Rabbi Doug Kahn, who has served the S.F.-based Jewish Community Relations Council for 32 years, including 25 as executive director, has announced he will retire in June 2016. Abby Michelson Porth, the agency’s associate executive director, will take over as executive director at that point.
Said Kahn, “From the day I started until the day I retire, I have been blessed being in a community I love, holding a position that I think is one of the most intellectually stimulating, challenging and rewarding in all of Jewish life.”
Kahn, who will be 65 by the time he steps down, is only the third full-time executive director in the agency’s history, which dates back to 1938. Following his departure, he plans to launch a consultancy business focusing on consensus building, advocacy training and other areas of expertise he developed at JCRC.
JCRC president Rosalind Franklin praised Kahn as “a remarkable Jewish community leader, and a wise and visionary thinker.”
The JCRC serves as the voice of the Jewish community on issues of concern, from anti-Semitism to Israel advocacy, and reaches out to other ethnic and religious groups. Though his agency often works behind the scenes, Kahn has long been one of the Bay Area Jewish community’s most prominent leaders. His departure marks a major changing of the guard.
Porth, 39, has worked at JCRC for 15 years, much of that time side by side with Kahn.
“Doug is a world-class leader,” she said. “He is that unusual mix of diplomat and activist, both visionary and results oriented. In his 32 years of doing this work, he’s become a confidant of so many Jewish community leaders and others beyond our community.”
Kahn was equally effusive about his successor.
“The board made an inspired choice in selecting Abby,” he said. “She has already demonstrated extraordinary leadership, and has built relationships within JCRC, the Jewish community and beyond.”
Franklin noted that Porth underwent a rigorous interview process before being selected.
“We had what we were looking for in our candidate,” she said. “[Kahn and Porth] have had a marvelous team relationship. Abby learned from Doug. He’s given her major initiatives to handle, and leadership roles in the community. She has a breadth of experience and a stellar reputation.”
Between now and June 2016, Kahn, Porth and the board will work on making the transition a smooth one. Aside from that, the work of the JCRC goes on.
Noted Kahn, “I have frequently said that after 32 years here, I’m still waiting for the first dull day.”