Jerusalem Foundation trains new generation of civic leaders

Members of the Jerusalem Leadership Fellows Program attend seminars led by experts in public leadership and are each assigned a mentor to provide guidance.

GEORGE PINTO Jerusalem Leadership Fellows with Jerusalem Foundation leadership. (photo credit: SHLOMI COHEN)
GEORGE PINTO Jerusalem Leadership Fellows with Jerusalem Foundation leadership.
(photo credit: SHLOMI COHEN)
‘In order for Jerusalem to flourish,” declares Shai Doron, president of the Jerusalem Foundation, “it requires local leadership that is committed to Jerusalem, that will live in the city.”
Doron, who has headed the prestigious foundation since August 2018, says that the issue of Jerusalem’s civic leadership is critical to the city’s future. Many of the senior executives of Jerusalem’s leading civic institutions no longer live in the city, which has had an adverse influence on the city’s local leadership.
“We want to add a level of young leadership that will be in Jerusalem for a long time – that will be active in the city, and that will live here,” says Doron.
Doron notes that the foundation’s success in assisting Jerusalem residents during the coronavirus epidemic illustrates the importance of competent civic leadership.
“One of the city’s great successes in the past seven months,” he says, “was due to the excellent networking in local community councils and with volunteers. Food distribution that we supported was done in conjunction with community centers. Local workers who work in their communities were able to reach older people, families, and children with special needs, distributing food, staying in touch and supplying computers and tablets.
“We raised the money for these efforts, but they carried out civic leadership. This has to receive a push for the future so that we can succeed in growing leadership to lead the city.”
FELLOWS TAKE part in a session at the Cultural Center on Jerusalem’s Haparsa Street.FELLOWS TAKE part in a session at the Cultural Center on Jerusalem’s Haparsa Street.
THE FOUNDATION is planning to accelerate this push with the initiation of the George Pinto Jerusalem Leadership Fellows Program, a five-year program that will seek to cultivate a new generation of civic leaders for the future. The Hebrew name for the program is Kayma, representing the initials of the Hebrew words for “The Jerusalem Foundation Leads in Leadership.” Dr. Sigalit Hertz-Dvir, director of the program, says that Kayma – which means “existence” – alludes to the sustainability and continuity of Jerusalem’s leadership which the program will develop.
Applicants to the program are required to be in the final year of their PhD programs and must commit to live in Jerusalem for a minimum of five years after acceptance to the fellowship program.
“We are looking for people who are nearing the conclusion of their PhD studies,” says Doron, “leaders who have the intellectual ability and the tools that they received from their studies, and who have the desire to be involved in society.” This combination, he says, can produce outstanding leaders.
Members of the Jerusalem Leadership Fellows Program attend seminars led by experts in public leadership and are each assigned a mentor to provide guidance. In addition, the fellows meet twice a month during the entire five-year period, exchanging information and ideas, networking, and sharing experiences from their different backgrounds. During the first year of the five-year program, fellows spend one day per week working at Jerusalem civic organizations and developing programs targeted to their specific area of interest.
They attend a study program in public leadership at the Jerusalem Institute for Policy Research four days a week, studying public policy and leadership principles while receiving a stipend from the Jerusalem Foundation and completing their doctoral requirements.
The training program will broaden the fellows’ collective body of knowledge, deepen their understanding of processes in the city, provide tools in various aspects of public policy, facilitate the mapping out of relevant social and community initiatives and acquaint them with the city’s varied sectors, institutions and organizations. Program content and format will be highly relevant and dynamic, in accordance with the city’s civil society needs, development plans, and demographic processes.
In the second and third years of the program, fellows work half-time at their chosen institutions and continue their leadership studies with seminars and further instruction. It is hoped that after the third year, the institutions where they are working will accept them as full-time employees.
“We direct them,” says Hertz-Dvir, “taking all of their experience, and academic experience and their tools, and place them deep within organizations in Jerusalem, and into the community. They become an integral part of the community, with the hope that they will lead processes and lead and create new things, which will lead to good things for the city.” Hertz-Dvir adds that apart from the fact that Jerusalem will benefit from the leadership skills that will be imparted to the fellows, it is anticipated that the organizations where they will be working will also benefit by receiving motivated and talented young leaders, supported by the Jerusalem Foundation, who will be working and contributing to their institutions.
The Jerusalem Foundation’s steering committee interviewed a wide selection of candidates and selected the first five members for the inaugural leadership fellows program, which began in September.
Aharon (Ari) Eitan, a postdoctoral student in law at the Hebrew University, will be working at the Jerusalem Foundation and will design a program to develop haredi leadership in the city.
Naama Bar Natan Sadovski, a doctoral student in poetry, will be leading a program in poetry at Mishkenot Sha’ananim.
Yael Levi, a PhD student, will be stationed at the Tower of David Museum, creating a program on the narrative of being a Jerusalemite and the communities of Jerusalem.
Efrat Lusky, a doctoral student in social work, will be working on a project at Hebrew University, bringing students from Jerusalem’s periphery to study at the university.
Finally, Niko Tabah, a doctoral student from Ben-Gurion University, will be developing a program in business social entrepreneurship in local community centers in Jerusalem.
Tabah, who made aliyah to Israel from the former Soviet Union, said, “As a fellow in the first cycle of the Kayma program, I feel fortunate to be given the opportunity to fulfill and create in the city of Jerusalem, to integrate into the local scene and to contribute my skills and abilities to the people of the city. As an immigrant from the former Soviet Union, who previously lived in the North, I chose to build a life in Jerusalem with my family. Thanks to this program, I am learning and delving deeper into the city, impressed by the uniqueness of Jerusalem.
“As part of the program, I will experience and work in the management of the community centers, where I hope to fulfill my dream and promote the social-community entrepreneurship of the city’s residents in all sectors: Jews and Arabs, secular and religious, young and old.” DORON IS optimistic that the cumulative effect of adding new fellows each year will enrich the overall experience for the group.
“Next year, there will be more fellows, who will join the first group, so there will be 10. The following year, there will be another five, so we will have 15. They will all become part of a larger network, which is an important tool for developing leadership. This creates a sense of partnership.” Doron says that while each fellow brings expertise in a different area – from law to social work to history – they are all joined by their mutual connection and responsibility to Jerusalem.
Hertz-Dvir is confident that the program’s positive and creative aspects will ensure success and a new generation of leadership for Jerusalem.
“This is a program that defeats cynicism. There is a combination of so many good forces – the Jerusalem Foundation, the strategy and planning that went into the program, the experience of the foundation and the people we have met along the way, the cooperation of the different organizations – it’s a real pleasure.”