Baltimore Leader Steps Down: Leaving Job ‘feels Right for Now’

“There is a tide in the affairs of men, which taken at the flood leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in the shallows and in miseries. And we must take the current when it serves or lose our ventures.”

This is the Shakespeare quote to which Darrell Friedman referred during an interview with The Baltimore Jewish Times.

In a year, the man whom many credit with changing the very nature of the Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore will walk away from its presidency, a post he has held since 1986.

Friedman said he doesn’t like to use the word “retire.” Instead, he calls it “transitioning.” He has four grandchildren he’d like to spend more time with. And as his literary quote implies, there are other issues and options that interest him.

“It’s a feeling, it’s a plan,” Friedman said. “You have to know when to come and when to go. It feels right for now. “It’s the right time.”

For a year, Friedman, who turns 60 this fall, will help in what he is certain will be a seamless transition to a new leader. The Associated has announced the formation of a committee to find Friedman’s successor.

There are those in the community who are all but certain that the position will go to the Associated’s executive vice president, Marc Terrill.

“There is no slam dunk,” Friedman said. “The committee has a fiduciary responsibility to go through a process.” The committee hopes to name its new president by Labor Day.

Friedman is staying on to assist in the training and orientation of the new president. “We will have a seamless transition,” he said. “We won’t miss a beat. I’ll phase out. But come July 1,” 2003, “it will be another day at the office.”

Friedman came to the Associated after seven years as senior associate executive vice president for the Council of Jewish Federations in New York. He is a native of San Francisco.

His tenure at the Associated has been credited with many accomplishments. There are, however, three major areas he will be remembered for.

Friedman set what was then a national standard for federations by creating a business plan for the Associated. Believe it or not, this was pretty much an unheard-of concept. Federations would raise money and then spend it, largely without cost-effectiveness strategies and enterprise plans.

Another part of Friedman’s legacy is the number of young men and women he has mentored who have aspirations to serve as Jewish professionals. It is no wonder then that he was honored with the naming of the Darrell D. Friedman Institute for Professional Development at the Weinberg Center for Jewish Community Leadership. This area, training younger professionals, is still something that concerns him.

The third area is the way Friedman opened up the Associated to more donors and volunteers.

“We were an exclusive club in 1986,” said Morton Plant, the Associated’s chairman. “Darrell expanded our donor base greatly.”

Friedman is also given credit for expanding the denominational diversity of that base. “I still shep naches when I walk into a phone-a-thon and I see people there from all walks of Jewish life,” he said, using the Yiddish term for deriving pleasure.

Other accomplishments under his watch include the change of the organization’s name in 1990 from the Associated Jewish Charities; the creation of a Hillel agency from separate Jewish Community Center and Jewish College Service programs; the Associated’s Women’s Division becoming a full department; the creation of the Harry Weinberg Family Foundation, the largest supporting foundation at the Associated; and the completion of the federation’s Year 2000 community study.

Friedman wants his successor to “be bold,” he said. “The person should develop their own vision, and bring the federation into their vision.”

Plant, who will soon be turning over the chairmanship to Carole Sibel, said the new president will find the availability of Jewish money has changed a bit since Friedman came on board.

“Jewish money,” Plant said, “is welcome in more places than ever before. There is more competition.”

But if there is a competition for hard work, Friedman’s successor will have a great deal of work to do to keep up with the departing president. Friedman is legendary for getting into the office before dawn, his office light the only one illuminated at the Associated’s office building.

What does he have planned for the day after he retires next year? “I think I’m going to sleep,” he said with a smile.

Few would ever believe that. “For a person like myself,” Friedman said, “to resist change or to live in the past or the present is for me to resist the future.”

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