A Q&A with Local Leader Drew Fidler

Drew Fidler, Director of BBYO’s Center for Adolescent Wellness, is a noted child wellness expert with experience educating, promoting, and implementing policies and practices to support childrens’ and adolescents’ physical, mental, and emotional health. We sat down with Drew to learn about why she’s passionate about this work and leading the Jewish community.

Tell us about your work at BBYO’s Center for Adolescent Wellness.

BBYO believes that Youth Serving Organizations (YSOs) impact the lives of young people in profound ways, which affects what they will do in the community in the long run. Jewish teens are no different than other teens. They need help with anxiety, self-esteem, body-image, sexism, etc. BBYO’s Center for Adolescent Wellness supports teens and helps develop their ability to engage, overcome challenges, and thrive in any situation. We want to build environments that are mentally, emotionally, and physically safe for all Jewish teens.

How did you get into this line of work?

Working with adolescents has always been my passion. At Capital Camps, I had mentors who inspired and believed in me. They gave me the chance to be a social worker fresh out of grad school, which led to my job at the Baltimore Child Abuse Center. These experiences, combined with my work in the Ethiopian-Israeli community (through the Yahel Social Change program) on family reunification and community empowerment, contributed to building my passion for this field.

Through my work at BBYO, I have the opportunity to change the landscape for teens across the country and contribute to their development as engaged, healthy, Jewish adults and leaders.

How does your work connect to your involvement in Federation?

I was raised in a family that was very involved in Federation. I know how important it is for me to give back.

When I participated in Federation’s Next Gen Philanthropy program, I learned to give of my time, talent, and purse. My giving and involvement in Federation comes from a sense of responsibility to support my community.

I’m grateful to have been a beneficiary of this community. The support I received as a child and teen was an influential part of my life. It has shaped who I am today. My gratitude for this generosity is one of the primary reasons I work to ensure that youth are central to the community.

It’s also about my family’s legacy of giving back to the community. It’s important to my grandparents, parents, and me. I feel deeply that I want to continue that legacy.

What values drive you in your philanthropy and your work?

Tikkun olam (repairing the world), is the core value that motivates me. Our adolescents have the capacity to change and to make change, and I believe their self-actualization can make the world a better place.

There are 613 mitzvot (commandments) in the Torah, and more than 30 of them tell us how to care for others who cannot care for themselves. Judaism says it is a communal effort. When someone is struggling, our responsibility—as a community—is to look after that person.

Teens are the future leaders of our community and our country. Our role is to help them “live” their values.

My “why” is that I believe we can make a difference.

As a younger donor, how do you encourage your peers to support Federation?

When I talk to other young people about giving, it is to encourage them to be a part of something greater than themselves. I place a love for Judaism, community, and connectivity at the core of the conversation, which gives real meaning to why we all should .

When it comes to giving, I always talk about the institutions that continue to build and strengthen our community. It is incumbent upon us to take on leadership roles and give back to the generations that come after. It’s not about the amount we give, but about participating in building something and actively taking responsibility for the community.