The Jewish Federation of Monmouth County has announced that it will not be renewing the contract of its executive director, Howard Gases, who has served in the top professional position for 12 years.
In a statement, federation president Dr. Stuart Abraham said the decision was part of “a major revamping and internal re-structuring in response to the current economic conditions and evolving expectations of donors and the community” (see sidebar).
Abraham’s statement indicated that the federation will continue to operate as usual. Gases’ contract runs until the end of August 2011.
“We are currently embarking on a national search for a new executive director who will help us address the challenges that we face today and help guide us into the future,” Abraham said.
Abraham said the federation was grateful to Gases for “helping it weather many storms. We wish him luck in his future endeavors.”
Like many federations and philanthropies around the country, Monmouth has seen its campaign decline in the face of the recession and slow recovery. At the same time, the federation movement as a whole has been engaged in a process of introspection, seeking to adapt for a younger generation of donors who don’t share their parents’ habits of giving through umbrella organizations. Abraham described the board’s decision in those terms, saying the federation has “realigned” its governance “to better serve the community and make the federation more aligned with today’s challenges.”
In a phone interview on Friday, after the statement had been released, Abraham told NJ Jewish News that the executive committee and the full board — all those involved in the decision regarding Gases’ contract — had unanimously agreed that the termination should be done “in a caring way,” appropriate to his highly valued role in the community.
Abraham went on to say, “Howard is a true gentleman and a role model in the Jewish community. He has been a pleasure to work with.” Abraham pointed out that Gases had expanded the federation’s presence into the western part of the county, establishing a satellite office in Manalapan, and “as a result, we have a better understanding of our relationship with all parts of the county. He also achieved something very rare these days — an increase in our donor base. He has managed to get many more people involved with federation.”
At the same time, with the original leadership of the federation getting older, Abraham said, Gases went out of his way to support and maintain contact with them, visit people, and keep them engaged. He added, “He has been with us through many crises regarding Israel, and he has provided a steady hand in helping us to respond to them.”