Cabinet Builds Leadership for Today and Tomorrow

May 1, 2023

By Nancy B. Greer
President & CEO

In March, a group of 175 Jewish community leaders from around North America, including Seattle’s Ronit Droker and Andrea Lott, traveled to Latvia and Hungary for the National Young Leadership Cabinet’s International Study Mission.

For Andrea and Ronit, participating in the mission was a powerful, memorable experience of what engaged, responsible leadership can accomplish. The journey illuminated the impact Cabinet has in developing the capacity of young leaders to make a difference for Jewish life.

Cabinet is a Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) leadership development program that your Federation sponsors in our region for promising volunteers ages 30 to 40. Applicants accepted into the program can look forward to a five-year curriculum, grounded in Jewish values, that gives participants the knowledge and skills they need to be effective leaders. 

Since the program’s founding in 1963, Cabinet has been a stepping stone to leadership, and many of the some 50 local alumni have served in senior positions at Puget Sound Jewish organizations. In 2019, your Federation reinvigorated the program, the local cohort now has six participants, and we’re currently accepting applications to expand the group.
Cabinet broadens perspectives and inspires action. For Andrea and Ronit, the mission to Latvia and Hungary deepened connections with our mishpacha and vividly showed how effective leadership touches lives far and wide. The group witnessed the scars of the Holocaust and learned about the work of your Federation’s international partners, including the Jewish Agency for Israel and Joint Distribution Committee, in revitalizing Jewish life in both countries. They met with Ukrainian Jewish women and children to hear their stories of the war’s impact and the help they’ve received from the North American community, including from generous people like you.

As Ronit shared afterward, “From the creation of a JCC in Budapest to the value of educating children at a new ORT school in Riga, our Federation’s support helps not only our community in Seattle but other Jewish communities around the world.”

“The opportunity to be with like-minded Jews from across North America was inspirational. Seeing and understanding our impact abroad, in communities where Jews were nearly completely wiped out only two generations ago and are rebuilding and thriving today was eye-opening and touching,” Andrea recalled.

In addition to mission opportunities, the Cabinet experience includes an in-person retreat each summer, virtual learning, mentorship, opportunities to lobby Congress on Capitol Hill on issues of national importance to the Jewish community, and access to an influential network of Cabinet alumni across North America, which now numbers 4,200 leaders. Cabinet provides opportunities for impactful service—like the mishloach manot baskets that the local group packed for Jewish Family Service’s clients for Purim in 2022.

Cabinet gives leaders like Andrea and Ronit tools for bringing new ideas and new strengths to Jewish Puget Sound. We are encouraging community members between the ages of 30 and 40 with a passion for Jewish communal leadership to apply. Applications are open through May 19, 2023. The program builds philanthropic leadership, and accordingly, participants have a  minimum commitment of $5,000 per year to make an impact through Federation. Please contact my colleague Tori Schwartz to find out more about the Cabinet experience and all that it offers.

Each person who takes part in Cabinet has a unique story to tell about the profound impact it makes on their lives, their Jewish journey, and their community. If you or someone you know is ready to make a difference for local and global Jewish life, consider joining this wonderful group of young leaders.

For Ronit, it’s all about strengthening Jewish life and building “resilience and pride for being Jewish and loving Israel.”

For Andrea, “It makes me proud to be a part of our local and global Jewish community and motivates me to do more to help others.”

Community members like you make impactful programs like Cabinet possible. Thank you!