In 2001, when E. M. “Butch” Rosen became the executive director of the Foundation of Shalom Park, he had four objectives as he became responsible for executing a multimillion-dollar expansion, renovation, and endowment project.
• “To help build, create, and sustain this sense of community both in physical reality and institutional vitality,” said Rosen.
• “To get this job done knowing it would be difficult, challenging with an agreed-upon budget and in a manner that worked as best it could for this community,” said Rosen, 68.
• “To survive physically – I didn’t want it to kill me.
• “To keep my warped sense of humor.”
Rosen, a Plaza-Midwood resident, met all four of his objectives and is retiring at the end of March.
Shalom Park sits on 54 acres in south Charlotte. It houses approximately 15 different, non-profit Jewish agencies, such as the Levine Jewish Community Center, Temple Israel, Temple Beth El, and the Jewish Federation of Greater Charlotte.
Shalom Park is the first Jewish campus of its kind in the country, and “is still, to the best of my knowledge, the only one in the world that has two synagogues,” said Rosen.
Shalom Park opened in May of 1986 with the vision of being the “center and soul of the Jewish community in South Charlotte,” said Bill Gorelick, 78, one of the founders of the park. “The Foundation of Shalom Park keeps the glue together and keeps Shalom Bayit, ‘peace in the family.’ ”
In 1992, the foundation deeded eight acres each to Temple Beth El and Temple Israel, and the two temples moved onto the property.
From the late 1990’s until 2010, the foundation, with Rosen’s lay and professional assistance, envisioned and executed an expansion, renovation and endowment project of over $43 million, which increased the central campus’s space from 85,000 square feet to 225,000 square feet while maintaining operations of the agencies that utilize Shalom Park.
The additions and renovations included: two, three-story education buildings, a fitness center, a second gym, updated offices, a day camp, tennis and aquatic facilities, a parking deck, and an expanded library.
Rosen was hired to lead this undertaking because he had a “one-of-a-kind perspective with a skill set and knowledge of Shalom Park that uniquely qualified him to do what he did with the park,” said Eric Sklut, 55, immediate past president, Foundation of Shalom Park.
Rosen’s experience included being the vice president of facilities management at Spirit Square for 17 years, during which time he oversaw its renovation, restoration, and expansion. Rosen also managed the restoration and renovation of what became the Great Aunt Stella Center, and he had 16 years of experience being a lay leader on the Shalom Park management committee.
Hal Levinson, former president of the Foundation of Shalom Park 1999-2007, was responsible for hiring Rosen, changing his status from long-time, committed volunteer to full-time director.
“He was uniquely qualified to lead a complicated multimillion construction process over a number of years,” said Levinson, 56, who also noted that continuing the operations of the Levine JCC, the Charlotte Jewish Preschool, and many other programs “added an enormous level of complexity” to the project.
Rosen’s responsibilities included gathering information about needs and wants of each agency, working with multiple professionals and lay leaders, problem-solving solutions, mediating between agencies who were figuring out the costs and logistics of sharing space, and dealing with unexpected problems like roof leaks and floods.
“Butch did a masterful job of managing an existing facility while overseeing new construction, all while understanding and incorporating the multiple agency requirements of that new space,” said Philip Berman, CEO Levine JCC.
“Not all agencies (in the park) are partners, but all are users,” said Sara Schreibman, executive director Temple Beth El. “I think (Rosen) did an excellent job, and he has a wonderful ability to listen well, pull information together, and execute the solutions both financially and physically.”
Jay Parton, facility coordinator for the Foundation of Shalom Park considers Rosen to be a great supervisor and mentor.
“He is the utmost professional, methodical, always willing to look at every side of a situation to achieve a goal or compromise,” said Parton, 61. “He trusts and empowers his staff with their tasks and does not micromanage them. His humorous banter has always broken me up even during the most serious discussions.”
The Board of Directors for the Foundation of Shalom Park selected H. Kevin Levine, 46, as Rosen’s replacement. He starts April 12. A native of Charlotte, Levine graduated from Charlotte Latin School in 1986, and attended Central Piedmont Community College, where he studied business management. He spent his career in commercial property management with several firms.
When contemplating his quickly approaching retirement, Rosen alternates between feeling “thrilled” and “terrified.” Whether he volunteers or consults for the foundation, , he will not sit around doing nothing.
“What I want to do for a while is play,” said Rosen.
Marissa Brooks is a freelance writer for South Charlotte News. Have a story idea for Marissa? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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