A True Leader in Any Form

Lynn Sedway, the 2013 Judith Chapman Memorial Women’s Leadership Award winner, is a guiding force in the professional and volunteer worlds of San Francisco and the greater Bay Area. In her decades of volunteerism, Lynn has demonstrated both passion and resilience; her commitment has been to serve both the Jewish and secular community and raise the bar for women in her professional field. She is not only a self-starter, but also a mentor and friend to many in the community. Her drive and desire to devote herself to causes that many others find too difficult has impacted numerous individuals.

Below are personal statements from just a handful of friends, colleagues, mentors, and mentees who have been touched and positively impacted by Lynn’s desire and drive to improve the community.

Mimi Gauss, Lay Leader, Judith Chapman Memorial Women’s Leadership Award Committee Member, Friend

“As a friend of Lynn and of Judith, I know that had they met, they would have respected and admired each other. Lynn’s quiet wisdom, the strength of her commitment, and her leadership skills , coupled with her warmth and caring,  are a tremendous asset to both her synagogue and the community as a whole.”    


Valerie Jahan, President of the Board, Congregation Sherith Israel

“Lynn has been a wonderful mentor for me as I followed her as President of the board of trustees of Congregation Sherith Israel.  As President, she seemed to have her hand and heart in every aspect of synagogue life. Her tireless energy, unbridled passion and depth of concern for all is remarkable.  She leads by example and never criticizes, but often coaxes me along when I am unsure.  I have also learned from her how important it is to thank people-even when they are doing a job they are paid for.  Lynn never takes what others do for granted and this is an important reason why she is so loved and respected.”

Rabbi Lawrence Raphael, Senior Rabbi at Congregation Sherith Israel

“My career as a rabbi has included 30 years of working for national institutions in the Reform Movement in New York and now ten years as a congregational rabbi at Sherith Israel in San Francisco. Early on in my rabbinate I learned how important it is to partner with talented, and deeply committed lay leaders. With Lynn Sedway I am deeply and truly a partner in making our congregation a community of meaning. Lynn is a dedicated Jew and an earnest and soulful adult learner. She is determined to take on difficult tasks and bring them to fruition. She knows from her life and business experiences how important it is to remain focused, to have clear goals, to take risks and learn from mistakes, and to not take "no" for an answer. My rabbinate, our congregation, and the Jewish community of San Francisco is deeply in her debt.”

Barbara Rosenberg, 2007 Judith Chapman Award recipient

“I believe Lynn Sedway is one of the most qualified to be given the Judith Chapman Award. Quiet by nature, Lynn is not one to call attention to herself. Still, she has the calm capable abilities of leadership and accomplishment. Her ability to lead Sherith Israel to the completion of restoration raising funds over $8 million is an amazing achievement. Her skills in land use and seismic improvement are lauded by the entire community both Jewish and gentile. She doesn’t speak out loudly, but when she does, people regard her words and listen to her sound knowledge and judgment. Lynn Sedway’s stellar activities have shone through her Temple leadership and accomplishments."

Connie Shapiro, Close Friend

“Jamie and I met Lynn and Paul over 35 years ago at a Passover Seder.  We immediately connected and have shared almost all major (and minor) events in each other’s lives since then.

There has been a lot of discussion recently – online, in the media, among friends and colleagues – about women “leaning in!”  Well, Lynn has been leaning in for as long as I have known her!  She approaches her profession, her volunteer activities, her friends and her family with boundless energy and enthusiasm.  Nothing gives her more pleasure than helping others – particularly women – advance their cause or enhance their success!  If there is the slightest mention of someone trying to accomplish something, Lynn is on her phone or whipping out her pen to make note of it.  Without missing a beat, she connects people with others who might be helpful and then follows up to make sure those conversations took place.

If I had to choose one word to describe Lynn, it would be inclusive.  She always wants to expand the circle and, in fact, one of her greatest challenges is limiting the number of people she can include in a discussion, a lunch, a bike ride, a shopping trip or a party.  No wonder Lynn is so loved and respected by her friends and colleagues!

Power of One has once again identified an exemplary community leader to receive the 2013 Judith Chapman Memorial Women’s Leadership Award.  I am honored and proud to call Lynn a very close friend and to be among those applauding her accomplishments on May 1."

Roselyne "Cissie" Swig, 2003 Judith Chapman Award recipient

“I am so privileged to be asked to write a tribute to my dear and treasured friend, Lynn Sedway, on the occasion of her receiving the Judith Chapman Award at Power of One.  That award has so much significance and so much meaning in our entire community, and selecting Lynn as this year’s recipient, honors that award as well.

I have known Lynn for so many years and enjoyed her friendship in so many capacities: professional, civic and personal, and in each case, and to today, she rises to the top with her values, her character, her accomplishments.  She is a teacher by her example, and we all learn from her just by watching her and being embraced by her words of expert advice.

Perhaps in her community engagement, no event will ever exceed her immersing herself so totally in working to restore Congregation Sherith Israel. She brought out the best in all of us with her selfless encouragement, her standing to her own commitment and her desire for all of us to join her in this historical endeavor to save the building and bring it back to its grandeur, and its treasured position as a place of worship and of learning. As a person, a leader, a woman in our community, she has the respect of her family, her peers, her associates, her community organizations; and she never hesitates to reach out and provide the emotional and civic support when needed and or called upon to help. She is there!  She is a woman of valor! She is a dear and trusted colleague and friend, a mensch, an exemplary human being!  Mazel tov, Lynn!  May you continue to go from strength to strength!”

Anita Wornick, Lay Leader

“Lynn is one of the most accomplished women I know; however her accomplishments pale in comparison to who she is as a person.  Kindness personified, she is a most caring friend.  When she sets out to do something she gives it 100%. I do not think the earthquake refitting at Sherith Israel would have happened without her. Growing up with little Jewish learning, she decided only a few years ago to learn about her heritage; Lynn had a bat mitzvah and immersed herself in temple activities to the point where she recently served as President .  She has also served on our Homeowners Board here at the Four Season Residences and her expertise has been a real asset. Professionally she is recognized as an expert in her field, but modesty would not allow her to boast. Ron and I are truly honored to be her friend.”

Mary Zlot, Lay Leader

“I am happy to speak about Lynn and her transformation into "Super Jew".  We tease Lynn about her newly acquired role in the Jewish leadership capacity.  Lynn is a leader in any role she undertakes.  It is the good fortune of Sherith Israel that she became involved.  She was able with her amazing leadership capabilities, to lead and direct the campaign to restore the synagogue.  A major renovation was necessary to make it earthquake sound and Lynn spearheaded that effort.  She was able to secure funding and redirect the construction of a dome and necessary repairs that made the sanctuary sound and up to code.  In addition, Lynn has inspired so many others in stepping forward to be active and advocates for Sherith Israel as well as the efforts of the New Israel Fund.  It was on a trip to Israel with the fund that began Lynn's interest and passion for learning about her heritage.  She is an example of "It's never too late" to embrace Judiasm and one's past.  Lynn is a leader and an example of commitment, dedication, and inspiration.  She is a great example of what we can aspire to and achieve, if we want to make a difference.”

The Jewish Community and Endowment Fund would like to thank Lynn Sedway for her tremendous impact she has had in the SF Bay Area community. She continues to participate and motivate other to increase their volunteer work and further develop leadership skills. Please Join Lynn at Power of One! Lynn will be presented with the Judith Chapman Memorial Women’s Leadership Award at this annual Women’s Philanthropy event on May 1 at the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre in San Francisco. Learn more and register for this celebration of Jewish women who inspire us to make a difference in the world.
Categories: Awards, Events


April 24, 2013