Lior Shabo is an ROIer, an entrepreneur, a proud Jerusalemite, and the founder of the Jerusalem Parliament

My 2013 ROI Micro Grant afforded me the opportunity to launch the Jerusalem Parliament, a monthly networking gathering for the city’s young leaders and innovators from the worlds of journalism, politics, public policy, social activism, arts and business. Each month, members of the Parliament get together at a different Jerusalem location—like the King David hotel, the Israel Museum, or the First Station—for a cocktail, a cultural interlude, and a lecture with a prominent public figure, such as Israel Museum Director James Snyder, Ambassador Michael Oren, Journalist Ilana Dayan and New York Times Jerusalem Bureau Chief Jodi Rudoren.

The purpose of these events is to create a social and professional network of Jerusalem’s most talented, active and passionate young adults in the hopes that this will lead to a stronger sense of community, synergies, partnerships and a more interesting and dynamic city. The lectures and cultural content are intended to inspire Parliament members and present a diverse selection of high profile leadership examples, but, in my eyes, the most important aspect of the Parliament is the networking itself.

The truth is that there are so many incredibly talented young people in Jerusalem, far more than most people realize. It’s so important to highlight this talent, because talented people feed off of other talented people. When young talent leaves Jerusalem, it’s often because they feel that the action is elsewhere and that they can only achieve self-actualization, whether that be in romantic, social or professional spheres, by moving, usually to Tel Aviv. In reality, there are more than enough talented individuals and exciting social and professional opportunities in Jerusalem, and the challenge is simply bringing them to light and raising awareness of all the richness that is here.

I am exceptionally grateful to ROI for providing me with the opportunity to pilot this idea, which has already engaged hundreds of people and has the potential to touch many more. Already, we are being approached by people around the city to partner on public initiatives, create additional Parliament frameworks for other constituents beyond young adults, and begin developing theme-oriented sub-groups of the Parliament intended to create networks and communities for individuals who share common professional or social interests. We have only begun to tap the potential of this idea and to harness its full social and professional capital. I look forward to developing the Parliament together with ROI in the future.