The Kaplan Leadership Initiative is the first international JDC program that has set as its goal the of development of leadership in Jewish communities around the world. The program is designed for professionals at mid-level positions in Jewish communities who are aspiring to strengthen their influence and leadership. It focuses on providing tools and knowledge in four areas: community development, leadership, Jewish content and context, and management. Two cohorts completed the program, to date.
Post-program activity and alumni follow-up were not part of the original program design. After the end of the 1st cohort, each region pursued separate post-program policies. After the 2nd cohort, which coincided with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, JDC established the Global Alumni Program in parallel with the regional groups’ post-program activities.
This report summarizes the findings of the evaluation of the Kaplan Alumni Program. The Evaluation aimed to assess the expectations, perceptions, and satisfaction of alumni regarding the Kaplan Leadership Program’s post-program alumni activities.
The evaluation was conducted using semi structured interviews in English, Russian and Spanish with 3 alumni from each region (N=9), and 3 interviews with staff (2 interviewees from each region). In addition, the evaluation team observed 3 on-line activities, and analyzed program documents (activity catalogue, staff planning documents, alumni surveys, etc.).
- Alumni enjoyed Alumni Global Program activities, especially the coaching that contributed to their professional development. The webinars and the multi regional task forces contributed more to the enhancement of alumni connections than to individual alumni skills.
- Despite the efforts of the Kaplan team to keep alumni connected and informed, alumni did not grasp the Global Alumni Program’s overall vision and felt the initiative lacked continuity.
- Alumni expressed interest in an active network, staying in touch with each other, and continuing to advance in their knowledge and skills, principally by keeping up to date with fellow alumni. This need is stronger than their need for activities. They also expressed concern that the achievements of the Kaplan Leadership Program may not be maintained, and that alumni connectedness may decline.
- Alumni wanted opportunities for peer learning through the exchange of knowledge and experiences with fellow alumni from all cohorts, and particularly with alumni from their region. They articulated particular interest in content that was unique to the Kaplan Global Leadership Program like aspects of community development and Jewish learning.
- Establishing an active and vibrant alumni network requires professional construction, according to the extensive professional knowledge accumulated in the area, yet the Kaplan Leadership Program’s unique characteristics pose challenges to the operation of the Global Alumni Program: alumni linguistic gaps, small number of alumni and limited financial resources as well as the current Russia-Ukraine conflict.
The report presents immediate and intermediate term recommendations, drawn from the findings of the evaluation. Recommendations for the immediate term include providing support to the FSU alumni and rethinking the feasibility of a global program. The continuation of the program has not yet been decided. If the decision is made to continue the comprehensive program, it is essential to formulate the goals, objectives and outline for the program, focusing efforts on the development and maintenance of the network and connections, and engaging with alumni who are willing to contribute time to the program. Recommendations for the intermediate term include expanding the Kaplan Leadership Program website, promoting specific alumni networking opportunities according to common professional interests and roles, considering means of enabling face-to-face get togethers (regional and global), and synchronizing regional and global programs, using uniform criteria for network inclusion for alumni from all regions.
Citing suggestion: Hasin, T., & Milshtein, E. (2022). The Kaplan Program Alumni Activities. S-214-22. Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute.