The Many Faces of the ROI Community

Yesterday I had the chance to, once-again, sit with 120 hyped-up, caffinated, sleep-deprived young adult movers and shakers of our Jewish world at the 5th annual gathering of the ROI Global Summit. And while perhaps I spent a bit to much time catching up with friends from around the globe, it is clear that this group not only ‘gets it’ they are actually ‘doing something about it’.

For not only are they creating cutting edge projects on multiple continents, they are trail-blazing a new level of collaboration among themselves and spurring a growing interchange of ideas between ventures such as JHub, Joshua Venture Group, Jumpstart, PresenTense and UpStart Bay Area.

Here are just a few of the many faces of the global ROI Community:

From Florianopolis, Brazil, meet community leader Deborah Levitan. A recent college graduate with a degree in psychology and business, Deborah is involved with youth study programs sponsored by the Brazilian government. Having personally spent time on the beautiful island of Florianopolis, I can relate when Deborah says, “Since I’m from a small Jewish community where we almost ‘struggle’ to keep Judaism alive, for me to see how big other communities are and how young Jewish people put in practice such specific and innovative ideas, made me come back to work in my community with tons of motivation.”

From Brooklyn, Michelle Citrin: star of the hit YouTube sensations, “20 Things to do with Matzah” and “Rosh Hashanah Girl”, which have received millions of hits and have been featured on Good Morning America, CBS Evening News and in The New York Times, Michelle is currently scoring music and writing lyrics for the upcoming Broadway production of Sleepless in Seattle. “ROI & The Center for Leadership Initiatives has played an integral part of my Judaic young adult life both personally and professionally.”

Joining the Summit again this year from the Far East, Manuela Zoninsein, a Brazilian-American writer, who has been covering Greater China from Beijing and Taipei for Newsweek, the Engineering News-Record and Monocle. Passionate about confronting China’s sustainability and agricultural development challenges, Manuela established AgriGate, a business intelligence newsletter to foster information and technology exchanges between Israel and China. AgriGate covers China’s agritech market for an Israeli and American audience. “Thanks to the ROI network, I met my ‘business partner’ who appreciates the potential that exists for Israel in establishing a strong relationship with China.”

Closer to home in Israel we have Inbal Freund-Novick and her globe-trotting partner, Chari Pere. No strangers to our eJewish Philanthropy community through their social change The Unmasked Comics Project, they tell us, “We depict extraordinary stories through fun, engaging comics, in a way that inspires others to get involved in social action. Thanks to a ROI grant, we created stories promoting the use of electric cars and about a Darfurian to raise awareness about asylum seekers.”

Lastly for today, Elena Krulevich, the personable new director of Hillel Moscow. Elena, whom despite our overlapping circles I somehow failed to meet at the recent LimmudFSU program in Moscow, created a magazine for Russian youth called Eser, which is distributed in both schools and universities. Among Elena’s many accomplishments, she was the only representative from Russia in the Decade Alumni Taglit trip this past winter in celebration of Taglit’s 10 years.

Elena tells us, “The real impulse for taking action is not only the information you get but the people around you who are energetic, creative, and successful and believe in what you are doing.”

This is what the ROI Global Summit is all about.