Susannah’s career began as a doula. But, as an active member in her synagogue in Harford County, she couldn’t resist applying for a job to be more active in the Jewish Community. She has loved the values and work that Beth Am does serving the community in the city.

For over a decade, Susannah was always involved in her various synagogue communities from Alexandria VA to where she lives now in Harford County. She has had many volunteer roles including social chair where she got to engage with existing and new members to learn more about what they needed as a community member. Following the pandemic and as her children were going back to school, she was looking for a new professional challenge and wanted to work somewhere that was directly tied to her core values of community building and shared Jewish experiences, so she explored jobs only in the Jewish community.

Susannah landed at Beth Am as the Director of Congregational Engagement and Programming. She is a natural relationship builder, which she brings to her work in understanding people’s needs and skills. Susannah’s work with lay leaders comes naturally as she not only builds relationships with them but also works to understand what they are passionate about and what their strengths are. She then works with them to make sure their skills and passions shine through in the work they do with the congregation.

Susannah’s leadership strength is that she has the ability to lead from the balcony as well as the dance floor. She often can see a program’s big picture and all the details that need to be done to make it work. She is not afraid to pivot to new ideas and shows organization and vision when creating experiences for the congregation.

While Susannah loves being a part of the Beth Am community, balancing being a Jewish professional and trying to celebrate Jewish holidays with her family has been a challenge. Her family often joins her for events and experiences at Beth Am, but she also tries to carve out time and think creatively to celebrate holidays with her family. One way Susannah has done this is by finding other sacred times to celebrate as a family. For example, while she had to be at the synagogue during many of the days of Sukkot, her family celebrated together in their own Sukkah the week after Sukkot and were able to create traditions around the holidays. Susannah is thankful that she is at a congregation that fosters a family atmosphere and her family feels welcome and comfortable at Beth Am, as her oldest just celebrated his Bar Mitzvah in February.

For Susannah, the idea of belonging and community is what drives her in her work. She often thinks of the idea that Brene Brown taught about fitting in and belonging. Brene Brown said, “The opposite of belonging is fitting in.” In other words, if you are just trying to fit into someone else’s mold then you are not achieving true acceptance of yourself.  Susannah puts that idea into practice by making sure that everyone feels accepted into her programs and experiences. Recently for Purim, she coordinated a Queer family and adult Purim party that engaged those who feel marginalized in the Jewish community. Susannah received comments from families that they had been looking for a way for their children to be somewhere Jewish and for them to be able to be themselves and having this experience was what they needed.

In a time when everyone is seeking connection and belonging, Susannah’s drive and passion for being a Jewish professional is about understanding, compassion and meeting people where they are so they can continue to find their own Jewish Journey.