Rabbi Moses must have already known that I am in the “amiable” leadership style category (which was the “blue” group according to the leadership style assessment exercise we did at the Institute)—maybe even an “extremely blue”—when he asked me to write my post-institute (#wexsi) thoughts. Of course, I agreed to his request because I am supportive and cooperative! Here are my true confessions:

Fear and Courage will help me find my Makom (place). I am not the biggest risk taker in the group but I appreciate the teaching of Jacob in Genesis 28.  My most time consuming leadership role will come to an end next year. I have been ascending the leadership ladder of this institution for a decade and now it is time to think about descending. I look forward to moving out of my comfort zone to take on another challenge so that I am constantly improving. I learned from Rabbi Elkin in Leadership for the Long Haul that this is a not a leadership marathon, but rather, a series of leadership sprints. 

Cincinnati 13 argued and disagreed, and that’s okay.  Facilitating harmony is my strength so it was not easy for me to sit in our homeroom sessions while we hashed out our ideas. Everyone was respectful but the mood in the room could get pretty tense. Erica Brown’s session on Having Difficult Conversations was immediately put into use as I recognized that being vulnerable was okay and that these discussions will help build trust. I could tell that we were listening to each other by the end of the week, and I believe that we will continue to support one another by being authentic and real. 

I love hearing the stories of others. Relationship building is a strength of mine. I love connecting people based on stories they have told me at any given time. (I have found people jobs, houses and friends over the years. But I am no yenta – matchmaking is out of my league.) But, I never thought of using stories to move my board meetings from bureaucratic to relational. Thanks to Rabbi Pesner, I can appreciate that life happens in the encounter, and that sharing our stories leads to meaningful action. 

Open Space is goofy, intimidating and liberating. By following the four rules of Open Space like “wherever you are is where you are supposed to be” and “whoever shows up is who is supposed to be there,” we produced some amazing ideas!   Thank you to the Open Space philosophy for saying it is okay to use my two feet and leave my Jewish guilt at the door when I wanted to change conversations! 

The frightening events in Israel brought us closer together. “Wexners” from the five cities present at the Summer Institute in Utah bonded over more than a shared passion for building a better Jewish community. Everyone was touched and concerned over the events in Israel and Maya Bernstein’s trip to the hospital. I don’t think it is an exaggeration to say that every Wexner Heritage Member had someone to worry about in Israel. Every hallway had conversations of concern over Israel or participants looking for updates on Maya.

I wish my fellow “Wexners” much success in stepping up their Jewish leadership. Thank you for pushing me to be a better leader. בשנה הבאה בירושלים (Next year in Jerusalem!).

Debbie Brant is a current Wexner Heritage Member (Cincinnati 13). She serves as President of the Mayerson JCC and is a board member of the Cincinnati Ballet, Most Valuable Kids, and also chairs the Annual Fund at her daughters’ school. Volunteering and fundraising have become her full-time job!  Debbie can be reached at debbiebrant2@icloud.com.


The two graduating classes, NY and Seattle, created spunky and poignant presentations at their graduation ceremony the final evening of the Institute. Among other delights, each class included must-see videos which they have allowed us to share with the wider Wexner Network. Please take a look.

Click here to watch a brief video from WHP Class NY-RSJ.

Click here to watch a brief video from WHP Seattle 12.