Howard Libit, executive director of the Baltimore Jewish Council, was one of 14 people selected to participate in Leading Edge’s yearlong leadership development program, which is designed to groom new Jewish leaders for the nonprofit community through in-person meetings, individual management tutoring and travel.
The number of aging Jewish leaders is the program’s main impetus. An enormous cross- section of leaders at the heads of Jewish nonprofits will need to be replaced within the next seven years, said Gali Cooks, executive director of Leading Edge. Through its program, Leading Edge hopes to educate the next generation to replace those who will leave the workforce.
“There’s a bit of a supply- and-demand problem,” Cooks said. “By the next five to seven years, 75 percent [of Jewish nonprofit leaders] are going to turn over.”
Libit has held his position in the BJC for one year. Previously, he worked as an editor for The Baltimore Sun, chief of public affairs and director of strategic planning under Mayor Stephanie Rawlings- Blake and chief operating officer at Kearney O’Doherty Public Affairs. But even someone with his experience can use guidance, he said.
“I’ve been in this position a year,” Libit said. “I’ve learned a lot of what I don’t know.”
The variety of Jewish nonprofits makes the Jewish philanthropic community a complicated environment; each nonprofit has its own problems and goals — from congregations to foundations — that can lead to coordination problems, Cooks said. Leading Edge’s program hopes to teach prospective leaders advanced management skills to navigate the industry.
“We want to make sure these leaders are able to succeed and don’t step on a landmine,” Cooks said. “This isn’t 101 stuff.”
James Whitlow is an intern at the Baltimore Jewish Times.