A new yearlong leadership training program for women will launch this year as a result of a collaboration between The Women’s Jewish Learning Center (WJLC) and PJ Library.

The Women’s Leadership Institute (WLI), developed and led by Rabbi Elana Kanter, WJLC director, is designed to train a new cohort of communal leaders by providing a formal leadership training curriculum and matching the women with mentors.

The 10 women selected to participate in the 2015-2016 Women’s Leadership Institute are Penni Golub, Andrea Kravetz, Jolene Kuty, Jessie Rubenstein, Chantelle Sabbath, Jennifer Starrett, Suzanne Trevino, Rachel Wallach, Amanda Walker and Deborah Sheinbein Winegarden.

WLJC contacted local Jewish organizations to ask them to nominate women who they felt would be good candidates for the program, Kanter said, then the nominees formally applied and went through an interview process.

“The diverse cohort of women selected to participate in this initial program represent a wide spectrum of backgrounds, affiliations and organizations,” she said in a release. “They will form new networks and opportunities for communal involvement and growth.”

The goal is to train the women to work on existing community programs, Kanter told Jewish News. “In some corners of our community, women are not represented as much as much as they should be in terms of leadership,” she said. “This is our effort to contribute to helping women be more in the forefront.”

The WLI has applied for grants from national organizations, such as PJ Library, as well as local organizations, and the rest of the funding will come from donations, Kanter said. The year-long program will include monthly meetings as a group, as well as monthly meetings between the cohort and their mentor.

The mentors are: Alison Betts, chair of PJ Library; Fredi Brown, former national board member and past president of Hadassah; Debbie Yunker Kail, executive director of Hillel at ASU; Jill Kessler, Pardes Jewish Day School head of school; Harriet Rosen, member of the WJLC advisory committee; Ellen Sacks, associate director of Jewish Free Loan; Tina Sheinbein, executive director of Jewish Free Loan; Sharona Silverman, director of the Deutsch Family Shalom Center at Temple Chai; Berry Sweet, Jewish Community Association of Greater Phoenix Medal of Honor recipient and former Women’s Philanthropy president; and Connie Wolf, professional coach and consultant and volunteer with the National Council of Jewish Women.

Having a one-to-one mentor is an important component of the program, said Betts. To have “one person that they can rely on who makes them feel included and helps navigate their questions... I think it’s a really exciting model.”

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