The Icky Shtick of an “Inclusive” Clique

I will always be a student and I like that about me. I may even be addicted to learning new things, including, but not limited to learning new things about myself. (The good, the bad and the ugly.)

For as long as I have been a sponge for learning, I have been especially invested in social justice and human rights. (Even before I knew what they were called, or the endless lesson plans that accompany human rights.)

Over the years and lately, I have had the good fortune to hear (and learn), a great deal about diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Even though I had ample training on it, my learning AND my questions have really skyrocketed in the past few months.

While in “Inclusion School,” I have also had an opportunity to tour some of the hottest Chicago tech companies who pride themselves, and maybe even boast a little, on superior workplace diversity and inclusion.

Some of these companies are, by a long shot, the finest working environments I have ever seen. The physical spaces are welcoming, comfy and designed for collaboration.

YUM.

Here is the bad news, and the reason why I haven’t mentioned any specific companies or actual people I am learning from…

I am hard-pressed to find my population. Yes, I’ve seen plenty of women, but what I can’t seem to find in these tech companies, and I am looking EVERYWHERE, are women above 50 years of age. To be honest, in one company, I don’t think I saw any men over 50 either and if we are really going to get into the nitty gritty, I can’t be sure if I saw ANY women over 40 years of age.

Look, I am not getting down on tech companies. I love tech companies.

I am, however, interested in where women over 50 years of age are within these hot tech companies. I am even more fascinated with the external corporate messaging of infallible dedication to workplace diversity and inclusion and yet, where are women like me?

There are no accusations here on these very successful tech companies, but I sure would like to review the actual diversity data from corporations who tout diversity and inclusion in their workplace. Perhaps their 50 and 60-somethings are working remotely or are in a less public place, but I doubt the latter as the work-spaces I have toured are wide open.

As you may or may not know, I believe ageism is myopically immature and downright wrong.

I realize that we all have biases. I do too, but, if you pride yourself on diversity and inclusion in the workplace, or within social justice for that matter, please take a long, honest look. If you can’t seem to find women like me, or care about the rights of women like me… check yourself and your actual commitment to inclusion and diversity.

Plus, I have no doubt that real diversity and inclusion, with a smorgasbord of different ages, races, religions, genders, socioeconomic statuses, etc. just has to be the best place to work AND the best place to be a lifelong student.

 

 

 

 

We aren’t “Schnorrers.” We create “Shidduchs!”

We create a perfect match

schnor·rer

also shnor·rer (shnôr′ər)n. Slang:One who habitually takes advantage of the generosity of others; a parasite.

A PARASITE.

In the past, I’ve heard fundraisers referred to as “schnorrers,” by a few well-meaning donors, donor prospects, colleagues and friends. Of course, many times, they’re just trying to have fun with me and fellow fundraisers. I don’t think they realize how, in actuality, most fundraisers are really the absolute opposite of “schnorrers.”

As far back as I can remember, I’ve had an unstoppable fire in my belly to help others and to do whatever I can to repair the world. I am also driven to do whatever is within my power to help make organizations I’m involved in better and stronger. Like so many fundraisers I know, I have always loved people, building relationships and doing whatever I can to find the perfect fit for a donor to match up with a mission and/or program and vice-versa.

I was raised with a lot of Yiddish growing up. To me, it is absolutely the happiest, most fun language, ever. When you exclaim something in Yiddish, you don’t necessarily have to know Yiddish to get the gist of what someone is saying.

I think a more appropriate Yiddish word for us fundraisers is, “Shidduch” creator!

shid·duch

(shidəKH, SHiˈdo͞oKH)n. an arranged marriage (Jewish), One who creates a “shidduch” or perfect match.

This is how I see and implement fundraising in my work and from so many of my esteemed colleagues. Our goal is to seek a perfect match for each donor and the donor always comes first. Our job is to fulfill whatever they have brewing in their kishkes. (Look up kishke on your own.)

So… the next time you meet with a fundraiser, or are casually hanging out with one, please don’t call us “schnorrers.” Not only do we really not like it, but it is not typical or even accurate. (For most of us.)

You may not want to call us anything that includes the word “shidduch,” either. At least not loudly. It’s one of the rare Yiddish words that sounds a wee bit more like an unpleasant English word than it sounds like, “matchmaker.”

Of course, you can call me a “Shidduch” creator anytime.

Thanks for letting me kvetch about this unpleasant stereotype and I hope we can kibbitz soon.

Perhaps I can make the right match for you. 💙💚❤💛🧡💜

52 Facts I Never Want to Forget About My Relationship with the One and Only, Gregg Helfer

One of my favorite human beings passed away two years ago. I wrote this while in tremendous grief.
I am grateful I wrote this the day Gregg passed, because I never want to forget the little things. There will only be one Gregg Helfer. The impact of Gregg’s presence on me, my kids and countless lives, was profound and will be cherished always.

Continue reading “52 Facts I Never Want to Forget About My Relationship with the One and Only, Gregg Helfer”

The Insomniac’s Dreams

Every so often, I get a wicked bout of insomnia. It used to strike with more frequency when I was younger and not so mellow and low-keyed, but it’s back and with a vengeance. Continue reading “The Insomniac’s Dreams”

The Megaflop Mom’s Mercy

When I had my daughters, I was self-employed. I had ample time to devote my full attention to my girls. Attending to them was innate – and very satisfying for all of us. What wasn’t great about my being self-employed, was having to travel and sometimes, internationally. I knew it was a gift to be paid so handsomely to see the world, but to be honest, I didn’t really like corporate public speaking. It was transient and while it was great that the “X-product/system 2.0” worked great, I sought more meaning for what I was pitching. I needed to get closer to helping humankind on a level that coincided with my core values. Continue reading “The Megaflop Mom’s Mercy”

A Teacher Named, Ba Ba Ba Ba Barbara Jan

Over the past several months, since my colleague, ORT Chicago director, Barbara (Barb) Statland announced her retirement as our region director, I’ve tried to sit down to write about her.

Each time I’ve tried to write almost anything about Barb, (and I have tried countless times), several things happen:

  1. The Beach Boys’ Ba ba ba ba ba Barbara Ann runs through my head, but instead of “Ann,” I change it to “Jan.” Barb’s middle name is Jan, so it obviously works great. It repeats and repeats in my head and drives me totally nuts.
  2. Still, I riff a little bit with the whole, Ba ba ba ba ba Barbara Jan song idea. I create a sketch in my head about “The Teach Boys” singing the song for our Barbara Jan. Instead of being on the beach, the band, along with ORT students and educators sing and dance in an ORT 21st Century Classroom.

    21st century classroom
    Picture The Teach Boys singing Ba ba ba ba ba Barbara Jan in the classroom at an ORT School in Israel. Welcome to my head.
  3. Now, I start to get teary because Barb is kind of like family to me.  I’ve grown accustomed to her face, her attention to detail and her Fuji apples and peanut butter at 11:16 AM each day. I think, “What will it be like not to hear her cutting apples? How will I know it’s 11:16 AM?”
  4. I stop trying to write because I get emotional and even nostalgic. I am generally not a nostalgic person, but Barb and I have walked through a lot together. Side note: I also happen to be a very ugly crier.

Now, I am not crying. Oh good. We are making progress.

Here’s how I see my professional partner in crime and friend, Barbara Jan Statland:

  • Barb has been one of my best educators.
  • Her attention to detail is superlative.
  • If she wanted to, she could be a theater director and/or theater teacher.
  • She could also do voice-overs. Great voice.
  • Heck, she would make a fine actress.
  • She is one of the biggest reasons I was hired by ORT America. Thank you, Barb.
  • She has more patience than any colleague I have ever worked with, anywhere.
  • She is extremely creative and incomparably tenacious.
  • She loves ORT and its people very deeply. (P.S. ORT = People)
  • She is hilarious even when she’s not trying to be.
  • She is a powerful communicator.
  • She is reasonable.
  • Her commitment to and her belief in ORT programs never, ever wavers.
  • Barb’s leadership has sustained our region where most others would have failed.
  • I have never heard anyone better on the phone. Yes, she knows I eavesdrop.
  • Barb really loves the ORT Teacher’s Fund.

There’s a lot more to Barb than what I’ve stated here. It has been my privilege to partner with and to learn from her.

The love goes both ways. ORT loves Barb so much, there’s a whole ORT International Seminar for Leading Educators dedicated to Barb, in honor of her retirement. This seminar, (which I believe starts TOMORROW!), is a key part of the ORT Teachers Fund which is a fund dedicated to the professional development of educators. A few words from Barb about the ORT Teacher’s Fund:

So many ORT students are motivated, passionate, knowledgeable and creative BECAUSE of their teachers.  Their teachers instill these traits within their students.  ORT knows that this is key and provides a network of peers for their teachers to whom they can turn for support and to share ideas. This Teachers Fund will provide so much – including training in the areas of digital technology, physics education and Bio Research, learning technologies training, math and English.  Collaboration is key in all of these initiatives. — Barbara J. Statland

Barb has been around ORT for 30-ish years. She’s been an employee for 13 years and a region director for the past five or so. Most of us see Barb as a lifetime ORTist.

If you’d like to honor Barb’s Herculean leadership at ORT, and/or you seek to invest in professional development for educators, and/or you want to witness my ugly crying because thanks to you, we have raised our $40,000 goal, please stop reading this post and click on Barb’s photo below!

Barb gorgeous2
The tenacious, beautiful, and dedicated Barbara J. Statland

Thank you for reading this, and of course, for your investment in Barb, ORT, teachers, students, me and all who make a positive impact on our world.

May we all draw strength, knowledge and courage from Ba ba ba ba Barbara Jan.

In gratitude and love,

Pam

Cutting, Keeping & Nurturing the Right Ties, Redux

Things have changed since the original post, but the peace really hasn’t.

I originally wrote this blog post a few years ago about my ex-husband and daughters celebrating our wedding anniversary together. Some people found this pretty weird, and others celebrated our vastly improved relationship since we chose to exit our marriage. 

Either way, this is our life and how we choose to live it.  Continue reading “Cutting, Keeping & Nurturing the Right Ties, Redux”