Lisa Perlen elected Federation president at annual meeting

Posted on: June 17th, 2016 by tgregory

Announces reassessment of community priorities and funding needs

By Charles Bernsen

Lisa Perlen (center) was elected the 42nd president of the Jewish Federation and Foundation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee. With her is outgoing President Carol Hyatt and Executive Director Mark Freedman. (Photos by Rick Malkin)

Using data from its recently completed demographic survey, the Jewish Federation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee is launching a reassessment of community priorities and funding needs, new Federation President Lisa Perlen announced. 

Dubbed Best Jewish Nashville 2.0, the assessment will be conducted by a committee co-chaired by Carolyn Hyatt, the Federation’s immediate past president, and Steve Hirsch, its new vice president. Perlen said it should take six to eight months.

Perlen’s announcement came during remarks at the Federation’s 80th annual meeting on June 15 shortly after the election of new board members and officers. In addition to her election as the Federation’s 42nd president and Hirsch’s as vice president, Lori Fishel was elected secretary and Michael Doochin treasurer. New board members include Mark Cohen, Adam Dretler, Leslie Newman, Jeremy Werthan, Mindy Hirt and David Steine Jr. Rabbi Mark Schiftan of The Temple is the new representative of the board of rabbis.  

Outgoing President Carol Hyatt presented the Federation’s Young Leadership Award to Batia and Aron Karabel.

About 150 people attended the meeting at the Gordon Jewish Community Center, which also included a special tribute to Hyatt and other outgoing board members and officers as well as to Batia and Aron Karabel, co-recipients of the Federation’s Young Leadership Award. 

Best Jewish Nashville is a planning and funding process instituted by the Federation in 2010 that relies on grass roots feedback to regularly reassess community priorities, programming and funding needs. In keeping with that principle, Perlen said, the Federation commissioned the first scientific demographic survey of the local Jewish community in more than a decade. Conducted last summer and released earlier this year, the survey is “dense with data, findings and recommendations,” she said. 

Among the officers and board members who were on hand to receive special recognition for their service over the past two years were Carol Hyatt, Steve Hirsch, Lisa Perlen, Irwin Venick, Andy May, Arthur Perlen and David Steine Jr.

“The goal of BJN 2.0 is to review the data in the study … and highlight our strengths and identify emerging and unmet needs,” Perlen said. It will result in recommendations and action plans addressing all areas in which the Federation has an impact, creating what she described as “a blueprint under which we can operate for the next several years.”  

Perlen said she expects services for seniors to remain a high priority along with efforts to reach out to millennials, noting that unlike their parents and grandparents, many young Jews no longer see coming together as a Jewish community as a matter of survival.

Before the annual meeting, members of the recent Federation’s CommUNITY trip to Israel had a reunion.

“The problem is more than finding this generation a community,” she said. “It is providing them a reason to remain a part of this community.” 

In addition to priorities and needs, Perlen said BJN 2.0 also will also come up with recommendations for improving the annual campaign that raises the funds for programming and services of the Federation and the agencies and organizations it supports.

Perlen also announced committee chairs and special appointments:  

  • Former Federation President Andy May, chair of the Jewish Federation and Jewish Foundation Investment Committee
  • Ron Galbraith, chair the Community Relations Committee
  • Mindy Hirt, co-chair of the Grants Committee with Robin Cohen
  • Arthur Perlen, special representative to the Akiva School Executive Committee and Board of Directors
  • Sandy Averbuch, chair of the Jewish Foundation Development Committee
  • Fred Zimmerman and Steve Hecklin, presidential appointees to the Federation board

In one of her last acts as Federation president, Hyatt presented the Young Leadership Award to the Karabels, whom she said have had an “enormous impact on both the Jewish and greater Nashville community” since moving here several years ago. As a result of their volunteer work and leadership in a variety of roles with the Federation, West End Synagogue and the Anti-Defamation League, both became the first Nashvillians in more than two decades to be named to the prestigious National Young Leadership Cabinet of the Jewish Federations of North America.

Speaking for himself and his wife, Aron attributed their volunteer work to three things: “A commitment to Jews who are in need … our love of Eretz Yisrael .. and the fact that we were asked to volunteer.

“So if you know someone who hasn’t been asked to volunteer, ask them.” •