Every year, several hundred young professionals get a tremendous introduction to ADL’s work and operations through the Glass Leadership Institute (GLI), a program for cultivating new leaders conducted by many of ADL’s Regional Offices. Featuring ADL experts explaining their areas of expertise, the program is a tour de force through the agency’s full range of activities, from international affairs through education, civil rights and extremism, to name a few.
The culmination, after monthly sessions, is ADL’s Shana Amy Glass National Leadership Summit held every spring in Washington, DC. There, GLI participants join hundreds of ADL supporters from around the country to hear international experts, pundits and government officials discuss hot-button issues, such as online hate versus free speech and unresolved battles for equality.
Participants also attend a session about grassroots activism, led by ADL lobbyists, that includes a primer on priority issues such as voting rights, the refugee crisis and global anti-Semitism. Then on the final day of the Summit, GLIers and other ADL leaders head to Capitol Hill to meet with their Members of Congress.
“Because ADL is a non-partisan organization with a long, respected history, GLIers have an opportunity here in the nation’s capital to build meaningful relationships with their elected officials on a number of issues they are passionate about,” says Mindy Reinstein, ADL’s Deputy Director of Government Relations, Advocacy & Community Engagement.
“Our GLI participants have an incredible opportunity to influence policymakers after gaining valuable insight from ADL experts,” adds Ian Scharfman, Vice Chair of ADL’s National Advocacy & Engagement Committee. “Coming together to learn about and then advocate on issues that are important to our country, our organization and our Jewish community makes a difference, and provides all of our GLI participants with an invaluable experience.”
Those who graduate from GLI are often deeply affected:
“If not for my GLI experience, I might have glossed over an issue [Georgia’s proposed Religious Freedom Restoration Act] that has far-reaching implications,” said Daniel Bearman. “Through discussion with GLI participants and news updates from ADL, I was able to learn more about the bill and do my part to ensure our community understood the potential discrimination such a bill could enable.”
GLI strengthened the core beliefs of Charley Silverman. "I feel empowered because I have this big organization behind me when it comes to matters of right and wrong," he says. "I know that I'm not alone taking stands for righteous reasons."
Jaclyn Schiff appreciates “the way ADL has helped me connect my Jewish identity to my desire to be politically active.”
And some grads use GLI as a springboard for action:
Alyssa Zeman looks forward to educating future generations about fair treatment and equality. "We're living in a crazy time," she says. "It's more important than ever to learn to accept one another and to live with each other, with all our differences."
Anjelica Ruiz, a Latina who converted to Judaism, supported equality for the Latino and African-American communities with which she grew up, but had never worked for it. Then, through ADL, she had an inspiring meeting with her Representative, Marc Veasey (D-TX), a leader in the fight against a Texas voter ID law that was ultimately deemed discriminatory.
Now she is training to become a voter registrar and will participate in a voter registration drive in the fall. She’s also signed up to become an Election Day clerk checking in voters and making sure voting proceeds smoothly. “ADL allowed me to move from talking about my beliefs to actually acting on them,” she says.
While she was taking Glass, Caroline Pincus sat in on an ADL New York Regional Board meeting and was intrigued to learn about an ADL education program, Words to Action, which helps pre-college and college students deal with anti-Israel and anti-Semitic sentiment on campus. It struck her they weren't the only ones who could use it.
Working closely with ADL staff, Ms. Pincus helped adapt Words to Action for young professionals and offered it to a small group. The experience was richly rewarding. "Participants told me afterward they were now able to hold their own in conversations that had intimidated them previously," Ms.Pincus says. “Through ADL, I’ve gained friendships, excellent mentorship, tools to face life—and this platform to stage events, which has been really meaningful to me.”
Some GLI grads here started their own Advocacy and Engagement Committee, which organizes lobbying meetings with key members of Congress during their recesses. Notes Michael Freeling, ADL Associate National Commissioner from the Florida region: “They continue to foster relationships with our elected officials and advocate on matters deeply embedded in the ADL mission of stopping the defamation of the Jewish people and securing justice and fair treatment for all.”
To apply for the next GLI class, contact your closest ADL Regional Office or go to www.adl.org/regions.