Bringing Professional Leadership Development to the OU

“The key to the success of any organization or business is its staff,” says Rabbi Ari Rockoff. “Investing in the growth and development of our staff must be a top priority.”

Rabbi Rockoff, thirty-nine, is the Orthodox Union’s director of leadership development, a newly created position designed specifically for Rabbi Rockoff who was recruited by Allen I. Fagin, executive vice president of the OU, and Rabbi Micah Greenland, international director of NCSY, the OU’s international youth movement.

Rabbi Rockoff, thirty-nine, is the Orthodox Union’s director of leadership development, a newly created position designed specifically for him. Photo: Josh Weinberg

Rabbi Rockoff, thirty-nine, is the
Orthodox Union’s director of leadership
development, a newly created
position designed specifically
for him. Photo: Josh Weinberg

Prior to joining the OU, Rabbi Rockoff spent more than a dozen years at Yeshiva University, where he was the founding director of the Center for the Jewish Future and one of the lead designers of ChampionsGate, a leadership conference that brought together hundreds of Jewish lay leaders and professionals from around the country. Rabbi Rockoff most recently served as the associate dean of institutional advancement at the Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education & Administration and the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies.

In his new position, Rabbi Rockoff will work with OU staff members in designing career trajectories as well as building cross-functionality into the different departments of the organization. Rabbi Rockoff will be bringing his wide-ranging academic background to the task, a background that includes semichah from YU’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, a master’s in education from the Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration and an MBA from Baruch College’s Zicklin School of Business.

Rabbi Rockoff also aims to build what he calls a “culture of mentorship and membership” within the organization.

“We’re looking to build an infrastructure with a leadership pipeline system that tracks talent and guides our professionals throughout their careers,” Rabbi Rockoff says.

His first assignment will be working with NCSY, which boasts 200 staff members in twelve regions across North and South America as well as 400 volunteer college-age advisors.

“One of my priorities is making certain that every member of the OU has appropriate opportunities to develop his or her skills,” says Mr. Fagin. “We’re beginning with NCSY and rolling out a robust program of professional development throughout the organization to make sure that our professionals are the most dedicated, mission-committed and highly trained professionals they can be.”

“Most of our advisors will eventually move on to other jobs,” Rabbi Rockoff says. “Our goal at NCSY is to help them develop skills that will empower them to become accomplished and sought-after Jewish leaders both within the OU and in the broader Jewish community.”

Rabbi Rockoff’s eventual goal is to expand the OU’s work to include a training platform for other boards and nonprofits servicing the Jewish community.

“The OU is a resource with a global reach,” says Rabbi Rockoff. “Our motto is ‘Enhancing Jewish Life,’ and we’re positioned to extend that mandate.”

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This article was featured in the Winter 2014 issue of Jewish Action.
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