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L.A. federation aiming to become center for innovation?

The hiring of Jay Sanderson last summer as the president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Los Angeles raised eyebrows in some circles. Would Sanderson, previously the founder and the Jewish Television Network, be a good match? As a federation outsider, what was his vision?

The buzz after his first several months in office is that Sanderson’s hiring could be a boon to the Jewish innovation sector.

"It is very clear to me from the conversations I have been having with him that he is committed to bringing down the barrier between ‘establishment’ and ‘startup,’" said Shawn Landres, the co-founder & CEO of Jumpstart. "He is committed to the Los Angeles community’s self-renewal and committed to finding creative solutions to existing and new challenges."

Sanderson and the Los Angeles federation have been working closely with Jumpstart to help envision how the federation could become a center for new Jewish ideas, according to Landres. Federation officials also have been meeting regularly with the leaders of other Jewish startups to see how they could work together.

It’s impossible to know what will come of these meetings, but Landres thinks that within a couple of years we may see the L.A. federation working with Jumpstart to give startups and young organizations office space from which they can work.

"I also think that we will see the federation reaching out to constituencies it hasn’t before," Landres told me Wednesday afternoon after meeting with Sanderson. "I think that one of the things Jay wants to do is rebuild a sense of reciprocity in the community, that there are things only the federation can do and things that the federation can’t do by itself. I believe Jay has a fairly realistic sense of what the federation should and shouldn’t be doing, and we might see their allocations change. It might become much more of a grant-making process. And that is not a bad thing. That is the new world we are all in."

And while we’re on the topic of L.A., check out The Jewish Journal’s its annual Mensch List, focusing on 10 Angelenos doing good deeds big and small. 

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