Posted September 24, 2021 in Articles
Author: McKENNA CORSON
Brian Sokol might have just joined the Menorah Park Foundation as chief development officer Aug. 1, but the long-term care facility in Beachwood and Bainbridge Township has always been in his blood.
Growing up in Akron in the 1970s, Sokol and his family would make Sunday trips to visit Sokol’s paternal grandmother, Gussie Sokol, who received dementia care at Menorah Park. Sokol repeated these frequent trips to Montefiore to visit his maternal grandmother, Frances Rosenblum, but this time with his own children decades later.
“I just got used to this institution after coming here for many years,” said Sokol, a resident of Beachwood and member of Park Synagogue in Cleveland Heights and Pepper Pike. “That, of course, factored into my decision making process having this firsthand experience on the campus in multiple locations and seeing the importance it has in the community.”
Sokol moved to Cleveland in 2004 after working as a talent agent in the music industry in Los Angeles. He worked at GOJO for three years, where he educated large companies about pandemic preparedness. He was then offered his first dive into the world of nonprofit to be area director for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland then recruited Sokol to become the senior director of national development and associate campaign manager.
Sokol, 11 years into his work at CWRU, said he wasn’t looking for another job when he was approached by his friend, Joel Fox. Fox informed Sokol that he was planning to retire as Menorah Park Foundation chief development officer at the end of July and that Sokol had been identified as a top successor.
“I was in a very good place at the university, and I very much enjoyed being there,” Sokol said. “The only reason I continued with the discussion is because I had the highest regard for the institution and for Joel.”
One discussion with Fox quickly snowballed into meetings with the search committee. It wasn’t long until Sokol was offered and then accepted the position. Sokol’s orientation process overlapped with Fox’s final weeks in the position, which Sokol said he was very thankful for.
“As I learned more about the position, I learned more about the foundation itself, and the opportunity to make an impact at Menorah Park in the coming years,” Sokol said. “The Jewish community is so important to me, I was raised in a household where being involved in the Jewish community and being supportive of the Jewish community was paramount.”
Having been in the position now for about two months, Sokol referred to his occupational transition as “comfortable.” He attributed this ease to his roots in the Jewish community and Menorah Park’s Jewish values and mission. As the foundation’s chief development officer, Sokol is in charge of securing resources necessary to meet the facility’s needs – which ranges from new medical equipment to new carpet to continuing nurses’ education. He also oversees the 500 or so donor funds endowed at Menorah Park.
“We continue to raise money for things that come up on short notice as well as things that we know we’re going to need constantly,” Sokol said. “This oversees all of the fundraising for each of the facilities that we have here, and being a good steward of donor intent.”
When it comes to his goals for his Menorah Park Foundation tenure, he expressed a desire to continue forging a successful and lasting future for the facility. This includes growing fundraising activities like the Home Run/Walk and Shining Star CLE singing competition; expanding outdoor programming and spaces to allow for increased catering to COVID-19 safety precautions; renovations in order to upkeep the campus; and increases in technology, telemedicine and other health care advances and living environments. The Cleveland Jewish News is a media sponsor of Menorah Park’s Home Run Virtual Run/Walk and Shining Star CLE.
“I recognize Menorah Park’s vitally important goal to serve the community with excellence and caring, providing for wide ranging needs of people as they age, and also lending support to the generations that love them,” Sokol told the CJN. “It will be critical to develop these resources needed to support Menorah Park’s strategic growth that in turn provides the most effective resources for our community.”
Sokol, 53, has two children, Ari, a sophomore at the The Ohio State University in Columbus, and Lea, a senior at Beachwood High School. He said he’s greatly involved with Park Synagogue, where he most recently served as treasurer.
When he’s not working, Sokol enjoys exploring Cleveland’s arts and cultural opportunities, as well as its outdoor offerings. He plays for the Beachwood Men’s Softball League.