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JSummit 2024: A Letter to Our Lay Leaders

By Carrie Darsky

JSummit, the JCC Movement’s premier conference for JCC lay leaders and senior professionals, will be held from September 16–18, in Chicago. In this blog post, a letter to prospective attendees, Carrie Darsky, JCC Association’s chief talent officer, details the tremendous value of the conference—for leaders and our movement.

Dear JCC Movement Lay Leader,

I’ve worn many hats throughout my life: daughter, student, wife, mom, and professional, among others. After many years as an active member of the JCC of Central New Jersey in Scotch Plains, I proudly accepted an invitation to join their board in 2017. A longtime professional in roles across the Jewish communal landscape, I was excited to try on a new hat as a lay leader and to meld my volunteer passions with my professional expertise around talent development.

Now, as JCC Association’s inaugural chief talent officer, I have the chance to prioritize you, our lay leaders, in our JCC Talent strategy. Why? Because the work of the JCC Movement doesn’t happen without your expertise, commitment, and support. Many of our JCC’s successes are examples of the unique and powerful partnership between you and the professional leaders with whom you work so closely.

I’m proud that JSummit 2024 models what I preach and will give you a seat at the table to learn, network, and, most critically, offer input and opinions about how JCC Association can support you, your work, and your JCC community. At JSummit, you’ll see yourself and your JCC reflected in the faces of hundreds of other lay leaders sitting with you around the table. You’ll learn that your peers from so many different JCCs encounter similar challenges, face the same tough decisions, and, most importantly, share the passion that is central to volunteer leadership in the JCC Movement. JSummit is an opportunity to see that you are part of something greater than yourself and your JCC—that you are not alone in your work. It is the place you and your peers and colleagues can gather to kvell, to kvetch, and to grow.

This year’s theme, “Empowering the JCC Movement,” is an invitation for you to be a part of the conversation in a movement—and a moment—that is striving to address needs that are important to you. JSummit is an opportunity for us to hear from you, the very people who create change in local communities, and then, together, we can begin to craft a shared vision and meaningful change in a larger arena—the JCC Movement.

In addition to opportunities to speak boldly and creatively, at JSummit you’ll collect powerful tools and insights to enhance your leadership and strengthen your JCC as a communal organization, all while focusing on creating relationships, building partnerships, and, of course, enriching the Jewish people.

Beyond learning the hard skills necessary to play a vital role in the everyday challenges of running a JCC, you will return from JSummit empowered and confident in your ability to lead successfully, navigating challenges with adaptability, innovation, and resilience. Whether you’re a new or seasoned leader, you will experience a shift in perspective during your time in Chicago. More than seeing yourself as responsible only for governance and fundraising in your JCC, you’ll understand the crucial role you and your fellow leaders play in guiding the growth and development of a community, and by extension, leading the growth and development of the Jewish people. We want you and your peers to leave feeling a responsibility for your entire community.

JSummit is a chance for you to take off your day-to-day hats to think, dream, and network together. It’s an opportunity for you to be part of a larger conversation about the influence and roles of JCCs and to help write the next chapter for our movement. It’s a chance to share challenges, learn solutions, and bring new ideas back to your community board room. JSummit is a chance to express your passions as a volunteer and commit to your personal and professional growth. JSummit is for me, and it’s for you. I hope you’ll join us in Chicago!

Looking forward to seeing you soon,


JCC Movement lay leaders can learn more and register for JSummit now.

Carrie Darsky is the chief talent officer at JCC Association of North America.

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