Meet the Co-Chairs for Tuned In: The Larry Dobkin Event

Meet the Co-Chairs for Tuned In: The Larry Dobkin Event

This year marks Nanci Dobkin’s sixth time as co-chair of Tuned In: The Larry Dobkin Event, the annual fundraiser for JCFS Chicago’s Response for Teens program. Her neighbor and family friend, Barry Rubin, who has served on the Response Advisory Council (RAC) since 2022, joins her as co-chair.

Nanci, your husband Larry served for 20 years on the RAC board until his passing in 2012. You have served on the RAC since 2013, and as chairperson, just as he did. Why did you get involved with the RAC, and what prompted you to serve as chair?

NANCI: After my husband passed away, I received a call from a RAC board member. He was organizing a large donation so that Tuned In would be named after Larry. If something is named after Larry, I wanted to support it. I joined to continue his legacy of Tikun Olam, repairing the world. Larry had been involved for years, but I was busy with my three kids, and I really didn’t know what Response was all about. I had a lot of learning to do! In 2019, I was asked to become chairperson. I was nervous. I had never been a board chairperson. I decided I was up to the challenge and that I could make a positive difference.

For Barry, what made you want to join the RAC?

BARRY: I was winding down my professional career and looking to add value to my available time. I also observed that Nanci and Larry were people of integrity and community minded. I believe any cause they participated in would be a worthwhile endeavor.

How did you first connect with JCFS?

NANCI: I was first connected when I was on the LRC (board as it was called then) of the Response Center, and it later became part of JCFS Chicago.

BARRY: Nanci’s family and mine are in the same Buffalo Grove neighborhood and I spent time with Larry commuting on the train. Once my office moved out of the city, we lost contact. Two years ago, I was swimming laps at an area health club and Nanci was doing the same in the next lane. We reintroduced ourselves and over time Nanci mentioned her involvement with JCFS and Response.

What prompted you to serve as Tuned In co-chair?

NANCI: Since it is named after Larry, I want to make sure things are done properly to honor his legacy. I asked Barry if he would be my co-chair. He is an accountant, and he’s wonderful at keeping us within budget. He also had fabulous ideas to make this year’s Tuned In special. This year he will gain experience, and next year he will chair with somebody new.

BARRY: At first, I wanted the challenge of doing something I’ve never experienced before. However, as I became familiar with Response and its staff, it became more than that. I wanted to honor and continue Larry’s vision of how Response can make a difference in our community. Additionally, Nanci was so sincere and impressive when she spoke of Response. Saying, “no, thank you” to her wasn’t even a consideration.  

What excites you most about this year’s Tuned In? 

NANCI: I am so excited about this year’s new venue location. It will be at the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center. Also, it will highlight the “I’ll Have What She’s Having”: The Jewish Deli exhibit. Two other RAC members and I are docents at the museum. I think it ties in nicely to Response. Holocaust survivors came to this country and had to start their lives over and begin anew. They missed the foods from the old country and opened delis here. Response engages with area teens by bringing educational programming to their schools. We also provide leadership development training and mental health counseling. It is our hope that after their experience with Response, our teens will feel energized and renewed to take on life’s many challenges.

BARRY: Holding the event at the Holocaust Museum is such an honor. The objective of the Tuned In event complements the educational mission of the museum. It’s a good fit.

Why is spending so much of your own personal time and energy with JCFS so important to you?

NANCI: I think it's important to give back to the community. It allows me to connect with people from diverse backgrounds, and being involved with JCFS/Response allows me to make a significant impact in someone’s life. Our youth are our future, and we need to take care of them. Investing time, effort and resources in them is an investment in a better future for all. 

BARRY: I strongly believe in Tikkun Olam - to repair and improve the world. I also believe in being a difference maker. Response is an opportunity to put my beliefs into action. Being a Tuned In co-chair is an extension of this belief. 

What would you say to someone who is considering a volunteer role or a donation to JCFS?

NANCI: Anyone who decides to volunteer or donate to JCFS/Response will feel that they have really made a difference. We have incredible programs, and to run them we need volunteers and donations. No matter how big or small your donation is, you will make an important impact on our teen community.

BARRY: I’ve learned very early that it doesn’t take a lot of effort to make a huge difference in someone else’s life. There are challenges in our world that can’t be solved individually. But can be effectively addressed as a community. Let’s do something together and practice Tikkun Olam.

Join us at Tuned In: The Larry Dobkin Event on March 17 from 3-5pm at the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center. More information about the event and info for purchasing tickets can be found here on

Learn more about Response for Teens or donate to JCFS Chicago here.