Hannah Sidell sounds just a little sheepish when she confesses that on the day she graduated from the University of Arizona last spring, she did not know what her next step would be.
“I struggled a bit to figure out what I wanted to do,” she says. “I don’t think I’m the only new college graduate who does that!”
Six months later, Hannah has already found a job as a Program Assistant at the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles. So how did she find this career path so quickly?
“I thought about my roots and the way I was raised,” she says. “I realized that my Jewish identity is such a big part of my life, and it feeds my passion for nonprofits and helping those around me.”
Hannah’s roots nurture a family tree with many branches of service to the Jewish community. As the proverbial saying goes, she is an apple that did not fall far from the tree. She is the fourth generation in her extended family to do work for the Jewish community. Her parents, Mark and Leslie Sidell, are not surprised by the direction she has taken.
“Mark’s involvement with the Federation started with the very first Super Sunday event,” Leslie recalls. “We used to take our kids when they were little. They were making phone calls when they were 7 and 9!”
The beginning of service
Hannah attended Denver Jewish Day School for 13 years, from Kindergarten through high school. She describes those years as a wonderful opportunity to focus on Jewish history, culture, and values. She was part of a small, close-knit community of students—there were only 24 students in her high school graduation class. No surprise that when it came time to leave home for a large state school in Arizona, she was mildly nervous. But she discovered that the transition was an easy one, largely due to her time at Denver JDS.
“At Denver JDS, I learned how to advocate for myself,” she says. “I learned how to be a good student and how to make connections with my educators. I had those skills to take me to college and into the future.”
In college, Hannah was very active in the Jewish sorority Alpha Epsilon Phi where she held a variety of leadership positions. She also was a peer mentor, volunteering for the Strategic Alternative Learning Techniques (SALT) Center, an academic support program for students with learning differences. At SALT, she had a taste of what it felt like to help others in a professional setting, but she has been watching her family give of their time and resources to support the Jewish community her entire life.
The family legacy
Hannah’s father, Mark Sidell, was Campaign Chair and Chair of the Board of the Allied Jewish Federation before that organization became JEWISHcolorado. Both Hannah’s parents served on the Young Leadership Cabinet, and Leslie was Chair of the Board of the Colorado Agency for Jewish Education (CAJE), another organization that became part of JEWISHcolorado.
Leslie was also active in the Federation, and she was President of the Board at Denver JDS when Hannah was in high school. She has been a Lion of Judah for 25 years and has also been a leader in National Women’s Philanthropy. Today, Mark is Chair of the JEWISHcolorado’s Real Estate & Construction Network.
Hannah’s uncle, Rob Kaufmann, is the current Chair of the Board of JEWISHcolorado and her aunt, Jen Gilbert-Kaufmann, served on the staff of the Federation. Jen has been a Lion of Judah since 2005.
But when Hannah brings up her “greatest influence,” she is talking about her 85-year-old grandmother, Henny Kaufmann, who received the Golda Meir Award and is a Lion of Judah. “She is humorous, smart, and caring,” Hannah says. “She is nice to everyone, and she takes on the world with such grace.”
The new job
After graduating from college, Hannah moved to Los Angeles and started her job hunt. As luck would have it, the Jewish Federation of Los Angeles had an opening and Hannah had a job.
“LA has such a strong Jewish community and this is a great organization and an excellent place to learn,” says Leslie. “We are very proud of her for wanting to do this work.”
As a Program Assistant within the Leadership Development unit, Hannah will be working with young adult programs that encourage the development of leaders. The Community Leadership Institute (CLI) is a 15-month cohort program for young adults in their late twenties which develops leadership skills through facilitated curriculum, hands-on learning, mentorship, and professional networking.
She is also working with the Brawerman Fellowship which supports college students for four years with scholarship assistance, immersive retreats, and peer and mentor networking.
Hannah calls herself a “warm weather person” so she is enjoying Los Angeles as her new home.
Even better, at the Jewish Federation of Los Angeles, she has found a professional home by following in her family’s footsteps.