You Should Know… Samantha Sisisky

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Samantha Sisisky. Photo courtesy of Samantha Sisisky

Samantha Sisisky, a Washington, D.C., resident, has spent her entire career working for Jewish organizations, with a special interest in philanthropic work, which includes roles at the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, BBYO, Capital Camps and now a new position as senior director of stewardship and communications at ImpactIsrael, an organization dedicated to helping at-risk youth in Israel.

Sisisky’s career is the culmination of a very strong Jewish upbringing in Richmond, Virginia, where she was deeply involved in the tight-knit Jewish community and where she developed her passion of helping other Jews.

Can you tell me about the career path you’ve taken?

I moved to D.C. from Israel. I was living there for about two years, and I was ready to come back to the U.S. I was looking for a job in the Jewish community and I had interned at the Federation when I was an undergrad in college. An opportunity for a job opened up in women’s philanthropy, and so I guess the stars kind of aligned with the timing of when they were looking for someone, when I was coming back and what I was looking to do, so that was just my first entry point. Ever since then, I’ve stayed in the space of the Jewish world and fundraising. After a couple of years at Federation with women’s philanthropy, I moved to BBYO, and I was overseeing development for this area — the D.C. area along with at different times, Philly, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, all the way down to Florida at some point. And then I was working at Capital Camps for about a year and a half, for two summers, as their development director. Then this opportunity, this new role came, and it was a great opportunity to continue my work in the Jewish world, on the Israel side, and to continue working with youths, something I feel strongly about. My background was BBYO and on to Capital Camps, and so being able to work at ImpactIsrael, where we’re helping at-risk youth in Israel, really was just a great next step, a great fit for me and my passion.

How did you realize you were interested in working in Jewish spaces?

When I first went to college and started there, I thought I was going to go to law school. As I was going through undergrad and went on Birthright and went back to Israel for an alternative spring break trip, I kind of realized what I really cared about and felt really strongly about, and so I decided to just stay on that path. So, I ended up volunteering for about 10 months in Israel in a small town called Gedera. And I was working mostly in an Ethiopian Israeli community. I stayed another year; I got a master’s degree at Tel Aviv University, and I was working part-time while doing recruitment for the program that I had just done. That was my first foray into Jewish work outside of when I was an undergrad when I had done an internship at the Federation … I grew up very involved in the Jewish community. I grew up in Richmond, which is not a huge Jewish community but is very close and tight-knit. I was the kid who taught Sunday school. I was the president of my BBYO chapter. I was very involved. Looking back, the writing was on the wall.

What are some of the things you’re responsible for in your new role?

I’m overseeing our marketing and our messaging. How do we want to communicate with both the people that are already in our sphere and how do we expand our base? How do we reach more people? I just started in October, so it’s obviously been a very intense time to be working in the Israel space. It’s very meaningful and important, more so than ever. But we’ve really been thinking about our digital strategy, our email strategy, our press and PR, and how we just want more people to know who we are and what we’re doing and really what our colleagues are doing in Israel to help the most at-risk youth in Israel — the kids that are immigrant youths, many of whom are coming to Israel without their families and who need support now more than ever.

What do you get out of doing the work that you do?

I get my life’s meaning and purpose out of it — being able to help other Jews feels like what I was meant to do. I’ve been very fortunate to be able to do that for different organizations and in different capacities, both as a professional and as a lay leader. It feels like what I’m supposed to be doing.

How does your Jewish identity impact the work that you do?

Like I said, I grew up in Richmond, which has a small Jewish population, and having felt a part of something larger than myself has always given me a lot of comfort. And this idea of being a part of a tribe, especially now in a post-Oct. 7 world, and feeling connected to Jews around the world is something that just gives me a lot of comfort and a lot of hope. And now that I have a four-year-old daughter, I want her to have that same sense of pride and comfort within the Jewish community.

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