Skip Navigation LinksHome > UJC Briefing: UJC/Jewish Federations of North America Announces the Selection of Jerry Silverman as




July 6, 2009

UJC/Jewish Federations of North America reported today that Jerry Silverman will join the organization as president and CEO.  UJC/Jewish Federations represents 157 Jewish Federations and 400 network communities, which raise and distribute more than $3 billion annually for social welfare, social services and educational needs.  The Federation movement, collectively among the top 10 charities on the continent, protects and enhances the well-being of Jews worldwide through the values of tikkun olam (repairing the world), tzedakah (charity and social justice) and Torah (Jewish learning).


Silverman is a highly experienced leader in the North American Jewish community and longtime corporate executive.  As CEO of the Foundation for Jewish Camp since 2004, Silverman has been extremely successful in building the quality, availability and demand for Jewish summer camps by creating partnerships with key philanthropists and federations, increasing scholarships for campers, and providing leadership development opportunities for camp directors.  Silverman came to the Foundation after highly successful careers at the Stride Rite Corp. and Levi Strauss & Co.


Over a span of almost 25 years, Jerry Silverman served in various executive leadership capacities at Levi Strauss and Stride Rite.  He worked on many successful consumer brands, including Levi’s, Dockers, Stride Rite Children’s, and Keds.  Before becoming the President of the Foundation for Jewish Camp, Jerry’s most recent position was President of the Keds Corporation.  He has run both wholesale and retail operations and was noted for his leadership, outstanding work ethic, and ability to build strong teams.


Kathy Manning, who led the CEO Search Committee and is the nominee to chair the UJC Board of Trustees, said she and the committee were excited to have Silverman joining the Federation system.


“We are thrilled to have such an outstanding individual to lead UJC/Jewish Federations of North America,” Manning said. 


“Jerry has proven himself to be a visionary and results-oriented leader who in five short years has built a strong team, worked in partnership with his board which in turn has brought the Jewish camp community together and put Jewish camping on the communal map.  His personal qualities, his engagement with the Jewish world and his extensive success in the business world, make Jerry someone who is uniquely poised to build on UJC’s accomplishments and partner with Federations to be the best philanthropic forces we can be.”


Current UJC Chair Joe Kanfer welcomed Silverman’s arrival, saying he will drive UJC’s strategic priorities of delivering ever-greater service and value to strengthen Federations. 


“We are proud to have Jerry on board,” Kanfer said. “Jerry will build on our momentum and further our change efforts in order to take our Federation system to the next level  to better meet the challenges and the opportunities of the 21st century.”


The search for a new CEO began one year ago, when current President and CEO Howard Rieger announced he would be stepping down after completing his five-year term this August.  The search committee represented the entire Federation system, with members hailing from leadership positions in all city size Federations across all regions.  During the search, the committee gathered broad and extensive input from executives and lay leaders across the system.


The committee unanimously recommended Jerry Silverman for the new President and CEO of UJC/Jewish Federations of North America.  The committee selected Silverman in part because of his passion for Jewish future, his commitment to continuous learning and growth, and his focus on customer centricity. These are critical qualities for leading the Federation system effectively, Manning said.


At the Foundation for Jewish Camp, Silverman led the only national organization dedicated to non-profit Jewish resident camps responsible for raising awareness and building support for Jewish summer camps. As head of the Jewish camping umbrella organization, Silverman, together with the Board and staff, developed a new strategic plan with a clear mission and focused strategies that would add significant value to Jewish camps across North America.  The plan focused on motivating consumers and funders, including partnership with Federations to provide incentives to campers, such as matching grants that also helped Federations drive new initiatives.


“Jerry once told me that his job is to put Jewish camps front and center as they are on the front lines doing the heavy lifting -- if the camps are doing a great job, and more and more kids are having great Jewish experiences, then his organization will have been successful,” Manning said. “The same kind of approach will help UJC lead the Jewish Federations of North America to become an even more effective philanthropic force in the years to come.”


Silverman says he is committed to the mission of strengthening Federations and our collective system to better meet Jewish needs and grow the Jewish future, just as he was concerned about creating memorable Jewish experiences and Jewish identity through camping.


“I feel humbled and privileged by this opportunity,” Silverman said. “I was blessed to begin my career in the public sector with the Foundation for Jewish Camp and their visionary leadership.  During my due diligence period, I had the opportunity to meet and solicit advice from many Federation leaders from across North America.  Their wisdom and vision inspired me and gave me insight to what amazing possibilities we have as a Jewish people and as a collaborative and unified system.”


Jerry is married to Erica Silverman and is the father of five children ranging in age from 15-24.  Two children attend Gann Academy - The New Jewish High School of Boston, two currently attend the University of Maryland and one is working in NY City.  All of them attended Jewish summer camp.


Silverman will officially begin his five-year term at UJC/Jewish Federations of North America on September 30th.

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