April 21, 2024
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New OU Exec to Intro Professional Development Programs

New York—When it was announced last month that the Board of Directors of the Orthodox Union had appointed attorney Allen Fagin to the position of executive vice president, the move was met with surprise at the apparent trend of lay leaders being appointed to top spots in Jewish communal service organizations. In January, Eric Goldstein was similarly appointed to a top post at UJA/Jewish Federation of New York. However, while Goldstein is not expected to take up his post until July, Fagin began his work at the OU immediately.

In an interview with JLBC, Fagin discussed how his appointment came to be, and focused on honing the coherence of the OU mission and the need for more experienced managers in the non-profit world.

“In many respects, not-for-profits generally have not done the kind of job they need to do with regard to professional development, career planning, and succession planning. It’s a weakness that pervades the not-for-profit sector,” he said.

Fagin said that when the search committee was looking to appoint someone for the position he now holds, they were “looking for someone with significant management experience, and if that person had familiarity with the constituency, so much the better,” he said.

Fagin added that issues like professional development of staff at the OU have been on the backburner and that it is problem that he intends to correct from within.

“We’re about to hire an individual who will take the position of director of professional development of NCSY. We hope the influence of this will spread throughout the enterprise within a relatively short time,” Fagin said.

The director of professional development will focus on training and development of everyone on staff, including volunteers. When asked how this kind of hire will look to the outside world that generally expects the majority of non-profit dollars to be spent on programs outside the office, Fagin said he understood the concern.

“Ultimately, we get judged by the quality of our programming. That, in turn, requires that our hearts be in the right place. It’s the same tension that every yeshiva faces when trying to allocate scarce resources,” he said. “I see as an important part of my responsibility that every penny we spend, we spend wisely and with the most impact,” Fagin said.

Fagin will continue serving in his other lay leadership positions. He is currently chairman of the American board of Yeshivat Shalavim. He is on the boards of the Beis Din of America, Touro College, and the Columbia Barnard Hillel. He is also active with the Board of Visitors of Columbia College.

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