Originally from the Bay Area, Bella Ben-Shach started working at The David Project in June 2012; first as the Northwest, UPenn, and Temple University Campus Coordinator, then as Campus Manager, and now as Campus Director. She is responsible for managing the team of coordinators and ensuring that they have all the support and resources necessary to be successful on campus. Bella completed her undergraduate education in 2009 in Integral Liberal Arts at St. Mary’s College of California and spent a semester at Oxford University, England. After undergrad, she lived in Jerusalem for a year and participated in an Israel Government Fellows program. While in Israel, Bella worked at the Israeli Ministry of Tourism in the new media department, as well as the non-profit organization, MEMRI, where she did media monitoring and translation. Upon her return to the states, Bella entered the Hornstein program at Brandeis University and earned a dual Masters degree in Jewish Professional Leadership and Israel Studies. Bella is a native Russian speaker and loves reggae music. She is pictured far left with Dylan and Molly, David Project Campus Coordinators. The end of an academic year is one of my favorite times at The David Project because it gives us an opportunity to reflect on our work and evaluate our impact. While we definitely faced some challenges, we hit a number of milestones and surpassed our expansion goal. I am very proud to say that this has been the most successful year that The David Project has ever had!
For those of you who like big numbers, check it out. We worked with 211 Israel advocates this year – the largest cohort of relationship builders so far. These students had a total of 3,156 outreach interactions, which engaged more than 1,874 campus leaders across the country. This semester alone, we saw 113 unique programs, all of which focused on bringing campus communities together. That’s more events in one semester than we had collectively last year! This is an impressive amount of work and our student advocates should be commended for their remarkable accomplishments.
One of the most exciting aspects of our methodology is our unique Israel Uncovered: Campus Leaders Mission. This winter, we packed three buses with 108 students (both Jewish and non-Jewish) who experienced the beauty and challenges of Israeli society (in addition to seeing what happens when El Al pilots go on strike and unexpected snowfall messes with our itinerary). It was an unbelievable trip and it is a privilege to say that we brought the most non-Jewish campus leaders to Israel than any other on-campus advocacy organization. To top that off, 90% of participating campuses held at least one follow-up program upon return to the states. Our Israel Uncovered alumni are an incredible group of leaders and we are so grateful for their trust and support.
Finally, we are thrilled to announce that we surpassed our original goal of growing to 40 core schools. For the 2015-2016 academic year, we will have 43 campuses doing outreach and building amazing relationships. Welcome to our incoming cohort of change agents (you know who you are!).
Of course, none of this could have been possible without our amazing team of awesome campus coordinators. Each coordinator has brought a unique skill set to our organization and an unbelievable amount of passion and dedication to their campuses. It’s inspiring to be surrounded by such talented colleagues.
It's been an incredible year for The David Project and I know that next year will be even better!
See you at our Relationship Building Institute this summer in Boston!