MILWAUKEE – About 20 alumni of the local George Weinstein Fellowship Program are meeting, planning and writing curriculum to overhaul the program that trained them.
The program has always sought to develop the next generation of leaders, but now the alumni are making major adjustments to strengthen that aspect. Recruitment for the next cohort has already begun.
The George Weinstein Fellowship is a program of Milwaukee Jewish Federation, endowed by the Weinstein family. Fellows meet regularly to develop a cohesive community, learn leadership skills oriented towards effective volunteerism and get to better know Milwaukee Jewish communal life and organizations. Scheduled social events and retreats have been added to the mix, among other new aspects.
The structure of the program includes guest speakers, meeting community leaders, and leadership style assessments as well as Jewish learning and community building. Contact Jeff Tiell, director of the Federation’s NextGen Milwaukee, for information at JeffT@MilwaukeeJewish.org, or visit MilwaukeeJewish.org/Weinstein.
The program includes a highly subsidized trip to Israel. Fellows meet with peers in the Milwaukee area’s Partnership2Gether region, Sovev-Kinneret, as well as tour and learn about leadership through an Israeli lens.
Going forward, the program will be 18 months instead of 12. The program’s highly subsidized trip to Israel will be repositioned to “be part of a larger whole,” Tiell said. “We want to think about how, when people are coming out of this program, are they really ready to step into leadership positions in Milwaukee?”
The program can be a great fit for people who either are new to the community or haven’t had a great deal of connection to the community in the past, according to alumni. It’s aimed at younger Jewish professionals.
“We are being very intentional about creating connections meaningful for people, and really being intentional about their capacity to take on leadership roles, because we know our community depends on it,” Raisa Koltun said. Koltun and Peter Klein participated in the most recent Weinstein cohort and are co-leaders of the ongoing overhaul of the program.
Their overhaul will include beefing up the curriculum on leadership and skill building, plus a more holistic approach to getting to know various local agencies.
“We want to make sure that we are better matching skills with agencies and also that we’ve got better visibility of what the opportunities in each agency are,” Klein said. Weinstein volunteers have interviewed agency leaders to get a better sense of what they need.
“We’re really hoping to expand the pool of people who know about the program to increase the applications and increase the diversity of the people who participate,” said Rebecca Bishaf Chagall, another Weinstein alum who is working on the overhaul.
Klien and Koltun said they want to expand the Weinstein tent over time, so that it can be a strong and growing community within the larger community. Also, they want Weinstein to reflect the diversity of the community – Torah-observant Jews and Jews of color, for example, are welcome to apply.
“Our group has been very focused on making sure we have a group that reflects all of the diversity of the community, from ever dimension,” Klein said. “We ‘re looking for a diverse cohort. We want to reflect the community at large.”
The 20 Weinstein alumni working on the project are younger professionals themselves, adjusting the program for other young professionals.
“I am so excited by the re-energizing of the program that I am currently seeing,” said Weinstein alum Mitch Nelles. “I know the future of leadership in our Jewish community has loads of potential.”
Rebecca Bishaf Chagall was part of it the Weinstein 7 group that went to Israel in 2020 (each cohort is numbered).
“It was amazing,” she said. “I think we can do more to make it connected to the work that we’re doing during the fellowship program.”
“I think Weinstein has always been an amazing opportunity for young leaders in our community. We’re looking to enhance that opportunity. We’re just really excited.”
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Learn more about the George Weinstein Fellowship Program
Jeffrey Tiell, director of NextGen Milwaukee, Jefft@MilwaukeeJewish.org; Weinstein overhaul co-leader Raisa Koltun, RKoltun@gmail.com; Weinstein overhaul co-leader Peter Klein, Peter@thekleinfam.com.