“Never give up! Although life may seem hopeless right now, there will be a time when there is joy and community.”
Dr. Harriette Wimms, Community Leader
Dr. Harriette Wimms is a licensed clinical psychologist specializing in supporting LGBTQIA+ folks across the lifespan, as well as people of color who have experienced trauma from power and privilege.
What she brings to our community as a Jewish leader, activist, innovator, and social entrepreneur is the attitude of hope and perseverance. When asked what she would tell her younger self, she replied, “Never give up! Although life may seem hopeless right now, there will be a time when there is joy and community.”
Currently, she is serving as the ritual chair of Hinenu: The Baltimore Justice Shtiebel, as a rising Kohenet at the Hebrew Priestess Institute, and as the program development consultant for Chizuk Amuno Congregation. Harriette is championing social issues in every pocket of Jewish Baltimore. In addition to the work above, she is an assistant professor at Loyola Clinical Centers, the Clinical Director and founder of The Village Family Support Center of Baltimore where she trains and mentors doctoral students.
At the root of her volunteer leadership in our community is the calling to build mishpacha (family) for Jewish people of color and their families and allies. She brings energy and drive to carve welcoming spaces in Baltimore for those who are still searching for their place at the table. At Hinenu, she has found a home where she’s in turn supported and surrounded by the queer community and People of Color.
Harriette attributes her success to the mentorship of Rabbi Debi Wechsler, who she says “braids soul into Judaism and [particularly] for women. She helps us find places where we belong, and our stories are represented in Judaism.”
Of her other mentor, Rabbi Ariana Katz, she has this to say: “Rabbi Ariana Katz has also helped me find my voice as a Jewish leader. Ariana is a comrade- in- arms. ‘I bring a project to her and she says: ‘Let’s do it!’”
“ I can stand shoulder to shoulder with them and build a sacred community.”
Her leadership is informed by her values of Tikkun Olam, Gratitude, and Chessed. Her mother used to say, “Everybody deserves the time of day” meaning it costs nothing to offer kindness to someone. Through kindness and compassion the world can be healed even when there is division and a major difference of opinion. After a near-death experience when her (now 16 year old) son was a 4-month-old, Harriet is grateful for life every single day. It’s her daily practice to email her friends, family, and community every day to express her gratitude.
Until recently, when another mentor, Andy Miller, told her: “You are a Jewish leader and embrace that.”, she never thought of herself as a Jewish leader. “I took it in because I trust him. There are so many things that need to be done, so I want to build collectives so folks can get stuff done.” Dr. Harriet Wimms inspires us all to believe that together we can build sacred communities where everyone has a place at the table.