Interview: 5 Questions With Carly Zimmerman!

  • Team Schusterman

July 10, 2013

Challah for Hunger announced today that Carly Zimmerman will join the organization as Director and Challah Experience Officer (CEO). Zimmerman will be responsible for all of Challah for Hunger’s operations, including student leadership development, philanthropic allocations, chapter operations, fundraising, budgeting and community relations. She shares a few thoughts on the future of the organization and her sources of inspiration.

 1. What is it about Challah for Hunger’s unique combination of bakery and social change agent that makes it so successful? Challah represents a simple concept. It is communities coming together to bake bread, raise funds and create change. Because the core concept is so simple, it is easy to get involved and to share Challah’s story. Challah has grown so quickly because students are sharing their experiences with their friends at other schools, who say, “I want to bake challah and give back!” While it is easy to get involved, it takes student leaders with real drive and commitment to maintain and grow a chapter. Student excitement, dedication and investment are the key to our success. I also know that part of what makes Challah special is its founder, Eli Winkleman, who led the organization through its first nine years. She insisted on empowering and entrusting student leaders, and her openness and drive is reflected in the organization’s success. Eli’s vision and spirit will remain at the core of the organization.

2. What key lessons from your past experience do you plan to apply in your new role? I’ve been involved with the organization as a student and then as a campus professional for almost 6 years and watched the organization grow in both breadth and depth. I have also spent the past several years working closely with student leaders on campus and learned a tremendous amount about how to empower and inspire others. I am excited to continue to empower and inspire our amazing student leaders and allow them to help shape the future of the organization.

3. How do you anticipate Challah growing and what will be your biggest challenge in the pursuit of this goal? I do anticipate growth and evolution, but one of our biggest challenges will be deciding which opportunities to pursue. I know one challenge will be connecting the national office and ever-growing individual chapters while also connecting chapters to each other to create a tighter network. In addition, we will be asking ourselves many questions. How do we engage our growing alumni network both within the organization and with the greater service community? How do we add more meaning to our conversations about service and advocacy? How do we keep up with Challah’s growth rate? Challah is and will remain a student-led organization, and we will continue to involve the community in determining what our priorities should be and the best roads to take. We want our students’ and our partners’ voices to be heard.

4. What is the best piece of leadership advice you have ever received? My parents, Margie and Al, are my most important role models, and they’ve taught me a lot about leadership. Both through conversation and actions, they’ve taught me that leadership is really about listening to and taking care of others. A great leader can’t lead without understanding what her or his community needs, so I try to dedicate a lot of time to asking questions, listening and then acting.

5. Tell us about your greatest triumph or most epic failure in baking challah. Ugh, I have an ongoing struggle with yeast. You name it—active dry, instant, fresh—I’ve never mastered how each works and often return to find that my dough hasn’t “doubled in size” like they promised it would. I’m hoping to improve my challah baking skills by working with the experts—the student bakers on each campus. Until then, my greatest triumph remains challah eating!