When Jeanne Tobin moved to Cleveland to work for Key Corp. 22 years ago, she thought she would be there until retirement and then return to Columbia, Md., where she raised her children and near where she had worked at Equitable Bank in Baltimore and where her husband had worked at the National Institutes of Health. However, due in no small part to the welcoming, philanthropic Jewish community as well as Cleveland’s unifying sports teams and quality classical music, the Tobins never left.
“We’ve become Clevelanders by choice,” Tobin said. “Philanthropy was so much a part of the DNA of the community. It’s contagious.”
Since then, Tobin has been a president of the Mandel Jewish Community Center and president of The Temple-Tifereth Israel in Beachwood. During her presidency, the Mandel JCC saw increased programming and a large renovation and expansion thanks to the Mandel family. Similarly at The Temple, Tobin oversaw the recent renovation and expansion, also thanks to the Mandel family.
“This team effort was one of the most satisfying and fulfilling accomplishments of my life,” she said.
Tobin remains committed to both The Temple and the Mandel JCC, and serves on several committees of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland, as well as on other community boards.
“The Mandel JCC, the Temple and many of the other organizations keep their past leaders involved … deeply involved, while encouraging new and younger people to take on responsibilities. You can run, but you can’t hide. Oddly, none of us wants to run- we’re lifers,” Tobin said.
She said what motivates her to make a difference is a combination of learning tikkun olam at a young age from her parents’ actions and values and trying to improve the world for her children, grandchildren and future generations. While she said it is difficult to quantify one’s impact on the community, community service has profoundly impacted her life.
“It connects me to my heritage and to my future and allows me to be a part of that continuum,” Tobin said. “Whatever any of us can do to strengthen the institutions that serve us and inspire us, that sustain us and excite us, that bring us closer together and give us hope for the future, will pay dividends both to others and to ourselves.”
– Amanda Koehn