Debunking Impostor Syndrome

The invitation to apply for Fed Fellows in 2012 felt like it was meant for me. I was fresh off of a Federation trip to Sofia and Bulgaria, and having been inspired and humbled by these international communities, was feeling desperate to channel my interest and energy into the local scene. As someone who grew up in the Bay Area, but had very limited formal Jewish affiliations, it was a bit daunting to figure out where to begin (or I guess, continue).

Sophie and Sarah Buchwalter Rabin at a cooking event in Sofia, Bulgaria

Fed Fellows Was the Perfect Place

After being accepted to the program, I got to peruse a list of organizations who for some reason would open their board meeting doors to me and my fellow Fellows. A moving experience at the senior home in Sofia inspired me to request to be paired with the San Francisco Campus for Jewish Living (SFCJL), and off we went.

The first Board Meeting was intimidating, to say the least. So were a few after that. My Fed Fellows cohort came together to discuss our experiences – different executive directors, different lay leaders, but many common themes. Each Fed Fellow session felt like equal parts backstage access to the Federation (with senior staff guest speakers and special topics), and support and encouragement to be brave and discern between impostor syndrome and humility at Board meetings.

Powerful Alchemy

As our confidence grew, so did our context from the educational sessions. By the second year of Fed Fellows (then a 24-month program), I was no longer nervous when I joined my first Federation committee meeting. Instead, I was curious, excited, and ready to participate. And now, almost 7 years later, I am still part of the SFCJL Board – and somehow this nervous newcomer is now the Vice Chair.

Sophie Sharp is the Integration and Transformation Leader in the Chief Operating Office at Wells Fargo and was previously the Human Resources Chief Operating Officer. Sophie is a former Fed Fellow, a board trustee for the San Francisco Campus for Jewish Living, and on the advisory panel for New Media Mentors. She holds a bachelor's degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, and is currently based in San Francisco.

Applications for the 2021-22 Fed Fellows cohort are open through April 29, 2021! Learn More

Categories: Leadership, Young Adults


April 07, 2021


Sophie Sharp