Celebrating the Journey of the Courageous Leadership Initiative

By Ilene Tatro, Senior Director, Community Planning 


A Cohort of Visionary Leaders 

Jewish Federation of San Diego is proud to celebrate the ongoing journey of the Courageous Leadership Initiative, a transformative program dedicated to fostering dynamic and visionary leaders within our Jewish community. This year, we were honored to guide and support 57 exceptional participants, divided into three distinct cohorts: Executive Leaders, Communal Leaders, and Board Leaders. Each cohort embarked on a profound learning experience that promises to resonate far beyond the scheduled sessions. 

Insights from Shalom Hartman Scholars 

Federation’s Courageous Leadership Initiative, in collaboration with the Shalom Hartman Institute, provided a platform for leaders to delve into critical questions and challenges facing our community today. Each session was enriched by insights from visiting scholars renowned for their expertise in Jewish thought, ethics, and leadership. These scholars brought diverse perspectives, encouraging participants to engage with complex issues and foster meaningful dialogue.  

Pluralism within the Courageous Leadership Initiative 

Pluralism is the recognition and affirmation of diversity within a society. It involves engaging with and respecting different perspectives, cultures, beliefs, and identities. In the context of the Courageous Leadership Initiative, pluralism is a core principle that underpins the entire program. By fostering an environment where diverse viewpoints are not only accepted but valued as essential to the collective good, the Initiative strengthens the Jewish community’s commitment to inclusivity and mutual respect. 

Exploring Shared Identities and Multiple Narratives 

Participants explored topics such as understanding how shared identities, beliefs, and heritages shape our community work, embracing and sharing multiple narratives about Israel within our organizations, and recognizing and addressing tribalism within our institutions to promote healthier conversations. The interactive nature of these sessions allowed leaders to question, debate, and reflect on their roles and responsibilities within the Jewish community. This engagement enhanced their leadership skills and reinforced their commitment to pluralism, democracy, and a vibrant Jewish life. 

Unity and Growth at the All Cohorts Convening 

One of the program's cornerstones was an All-Cohorts Convening held on June 5, 2024. This evening of togetherness allowed participants to unite, learn, and envision the future of their cohort connections. A highlight of the evening was the collaborative effort on case studies, addressing current dilemmas with the wisdom and knowledge gained throughout the program. This practical application of their learning underscored the program’s commitment to impactful, real-world solutions. 


Transformative Outcomes and Insights 

As we reflect on the experiences and growth of our participants, we are excited to share the impressive outcomes from our evaluation. Many participants reported a significant increase in their knowledge of Jewish wisdom and teachings, with 76% feeling more equipped to navigate contentious issues compared to 40% before the program. There was also an increase in the perceived availability of support, with 79% of participants now feeling they have greater access to the help they need for leadership challenges, up from 62% prior to the initiative. 

One participant from the latest cohort expressed the value of this support network: "Staying in touch with my cohort has been invaluable. We can be a very helpful, supportive group for each other." 

Strengthening Relationships and Community 

Building and strengthening relationships are fundamental to this program, both among colleagues and within the broader community we serve. Participants deeply engaged with the wisdom and knowledge of the Shalom Hartman Institute’s esteemed faculty, bringing Jewish values and ideas into the heart of communal leadership. 

Reflecting on the importance of these relationships, a participant shared, “Thinking about pluralism applies directly to our work. Framing some of the values surrounding that gave me language to organize my thoughts and leadership decisions.” 

Looking Ahead: Continued Growth and Engagement 

Federation is inspired by the commitment and vision of our participants as they continue to apply the lessons learned to cultivate a vibrant, inclusive Jewish community. The Courageous Leadership Initiative remains a beacon of hope and innovation, guiding our leaders toward a future where democracy, pluralism, and a thriving Jewish life are paramount. 

For those interested in learning more about the Courageous Leadership Initiative and its future sessions, we invite you to join us in this extraordinary journey. Together, we can ignite impactful initiatives and strengthen the bonds that unify our community. Stay tuned for more updates and opportunities to engage with this transformative program.

For questions or to sign up for our interest list, please contact Ilene Tatro, Senior Director of Community Planning at ilenet@jewishinsandiego.org.