Where did you grow up?
Who is your role model?
Where do you live now?
What is your theme song?
You've Got a Friend by Carole King.
“Generational leadership is a philosophy that reminds leaders to learn from the people who came before them and make decisions for people who will come after,” Liza explained. “To practice generational leadership, your actions in the present day take all generations - past, present, and the future - into account.”
As a program manger for Moishe House Without Walls (MHWOW), Liza practices generational leadership in her work with the Jewish nonprofit, focusing on the alumni engagement program. MHWOW supports young Jewish leaders as they create meaningful experiences for themselves and their peers by building communities based on their own interests.
Participants are called hosts and they invite peers to programs that Liza helps them plan. She often encourages hosts to think about the frequency and variety of program content to help keep their communities engaged and energized.
As a host herself, Liza showcases her passion for being a generational leader and has traveled to New York City, San Diego and Ukraine to meet with other MHWOW hosts. She also built the curriculum and facilitated the first MHWOW-exclusive retreat.
In addition to her work at MHWOW, after Hurricane Harvey, Liza got involved with relief efforts. Moishe House worked with a team to clean up a home, and Liza and 13 others completed almost a week’s worth of work in two days. They also worked with another nonprofit to spread the word and help people navigate all the available recovery services.
Of her overall experience with Moishe House, Liza said, “The MHWOW hosts around the world are doing really incredible things for their communities, and I get to see the impact they are making.”
What does a regular day at work look like for you?
I live in Chicago but Moishe House (MHWOW) is based in San Diego. As a remote employee, I work in a WeWork space downtown with four other Moishe House employees. Outside of the fun WeWork events that we might attend, most of my days are spent advancing my MHWOW hosts’ goals and Moishe House’s organizational goals. This might be as simple as answering emails about a recent program, reviewing program applications, writing resource articles for our newsletter or meeting with partnership organization staff.
I also spend my days working and thinking about large-scale projects like making Moishe House a more inclusive organization, creating incentive grants for hosts to explore things they aren’t as familiar with like Jewish learning or learning more about fundraising so I can better support our development team.
Why do you love what you do?
I love what I do because of the people I get to work for and with. The MHWOW hosts around the world are doing really incredible things for their communities, and I get to see the impact they are making. I also love working with a passionate group of people who live all around the world. Moishe House has employees from San Diego to Moscow, Atlanta to Prague, and more places in between. I am able to learn about global Jewish communities from my colleagues who are not only working with them but living there as well.
How did you discover your passion for your job?
I had always been involved in the Jewish community, even as a kid. I grew up going to a Jewish summer camp and worked there through college, was heavily involved in youth group and found home at my family’s congregation before I left for Boston University. Jewish involvement has always been a large part of my personal identity.
How do you define success?
Success to me is two-fold: both achieving a goal and failing forward. Most people will understand defining success as working toward somethings and that task or event going as it was supposed to. However, what happens when things go awry? Failing forward is also successful because of its direction - forward. Did you learn something new to be better next time? The sting of failure might cloud my perception of success momentarily. I have to remember that learning means I am growing and growing means one step closer to your next goal.
What motivates you?
Big-picture challenges motivate me. Larger than life questions that seem to not have an answer always motivate me to innovate and dream big.
What advice do you give to the hosts of your program on how to connect and build relationships in a world that is so technology focused?
I encourage my hosts to think about two things about their programs - frequency and variety of program content. Bringing people together consistently will help forge connections and allow conversations to evolve to a deeper level. Think about it this way - if you go to trivia with the same people for five months in a row, would you say, “I go to trivia with these friends” or “I go with these friends to trivia”? Wording matters, and centering programming around a certain group of people is important. Second is program content. To keep communities engaged and energized, I encourage my hosts to host different types of programs. This ensures that communities are well-rounded and filled with people who have diverse interests.
In your application you said your desire to build community has impacted more than 200 MHWOW hosts in places all over the world. How have you done that? Do you travel to those places, as well?
Each MHWOW host is assigned to a person on my team. I am the direct contact for 200 MHWOW hosts, and I see their program applications and photos first-hand. When they have questions, they know that they can come to me as their people resource.
I have been able to travel to New York City and San Diego to meet MHWOW hosts, and the entire Moishe House staff traveled to Kyiv, Ukraine, last fall to learn more about Jewish life in the Former Soviet Union. We were able to meet Moishe House community builders who live in Kyiv and explore the city. My favorite part of the trip was talking to the Moishe House staff member who lives in Kyiv and seeing the city through his eyes.
What was the experience of aiding those affected by Hurricane Harvey like? What sorts of recovery efforts did Moishe House leaders participate in?
Hurricane Harvey relief efforts are personal to me as my family now lives in Houston. Fortunately, my family’s home wasn’t impacted, but many families weren’t as fortunate. I immediately jumped at the opportunity to return home to provide support in a community that so desperately needed it. Hurricane Harvey dumped a year’s worth of rain on Houston in a span of a few days, and it’s estimated that full recovery efforts will take almost 10 years. Moishe House worked with SBP, a nonprofit that specializes in disaster recovery and resilience. We were working on a home that had been damaged by Harvey flood waters. We were told that the family evacuated their home in the middle of the night after being awoken because the mattresses were wet. That’s how quickly the flood waters rose. We were helping with cosmetics of the home - painting, trim and flooring. With a group of 14 volunteers, we were able to complete almost a week’s worth of work in two days. We also worked with BakerRipley to canvas a neighborhood that still deeply needed assistance eight months after the storm. We were able to go door-to-door and speak to residents about BakerRipley’s case manager neighborhood meetings to help them navigate all the recovery services available.
This or That
Early Bird or Night Owl
Facebook or Instagram
Podcasts or Audiobooks
Left Brain or Right Brain
Hours a Week
What was it like to build curriculum and facilitate the first MHWOW-exclusive retreat?
Building the curriculum and facilitating this retreat was so much fun. The retreat was in Oracle, Arizona, so I absolutely loved our surroundings. We went on a hike on Saturday morning and stargazing that evening after a bonfire because the desert was so beautiful. Facilitating Moishe House retreats is empowering because the participants are my age. I love being able to facilitate conversations with people who are similar to each other and me over topics we are all passionate about.
How did you approach building a whole curriculum?
I think about goals and what I would like our leaders to walk away with. All programs must relate back to those goals so there is a consistent theme and arc across the entire curriculum. I also remember that even though I might not be an expert in a subject, I can still teach about anything if I ask the group the right questions and spur interesting conversations.
Did you learn skills as a collegiate leadership consultant (CLC) that have helped you in your career? What are they?
Two things that I learned while being a CLC that I still strive to better every day are patience and empathy. I have incredibly high expectations for myself, and I need to remember that everyone has their own version of their best. In practicing patience and empathy, I am better able to relate to others, identify their needs and provide the best kind of support to elevate others to the best version of themselves.
How do you practice generational leadership? Can you explain the concept for those who may not be familiar?
Generational leadership is a concept that I learned while working at camp. Simply put, being a leader cannot be defined as only holding a position or role during a specific time period. Rather, generational leadership is a philosophy that reminds leaders to learn from the people who came before them and make decisions for people who will come after. To practice generational leadership, your actions in the present day take all generations - past, present and the future - into account.
Generational leadership to me means cherishing my mentors and not hesitating to ask them for help when needed. I make decisions very carefully and think through the unintentional consequences of my actions to mitigate as many negative effects for people in the future.
What are you most proud of accomplishing during your time at Moishe House?
I am most proud of Moishe House’s partnership with JDC Entwine’s Jewish Service Corp fellowship. These fellows are young Jewish leaders who are placed all around the world to serve small Jewish communities. This partnership brought Moishe House-style programming for the first time to four countries: Finland, Denmark, Turkey and India. I was able to help these hosts brainstorm program ideas and support them administratively. It’s not every day that someone gets to help one of the only people who is building Jewish community for young adults in places like Izmir, Turkey; Helsinki, Finland; or Mumbai, India!
Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
In this busy world, remember to do something every day that challenges you. It might be getting out of bed 10 minutes earlier to be able to sit down and eat breakfast, speaking up in a meeting or working a little bit harder in a workout class. You’ll never regret pushing yourself to be better than the day before.