‘Light’ names new publisher/CEO


The St. Louis Jewish Light has announced that Larry Levin will serve as the newspaper’s new Publisher/CEO, beginning Monday, June 2.

After a nationwide search, the Jewish Light found the perfect candidate was already in St. Louis.


Levin, 52, has lived in St. Louis for almost 30 years. He comes to the Light after serving as president of the Ladue Education Foundation, a non-profit organization he helped start, and as vice president of retail development for the DESCO Group.

“We’re extremely excited to have Larry coming on board,” said Milton Movitz, President of the St. Louis Jewish Light Board of Trustees.

“It’s really nice to have someone from our community, who knows the community,” Movitz said. “I also believe he brings with him a lot of expertise: in his business and non-profit experience and in journalism and writing.”

The Board of Trustees unanimously approved the hiring of Levin at a May 21 meeting, and both parties signed a contract on May 28.

Levin, who lives in Creve Coeur and is a member of Temple Israel, said he was attracted to the job in part because it presented an opportunity to combine different facets of his professional experience.

“I really liked the ability to utilize my background in a variety of areas for this position: my business background from the corporate world, non-profit background both as a full-time non-profit executive and a board member of several non-profit organizations, and my journalistic background,” Levin said.

Levin said his professional experience has been eclectic — he has practiced law, served as a real estate business executive and as a non-profit executive. In addition, he served as an associate editor at the Riverfront Times from 1988-1990.

Levin said he is excited to return to the newspaper industry, and to work in the Jewish community.

“This is my first career opportunity in the Jewish community, and I’m really thrilled to be able to give back to the Jewish community.”

Movitz said the Board of Trustees was searching for a candidate who would bring energy to the Jewish Light and have a “presence in the community.”

“He has some innovative ideas for the paper,” Movitz said. “And I think that the community is going to see a lot of him, and it’s not going to be just behind a desk. He’s going to be out there in the community.”

Levin said one of his goals will be to reach out to local congregations and social service organizations.

“It’s very important for us to reach out to the Jewish community, to talk to all sectors of the community and really make sure everyone understands the goals of the Light and what the Light brings to the Jewish community and to the greater St. Louis community.”

Levin said he also would like to see the newspaper better carve its niche from other local media and utilize local experts to present thoughtful and relevant analysis.

“From a journalistic perspective, I think we can provide a singular voice of analysis and commentary on issues that effect either directly or indirectly the Jewish community. Those don’t have to be Jewish issues per se, but they can be greater social issues that have an impact on our community,” he said.

“I think we need to provide something that is distinct from what a daily newspaper provides. If we’re simply echoing the news that was provided five days earlier in the daily newspaper, I don’t think we’re doing what we are capable of doing.”

Gianna Jacobson, vice president of the Jewish Light Board of Trustees, chaired the search committee for a new publisher after former CEO Andrew Polin announced he would step down in late February. Jacobson also served on the search committee that found Polin, back in 2002.

She said that this time around, the committee, made up of Jacobson, Movitz and board members Gary Kodner, John Greenberg, Judy Pass, Barbara Rubin and Michael Staenberg, found its priorities had shifted. In 2002, getting the paper’s finances back in shape was the “crucial factor.”

“We had more significant financial challenges then,” Jacobson said. “This time, we were looking more holistically…We really wanted someone who could be our chief strategist and our big-picture thinker.”

She said that although the committee looked at other candidates with more extensive newspaper experience, Levin presented the right mix of journalism, business and non-profit experience.

“He has the right sensibilities about a newspaper that we were looking for. He also has strong business experience, working in real estate development and understanding numbers and budgets, and he has extensive experience in the not-for-profit industry, which turns out to be more important than we thought it would be,” Jacobson said.

“It also became really important to us that our publisher understand the community in an intrinsic way. That was something that he brought to the table that no one else really did,” she said.