Q & A with our 2019 Annual Campaign Co-chairs

Every year, two talented and committed CJP volunteers take on the challenge of co-chairing our Annual Campaign. This year, however, is an exception. In 2019, we've got three phenomenal leaders who are inspiring our community to make an impact through their philanthropy. Darren Black takes on the role for a third consecutive year, continuing a winning streak with co-chair Lisa Wallack for the second year. Marjorie Patkin joins them in her first year as co-chair. Here, they discuss their hopes for the future and what motivates them to lead our Jewish community.

CJP: It’s possibly a CJP first to have three Annual Campaign Chairs. Why the change?

LISA WALLACK: Two reasons — the first is that Darren and I couldn't get enough of this work! And the other is that it's a very exciting time at CJP. We wanted to make absolutely sure that we had all-hands on deck to support the professional team and engage and inspire our volunteers as we navigate this exciting transition. Also, Marjorie adds so much to this effort — her energy, commitment, and connection to the North Shore are invaluable.

DARREN BLACK: This is a unique moment in CJP's history. We have this wonderful opportunity to not only make the transition to a new CJP President go well, but to also engage a whole new group of people in doing so. We want to help Rabbi Marc Baker as he begins his new role so that his first priority can be engaging the community instead of focusing on the Campaign. With three of us, it gives the extra horsepower that we need.

MARJORIE PATKIN: I'm so honored to serve as a co-chair with Lisa and Darren. I have served on various committees and on the Board of Directors for the last year, and I think they're both great role models and mentors. It will be very inspirational working with them.

CJP: Why are you each individually committed to investing your time this way with CJP?

DARREN BLACK: For my wife Michelle and I, this is the most important place that we commit both our time and our resources. We do it for three reasons. The first is that we care about the broad Jewish community and CJP really addresses the strategic needs and thinks about their work from a global perspective versus a micro level. Number two is it's a great way to show our kids the importance of engaging in philanthropy. The third reason is we want to make sure there is a vibrant Jewish community in Boston for the next generation and many more to come.

MARJORIE PATKIN:  I feel a personal responsibility to devote my time and energy knowing that CJP will help solve our community’s most pressing needs, both locally and overseas. CJP is a strategic organization; they assess the needs of our community and collaborate with other organizations to effectively deal with issues. Their dedicated corps of volunteers and extraordinary staff inspire me every day. I can’t think of anything more worthwhile than having a part in shaping the future of our Jewish community.

LISA WALLACK: I feel privileged to be able to continue to serve with Darren and now with Marjorie, too. For me and my husband, Neil, our top value is having a strong and vibrant Jewish community for ourselves and our children, and for future generations. We want CJP to be the place that brings everybody together towards that shared vision and that collective future.

CJP: Is there one area of CJP's work that you find especially meaningful to you personally?

LISA WALLACK: It is hard to pick just one, but I like that being involved with the Campaign enables me to go out and meet with so many different people and find what resonates with them. I enjoy that opportunity to connect.

I also am personally very passionate about our Israel agenda. The opportunity and the responsibility to engage everyone in our community with Israel is a priority for me. We have a wonderful way to do that through our Strategic Israel Engagement initiative.

MARJORIE PATKIN: What is most important to me is that we continue to remain relevant with a broader base than we currently have and make sure that we understand and are meeting our community’s needs. This is an exciting and critical time for us, coming on the heels of the Community Study, and launching the Strategic Plan. CJP is poised to be a change agent — to be part of an organization that is focused on the future is fascinating for me.

DARREN BLACK: The most personally meaningful aspect of CJP’s work changes for me from time to time, driven in large part by where my family and I are at in our Jewish journey. We went from being young adults to having young children, and as our kids grew, we got active in some of the family initiatives. I was still focused on caring and the social justice agenda. Now our kids are in Jewish day schools, so it's probably no surprise that we are interested in that. I agree with Lisa that our Israel work is critical, and not just for the state of Israel, but actually for the Boston community.

What I've enjoyed with CJP is the broadness of the platform. If there is a need in the community, CJP can help fill it.

CJP: What do you think will be different this year, and what’s your outlook for the Campaign?

DARREN BLACK: Any time you have new leadership, you have an opportunity to tell a different story. Barry was a remarkable leader for 30 years and he left an indelible mark on our community. And now Marc has a chance to come do the same — that’s exciting and part of the reason why I'm doing this for a third year. The fact that last year's Campaign was so strong shows how much CJP matters to community.

LISA WALLACK: Last year, we were very fortunate to receive numerous multi-year commitments, and people’s confidence and enthusiasm about keeping the community strong through the transition positioned us for success. This year, the community has already given more than $17 million. Giving early is so important because it allows us to make better decisions, think more creatively, and act more proactively. This isn't CJP's campaign, it's the community's campaign.

MARJORIE PATKIN: I think Marc can lead us from strength to strength and take us into this exciting new chapter. Like Marc, I’m from the North Shore, and we take pride in Marc being the President and CEO of CJP. Marc's background as an educator, as a community leader, as somebody who is from within the Greater Boston community are tremendous assets.

As we continue to implement the Strategic Plan, it will be a priority for us to meet the community where they are, instead of waiting for them to find us. We will focus on engaging the next generation, which is imperative for the future of our Jewish community.

CJP: How does CJP’s reputation for fiscal responsibility and transparency affect your ability to help us raise this campaign and how does it impact you as a donor?

MARJORIE PATKIN: My husband, Randy, and I are proud to support an organization that has such a strong financial foundation and the highest ethical standards. CJP has consistently been recognized for excellence by Charity Navigator.

LISA WALLACK: It's incredibly important to know that the dollars we're giving and we're working so hard to raise from others are being used in the most responsible way. Every dollar is treated as sacred and nothing goes to waste. Our confidence in the way this organization is run certainly inspires Neil and I to make it a philanthropic priority and gives me the comfort and confidence I need to go out and ask other people to do the same.

DARREN BLACK: Michelle and I feel like CJP has been a great steward of our capital. There is great oversight, there's great insight, and there's great lay leader involvement. We’re so fortunate in this community to not only have a CJP staff who are ethical, honest, hardworking, and transparent, but also to have incredible lay leaders, many of whom have deep financial expertise. They are willing to lend their time and energy to the organization. We're incredibly lucky to have that level of engagement from people who are committed to strengthening our Jewish community.