“You need to walk before you can run, and you need to know where you are and what you can get done.”
After relocating to Baltimore by way of Long Island, from Los Angeles, Vicki Spira knew she wanted to be part of the Jewish community here in Baltimore. “I need a place where my Jewish Soul lives”. For Vicki and her family, home was Temple Oheb Shalom, now Har Sinai-Oheb Shalom Congregation. “This congregation was home to our youngest child… and where I thought I could make a difference.” Vicki served as Co-President of Har Sinai-Oheb Shalom Congregation. Her biggest challenge was to bring two historic congregations together and at the same time envision a new future. “My entire Temple presidency was full of challenges and adaptive leadership opportunities.”
Vicki and her team wanted to build a place where Reform Jews of all generations could find a spiritual and communal home relevant in today’s world. Serving as President and then Co-President of a newly merged congregation, with interim clergy, and then a pandemic demanded a lot of juggling. “As one would imagine the community itself, although supportive, was anxious and worried about what mattered to them personally. Would the dues be the same, what about our B’nai Mitzvahs that are already scheduled?” Her management and problem-solving skills developed over time, beginning in college when Vicki participated in student government and then as a successful executive for many years with Northrop Grumman. Vicki credits her success to having good mentors and building great relationships and participating in ACHARAI (Cohort Vll) and subsequently the President’s Circle, both leadership development programs for senior leaders in their respective organizations. “As President and then Co-President, the concept we studied in ACHARAI about “stepping onto the balcony” was something I constantly kept in my toolbox. We had a talented leadership team and we worked to stay focused on those issues critical to the merger and those that we could set aside in a ‘parking lot’.”
Vicki has learned many leadership lessons in her decades working with different people. “You need to walk before you can run, and you need to know where you are and what you can get done.” Vicki admitted that as much as she enjoys being a change agent and doing visioning work, sometimes it is important to take some steps back, rebuild and understand where you are and evaluate next steps. Vicki continues to take advantage of ACHARAI training, through their alumni program, most recently taking part in several classes using her Na’aleh Leadership Pass which enables her to take part in all leadership offerings. Vicki has been able to engage in a variety of topics with people she would not have otherwise met
When not volunteering, Vicki loves spending time with her grandchildren. Some of her favorite podcasts include: On Being, Fresh Air, and Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me. She and her husband Charles just finished watching Broadchurch, Lupin and Call My Agent on Netflix. Something surprising you may not know about Vicki: the thought of playing Pictionary or any kind of drawing gives her heart palpitations. If you say arts and crafts, she starts to panic! But she’s working on that too.