Wherever you go in the Puget Sound region, opportunities abound for connecting with Jewish life, and more are on the way as the community’s growth continues.
Those opportunities don’t happen by themselves. Leaders grounded in Jewish values, dedicated to community, and infused with creativity bring essential energy to Jewish life.
True today. What about tomorrow? That’s where the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle’s leadership development programs come in. Federation’s Advanced Leadership Development Program (ALDP), the Federation’s sponsorship with the Samis Foundation of the Wexner Heritage Program’s Seattle cohort, and the Seattle NowGen Giving Circle are creating a leadership ladder of individuals with the preparation and peer networks to assume responsible positions at Jewish organizations.
ALDP 2018 graduate Heather Hartley points out: “It is important to instill a sense of ownership to help ensure continuity of programming and services and to ensure we continue to evolve to meet the needs of constituents.”
Emily Alhadeff, a former Wexner fellow, past president of Jewish Family Service, and past board member of the Stroum JCC, says: “I picture a tree sprouting roots and going down.” The program “highlights how our past connects our future.”
Leadership education has given participants a stronger sense of purpose as Jewish community builders. Up-and-coming leaders who have demonstrated exceptional commitment are honored by Federation each year with the Jack J. & Charlotte Spitzer Young Leadership Award. Alyssa Bobman, a 2018 ALDP graduate, and Nathan Wasserman, a co-founder of Seattle NowGen, were honored this year.
Each program fills a different niche. ALDP is an eight-month program designed for the community’s emerging leaders. The program equips them with skills and knowledge necessary for taking leadership positions and helps them build a peer network. Wexner is an intensive, two-year program for community leaders ready to expand their vision and develop peer relationships critical for exercising insightful leadership. The program features study of contemporary community issues, as well as history, texts, and ideas that have shaped Jewish thought.
Seattle NowGen Giving Circle, a Federation grassroots initiative, is the newest leadership program. Founding member Jonny Basha says NowGen’s focus is developing young adult leadership through Jewish philanthropy. From the $500 that each of the up to 20 members will contribute each year, the circle will take grant applications and decide annually on funding “innovation and renewable” projects that make a lasting impact, Basha says. NowGen also will have an educational component, featuring guest speakers, “people with success stories, telling what Jewish philanthropy means to them,” he adds.
Leadership education is important for the strength and continuity of any Jewish community, but for one growing as fast as Puget Sound’s is, leaders who can think creatively about building community are critical. Josh Friedmann, a 2018 ALDP graduate who moved back to Seattle after attending college, says “we need to figure out how to help our new neighbors feel welcomed in our community.”
An important perspective that leadership education imparts is the central importance of connections as the foundation of community. Says Jack Almo, a former Wexner fellow: “My classmates taught me that our community is interdependent, and through diversity of thought, backgrounds, and vision, we can be stronger together.”