WellAdvised by JPRO

By Jeffrey Finkelstein and Ilana Aisen

JPRO Network has a go-to ice-breaker: “What is something that you learned along the way in your career that you wish you had known sooner?” Responses run the gamut: work-life integration, negotiation skills, how to build stronger collegial relationships, and much more.

While our history dates back to 1899, we sometimes affectionately refer to the organization as a 120-year old startup. A year ago our Board and staff set out to reimagine our work to strengthen our field by serving the professionals who power our organizations. As JPRO’s mission is to support all those who work for the Jewish nonprofit sector in the United States and Canada, we listen carefully to make sure we understand the needs of our community. Our listening tour and poll gave us resounding feedback that early- and mid-career professionals need more guidance from seasoned colleagues.

With that data in hand, we set out to build a platform to offer confidential, free, easy-to-access advice to JPRO members. With generous support from the Jim Joseph Foundation, JPRO Network is piloting WellAdvised, which offers JPRO members one-time, one-hour advising sessions on a focused area of career-based inquiry or problem solving.

What is WellAdvised?

During a six-month pilot, fourteen exemplary professionals will volunteer their time to advise their colleagues. JPRO members can sign up online for a free one-hour advising session on one of sixteen topics.

Performance improvement Managing up Path to promotion
Work/life integration Supervising What’s next? How do I envision next steps in my career and prepare for them?
Managing time and energy Working with board members Résumé review
Preparing for/returning from leave Difficult conversations Mock interview
What it means to me to work at a Jewish organization Preparing for a negotiation
I want to grow “Jewishly” – what are my next steps? Onboarding into a new role or organization (or both)

After the WellAdvised session is scheduled, advisees answer a few brief intake questions to enable their advisor to be prepared to help make the most of the advising session. Following the session, advisees are asked to respond to a quick evaluation.

Walking the Walk

We believe that what an organization does on the inside shapes its impact in the world. JPRO seeks to increase the extent to which professionals can draw from the well of wisdom within our professional community, so we started there with our pilot design. We wanted to innovate, so we turned to UpStart and were lucky to be guided by Aliza Mazor, Chief Field-Building Officer. And just as those who take advantage of WellAdvised will benefit from advice from savvy colleagues, we turned to 20 brilliant professionals whom we called our Design Team, consulting with them at critical moments in the design. We learned that having a “menu” of advising topics makes this offering more inviting, that confidentiality is critical, and that the opportunity to make cross-field connections is meaningful – and much more.

Every Pilot is an Opportunity for Learning

Pilots are all about learning. Here are a few of the big questions that we are bringing to the test drive of WellAdvised:

  • Will those who participate in WellAdvised feel more supported as members of our field?
  • Can one-hour, one-time advising help advisees identify useful next steps on an issue or opportunity that they are working through?
  • While maintaining advisee confidentiality, what are some of the trends and themes that our advisors are hearing? How can we share and leverage this learning to best serve professionals across the field?

Anyone who works for a JPROaffiliated organization is a JPRO member and can sign up to Be Advised. There are more JPRO pilots coming on the heels of this one including:

  • An online series in partnership with the Berman Jewish Policy Archive;
  • The Management Center’s Managing to Change the World course, offered at a discount, in partnership with UJA Federation of New York’s Wiener Center for Leadership and Learning.

Sign up for the JPRO newsletter to be the first to hear about all that we offer. And if your organization isn’t yet an affiliate, it’s quick and easy for your organization to join JPRO’s growing network of 160 organizations and over 4,000 members.

Jeffrey Finkelstein is the Board President of JPRO Network and serves as the CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh. Ilana Aisen is the Executive Director of JPRO Network and can be reached at ilana@jpro.org.