After sixteen years in the Cincinnati Jewish community, Shep Englander is moving on to his next chapter as the CEO of the Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee in Florida.
Englander took over as CEO of the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati when the community was in a very different place. “The community, at the time, was becoming very isolated, with different groups stuck in their silos,” explained Debbie Brant, Chair of the Board of the Federation. “Shep was able to help pull the community together.”
It was through Englander’s leadership that the 2008 and 2019 community studies were born. The 2008 Cincinnati Jewish Community Study was commissioned to capture the characteristics of the Cincinnati Jewish community and provide insight into the community’s needs, attitudes and behaviors. The findings of that study initiated a ten-year journey, beginning in 2010, to build a stronger Jewish community, called Cincinnati 2020. The process was repeated eleven years later for the 2019 community study, which launched the Cincinnati 2030 initiative last year.
Englander’s ability to connect with people on a human level helped bring about major change for Jewish Cincinnati. “He was able to build strong relationships, both inside and outside our community, to propel us forward,” said Brant. “Shep’s first project was building consensus and spearheading the capital campaign for our JCC community center campus, which led to Cincinnati becoming one of America's most collaborative and strategic Jewish communities.”
Englander has been an architect of the uniquely effective collaboration between the Federation and The Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati. “His stewardship of the critical relationship between the Federation and the Foundation is one of his signature accomplishments,” said Brian Jaffee, Executive Director of the Jewish Foundation. “Shep recognized very early on that a strong, trusting partnership between the Federation and Foundation would benefit the entire community, and he led the development of strategic initiatives that our two institutional funders could work on together, such as Shared Business Services and SAFE Cincinnati, both of which have contributed to our community being able to punch well above its weight class. Shep’s role in these efforts was wholly consistent with his overall brand of collaborative leadership.”
Englander also helped create the first-ever Cincinnati Congregation & Community Trip to Israel in the summer of 2016, which was inspired by community discussions surrounding Cincinnati 2020. “The emphasis on congregational life came from a recognition that Jews in many ways are made in congregations,” Jaffee explained in a 2016 interview. “The trip helped strengthen connections to Israel for the entire community, and promoted a greater sense of community across our congregations.”
“It’s never easy leaving your home after sixteen years,” Englander said, reflecting on his time with the organization. “Cincinnati has become my home. It’s where we raised our family; it’s where we made friends. But the Federation is as strong now as it’s ever been, and it’s time for me to pursue a new challenge. Nothing in my career has been more gratifying than nurturing this community, and developing an exceptionally talented professional team.”
“I am so glad to depart with confidence that Cincinnati's Federation will remain strong and that the transition will be smooth,” Englander concluded. “I am grateful to have worked with so many of you to help this community reach its potential. I will miss seeing you at the J Cafe and around town. But I’ll be watching from Florida with excitement to see the next steps in this community’s remarkable journey. In Hebrew, we don’t say goodbye. We say l’hitraot —see you later.”