Community professionals and lay leaders will likely be interested in the findings in a new study just released by the Avi Chai Foundation, titled Generation of Change: How Leaders in their Twenties and Thirties are Reshaping American Jewish Life (2010)
We haven’t had time to digest it ourselves, but we know this topic is on the minds of local leaders. Here’s just one tidbit:
Established organizations will have to rethink their governance structures to make room for younger Jewish leaders. The latter find ample opportunities outside the Jewish community and also in the nonestablishment sector to rise rapidly to positions of influence. Established organizations tend to place younger people on a slower track, testing them and socializing them into the organizational culture before elevating them to positions of influence. This frustrates many creative young people who have experience taking the initiative in other settings and don’t want to “wait their turn.” One can acknowledge the virtues of mentoring and grooming as the preferred way in establishment organizations, while also recognizing that time is not working in favor of those organizations.”
The actual ecosystem of programs for young adults cannot easily be divided between the innovative and the conventional. For one thing, participants go where they please, with little regard to who is sponsoring an activity. They don’t care whether a Federation or a national organization is sponsoring an event, any more than they care if a start-up is. What matters is the quality of the experience, the presence of people with whom they wish to associate, and the meaning (or pleasure) they can derive from an event. For another, the leaders and organizers of these programs themselves move fluidly from one to the next.”
And we would be remiss if we didn’t take notice of this remark:
It is striking how small a role gender plays in the patterns of leadership we have examined.”
In the table on page 43 of the report, we can see that female leaders outnumber male leaders in all categories of “Young” organizations:
- Young Nonestablishment, 65% female 35% male
- Young, Mixed 63% female 37% male
- Young, Establishment 55% female 45% male
as well as in the category “Old Nonestablishment” (56%: 44%). The only category where female leaders lag male leaders is in “Older Establishment” organizations. Ratios of nearly 2 to 1 among young leaders sounds like more than a small role.
For more reading about the study, here’s a link to a JTA article about it (with a provocative title): New study of emerging Jewish leaders shows class differences.
We look forward to reader /leader comments about the findings and how you see them at play in our own community.
–Cheryl & David