The Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle is proud to announce that Federation Director of Development Karen Parry has been selected for Class 3 of the highly competitive Wexner Field Fellowship Program.
Parry is the first Seattle fellow ever to be selected for this prestigious program, which is sponsored by The Wexner Foundation. She will join 14 other Jewish professionals from across North America to take part in an intensive, three-year leadership program of cohort-based learning that provides participants with tools to address pressing Jewish community issues.
In an interview, Parry shares her thoughts about being selected as a Wexner Field Fellow and how her participation will benefit the Puget Sound Jewish community.
What do you hope to get out of the program? What do you expect to learn and what Jewish connections do you hope to make as a Wexner Field Fellow?
In Pirkei Avot 4:1, we read, “Ben Zoma says: ‘Who is wise? He who learns from every person.’” Being a Wexner Field Fellow, I will be learning from the best Jewish educators in the world and from colleagues from a variety of Jewish organizations across North America who are also deeply passionate about fostering Jewish life. I hope to absorb as much as possible from each person I interact with through the program, and I hope to gain skills that will support the cultivation of Jewish life locally while also enriching my own Jewish journey.
You are the first Jewish communal professional from Seattle to be accepted into the program. How will your participation benefit Jewish Puget Sound?
I am honored and privileged to represent Seattle as a Wexner Field Fellow. I relocated my family to Seattle because I was inspired by the direction and leadership of our Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle. This city is ever evolving, growing, and looking to connect while still being rooted to a deep Jewish history. That’s what makes Seattle so amazing. To be representing that rich history while also envisioning a brighter Jewish future is something I carry with me into my learning. I hope to grow as a Jewish leader and bring back those skills to continue my deep investment in fostering meaningful Seattle Jewish life.
One of the program’s goals is to help participants develop a nuanced appreciation for the diversity of North America’s Jewish community. Tell us about the importance of achieving this goal locally.
What better example of diversity than our very own Jewish Puget Sound. I didn’t even know what a boureka was until I moved here, and I’m a Jewish professional! From the rich Sephardic and Ashkenazi history here, to the growing Israeli population, we are so diverse — and yet Seattle is unique in that these different communities often intersect. The fact that the Wexner Field Fellowship celebrates that diversity and focuses on it is something that drew me to the program, as it is so critical for Seattle that we continue to foster and cultivate bridges across community.
How will you apply what you learn in the program to your work at the Federation over the near- and long-term?
Jewish communal work is my life’s purpose. Working at the Federation, I get to be a part of an organization that is supporting Jewish continuity far into the future. I work with remarkably motivated and hard-working colleagues, and I connect with community members every day who constantly inspire me. My hope is that this program will help expand my knowledge, teach me best practices, and refine my own leadership skills so as the Federation continues to support Jewish life in the Puget Sound Region, I am well equipped to tackle challenges as they come, imagine the possibilities, and inspire the future.