Some of the participants of the Wexner Senior Leadership Program during their month at Harvard (after the fifth snow storm). From left to right: Alon Levavi – Deputy Commander of the Central District of the Israel Police, Michal Shalem – Chief of Staff in the Jerusalem Municipality, Kobi Barak – Commander of the IDF’s Technology and Logistics Branch, and Michal Fink – Senior Director of Strategy and Policy Planning at the Ministry of Economy.

“I am writing while sitting in my office looking out my window. It is 90 degrees outside and the air conditioning is on. It is hard to believe that just a month ago I was walking to class at the Kennedy School of Harvard University battling the winds and snow while wearing two coats, gloves, scarves and still freezing. But though the weather was cold, it warms my heart to think of the exceptional experience we all had. 

We, meaning 39 senior executives from the Israeli public sector — including governmental offices, the IDF, municipalities, police force, etc. — spent a whole month together learning, experiencing and socializing. 

The learning was intensive and interesting, taught by Harvard’s topnotch professors. It included many aspects of leadership and management, such as Adaptive Leadership, Strategic Management, Collaborative Governance, Negotiation, Decision Science and more. Additionally, we were introduced to the Jewish community in Boston and glimpsed the diversity within the community and its relationship with Israel.

We had the honor of meeting Mr. and Mrs. Wexner and two of their children. We were deeply moved and impressed by their vision and substantial investment to improve the Israeli Public Service. 
I must also mention “thanks” to the extraordinary team who took care of all our needs within the classroom and without, maintaining a wonderful disposition throughout. 

The program as a whole was very enriching and contributed to our knowledge and understanding. We returned to Israel full of new and enriching experiences and with many new and wonderful friends and colleagues. 

A month has passed since our return and not a day goes by without me thinking of my time at Harvard. I feel privileged to have been able to participate in the program and thank the Wexner family for making it possible. 

Dr. Rivka Sheffer is the Ministry of Health’s Tel Aviv District Health Officer and is an alum of the first cohort of the Wexner Senior Leadership Program (WSLP, Class 1). She joined  the Ministry in 2006 as the Medical Assistant to the Director General. She moved on to become Medical Assistant to the CEO of Wolfson Medical Center, and was subsequently appointed Rehovot Sub District Health Officer. Rivka has an MA in Public Health from The Hebrew University and holds an MD from Tel Aviv University Medical School. Rivka lives in Tel Aviv.

“I want to thank each and every one of my WSLP classmates with all my heart.

It was a deep learning experience for me personally after undergoing significant amounts of higher education (5 degrees). I learned from many professors. But I learned much more from you – all of you were a great teacher for me in your own way.

Over the course of the month I used a small notebook to record a daily summary with my own insights. On my return flight I went through the notebook and was struck by the intensity of the experience and insights I took with me.

The experience was a chance to get out of my comfort zone and look from the balcony – instead of always being on the playground. 

Now it remains to be seen how this learning will continue. There is between us tremendous growth potential – on a personal level as individuals, but also for our organizations and for the present and future of our country.

I’ve seen each one of you contribute to the tremendous commitment to serve and it was inspiring.

Thank you from the heart for the experience of a lifetime that you gave me.”

Yossi Sharabi is the Director of Administration for Cultural, Social and Leisure Activities in the Jerusalem Municipality and is an alum of the first cohort of the Wexner Senior Leadership Program (WSLP, Class 1). Prior to his current position he worked for the Israel Association of Community Centers. Yosef holds a BA in History from the Hebrew University, LL.B from Law Academic College, LL.M from The Hebrew University and an MBA from Haifa University. Yosef lives in Jerusalem.