Meet the Schusterman Fellows: Emma Roberts


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 Emma Roberts below!

As Director of Development Strategy and Operations at BBYO, Emma Roberts is responsible for creating and streamlining development processes, from data management to major giving strategy to helping the department hit its financial and non-financial goals. Emma brings with her a variety of non-profit fundraising experience and a passion for social justice and equality. Prior to BBYO, Emma worked with a grantee organization of American Jewish World Service in Northern Thailand, the Burmese Women's Union, helping them raise money to support their women's rights and pro-democracy agenda. Emma holds a bachelor's degree from The George Washington University. Emma, an ROI Community member, lives in DC and in her free time enjoys running, cooking, traveling and exploring the outdoors.

1. "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 facing challenges head on, empowering those around you and creating something that outlasts you. People do these things in very different ways, sharing their unique personalities, and I think it's really important and beneficial to have different types of leaders. Personally, what's most important when I reflect on my leadership style is whether it feels authentically me.

2. How does your Jewish identity affect your leadership?

I found my Jewish identity through exploring my commitment to social justice and advocacy. When I look around my community, I see numerous Jewish leaders who are trying to make a positive impact on the world and I believe my passion to be a leader who stands up for these things is fed by my Jewish identity and support system.

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

One piece of advice that has stuck with me is that someone once told me I have to be okay with ambiguity. I'm a person who likes to categorize, organize and have cut and dry next steps for everything. As I continue to grow, the harder the professional and personal challenges become. I remind myself of this advice often, accepting that sometimes I need to allow things need to evolve organically.

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

I am most excited to gain insight into how others see me as a leader. I can take a guess at my strengths and weaknesses, but I am curious to see how these characteristics play out and evolve throughout the Fellowship. I am most looking forward to learning about what it means to be a leader in a Jewish context. I think this knowledge will extend deep into my personal life and be something that I can carry with me wherever I go and instill in my family one day.

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

Assuming this surprise day off was in the summer, I would wake up early to beat the DC summer heat and go for a run along the Potomac. I would fill the day reading somewhere in the shade, cooking a new recipe and then having dinner, preferably a BBQ with my friends.

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.