When nominating Brett Kaufman as a Difference Maker, his nominator said, “In all (Kaufman’s) endeavors, he couples development with wellness, sustainability, innovation and philanthropy.”
It continues, “Brett defines success as being able to make a positive impact on others’ lives and the broader community. Brett Kaufman is a true difference maker: a trustworthy person of good character with a Jewish heart who executes on a high level and invariably delivers quality goods.”
What inspires you to give back to the community?
I am motivated by a desire to create the world I want to live in – a world where my kids, friends, family and neighbors can thrive. Growing up, we’re often programmed into believing we must follow certain rules or act a certain way. I think we need to be talking more about how it is OK, and even helpful, to talk about our feelings and to embrace therapy or other ways to improve mental health. On the business side, we must shift away from the thought that burning the candle at both ends is the only way to success for entrepreneurs. We will only succeed if we’re creating healthy environments for people to succeed and thrive long term. And we must continue to break down the barriers that deprive groups of people from the opportunity to participate just based on their race, gender, sexuality or gender identity, among many other things.
Was there ever a turning point or shift that made you change how you approach community service or become active in the Jewish world?
My family was always active. I grew up around it and saw how my parents led. I had some good mentorship too and was fortunate enough to get involved in the Jewish community very early. I was on boards at the federation, Agudas Achim, Hillel and active at the Columbus Jewish Day School. I always felt like it was just important and necessary. I saw what others did that had far less time and more responsibility elsewhere and they still prioritized the community. I followed their lead early and learned a lot along the way about how I could make community service my own, too.
What do you think is the biggest issue facing the Central Ohio Jewish community? What should be done to promote change?
The biggest threat to the Jewish community is a lack of urgency to innovate. The same way that historically we’ve built community and connected to the next generation doesn’t work anymore. If we don’t embrace all Jews for their current beliefs and ways of wanting to connect to everyone – not just Jewish people – we will not grow and prosper. It’s clear that my family, my kids and the generations in-between and to come all are redefining the experience of life and certainty of the Jewish experience. We must meet them where they are, let them define it and let go in a new way.
What’s one takeaway you have learned from the COVID-19 pandemic?
That we are stronger together. I’ve long believed in the power of community and that we, as a society, can do great things if we all come together in support of a greater good. But I’ve been inspired seeing this all play out firsthand in my own family, at my company and in the Columbus community more broadly.