In defining leadership, Keith Krivitzky remembers the words of Richard Joel, his boss when both worked for the international Hillel movement in Washington, DC.
“I very much buy into Richard’s statement that the definition of leadership is vision plus an implementation plan,” said Krivitzky. “I have a good sense of vision, and am good at pairing it with an effective implementation plan and engaging people along the way.”
Krivitzky will test this combination as he becomes the new executive director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Monmouth County. He starts Aug. 1, after working for the last three years as vice president of the Center for Jewish Philanthropy at Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle.
Monmouth’s executive director position has been vacant since November, when it was announced that the federation would not be renewing the contract of Howard Gases, who served for 12 years. Bert J. Goldberg served as interim executive director.
Krivitzky’s professional and academic background helped him stand out among the candidates during the hunt for a new executive, said Ken Philmus, federation’s vice president of personnel. Krivitzky holds a bachelor’s degree in politics and Near Eastern studies from Princeton University and an MBA with a focus on marketing and strategy from the University of Maryland’s Smith School of Business.
Prior to his position in Seattle, he worked for the Hillel International Center in various capacities, including associate director of development, director of Hillel’s Taglit-Birthright Israel trips, and director of development of Hillel’s international programs.
“Our goal was to find a professional leader to help guide federation and carry out our mission to the next level — someone who understood that people give differently today than they have in the past,” Philmus said. “Keith was the perfect candidate who just knocked us over.
“In hiring I’ve learned that you can always teach someone technical capabilities, but you cannot teach passion and energy, which Keith really has,” said Philmus.
Krivitzky demonstrates a keen understanding of the challenges of the Monmouth County Jewish community, Philmus continued.
“He was working on exactly the same things for Seattle’s Jewish community that we are trying to accomplish in Monmouth County. Keith comes across as someone who really understands how to integrate federation as a Jewish community, which is something we haven’t done as good of a job as we could have over the years.”
Raised in Freehold, Krivitzky has maintained close ties with family at the Jersey Shore, and enjoyed summer vacations in Bradley Beach with friends over the years.
He considers himself “a traditional Jew” and said he looks forward to connecting with a vibrant shul community when he relocates to Monmouth in late July.
“I’m a Jersey boy at heart. I truly feel at home in New Jersey,” Krivitzky, 39, said during a phone interview with NJJN. “Coming home is exciting, and I think that there is dramatic opportunity for growth of the Monmouth County federation.”
The biggest issue most federations face is a flat or declining annual campaign, said Krivitzky. “It does a lot of good, but it is growing incrementally at best, and has taken a lot of hits during the financial crisis.” Today’s donors, rather than writing a single annual check to an unrestricted campaign, want to target their dollars to favorite projects, or manage their philanthropy through trusts or endowments.
“People want to see options and choices when it comes to how they give their money,” he said.
Among his goals is to engage Jews who have “slipped under the radar screen” — particularly those who are new to the community — through vehicles like expansive e-news distribution. Krivitzky refers to Seattle as a three-year “training program” in restructuring and strengthening the Jewish community, and he looks forward to bringing the tactics he has honed to Monmouth County.
“We are very excited about Keith joining our federation staff,” said federation president Joseph Hollander. “He has a great grasp on today’s issues relating to our Jewish community. We look forward to working with him to move the collective Jewish interests of Monmouth County forward.”