Jesse Bordwin…You Should Know

Jesse Bordwin. Photo courtesy of Jesse Bordwin.

Washington, D.C., resident Jesse Bordwin took a winding career path — from working in education to becoming a management consultant — before moving into the D.C. Jewish communal space in April as the chief experience officer at the Edlavitch DCJCC.

Bordwin worked for two years as an assistant professor at the University of Virginia, having obtained his master’s and doctorate in English there, but he wanted to move in a different direction and joined a consulting firm, Bain & Co.

And after three years there, Bordwin again wanted to move in a new direction, and the perfect opportunity opened up with the JCC, allowing him to combine all his skills.

“This job came along, and [I realized] I can take my passion for community building, be involved in education and the arts. But also, there are all these tough and interesting strategic questions that we’re facing as a community,” Bordwin said. “How do you grow? How do you evolve? How do you meet the demands of your community? To be able to have all of that in one job and a job that’s taking place in a Jewish context where I can be a part of that community is amazing.”

The role of chief experience officer is new at the JCC, and Bordwin himself is new to working in a Jewish space, leading to an exciting experience as he figures out how to best improve the connection the community has to the JCC and get more people engaged.

Bordwin said that his job is to be the person on the JCC’s leadership committee that gets involved with the community and looks holistically at the programming and resources offered.

“We do all these different things, but they’re happening under one roof and engaging one community. And so how do you think strategically and expansively about bringing all that programming together? Making sure that when people come in our doors, they are getting the most out of this and we are providing the most value to them, and setting some of the strategic direction for where we’re heading in the future to meet the evolving needs of the community and the folks who use our space,” Bordwin said.

The transition has been an intriguing challenge for Bordwin, who is soaking up all the information he can in a community-facing role that differs sharply from the skills needed for consulting and teaching.

“I want to be the person who knows more than anybody else about how does our theater work. How does our preschool work? And how does our family education work? They’re all effectively like different little businesses, and to try to wrap myself around such a diverse and vibrant organization is genuinely very challenging,” Bordwin said.

The new role is also different due to its Jewish connection, something that Bordwin said is a pleasant change.

This move continues an increase in Bordwin’s Jewish involvement that stretches back to UVA, where he realized how small the Jewish community was there compared to his hometown. He got involved in Congregation Beth Israel in Charlottesville.

He added that Beth Israel made Judaism meaningful to him in a way that he hadn’t felt in a long time, and it shaped his identity in a way that eventually indirectly led him to
the JCC.

“I reached a point where I had really rediscovered politically, culturally and communally myself as a Jew. When I was figuring out what I wanted to do next, I didn’t know that it was going to be Jewish, but I did know that it needed to be closer to my values. And part of what I wanted out of a workplace was to go in and feel like I was building a community and contributing to the [betterment] of the place that I live in and the world,” Bordwin said.

Now, as Bordwin settles into his position, he’s thought about the specifics on the positive impact he wants to provide the community.

Bordwin said that the JCC is approaching its centennial anniversary, and that’s opened a conversation about what the next 100 years will look like.

“A lot of what I’m excited about is for us to really take advantage of our role as the JCC of the nation’s capital and to build programming that meets the needs of our present moment and confronts big-picture questions that bring in political and cultural speakers to engage our community,” Bordwin said.

Bordwin added that he’s seen the impact that the JCC can have on local Jews, and that he’s passionate about getting more people involved.

He feels that there is lots of untapped potential that people could bring by being involved with the JCC — and he’s ready to help them reach it.

“We offer so much stuff already that I want more people to know about. I’ll just say, please reach out to me. I want to talk to you, I want to meet you and I want to figure out how we can continue to make this like a meeting space and like the home for Jews of all stripes across the DMV,” Bordwin said.

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