A Great Foundation for Leadership

Reflecting on my year as a Fed Fellow

During my 20s I worked at a San Francisco-based Jewish nonprofit. For our small team of eight, most days the dress code was casual and the office had a familial vibe. Board Meeting days had a distinctly different feeling. There was a flurry in the air of preparation and presentation as we scrambled to put finishing touches on reports and assemble packets of agendas, updates, and budgets. Those days held an undeniable sense of power, and we as a staff felt the pressure to impress. At the time, I can’t say I fully understood why, but I knew that our ability to do our work and carry out our mission depended on them, in many ways.

It was during my time at this job that I first learned about Fed Fellows, a 15-month leadership-building program that helps participants develop into the next generation of leaders in the community by placing them on the Boards of local Jewish organizations. I was curious and intrigued to know what it was like to sit on the “other side of the table.” What it meant to be the one asking questions, to approve proposals, to vote and weigh in on major strategic decisions. The privilege and responsibility of having a stake in the future of an organization. As a nonprofit staff member, I figured it would also help me relate and better collaborate with the lay leaders who served as my advisors and committee members.

Historically, Board leadership — and the power embedded in it — has been a privilege reserved for a small group of people.

Boards have often been overwhelmingly composed of older, white, wealthy men with a particular type of professional experience. (Things are changing, but we still have a long way to go!) Fed Fellows shifted those dynamics and knocked down barriers for me, as I’m sure it has for many of the other young adults who have participated in the program over the years.

I was excited by the array of organizations that opened spaces on their board for Fellows to join. I chose to serve on the Board of San Francisco Hillel. My own college had a minuscule Jewish population and no Hillel of our own. This turned out to be a great opportunity to learn and engage with a community that I otherwise wouldn’t have been a part of or had access to. Throughout the year, I gained insight into the inner workings of the organization while honing in on leadership skills and building relationships with alumni, staff, and lay leaders.

An Opportunity to Give Back

Around the time that my Fed Fellowship was coming to an end, I was invited to join the Board of Shalom Bayit, an organization committed to ending domestic violence in the Jewish community, after speaking at their annual Creating Hope gala. I first came to Shalom Bayit as a client, and they were nothing short of a lifesaver. When I found myself in a physically and emotionally abusive relationship, having somewhere to turn within the Jewish community to get support was crucial to my survival and healing. So, I was thrilled to have a chance to support Shalom Bayit in return through Board service. I also felt honored to share my voice and help them make some of their most important decisions. Having prior Board experience through Fed Fellows absolutely prepared me not only for this moment, but also the skills I gained in decision-making, cultivating relationships, and organizational development are ones that I use in my day-to-day work.

Dyanna leading Shabbat ritual at a JDC Entwine x OneTable's Global Shabbat Experience
 

Knowing firsthand what it even meant to be a member of a Board made me feel confident enough as a leader to take on this new role.

If you or someone you know wants to gain experience on the ground and contribute in a real way to the institutions that keep Bay Area Jewish life thriving, I would encourage you to apply for Fed Fellows. This program is a meaningful opportunity to give back while gaining skills that can apply to your life as a professional and a lay leader. Whether you go on to serve on another Board, launch your own business, or whatever you pursue, Fed Fellows provides a great foundation for leadership.

Born and raised in the East Bay, Dyanna Loeb has lived in Haifa, Tel Aviv, and Kingston, Jamaica. She is passionate about elevating Jewish histories and cultures of communities throughout the diaspora. A poet, dancer, and MC, she loves exploring art as a tool for healing and bringing people together. Dyanna is currently a Bay Area Field Fellow with OneTable, and previously worked with Hebrew Free Loan and JIMENA: Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa.

Fed Fellows applications are opening soon! For additional information, contact Dona Standel, Senior Program Manager, Leadership Development.

Categories: Leadership, Young Adults

Posted

March 26, 2021

Author

Dyanna Loeb

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