A message from Adam Silver, CEO Calgary Jewish Federation

by Adam Silver

Calgary Jewish Federation CEO Adam Silver

(Calgary) – I recently returned from this year’s LIFE & LEGACY® 2023 Leadership Conference, where I was joined by eight other community professionals and volunteers from our Calgary partners. We were by far the largest group of the two-hundred or so participants, and we held our heads up high, knowing we were graduating from the program with very strong and collaborative results. These results – 245 donors to date, pledging close to 600 legacy gifts to many of our Jewish organizations estimated at more than $17 million, carried Calgary through the conference with great pride.

We began our time at the conference with a private meeting with Harold Grinspoon, innovative philanthropist and patriarch of The Harold Grinspoon Foundation (HGF) – our partners and funders in LIFE & LEGACY and PJ Library®. We were also joined by Winnie Sandler Grinspoon, president of HGF, herself a force of nature and the next generation of leadership for HGF. I have had the fortune of spending time with both individuals over the years and discussing some of the bigger challenges in Jewish communal life. I am always struck by their level of interest – not just in what works, but they are equally interested in what can be improved.

In similar fashion, our private Calgary meeting and ongoing conversations throughout the conference with Harold, Winnie, HGF staff, and colleagues from across North America included questions about what would work better, which families are being left out of the legacy conversation, if HGF is providing enough support, etc. In addition, Harold and Winnie sat and participated in many sessions; they didn’t simply pop-in to each room just to say a quick hello. Rather, they engaged in the conversations and made sure they heard constructive feedback, not just accolades. The focus of the conference was leadership, with a particular lens applied through a model of adaptive leadership. How can we productively pivot when we see challenges or opportunities? How do we enable people of all roles and talents to lead? How do we apply higher level, strategic thinking to seemingly tactical problems?

Yasher koach to Diana Kalef for receiving the Gail Littman z”l Leadership Award at this year’s LIFE & LEGACY® Leadership Gathering.

During the conference’s program, one evening focused on the handful of cohorts (we are in Cohort 7) graduating from four years of LIFE & LEGACY, and in most cases moving on to LIFE & LEGACY Plus – a follow-up initiative to keep momentum in our community with the help of HGF’s training and financial support. It was during that evening that our dedicated effort, co-led with the Jewish Community Foundation of Calgary – and only successful due to the amazing collaboration of 10 partners – was recognized. Perhaps the icing on the cake, and a very well-deserved acknowledgement, was HGF’s celebration of Diana Kalef as this year’s Gail Littman z”l Leadership Award winner. The award recognizes the LIFE & LEGACY coordinator who displays excellence and dedication in their leadership and support of their community’s legacy program. Diana has been able to position Calgary’s program and relationship with HGF as one of the best in the system, and was rightfully distinguished from her 72 other peer coordinators currently leading communities in LIFE & LEGACY.

Leadership is not a position, it is an action or way of being, and can be assumed by anyone in any hierarchical role in an organization. We have many professionals and volunteers engaging in leadership activities, and they truly power Jewish Calgary. LIFE & LEGACY is reliant on this very notion – who will step up, who will ensure the vibrancy of Jewish Calgary for generations to come, and who will inspire others? We have many reasons to celebrate, and many reasons to plan for a bright future. Please consider joining our community with YOUR legacy promise – there is no limit to our aspirations or to the picture we can paint for the future – but it is greatly dependent upon you.

To learn more or to begin your legacy journey, please contact Diana Kalef at 403-444-3154 or dkalef@jewishcalgary.org. Take that step, add your voice and commitment, and ensure we have continuity and strength l’dor v’dor – from generation to generation!

Take good care, B’Shalom,
Adam Silver, CEO
Calgary Jewish Federation


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