David Kaplan Named New St. Paul Jewish Federation CEO

David Kaplan’s first five months at St. Paul Federation were nothing like he thought they’d be. For starters his first day was Oct. 9, 2023. Then four weeks later, the CEO left the organization. But after a nationwide search for a new CEO, St. Paul Jewish Federation’s search committee has picked Kaplan, the organization’s chief development officer, to be the new CEO, effective April 8. 

“I’m excited for the opportunity to continue to serve the community, roll up my sleeves and do the work and partner with our community partners, members, and friends in Minneapolis to get the job done,” Kaplan said. “Life doesn’t always go how you expect it. But this was an opportunity to answer the call and I did.” 

Kaplan replaces Ted Flaum, who left the role in early November.

“We are delighted to welcome David Kaplan as our new CEO,” said Interim Executive Director Tom Frishberg in a statement. “His leadership and commitment to community service make him an ideal leader to propel our Federation forward.” Frishberg will go back to the role of incoming board president; he becomes he board president on May 1.

Kaplan moved to the Federation in October from Jewish Family Service of St. Paul. Prior to working there, he had been the executive director of NECHAMA: A Jewish Response to Disaster. 

“There’s an inherent awkwardness when one of the staff members has applied for the job, but I’m happy they did the search how they did,” Kaplan said. “The committee spoke to a number of candidates and did the search in the way the community demands it. I made sure I stayed on the outside of any of those conversations.”

As he prepares to take the CEO role, Kaplan already has a priority list, starting with meetings with donors and community partners, before the organization launches into a strategic plan.

“Let’s start having the conversation and get into what the future of Federation looks like, and make sure it dovetails with the needs of our community and partner agencies,” he said. “It was high on our radar no matter what, but it’s a good time with a new CEO, a new allocations model next year; it’s time to look at the big picture.”

Kaplan said that despite a strong past four months, he thinks there’s a lot more the Federation can be doing.

“It’s our intent to follow that direction and continue to grow how we work with the community, serve the community, work with partner agencies, and the Minneapolis Jewish Federation,” he said. “It’s a different world now, and we need to realize that and embrace it. The way things have always been done doesn’t necessarily work anymore.”