On December 11, fellow Leadership Consultant, Jordan Fink, Gamma Pi-University of Tampa, and I got to take part in Jewish Women International’s (JWI) Young Women’s Leadersh
ip Conference in Washington, D.C. This conference helps young women across the U.S. network, learn, and ultimately become inspired by accomplished women who are leaders in their fields. During this day, 170 young women had the opportunity to hear from countless speakers who were founders of organizations, CEOs in their companies, U.S. Ambassadors appointed by President Obama, and even a Rabbi who co-wrote a book with the infamous Ruth Bader Ginsburg. What an inspiring day! After a panel and two breakout sessions, it is safe to say that I felt on top of the world…like I could do anything I put my mind to.
The speaker who stood out to me the most was Laura Rebell Gross, the Managing Director of Girls’ Education for the Young Women’s Leadership Network. This organization supports five all-girls schools in New York City and 12 affiliate schools across the United States. As someone who received a degree in education, this organization and Laura’s work really stood out to me. After attending her breakout session on women building women in the workforce, I had the most amazing interaction with Laura. I explained my interest in her organization, in the education system, and the importance of young girls seeing women in charge of their lives. I felt so passionate about this idea and Laura could see it. She nodded her head and gave me her email. She told me that if I ever wanted to discuss those issues with someone who felt as strongly as I do, that I should email her. There were 170 women in this conference and Laura made me feel like the only one in the room. That is what happens when you put women in a room with other women who want to make a change. They talk, collaborate and lift each other up. JWI’s mission was happening to me in that moment. They found someone who could lift me up, put together a space for us to meet each other, and gave me the confidence to go up to Laura and introduce myself.
Other women from Sigma Delta Tau attended this conference, and just like me, they too felt a call to action by the speakers.
Jenna Shaw, the past chapter president of Gamma Delta-American University, said, “As a Jew, I feel that my Torah commands me to not only pursue justice, but empower others to reach their maximum potential. Being in Sigma Delta Tau has allowed me to understand the way that empowerment can become a part of my day to day life. JWI has always inspired me because of the organization’s commitment to female empowerment. When I attended the JWI conference, I met women pushing boundaries and crashing glass ceilings in fields from policy to rabbinate and medical research. It was incredible to see the many traits of myself and my fellow SDT sisters within these women. It allowed me to see my full potential as an empowered female leader.”
Alana Kasindorf, Beta Pi-University of Rochester, SDT National Council member and a past Leadership Consultant, said, “Staying connected with JWI is one way that I have been able to continue my involvement with SDT as an active, young alumna. This conference is a fantastic networking opportunity and a great way to reconnect with some of my sisters from both near and far. Through this experience, I am continuing to think about where I see myself professionally, and have had important conversations about financial literacy as a young woman. I would recommend this conference to any young Jewish woman!”
The Young Women’s Leadership Conference is definitely something each young woman should experience once in her lifetime. Once you get a taste of it, you won’t want to stop. I got to hear from some of the most passionate and respected women in the United States. I got to network with women from New York, Florida and Colorado. I even got to see an SDT alumna, Catherine Zachs Gildenhorn, Chi-University of Michigan, become a 2016 Woman to Watch Honoree. Not only did I get to witness this, but I also got to see Catherine being supported by a full table of SDT women, including the current National President, Debbie Eleftheriou, and two Past National Presidents, Michelle Carlson and Amy Krouse. If you think it didn’t get any more special, I saw Debbie hand Catherine a yellow tea rose corsage as a reminder of the sorority and so she knew the sorority recognized her and stood behind her. It takes the saying “It’s not four years, it’s for life” to an entirely new level.
While JWI gave me this amazing opportunity, I will be forever grateful that Sigma Delta Tau and the women on the SDT National Board welcomed me to this conference and let me be a part of such a special experience. Thank you SDT!
By Mackenzie Lipman, Gamma Delta-American University, 2016-17 SDT Leadership Consultant