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Spark Note: The Power of Professional Development

By August 19, 2019March 10th, 2023JumpSpark
Annie Fortnow, Engagement Manager

As I entered the first gathering of JPRO19: What Connects Us, the JPRO Network’s conference for Jewish professionals across North America, the room felt abuzz with excitement for the next three days of professional growth and learning. Over five hundred professionals gathered in Detroit to explore pressing topics in the Jewish world today and create connections that would improve our work and trajectory in the Jewish professional sphere. I had the privilege of getting to attend the conference with twenty other Jewish professionals from across Atlanta and to truly apply our learning throughout the experience to our work back home.

To kick off the conference, we embarked on an immersive experience, using Detroit as our classroom to explore innovative ways to approach building Jewish community. I hopped on a bus to the Bethel Community Transformation Center, where I learned from Pastor Aramis Hinds and Rabbi Ariana Silverman about the importance of relationship building in engaging in critical conversations across difference. Thinking back to my work in Atlanta at JumpSpark, I can see the ways we utilize relationship building in our work engaging teens, parents, and professionals. Before working with any of our constituents, we ensure we have built a relationship of trust and compassion so that we may best serve the community and its needs. After visiting the Bethel Community Transformation Center, I can see the value of utilizing our relationship building methodology to expand our work in Atlanta to reach a wider audience and build community and dialogue with a diverse cross-section of our city.

On the second day of the conference, we had the opportunity to attend workshops with educators of our choosing. I found myself at the “Designing Organizational Culture” workshop with UpStart. The facilitators encouraged us to think carefully about our organizational values and apply these to intentionally thinking about culture. As a professional at JumpSpark, I feel lucky to work on the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta innovation team and work for an organization with such clear values that we live every day through our work. One of the Federation’s values, fearlessness, truly drives JumpSpark’s day-to-day work in trying out bold, innovative ideas in our community without being afraid to fail. Through the UpStart workshop, I began to think about how to apply this value intentionally to all aspects of my work, from planning a program to building a relationship over coffee.

This past week, I learned the power of professional development. I left the JPRO conference feeling refreshed and energized to start the year with confidence and new ideas to bring back to my team. Seeing what my own professional learning can do for my work energizes me for the strides JumpSpark is taking in building up professional development for youth professionals in Atlanta.

While I grew as a professional at the JPRO conference, JumpSpark hosted over 25 Jewish professionals at its first JumpSpark professional event of the year, Relational Engagement with Rabbi Lydia Medwin at The Temple.

Next month, JumpSpark is hosting a session on Outcome Based Program Design, where professionals will get to learn from UpStart, as I did at JPRO, on designing programs with their goals in mind. After the session, professionals will have the opportunity to participate in a professional coworking day to network and build community.

In the coming year, JumpSpark will be hosting one professional development day per month, with topics ranging from social media and bullying to training in teen mental health first aid. We cannot be more excited to both provide quality training and empower our Jewish youth professionals and to build community and connection in the Jewish professional sphere. I hope to see you at one of our JumpSpark Professional events soon!

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