Sheila Katz joined the National Council of Jewish Women five years ago. Now, she’s about to become their CEO.
Katz comes to NCJW from Hillel International, where she served as the organization’s youngest vice president and worked to build more inclusive, justice-oriented Jewish spaces on college campuses. She spearheaded programs such as Ask Big Questions, training students to listen to diverse voices and facilitate meaningful dialogue as a form of community organizing, and registered 20,000 voters on 120 campuses through her “Mitzvote” campaign.
In her new leadership role, Katz plans to continue helping people as a whole from a place of Jewish values, citing fighting for reproductive rights and lifetime appointments for fair and independent judges as top priorities.
“The thing that really draws me to NCJW is that it’s about turning Jewish values into action,” she said. “The work is about engaging and helping vulnerable populations in our communities.”
Katz knows firsthand how much work there is to do. After she spoke out against Michael Steinhardt’s pattern of sexual harassment, women across the Jewish professional world contacted her to share their own experiences of feeling unheard or silenced when faced with sexual misconduct in their own workplaces.
“There was a common thread that what I experienced is not unique to me, but still a part of the fabric of the operation of any organization that exists out there, including Jewish organizations,” she said. “It’s going to require every single person to hold up the mirror and think about how they’re perpetuating a culture that allows this to happen, rather than everybody pointing the finger and saying that it happens just because of one rotten apple.”
Her favorite things: Katz is a massive Oprah Winfrey fan. “I read everything she tells me to read, I buy most things she tells me to buy, and I watch her Super Soul Sunday almost every Sunday,” she said.