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An Interview with Ken Kahan

Jewish Federation Los Angeles will host our annual Real Estate and Construction (REC) Dinner on Monday, May 8th. The dinner will honor Ken Kahan, Founder and President of California Landmark Group (CLG), a real estate development and investment company. Mr. Kahan is currently a Federation board member and has been philanthropically involved with the community for years. Most recently, he served as Chair of the Federation’s REC Division, and previously as Co-Founder of RPO, an organization housed within Federation consisting of real estate principals dedicated to the L.A. Jewish community’s real estate needs. He also serves on the Executive Board of the AJU.

Read our interview with Mr. Kahan below, which dives into his dedication to our Federation, the L.A. Jewish community, and more!

When and how did you first become involved with Jewish Federation Los Angeles?

My wife Roneet and I were first introduced to the Federation about 30 years ago through one of its programs, L.A. Couples. We enjoyed several years as members, making great friends and seizing the opportunity to lead as chairs during our second year in the program.

We became reacquainted with the Federation 10-12 years ago, when I co-founded RPO — Federation’s Real Estate Principals Organization — with Brian Shirken. I wanted to recreate a space for people who owned their own companies and were interested in real estate deals and development — and in RPO, Brian and I found that space. We worked with people in the formation of RPO who, at the time, were not involved with the Federation, many of whom will now tell you that they attribute their current active involvement to RPO.

My experience with the Federation has come full circle, as I now serve as a board member of the organization.

What inspired you to become active in the Federation, and philanthropically involved in the community?

The creation and development of RPO (and getting people involved through this group) was a seminal moment in my philanthropic involvement. Through RPO, we decided where our funds would be allocated, and we became involved in the community in a way that was meaningful for us all — there was also a mentorship component and strong camaraderie among the members.

Today, my philanthropy goals have expanded, as I am interested in addressing other needs in the community. I have noticed that there is a gap in our Jewish community that extends to the entire Los Angeles community as a whole. L.A. can be a lonely place — not only for people who move here, but also for native Angelenos. People are always looking for places to connect and meet people — they want to feel like they are part of a community. This community connection is often found in cities that are more pedestrian friendly and commuter-centric than L.A. The great distances and ‘let-loose’ vibe of this city make it difficult for communities to develop and thrive. My focus is on addressing this issue — the need for community — by generating venues for people to frequent not because they have to, but because they want to. I am focused on creating a community where everyone knows your name — a place of warmth and long-lasting friendship.

How does it feel to be honored at the upcoming REC dinner?

It is truly an honor and an obligation to the community. I love attending these dinners because I get to meet people, but even more so, this dinner is an opportunity for people to be entertained, to be educated, and to have fun. People will be able to learn about the impactful work of the Federation and the importance of being involved. My goal is to create a unique experience, where people say “WOW — I am coming back again!” to the REC and other Federation events.

What is special and unique about this year’s REC Dinner?

Mum’s the word! You’ll need to come and join us to find out!

Can you share your professional trajectory with us?

I have been involved in real estate for many years, and I am very comfortable with the development process. It is still very exciting for me and yet, at times, can be challenging. The next goals I have set for myself — that are more philanthropic and communal in nature — are much more difficult. They are harder to quantify and harder to achieve, but the impact will be enormous.

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

The most important thing I did when I was 30 years old was to get involved with the community and with a charitable organization. Through these philanthropic endeavors, I met many people and created relationships that developed into long-term friendships. Sometimes, these relationships became intertwined with real estate and business opportunities. Getting involved in your community and making friendships based on shared values are all good things, and can ultimately result in even better things.

To learn more about our Federation’s REC Division, please email Stacy Katz at SKatz@JewishLA.org.

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