November 16, 2018

Leadership Project Pulls Plug

The Professional Leadership Project (PLP), an initiative established in 2004 to recruit and mentor future Jewish leaders nationwide among Generation Y, announced today it is shutting its doors.

PLP’s future had been uncertain since March, following the death of its primary benefactor, William M. Davidson, a Detroit glass manufacturer whose million-dollar-a-year gift sustained the program.

“He had been ill for a while, but it was still a surprise,” PLP Director Rhoda Weisman said.

The philanthropy, which recruited and developed executives in their mid-20s to early 30s for Jewish community organizations and provided full-tuition scholarships for graduate study, announced today it would end operations effective Aug. 31, also canceling Think Tank 4, a Jewish leadership conference which was to be held Oct. 12-20 at Universal Studios. 

The Davidson estate maintains plans for a charitable foundation, but whether that includes a continued gift to PLP “will not be resolved for a year or so,” Weisman said.

In the interim, the PLP would be without funding.

“Once we knew that was the bottom line, we realized if we didn’t have access to his gift, we couldn’t continue and needed to cut expenditures,” she said.

Borrowing jargon from the business world, PLP introduced the appellation “talent” to Jewish organizing. “Talent are people you want to invest in. It’s what Bill [Davidson] did; investing in people was his hallmark,” said Weisman, who had been a Hillel executive for more than 10 years before helming PLP. “We invested in people who didn’t have leadership positions and we got back leaders.”

“There is hope of reinvigorating PLP at another time,” Weisman said.

But that would demand another benefactor step up to the plate. Until then, Weisman is looking for opportunities. “But I will only continue working for the Jewish community,” she said.

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