STARTINGBLOC 2013 FELLOW CANDIDATE A dedicated individual with a multicultural background who is knowledgeable, hungry for challenge and growth, and committed to affecting change. Surviving is not enough and neither is waiting for someone else to bring the change.
International Background Russian born, New York City raised My family emigrated when I was young to escape anti-Semitism and a lack of opportunity. Being an immigrant from a lower socio-economic family, I had to navigate two different worlds, sometimes feeling caught between past and future, and still with the memory of scarcity lingering. I had to create a hybrid Russian-American culture for myself, and this fluidity has always drawn me towards converging systems. Social enterprise. Socially-driven businesses. Desire to understand power and social systems I focused on political science and cultural theory in my undergraduate studies. I studied power in all of its forms, and the reasons why some had it and others didn’t. I was selected to join a competitive and intensive Leadership Course at Hobart and William Smith Colleges that focused on aspects of leading self, other and organizations. Then I took my education across oceans.
Handshakes Abroad Traveled independently throughout Eastern Europe in orderI spent two summers in Israel gaining a fuller understanding to understand the former Yugoslav region and its people in of the religions and cultures of the Middle East. contemporary times. My perspective was shaped having first- hand interactions with the people living there. I was barely two hours away when Haifa was bombed. I turned to a girl near me and asked what to do. She I saw buildings scarred with bullet wounds from a decade smiled, shrugged, and said, ‘Welcome to Israel’ and ago, and a people and economy learning to rebuild. continued shopping. Using my entrepreneurial sensibility I studied and traveled abroad to test what I learned against what exists on the ground.Spent my junior year studying political and cultural relations For almost half a year, I traveled , taught, volunteered and in Maastricht University in the Netherlands and in the learned from the streets in Thailand and India. University of East Anglia in England. I networked with small businesses owners, freelancers, and entrepreneurs to understand their particular challenges and strategies.Surrounded by innumerable international students, I began to see the world through their lens. I witnessed what it means to be stateless when I helped provide aid and education to unrecognized hill-tribe communities in northern Thailand.
Anecdotes from Abroad Her nickname was Baby. We met in a village in the Punjab area of India. She wanted me to take a photo of her in her small store of she is incredibly proud. There are no paved roads in her small village, and most people still use cow dung to heat their homes. We spent a day together as she confided her challenges to me.In the flower night market inBangkok, Thailand. I was told thatthe best time to go was 3am. Notonly is Bangkok truly the city thatnever sleeps, I learned how hardthat toll can be on smallshopkeepers and their employees.
Building From the Ground Up Through volunteer leadership I have focused on impact and community I began One Brick Boston off the ground and helped young professionals successfully connect with nonprofits. I re-launched the Boston+Acumen chapter as co-chair of its revitalized board. I lead both organizations while maintaining a fulltime job in the public sector at the MBTA. One Brick Boston I believe not only in micro-loans, but also micro-good deeds. I bonded busy professionals without sufficient for a recurring commitment , and I made volunteering easy, commitment-free, and possible while simultaneously bringing awareness to worthwhile causes. Acumen Fund Shortly after joining Boston’s new Acumen Fund chapter, I assumed the role of Co-Chair based on my innovative recommendations. We re-confirmed our chapter’s dual focus on creating dialogue around issues in international development and supporting social entrepreneurs.
Cross-Sector Adaptability Collaboration is key Partnerships are essential to creating market driven solutions to global issues, and its not enough to have background in only one type of sector. Multi-Sector Professional Experience I have sought out work in various fields, industries and sectors in order to gain a holistic approach to problem solving. Because I have experience working in all of these arenas I can fluidly move from private to nonprofit to government organizations. This adaptability gives me an edge often required in social enterprises. Into The Fire I have worked independently in many of my roles and have often had to define my own roles and expectations as I was not part of an incoming class, nor a peer set.
Build Relationships to Build Change Through my work with One Brick, by leading Boston+Acumen, and through my cross- departmental efforts at the MBTA I am already creating spaces for impactful conversations among various groups and interests. In the same manner StartingBloc raises impact and fosters change by bringing together more than just individual Fellows, but also their families, communities, and worlds.
Solutions Need New Perspectives: The Outsider Lens Often my upbringing made me feel like an outsider. I have since learned that this is a strength enabling me to better listen and learn. This outsider lens lead me to seek out untraditional travel experiences. I am not afraid to be uncomfortable, or to be the “other”-it is an advantage, and this keener perspective on social, cultural, and business interactions gives me an insight I hope to bring to StartingBloc. My unique perspective gives me the ability to conceptualize a different world and future - one that I will hopefully build with other Fellows.
Final Thoughts Creative problem Grit solving andCalm and critical Teamdiplomatic thinking Collaborator Yanina WolfeInsatiable Natural curiosity cultural acclimatization Emotional Independent intelligence Leader