Congregation Beth Israel Hires New Executive Director | Shalom Austin

Congregation Beth Israel Hires New Executive Director

The Jewish Outlook

Sep 23, 2020

Ken Davidson, Congregation Beth Israel executive director. Credit: Susan Davidson

By Tonyia Cone

Over the summer, Congregation Beth Israel named Ken Davidson its new executive director. His first day at CBI was July 1. 

With more than 15 years of synagogue management experience, Davidson is a seasoned executive in the for-profit and non-profit sectors.  

“Employing the servant-leader model, he has a record of transforming Jewish non-profits by modernizing operations, increasing revenue and elevating individual and family experiences,” wrote CBI President Laura Corman in a message to congregants. 

Davidson previously served as executive director of Temple Oheb Shalom in Baltimore from 2008 through 2019. 

“He held the congregation together through a significant crisis, stewarding the organization toward better days,” Corman explained. 

He also served as executive director for three years of Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim in Charleston, South Carolina, and as assistant executive director at Temple Beth El in Charlotte, North Carolina.  

Davidson said, “To me, the placement process for synagogue executives is closer to a matching than a job search. It’s important for there to be a good fit between the two. As I looked at the available positions and researched the congregations, it became clear that CBI’s emphasis on community is a major part of the congregation’s identity. That speaks to me. I consider the relationship between the congregation and its members and the relationships among the members themselves to be critical to the success of the organization. I believe that we should be all about our members. And, as I researched CBI, I found that to be the case here.” 

Davidson added that he was also impressed with the stability of the congregation.  

“Even with our current focus on contemporary issues we have a strong history here in Austin. We also are able to boast stability in our clergy and senior staff positions,” he said. 

Davidson’s synagogue management experience was preceded by a career in the electronic and physical security industries, when he worked for America Online Communities Inc. in Dulles, Virginia; Shomer Enterprises Inc. in Charlotte, North Carolina; and Barton Protective Services in Atlanta, Georgia.  

Davidson holds an MBA and a bachelor’s degree in business management from Western Governors University. 

“CBI’s Board of Trustees believes that Ken will apply the crisis management skills he honed during his time in Baltimore to lead our congregation through the current Covid-19 pandemic. Ken is passionate about supporting Jewish organizations and helping congregants strengthen their connections to Judaism and the Jewish community,” said Corman.  

“His desire is to partner with Beth Israel’s clergy and lay leadership to create a team-centered environment in which staff and volunteers collaborate to fulfill the congregation’s mission for the benefit of all members. In my many conversations with Ken I have learned that in responding to any situation his first question is, ‘How will that affect the congregation?'” 

Davidson, who moved to Austin with his wife, Susan, explained that like most synagogue professionals, he has a personal focus on certain aspects of congregational life; two of his areas of focus are inclusivity and social justice.  

“I’m excited by all of the steps that CBI has taken in those areas and look forward to building on those successes during my tenure,” he said. “Additionally, I know that synagogue executive directors’ primary focus is the business and financial side of the organization. With that in mind, I have a strong focus on implementing cost efficiencies, improving financial transparency and expanding on our existing culture of philanthropy. This congregation has been here for its members for more than 140 years. One of my responsibilities is to help ensure that we’re here for another 140 years.” ■

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