Faces of Federation

An Interview with Albert Praw

The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles will be hosting our 68th Annual Legal Division Dinner on Thursday, March 23rd! The dinner will honor Albert Praw, Executive Vice President of Real Estate and Business Development of KB Home, Inc. Mr. Praw is also the Federation’s Vice Chair of the Board and Chair of the Strategic Planning and Distribution Committee, and he has been involved philanthropically with the community for years. Check out our interview with him below.

When and how did you first become involved with the Federation?

Back in the early 1980s, I was a young lawyer and had the occasion to connect professionally with a fellow lawyer who I greatly respected and who was involved with the Federation. He invited me to attend a few Federation leadership program meetings. I thought this kind of involvement might be both important Jewish communal work and a good professional and social networking opportunity for me. So, I signed up! I participated in a couple of leadership programs through the 1980s, met some great people with whom I am still great friends today, including Les Bider, and I went on to become a member of the National Young Leadership Cabinet. I was a member of the then-called Planning and Budgeting Committee of the Board, and felt quite privileged as a young leader to participate in some of the Federation’s major budgeting and financial decisions.

What inspired you to become active in the Federation?

Being Jewish, living a Jewish life, and having Jewish values center me and my family. I was raised with the learning and belief that living a Jewish life means living a life of purpose and commitment to human values. There is a strategic initiative at the Federation — Ensuring the Jewish Future — which has become a paramount goal for me. The best way for me to help ensure the Jewish future was to become involved philanthropically in different Jewish organizations. As I mentioned, I became involved with the Federation in the early 1980s as a young leader, and then became active in other organizations such as Sha’are Tzedek Hospital in Jerusalem, Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters, and more. I became involved with the Federation again when Stanley Gold and later Richard Sandler acted as Chairmen of the Board of The Jewish Federation. The Federation really captured me in terms of the work it did, and it continues to inspire me with its local, national, and global impact. I find it all very exciting and important.

How does it feel to be honored at the upcoming Legal Division Dinner?

In Eli Broad’s most recent book, The Art of Being Unreasonable, he expresses the thought that if you believe in an organization, you are “duty bound” to share your feelings and thoughts — whether it is to influence people to join that organization or to just get them involved in philanthropic affairs. Because I have such a deep involvement with The Jewish Federation, I felt duty bound to accept the invitation to be honored and to share with everyone why the Federation is important to the Jewish community and to me.

Can you share your professional trajectory with us?

I started my legal career as an associate with Mitchell, Silberberg & Knupp (MS&K). After becoming a partner at MS&K, I, together with three other partners (Moshe Kupietzky, Marc Hayutin, and Howard Rubinroit) broke off and formed our own law firm. Several years later, we merged our firm with Sidley & Austin. One of my clients was KB Home, then known as Kaufman and Broad Home Corporation. I joined KB Home in 1989 as its General Counsel, and transitioned to the business side a few years later by first becoming a Division President and then a Regional President. I am currently the Executive Vice President of Real Estate and Business Development.

Can you share with us one piece of advice for those wanting to balance professional careers and philanthropic involvement?

Find a cause that you believe in — one you can embrace and become passionate about. It may not be the first organization you encounter — it may not even be the second or third. When you do find it [the right organization], the issue of balance tends to be relatively easy, because when you do something you embrace and are passionate about, somehow you seemingly find the time to do it all. It may be at the expense of some sleep and playing golf on the weekends, but if you love it, you can do it. That’s been the answer to me about balance. I have always strived to balance three things: family, profession, and community involvement. For me, my profession makes me feel relevant, my community involvement — including the Federation — makes me feel fulfilled, and my family just makes me happy and joyful. That’s the balance!

For more information about the Legal Division Dinner or to RSVP, e-mail Linda Fenton at LFenton@JewishLA.org.