Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Signs Of The Times: The Professional Leaders Project

Over the past year or so, I've had the opportunity to join other Jewish Young Adults in speed mentoring, studying Jewish ethics, discussing issues vital to the American Jewish community, and fantastic networking. All of this was organized and paid for by the Professional Leaders Project, which just announced that, due to lack of funding, it would no longer be able to hold the events for which it had become known.

I was first connected to PLP through Moishe House. We were asked if we wanted to participate in an 8 month program which would consist of monthly flights to Washington, D.C. for which our only expense would be a fairly small registration fee.

Zuz and I jumped at the opportunity to get free flights to a city in which a number of friends lived. It was only after attending the events that we began to realize their true value.

Now, I won't say that the program was perfect. Sessions consisted of approximately 5 hours on a Sunday, beginning with discussions, culminating in a satellite broadcast of Donniel Hartman from Jerusalem, followed by more discussions.

For the several hundred dollars they spend on us per session, one might have expected a richer program, perhaps consisting of longer hours, deeper discussions, and fewer breaks. That being said, the true value that emerged, for me personally, was in the network of interested and engaged emerging Jewish leaders that I had the opportunity to meet. Their energy and perspective was a welcome change and I always felt re-enthused upon returning to St. Louis. We met other Moishe House residents from D.C., Philly, and elsewhere, and got to hear about all of the interesting programs and movements emerging all over the country.

Now, falling victim to both the economic situation and the unfortunate passing of one of the main donors to the organization, PLP is being forced to figure out how to maintain the connections and spirit of the organization without the capital it had counted on.

PLP has responded to the crises by creating a 'Virtual ThinkTank', which it hopes will keep the embers burning until the current crisis blows over. We certainly hope to see the organization get back on its feet and continue the great work they began.

Learn more about the Professional Leaders Project here.

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