Tribe 12 Gets Younger With New Board Members

Ross Berkowitz, founder and CEO of Tribe 12 Photo by Yael Pachino Photography

The world was a very different place when Tribe 12 launched in 2010.

The first-ever Instagram posts were made that year; “Tik Tok” was merely the name of Kesha’s chart-topping single; and the Phillies made the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year, if you want to get a sense for what a truly dissimilar planet it was.

To keep up with a world that keeps on turning, Tribe 12, dedicated to facilitating Jewish community engagement for locals in their 20s and 30s, added seven new board members — five of them in the same age range as their target audience.

Mara Swift, Nuriya Neumann, Adam Wodka, Carly Zimmerman, Jeffrey Hurok, Kimberly Decker and Jacob Lindy joined Tribe 12’s board of directors on Sept. 30. And Rachel Dukeman began as the new board president.

“We believe in building a board of directors that is based on skills, diverse perspectives and potential, not reliant on age or wealth,” Dukeman said. “This will help us build a board that is based on equity rather than privilege.”

Ross Berkowitz, founder and CEO of Tribe 12, stressed that the addition of new members to the board does not represent a total reconstitution; in fact, Tribe 12’s bylaws allow for up to 24 board members, and the new seven will join members of different ages, perspectives and identities than their own. Adding board members whose experiences are closer to those of their constituents, he believes, is just one part of creating a well-rounded board.

“It’s that diversity of thought, that diversity of perspective that they can bring to really support the organization,” he said.

“These are people I like, personally, and they’re people that I respect, professionally,” he added. “I’m just very excited to have that opportunity to work with them, to have an opportunity to learn from them, and to bring their skills to Tribe 12 as we grow and make things more incredible than what they are.”

He sees enthusiasm in the group, too; after the board whittled down the list of candidates and made the ask, each of the seven candidates contacted agreed to serve.

Carly Zimmerman, a seasoned veteran of the Jewish community engagement scene in Philadelphia, will join the board of Tribe 12. Photo by Chris Kendig

Zimmerman, 32, is already a seasoned veteran of the Jewish community engagement scene in Philadelphia. With leadership positions at Challah for Hunger, Hillel at Temple University, Jewish Farm School and BBYO under her belt, Zimmerman, an alum of Tribe 12’s Fellowship program, was an obvious choice.

Age, Zimmerman said, is not the sole determinant of skill or ability. In the case of Tribe 12, though, she and the other board members believe that their similarities with fellows and the young Jews that the organization works with will help to develop more exciting programming.

“To be able to understand the experiences that our particular demographic and audience is experiencing, and able to speak to them first-hand, rather than just sort of go off with maybe one or two people’s stories or ideas or news articles that you hear about millennials, in general, is really, really helpful,” she said.

Dukeman said that the cultural familiarity that will link the board members and the constituents will serve as a bit of a timesaver; there’s less “translation” to be done between generations, in her view.

Being just 10 years old, Tribe 12’s board, Dukeman said, is in a transitional phase alongside the organization itself.

“The board had to shift from being more of an advisory, donating, philanthropic figure to being a little bit more hands-on, able to govern, and still clearly has a very high fundraising and fiduciary responsibility,” she said. “We’re making sure that the programs are reflective of what our audience needs are, and making sure that we have the right staff and professional capacity to meet those needs.”

Like Dukeman, 36, and Zimmerman, Lindy, 34, has a longstanding prior association with the organization. He even met his wife, Rachel, through a mutual friend who was a part of Tribe 12. There’s also the fact that his grandparents, Phillip and Annabel Lindy, provided the financial support and enthusiasm for Tribe 12 that first got it off of the ground.

Tribe 12 has been a part of his life for a long time, and Lindy is excited by the prospect of being more intimately involved in its future success.

“I’d like to see it grow and really be a strong program for a long time,” he said.


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