Newsletter   /   August 2023
Building the Field for JoC Leaders

Building the Field for JoC Leaders; image shows geometric pattern of overlapping squares in yellow and deep orange

Last year, we created several new programs to build and enrich the professional, organizational and communal field for Jews of Color. Our offerings and those of grantees serve a communal field where Jews of Color find more belonging, empowerment, and community than ever before. Today, because of many JoCI grantees, there are JoC leadership, philanthropy, project building, and other professional development cohort opportunities, creating a new reality in which the JoC field is more programmatically diverse than ever. 


Convening JoC Leaders

Between May 8 and May 11, for example, the Jews of Color Initiative hosted our 2023 Leaders Convening in Berkeley, California. This four-day event brought together 22 executive Jewish leaders of Color, all of whom were past or current JoCI grantees. The Convening inaugurated a new era of community and opportunity for JoC professionals. At the time of the JoCI’s founding in 2016, there were only four JoC-led-and-focused organizations. As of 2022, there are 35 such organizations. And, importantly, the number of foundations supporting the JoC community has more than doubled, and there has been a significant increase in JoC who hold executive leadership roles. 


For many, the Convening was the first time this monumental progress was made visible: executive and senior-level JoC leaders gathered to celebrate the present, and envision an even brighter future. The Convening also offered professional development and growth opportunities, with an invitation to apply for grants, professional headshot photo sessions, and a list of certifications and executive training recommendations. 


A Fellowship for JoC Leaders in New York
We also hosted our second cohort of New York Leadership Fellows beginning in November and concluding earlier this week. The Fellowship places young JoC leaders at a Jewish nonprofit in New York City, and includes mentorship, networking, and professional development. The Leadership Fellowship is the only program of its kind that is laser-focused on enhancing ways for Jews of Color in New York City to enter careers in the Jewish communal field. During and after the Fellowship, Fellows identify their own career aspirations and develop projects that serve Jewish communities as well as their individual career paths. “Whether fellows are taking a deeper dive into career aspirations they’ve already developed or are just starting to embark on their identity as a Jew of Color, we want our fellows to know there are generations of JoC colleagues that came before them and that they are invited to join those ranks,” said Riki Robinson, the Program Director of the New York Hub.


Incubating JoC-Led Projects

Our Project Incubator, initially launched through our New York Hub, combines a cohort model with individualized guidance to help leaders develop and scale JoC-centered projects that engage Jews of Color in their region. This year’s New York Incubator supported seven project leaders. Dr. Tameika Minor, an Incubator project leader, shared, “The Incubator has been amazing. To see so many JoC-led organizations that are either up and running or in the beginning stages, I just love to be in the room with so many creative people and so many people that are working towards the visibility of Jews of Color.” In the Incubator Showcases, participants presented their work, honed through a strategically developed curriculum that supported them in focusing their mission and vision statements. Participants shared that cohort sessions gave them tools to lead more thoughtfully and effectively. A session about interpersonal leadership styles taught how to adapt one’s leadership style to work with all kinds of people. Participants spoke about the positive impact of the cohort model and the role the Incubator played in expanding their networks. 


Leading a Jews of Color Professionals Network
Since January 2023, we have led the Jews of Color Professionals Network to build community and connection for Jews of Color professionals in the New York City area. The JoC Pro Network hosts community gatherings featuring esteemed JoC colleagues as speakers and workshop facilitators, and provides career development opportunities for Jews of Color looking to professionally enter or enhance their leadership in the Jewish communal ecosystem. JoC individuals who are not working in the Jewish professional space—for example, those working in secular education, journalism, or tech, to name a few sectors—are encouraged to attend gatherings as well to acquaint themselves with a new network and community. The opportunity to connect with established JoC leaders is one of the Network’s greatest strengths. 


Developing Future JoC Philanthropy Leaders

Finally, we are very excited to have launched our first ever cohort of Philanthropy Fellows. It is crucial to train and prepare cohorts of Jews of Color to be leaders in Jewish philanthropy. From these positions of power, they can develop equitable and racially informed grantmaking. It is not enough for Jews of Color to receive funds from institutions; they must also be at the helm making funding decisions as well. Over the year-long program, our three Fellows—Santy Barrera, Ilana Ygbi, and Maya Katz-Ali—will become trained and highly skilled JoC grantmakers, beginning to grow a professional pipeline of Jewish philanthropic professionals that ultimately will help create a more racially equitable and representative Jewish community.

Date Posted

August 2023


Jews of Color Initiative