a grant has been made, we continue working with organizations to further build their capacity. This has included coaching, attracting new and diverse funders, supporting professional development opportunities, and assisting with strategic planning and succession plan development. We have also facilitated convenings and fostered collaborations. Our efforts have reached a range of staff, from early-career emerging leaders to long-serving executives.
Jenny Camhi, Chief Talent Officer