Preparing Tomorrow’s Community Leaders

By Nancy B. Greer
President & CEO
As I have mentioned in my recent letters, we owe our community’s strength to healthy, respectful relationships. One of the fruits of good relationships is leadership – lay volunteers and communal professionals who step up to responsibility and put their creativity and vision to work for the betterment of Jewish Puget Sound.

A strong community can only stay strong, however, if dedicated people are in the pipeline and ready to assume leadership responsibilities and serve community needs in the future, whatever those needs might be. That is why the Federation has and will continue to give high priority to training and preparing individuals for taking on board and committee responsibilities at Jewish communal organizations, which is especially important for organizations in our region that rely heavily on volunteer leaders.

You may be aware that one of the priorities coming out of the Community Convening Initiative is to ensure that we have a robust leadership pipeline for our growing, diverse community. While the leadership pipeline convening work is going on to identify the best ways to strengthen the Jewish Puget Sound leadership ladders, the Federation is continuing to invest in existing, successful leadership development opportunities.

For the coming year, Federation is implementing three highly regarded programs that prepare leaders to be change-makers who make a substantial, lasting difference for Jewish life – the next Advanced Leadership Development Program (ALDP) cohort, the Jewish Federations of North America’s National Young Leadership Cabinet, and the Wexner Heritage Program, the latter in partnership with the Samis Foundation.

For emerging leaders in their 20s and 30s, we offer ALDP each year. On June 12, 20 participants in our most recent ALDP cohort completed an eight-month program of educational sessions, social gatherings, and a historical tour of Jewish Seattle that equipped them with skills and knowledge necessary for taking on responsible positions in communal organizations. This year’s cohort learned from some of the most experienced leaders and philanthropists in our community about Jewish engagement, philanthropy, and the fundamentals of non-profit management. In addition, they connected with peers, building those relationships that are the heart of community. We are looking forward to serving our next ALDP cohort in 2018-2019.

The National Young Leadership Cabinet offers individuals ages 30 to 45 a rich curriculum imparting the skills of effective philanthropic leadership. The program has educated 4,000 leaders around the country, including alumni who still serve as key philanthropic leaders in our community. This past year, the Cabinet cohort from around the country catalyzed the purchase and delivery of 16,000 packages to the Houston Jewish Federation in support of Hurricane Harvey victims. Together, they made a tremendous impact. The hurricane relief project demonstrated how Cabinet gives participants practical change-making skills through the lens of learning by doing and driven by the power of productive and deeply rooted relationships.

For people seeking to expand their leadership vision and deepen their discourse and decision-making skills, the Wexner Heritage Program is a rigorous two-year program immersing participants in Jewish history, values, ideas, and contemporary issues. The next Wexner cohort will begin locally in the spring of 2019. Wexner alumni from our region can tell you that completing the program lays a strong foundation for exercising transformative leadership. As our immediate past Board Chair Dan Lowen says, the Wexner experience gave him insights, perspectives, and tools “to help guide our community to the next generation so that a strong and vibrant Jewish community will endure for another millennium.”

Ultimately, that’s why we do the work that we do. Leadership development is part of a bigger picture – our investments in leadership and other elements of Jewish life, the Community Convening initiative and other ways Federation serves as a community voice, and the stronger connections Federation is making with Israel and World Jewry are ensuring a vibrant, thriving future for Jewish Puget Sound.