Michelle Weinberg started a chapter of the networking and referrals organization, Business Networking International, in the Green Lake area of Seattle recently.
The owner and operator of Design One!, a promotional products company (that's anything you can put your company name, logo or slogan on), Michelle explained to me that the chapter rose out of a void left by the closure of the Green Lake Chamber of Commerce.
'I thought it was important for there to be a way for businesses to come together, so I decided to form a chapter,' she says. A small group started meeting at Rosita's Mexican restaurant, but moved to The Hearthstone retirement home's boardroom as they got larger. 'We quickly grew to 18 members in three months.'
'I have a passion for starting things,' says Weinberg. She started Design One! in her home after leaving Microsoft, where she worked for three years. The business grew fast and she moved into an office in Bellevue with six sales people, an office manager and a full-time designer.
'It was all fun and exciting, but I realized I was spending a lot of time managing as opposed to developing one-on-one relationships with clients. So I began to downsize.'
Weinberg now has a small office at Green Lake, 'and the clients get the benefit of working with me directly, the owner of the company.'
This arrangement also gives her the flexibility she needs as the mother of two young kids, Zachary, 4, and Rebecca, 3.
Her passion for starting things extended to forming a Hadassah 'training wheels' (Shirim al Gagalim) program last year in Seattle's Northend, which fosters Jewish identity in preschoolers. They meet as a play group in people's homes or at Congregation Beth Shalom where Michelle and her husband Perry belong, moving to parks in the nicer weather.
Michelle was raised in Albuquerque, N.M., and moved here over a decade ago, following her parents to the Northwest. Miriam and Milton Lubow moved to the Seattle area because Miriam was Bill Gates' secretary back in the computer dark ages when Microsoft was a 10-person company located in Albuquerque. Bill had to convince Miriam to move ' and that took a few years ' but once the Lubows were settled here, gradually all their children followed.
It turns out that Miriam likes to start things, too, creating a 'Shalom Club' at her retirement home on the Eastside.
It's hard to imagine that with two small kids, her own business and two major volunteer commitments that Weinberg would have time for anything else, but this summer she completed her first Olympic distance triathlon! (That's a one-mile swim, 26-mile bike ride and a 10-kilometer run.)
Michelle is happy to talk to anyone about either BNI or Training Wheels. You can reach her during the day at 206-523-5200, ext. 4. And while you're on the phone you can order those company coffee mugs you've always wanted.
Brandeis University has a new and innovative program to help meet the shortage of qualified Jewish day school teachers. DeLeT (Day School Leadership Through Teaching and also the Hebrew word for door) is a teacher certification program that also prepares instructors to be life-long learners and leaders.
A recent graduate is Issaquah native Ilana Glosser. She chatted on the phone with me from Boston last week, where it was warm enough that she was sitting outside a Starbucks (where else?), while I bundled in fleece against a wet, Novemberish chill.
Ilana has her first full-time teaching job at the Jewish Community Day School of Boston, and is continuing on in the Brandeis program to get her Master's degree.
Glosser herself is a product of the Jewish Day School in Bellevue, which exerted some influence on her career choice.
'I was always interested in working with kids and teaching,' Ilana explains, adding that she has a great love of literature and writing and really enjoys introducing her 1st grade class to books.
Another influence was the year she spent in Israel on the Young Judaea Year Course. Inspiration and encouragement came, of course, from her parents, Larry and Joann, who is the former director of education at Herzl-Ner Tamid Conservative Congregation.
Glosser says the 13-month DeLeT program did a great job in preparing her for her career. For much of the program she worked in a classroom four days a week, taking her own classes on the fifth.
Now that she has her own classroom, she finds enjoyment in the fact that there's 'something new every day,' she says. 'It's always exciting, always changing.'
Although she admits that there hasn't been much time for fun between school and starting a new job, she did get to Maine this summer with her fianc', Jeff Wodlinger. She attended Wesleyan University, so she is no stranger to New England, but says she hasn't visited Vermont yet and hopes, this fall, to get out and see the fall colors.
'I'm loving Boston,' she says. 'It's a fun city.'
But she misses the Northwest and hopes, someday, to find her way back.