Meet Our JCO Board Members

Many thanks to our member, Lauren Davis, for the idea of interviewing our board members and then for following through by doing all the work.

Thanks very much, Lauren

Michael Swimmer

Ojai became Michael Swimmer's full-time home three years ago, arriving permanently after the Thomas Fire. Before then, Mike and his wife, Erika, divided their time between Palm Desert and Ojai, spending about 6-months a year in each location. 

Mike enjoyed a successful nearly 40-year career as a landscape architect, working all over California to beautify people’s lives. Today, he is retired and enjoys playing golf, walking with Sheila, gardening, and spending time woodworking. Also, when not contending with the limitations of Covid-19, he races his sailboat every Wednesday evening in Ventura. (Sounds like a lot of fun!) 

Mike joined JCO about 7 years ago, when it was still K'Hilat Ha'Aloneem. He feels that the JCO is very important, because it is a place to bring together our Jewish community in a world that is largely Christian. He admits that he is not religious, per se, but rather values Jewish tradition and community. “It is important that we have each other.”

Mike and his family lived on a Kibbutz in Israel for two years in the late 1960’s, and he even wrote a book about that experience. While this book was not published widely, he is happy to share it with anyone who is interested… "The Swimmer’s Go to Israel." Also, more recently, Mike wrote a book for his granddaughter as a way of sharing some basic Jewish history for the younger generations. "A Little Bit of Jewish History" takes an easy-to-understand approach to sharing some important insights into the Jewish people. 

He looks forward to a time when we can all be together again. He also has an interest in the current Hebrew School program at JCO. As a grandfather of 10, he wants to ensure that all of the children of the JCO and beyond get the opportunity to learn their history.

Janet Owens

Janet has been a part of the JCO community for the last 6 years, about the time that she and her husband John, of blessed memory, moved to Ojai. Leading a very busy life (she raised 4 boys and now has 6 grandkids and one great grandchild) before settling down in our community, Janet spent the 12 prior years living in New Hampshire where John was a professor at Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College. 

Janet shared that they became fast members of the JCO, having moved to Ojai in the month of August and needing a synagogue to join for the High Holidays that September. Since that time, Janet has made many close friendships and looks to the JCO as her connection to Judaism in Ojai. 

She spends lots of time cooking (including baking) and gardening. When able to do so, she loves entertaining! She enjoys her Thursday morning walks with Sheila and has most recently been participating in her Ojai Valley Athletic Club classes on zoom. 

Janet shared that she wrote a cookbook back in the 1970s to address the numerous family requests for her recipes. When asked about her favorites, Janet responded by asking how much time I had left in my day…as she has 1295 recipes in her personal catalog! She buys flour in 25 pound bags and can be found most weekends either baking lots and lots of chocolate chip cookies plus baguettes. At Chanukah time she keeps herself busy baking 40 different cookie and candy varieties! 

We are very pleased to welcome Janet to the Board!