Leadership development programs to be launched


Two new leadership training programs promising to spark innovation and collaboration among Greater Washington Jewish communal professionals are set to launch within the upcoming weeks. The Tomorrow Fellowship will focus on developing mid-to-upper-level managers working in a Jewish agency, organization or synagogue. And the Washington Jewish Professionals Forum will offer education and networking opportunities for all Jewish professionals. Both programs will run under the umbrella of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington’s Jewish Leadership Institute (JLI).

JLI has been training Jewish community lay leaders since 2004. This past year, according to Steven Rakitt, Federation CEO, they looked at other communities with outstanding Jewish leadership development programming (notably Baltimore’s Darrell D. Friedman Institute and St. Louis’ Millstone Institute) and noticed a particular emphasis on developing professionals in the community as well as the volunteer leadership. Said Rakitt, “We took a page from their success and invested more heavily in professional development.”

Further feedback from the community raised two particular issues. The first being that there are not sufficient networking opportunities. Explained Rakitt, networking allows for relationships to form that will lead to greater collaboration between organizations.

The Washington Jewish Professional Forum, a partnership between JProDC and JLI and chaired by JCCGW CEO Michael Feinstein, has been developed to provide those needed opportunities. Beginning Dec. 20 with “Communicating for Influence and Impact,” the forum will offer a series of workshops and seminars with inspiring speakers on topics from “Managing Up, Down and Sideways” to “Social Media: Making the Most of It.”


Additionally, Federation was hearing that continuing professional development opportunities for middle- and upper-level management were limited. The Tomorrow Fellowship has been developed in response.

“I get calls frequently from people who have been in the community for five, eight, 10 years asking if it is time to move to the private sector. They have tremendous skills and passion but they don’t feel the community is a place for them to grow professionally,” explained Rabbi Greg Harris, chair of the Tomorrow Fellowship. “Retention is about investing in people. Helping someone to realize the impact that they are making is meaningful.” In the long term, Harris believes this program is critical to develop the next layer of leaders. “People who will be going through the program are the next heads of Federations and the next generation of social entrepreneurs.”

Tomorrow Fellowship is funded by Phil and Phyllis Margolius, both members of Bethesda’s Congregation Beth El, where Harris serves as rabbi. Running January through September 2014, the fellowship will meet for a series of workshops led by top national consultants on topics ranging from financial resource development, digital media strategy creation and implementation, and personal communication and behavioral skill building. The series will culminate with a two-day intensive workshop at the Disney Institute in Orlando. Professional coaching will also be offered to all participants. Heavily subsidized through the Margolius’ grant, attendees or their sponsoring organizations will pay $700. The program is not open to current agency CEOs.

“These initiatives are critical to me because volunteers need to work with the highest quality professionals and professionals need to work with the highest quality volunteers. Together we will make a difference in our community,” said Rakitt. “We need each other and the highest quality skills to make a difference in our community.”

Applications for the Tomorrow Fellowship, which will be limited to 20 participants, are being accepted through Dec. 24. For more information and schedules on both programs, go to shalomdc.org.

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