Update from Marty Ricks

Swan Song

This is officially my final community message as I am close to retiring from the Federation or Foundation for the third time. Since January of this year, Jan Goldstein, Phil Malcom, Mike Siegel and I have been alternating writing this biweekly community update. My next rotation would fall this coming January; however, with Bob Goldberg arriving at that time as our newly appointed CEO, he will be taking over the reins, and I will be stepping down as Fundraising Consultant. Most definitely, the JFO cannot get rid of me that easily, as I will continue to be available on a volunteer basis as Bob adjusts to his new position.

I cannot tell you what it has meant to me to be asked to help the Federation in between CEOs, supporting Interim CEO, Phil Malcom and the Executive Leadership Team with my longtime partner Jan Goldstein. I retired from the Federation in May 2016 after eighteen years at the Foundation and the Federation. After a brief stint in Portland, Iris and I realized how much we missed our friends and moved back to Omaha in December of 2020.

Apologizing in advance for “bragging” and making this space “about me,” I was overwhelmed when six months after returning here, I was given the Federation Humanitarian of the Year Award at the 2021 Annual Meeting and Awards Night. Then asked to get involved again with Iris and the tremendously committed and talented Jess and Shane Cohn, we shared leadership of the 2022 Annual Campaign. Finally, I was asked to take my current consulting position at the Federation, which was anticipated to last about three or four months. And here I am, almost eleven months later. (By the way, Jan may have been away from the Federation for ten years, but she has not lost her touch. She remains the leader she always was as JFO Executive Director from 1998 to 2013. And, as for Phil, he is a terrific Interim CEO, so smart with ten years of JFO history behind him.)

Speaking of the Leadership Team, having met with most of them weekly for most of the year, in my opinion, the Federation is in good hands going forward and has a great executive staff for Bob Goldberg to lead. I don’t have the space to talk about each of them at length, but I would like to recognize the rest of this terrific team:

Sharon Brodkey, Jewish Community Relations Council; Karen Gustafson, Jewish Family Service; Scott Littky, Institute for Holocaust Education; Mark Martin, Staenberg Omaha JCC; Amy Shivvers, JFO Foundation; Jennifer Tompkins, Federation Philanthropy and Engagement; Chris Ulven, Rose Blumkin Jewish Home; and Annette van de Kamp-Wright, Jewish Press.

I want also to recognize four people who I have worked with closely for the last eleven months, especially to the ones who have helped me navigate through the Federation software, which has been my most challenging experience since coming back to work:

Richard Goedeken, Senior Director of Finance; Rachel Ring, Director of Development; Michelle Johnson, Campaign and Data Coordinator; and Jessi Taylor, Executive Assistant (the terrific lady who takes my drafts and makes it look like I can write proficiently).

Now, on to my special heroes: you. Yes YOU – our 1,373 donors who gave $3,510,779 to the 2022 Annual Campaign and as of November 22, 2022, 879 donors have pledged a total of $2,035,533 for the 2023 Campaign, putting us at 56.5% of our goal. Last year’s amount was a record, and Jess, Shane, Iris and I have high hopes that last year’s amount will be surpassed. If you have not yet been contacted, please call Jenn Tompkins (402-334-3435), Rachel Ring (402-334-6443) or myself (402-301-4038) and we will accept your pledge. Thank you all for your generosity and support.

(I write my final comments not as a consultant, but as a longtime member of the Omaha Jewish Community.)

I want to acknowledge three super volunteers – all Omaha transplants – who are working above and beyond, fitting precious volunteer hours into their days while running successful businesses. Thank you, Michael Siegel, Federation President, for your devoted service to the Federation, for leading the Board through COVID interruptions and issues, for appointing and being a part of the CEO search committee, and being a great sounding board for Interim CEO, Phil Malcom. Our 2023 Annual Campaign chairs, Nancy and Joel Schlessinger, are on a mission to surpass last year’s record total. Nancy and Joel are succeeding in bringing fresh new ideas to the Campaign and are willing to meet with anyone, even with their busy schedules at their practice and company. What a delightful couple to interact with!

And finally, I absolutely love the renovated Staenberg Kooper Fellman Campus. What a great environment to work at! Thanks to the many of you who have worked on and supported the project. I want to give a special thanks to Michael Staenberg, Howard Kooper, Tom Fellman, and Larry Kelberg. Those of you who know me, know that I’m not going to miss a chance to fundraise. We still have some exciting naming opportunities, so please reach out to me, Jenn, or Rachel, and we’d be more than happy to help you leave a legacy for the next generation of Jewish Omaha.

Shabbat Shalom,

Marty Ricks
Fundraising Consultant