Rob’s Report: Looking to Our Future With an Eye on Our Past

Brothers and Friends,

As is the case with many of you, my time as an undergraduate was incredibly formative. I attended the University of Colorado where I was initiated into the Chi Upsilon Chapter. At the time, the chapter truly was the center of the Jewish community on our campus. Without AEPi it was hard to form a minyan. Unfortunately, during my college days, I also saw the worst side of Greek life when a Chi Psi pledge on the campus died due to alcohol and hazing. The juxtaposition of that incident and the values and care I experienced within my chapter is something that is hard to comprehend even to this day.

The brotherhood that I experienced at CU faced its share of challenges, but we had fun together, held each other accountable, and did a lot of good for our community. As a chapter leader, I was fortunate to have a chapter that helped me learn and grow. I was also fortunate to be introduced to the AEPi community beyond my chapter. I worked with incredible advisers, met AEPi staff, attended conventions and conclaves, and was visited by dedicated national volunteers. These men inspired me to pay it forward.

In the years since I left CU, I’ve served on an alumni club board, as a chapter advisor, and on many AEPi committees. I joined the AEPi staff in September 2008 and have held various staff roles, most recently serving as Chief Financial Officer.

On January 1, I became the CEO of AEPi after serving in an interim capacity for several months. I am honored to help lead an organization that means so much to me and am humbled by the faith that has been placed in me to do so.

Candidly, I am also saddened that I step into this role following the untimely passing of my friend and mentor, Jim Fleischer. Jim and I worked very closely together over the past seven years and especially after he became CEO. I think about Jim and miss him every single day.

During Jim’s time as CEO, he challenged the organization to be more analytical and forward thinking. We began to better quantify what exactly makes AEPi so special and successful, identify what specific outcomes we wish to achieve, and think of how to optimize our own success. AEPi is developing class-leading resources, implementing industry-changing data practices and analysis, and challenging that status quo for both fraternities and Jewish organizations. Jim managed to drive substantial initiatives forward during his short tenure as our CEO, even while reacting to a global pandemic and battling cancer. He was a remarkable leader.

The last time I saw Jim, he asked me to take care of AEPi. I owe it to Jim and all of our Brothers to continue with the work that Jim started.

This is an especially difficult time for Jewish students on college campuses. Continued anti-Israel activity and the rise of more overt antisemitism has become the norm. Our students have been placed at the center of this. Many colleges are ill prepared to handle these issues. Exclusion of Jews from DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) dialogue and resources on campus and even within the fraternity community is commonplace. Our existence and our mission are more important today than ever before.

The climate on campus for fraternities is also challenging. Fraternities are often reputed to be elite, untouchable, exclusive, and insular organizations that enable bad behavior. Although these descriptors could not be further from the truth for AEPi, fraternities are often scapegoated as the source of problems that are common among 18 to 22-year-old individuals.

AEPi engages with Jewish students in an immersive way despite these challenging issues because these are the most formative years of a young man’s life. If we do not actively engage with these young men, the Jewish community may lose them! Sometimes, as young adults learn and develop, they will take a misstep but AEPi understands the young adult landscape and works with every single member to provide training, resources, and accountability structures that lead to better decision making, better behavior, and better outcomes. AEPi tackles issues head on and we do not tolerate behavior that places people in harm’s way or fails to reflect our values.

I’m looking forward to the challenges and responsibilities of being the Chief Executive Officer of Alpha Epsilon Pi. I know that our team of 100,000 members, partners, and our staff can continue to fulfill our mission on college campuses for many years to come. Thank you to the Supreme Board of Governors and all of our Brothers for the faith you have placed in me.