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California transplant is federation recruiting expert

Carin Maher“WHY WAIT until you’re close to retirement to relocate to the area where you truly want to live?” Carin Maher said from her new home in Colorado Springs.

“Living in southern California can be challenging and we were seeking a better quality of life and a better place to live, work and eventually retire.

“We fell in love with Colorado after visiting relatives many times and decided to make a change.”

In addition to the open space and beauty of the mountains, Maher and her husband, Eric, are excited about having more “elbow room” in a new, fast-growing part of Colorado Springs.

An important element of the Mahers’ lifestyle is a thriving and diverse Jewish community.

“We wanted to make sure we could find a Jewish home in Colorado Springs, so we looked into the synagogues and met with Rabbi Glazer at Temple Shalom before we made our final decision.  Although we don’t have children, we feel it’s very important to be part of the Jewish community,” Carin Maher said.

Maher is the talent acquisition executive for the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), which includes more than 300 network communities. Colorado Springs is one of them.

In Los Angeles, Maher was part of the regional JFNA office with several other professionals, traveling frequently to identify, recruit and select professionals for JFNA offices.

She is part of JFNA’s Mandel Center for Leadership Excellence and this May will mark her 10th year working for JFNA.

MAHER FOCUSES on providing executive and senior management level recruitment and staffing, as well as orientation, training, career development and coaching services.

“Moving to Colorado Springs wasn’t a huge transition since my role continues to focus on the same things as when I was based in Los Angeles. Even though travel is frequent, Skype, email and phone contact are important to the success of providing expertise and services to many federation locations throughout North America.”

Maher has worked on executive searches in cities as diverse as Albuquerque, Minneapolis and Seattle, collaborating with community leaders and board members of synagogues and Jewish organizations to fill positions such as executive director for the federation.

“Typically, I meet with the search committee and with stakeholders such as rabbis to build a clear profile of what that community is looking for in the position.”

Maher then develops a position description, networks and does outreach calls to identify skilled people, then interviews and screens qualified applicants.

She then presents a slate of candidates to the search committee to begin the interview process. Her role  is similar to executive search recruiters and consultants.

“The Denver office of the federation is one of my customers and it’s great to have the opportunity to reconnect with my colleagues there in person since my role supports Doug Seserman and the Denver-based staff of JEWISHcolorado,” said Maher.

SERVING IN the role of a consultant wasn’t new to Carin Maher. Prior to JFNA, she was a professional in the temporary staffing business. Later, after owning her own consulting firm, she decided to switch gears.

“After becoming more involved in Judaism in the Los Angeles area, my rabbi volunteered me for a federation committee. I had such a great experience as a volunteer that when I saw a job posting, I thought it could be a great opportunity.”

Maher’s business skills as well as volunteer experience in Jewish agencies and synagogues became a “good fit” for her in her current work as a JFNA professional.

Maher’s experience in the recruiting and human resources field provided her with a strong foundation for her role as a talent acquisition executive.

Filling leadership positions requires researching and identifying people whose competencies fit the job requirements and who have the personal qualities to excel.

This may involve providing background information for spouses who may need to relocate to a new geographic area.

“Even though the process may take longer than expected, we strive for the right fit for the long-term success and sustainability of the organization.”

After a professional is placed in a leadership position within JFNA, Maher’s work continues with identifying mentors, discussing career development and coaching.

The goal is to maintain a strong involvement for approximately six to nine months to assist the professional in the transition.

In addition, JFNA holds career development workshops for professionals at conferences, including sessions strictly for federation employees.

Although the recruitment profession has evolved due to the everyday use of social media, some of it remains the same as in past decades.

“Getting the word out about an open position can be done through LinkedIn and other social media, but nothing works as well as just picking up the phone and speaking to the real person on the other end. The ‘old fashioned’ way can’t be replaced by tweeting,” commented Maher.

Maher earned a BFA from the University of Southern California and was president of her synagogue in Los Angeles. She was also a founding member of the women’s cabinet of the South Bay Region of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.

Building a sense of connection to the local community has been a relatively easy transition for Maher and her husband, since they were familiar with Colorado Springs prior to their relocation.

“We love it here and look forward to getting more involved in the Jewish community.

“As Jews in America, we have so much freedom to practice our Judaism. We can observe religious traditions, wear kippot, choose not to work on Saturdays, etc.

“We’re free to express our Judaism in lots of different ways, outwardly appearing or not, and thus we can be as Jewish as we want to be in America. It’s a wonderful thing.”

Copyright © 2015 by the Intermountain Jewish News

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