The LGBTQ Pathways Program

Leadership through Diversity

I've renewed my appreciation for a tired old joke that's made its way through the Jewish community – "What happens when you put two Jews in a room?" "You get three opinions." Working for AIPAC, where bipartisanship is sacrosanct, I know the joke can be all too real. Yet the LGBTQ Pathways to Leadership program took the joke to a whole new level.

We first sat together on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon in the Presidio. There we were, twelve queer Jews, eager to learn from the leaders of the LGBTQ Jewish community and ready to engage meaningfully with one another. Yet just an hour into our program, I found myself in a place of bewilderment, overwhelmed by the immense diversity of our group. The variety of Judaism present was representative of the community at large, with differing thoughts on the role of the State of Israel, denominations, beliefs in G-d, observing tradition, and more. Yet, as we shared our queer identities through the act of storytelling, the true individuality of the participants became clear: different upbringings, issues of family acceptance, outward expression, and life choices. I struggled in searching for a common thread, wondering how any of us, with our distinct perspectives, could come to represent queer Jewish life in the context of the broader Jewish community.

Yet, over the past seven months, I came to understand that my concerns reflected the very need for the Pathways program's creation. Leaders in the Jewish LGBTQ community – Arthur Slepian, Paul Cohen, Martin Tannenbaum (my valued mentor in the program), and many others – rallied around us so that we might discover these common threads. I found lots of them. Together, we developed a sense of shared history, learning about the San Francisco Jewish and LGBTQ communities, recognizing Jewry's deep commitment to past, present, and future fights for civil rights and equality in our society. We discovered a sense of community, reliving the journey of queer Jewish San Franciscans from the pews at Sha'ar Zahav, and hearing from Bay Area rabbinical leaders about LGBT inclusion in congregational life.

As our program draws to a close next month, our talented program organizers, Katherine Tick and David Robinson, are looking to ensure that we’ve gained the wherewithal to continue on our "pathways" to leadership. I've come to appreciate the diversity of our group as a driving factor in wanting to continue to grow my community involvement. After all, the LGBTQ community cherishes individuality; and the Pathways program helped me connect the dots to understand that bringing very different people together is what leadership is all about.

Tyler Gregory is a member of the Federation's first cohort of LGBT Jewish leaders in its Pathways to Jewish Leadership program.

Apply for the fall cohort, or nominate a leader now.

For more information on the LGBTQ Pathways to Jewish Leadership program, contact Katherine Tick at or 415.512.6265.


June 09, 2014


Tyler Gregory