Developing the Next Generation of Leaders for the Jewish Community

Now recruiting for the next Federation Fellows cohort!

Leadership in the Jewish community doesn't happen in a vacuum. It requires dedication to training and education, as well as a passion for supporting Jewish life. And the Federation's not-so-secret incubator of rising leaders is the Federation Fellows program, which is now recruiting for its third cohort.

Federation Fellows is a two-year leadership development program designed to attract, train and educate new and emerging leaders for the Jewish community. First established in 1994, the program was re-launched in August 2012 with considerable energy and professional experience behind it. The program places 18-22 individuals in their late 20s to early 40s on the boards of directors of various local Jewish organizations, as well on Federation committees in the second year.

Through this inspiring, hands-on experience, Fellows gain invaluable insight into how a nonprofit is run and how important issues are resolved by a board and specific committees. In addition, Fellows participate in multiple workshops and programs focused on learning about their own leadership styles, gaining important skills throughout the two-year program.

So what's in store for our Federation Fellows?

Following an in-depth orientation, participants will be placed as provisional members on the boards of our community's organizations and synagogues in the fall of 2016.

During the second year of the program, Fellows will serve as active committee members at the Federation. Over the course of both years, Fellows will participate in numerous leadership training programs, workshops, and seminars.

Once Fellows participate in the program, they are Federation Fellows for life! A Fellow will continue to benefit from networking, leadership training, and educational opportunities offered by the Federation.

Both the Fellows and the community organizations they serve have benefited tremendously from Federation Fellows over the years. Here's a look at just a few of those who have been motivated, guided, and inspired by the program.

Sean Akaks (Fellow, 2014-2016)

Though I had a basic understanding of the Federation's role, it wasn't until Fed Fellows when it finally "clicked" for me. I began to really understand its impact, as well as the internal strategies and resources it uses to strengthen our community.

In my first year, I served on the board of San Francisco Hillel, which serves San Francisco State University and a number of other schools in the city. I was pushed outside of my comfort zone when asked to co-chair the then-current executive search, but it allowed me to engage deeply with the organization. I still serve as a board member today.

One of my favorite sessions with the Fed Fellows cohort was our visit to Urban Adamah, a Jewish educational farm in Berkeley. The nuanced understanding I've gained from these unique experiences has helped me become a better leader for the Jewish community, and I highly recommend it.

Alexander Lurie (Fellow, 2014-2016)

Fed Fellows was an incredible program that accelerated my engagement in the community by connecting me to meaningful Jewish organizations that I have come to love and support.

For my first rotation I sat on the board of directors for the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC). It provided me with an in-depth, behind the scenes view into the successful governance and leadership of this highly productive organization. Moreover and incredibly, after eight months in my observational capacity as a Fed Fellow, I was asked to join the board as a full-fledged member (which I did). And, as if this were not enough, four months later a new leadership opportunity presented itself when I was asked to co-chair JCRC's 2016 Behind the Scenes annual celebration. As event co-chair, I helped bring more than 400 people to this event and raise more than $200,000 for the organization.

In my second rotation, I was fortunate to be placed on the Federation’s board of Directors, and it was another eye-opening and powerful experience in which I met incredible community activists and visionaries. I credit Fed Fellows with introducing me to and fast-tracking leadership opportunities within Bay Area Jewish life. This program is the single most meaningful leadership development program I have participated in to date. Thank you, Fed Fellows. Thank you.

Sophie Sharp (Fellow, 2014-2016)

The Federation Fellows program is a very unique opportunity to explore Jewish engagement, no matter where you are in your journey. I learned a tremendous amount during my time in the program. From my board placement at the Jewish Home of San Francisco (which has become a permanent position), I've had the chance to dive in and be a part of discussions and decision-making at one of San Francisco's oldest Jewish organizations.

From the guest speakers we had and my placement on the Federation's Israel and Global Committee, I've sharpened my understanding and focus on how I want to engage at the Federation going forward. And, from the program sessions and the shared experiences of my cohort, I've gotten to learn and experience a much fuller breadth of Jewish organizations across the Bay Area. I'm finishing up the program with a more clear understanding of what I can offer not only as a board member, but as a community member.

For more information on the Fed Fellows program, contact Dona Standel, Leadership Engagement Associate, or call 415.512.6436. 


March 22, 2016


Nora Smith