Senator Mark Leno Connects with Circuits Cohort

What does it take to build consensus around complicated, divisive issues? How can we build meaningful, functional coalitions out of diverse factions that don't always see eye-to-eye? These are the fundamental questions that Senator Mark Leno tackled in his conversation with Circuits, a new Federation initiative that connects young LGBTQ Jewish leaders with networking and skill-building opportunities.

At the event, which doubled as a potluck dinner hosted by Joe Goldman and Adam Green, Senator Leno kicked things off by speaking broadly about the lessons he has learned throughout his political career, both in San Francisco City Hall and in Sacramento. He highlighted his efforts fighting for equal access to health care for members of the transgender community in San Francisco, as well as his central role in legislating marriage equality in California. He attributed his success on both issues to his penchant for standing firm in his beliefs about what is fair and just. He cautioned against political strategies that call for compromising on core values in the hopes of gathering broader support. Instead, he advised leaders to stand their ground and speak rationally from a position of strength, as he found this tactic to draw respect from supporters and opponents alike.

After Senator Leno concluded his remarks, we discussed how his insights could be applied to the coalition-building challenges in our own personal and professional lives. Our cohort includes professionals working in a diverse array of fields, ranging from media to retail to fundraising, so we were able to explore the theme of coalition-building from a variety of perspectives. The conversation was both heartfelt and instructive, as we shared stories that offered windows into the leadership tests we face in our day-to-day experiences. I left Joe and Adam's house inspired by Senator Leno's successes, moved by the diverse leadership challenges shared by my cohort, and excited for the workshops to come.

Circuits is a new program presented by the LGBTQ Pathways to Jewish Leadership program alumni and the LGBT Alliance, providing those committed to expanding their leadership skills with access to change agents and networks as they continue on their Jewish journey. For more information, contact Katherine Tick or call 415.512.6265.

Categories: LGBTQIA+


December 09, 2015


Gene Goldstein-Plesser