On Campus | Post-Its

Educated, Risk-Taking, Creative: Investing in Professional Development at UArizona Hillel

With our strategic plan set and our big-picture goals of doubling staff, tripling revenue, and quintupling student engagement by 2027, University of Arizona Hillel is taking a targeted approach to training and equipping our staff, board, and student leaders to use Jewish values, innovative approaches and best practices in their work. We believe that significant investments in professional development pay rich dividends.

Thanks to a generous grant from the Donald Baker Fund at JPSA, a new focus on professional development and staff support is putting our mission and our people at the heart of our work, helping us completely reimagine our approach to engagement, customer service, communal impact, and development.

This is a particularly critical moment to overhaul and invest in professional development because our organization is at a major inflection point. By prioritizing professional development and staff support now, we will build it into our culture just as we are poised for significant growth. We also believe that an investment in professional development at UArizona Hillel will more broadly help to strengthen Southern Arizona’s Jewish community infrastructure by: training and helping retain committed, professional staff members who help lead this organization towards its strategic goals; significantly reconstituting the UArizona Hillel board and pipeline; offering student leadership training that helps students achieve UArizona Hillel’s mission; and, setting an example of how to plan for and invest in professional development.

We are using the funds to: help build an educated, risk-taking, and creative staff that can share wisdom and best practices across Jewish agencies; equipping more Jewish lay leaders in Southern Arizona with hard skills and best practices that will enable them to lead and govern not only UArizona Hillel, but also other organizations across our landscape; equipping emerging Jewish leaders with the tools they need to continue to lead in Jewish spaces–whether professionally, or as lay leaders–and introducing them to the Southern Arizona Jewish field beyond campus; and, working towards UArizona’s broader strategic goals, which–when achieved–will make it a thriving Jewish agency not just in Tucson, but in North America.

This year’s professional development foci are design thinking, leading from any level of an organization, customer service, and engagement, but also includes topics on critical intrapreneurial skills such as the philanthropic landscape, prioritization, managing up, program development, governance best-practices, and more. We are examining these topics through the lens of Jewish values including brit (partnership), nachson (innovation, first in the water), tzelem elohim (humanity of each person), ahavat ger (welcoming the stranger), simcha (joy), elu v’elu (these and those), and Shabbat (rest). By investing in critical onboarding practices, internal staff retreats, board retreats, incentives and needed tools for staff, field-wide board mentorship programs, modules from famously impactful for-profit and non-profit trainings, Hillel International’s renowned and exclusive two-year design thinking cohort (ODL), overhauling our approach to student leadership training, and sending our staff to critical conferences, we will spend the year building innovative skills sets and professionalizing our operations across the organization.

By aligning our professional development and staff support plan with our robust strategic goals, we are able to identify key gaps and needs, set goals, and map out a cohesive approach across all levels of our organization. What’s more, the trainings themselves will be rooted in best practices in Jewish values, DEI, cutting-edge field research, and peer-based learning, so that our staff, board, and student leaders will be primed to apply design thinking, a fail-forward mentality, and iterative approaches to all aspects of our work, namely student engagement.

By building critical skill sets in our staff, board, and key student leaders, we expect to see an impact not only on our ability to engage and operate according to best-in-field practices, but also to share that learning back with the broader Tucson Jewish and campus communities.

We are always looking for partners to help fuel our work, and invite you to be in touch to see how UArizona Hillel is powering the next generation of student leaders.