18 September 2019
The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington is pleased to welcome Ariel Kurland to our professional team as the new director of Young Leadership. We sat down with Ariel to learn more about her background and what she’s looking forward to accomplishing in her new role.
Tell us about your background.
I’m originally from Berkeley, CA. I graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a degree in Political Science and International Relations, and have been working in the Jewish communal space for almost a decade. I found my niche working for Jewish agencies that serve our community throughout a variety of personal experiences, most notably through Hillel and living in Israel. Prior to this role, I was BBYO’s Senior Director of Community Engagement, working with our non-teen audience to engage them in the important work of BBYO throughout the West Coast.
What attracted you to the role of Director of Young Leadership?
Young leaders, especially in DC, are making huge impact in their personal and professional careers, and I want to find a way to bring their skills, passions, and expertise into Federation and the greater Jewish community. I’m thrilled to be working with this diverse group as we continue the important work of developing the Jewish leaders of today and tomorrow. Federation is meeting our young leadership demographic where they are. We get to meet with DC newcomers for coffee to share more about the Jewish landscape of DC and how to get involved. We get to work with young leaders to set our charitable priorities, explore our philanthropic decisions, and create collective impact. We get to work with young professionals to develop leadership skills that will not only impact the Jewish community but also the broader DC community. And we get to have a ton of fun doing it all!
What do you see as the greatest opportunity for Young Leadership at this pivotal time?
Earlier this month, I attended Federation’s YL Board retreat and left inspired by the Board members’ commitment to the future of the Jewish community. I think the greatest opportunity is to elevate the current (amazing!) programming Federation offers to the YL crowd as we focus on developing leaders in the Jewish community. Our programming provides entry points for young leaders no matter what they’re looking for – we offer DC-based Birthright Israel trips, leadership development through our Nexus program, and opportunities to connect with peers and professionals in all industries through our Ben Gurion Society events. We also offer Jewish learning opportunities, and philanthropic education programs through programs like Flash Philanthropy. And more broadly, Federation’s strategic focus on engaging the next generation in Jewish life takes our work to the next level. Our investments and partnerships in work that is engaging thousands of 20s and 30s Jews is reshaping our Jewish community for the better, now and into the future.
What is it about working in the Jewish communal world that you’re most passionate about?
I love the sense of belonging that the Jewish community provides to anyone at any point in their life. I’ve been lucky to be impacted by the Jewish community, and Federation in particular, in so many moments throughout my life. I want to make sure that every young Jewish person in Greater Washington knows about and has access to some of the amazing things that the Jewish community provides. I love that the Jewish communal field and our lay leaders are working to provide touch points to meet Jewish people wherever they are.
What do you like to do in your time away from the office?
When I’m not working, I love baking and spending time outdoors exploring all that the DC area has to offer with my son, daughter, and husband. When I’m too tired to be doing either of those activities, you can find me watching re-runs of Schitt’s Creek as I wait for the next season to air.