As Rosh Hashanah approaches, I thought it would be a good opportunity to update you on the progress of the JDC Institute for Leadership and Governance.
This past year has been very significant for the development of the Institute. Thus far, nine director-generals of government ministries, and five ministers, have expressed their support for the establishment of the Institute, and we have been fortunate to receive gifts from overseas supporters, including Penni and Steve Weinberg, the Vivmar Foundation (through Martin Paisner), The Joseph and Harvey Meyerhoff Family Charitable Funds, the Russell Berrie Foundation, UJA – Federation of New York, and UJIA.
Our work focuses on the top leaders of Israel – philanthropists, lay leaders, senior government officials, mayors and academic leaders. Our goals are to help leaders learn; to support and enable them to lead transformative changes; and to develop networks and strategic partnerships among and between leaders from different organizations and sectors directed to high and measurable impact .
This year we combined strategic planning for the Institute, with the implementation of new and renewed flagship programs, for example:
Government Senior Staff
– The 20th Social Policy and Administration Training program for senior public sector leaders, which is currently taking place. Participants include senior leaders of the civil service, who are in key positions to make systemic changes. The Civil Service Commissioner and the incoming Director General of the Education Ministry are attending the current program.
– The Training Program for Executives from the Ministry of Finance. These professionals are responsible for making major allocation decisions, and often play an entrepreneurial role in leading social change through their planning and decision-making.
– Forums for Regional Directors of Ministries, which convene key government players to facilitate cooperation on the regional level, and to provide a platform for cooperation between the central government and municipalities.
Social and Philanthropic Leadership
The Penni and Steve Weinberg Center for Lay Leadership, which hosted four Ambassadors Forums this past year. The most recent one was attended by 70 lay and professional leaders of non-profit organizations, and included many leading Israeli figures. These Forums play a key role in developing Israel’s lay leadership network.
– The “Mashmaut” program, which trains directors of non-profit organizations, and facilitates the development of reciprocal learning and cooperation among them.
– “Synergy”: a program that encourages managers from large business corporations to assume lay leadership roles in the non-profit sector.
A recent and very exciting breakthrough, which I will elaborate on, is our new Regional Development Program. This program is currently generating significant interest in the Israeli Government.
The program started in the North. Leaders of Northern Israel’s small, fragmented, local authorities face a glass ceiling in terms of their capacity to access national resources and provide effective services for their residents. We recognized that this reality is a significant barrier to engendering development. However, through cooperation between mayors, the region’s resources can become essential assets for development. Therefore, we established the Regional Development Program, which serves as the ‘strategic unit of the region,’ forging cooperation among local leaders in the North and creating economies of scale that can transform the region. The program increases the capacity of local leaders so that they can execute regional development projects, acquire increased budgets, establish a stronger voice, and gain greater access to national resources.
The Regional Development program forges cooperation in northern Israel through two regional districts, West Galilee and East Galilee, which are new, voluntary associations of local municipalities called Eshkolot (clusters). JDC gathers the local leaders and resources needed to enhance the quality of transportation, education, welfare, tourism, and employment services in the region.
For example, in the West Galilee:
JDC’s planning workshop brought together 60 leaders from the region’s tourism, employment, environment, and cultural fields. Together they established four action committees as well as a list of 20 regional development projects to be implemented over the next five years.
Our next steps: we will support the leaders of the West Galilee Regional District in adopting and implementing select regional development projects that were produced during the regional workshop; and we will organize a planning workshop for mayors and senior local authority professionals.
Over the course of the next five years, JDC will steer the region into a new era of cooperation in which transportation, education, welfare, tourism, and employment services will have significantly improved. As such, the Regional Development program established various benchmarks, including:
Each regional district will have a sustainable development plan that includes at least three regional projects.
Key local leaders including mayors and philanthropists will meet regularly to support the regional district in the planning and implementation of its sustainable development plan.
The Regional Development program has the potential to not only transform the Galilee region. The support of the Russell Berrie Foundation, which enabled JDC to pilot and improve this model for regional development, has paved the way for JDC to begin a dialogue with the Government to disseminate this program throughout the country.