An inside look at the National Young Leadership Cabinet

Dorie Sher

By Dorie Sher

Did you know that many among our St. Louis leadership are alumni of the National Young Leadership Cabinet, a group of approximately 400 men and women, ages 30-45, representing virtually every Jewish community in North America?  Were you aware that this dynamic group of committed and highly motivated individuals even existed?

Until one year ago, I had never heard of the Cabinet, but today, I’m honored to be a member, representing the St. Louis Jewish community with fellow Cabinet members, Jonathan Deutsch, Rich Gilbert, Brad Gross, David Kaslow, Lauren Weissman-Kerner, Ian Silberman, Julie Stern, and Greg Yawitz.

My six-year Cabinet journey officially began at an annual three-day retreat held in Aventura, Fla. this past July.  As the first-year members assembled at the orientation meeting, the ice-breakers and introductions were flowing and often peppered with questions such as, “What brought you here?” and “What local Jewish community activities interest you?”  

Unlike most that mentioned their extensive portfolios spanning everything from Jewish youth group experiences to young professional affiliations and beyond, I spoke of my recent reconnection with the St. Louis Jewish community via Women’s Connection and the 2010 Rubin Israel Experience.  

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I quickly realized that I was a latecomer relative to the rest of my first-year Cabinet peers and that my story, like those that surrounded me, is filled with life experiences that nurtured a passion and desire to become involved in the Jewish community, both locally and abroad.

Even though my Jewish Federation resume seemed less extensive than those of my new colleagues, I reminded myself that I had taken advantage of some amazing and unique opportunities since moving to St. Louis in the spring of 2009.  The 2010 Women’s Connection Community Education Forum was my first glimpse into the initiatives, agencies, and volunteer opportunities at the Jewish Federation of St. Louis.   

This comprehensive six-week program proved to be the perfect path for understanding the local Jewish community and the efforts supported throughout the world.  This class eventually guided me to a variety of volunteer opportunities and the Rubin Israel Experience, a first-time trip to Israel provide by philanthropists, Pam and Ron Rubin. Without a doubt, this life-changing experience solidified my commitment to serve on the National Young Leadership Cabinet and strive to engage and inspire future generations.

While the Cabinet has grown and evolved through the years, the mission remains the same: to identify, recruit, educate and train young men and women of proven local leadership abilities to be the future leaders of the North American Jewish community. The Ripple Effect, the theme of the 2011 annual retreat, defines the vision and goals of the Cabinet and the basis of its existence. Members improve their leadership skills through groundbreaking programs and by working with peers who are also committed to ensuring a Jewish future.  Ultimately, these experiences will allow us to return to our local communities empowered as advocates and motivated to inspire others to join in our efforts.

Most participants will tell you that the Cabinet experience is what you make of it.  For many, it illuminates leadership paths and builds enduring friendships.  Annual retreats, workshops, national conferences and overseas missions allow exploration of our current challenges, access to senior leadership and scholars from around the world, and opportunities to network with outstanding and deeply committed men and women from across the United States and Canada.

If you are between the ages of 30 and 40, actively involved in Federation activities and committed to sustaining a strong, vibrant future for communities around the world, consider becoming a member of the National Young Leadership Cabinet.

Dorie Sher is a native St. Louisan who attended Parkway North and the University of Wisconsin,  where she earned a B.S. in Zoology. She is currently manager of Clinical Genomics at the Washington University School of Medicine.