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Strategic Planning Update

JFS Prepares Road Map for Growth
by Allen Abbott, JFS Board Member

If the words “strategic planning” cause you to yawn and run for the coffee machine, I wish you could have attended the Jewish Family Service strategic planning kickoff meeting on January 21st. JFS board members and senior staff went through a lively, three-hour back-and-forth regarding the future direction of the agency.

Under the stewardship of Executive Director Debbie Zoller, Jewish Family Service of the Lehigh Valley has expanded and improved the quality of its core services of mental health counseling, senior adult support services, and our community food pantry, during the past ten years. Based on our current strategic plan, crafted in 2021, the agency has recently developed a number of programs to foster accessibility and inclusion in our community.

To plan for the next three years, we started by taking stock of where we are today. We reviewed our vision and mission, had an in-depth discussion of both the strengths and weaknesses of the agency, and then went further by identifying potential opportunities and threats suggested by those strengths and weaknesses. Additionally, we will have to consider the external environment that we face: a shrinking and aging Jewish population in the Lehigh Valley, an increase in anti-antisemitism in the country at large, and the current challenges of post-pandemic fundraising.

During the next several months, the strategic planning committee, which I am privileged to chair, will meet frequently to digest and discuss the input we received from board and staff at our kickoff meeting, and create a road map for the further growth and development of the organization. We will report our progress to the full Board of Directors monthly, and will deliver a final plan for board consideration by mid-May.

The committee’s objective is to deliver a strategic plan that meets the changing needs of the Jewish community and our local neighborhood, is consistent with the Jewish values we strive to support, remains top of mind as we lead the organization through the coming years, and is measurable in a way that allows the community and the JFS organization to know whether we achieve the goals we set.

In addition to a strong road map, JFS success requires the full support of all of our constituents: the Jewish community, the agency board members, our excellent staff, and our 90+ volunteers, without whom most of our work would be impossible.

If you would like to volunteer, or have any thoughts on how JFSLV can better serve our community, please contact us at