The mission of AWP is to promote the leadership of women professionals within Jewish institutions at the national and local levels. The purposes of the project are twofold: first, to leverage the talents of women professionals on behalf of the Jewish community and second, to be a catalyst for change, helping Jewish organizations design more effective and fulfilling work environments. AWP programs are guided by the following strategies:
Education and Consensus-Building: Since AWP’s launch, we have engaged professional and volunteer leaders of national, regional and local Jewish organizations in discussions about the status of women in their agencies. AWP professionals have made public presentations in many venues, including the Jewish Funders Network, United Jewish Communities General Assembly and Lion of Judah Conference, the Wexner Graduate Fellowship Institute and Alumni Institutethe Association of Jewish Studies annual conference, the Rabbinical Assembly, and dozens of local communities.
Pilot Projects: AWP has partnered with three major Jewish institutions on pilot projects designed to create more conducive work environments for women professionals. These organizations have demonstrated how ideas, inquiry and dialogue can be converted in to useful programs and policies:
Conferences and Convenings: One of AWP’s central goals is to share “lessons learned” in its own work and from other fields:
Research: AWP advocates for using research as the first intervention in gender equity change initiatives. In 2003, AWP and UJC launched a research project designed to identify the organizational norms, attitudes and practices that hindered professional women from achieving senior executive positions in federations. By involving leaders – professionals and volunteers – from fourteen communities in interviews, we began to focus attention on issues of gender equity. The report, “Creating Gender Equity and Organizational Effectiveness in the Federation System” was released in January 2004 and received wide media attention.
Partnerships: AWP is working with UJC on programs that will identify and cultivate women within the federation system. Since the leadership of the top Federations is responsible, in many ways, for determining the communal agenda, the AWP-UJC partnership represents an opportunity for long-term impact. This project is expected to serve as an innovative model for the entire organized Jewish community.