The Jews of Color Initiative is excited to announce our inaugural cohort of Philanthropy Fellows who will join our team on May 15, 2023, Santy Barrera, Ilana Ybgi, and Maya Katz-Ali. Over the next twelve months, these Fellows will work closely with the JoCI Grants team to learn how to leverage grantmaking, field building strategies, and other philanthropic tools to advance a racial-equity framework. They will support the Grants Team in managing the JoCI’s grants portfolio, while also creating and managing their own JoC-focused grant cycle. This Fellowship is an intervention to build diverse program staff at Jewish organizations and foundations, and will equip Fellows with the skills, knowledge, and network necessary to continue working in the Jewish philanthropic ecosystem. Over the year-long program, Fellows will become trained and highly skilled JoC grantmakers, beginning to grow a pipeline that ultimately will help create a more racially equitable and representative Jewish community.
According to JoCI’s demographic study, Beyond the Count, almost two thirds (65%) of survey respondents indicated that American Jewish leaders were either “poorly” (41%) or “very poorly” (24%) addressing racism in the American Jewish community. This statistic points to the need for multiracial representation in American Jewish leadership positions generally, and in funding positions specifically. Rather than focusing solely on JoC as grantees, empowering JoC as funders lowers systemic hurdles to institutional and financial support, which is crucial to create an equitable and multiracial Jewish organizational ecosystem. “Philanthropy really is the engine that drives Jewish organizational life. Our Philanthropy Fellowship is an exciting investment into the future of JoC community and leadership,” said Gabi Kuhn, our Senior Program Officer.
As part of that exciting investment in JoC community leadership, we are thrilled to introduce our three Philanthropy Fellows.
Santy Barrera (he/him) is a seasoned educator with over 10 years of youth development, community building, and academic work experience. He is the son of Ecuadorian immigrants and is first born in the United States on both sides of his family. As a first-generation student, Santy is passionate about empowering the youth with the resources and information they need as they explore their passion, skills, and ideas in the education system. He also combines his passion for creative writing and social justice to bring visibility to his Indigenous identity and people from Ecuador, and create spaces to represent, express, and celebrate their identities in cultural and educational spaces.
He holds a Bachelor’s degree in English & American Literature from Middlebury College where he also focused in Creative Writing and studied Italian. He just completed a fellowship with Jewtina y Co., and is part of a beautiful Jewish community with JCC Harlem. He currently resides in New York City.
Ilana Ybgi (she/her) is a wife, a mother and a bonus mother. She sits on the UJA Brooklyn Advisory Council and is a member of the Crown Heights Women’s Circle. She is a graduate of Repair the World’s Crown Heights Leadership cohort and strives to be a better neighbor everyday.
Ilana is a life coach and a doula, and is very passionate about birth justice and improving birthing conditions for all. These instincts toward community service also shaped her pursuit of philanthropy work, which has the radical capacity to provide material support for those most in need.
Ybgi is a former member of Co-op Theatre East’s ensemble. The deconstruction of social constructs is a common theme explored in her devised theater work and she is forever curious about the use of her art as a cathartic mode of healing. She holds an MFA from the Actors Studio Drama School.
Maya Katz-Ali (she/her) was born and raised in a multicultural home in Oakland, California where she learned about building community across global contexts and bringing people together from a young age. She previously was the Bay Area field manager at OneTable, an organization that inspires people in their 20s and 30s to create and explore their own Shabbat practice. She participates in LUNAR: the Asian Jewish film project as a speaker and community ambassador. At the core of Maya’s work she sees sharing stories, traditions, and values as central to our growth as a global community. In that light, she is so excited to pour into the community through the JoCI Philanthropy Fellowship.
As Santy, Ilana, and Maya forge forward as the JoCI’s inaugural Philanthropy Fellows, they will be connected with a robust community of Jewish leaders and mentors who will equip them with the necessary skills to shape their leadership and career trajectories in the Jewish philanthropic space. They represent an exciting era of JoC taking on indispensable leadership roles for an increasingly equitable and multiracial Jewish community.