Longtime Shalom Austin CEO Stepping Down Next Summer
By Julie Zweig
Jay Rubin, Shalom Austin Chief Executive Officer since 2006, has announced plans to step down at the end of August 2016 when a new CEO is expected to assume the organization’s reins.
The central Jewish community organization in one of the fastest growing regions and Jewish communities in the U.S., Shalom Austin encompasses the Jewish Federation, Jewish Community Center, Jewish Family Service and Jewish Foundation, manages the Dell Jewish Community Campus and publishes The Jewish Outlook.
Rubin is the longest serving CEO in the organization’s history dating back to the late 1970s when the Jewish Community Council, predecessor to the Jewish Federation of Austin and Jewish Community Association of Austin, first engaged professional leadership. He will turn 64 in January.
Joan Swartz, Chair of the Shalom Austin Board of Directors, has appointed community leaders Randi Shade and Billy Osherow, to co-chair the new CEO Search Committee with professional support from Carin Maher, Talent Acquisition Executive at the Jewish Federations of North America Mandel Center for Leadership Excellence. Maher, a veteran executive recruiter, has been with JFNA since 2005 and staffed the original search process that led to the hiring of Rubin.
Rubin has played a key role in the growth and development of Austin’s Jewish community during the past decade.
Along with Andy Pastor of Endeavor Real Estate, Rubin helped spearhead City of Austin approval of Planned Unit Development (PUD) zoning for the Dell Jewish Community Campus in 2008, paving the way for the construction of Temple Beth Shalom as well as the addition of Gan Yaniv, the B’nai Abraham Brenham Historic Synagogue and future JCC expansion.
He initiated the Shalom Austin rebranding beginning with a new website and email addresses and The Guide to Jewish Living in Central Texas. The rebranding will culminate in a complete legal name change over the next several months.
Under his leadership, The Jewish Outlook, one of the most successful monthly Jewish community publications in the U.S., moved in-house with expanded coverage, increased distribution and revenue, new supplements, creative design and an online edition.
Rubin also brought the PJ Library, a partnership program of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation (HGF), to Austin in 2007. The PJ Library sends over 800 free monthly, age-appropriate, Jewish books and gifts to families with children between 6 months and 8 years. Funded by HGF and annual donations, PJ Library has become one of the Jewish community’s core outreach and engagement programming initiatives.
Since 2006, the annual budget of Shalom Austin has grown by more than 60 percent from $7.3 million to $11.6 million and total giving has increased from $2.3 million to $7.4 million, including annual, supplementary, endowment and capital contributions and with new philanthropic vehicles such as Momentum, Milestone, the Jewish Foundation of Austin and Central Texas, the Tikkun Austin Giving Circle and the Generations Campaign.
Rubin also has played a key role advocating for Israel in local media and coordinating educational, solidarity and memorial gatherings in support of peace and security in an increasingly violent and volatile region. He initiated Austin’s involvement with the Partnership with the Western Galilee in 2007 that culminated in Ballet Austin’s historic production of Light: The Holocaust and Humanity Project” in Akko, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in 2013. He also deepened the partnership with Birthright Israel leading to local sponsorship of post-college young adult trips.
“I feel blessed to have been given an opportunity to help shape a cutting-edge 21st century Jewish community along with many talented and dedicated colleagues and volunteer leaders during the past decade,” Rubin declared. “I look forward to staying engaged in the Jewish community and in Austin, personally and professionally, for many years to come.”
Rubin’s career as a Jewish professional spans more than three decades. He served as Executive Vice-President of Hillel International from 1997-2006, part of the senior management team under then presidents Richard Joel and Avraham Infeld credited with spearheading Hillel’s organizational transformation and global renaissance. Based in Washington, D.C., Rubin visited nearly every major university in the U.S. with a significant Jewish student population and traveled extensively throughout the world developing Jewish student life in Israel, Latin America, the former Soviet Union, Canada and Europe.
Rubin previously spent 16 years as the Executive Director of Jewish Federations in New Haven, Connecticut; Canton, Ohio; and Augusta, Georgia as well as JCC’s in Augusta and Canton. He is a past chair of both the Small Cities Executives Institute and the Intermediate Federation Executives Institute and currently serves as Treasurer of the JPRO Network of Jewish community professionals throughout North America.
A native of Brooklyn, NY and graduate of Stuyvesant High School, Binghamton University and Washington University in St. Louis, Rubin also shares longstanding ties to the Austin area. His first full-time job was teaching history at (Southwest) Texas State University in San Marcos from 1978-81 where he developed the university’s first course on the Holocaust. Living in South Austin with his wife Carol, and their two native Austin children, the Rubins were active in Congregation Beth Israel and taught the Confirmation Class when the master educator Hymie Samuelson took a yearlong sabbatical. Years later Rubin encouraged Rabbi David Kessel, one of his colleagues at Hillel International, to become Executive Director of Texas Hillel.
Like increasing numbers of Central Texans, the Rubins now enjoy an extended Austin family, including a son, daughter- in-law, two native Texan grandsons, and multiple cousins living in Austin. They also have two daughters and sons-in-law and two grandchildren in Washington, D.C.
Unlike her husband, Carol Rubin, known to a generation of Austin children as “Ms. Carol,” has no immediate plans to step down from her early childhood musical duties at the JCC and multiple area congregations.
“I’ll be way easier to replace than she’ll be,” Rubin conceded.