Cincinnati 2020 in 2017: Arna Poupko Fisher

Each installment in this series features a different perspective on Cincinnati 2020, the Jewish community’s visionary plan for building an exceptional future. This week, we hear from Arna Poupko Fisher, the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati’s Vice President for Leadership Development, and Co-Facilitator and Educator of Cincinnati’s Jewish Nonprofit Leadership Institute (JNLI).


How did you first get involved in Cincinnati 2020?  

Initially, as a board member of Federation, I learned of the precise and visionary strategic plan, which came to be known as Cincinnati 2020.  I remember thinking that I had never seen something quite like this in North America, where the goals and objectives of a community were supported so brilliantly by strategies and action. Now, as an executive board member of the Federation, I see, firsthand, the careful attention and caretaking of the 2020 goals and objectives.

What does Cincinnati 2020 mean to you, given your involvement with talent development and management?

The way for a community to be successful is to ensure that its leadership be informed by data, experience, and aspiration. Our goal, in developing the talent that exists and identifying those who are still untapped, is to make sure that the most capable leaders are in the most influential positions (both lay and professional).

Why should Cincinnati 2020 be important to the community?

The importance of the Cincinnati 2020 vision is that it ensures that “no stone is unturned.” That the needs of our constituencies are being addressed, and perhaps most importantly, that there is a cohesive way to evaluate the extent to which we are successful. Our vision can be actualized when we have the capacity to consistently and honestly evaluate just how good of a job we’re doing, and how much we’re meeting or missing our mark. Cincinnati 2020 is both aspirational in terms of its vision and what it hopes to achieve, but it is also “business oriented,” wherein the job we are doing is consistently evaluated in real time.

Why should talent development and management be important to the community?

There really isn’t any member of our community who is not affected in one way or another by one of our agencies, organizations, congregations, or institutions. Their lives will be enhanced and improved by the leadership of those entities doing their jobs in a way that is most efficient, most helpful, and most meaningful.

Has Cincinnati 2020 been successful so far? How do you measure its successes when it comes to talent development and management?

Through formal evaluations and anecdotally, we have learned that Cincinnati 2020 is successfully pushing the needle on identifying and addressing leadership needs. To this end, we were recognized among our Federation peers at the last Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly, where one of our professional leadership initiatives, JNLI, was named “one of the most innovative leadership initiatives in the country.” JNLI teaches Jewish mid-level professionals leadership skills through the lens of Jewish text. Eighty professionals from twenty different agencies and congregations have taken the course in three separate cohorts.

What does the future of talent development and management look like through the lens of Cincinnati 2020?

We want to make sure that talent management and leadership development is not for Federation alone. We look at schools, synagogues and agencies, making sure that we are supporting them in developing, coaching, and training their present and future leaders. This is in keeping with Federation’s definition of itsown mission statement, which defines the organization’s role as community enablers, supporters, and partners. In addition to this, the Spertus Institute and Northwestern University co-created a unique program designed specifically for 21 local agency executives and their senior management from 15 Jewish communal agencies. This program will offer the participants a Certificate in Jewish Leadership. Leading professors and faculty members of Northwestern and Spertus will come to Cincinnati offering five different modules to the participants focusing on collaboration, communication, change, and Jewish leadership, followed by a capstone session. This program will be offered in Cincinnati and will run from January through May of 2017. It is our hope that this investment of both the Jewish Federation and The Jewish Foundation will enhance the leadership of our Jewish communal agencies and, at the same time, build collaboration, trust, and respect.

What do you hope the community accomplishes through Cincinnati 2020 in the next four years, both in terms of talent development and management, and otherwise?

Our expectation is that when we reach the year 2020, we will have completed our goal of assessing the leadership needs of Cincinnati Jewish institutions, and have set in motion a new reality where nurturing, training, and coaching outstanding leadership is seen as necessary to our collective success.


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