Meet the Schusterman Fellows: Rebecca Guber

  • Team Schusterman

March 29, 2016

  • Schusterman Fellowship
  • Schusterman Leadership

Over the course of 18 months, 24 outstanding Jewish professionals will engage in a customized professional development journey as part of the Schusterman Fellowship. The Fellows come from across the U.S., Europe, Israel and Australia, and they work inside and outside of the Jewish sector.

Meet Rebecca Guber below!

Rebecca Guber is the Director and Founder of Asylum Arts. She has worked with artists for 15 years, and was the Founding Director of the Six Points Fellowship for Emerging Jewish Artists. Over the past 10 years, Rebecca has built a community of artists exploring Jewish ideas and identity through fellowship, commissions for new work, international retreats and professional development. Asylum Arts and the Six Points Fellowship have been the strongest direct supporters of emerging Jewish artists for this generation.

Artists supported through her efforts have produced hundreds of readings, workshops and performances, attended by tens of thousands of people and featured in major mainstream and Jewish press, radio and national TV. Rebecca has also worked at the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, the Museum of Jewish Heritage and founded the Shpatzirin Festival. Rebecca lives in utopian Brooklyn with her husband and son; quilting, raising bees and riding her bike.

1. "Leadership" is a popular term these days, used in a variety of contexts. Tell us, what does leadership mean to you?

If you boil down leadership, it means that there is something that needs to get done, and more than one person is needed to accomplish that something. There are so many places where this comes into play, whether it is organizing a profitable lemonade stand with a group of 7 year-olds (one of my great leadership challenges) or building a successful multi-platform, multi-national project. Additionally, diversity of experiences, communication, patience and perseverance remain key parts of being a successful leader.

2. How does your Jewish identity affect your leadership?

I consider my Jewish identity to be the lens through which I view and experience the world. It is woven into what I see as I walk through the city and how I do my job and demonstrate leadership. The structures of meaning that are the most powerful parts of Jewish tradition and wisdom deeply inform my work. I believe that considering how we can create experiences for others that will allow them to have deep and meaningful moments comes directly out of Jewish ideas of ritual and observance.

3. What is the greatest piece of leadership advice you have received and do you use it?

An older colleague once told me to always take naps in the afternoon. In the early part of my career, when I was often out very late, I took that advice to the letter, and would curl up under the conference room table or the coat closet. Now I interpret that advice a bit differently, and always take a few moments to rest my work brain, take a walk, have a cup of tea or chocolate or ask a colleague about their evening plans. I believe that I always return fresher and able to think through challenges differently.

4. If you were given a surprise day off, how would you spend it?

I’d pack a bag with a towel and swimsuit and jump on my bike. I’d ride down through hasidic Brooklyn and over the bridge until I reach the wide expanse of beach looking out over the Atlantic Ocean. I’d situate myself in an isolated spot and listen to the sound of the waves until I was hot enough to throw myself into the water. I’d sit down wet, quietly digging my feet into the sand, and maybe even eat a taco. With growing responsibilities, time becomes limited, and it’s a rare occasion to get to do something simple by myself.

5. If you could be compensated for your work with something other than money, what would it be?

Fresh homegrown vegetables. Vegetables are life-sustaining, full of natural energy and bring great beauty into the world. The seasonal nature of vegetables also ensures that I would stay grounded and in-touch with time and weather of the place I’m living. Also, an abundance of vegetables would ensure that I would cook healthy food regularly for my friends and family, and bring people together over the dinner table. But if the boss isn't growing vegetables, I’ll take real estate.

The Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation is proud to empower emerging leaders to explore their values, identity and new ways to strengthen their communities. We believe that as we work together to repair the world, it is important to share our diverse experiences and perspectives along the way. We encourage the expression of personal thoughts and reflections here on the Schusterman blog. Each post reflects solely the opinion of its author and does not necessarily represent the views of the Foundation, its partner organizations or all program participants.