A native of the Upper West Side, Sullivan would often go to the crosstown 92nd Street Y after school. During summers, she’d attend Jewish camps in the Greater New York area.
“I grew up in Jewish institutions,” she said.
Now she works at one — as director of programs and community engagement at JCC Harlem. In effect, she’s the day-to-day leader of this branch of the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan.
Sullivan, who previously worked at JCC Manhattan, helped design the activities and physical space of JCC Harlem, which opened on 118th Street at Frederick Douglass Boulevard in early 2017, recognizing the growth of a Jewish presence in the neighborhood.
Sullivan calls the JCC, which partners with established institutions in several cultural and wellness programs, a resource for the wider “multi-racial, multi-faith” community.
Under her aegis, the JCC offers a variety of early childhood and pre-nursery programs, supplementary Jewish education classes, fitness activities, text study, and Jewish events. The building hosts two monthly minyans. “Every Friday night is spoken for — many Saturdays too,” she said.
A few thousand people take part in JCC activities each month, she added.
Sullivan calls the JCC a resource for the wider “multi-racial, multi-faith” community.
Sullivan, who lives in West Harlem, is responsible for managing the staff (six full-time and four part-time workers, in addition to a few dozen people who help run specific programs) and the JCC budget ($1.2 million). She’s also responsible for reaching out to local community organizations.
In a typical week, she said, she lends a hand in ordering food for JCC events, setting up the tables and chairs and other furniture, and doing the vacuuming. “I have a hand in everything,” she said.
Sullivan said she is unaffiliated with a local synagogue. “The JCC,” she said, “is my Judaism.”
Peacemaker: This summer, as in past years, Sullivan, who studied conflict resolution at Columbia University and genocide prevention at George Mason University, will spend several weeks — her vacation time — in Israel as a camp director. The camp is an English-immersion program for Jewish and Arab youth she established. Since 2010, the camp has added a second site, and participation in her co-existence activities has increased from 25 to 150 kids per summer.