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A letter from new CEO Jeff Carr: “I am honored to be a part of a legacy of service”

March 15, 2023

Dear JVS SoCal Community,

The founders of JVS SoCal, referred to as the Federated Employment Bureau in 1931, imagined a world where every person, no matter their background, could support themselves and their families. Today, we find ourselves living again during a time where immigrants are fleeing wars and rising fascism, where income inequality continues to rise, and families are struggling to pay for basic needs like housing and food.

And just as we were there 92 years ago to provide support and training for those living on the margins of our society, we remain committed to “economic independence through sustainable employment.”  This heritage and mission are what inspired my desire to continue my life of service at JVS SoCal. I am honored to join this community and be a part of a legacy of service that began nearly a century ago.

My exposure to extreme poverty in a developing nation as a college student, and then again in Central Los Angeles as Executive Director of the P.F. Bresee Foundation, charted the course of both my faith journey and career path, instilling in me a clear desire to do my part to make the world a better place for everyone in the human family. Living and working in that Central LA neighborhood introduced me to people and challenges that I had not encountered in my youth.  This work instilled in me the value of diversity, a curiosity to understand and listen to people who were facing difficult challenges, and a strong belief in the power of the voices of people who have “lived experience” to center our work for community transformation.

Like Abraham in the desert, JVS SoCal ensures that our tent is open on all four sides, and hospitality is offered to everyone. In my tradition, this incarnational presence demands that we take a posture of walking with those we are committed to serve – walking in their shoes, side by sidein solidarity with them on their journey.

Our shared values are evident when I meet with and hear the stories of newcomers to Los Angeles who are fleeing violence, political persecution, or economic dislocation.  JVS SoCal’s refugee services help the most vulnerable populations emerge from trauma and pursue aspirations and self-actualization in the United States. In the last two years, caseloads in our program have nearly tripled. We are overwhelmed by the number of people who need our help: but our tradition and mission call us to the margins to help those historically left behind. 

Our shared values are at work at our employment centers in West LA, the Antelope Valley, West Hollywood, at Southwest College, and at Bob Hope Patriotic Hall in DTLA, where I’ve met people getting help with their resumes and other essential skills to advance their careers. Our shared values equip others with crucial training, as I witnessed at our JVS ApartmentWorks “field day” visit to a large apartment complex operated by our generous corporate partners at Avalon Bay.  

As the first non-Jewish leader of this organization, I am humbled by the incredible legacy of the Jewish value of Tikkun Olam, repairing the world, that has fueled 90+ years of service to Angelenos of all backgrounds. These shared values anchor our mission and the impact we seek to have. I am committed to sustaining the vision of our founders to ensure economic opportunity and hope for all.

I am honored to have been selected to support you: the amazing team at JVS SoCal. Today, as we emerge from the pandemic, no area of our lives has undergone more disruption than the workplace. What will work look like in the future? How will we prepare people for a future world of work that has yet to be defined? Wayne Gretzky, the hockey great who played eight seasons here in Los Angeles, famously said, “Skate to where the puck is going, not where it has been.”

That is the task before JVS SoCal and it’s what we all must do together.



 PS – I hope to meet you personally and get to know one another at our upcoming Strictly Business event on June 1st.

Would you like to help others access the training they need to get good jobs? We are grateful to our generous donors for their ongoing support of people in professional transition. Please consider donating here.