In Conversation with Emilia Diamant

Hello Emilia! Tell us about your recent work.

I am the Executive Director of Jeremiah Program Boston, which is the Boston branch of the national organization called Jeremiah. We work with low-income single moms and their kids, to help families break the cycle of poverty two generations at a time. We are based in Roxbury, and in my role as Executive Director I spend most of my time fundraising [laughter], but also we’re a relatively new organization to Boston, so I spend a fair amount of time in program development, helping to build our program, and really refine our model here in the city. And I do some staff supervision and some direct service helping families. But most of my time is spent on fundraising and program development, big picture sort of work.

What led you to do the JOIN Organizing Fellowship?

I was coming back to Boston after living out of the state for a while, and I was really looking for community. And I was looking to dive further into how Judaism and social justice intersected for me, and it had been recommended to me by a couple of the board members [laughter], people that I really trust said they thought I should apply, so I did!

What was one highlight or memorable experience?

I think the most important thing I got out of JOIN was the relationships with my cohort — I made some really great friends who will probably be my friends for life. And I also learned a lot from my cohort, particularly around some issues I hadn’t thought about like disability rights. I learned a lot about unions and the labor movement because of my colleagues who were working in that space, even though I wasn’t, they were, and they shared their wisdom. And then relationships with alumni, with staff, with speakers that came in — one of those speakers has become a mentor to me. So the relationships have been the biggest thing that I’ve gotten.

Could you share a piece of organizing and/or Jewish wisdom that you learned through your fellowship?

One thing that I walked away with is that the one-to-one training, and understanding how those conversations work, is something that you will use, not only in your personal life but really in any professional space you go into. The ways that you learn to learn about people is something that’s truly applicable anywhere. I find it particularly in organizing that it links to development or fundraising. So in organizing you’re asking for someone’s time, and in fundraising you’re asking for someone’s money. So it is different, but it’s not that different.

Emilia Diamant is Executive Director of Jeremiah Program Boston and a Jewish Organizing Fellowship alum ’12-13. Learn more about the Jewish Organizing Fellowship.

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