Meet the Schusterman Fellows: Barak Hermann


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. As part of this blog series, we'll be bringing you short interviews with each of the Fellows in which they'll share a bit about themselves and their vision for the future. 

Meet Barak Hermann below!

Barak Hermann of Owings Mills, Maryland is the President of the JCC of Greater Baltimore. Prior to coming to Baltimore, Barak spent five years as the Executive Director of the JCC of Central NJ. Before that, he served as Chief Operating Officer of JCC MetroWest after being promoted from Assistant Executive Director. Barak began his JCC career 20 years ago at the Suffolk Y JCC on Long Island, where he held many positions during his almost nine years there. The last position he held was Program Director & Director of Eastern Long Island Services.

Barak holds a Master's degree in Social Work from Yeshiva University School of Social Work, Certificate from the Institute of Non Profit, a joint program of Columbia University and UJA Federation of NY, and, is a graduate of the JCC Association Executive Development Program. Barak has been married to Cory for 17 years and they have 3 boys: Jake, Zachary and Jonah.

1. What are you most excited to gain from the Fellowship? What are you most looking forward to learning?

I am excited to have the opportunity to meet smart, interesting and dynamic people that are as passionate as I am about  the future of the Jewish people. I look forward to learning contemporary ideas that strengthen my ability to lead and inspire others and provide me with Jewish resources that I can weave into my vision and management of staff.

Indeed, I look forward to learning from other change agents who are or will be in leadership positions that will shape the future of Jewish life across the globe and set the agendas of its educational, religious and community institutions.

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

To me, leadership means having the ability to have a clear vision and then develop strategies, people and systems to make it a reality. Leadership is also about inspiring others to achieve what they feel they cannot by providing mentoring, supervision and experiences that build trust and confidence.

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

In my early 20's, the executive director I worked for taught me to trust my gut about doing the right thing. He taught me that if you strive authentically to do the right thing, then people will support you and rally around when you are experiencing challenges. If as a leader you don't take responsibility, cut corners and don’t hold yourself accountable, then when challenges arise, people will not support you. As an executive, I strive daily to treat our members and employees with respect and kavod.

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

I would sleep in until at least 9AM and disconnect my email from my iPhone. I would go to brunch with my my wife Cory somewhere where we could sit outside near water. We would then surprise our boys by taking them out of school early and head to Camden Yards to see the New York Yankees win against the Baltimore Orioles during a beautiful sunny afternoon game. We would then walk to a restaurant with outdoor seating in the Baltimore Inner Harbor. We would enjoy a wonderful dinner and have lots of laughs.

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

It would be a very exciting to be compensated with housing and a living allowance to provide my family with the opportunity to live in Israel for a year. The opportunity to work and live in Israel and have our sons attend school and have Israeli friends would be meaningful to all of us. This would be a dream come true as I would love to connect my family with our rich history that started when my grandparents came to Israel from Austria in the late 1920's as part of the third aliyah to develop the State of Israel.

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.