In advance of JCCs of North America Forward 2022: A Gathering of the JCC Movement Senior Leadership, JCC Association of North America announces the nomination of David Wax as the next chair of the board. The expected election of new leadership aligns with a period of dynamic growth and change for the JCC Movement and JCC Association of North America. A longtime visionary within the movement, Wax’s dedicated support of key programs such as JCC Maccabi®, JWB Jewish Chaplains Council®, and the movement-wide branding initiative JBrand, as well as his personal investment of time and resources in advancing JCC Association’s mission are critical to the organization’s present needs and will help shape the movement’s future.
Last year, Wax and his wife, Sharon, eager to support their local JCC, the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center (LFJCC) on the Jacobs Family Campus in San Diego, California, and the movement’s continental agencies through the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, donated $3.6 million to the JCC Movement. Half the funding was designated to the LFJCC and the balance to JCC Association—in recognition of the value of the movement in advancing and enriching North American Jewish life.
Wax’s connection to the JCC Movement began many years earlier when his parents enrolled him in the early childhood education program at the JCC in San Diego. At the time, the facility, the forerunner to today’s LFJCC, was located on 54th Street in downtown San Diego. It was at the original site that his father, a founding board member, and his uncle served as lay leaders. The J remained an integral part of Wax’s upbringing, particularly its day camp and the traveling basketball team he would later serve as assistant coach under the supervision of Michael Cohen, the then-assistant director of health and physical education. Cohen continued his career with the JCC for a total of 45 years, ultimately becoming the executive director of the LFJCC, a post he held until he retired. During his tenure, he inspired a legacy of leadership within the community and within Wax.
After graduating from UCLA in 1977 and earning an MBA from National University in San Diego, Wax and his family moved, in 1984, to Salt Lake City, Utah, where they spent time at the I.J. and Jeanne Wagner JCC. Theirs was one of only 300 Jewish families in the area at the time, deepening his understanding of the importance of kehillah (community) the JCC Movement provides, especially in areas with smaller Jewish populations.
In late 1994, the Wax family returned to the San Diego area and rejoined the Lawrence Family JCC—the same JCC where Wax first set foot in the movement and where his grandson currently attends the J’s early childhood education program. He joined the J’s board in 1995, the executive committee in 2000, and became a vice president the next year. In 2006, Wax began a two-year term as board president. As a lay leader today, he advises the J’s current lay leaders as a member of a committee comprising past board chairs.
Wax also is a longtime supporter of the JCC Maccabi Games®, which is a particularly meaningful part of his involvement in the movement. He was board president when the LFJCC hosted the San Diego JCC Maccabi Games® in 2008, served on the steering committee, and has criss-crossed the country to attend JCC Maccabi® Games. His expected tenure as JCC Association’s board chair will coincide with the upcoming 2022 JCC Maccabi Games® and its newest initiative, JCC Maccabi Access, both of which again will be hosted by the LFJCC, under the leadership of CEO Betzy Lynch.
For many years, Wax and Gary E. Jacobs, the current chair of JCC Association’s board, whom it is expected Wax will succeed, co-chaired the LFJCC’s Pillars of Light annual giving campaign. Together, the two led a program that raised more than $1.5 million annually for the operations of their shared “home” JCC and created a model of innovation throughout the JCC Movement. Wax’s leadership within the LFJCC touches nearly every facet of the organization, and he has served on numerous committees and initiatives, including the Get Centered Capital Campaign Advisory Council and its recognition committee, the latter of which he co-chaired with his wife, Sharon. He also served on the J’s facilities committee, the 75th anniversary fundraising council, and co-chaired the JCC Golf Classic Committee from 1998–2019. The community also benefitted from Wax’s expertise through his service as host community co-chair for the 2014 JCCs of North America Biennial, which was held in San Diego.
In 2004, Wax was invited to join JCC Association’s board in recognition of his extraordinary leadership and contributions to his local JCC community and to expand our reach and bring to the forefront the unique needs of west coast communities. During his tenure on the continental board, he has chaired the JCC Maccabi® and professional development committees and served as a valued member of numerous others. Currently, he serves as a vice chair of JCC Association’s board and co-chairs the donor development and stewardship committee.
Within the local community, Wax and his family are members of Temple Solel, in Cardiff-by-the-Sea. He also currently serves on the board of Computers 2 Kids San Diego, an organization that, since 2004, has refurbished donated electronics for families in need. To meet the demand for electronics for remote learning during the pandemic, the organization increased its output from 10,000 to 46,000 computers a year.
Previously, Wax served on the board of Jewish Community Foundation of San Diego (JCF) and co-chaired its Endowment Leadership Institute. During his tenure, JCF launched Create a Jewish Legacy, an innovative program for after-lifetime giving to build endowments that sustain valued organizations and vibrant Jewish communities for the next generation and beyond. As a result, more than 20 San Diego Jewish organizations received development training to create and expand their own long-term, strategic endowments.
In the wider Jewish community, the Waxes, together with his brother and sister-in-law, have been generous supporters of the Friends of the Jewish Chapel at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, which raised the funds necessary to construct the Commodore Uriah P. Levy Center and Jewish Chapel, formally dedicated in September 2005. This support is an outgrowth of the Waxes’ longtime giving commitment to JWB Jewish Chaplains Council®, a signature program of JCC Association of North America. They generously supported the Torah for the Troops campaign, launched in 2011, and the second edition of the JWB siddur, published in 2016, is dedicated to Wax’s father, Morris, whose service during World War II—including a Bronze Star for meritorious service in France and his active role in liberating prisoners at Dachau in 1945—greatly inspired his son’s loyalty to Jewish military personnel who serve our country and protect our freedom.
In 2015, Wax received the Heritage Award from Zeta Beta Tau (ZBT), recognized as the first Jewish collegiate social fraternity in North America. Presented only occasionally to members of the Jewish community who distinguish themselves in a communal, philanthropic, artistic, or professional endeavor, the award recognized Wax for his deep commitment to the JCC Movement, both locally and across the continent.
In 2019, after serving as a board member of NETWORK® Services Company, Wax was elected as board chair of the organization, the largest member-owned, global distribution and supply management entity, which represents 125 independently owned businesses. Like JCC Association, NETWORK® provides member businesses with national resources and opportunities.
Wax retired in 2020 from the family-held company, WAXIE Sanitary Supply, which recently joined forces with Chicago-based North American Corporation and FEMSA, a multinational beverage, retail, and logistics company, to become the premier national platform for janitorial and sanitation (jan-san) products, packaging, and specialized distribution in the United States.
Of his expected new role, Wax says, “JCC Association represents the voices of 170 local Jewish communities, and we must be open to inviting those voices to be heard and to engage and connect our communities through collaboration and partnership—JCC to JCC—to strengthen the entire movement.” Regarding resource development, “There is a yet untapped philanthropic opportunity within the JCC Movement—through Jewish funders beginning to recognize the reach and impact of the movement and through corporate sponsors who can leverage their values in action through the JCC Movement.” Reflecting on the power of JCC Association’s board, Wax said, “[We are] just beginning to build on our success and recognize the influence we can have within the movement and across the Jewish communal landscape. Our members are truly the best ambassadors for both their “home” JCCs and for the potential of the JCC Movement at large.”
“David is an extraordinary leader,” said Doron Krakow, president and CEO of JCC Association. “He’s seen it all and done it all, locally and throughout the course of his career as a member of our board. A man of great conviction, David is deeply committed to the JCC Movement as an engine for greater Jewish community and more vibrant Jewish life. I am confident he will be a wonderful partner and an outstanding successor to Gary Jacobs.”
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About JCC Association of North America
JCC Association of North America leads and connects the JCC Movement, advancing and enriching North American Jewish life. With 1.5 million people walking through the doors of more than 170 Jewish Community Centers and Jewish Community Camps (JCCs) each week, the JCC Movement is the largest platform for Jewish engagement on the continent. JCC Association, the convening organization of this dynamic network, partners with JCCs to bring together the collective power and knowledge of the entire JCC Movement, including 12,000 full-time and 41,000 part-time and seasonal professionals. By supporting them, together we enhance and strengthen Jewish life throughout North America. Learn more at JCCA.org or on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.