UJA Federation CEO plans to step down
TORONTO — By next year at this time, UJA Federation of Greater Toronto will have a new CEO in place, Ted Sokolsky, federation’s president and CEO, announced at the organization’s annual general meeting.
“The clock is ticking and this is an organization that plans for the future… Since I turned 62, I knew it was time to press the clock, and accordingly, the board will now begin a search for a new CEO to replace me. If all goes well, a year from now, we’ll have a new CEO,” Sokolsky said, adding that he plans to help his replacement transition into the role.
“This September marked my 27th year at UJA Federation and my 10th year as CEO. This is also the month I turned 62… I had always planned to retire at 65,” he said.
Following his announcement, Richard Venn, the chair of the board of directors, thanked Sokolsky for his years of leadership and highlighted some of his major accomplishments.
“Looking back, over Ted’s leadership, the annual campaign has doubled to over $60 million,” Venn said, adding that throughout Sokolsky’s tenure, federation built the Wolfond Centre for Jewish Campus Life at the University of Toronto, as well as the Joseph and Wolf Lebovic Jewish Community Campus and the Schwartz-Reisman Centre in Vaughan; completed the expansion of the Lipa Green Centre, and renovated and reopened the Miles Nadal JCC.
“The infrastructure that UJA Federation will enjoy for generations to come is certainly Ted’s legacy for all of us. We will be forever grateful for his perseverance and determination,” Venn said.
Morris Perlis, the federation board of directors’ senior vice-chair, is heading a search committee that will begin its search in the next calendar year, “with the expectation of having a new CEO fully engaged by the next AGM,” he said.
“We want to maintain the momentum of the fundraising projects and programs that are underway,” Venn added.
One of federation’s biggest priorities is the continued development of the Sherman Campus, on Bathurst Street between Sheppard and Finch avenues.
As of last March, federation had raised $100 million for the campus and still needed to raise another $35- to $40 million.
Its family of buildings will replace the old Bathurst Jewish Community Centre and Leah Posluns Theatre, which were demolished in 2009. So far, only the Lipa Green Centre and the Gales Family Pavilion have been completed.
“The federation has a huge and daunting agenda ahead in the year to come just to continue to deliver on the promises and commitments we have undertaken to date,” Sokolsky said.
He said the goal is to break ground on the next phase of the Sherman Campus development in late 2014 or early 2015.
According to a handout at the meeting, the start of Phase 2 depends on “sufficient donor funds, municipal approvals and approval by UJA Federation’s board of directors. The project will take approximately 24 to 30 months from the start of construction to completion of these new facilities.”
Throughout the meeting – which featured a keynote address by Irvin Studin, editor-in-chief and publisher of Global Brief, an international affairs magazine – federation leaders highlighted the organization’s programming and financial successes throughout the past year.
According to the handout, federation’s total revenue from all sources increased to $142.7 million in 2013 from $87 million in 2012. The value of its assets increased to $462 million, from $445 million, and the return on foundation investments was 10 per cent this year, compared to 0.3 per cent last year.
“The current year shows a significant increase primarily due to one-time donor-designated gifts,” said federation council member Jeff Cohen.
“Combining annual revenue for the year of $142 million is a significant leap from the prior year due to an increase in one-time designated gifts, an increase in annual campaign gifts, an increase in gifts to the Jewish Foundation [of Greater Toronto] and a significant increase in income from securities.”
From the $60 million raised during the 2012 UJA Campaign, $52.5 million has been allocated to programs including Israel/overseas and national programs, which received nearly $17 million, formal Jewish education, which received $12 million and social service programs, which received $6 million.
Despite the financial successes, Sokolsky said the Pew Research Centre survey of U.S. Jews that reported high intermarriage rates reminded him to “never rest on your laurels and you can never stop tapping into the passions of the next generation.”