Empowering NGO Leaders in Israel Through the U-Theory Conference

What would happen if you could step into a convention where knowledge thrives, networks grow, and partnerships flourish? Imagine a space where professionals gather, united by a shared vision of growth and impact—where capacity building becomes an extraordinary catalyst.

That’s exactly what transpired earlier this year during a groundbreaking U-Theory conference that took center stage in Israel as part of the Federation’s Capacity Building program. Developed by Professor Otto Scharmer of MIT, the U-Theory framework emphasizes deep listening, co-creation, and systemic thinking as a powerful stimulus for problem-solving and innovation. Our team in Israel partnered with BeDo, a non-governmental organization (NGO) specializing in U-Theory applications, to organize an informative and thought-provoking full-day event at the prestigious Rabin Centre in Tel Aviv.

U-Theory Conference, hosted in January 2023

Representatives from partner organizations, together with alumni of the Federation’s Gvanim leadership program, gathered at the conference with a common purpose: to explore practical strategies to augment organizational and leadership capacities within NGOs. The event provided a platform to learn directly from Professor Scharmer, who delivered a captivating keynote speech on attentive and creative leadership, systemic change processes, and the role of individuals in social transformation. The rising prominence of U-Theory in Israel sparked substantial interest, resulting in a sold-out event with an impressive turnout of 500 attendees.

U-Theory Conference, hosted in January 2023 

The event program showcased inspiring presentations from accomplished subject experts in their fields who are alumni of our Gvanim program. Drawing from their experience, they pointed out successful applications of the U-Theory within their respective organizations, presenting case studies and practical examples that underscored the impact on organizational effectiveness. These sessions equipped attendees with actionable strategies and tangible outcomes to enhance their own capacities. From deepening self-awareness and cultivating presence to embracing empathic inquiry, participants gained valuable tools to enhance their professional growth.

The conference was a first, singular moment for us to showcase a groundbreaking approach to leadership to a wide community of leaders and change-makers in Israel from across the social, educational, and other spheres.

- Ester Biro, Program Officer at the Federation’s Israel office

Participants’ experience was enriched through interactive workshops and breakout sessions creating a dynamic environment for hands-on learning and collaboration. These sessions focused on leadership development, enabling attendees to engage in meaningful exchanges of ideas and experiences with their peers.

The conference offered a diverse and stimulating agenda, featuring a provocative dialogue between esteemed journalist Roni Kuban and Professor Scharmer, illuminating the significance of attentive listening and its impact on uncovering innovative solutions. Additionally, Renana Raz, one of Israel's leading dancers, skillfully facilitated an "invitation to listen" session, creating a unique space for participants to tap into their receptive abilities. President Herzog virtually delivered the event’s opening remarks. And the program was further enriched by the insightful contributions of Barak Loozon, the Federation’s Israel Office Director, as well as the founders of BeDo, Dr. Daniel Shani and Dr. Yael Bar-Lev.

Lia Kazaz, Ester Biro, Guy Miasnik, and Barak Loozon
at the U-Theory Conference

Of the 117 participants who provided feedback through the post-event survey, an overwhelming 86% responded that they felt their participation in the conference was important for them professionally, 83% responded that they felt the U-Theory approach was highly relevant to their work, and 85% responded that they were interested in deepening their understanding. These responses are particularly encouraging at a time in Israel’s history when, as one attendee noted, “we need to be involved in deep introspection.”

Collaborating to inspire collective efforts toward a sustainable, inclusive, and transformative future.
Organizing conferences for capacity building among partner organizations paves the way for sturdier relationships, knowledge sharing, professional development, and the creation of a vibrant learning community. By strengthening partnerships and fostering awareness, these conferences become the crucible of growth, effectiveness, and sustainability for our partners. The goal is for their impact to ripple far and wide, empowering them to drive tangible change in their respective fields. Learn more

Categories: Israel, Leadership, Community


June 20, 2023


Jewish Community Federation & Endowment Fund