Federation J-Fellows mentors up-and-coming professionals

J-Fellows is a special Jewish Federation of Ottawa leadership program uniquely aimed at supporting young professionals through skill development and opportunities for collaborative action, with focused and overarching goals: to learn, to lead, and to contribute to their workplaces and community. In short: J-Fellows seeks to provide young professionals with hands-on experiential learning opportunities where they will develop and grow a lasting network. 

The J-Fellows Mentorship Program was a two-month initiative (May to June 2023), which combined a monthly speaker series on work and leadership, alongside monthly meetings with a mentor in the candidate’s field. Participants were required to attend at least three out of four sessions to successfully complete the program. J-Fellows promoted community as a pillar of professional development and success.

Anna Frenkel was a mentee in the program. She has a professional background as a school board speech-language pathologist and is a curriculum writer for the Ministry of Education. She recognized the impact that this program would have not only professionally but for her personal growth. 

“My passion for writing led me to seek mentorship and guidance within the J-Fellows Program, as it presented as an opportunity to further develop my creative skills while connecting with a group of like-minded young professionals who want to make a difference in the Ottawa Jewish Community.”

Frenkel continues, “Having a mentor was an incredibly enriching experience for me. I was fortunate to have a mentor who was very kind and helpful. He provided me with inspiration to explore different pathways within the writing and publishing world. Not only did he share fascinating stories from his experiences, but he also imparted strategies for self-motivation and building a writing routine, while also maintaining a full-time job. The mentorship experience for me was positive as it inspired me to nurture my passion and love for writing. I am grateful for how this opportunity impacted my creative journey.” 

Through this program, Frenkel has also been affected personally. She has been able to identify her leadership style and has honed skills to effectively collaborate with colleagues.

“Prior to starting this program, I was struggling with writer's block. Meeting with my mentor encouraged me to rekindle my passion for writing. Drawing upon my personal experiences as a car accident survivor, I am working on completing my poetry anthology/memoir, a project that is close to my heart.” 

In addition, she has seen the importance of volunteering within the Jewish community and plans to support initiatives within the Jewish community. She now feels a sense of purpose both professionally and personally.

The success of J-Fellows is also due to the high quality and committed mentors that volunteered their time and expertise to guide the young professionals on their journeys. Stephanie Appotive was one of the mentors. She was drawn to the program because, “I have had wonderful mentors over the years, and I understand how important it is to have a trusted person who can give you their honest feedback.  Knowing how mentors have helped me, I decided to humbly see if I could help someone else.”

As an entrepreneur and mom of three, Appotive knows that there is never enough time in the day but participation in this program was stress free and enjoyable for her. 

“It was low cost regarding time and high reward in terms of meeting a mentee who really is motivated to learn and willing to collaborate on next steps in their professional lives,” says Apportive, adding that she has developed a friendship with her mentee that will last beyond the program. 

J-Fellows' chair Myra Wein expresses optimism about the future of this important leadership program.

“Ottawa has a passionate cohort of emerging Jewish leaders ready to step up and make our capital the preeminent Jewish community in Canada,” says Wein. “In the future, J-Fellows will continue to push the envelope to unearth opportunities to connect Jewish values with professional leadership and community development.”  

To learn more about J-Fellows, email Michael Resnick at mresnick@jewishottawa.com.