The Collaboratory, the largest annual gathering of Jewish community visionaries, activists and catalyzers of change in North America, was held in Los Angeles, April 30-May 2, sponsored in partnership by UpStart and ROI Community. This year’s theme, “The Art of Risk-Taking” featured several Wexner Graduate Fellowship alumni and Wexner Field Fellows as participants and presenters. The event opened with CollaboraSTORY: Risky Ventures, a live storytelling event sponsored by ELI Talks, emceed by Aaron Henne (WFF/WGF, Class 28), and featuring Sharon Weiss-Greenberg (WGF Alum, Class 20) and Carine Warsawski (WGF Alum, Class 27). Mimi Kravetz (WFF, Class 1) also led an intensive session on Moonshot Thinking, a strategy of shooting for 10X better rather than 10% better, bringing about new solutions to seemingly intractable challenges. Mark S. Young (WFF, Class 1) led an intensive session on scaling success and what social change and real life examples teach us. Below are some reflections from our fellows and alumni at the event.

Sharon Weiss-Greenberg, WGF Alum (Class 20) — Bronx, NY
I was emboldened by the theme of the gathering, that of risk taking. While much time is often spent in our work thinking and strategizing — sometimes you need to take that leap. I felt fortunate to be surrounded by bold individuals taking that leap.

Watch Sharon's ELI talk here.


Carine Warsawski, WGF (Class 27) — Brookline, MA
True risk-taking is drinking red wine while wearing a white shirt moments before giving a lecture to 150 people. True innovation is being surrounded by a room full of entrepreneurs and Jewish moms who crowd around you in the bathroom trying to get the stain out after spilling it on yourself, who conclude that you can just
wear the shirt backwards.

Watch Carine's ELI talk here.


Mimi Kravetz, WFF (Class 1) — San Mateo, CA
The Collaboratory brought together a fantastic group of entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs and aspiring creatives from across the Jewish nonprofit sector to learn, scheme and dream together. Teaching Moonshot Thinking to this group led me to ask new questions and dig deeper into how to apply an innovation approach
developed at Google X to our work so that we can similarly tackle huge problems with radical solutions using breakthrough approaches. During a hackathon, groups worked together on how we can get to equal women's leadership in the sector, how we can make the cost of living Jewishly accessible to all, and how we can make Hebrew language instruction available and compelling to all Jews and non-Jews alike.


Aaron Henne, WFF/WGF (Class 28) — Los Angeles, CA
It was wonderful to spend a few days with thoughtful people from a variety of sectors in our community. I found myself really thinking about how we must both look within and turn to the world around us in order to have the greatest impact. Through interaction with so many different voices, I was encouraged to consider the ways in which wisdom grows not merely from singularity but from multiplicity.


Julie Lambert, WGF Alum (Class 7) — Pinecrest, FL
This was my first time attending the Upstart Collaboratory. As the Assistant Director of Congregational Innovation for the URJ, I was very excited to network and learn with other creative thinkers. I am particularly obsessed with the idea of Moonshot Thinking that Mimi Kravetz (WFF 1) shared in her session. As one who works mostly within a human-centered design framework, I am really inspired by this alternative approach and wonder how I might use it. In addition, connecting with Carine Warsawski, WGF Alum (Class 27) and learning about how her work with Trybal Gatherings might lead to a possible collaboration with work I am doing at the URJ is immensely exciting.


Lesley Matsa, WFF (Class 1) — Evanston, IL
Collaboratory is a fantastic opportunity to connect with change-makers across the spectrum of Jewish life. It was wonderful to engage with talented and inspiring people who are doing innovative work.


Mark Young, WFF (Class 1) — Hartsdale, NY
The Collaboratory further illuminated for me that there is a special cohort of talented individuals who choose to innovate and dedicate their expertise and passion to strengthening the Jewish community space. I also feel more confident in taking risks, using the “no’s” as motivators to continue pursue my goals, and identifying partners to engage in learning and projects with as a result of attending. A fabulous 3 days.