On the heels of renewed energy at the Valley of the Sun Jewish Community Center, a new CEO has been selected. Following a comprehensive nationwide search, the JCC board voted Jan. 10 to approve the hiring of Jay Jacobs. Jacobs is currently CEO of the Carole and Marcus Weinstein Jewish Community Center in Richmond, Virginia and has enjoyed a successful JCC career nationally at the CEO level for 16 years.
“Jay brings an extensive JCC background and we couldn’t be more pleased to have found such a qualified executive to lead our organization,” said Jonathan Hoffer, JCC board chair, in an interview shortly after the unanimous vote. “We are just thrilled that Jay will be leading our organization in the very near future.”
Hoffer added, “Jay will continue to drive the positive momentum of the J, following the opening of our new Aquatics Club, the incredibly successful gala honoring Bill Levine, the opening of the new campus café, Milk and Honey, and many other exciting projects.”
From his home in Richmond, Jacobs shared his enthusiasm of taking the helm of the VOSJCC and becoming involved in Scottsdale and its surrounding communities. “I’m excited to be part of a team that is working incredibly hard to create something very special for the Scottsdale community,” he said.
A native of Pittsburgh, he graduated from Penn State University with a degree in social work and a minor in physical education and has worked for JCCs for 38 years. He will move to Scottsdale at the end of March, with a scheduled start date of March 27.
“The JCC in Scottsdale is a terrific facility which creates incredible opportunities in terms of providing programs and services for the community,” said Jacobs, who has been familiar with the Scottsdale community, and adds that “one of my lifelong best friends is living in Scottsdale.”
The VOSJCC is currently a support organization of the Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix and the JCC board has full autonomy over JCC operations.
In December of last year, Stuart Wachs, the first president and CEO of the Jewish Community Association, announced that he was leaving that position on Jan. 31, to pursue other jobs in the private sector.
The JCC board praised Wachs for his passion and work ethic during his five-year tenure, which included the challenges during the recession that resulted in the decision by the Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix and VOSJCC leaders to create the Jewish Community Association (JCA) of Greater Phoenix.
The Federation, the Ina Levine Jewish Community Campus and the VOSJCC had all consolidated into the then newly created JCA in February 2012 and Wachs assumed his position as the new organization’s leader in March 2012.
However, in late 2016, leadership created a separate position for a dedicated JCC CEO, as well as a separate JCC board.
Hoffer emphasized that having emerged from many of the struggles the Federation and JCC faced over the years, they are ready to move forward and maximize the impact of each organization and in doing so, maximize the number of lives enriched.
Hoffer and the board are confident Jacobs’ experience will help them move forward. In his five years in Richmond, Jacobs is proud of many milestones he’s helped the JCC achieve, including an increased membership of over 1,300 units during a 42-month period, a membership retention rate of over 82 percent, as well as exceeding budget projections each year.
Jacobs’ 16 years as a CEO at JCCs, also includes his tenure in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he excelled at helping a relatively young JCC achieve financial independence and excellence in programming and other areas.
Prior to arriving in Albuquerque, Jacobs was executive director of the Jewish Community Center of Dallas for four years as well as its assistant executive director for five years.