JCC announces transition plan for President and CEO Brian Schreiber
"The agency," Schreiber said, "is an amazing place. Any way that I can contribute to it without serving as the CEO is a real privilege."
As part of a planned transition, Brian Schreiber will step down as president and CEO of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh and assume a new role as chief external affairs officer and special adviser to the CEO.
Chief Program Officer Jason Kunzman will become president and CEO.
Schreiber, who has served as the organization’s CEO since 1999, will continue to serve as special adviser to JCC Association of North America President and CEO Doron Krakow, a position he began in 2018.
The JCC’s programs include early childhood development centers, J Line, Diller Teen Fellows, day camps, the Emma Kaufman Camp, AgeWell at the JCC, Center for Loving Kindness and fitness centers.
Under Schreiber’s leadership, the agency has more than doubled in size and scope of services and its operating budget. It built a $20 million endowment fund while retiring $10 million in debt. The JCC has reinvested more than $32 million in its five owned and operated facilities located in Allegheny County and Morgantown, West Virginia.
Schreiber said the announcement, nearly six months before the transition, will provide time for the community to process the information and allow Kunzman to hit the ground running in September.
It also allows the JCC’s management team and board to talk about the agency’s vision for the future, he said.
Schreiber said he has done a lot of talent work in the field with organizations like Leading Edge, a not-for-profit that helps Jewish agencies improve their workplace culture and leadership,
“Best-practice models tell you to leave some transition time,” he said, “even in the case where the incumbent CEO is going to play a different role in the agency.”
While the day-to-day operations of the JCC will shift to Kunzman, Schreiber said that his focus will be external — he will oversee development efforts and the JCC’s special projects, including the 10.27 Healing Partnership and Center for Loving Kindness.
“The agency,” Schreiber said, “is an amazing place. Anyway that I can contribute to it without serving as the CEO is a real privilege.”
Over his near quarter-century with the JCC, Schreiber cited several accomplishments. Those include:
• Rebuilding the trust and credibility of the organization when there were some questions about its relationship with other Jewish agencies, including the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh and the Jewish Healthcare Foundation
• Working with the JCC’s lay leadership to pay down the organization’s debt and run a successful endowment campaign
• Rethinking what it meant to be a Greater Pittsburgh agency and rebuilding some of the Jewish infrastructure that helped the Jewish community to evolve
• Leading the organization over a rewarding and difficult four-year period that included both the mass shooting at the Tree of Life building and the challenges of COVID-19, which involved shutting down and restarting the agency while remaining financially sound.
“In the midst of all that, over the last eight or 10 years, we’ve really leaned into our internal talent and internal succession model, not just the CEO search,” Schreiber said pointing to several people who have moved into new roles in the agency.
The transition plan, Schreiber said, is a credit to the leadership of the JCC.
“Jason was a product of a national search. In many ways, part of the talent development isn’t a story of the last week: It’s a story of the last six or seven years.”
The agency’s board, he said, has been an incredible and thoughtful partner.
“The JCC is proud to be able to chart its course of leadership succession and transition,” chair of the JCC’s Board of Directors Scott Seewald said in a statement announcing the transition. “The agency will continue to benefit greatly from the complementary skills of these two outstanding professional leaders … with proven track records of service to our community, and for fostering a culture where employees, member and guests are treated with dignity and respect.”
The board, he said, enthusiastically supports the leadership succession.
Jeff Finkelstein, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh called Schreiber both a colleague and friend, that has partnered in building community for more than 25 years.
“Under Brian’s leadership, the JCC has thrived as an organization focused more than ever on connecting more Jews to their own sense of Jewishness. I know that Jason will do the same during his tenure,” he said in the JCC’s statement.
Jewish Healthcare Foundation President and CEO Karen Wolk Feinstein noted that five generations of her family have embraced the JCC.
“Jason will respect the amazing history of the organization as he forges a new future that adapts to a changing environment,” she said in the same statement.
Kunzman said the organization’s vision of the future remains unwritten.
“That is what has me so incredibly excited about this wonderful opportunity,” he said. “Brian, through his remarkable leadership has obviously not only laid the foundation, but a platform, that the JCC of the 21st century can launch.”
The organization, he said, is committed to redefining what is possible for its members, staff and community — comprised of both the Jewish and Greater Pittsburgh Communities.
Kunzman said that he was honored to have the trust and confidence of Schreiber and the JCC board. He looks forward to upholding the JCC’s mission and core values and will work to magnify the impact of the JCC, which has served the community for 128 years.
“Stay tuned,” he said, “because it will be one heck of a story.” PJC
David Rullo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org