Spotlight on National Young Leadership Cabinet
Ben Kogut. Photo courtesy of Ben Kogut. Jewel Sud. Photo courtesy of Jewel Sud
By Alachua Nazarenko
National Young Leadership Cabinet is Jewish Federation of North America’s (JFNA) premier young leadership development program that educates and connects the next generation of global Jewish leaders and philanthropists. Cabinet trains and inspires the most promising young volunteers, ages 30-40, for positions of leadership in the Jewish community. It also provides tools for participants to better themselves and their capacity as leaders through continued learning, reflection, and action over five years.
In Austin, there are three current cabinet members, proudly showcased below. Two of the cabinet members, Ben Kogut (3rd year) and Jewel Sud (5th year), shared their experiences with The Jewish Outlook:
Q. What made you join Cabinet?
Ben: I wanted to join Cabinet for a variety of reasons. First, I heard that the people involved across the U.S. are all like-minded leaders who share my values of strengthening our community and Jewish continuity. Also, it’s well known that the international mission trips are world- class and I love traveling. Further, I was looking for an opportunity to grow in my leadership role in the community and this sounded like a great opportunity!”
Jewel: I had recently moved back to Austin when I was approached to join Cabinet. I had the advantage of knowing the power Cabinet could have in one’s life as I had heard amazing stories from my mom who had been on Cabinet. At the time, I was feeling a void in my life and that void was a connection with other young Jewish adults who shared my passion for Judaism and tikkun olam.
Q. What has been your favorite Cabinet experience?
Ben: My favorite experience was traveling to visit the Jewish community in Mexico City in January 2020. I was very inspired by how well organized and vast the community resources are. For example, I was super impressed by their entrepreneurship program which provides swanky co-working space and community mentors/guides to those who are either, 1. Starting up a business 2. Growing/scaling their business or 3. Exiting/transitioning out of their business,depending on where they are on their entrepreneurial journey. I would love to see our community support each other in such a way! I’ll add that the chevre who are involved in the real estate business met this summer at the Ritz Carlton near Vail, Colorado for a couple days of networking and discussions. The guest speaker was Marc Wilf, owner of the Minnesota Vikings and chair of the JFNA. Plus, some of us stayed for a beautiful Shabbat in the mountains.
Jewel: My favorite experiences have been on the study mission trips. Getting to do a home visit in Tbilisi, Georgia was such an eye-opening experience. You can truly see your dollars at work, saving and sustaining Jewish lives. Of course, the icing on the cake was meeting my fiancé, Brian Gaister.
Q. How has Cabinet empowered you to be a better local leader?
Ben: I am empowered to be a better local leader by my co-leaders who all represent their respective cities. Learning from them, bringing back new ideas, sharing our successes/challenges, etc. are personally fulfilling and strengthen my desire to speak up and help whenever/wherever I can in Austin. Also, being a representative of Austin opens up opportunities for me to help connect so many new people moving to town.
Jewel: When you have the opportunity to travel on cabinet study mission trips and see first-hand the incredible life-saving work being done by JFNA and their partner agencies, you experience a tremendous pride in being part of this collective group. You understand that we are really one family with a shared history and a deep connection to Israel. Cabinet gives me the tools I need to educate others on our shared responsibility in building strong and engaged Jewish communities at home, communities that feel and are connected to Israel, and preserving the Jewish family for generations to come.
Q. What would you tell someone interested in joining Cabinet?
Ben: NYL Cabinet is the premier young leadership (ages 30-40) development program that educates and connects the next generation of global Jewish leaders and philanthropists. The programs, people, and trips have all been better than I expected.
Jewel: Joining Cabinet will enrich your life and you will meet many incredible like-minded individuals. It is a big financial commitment and as someone who works in education, the minimum gift was a major stretch for me. I think it is best to think of it as an investment in yourself. I can already tell you the return on that investment is immeasurable.
To learn more about Cabinet and apply to join, please contact Alachua Nazarenko at firstname.lastname@example.org. ■
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