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Former Fellows Find Success

by YU News
Published on June 29, 2011 in Yeshiva University News

Presidential Fellowship Alumni Bring Leadership Skills and Experience to Diverse Professional Careers

They work for top finan­cial firms and attend top medical schools. They craft program­ming to create educated and imag­i­na­tive lead­er­ship in Israel and coor­di­nate national events for devel­op­men­tally impaired chil­dren. They are rabbis, lawyers and teachers across the country. And they all have one thing in common. They are alumni of Yeshiva University’s Presidential Fellowship in University and Community Leadership.

The Fellowship, founded by YU President Richard M. Joel in 2004, offers grad­u­ating students with ambi­tion, enthu­siasm and a record of acad­emic excel­lence the oppor­tu­nity to affect change from within the univer­sity commu­nity, putting their skills to work in depart­ments that range from the Yeshiva University Museum and the Office of the General Counsel to the Office of the President. Each fellow is mentored by a senior member of his or her depart­ment, and weekly grad­uate courses, as well as on-site visits and other training activ­i­ties, expose the group to multiple aspects of leadership.

While they have all moved on to the next stage in their personal and profes­sional lives, former fellows still feel the impact of the program. On June 16, alumni from each of the seven cohorts gath­ered at the YU Museum for a reunion that cele­brated not only their time as fellows, but the careers and lives they have built since.

We wanted to bring you together to reignite the inspi­ra­tion, but also to look back at where you’ve gone over these years and think about where and who you are,” said Rabbi Josh Joseph, vice pres­i­dent and chief of staff and director of the Fellowship, to the group, noting that the program currently has 99 alumni. “You’re bringing us into the next generation.”

At the reunion, President Joel high­lighted one char­ac­ter­istic that all members of the Fellowship, regard­less of their specialty or later careers, shared. “You were attracted to this Fellowship because you want to struggle with the meaning of the word ‘lead­er­ship,’” he said. “It’s about what you see and what you make happen, not just what is.”

Alumni have used their Fellowship training to secure lead­er­ship posi­tions across a diverse spec­trum of profit and non-profit orga­ni­za­tions. Rebecca Stone, a 2005–2006 fellow in the Office of University Life, felt the Fellowship’s educa­tional compo­nent helped her iden­tify and hone her strengths as she tran­si­tioned from the role of student to profes­sional. “I really felt supported by the semi­nars, where we focused for instance on emotional intel­li­gence,” said Stone. “That gave me a lot of insight into myself, my abil­i­ties and where I needed to go.”

As a fellow, Stone worked closely with the American Jewish World Service (AJWS) corps to develop program­ming for students in Honduras and orga­nized events to raise univer­sity aware­ness of social justice concerns such as the geno­cide in Darfur. Her efforts with AJWS even­tu­ally led to a posi­tion in major gift fundraising. Stone is currently the director of commu­nity engage­ment at Encounter, an orga­ni­za­tion that aims to inform Jewish Diaspora lead­er­ship on the intri­ca­cies of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from the ground up.

The Fellowship really set me out on this path and empow­ered me to get clarity about what I was passionate about and where I could make a differ­ence,” she said. “It enabled me to think strate­gi­cally about the orga­ni­za­tions I think are impor­tant and unique and to see myself as a real leader who could choose any path.”

That empow­er­ment is one of the Fellowship’s lega­cies for many alumni, along with the devel­op­ment of foun­da­tional busi­ness skills and an enduring connec­tion with senior staff who culti­vate their talents.

It was my first full-time job after college and it was helpful to have a rela­tion­ship with a mentor who could guide me through those steps,” said Raffi Rosenzweig, a fellow in the Office of Communications and Public Affairs during the 2007–2008 acad­emic year. “I also very much appre­ci­ated having access to Josh Joseph, who always took the time to meet with me and was helpful in discussing my next move.” 

Rosenzweig is a current partic­i­pant of the Legacy Heritage Teacher Training Fellowship. Coordinated through the Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration’s Institute for University-School Partnership, the Legacy Heritage program places its fellows in Jewish day schools across the country and facil­i­tates study for a Master’s degree in educa­tion over the course of three summers. 

As a teaching fellow, Rosenzweig has led Bible and Jewish history classes at Yavneh Academy in Dallas, Texas. In the fall he will begin studies at Harvard Law School. His Fellowship expe­ri­ence made him confi­dent he could succeed in a variety of fields: “Professionalism is helpful in any field, and even though the struc­ture of my job now is different than it was in the Fellowship, that back­ground still applies,” said Rosenzweig. “My time in the commu­ni­ca­tions depart­ment also helped me hone my writing skills, which are useful in any job.”

For Esther Goldstein, a 2009–2010 fellow in the Office of the General Counsel, the profes­sion­alism and close rela­tion­ships she culti­vated as a fellow played a crit­ical role in obtaining a posi­tion at Goldman Sachs. “I defi­nitely think it gave me confi­dence,” she said. “I knew my mentor believed in me and he encour­aged me every step of the way.” Originally headed for law school, Goldstein real­ized she was inter­ested in exploring the finan­cial world during her Fellowship. Her mentor, Avi Lauer, vice pres­i­dent of legal affairs and general counsel, as well as Joseph and Elysia Stein, the Fellowship’s coor­di­nator, coached her through the inter­view process.

In my inter­view with Goldman Sachs, I explained the lead­er­ship compo­nent of my Fellowship and they were very inter­ested in my expe­ri­ence,” Goldstein said. “It wasn’t just a job. It taught us how to manage time, how to manage work, how to interact with other people in the work place.”

Equally impor­tant to these alumni are the cama­raderie and connec­tions fostered between fellows. “The Fellowship created friend­ships that have been with me for the last six years,” said Eli Hagler, a 2006–2007 fellow in the Office of Student Affairs on the Wilf campus. “It creates a bond, whether you were a fellow three years ago or will be one two years from now. There’s a whole network of support.” Hagler is earning his master’s degree in busi­ness manage­ment from Baruch College. After working as YU’s assis­tant director of under­grad­uate admis­sions, he now serves as assis­tant director at Yachad, where he has orga­nized fundraising marathons and national shab­ba­tons. “The atten­tion to detail, learning how to run an event and the pieces that go into it—that all came from the Fellowship,” said Hagler.

Click here for the orig­inal article.

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