By Monica Friess
Mark Scoblionko, a native Allentonian, had been back in the area for about 15 years in the 1980s when he was asked to join the board of the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley. He has been a steady member since then, both on the general board and on the executive committee, serving as a vice president for many years.
In 2012, he “retired” from the board, yet clearly he felt there was much more to achieve in his lifetime. “I was off the board for one year and found I missed the connection,” said Scoblionko. In June of 2013 he rejoined, and next month Scoblionko will begin his tenure as president of the JFLV.
“Mark has had a distinguished involvement in the Jewish community, both as a board member and in his pro bono legal work,” said Mark L. Goldstein, executive director of the Federation.
A senior partner in Scoblionko, Scoblionko, Muir & Melman, Scoblionko has been president of the Jewish Day School Endowment Fund for over 20 years and has served as legal counsel for the JDS and the JCC. He co-chaired the Federation’s Strategic Planning Committee with outgoing Federation President Barry J. Halper, and is eager to continue its implementation.
“One of the strongest findings to come out of the strategic plan was the need for services for senior citizens,” said Scoblionko. Services such as transportation, easy home “fixes” and community programming to increase socialization will continue to be addressed under his term.
Scoblionko cites other areas that the board will focus on. He will continue the commitment of his predecessor in working to promote increased collaboration among our local agencies and organizations and building bridges across the Lehigh Valley.
“When I first joined the board, I was involved in the merger of Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton into a single Federation,” Scoblionko said. “I want to see greater overall participation and exchanges among the three communities, and among our local agencies.”
A major issue and one of his greatest challenges will be addressing the financial status of the Federation’s primary agencies. “Everyone is stretched quite thin,” he said, “and we will have to broaden the campaign to serve the needs of those agencies while also maintaining a strong commitment to Israel and Jews abroad.”
To this end, Scoblionko is looking at the success of such philanthropic trends as donor-directed giving.
Scoblionko grew up in a family devoted to Jewish volunteerism. His father, E. G. Scoblionko, served as president of the World Council of Conservative Synagogues as well as president of Temple Beth El in Allentown, whose religious school is named for him. He met his wife Deena at Cornell University, and they have two children and three grandchildren.
Scoblionko brings an unassuming, humble leadership style to the office, Goldstein said, and will continue Halper’s good work. “He won’t be satisfied with a status quo or with doing things a certain way just because that’s the way they’ve always been done.
“Mark has a great respect for those who take time to volunteer on behalf of their community,” Goldstein added. Indeed, Scoblionko praises those who have contributed their time and their talent, and says he wants to “emulate those leaders who have set and who continue to set great examples.”
“I look forward to Mark’s tenure as Federation President,” outgoing President Halper said. “Mark brings to the position an in-depth knowledge of the Lehigh Valley Jewish community, and a desire to have Federation make a very positive impact on the people and institutions in our community.”
Scoblionko said he looks forward to the challenges to be undertaken as president. “I have a lot of respect for the office and for all of those who have preceded me, and I want my leadership tenure to be meaningful for the community and for me.”