Minnesota JCC Announces Leadership Transition

Michael Waldman, the first CEO of the single-entity Minnesota JCC, is stepping down from the role to take charge of the Minnesota JCC Foundation, which was created to manage the endowment assets and property of the organization. He will be replaced by the organization’s COO Stephanie Chauss.

The announcement of the leadership change was sent in an email from the presidents of the JCC and JCC Foundation last week.

“This is my dream job,” Waldman said. “I know I can be most helpful, and make the greatest impact, by focusing my skills on funding all of the elements needed to meet the JCC’s mission. Our leadership is committed to building endowments to support facility vitality and JCC programs and services.”

Waldman has worked for JCC’s in Texas and Minnesota in various capacities for 28 years. He was the executive director of the St. Paul JCC for 10 years before becoming the shared executive director of the St. Paul and Sabes JCCs. In 2021, the two JCCs merged, creating the Minnesota JCC.

In the email from the board presidents, Waldman’s new role will be “expanded to retain oversight of the fundraising and development components associated with his current role. Michael will also continue to manage the Foundation’s governance and lead capital and endowment fund development to support JCC programs and facilities.”

Chauss was the last president of the St. Paul JCC board of directors before joining the Minnesota JCC executive team. Among her professional stops prior to the JCC, she served as the senior vice president of the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities, where she oversaw 32 YMCA locations, 10 day camps, 13 early childhood centers, and 55 school-age care sites while leading a team of 7,000 full-time, part-time and seasonal staff.

She was also the steering committee co-chair, whose work paved the way for the two JCCs to combine.

Where we’re successful and the strength of our impact is things the steering committee put as the (JCC’s) north star,” Chauss said. “It’s my honor to be doing what we set out to do.”

“Stephanie will lend her extensive expertise to meeting the JCC’s mission, vision, and values by leading initiatives, strengthening operations, supervising and mentoring staff, ensuring that high quality programs and services reach the community, and interfacing with members and the extended community as a whole,” Waldman said.

The next six weeks will be a transition period, with the change officially taking place March 29.

“We have had the benefit of having partnered in different settings over the years, and I’m so honored an appreciative,” Chauss said of her relationship with Waldman. “If he hasn’t bestowed his wisdom on me yet, we have a very intentional transition plan that will keep us moving and seamless to our community.”

Said Waldman: “I continue to be honored and privileged to work for the organization that I love so deeply and that has provided me so many opportunities both personally and professionally.”