By Michael Jacobs / firstname.lastname@example.org
The Marcus Jewish Community Center is ready for a streamlined governance structure after running a financially sound operation the past five years, new board Chairman Douglas Kuniansky says.
“We’re really on a roll,” he said, allowing some of the senior lay leaders to pass control to up-and-comers.
Kuniansky spoke the day before the Marcus JCC’s annual meeting March 24. At that meeting, the center plans to return to a single board of directors. The JCC has operated with a governance board for finance and an advisory board for programming since hitting a financial crisis that required a special debt-reduction campaign eight years ago.
Kuniansky served as the president of the center’s advisory board the past year after more than a decade of board service to the JCC, including two years on the governance board. He said he has watched the center evolve “into a place that is really well run” by some of the most competent, dedicated staffers he has worked with.
He said the turnaround in the center’s finances, including the completion of a $7 million capital campaign last year, has enabled the move back to one board, with the related decrease in meetings and reports and increase in efficiency. He noted that the strategic plan the center adopted two years ago called for revisiting the governance system.
“This new board structure allows us to follow best practices in nonprofit governance for the most efficient board organization and will, without a doubt, invigorate our current committee configuration,” JCC CEO Gail Luxenberg said in a news release about the change.
The new 18-member board of directors will combine the operations of a corporate board and a nonprofit organization’s mission-focused board. Kuniansky said the structure of the board will be crucial. A strong finance committee working with the chief financial officer will keep everything in check just as the governance board did, and a program council will function in a similar way to the former advisory board.
The other officers are Joel Arogeti as vice chairman, Ron Brill as treasurer and Howard Hyman as secretary. The board also includes such past JCC presidents as Steven Cadranel, Sherie Gumer and Garrett Van de Grift.
“We’ll be able to continue to fulfill the mission of the JCC in a fiscally sustainable way as the governance board has accomplished for the last eight years,” Kuniansky said.
Thanks to an offer of summer memberships that hooked people on the JCC, he said, the center has added 175 annual members, its first membership increase since 2010. Kuniansky said that growth is an example of the center’s passionate volunteers providing valuable new ideas.
Meanwhile, the preschool at Zaban Park, the Weinstein School, has record enrollment of more than 300 children, he said.
Such success, however, has created facility problems even as the JCC spends the money from its capital campaign on improvements at Camp Barney and upgrades at Zaban to the fitness center and likely the ball fields. The JCC has to repurpose Zaban buildings to accommodate in-demand programs and is constantly struggling with parking, Kuniansky said. “It’s a great problem to have. We’re serving more Atlanta Jews than ever before.”
The JCC is looking for partnerships and facilities, by lease or purchase, intown and in the Roswell-Alpharetta area, the chairman said. He’d like to see an intown center with a preschool for 200 children, classrooms, a gym and meeting space. It could host BBYO, speakers, Book Festival events, after-school care and adult education. It would not have a fitness center, tennis courts or a swimming pool but would offer fitness classes. Ease of access would be crucial to success.
Kuniansky only has a year as chairman before those ideas become someone else’s responsibility, but he plans to follow the example of such JCC leaders as Howard Hyman, Ron Brill and Harry Maziar by serving as a mentor and staying involved. “I’m a lifer.”