On May 5, a select group of 13 young adults reached an important milestone for making an impact on our Jewish community: they graduated from the Advanced Leadership Development Program (ALDP), one of the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle’s suite of programs that is building a leadership ladder for Jewish Puget Sound, today and tomorrow.

The 2018–2019 ALDP program gave the participants knowledge and skills that are the foundation of impactful leadership, including insights from expert speakers on Jewish values, engagement, leadership in a changing community, philanthropy, and the nuts and bolts of nonprofit financial management. This year’s 13 graduates also joined an alumni network, which supports ALDP participants as they take on community leadership responsibilities.

This year’s program introduced a mentorship initiative in which past recipients of the Jack J. & Charlotte Spitzer Young Leadership Award were paired with ALDP participants to pass on lessons from their leadership experiences and to support them in working on their ALDP Capstone projects.

Like rungs on a ladder that allow for steady upward progress, today’s leaders passed on what they have learned over the years to the generation that will have the Puget Sound Jewish community’s future in their hands.

Says Jenna Hanauer, the Federation’s PAVE & Young Adult Leadership Program Manager, “adding a mentorship component to ALDP is a wonderful way to connect different generations of our community’s leaders. The support and possibilities are endless.”

As Steven Hemmat, who received the Spitzer Award in 2002, notes, “Mentors have the personal, communal, and professional experience and knowledge to pass on to an ALDP participant in his or her quest to develop leadership skills and contribute to our Jewish community.”

Hemmat’s mentee partner, Aviv Weinstein, values experiences that Hemmat shared about finding one’s place in the community as he works to help newcomers like himself create their own connections with Jewish life.

“With a growing job market in Seattle, people are moving here in great numbers. I want to provide as many opportunities as possible for other Jewish transplants to Seattle to find their new home with Seattle’s Jewish community,” Weinstein says.

The foundation of community is strong relationships. The mentorship initiative is helping emerging leaders build connections that are invaluable for informing and shaping leadership.

“I think the biggest takeaway has been the relationships that I have built, and I hope that through them, I will continue my Jewish leadership journey,” ALDP participant Nina Garkavi says.

One of those important relationships was with Garkavi’s mentor, Judy Neuman, who received the Spitzer Award in 1994 and is past CEO of the Stroum Jewish Community Center. “I was immediately struck by her interest and commitment in giving back to the future success of the Jewish community after she has already touched so many lives within her work in the community,” Garkavi says of Neuman.

While the mentees gained much from their mentors’ knowledge and experience, the exchange was two-way. Hal Jackson, a 2001 Spitzer Award recipient who mentored Sarah Wallis, says “connecting with a person like Sarah not only gave me hope for the future, because she’s awesome, but it also provided me insight in what kinds of activities and programs people her age are looking for in the community. She provided me with meaningful insight into how we can make our community even better.”

The mentees worked on Capstone projects with guidance from their mentors to apply what they learned in ALDP. Garkavi, for example, plans to hold a community screening event for the movie Persona Non Grata. Garkavi, Weinstein, Liz Caldera, and Matt Kanter have written essays that share insights from their personal Jewish journeys. (Read their essays at jewishinseattle.org/capstone.)

Perhaps the most valuable lesson mentors have imparted to their mentees is the value of listening. “In today’s unusual environment, I think people need to listen a ton more and ask questions. There is a lot to learn from others,” Jackson says.

In a similar vein, Hemmat observes, “Leadership requires vision, listening to, and cooperating with other individuals to achieve a desired outcome.”

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