Our staff team is comprised of incredible leaders, thinkers and doers. People whose work brings us ever closer to achieving our mission to advance Jewish learning that enriches lives, and that enables the learner to flourish as a human being and as a Jew.
In this installment of Meet JLW we feature Jenni Mangel, MA | Managing Director, Professional Learning. We're thrilled to have her back on our team after a 10 year consulting break.
Q: Where do you live and what do you like about your neighborhood?
A: I live in El Cerrito, just north of Berkeley. I love that we can walk or bike just about everywhere. When we moved here we knew two people in the neighborhood. Over the last ten years we've made so many connections in the neighborhood I can rarely walk the dog without running into someone I know!!
Q: Tell us a little bit about your journey - what did you do before you joined our team?
A: I came up in the field of Jewish education by way of Habonim Dror, synagogue schools and Israel experience. My family is a mashup of religious practice and affiliation and I have lived pieces of my life across the spectrum of Jewish practice. As a young student I developed very keen ideas about what makes for good teaching and learning environments and before I left high school I decided I wanted to "teach teachers," though I didn't know what that would look like.
I earned a BA in History with a Minor in Education from UC Santa Cruz - my work there centered around immigrant rights in France and multicultural education. I later earned my MA in Educational Leadership from Mills College in Oakland where I focused on service learning as a tool for identity formation of college students. Over the years, I developed a love for program design and evaluation. My professional jaunts include a variety of roles across the community including at Berkeley Hillel, Jewish Vocational Service, the Contemporary Jewish Museum, and the Albany Y.
All these experiences contribute to the work I do to align learning, community involvement, and leadership with personal and spiritual development. I feel honored to teach teachers - and also the administrators and lay leaders to support them!
Q: What excites you about your work?
A: Over the years I've had many mentors and angels who gave me support, advice and encouragement at just the right time. I can't necessarily go back and do the same for those folks, but I am able to "pay it forward" and help other people develop their work as educators.
Q: Describe a time that you really felt like your work made a difference.
When I worked at Berkeley Hillel I had an office with a big window that faced the hallway. When students would leave for break, I always invited them to send me post cards from their travels. I put each one up around the window and they became points of conversation and connection. I still have all those postcards (in a binder now), but, more importantly, I still have relationships with many of those students, some of whom are now colleagues of mine in the field of Jewish education. Every once in a while one of them will tell me a story about something I said or did that helped them along their own Jewish journey or their professional path. It's gratifying, and humbling to know that I helped influence people.
Q: Describe a time that felt really challenging for you.
A: In grad school we were given an "ethical dilemma" writing assignment. I chose to write about the tension between program design that is client-need based and program design that is funder-driven. In nearly every job I've had this tension has played out and it is always a challenge. There are so many dynamic and creative ways we can respond to so many varied needs in the jewish community and it is often so very difficult to find adequate financial support. More than once I've had to sunset stellar programs because they did not have an angel funder and did not have a viable fiscal model.
Q: Describe a time when you felt triumphant.
A: I always feel really good when I finish writing a lesson plan. I like the process of thinking through what I want to teach and how I can structure it. It's fun to see what happens when I go into the classroom, respond to the live environment, and deviate from the plan!
Q: Tell us something that might surprise us.
A: Hmmmm... I went to bowling camp one summer as a kid...
Q: What are you reading?
I just re-read Madeline L'Engle's "A Wrinkle in Time" with my kids in anticipation of the movie's release in March 2018. This was one of my all time favorite books when I was young and I've read it many times as an adult. I love that it has multiple female characters and that the young people are the ones that solve the problem that the adults created (also, I love sci-fi). When I was young I found that message to be inspiring all on its own. Now, as a parent, I find it to be an important reminder to me about how I, and the adults with whom I work and live, need to make sure we make space for, listen to, and respect the young people in our lives.
Q: What do you want to be remembered for?
Honesty, integrity and kindness.
Connect with Jenni for support in educational leadership or program design, congregational coaching or custom professional learning opportunities.