SJCC names Obliteride leader Amy Lavin as new CEO

The Stroum Jewish Community Center of Greater Seattle has named Amy Lavin its new chief executive officer. Lavin created and heads Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center’s Obliteride and was formerly a marketing leader at Microsoft.

Lavin, 43, a longtime SJCC member, will start her new role Jan. 23. The SJCC board chose Lavin following a national search to replace Judy Neuman, who is retiring after nearly eight years as CEO.

Located on Mercer Island, the SJCC is the only Jewish community center in the state, with approximately 5,000 members. The SJCC operates an Early Childhood School and summer camp programs, and hosts arts and cultural events for the entire community, including the annual Seattle Jewish Film Festival.

“Amy has boundless energy and incredible drive. She makes things happen,” said Board President Kim Waldbaum. “Judy has taken us to heights we did not think possible, and with that solid foundation, I’m confident that Amy will take us to the next level.”

Lavin comes to the SJCC from Obliteride, an annual bike ride that raises money for cancer research at Fred Hutch. Recruited to establish and grow Obliteride, Lavin has helped the event raise more than $9 million since its start in 2013. Her ability to reach new people and galvanize the community are two key factors that made Lavin an outstanding candidate.

“Fred Hutch has benefitted from Amy’s vision and energy,” said Dr. Gary Gilliland, Fred Hutch’s president and director. “She led the team that created Obliteride, our signature bike ride, which has raised significant funds over the last four years for cancer research. More importantly, it has engaged nearly 40,000 new supporters to help cure cancer faster.”

“We have benefitted from Amy’s passion for community-building, and we know the Stroum JCC is an important part of her family’s life. We will miss her and send her off with all our support in this wonderful next step in her career,” Gilliland added.

Running the SJCC is another opportunity to unite the community around something positive and meaningful, Lavin said.

“The intrinsic goal is to foster community,” Lavin said. “And with such incredible growth in the local Jewish community, it’s an exciting time. There are so many rich programs and activities already happening at the J. There’s tremendous opportunity to build upon that to reach and engage people in new places and ways.”

A graduate of SJCC preschool herself, Lavin appreciates the value of community, tradition and fostering Jewish connection throughout life.

In fact, many preschool parents reading and singing with their children were once preschool classmates themselves. This is a common, yet unique, occurrence at the J.

“The SJCC is really about the values of Judaism — values that create community throughout life,” Lavin said.

Neuman is credited with helping the SJCC flourish as a community hub. She spearheaded a capital campaign to build a $5 million performing arts center, which houses more than 40 events annually, from comedy acts to film to live bands. She launched the Community Connections program, which brings SJCC programs to neighborhoods around greater Seattle. And she leaves the organization on a firm financial foundation: Membership has grown 50 percent, and donations have increased fivefold.

“We have created a center for the entire community, members and guests alike,” Neuman said. “I’m proud that people want to connect with each other through the J, participate in the breadth of programs and services the J offers, and that we’ve created a vibrant community that’s a center of Jewish life and culture.”

Neuman retires Jan. 25.

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