Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Mothers of Invention

Meet four women, lay leaders, who are "Mothers of Invention."

I'd like to introduce you to four lay leaders who wrote the grants and imagined a better future and then rolled up their sleeves to make it happen when I was ed director for ten years.

There were many people who were powerful(Amy, Rachel, Linda and others), but let me profile the Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah who enabled our congregation to replace the classroom only model for the majority of learners in our suburban congregation.

A loving tribute to four women who model the force of lay leaders:

1. Meet Dr. Kathy Hirsh Pasek,professor at Temple University, child psychologist.

Her expertise: child development. Yes Kathy had three young sons when we were doing our work. She was a full time professor and the author of countless books.

Kathy had no extra time. She made time to bring her energy and expertise to a team who said, "no more classroom only model."

Kathy's gifts: a combination of wild imagination, nothing is impossible, and research based critical skills. She knows the research, the theory and the song (yes she writes songs and plays guitar).
And when you see Kathy, be prepared for a big smile and hug. She is truly happy to see you.

2. Meet Dr. Ilene Wasserman. Mother of two, and a full time organizational consultant. Busy? She'd fly to Vermont to help Ben and Jerry's ice cream live their values and then fly to Spain and Copenhagen to help folks get along.

Her presentations include: "The Role of White Men in Diversity Culture Change Interventions", and "Relational Leadership and Transformative Learning".

Ilene made time to work year after year on creating a model of education that engaged children and parents in meaningful Jewish learning and living. Ilene's family was part of this new model.

Ilene's gifts: Always providing another way to look at cracks and crevices. Story and metaphor turn complexity into clarity when Ilene is in the room. She draws easily from Torah, Buber, and middot and Fullan Senge et al.

Be prepared for a smile that reflects deep spirit when you meet Ilene. She is fully present for you, regardless of what is going on with her.

Meet Abby Stamelman Hocky
At the time mother of twoyoung sons and a full time executive at the JCRC working on intergroup relations and public policy. She is now the Executive Director of The Interfaith Center of Greater Phila. which is a bright light in a place that strives to be the city of brotherly love.

Sure enough Abby had no extra time.
Her gifts: She sees the good. Abby appreciates, elevates, focuses on, won't let go of the good. Abby can name what is awry and amiss. She sees it and quickly moves to the possible. Let me repeat, in the face of ugh, uch, yuck, Abby sees what's possible and won't let you go down in the muck.

Abby lives Torah. She is there to celebrate you. Be prepared for her gentleness.Abby's family was part of our non classroom only model.

Meet Shelly Barnathan
Shelly, mother of three young children at the time, a full time Spanish teacher was a maker and shaker and don't give upper for our not classroom only model.
Shelly has been honored in her school district for Best Teacher of the Year.
Now what does Shelly do? You can visit her at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. She has gone back for a second career now that her children have grown.

Shelly's gifts: Always saying: Let's look at this from another perspective, never criticizing, always analyzing from the perspective of "we" not "you". A miss wasn't mine, it was ours. Shelly knew how to navigate the political, practical world of the congregation with Torah thoughtfulness and kindness at her hand at all times. The t's and i's were dotted and crossed with Shelly.

Be prepared for being valued when you meet Shelly. Be prepared to have your spirit lifted. Shelly's family participated in the non classroom only model

Kathy, Ilene, Abby, and Shelly four mothers of invention.
They all have been my teachers.

Was our congregation just amazingly lucky to have lay leaders who made time in their busy lives to knock down the door of the classroom only model? Yes.

And there must be something magnetic/magical to making a dream come true. Compelling work invites people, even very busy people, to share their gifts.