The Community Leadership Institute (CLI) is a highly competitive leadership training program for the future leaders of Jewish institutions and nonprofit organizations across Los Angeles. An incredible opportunity for young professionals ages 25-40, this intensive 15-month program provides the tools, knowledge, and connections needed to become an effective leader of the Jewish community. CLI participants attend monthly meetings and workshops, honing their leadership skills and learning all about Jewish nonprofit initiatives in L.A. They travel to Israel with other participants, simultaneously deepening their connection to the global and local Jewish communities. They cultivate relationships with esteemed leaders of the Jewish community who offer them one-on-one support and guidance. CLI lifts them up and supports them on their journey to becoming the next great Jewish communal leaders.
We recently interviewed Sarah about her CLI experience thus far.
What motivated you to apply for CLI?
Ever since participating in Birthright Israel and then the Kahn Fellowship in 2015/2016, I realized that I wanted to get back involved in the Jewish community. When I read about CLI, I knew I wanted to participate.
What track of CLI are you in? What do you do professionally?
I am in the Entertainment track. I currently work at Disney Studios in our Franchise and Integrated Planning team. It’s just a confusing name for long-term planning for the Studio and our properties. My goal is to be a writer for television and the big screen.
What inspires you about the community/the Jewish community?
I did not really appreciate the Jewish community outside of my family growing up, but getting involved has reminded me why I love being Jewish — and I can narrow it down to the strong values. It wasn’t until immersing myself in CLI that I realized all my values stem from Judaism. It has been so refreshing to meet and connect with like-minded people. I discovered that it was what I was missing in my life.
What sessions have you found to be most the interesting/moving?
My favorite session was our first session with Jonathan Schreiber. The discussion of values is always an interesting and revealing one. It was interesting to talk about putting our values into practice by way of which organizations we choose to involve ourselves in. He also made me think about our ability to change the organizations we give to. I always viewed these philanthropic companies as being old and set in their ways, but he reminded me that as donors and volunteers we have the opportunity to encourage them to change.
What has been your favorite part about CLI?
The people I have met along the way. Everyone is incredible and brings something different to the conversation.
How has CLI impacted you in your career or personal development journey thus far?
CLI has really made me think about my impact in the world. I claim to stand for a lot of different issues, but I really haven’t made the commitment to make change in a tangible way. CLI has inspired me to take active steps to support the causes I believe in, be it with my time or money.
What is one lesson you have learned since being a part of CLI?
Patience. I am by nature a very impatient person. We had a session about lay leaders and professional leaders working together, and it opened my eyes to the kinds of roadblocks professionals may sometimes face, even at The Jewish Federation. Many charitable organizations have a lot of red tape we don’t see. It has made me more understanding and appreciative of the challenges they face.
To learn more about CLI, visit www.yajewishla.org/CLI