Thirty-five Jewish leaders from universities across the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom gathered in New York City for a three-day training program for the newest cohort of Start-Up Nation Mentorship (SUNM) Campus Directors and Executive Team members. SUNM pairs extraordinary student leaders with Israeli executives from a wide range of industry and government positions to ensure that the next generation of leaders have the knowledge and relationships to succeed.
The three-day seminar equipped team members with the tools and knowledge to make an impact on their campuses. The weekend opened with Shabbat services and a festive Friday night dinner and an introduction to the SUNM model. After optional Shabat services in the morning, participants gathered at the World Jewish Congress headquarters for the opening session led by Founder and Chairman Adam Shapiro and Vice Chairman Ben Spilg, who outlined the role of SUNM and the goals for the upcoming academic year. The group then heard from Yoni Hammerman, Director of WJC NextGen, who spoke about global Jewry and WJC’s programs and diplomatic efforts around the world.
On the final day of the seminar, team members were briefed by CEO Annabelle Pundaky on SUNM’s initiatives, and future plans. They were then divided into breakout sessions to facilitate conversations about their own campus strategies.
Next, the team heard from program alumni Tarika Vohra (Columbia ’24) and Murimi Nyamu (Harvard ’20) who attended the inaugural Young Professionals Fellowship in Israel in June 2023. Tarika’s story demonstrated firsthand the impact of SUNM on non-Jewish college students, while Murimi highlighted his incredible first experience in Israel alongside 17 other young leaders (22–29 years old), which introduced them to Israel’s thriving tech and investment ecosystem. Following that insightful conversation, team members heard from New York-based Israeli entrepreneur and tech executive Shiran Yaroslavsky, who shared her thoughts on business development, Israel’s start-up ecosystem, and leadership.
The three-day seminar concluded with the development of individual campus strategies and student recruitment plans by the SUNM team members. Co-founder Dr. Justin Shapiro quoted Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks in characterizing the organization’s mission: “Good leaders create followers, but great leaders create other leaders.”