Federation’s NEXTGen Detroit celebrates its leaders.
Nearly 200 representatives of Federation’s young leadership “past, present and future” gathered at the Quicken Loans’ offices at the Chase Tower in Downtown Detroit on June 13 for the first Annual Meeting under the NEXTGen Detroit banner.
Attendees celebrated a year of remarkable achievement and gave thanks to all who made it possible. It was a night to recognize and honor past presidents of Federation’s Young Adult Division, many in attendance who have continued over the years to serve as Federation presidents, executives and longtime community leaders.
“Tonight is particularly meaningful,” said Marty Maddin, outgoing NEXTGen president. “We honor 75 years of young Jewish Detroit while celebrating our own reinvention in the launch of NEXTGen. Our current successes are possible only because they’ve been built on the shoulders of the leadership of past generations.”
Over the past 18 months, NEXTGen Detroit has seen phenomenal growth; doubling the numbers of its donor base and more than quadrupling the numbers of participants in meaningful Jewish experiences.
“What happened last year was nothing short of amazing,” said Federation CEO Scott Kaufman. “We set bold goals and put them out there on the Internet for everyone to see. Results? Last year we had the highest percentage growth in our donor base since 1948. And we did it without having to start a new country.”
Taking the helm as new president of NEXTGen, Rachel Wright expressed the commitment and enthusiasm that’s created NEXTGen’s new and emerging leadership style. “You say: Hineni — Here I am. You show up. And you are here to make a difference,” she said.
Dan Gilbert, chairman and founder of Quicken Loans and Rock Ventures, spoke at the event, challenging NEXTGen to step forward and be bold.
“You have to take a risk. If it’s in you, if you have the dog in you, and you really do want to make major impact and change, you have to be bold; you have to be very determined to make that happen,” Gilbert said. “No matter what the noise is around you. No matter who doubts you. No matter if you doubt yourself, no matter if you fail. Because (even if you fail) you’re going to learn stuff, and next time go a different direction much quicker than you otherwise would.
“You’re going to think anyway, so you may as well think big. You’ve got a dream anyway. You may as well dream big. We’re only here for a relatively short time.”
By Vivian Henoch | Special to the Jewish News. Vivian Henoch writes for myjewishdetroit.org, where this story first appeared.