Sarah Boden, who will become Federation Board Chair on July 1, looks ahead to serving a growing Jewish community.
For the coming year, what are your goals for carrying out the Federation’s mission of serving as a community voice, strengthening connections to Israel and world Jewry, and making investments in Jewish life?
I see the board, and my role as board chair, as working to support and strengthen the ability of the Federation staff to accomplish our mission. We can do that by getting the word out, giving feedback, providing governance and stewardship, and of course, not least, ensuring that we have the financial resources we need to be effective.
What successes would you like to achieve as Federation board chair?
I am so excited about the work we are doing. Our successful LIFE & LEGACY program, PJ Library, our advocacy work in Olympia are just a few examples. These are all operational successes of the team at the Federation. I hope to ensure that we have a vibrant, engaged board and with it strong community support in order to continue our successful work.
What are some of the community challenges you would like the Federation to address in the coming year?
We are so blessed in Puget Sound. We have a strong economy and with it a growing Jewish community. We want to ensure that all people in our community, whether they were born here or arrived yesterday, have a place at the Jewish table defined in whatever way they want. We also believe there will be the continued need for SAFE Washington and our advocacy work, and we are ensuring that we can expand our focus where we need to in order to support Jewish Puget Sound.
Tell us about the skills, experience, and strengths that you bring to the position of board chair.
My first job in New York was as an auditor at Touche Ross, and with that came a leadership role at UJA in the accountants’ division. As my career shifted to financial services, I became chair of the Young Wall Street Division. Federation and I have been partners for a very long time. It didn’t take me long to get involved in Seattle when I moved here in 2005, first in Women’s Philanthropy, then on Planning and Allocations, which I co-chaired. I now co-chair Strategic Planning. In my work life, I lead early-stage companies toward their desired outcomes, which always involves change management. All of this has required patience, focus, good communications skills, and a passion for seeing organizations and people achieve their goals and do it in a fiscally sound way. In my spare time, I am an endurance cyclist, so I also understand how to stretch yourself to go beyond expectations, as I have shared with my 24-year-old daughter, who is pursuing a Ph.D. in history of art at the University of York. (That’s in England, not New York!)
How would you describe your Jewish identity?
I was raised in a shomer-Shabbat “conservadox” home. While my religious practices have waned over the years, my love for our values and ethics has strengthened. I believe in working hard for what you believe in, therefore, I put my time, money, and voice into work that I hope will enhance the vibrancy of our local Jewish community as well as Jewish communities around the world and in Israel.
And just for fun, if you could host a group of people, living or not, for Shabbat dinner, whom would you invite, and why?
Very little goes on in my Jewish life without Julie and Dave Ellenhorn, so I would probably cook dinner with Julie and get advice on the wine (after the Manischewitz for Kiddush) from Dave. David Brooks, New York Times columnist and PBS News Hour correspondent, would be next, and even though he isn’t Jewish I would want his partner in crime Mark Shields to be there, as they are better when they are together. If I could pull off getting the Ellenhorns and Shields and Brooks at my dinner table, my daughter Madeline would agree to fly in from England and would add an amazing dimension to the conversation. Last but not least, Bruno Mars. If Dave didn’t want to do Kiddush, Bruno would knock it out of the park.