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Gayle Waxman

Jeff Lieberman

Elliot Garfinkel

Danny Stoller

Mazel Tov to Gayle Waxman on her 10th Anniversary as Executive Director of Rady JCC

By Rhonda Spivak, October 9, 2015



Eleven years ago, when Rady JCC Exec Director Hal Bordy decided to take a position in San Jose, the Rady JCC was without an Executive Director.


Jeff Lieberman recalls that this occurred "a few weeks after I became President of the Rady JCC, and we made Sue Boreski the acting Executive director, while we put together a search committee headed by Murray Gilfix.  We had the JCC Association advertise in its network and we interviewed a number of candidates but we couldn’t seem to find the right person.”


Lieberman also remembers receiving sage advice from Marjorie Blankstein.  At one point, a number of months into the search I called Marjorie and told her that we were frustrated and "She said to keep looking. Eventually we'd find the right person and we'd know when that happened."


As he says, "It was in November, approximately five months later that we received a resume from Gayle Waxman, a Winnipegger who was then living in Toronto. She was looking to return to Winnipeg, with her daughter Alex, and she said she would be coming into town to visit her family over the December break. Murray and I met Gayle for lunch, and after the lunch we both said 'We think that we have found the right person.' " 


A decade later, Lieberman says "We made the right choice.  We were looking for someone who would make the "Jewishness" a key component of the Rady JCC. We wanted the Rady JCC not just to be an excellent fitness centre, but to also provide   excellent Jewish cultural programming and the cultural programming that the Rady has been providing with Gayle at the helm is phenomenal."


He adds "Gayle has been able to find the right mix of offering first rate fitness, the best cultural programming, including programming for seniors as well as excellent daycare and day camps."


Additionally, “Under Gayle's leadership the profile of the Sports Dinner has gone up. We have the biggest Sports Dinner in Western Canada," Lieberman notes. "The Israel Pavilion at Shalom Square (Folklorama) puts through about 10,000 people," (Editor's note: Waxman told the WJR recently that this year there was an increased number at the Israel pavilion)


Lieberman concludes, "Gayle has been able to find the right mix of offering first rate fitness, the best cultural programming, including programming for seniors as well as excellent daycare and day camps."


Looking back, Lieberman says that he learned from conferences he attended that "There are three pillars of JCC's that ensure vibrancy and profitability. They are 1. Memberships in the JCC. 2. Daycare 3. Day Camps."


Before Gayle Waxman took over, "We didn't have a daycare,” Lieberman explains. "Today we have that and we also have day camps that are sold out." (When Waxman began her term, there were day camps, but on a much smaller scale than now).


Prior to the Rady JCC running a daycare program, Aleph Bet did so, but as Waxman has told the Winnipeg Jewish Review "it was too small to be financially viable.” According to Waxman, “When Ilana Schultz was President of the  Aleph Bet Daycare, the Rady made a decision to take on the commitment of running a daycare." As Lieberman recalls "Gayle and I met with Ilana, the Aleph Bet Board of Directors, and Robyn avery, their Exec. Direcotr, and discussed with them how fantiastic how we would create a daycare with strong Jewish values at the Asper Campus and how fantastic it wll be for the Jewish community in the south end of the city."


Some eight years later, the Rady JCC currently operates its Kaufman Child Care Centre with 113 children in the daycare. As Waxman tells the Winnipeg Jewish Review, "In 2016 we'll be adding another 48 daycare spaces." Last month, the Rady JCC announced that construction will soon be underway on its plans to convert  the Grosvenor Avenue into a not-for-profit public daycare with 48 child spaces for the community. 



In a conversation with the Winnipeg Jewish Review Waxman explained that, "We need to raise $1.4 million for the daycare project on [Grosvenor]. This literally is an investment in the future of our community. As she continues, "The children are with us all day," and the Rady's daycare program reinforces "Jewish identity and Jewish values, and this has an impact."




At the Rady JCC’s 18th Anniversary celebrations on September 20, Elliott Garfinkel, Rady JCC President was excited to announce that David and Ruth Asper have put forth their support for the Grosvenor daycare and “it will be called the David and Ruth Asper Early Learning Centre."




In answer to a question from the WJR, Waxman has indicated that the Rady JCC “is still in the process of raising funds for the new Early Learning Centre.”




Waxman was honoured on June 15 of this year for her ten years of service as Rady JCC Executive director at an event at the Berney Theatre lobby.




Garfinkel has high praise for Waxman’s skills as Executive Director of the Rady JCC. As he explains, it’s not just that Gayle pays attention to details and is prepared for meetings:




“Gayle is ‘always on her game’ in that she’s completely informed on all issues. Some people are informed enough to lead a discussion but not quite informed enough to bring it to closure. Gayle is able to do both. Issues are presented, discussed openly in a respectful manner, direction is set, and decisions are made.  She has the ability to appreciate the social and personal side of issues but in combination with the technical knowledge to solve the problem.



“But what makes this all the more impressive with Gayle is her breadth of knowledge from Marketing to Fitness to Cultural/Jewish Values to Seniors to Daycare……and she NEVER  loses sight of Rady’s Mission and Vision and the role Rady plays in the overall Jewish Community. Finally Gayle does this all with humility, never in a heavy-handed manner, and always treating everybody (the paid staff and the lay-leaders) with the utmost of respect.”


Former president of the Rady JCC Danny Stoller says of Waxman: "Working with Gayle over the last 6 years has been a pleasure.  I was always astonished at her ability to have such a solid command of the "big picture" issues facing the Rady JCC and the community at large while also being able to speak confidently to the details of how to execute the Rady vision.  Our community is very lucky to have her!"


Waxman adds that the Rady is a model of "good governance" with "a well-functioning board" that uses "the committee structure." Looking back over the last ten years, she says that she has been very lucky since "there have been a tremendous number of volunteers," and "it has been a pleasure to work with very capable board members and outstanding presidents."



When asked by the Winnipeg Jewish Review if she has anytime for relaxation, Waxman says that between her work at the Rady and looking after her daughter Alex, she doesn't have much leisure time. But she does find time to read books book -"ones that don't deal with numbers," she says. At the event honouring her  June 15 this past year for her 10 years of service as Rady JCC Exec director, Waxman was presented with a present--a salad bowl (Editor's note: I guess that's a hint that in addition to everything else, Gayle is supposed to find time to make salad).


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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

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