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Meet the Schusterman Fellows: Joanna Ware

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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 Joanna Ware below!

Joanna Ware is Keshet's Boston Regional Director, overseeing Keshet's community-building, education and advocacy work locally. While at Keshet, Joanna has built powerful communities of LGBTQ Jews and allies across Massachusetts and the country working in support of full justice and equality for LGBTQ people. Joanna holds a bachelors degree from Antioch College in gender studies and Middle East studies, and is an alumna of the JOIN for Justice Jewish Organizing Fellowship. Her past professional experience is in youth work, informal education, anti-violence and anti-sexism education, policy advocacy and community organizing.

Originally from San Diego, she has spent time living, learning and working at the intersections of gender, sexuality, faith and politics in Israel and Western Europe. She currently lives in Jamaica Plain, MA, with her partner and three cats. On the critical question of whether she'd choose flight or invisibility as her super power, she always chooses to fly.

1. How does your Jewish identity affect your leadership?

I have a small Hebrew tattoo on my left wrist: U'vacharta b'chayim—and so choose life. For me, this is a reminder of G-d's rejoinder to the Israelites to follow a Jewish ethical code that centers life, growth, possibility and abundance in our life choices, big and small. As a Jewish leader, this teaching guides my choices; I strive to act from this place of possibility and hopefulness, to bend in the directions of people's potential for growth, to lead with humility and to remain on the path to a more whole world in every moment of choice.

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

I grew up right on the Pacific Ocean, and I am consistently pulled to the ocean for rejuvenation and reflection. With a surprise day off, I would take off for the Maine coast; meandering through small towns to a secluded corner of rocky coast line for a picnic lunch (or take-out from a delicious seafood shack), fresh salty air and the perspective offered by an expansive stretch of horizon. Standing on the edge of the ocean is a comforting reminder to me of my place in a very large world.

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

I am really excited about learning with a robust, passionate, diverse talented group of peers; about learning from others with very different experiences and insights, and the supportive accountability of a cohort of people committed to asking tough questions of ourselves and taking risks together. I'm particularly focused on building my skills in development and my confidence in making tough, strategic decisions with integrity and clarity of purpose.

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

I would work for travel, rather than money, in a second. A job that compensated me with food, transportation, time, flexibility and logistical support to travel around the world would be a dream.

5. Who is a leader, living or dead, who you admire most and why?

I deeply admire political activist Emma Goldman for her courage, integrity, ability to lean into controversial and agitational ideals, expansive vision of justice and her sweeping impact on core social beliefs and structures paired with concrete transformative changes that improved people's lives.

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.