Rabbi Rachel Cowan, z”l did many remarkable things in her lifetime – some were very public, some behind the scenes. In 2004 she did a remarkable thing that was both known and quiet: she passed on the role of heading up the Jewish Life and Values Program at the Nathan Cummings Foundation to me, someone her daughter’s age, in a way that was so smart, graceful and full-hearted that both the program and I were able to thrive and succeed. She did this again in 2011 at the Institute for Jewish Spirituality when she passed on the role of Executive Director to Rabbi Lisa Goldstein. Obviously, in both cases we were hired not by Rachel but by the boards and staffs of those organizations, but Rachel’s role in the success of these leadership transitions was paramount.

A few months ago, Lisa and I sat down to reflect on how Rachel did this so well and to identify practices that we and others could employ. In this era of great leadership transition in the American Jewish community, we wrote this article to offer concrete guidance and to honor the life and legacy or our dear colleague, mentor, and friend.

Click here to read the article. Re-posted with permission from eJewish Philanthropy. 


Get To Know The Author

Wexner Graduate Fellow Alum Rabbi Jennie Rosenn (Class 4), recently left HIAS, the international Jewish refugee organization, where she served as Vice President for Community Engagement. She currently works as a strategy and organizational development consultant to Jewish and social change organizations and foundations. Prior to serving at HIAS, Jennie played a catalytic role in building the Jewish social justice movement and the field of Jewish service as the Director of the Jewish Life and Values Program at the Nathan Cummings Foundation. She developed innovative initiatives such as the Selah Leadership Training Program and the Jewish Social Justice Roundtable. She has twice been named one of the Forward’s 50 Jews in America. Jennie was ordained by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, and lives in New York City with her husband, Rabbi David Rosenn (Class 5), and their two sons.