I am thrilled to share with everyone that Michael Jeser will succeed Michael Sonduck as the new CEO of our Federation. While we did nothing to resolve the plethora of “Michaels” leading San Diego’s outstanding Jewish organizations over recent years, I am confident that our Michael will achieve the leadership success the others have enjoyed throughout the community. Michael’s wife Laura, who grew up in Sacramento, and 20-month Eleanore, are excited to become San Diegans and integrate into our community.
In a search process that garnered many highly capable candidates, the committee, led by Ken Polin and composed of some of our community’s wisest leaders, Michael Jeser distinguished himself as uniquely qualified to lead our Federation as we continue our journey of securing our Jewish future. His leadership experience combined with innovative programming successes fit our new model of aligning donor passions with Federation efforts to identify our greatest needs and collaborating with our partners to address those needs.
Michael’s experiences within and outside of the Federation system combined with his passion for his Jewish heritage and commitment to the Jewish people provide a perspective that will contribute significantly to Federation’s mission. As a child of parents who served in professional roles in Jewish organizations, Michael developed his identity from birth. His parents inspired Michael to pursue a life in the Jewish communal world. His achievements led to a trajectory of leadership uncommon for his age. Prior to his most recent position as executive director of resource development for the Portland Federation, Michael served in various programming and fundraising roles at JCCs and Jewish summer camps, culminating in leading the successful turnaround of the USC Hillel as its executive director.
Incoming CEO Michael Jeser
While his passion and experiences provide a tremendous foundation to lead our Federation, our search criteria went beyond these characteristics. Because our Federation is at the cutting edge of change to ensure our critical role in the community, we sought a candidate that possessed both the attitude for change and demonstrated success in innovation. To those ends, Michael created and led new programming initiatives at both Hillel and the Portland Federation, particularly in the arena of next gen leadership that is at the very core of the Federation’s challenges. His enthusiasm for the paradigmatic shifts we seek in San Diego are critical as we enter the next phases of our collective journey to strengthen our community for generations to come.
Michael officially assumes the CEO mantle on August 27. As you can see, I am confident in his future contributions – creating pressures on him for which I am sure he is not entirely comfortable (but not fearful either). Yes, Michael is a man. He is not the messiah. Any good leader of this earth cannot succeed alone. He will need help – our help. Federation’s success is success for our entire community and the thousands of people our dollars help. Surrounded by a capable staff and committed supporters and volunteers, Michael will have the environment he needs as a leader to secure Federation’s essential mission of building community and helping Jews in need. Join me welcoming Michael and, together, committing to our collective future.