The connections I've made

The connections I've made through the Detroit Leadership Initiative have been instrumental in furthering my personal and professional development. Because I live and work in Ann Arbor, I wanted this experience to draw me into the fabric and community of Detroit, and through meeting other young professionals in and around Detroit I've had the opportunity to have that happen. For example, before I was part of the leadership initiative I had not stepped foot into the Issac Agree Downtown Synagogue. The leadership initiative quite literally opened the doors to the synagogue’s doors for me. With the encouragement of members of the group, I attended Shabbat and Tu Bishvat services, and found a warm and welcoming community of other young Jews. Seeing Noam and Ariana lead the services made me feel even more comfortable attending.

Now, knowing that I have friends who I will meet at the synagogue, I feel less inhibited about attending other holiday and Shabbat services.  Additionally, through this group I've become increasingly more aware of the Jewish and community initiatives happening in and around Detroit. This includes the UofM Hillel, the Live Detroit Fund, Summer in the City, Fresh Corner Cafe, Detroit Farm and Garden, Community Legal Resources, Come Play Detroit, the Chabad House.

I've become much more interested in the history of Jewish Detroit, and started asking new questions on my role in revitalizing the city, and my place to do so. Surrounding myself with energetic, passionate people doing work in Detroit has definitely strengthened my own identity as a young Jewish leader in the city. Professionally, in the last year I've become a much better manager at my job at the Michigan League of Conservation Voters.

I honestly owe a great deal of this to the early leadership initiative trainings. The workshops on goal setting, time management, having difficult conversations and trigger points have stuck with me and guided my work. I make weekly and daily to-do lists and spend significantly more time planning my programs. I have a lot more patience with myself when I make an error, and allow myself space to separate work and personal life.

It's these small skills that add up to more productivity and confidence at work. Also, both through my work and my leadership initiative connections, I'm much more plugged into the environmental and social change community in Southeast Michigan, and my co-workers often look to me for answers about which organizations are doing what in the region.

Erica Bloom

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