Monday Meeting: Jewish Federation’s Michael Hoffman

Jan 28, 2018

Michael Hoffman is the president and chief executive officer of the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County, which recently moved its headquarter office to a 45,000-square-foot building near Interstate 95 in West Palm Beach.

Hoffman joined the federation about 2 years ago, after spending 15 years working with the Jewish community in Baltimore.

Since his arrival, the federation has opened a new volunteer center and has seen contributions to its annual fund-raising campaign climb.

Last year, the federation recruited more than 4,000 volunteers to help with various service projects throughout the county.

On Giving Tuesday — a day dedicated to raising money for philanthropic causes during the holiday shopping season — the nonprofit raised a record-breaking $3 million. The global fund-raising campaign was held on Nov. 28.

The federation said its 2017 Giving Tuesday contributions shattered 2016’s record of $1.6 million and marked the largest amount the nonprofit had raised in a single day.

“This is one of the most incredible Jewish communities in North America, ” Hoffman said.

Name: Michael Hoffman - President and CEO, Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County

Age: 46

Hometown: Massapequa Park, New York

Where you live now: Palm Beach Gardens

About your company: Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County is the “city hall of the Jewish community.” We work alongside dedicated leaders, donors and partners to address the highest-priority causes to the Jewish people while building a bright Jewish future in the Palm Beaches, Israel and 70 countries across the globe.

How your business has changed: Our organization is evolving from being transactional to more relational and inspirational. We are moving toward serving as a philanthropic concierge that aligns the hopes, dreams and aspirations of our donors with the needs and priorities of the Jewish community. By focusing on our causes as a community and inspiring donors to work collectively, we’ll address broad-based needs in a powerful way. Together, we can achieve the aspirational goals for our community — alleviating poverty and food insecurity, standing up to hatred and abuse, and ensuring our children have a strong education.

First paying job and what you learned from it: Newspaper delivery boy. I learned about accountability, taking responsibility, customer service and a strong work ethic. Every day, I was responsible for ensuring people received their primary news source on time – no matter the weather or how tired I was (remember, I was a teenager.). My job was to make my customers happy and deliver a consistent, valuable product. If I didn’t, I heard about it.

First break in the business: My first job in the Jewish communal field was serving as a community consultant at the United Jewish Appeal in New York. I traveled to federations throughout the northeast to help them achieve their mission to build strong and vibrant Jewish communities. This experience provided me with an extraordinarily valuable foundation on the significant role Jewish federations play in addressing the issues facing the Jewish people. We inspire and empower community members to transform and save lives locally and across the globe.

Best business book you read: “It’s All About Who” by Morton Mandel. The book provides enormous insight into the importance of building an “A”-caliber leadership team that can maximize the performance of an organization. Mandel also happens to be one of the most iconic entrepreneurs and generous philanthropists in our Jewish community.

Best piece of business advice you received: “Think big, start slow.” Don’t be afraid to be bold in your vision and decision-making – and remember to be methodical in your execution.

What you tell young people about your business: Don’t be afraid to turn your passion into action. I am inspired by the number of young people who I am in touch with each and every day, who show a desire to become activists, give back to their community, and play a hands-on role in expressing and strengthening their leadership. Our goal is not only to build a bright Jewish future, but to inspire and encourage our next generation to assume responsibility and achieve the bright future we all want.

What do you see ahead for Palm Beach County? This is one of the largest and fastest growing Jewish communities in North America. Today we are home to 130,000 Jewish people – in 10 years, we’ll be at 200,000. This dramatic rise means an incredible increase in the needs of the community and a growing desire to connect with Jewish life. We’re looking to the next generation of leaders to take an active role in ensuring our ability to respond to those needs, today and tomorrow. To help us prepare for our future and adapt to our rapid growth, we are undergoing a landmark year-long community study led by a renowned research institute in order to gather the necessary data to lead us into the next decade.

Where we can find you when you are not at the office: I’m most happy with my family, enjoying the beauty of Palm Beach County. We love the beach and exploring the outdoors here. There’s so much this community offers.

Favorite smartphone app: Waze. In addition to helping me cope with my being directionally challenged, Waze exemplifies the brilliant technological innovation of Israel. I’m excited to explore Israel’s global leading technological culture during the Federation’s Israel Your Way mission this summer to celebrate the country’s 70th year of independence.

What is the most important trait you look for when hiring? I look for top-tier talent and an undeniable commitment to our mission. Everyone at Federation plays a meaningful role in achieving our goal to build a strong, vibrant and welcoming Jewish community in the Palm Beaches.