Choose Your Own Learning

Possible topics for the Choose Your Own Learning sessions. These topics are subject to change and will be updated as necessary. Please discuss with your delegation which topics are most appropriate and useful for your JCC.

2015 Choose Your Own Schedule

Session 1 – Tuesday Morning (10:15 — 12:00pm)

Customer Service Magic: How to Win and Keep Members
Although it is difficult to accept, people don’t “need” a JCC.  They have many other social, educational and fitness options within their communities.  With this realization, it becomes crystal clear why creating exceptional customer service experiences is so important.  When a prospect walks through the door we must ensure they feel instantly welcome; as a member we must create a strong connection that helps to ensure they remain a member for years to come.  In this session participants will learn:

* What each employee’s “job” is regardless of what their day to day “tasks” may involve.
* How non-verbal communication significantly impacts your connection with members.
*  Language patterns every employee must be aware of to use and avoid.
*  The importance of attitude and how it is critical to creating the right organizational culture and environment.
*  What are the 5 customer criteria that create “Knock Your Socks Off” customer service.
Speaker: Casey Conrad, President, Communication Consultants

Can You Hear Me Now: Improving Internal Communications
Ever feel like no one is listening? Do you worry that you didn’t get the memo? This breakout session will explore workplace communication tips and techniques that will help you communicate more effectively with your boss, your colleagues, and those you supervise. Learn how to match your communication style with that of others as we explore hands-on methods to improve the way we relate to one another.
Speaker: Dr. Robert Prescott, SPHR, Crummer Graduate School of Business, Rollins College

Raising Your Game: The Professional Competencies Most Prized by Execs
Talent Management program of JCC Association details 22 professional competencies that every JCC professional ought to possess. But which are the ones that executives most prize? In this session, you’ll hear from three people who know what executives most yearn for from their staff. The session will be moderated by Allan Finkelstein, who will also be a speaker.

Speaker: Allan Finkelstein, Former President & CEO of JCC Association, Barak Hermann, President, JCCs of Greater Baltimore, Jennifer Mamlet, Executive Director, JCC of Central New Jersey

Making Time and Stress Work FOR You
Wouldn’t it be amazing if you always felt like you had enough time, energy and passion to get to everything on your to-do list at work and home? It would be – but that’s not realistic (at least for most of us). In this session, you’ll examine your beliefs about managing time, energy and stress, as well as develop some new strategies for making better decisions about what to do with your time and how to make stress work for you rather than drain you.

Speaker: Deborah Grayson Riegel, President, Elevated Training Inc. and

JCC and Shlichim: Working in Partnership
This session is for those who currently host shlichim and those who would like to explore hosting a year-round shaliach. Topics covered will include getting the best from your shaliach, incorporating the shaliach into all JCC departments and other community organizations, and the “aleph-bet” of bringing a shaliach to your community.

Speaker: Sara Sless, Director, JCCA Israel Center and Ariella Friedman, Director of Shlichut Services for North America and Central Shaliach

JCC Maccabi: A Vehicle to Engage Your Teens and Your Community in Meaningful Year Round Programming
How can JCC Maccabi help you bring your JCC teen programming to the next level?   Topics include: JCC Maccabi Games and ArtsFest as a year-long program, creating active teen and lay committees to support JCC Maccabi across the agency, and using the JCC Maccabi brand to create energy and new opportunities at your JCC.

Speaker: Michael Gordon, Randy Lutterman, Jonathan Fass, JCC Association Continental JCC Maccabi Team
Paul Lurie, Vice President of Fitness, Recreation and Aquatics, JCC of Greater Baltimore
Samantha Cohen, Program Director, Merage JCC of Orange County

User Engagement Exceptional Practices: JCCs Putting Benchmarking Results into Action
Building on the 2013-14 Benchmarking process, staff at fourteen JCCs were interviewed to better understand the factors behind their strong and/or improved customer satisfaction scores. The result was six (6) JCC user engagement exceptional practices that were intentional, well-executed and easily replicable in other JCCs. Come and explore the results, being released for the first time at this session, and learn first-hand from two JCC professionals how you can adapt these approaches for your JCC.

Speaker: Janet S. Elam, Vice President, Community Consultation, JCC Association, Barrie McAlister, Director of Operations, I.J. and Jeanne Wagner JCC, Jeffrey Rips, Executive Director, Barbara & Ray Alpert JCC

Voices and Visions: Weaving A Tapestry of Jewish Ideas & Art
This session will explore how a project led by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation integrates Jewish quotes, thoughts, and ideas into an extraordinary arts project for Jewish adults. When curious Jewish adults ponder the meaning of these posters they are oftentimes moved to enter into meaningful conversations about a host of different Jewish values, including: community, tzedaka, tikun olam, leadership, memory, etc… The inspiring artwork was prepared by a leading group of first rate artists, who reflected on the meaning of these quotes and then proceeded to create visual images that invite a plethora of interpretations.  The combination of exciting quotes, stirring art, compelling commentaries, and engaging activities stimulates meaningful conversations that encourage participants to reflect on relevant issues in their lives and to learn from others about other perspectives.  At the conclusion of this session participants will be eager to consider ways to introduce this project into their JCC setting and thereby exploit an unusual educational opportunity.

Speakers: Dr. Howard Deitcher, Director, Florence Melton Institute of Adult Jewish Learning, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Using the New Brand
How the branding was created, strategy, ethos, and visual overview. Benefits to a JCC, building staff engagement, where to find resources and most importantly questions from you and answers from us.

Speaker: Joanne Harmon, Creative Director, JCC Association and Michael Rowland, Marketing Consultant, JCC Association

Best Practices in Inclusive Early Childhood Education
Explore various models of inclusion and discover concrete strategies and skills for supporting all children in your early childhood center.

Speaker: Meredith Polsky, Director of Training and Advocacy, MATAN

Managing Up
Take control of your career, your vision of your job and your future.  Learn how to identify what your boss really wants, what is most important to know about your boss’s expectations, how to maximize your impact and make yourself indespensible.  This session will focus on practical, ready to implement tactics you can immediately utilize to improve your relationship with your boss, increase your productivity and maximize your value to your JCC.
Speakers: Jordan Shenker, Senior Vice President, JCC Association


Session 2 – Tuesday Afternoon (1:45PM — 3:30PM)


Introducing 2.0 is all new for 2015. Upgrades to site speed, design and search mean you will be able to find the resources you are looking for more quickly and easily. enables JCCs to interact with each other and consultants at JCC Association. The site includes over 20 knowledge bases with articles, images, videos, archived webinars and more. Attendees will learn about 2.0 and see the new look and feel and features.

Speakers: Samantha Tananbaum, Digital Marketing Associate, JCC Association

Operational Excellence
Focusing on the foundational components of Operational Excellence—effective teams, integrated technology systems, and efficient workflow—this session will leave participants with a renewed vision of what it means to operate at the highest levels to support the achievement of solid program outcomes. Designed for executive leadership, the session will focus on how to identify if an organization is on the right track to achieve operational excellence across all functions and, if not, how to most effectively shift course.

Speaker: Hilda Polanco, CPA, CCSA®, Founder and Managing Director, Fiscal Management Associates, LLC

Getting Ready For Your Next Capital Campaign: Things You Should Know Today
Even if you are a few years out from a potential next campaign, the session will cover a number of strategies that should be in place today.

Speaker: David Valinsky, President and Founder, David Valinsky Associates

Mastering Tricky Conversations: How to Talk to Anyone about Anything
When we’re feeling angry, stressed, upset or let down by someone in our work or personal life, we tend to convince ourselves that that they’ve got a problem – not us.  That’s only the first trap that we fall into that makes certain conversations more challenging than they have to be. In this session, you will learn the common traps of challenging conversations, how to set the tone to make a tough talk less stressful, how to create ground rules and guidelines so that future conversations can be less heated, and concrete strategies for managing your own anxiety around difficult conversations.

Speaker: Deborah Grayson Riegel, President, Elevated Training and

Celebrating Democracy: Having Fun with the Israeli Elections and What Does it all Mean?Elections for the 20th Knesset (Parliament) take place on March 17, 2015. This workshop will explore, in an interactive manner, this celebration of democracy and give a sense of the central issues and political parties competing in the election arena.
Speakers: Sara Sless, Director, JCCA Israel Center and Ariella Friedman, Director of Shlichut Services for North America and Central Shaliach

(Not So) Straight Talk About LGBT Inclusion
This interactive session is geared toward JCC professionals looking to take initial steps in exploring LGBT inclusion from a Jewish perspective, and how it applies to their work. The facilitator will start by allowing you to bring your own voices into the room, sharing your hopes, questions, and concerns about LGBT inclusion work. We will then establish a shared language for discussing inclusion by examining core LGBT terms and concepts, including the distinct but related categories of sex, gender, and sexual orientation. Next, we will use Keshet’s Seven Jewish Values for Inclusive Community resource as a jumping off point for talking about how LGBT inclusion connects with Jewish tradition, values, culture, and text. The session will wrap up with a brainstorm about how to apply what you learned to your home community and your own professional role. No previous experience or training in LGBT inclusion necessary — all are welcome!
Speaker: Daniel Bahner, National Manager of Education & Training, Keshet

Mapping Your Career Path: Three Naratives
What does it mean today to make a career within the JCC field?  In this session, hear from three senior JCC managers about their own career paths, and what they have learned.

Speaker: Jared Powers, Chief Program Officer, Marcus JCC of Atlanta, Jeff Rembrant, Assistant Executive Director, Springfield JCC, Denise Wolf, Chief Operating Officer, Tucson JCC
Facilitator:Janet S. Elam, Vice President, JCC Association

A Taste of TAG: Engaging Diversity Through a Jewish Lens
Experience TAG activities first-hand from our M’Shaneh Habriyot: Diversity in the World activity guide, which brings a Jewish lens to the celebration and appreciation of diversity. And learn how to bring these activities back to your JCC!

Speaker: TAG Team Trainers
Tracey Agranoff, Youth and Family Enrichment Coordinator, JCC of the Greater St. Paul Area
Lauren Grundland, Assistant Camp Director, The Jack and Pat Kay Centre Camp, JCC of Greater Toronto
Mallory Zipkin, Associate Camp Director, Camp Yachad, JCC of Central New Jersey

There is Something About this Place: Telling the JCC Story
What do you get when you combine our brand pillars and the live up spirit with the right words and a camera? A great story! JCC Association’s marketing team will share some guidance on how to tell your JCC’s stories visually and using the written word. Learn how to recognize a good story and tell it well when you: get people to read what you write; select and use great photos; shoot some great video; and place them in the appropriate media.

Speaker: Chris Strom, Director of New Media and Social Networking, JCC Association
Marla Cohen, Communications Manager, JCC Association
Joanne Harmon, Creative Director, JCC Association


Shifting Your Agency Towards a Culture of Special Needs Inclusion
Designed for Program Directors, this session will encourage you to reflect upon where your agency is on the continuum of inclusion of people with special needs.  You will learn about important steps your agency can take and goals you can set in order to affect positive change. It’s easier than you think!
Speaker: Meredith Polsky, Director of Training and Advocacy, MATAN


Understanding Trends and Fads: Creative Program Development
Developing new programs – How do we come up with new ideas for the programs and services that our members need and want?  Are our current offerings really reaching the population we want to attract?  Learn techniques on how to use existing resources to identify trends and fads, before they pass you by.  This process can be used with any program department at any JCC.

Speaker: Alan Goldberg, Vice President, JCC Association


New Skin for the Old Ceremony: How Leonard Cohen Brings Meaning to Your JCC
For more than fifty years Leonard Cohen has woven matters of spirit into the fabric of popular culture. Join the new President and CEO of JCC Association, Dr. Stephen Hazan Arnoff– a popular writer and teacher on the connections between rock ‘n’ roll and religion– for a conversation about how Cohen and other luminaries of pop can animate seekers of meaning in your JCC

Speaker: Dr. Stephen Hazan Arnoff, President & CEO, JCC Association


Session 3 – Wednesday Morning (8:30 — 10:00AM)

Maximizing Budget Skills for Greater Impact for Non-Finance Staff
Strategic financial management isn’t just a string of buzzwords; in these times it’s an organizational imperative. Participants in this workshop will gain an understanding of how strengthening financial management—especially the budget development and monitoring processes—can bolster program impact. This workshop will explore the nuts and bolts of developing a well-designed and inclusive framework for projecting and managing to the numbers, including how the process can be designed to facilitate goal setting and strategic decision-making at the programmatic and leadership team level.

Speaker: Hilda Polanco, CPA, CCSA®, Founder and Managing Director, Fiscal Management Associates, LLC

Building Your JCCs Capacity to Engage 20s and 30s
Engagement of 20 and 30-year-old millennials is a challenge and opportunity for the Jewish community as it charts its future. As we learned from the 2013 Pew Report, it is important to create new, innovative and out-of-the-box solutions in order to effectively reach out to and connect with these individuals. Our facilitators, Naomi Korb Weiss and Jim Stein, will discuss the characteristics of this generation and will provide specific nuts and bolts ideas regarding how to achieve effective connections. Please bring your own ideas to share!
Speaker: Naomi Korb Weiss,CEO,  PresenTense Group and Jim Stein, Author, Renaissance: A Strategic Plan to Transform Judaism, St. Paul, MN

Relationship Building for Affinity Groups
Developing strong relationships with donors will lead to a more committed donor.  As donors are getting pulled in a million directions, it is more important now than ever to not only foster the relationship between them and your JCC, but also between the donor and the fundraiser. Learn how this critical relationship can be built.

Speaker: Jason Freeman, Director of Individual Giving, JCC Association

Growing Your Leadership Sixth Sense: Emotional Intelligence
In this session leadership participants will learn about enhancing their EQ or ‘Emotional Quotient.” Participants will take a baseline assessment measuring emotional intelligence. Perceiving, utilizing, understanding, and managing emotions will be discussed and experienced. The history of EI and the big five personality characteristics for leadership success will be reviewed: agreeableness, extraversion, openness, and conscientiousness. Current thinking trains and teaches leaders to be more self-aware, self-regulating, socially skilled, empathic, and motivated to achieve admirable goals

Speakers: Dr. Mark Freeman, Crummer Graduate School of Business, Rollins College

What Every New Supervisor Needs to Know
Learn to apply prior experience and professional skills in your new managerial role.  This session will provide tools you can immediately use to become a successful supervisor.  Learn skills the best managers use to be successful and how you can put these techniques to work for you.
Speaker: Jordan Shenker, Senior Vice President, JCC Association

Engaging Israelis in Your JCC
The importance and added value of connecting your local Israeli community with the JCC will be explored. How does this create a sense of Jewish peoplehood? What are the challenges and best practices involved? This session will provide a platform to share experiences and challenges, and will provide concrete ideas to reach out to Israelis and keep them involved.

Speaker: Sara Sless, Director, JCC Association Israel Center

Talk Back with Stephen Hazan Arnoff
Stephen Hazan Arnoff is the new president and CEO of JCC Association. Who is Stephen, what are his ideas about JCCs  and the impact they have on Jewish community, and what does he think about the role of JCC professionals. Get a glimpse into the new leader of the JCC movement.

Speaker: Stephen Hazan Arnoff, President & CEO, JCC Association interviewed by Robin Ballin, Senior Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer, JCC Association

How Did I Get Here? How to Bring Your Whole Self to a Jewish Community Center
We come from many different places with a variety of ethnic, religious, etc. backgrounds. Through different experiential activities, this session will explore the valuable role each of us (as a result of our respective backgrounds), plays in supporting the Jewish mission of the JCC.

Speaker: Matt Abrams Gerber, Assistant VP; Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel Center for Jewish Education, JCC Association

Making Social Media Work for You
Ready, Set, Plan! Social Media continues to evolve and influence the choices that members make. Start with a plan and build your social roadmap to make it work for you.

Speaker: Tom Kaczmarek, Director of Omni-Channel Marekting, Make Me Social

The Tachlis of Inclusion
In this session, a more advanced look at LGBT inclusion, by establishing common language around key LGBT terms and concepts. The focus of the session will be on how participants can take concrete steps toward making their JCC facilities, programming, and communities more inclusive and embracing of LGBT families and individuals. We will identify three realms for change — Programming, Policy, and Culture — and share examples and best practices in each realm. Participants will each have the opportunity to take home an Institutional Self-Assessment resource as a tool for opening up a further conversation within their institution. This session is recommended for JCC professionals in leadership positions, as well as for those who have had some exposure to or experience with LGBT inclusion efforts in the past.
Speaker: Daniel Bahner, National Manager of Education & Training, Keshet

Goodbye to Bottom of the Benchmarking Group: 5 (Easy) Steps to a Stronger Employee Culture
In this session, you’ll learn about the remarkable rise of the Kansas City JCC from an employee culture perspective. With an overall emphasis on Performance Management, you’ll also gain insights into other success stories around communications, staff recognition and staff morale and how this JCC tackled their low benchmarking scores/employee culture head on!

Speaker: Dori Denelle, Vice President, Community Consultation, JCC Association and Gayle Levin, Director of Organizational Enrichment, JCC of Greater Kansas City