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 Becca Youngerman below!
Rebecca (Becca) Youngerman is the Executive Director of the Ben Appelbaum Foundation (BAF), managing all aspects of the Foundation’s programmatic and operational work. Based in New York City, BAF provides education programs, advisory support and mentoring to early-stage small business owners and non-profit leaders.
Prior to moving to NYC in 2014, Becca's career focused on community building, implementing leadership programs and issue advocacy work. Her previous professional roles at American University, BBYO, the Anti-Defamation League and the Holocaust Center of N. California, took her to Washington, Chicago, Cleveland and San Francisco. Becca received a Masters in Public Administration and a B.A. in Political Science from American University’s School of Public Affairs, and spent her junior year at Hebrew University. She recently served as Chair of the City Year DC Associate Board and is a member of the ROI community. A proud native of Madison, WI, Becca enjoys local food, exploring NYC and traveling.
1. What are you most excited to gain from the Fellowship? What are you most looking forward to learning?
I look forward to the opportunity to learn and grow as an individual, as an organizational leader and as a member of a global community. In my current role, I often work independently. The chance to work with a coach and be part of a network of peer leaders will be extremely valuable. I am also eager to define and work on an organizational change initiative during the Fellowship. In my day-to-day work, I am often focused on operational, short-term efforts. Being able to step back to assess the big picture and identify opportunities for longer-term change will be an exciting challenge.
2. "Leadership" is a popular term these days, used in a variety of contexts. Tell us, what does leadership mean to you?
Leadership means acting with vision, integrity, humility, values and honesty. It means speaking out on critical and often difficult issues, even when it is not the popular thing to do. Leadership means knowing when to let others speak or lead. It means taking risks, pushing through walls and bringing others along with you. Leadership means failing and continuing to push onward. Leadership means learning and growing.
3. How does your Jewish identity affect your leadership?
Growing up in a family that expresses Jewish identity through Tikkun Olam and social justice, I learned by example that I have an opportunity—and a responsibility—to help make the world more equal and whole for all people, in the Jewish community and beyond. As a leader, it is these same values that have led me to pursue mission-based work, and to be involved with volunteer roles that create meaningful opportunities for all people. On a personal level, my Jewish identity and beliefs serve as a moral compass and a reminder of the importance of acceptance and inclusivity.
4. Who is a leader you admire and why?
Elissa Froman, a friend and colleague who passed away tragically just months before turning 30, was an extraordinary leader. Elissa worked tirelessly for change on a lengthy list of progressive social issues. Elissa led coalitions, lobbied for change through the political system, and organized grassroots movements that provided a voice for so many. I admired her unwavering dedication, her compassion and the humility that she brought to every meeting, every rally and every conversation. The impact that she made in her short life inspires me to keep asking what else can I do to make the world a better place.
5. If you could be compensated for your work with something other than money, what would it be?
If I could be compensated with something other than money, I would want to eat and learn from talented chefs in their restaurants on a regular basis. I would want to hear the stories behind their food—recipes, restaurant design, suppliers, role models, failures, advice and the experience they aim to create for their guest.
Food is a way of showing love, building community, demonstrating values and sharing tradition. To have the experience to learn and discover with others would be worthy payment!
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.