So, you want to run for board? Youth group election advice

“I’ve come to realize that we have made leadership into something bigger than us. We’ve made it into something beyond us. We’ve made it about changing the world… And I worry that sometimes we spend so much time celebrating amazing things that hardly anybody can do that we’ve convinced ourselves that those are the only things worth celebrating, and we start to devalue the things that we can do every day.”

This is the central idea for what Drew Dudley calls “Leading with Lollipops,” a concept that redefines leadership as turning small, seemingly insignificant moments, into moments that fundamentally transform someone’s life. We encourage you to watch his abbreviated TED Talk.

It is sometimes easy to misconstrue leadership in NFTY as clipboard carrying, instruction giving, and driving self-identified initiatives.

Anyone who has taken part of elections at any level of NFTY is aware that a candidate’s initiatives, sometimes referred to as a platform, is the cornerstone of the “campaign.” These initiatives can range in depth, and structure, and are really the creation of each candidate.

As five people who have all held local, regional and North American offices, we can attest to the fact that executing campaigned-on initiatives is VERY challenging. We feel, in looking back at our NFTY leadership experiences, that initiatives can be hard to follow through on because they don’t necessarily represent the true priorities of the organizations we are serving, and what is lost, is the way in which the candidate will truly engage NFTY and NFTYites.

To candidates and potential candidates for TYG Board: please consider not centering your platform on a single or series of initiatives, projects, or new content. Consider how much impact you can have on your community if you focus on a platform rooted in engaging Jewish teens, building relationships, and putting NFTYites before programs and content. We, as the NFTY Board, whole-heartedly believe that successful NFTY leaders are ones who, rather than driving initiatives, focus on building relationships, cultivating leaders, and allowing peers to inform our priorities.

For those of you intently reading candidates’ platforms, speeches, etc., please be mindful the value of leadership taking this form, rather that what we have previously defined as running for youth group leadership.

We are confident that moving forward in this way will allow NFTY to truly be a movement driven by teens, and allow us to best represent the thousands of teens that comprise our amazing movement.

We have put together some tips, created in partnership with our successors,, for running for NFTY leadership positions.

Together, by focusing on people not products, and putting relationships at the flagship priority of NFTY leaders, we can elevate leadership in NFTY and ultimately expand our reach farther than ever before.

B’hatzlacha, good luck, on wherever your NFTY leadership journey takes you!

The 2013-2014 NFTY North American Board

Andrew Keene | President
Morgan Weidner | Programming Vice President
Gordon Kaye | Social Action Vice President
Micah Friedman | Religious and Cultural Vice President
Aaron Heft | Membership and Communications Vice President

Tips from NFTY North American leadership:

President:

  1. Create a unique approach to mobilizing teens from your synagogue when it is necessary to take action (social action, community event, or otherwise). Each synagogue and TYG is unique and articulating a strategy that works for your synagogue/TYG is very important!
  2. Identify partners in moving your youth group forward. Who are the people at your synagogue and in your community that support your TYG?

Programming Vice President:

  1. There is more to programming than just writing programs. Don’t limit yourself based on your perceptions of what you see as your “job” on board.
  2. Programming is where connections are formed and those relationships are the basis of successful engagement. How will your programming create relationships?

Social Action Vice President:

  1. Convey YOUR passion for social action to inspire others to take action.
  2. Reach out and connect with local social justice organizations, youth groups, or initiatives within your own congregation and community.

Religious and Cultural Vice President:

  1. Have confidence in sharing the elements of Judaism that you personally enjoy. If you don’t find it meaningful, then the people you are leading probably won’t find it meaningful either.
  2. Be in tune with the spiritual needs of the TYG. There are infinite routes towards meaningful Jewish experiences; pave a road that works for your TYG.

Membership Vice President:

  1. Reach out to uninvolved teens and identify the reason they are uninvolved. This can provide amazing insight into positive change that someone on the inside might not be able to see. (And then inspire them to want to participate in your TYG/synagogue!)
  2. Focus on staying positive and confident; attitude is everything. By being engaging, members will feel comfortable with you and with those around you.

Communications Vice President:

  1. Think about how to effectively communicate the same information to a wide array of people, PPs, Advisors, Clergy, etc., by using targeted language for each group.
  2. Create a plan to stay well organized and accountable for disseminating information in a timely manner.

 

Elections Guide to Temple Youth Group Elections
These resources explore many of the procedures related to the TYG election process. They include sample job descriptions, a sample intent to run form, how-to guides on Elections & The Small TYG, Running a Meet the Candidates Program, and Running the Election Process.
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