Meet Shelley: Jewish Community Builder of the Week!

by Allison Friedman / January 29, 2020

When she’s not supporting women entrepreneurs in her role at the State Department, you might find Shelley spearheading JWI programs, helping out with ADL, reading at the West End Library…or walking dogs?! Get to know Shelley Greenspan!

P.S. Have a suggestion for a Jewish Person of the Week? Email to nominate your friend, colleague, partner, or even yourself.

shelley in dc

Allie: What brought you to DC?

Shelley: A chance meeting with Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz during my freshman year of college at the University of Florida. I was speaking at a UF Hillel event in her honor and we really connected about our shared experience in UF Student Government. A few weeks later I moved to D.C. to intern for her in the Capitol and I was hooked!

Allie: I hear you just started a new job, MAZEL! Tell me a little bit about it.

Shelley: Thanks! I’m working at the State Department in the Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs, building out the Academy of Women Entrepreneurs, a new program supporting women entrepreneurs around the world. Through an inclusive learning community, we teach women the fundamentals of business – including how to create a business plan and how to best raise capital. 

Allie: Outside of work, you’re a JWI board member and co-chair ADL’s Glass Leadership Institute. How and why did you get involved with those organizations?

Shelley: A friend of mine recently said that Judaism is a gateway drug to public service and I couldn’t agree more. The two organizations I dedicate most of my personal time to, JWI (Jewish Women International) and the ADL (Anti-Defamation League), both have missions I care deeply about. They are simultaneously committed to the Jewish people and humankind as a whole – encapsulated in ADL’s work to “secure justice and fair treatment to all” and JWI’s work to “ensure that all women and girls thrive in healthy relationships, control their financial futures and realize the full potential of their personal strength.”

I once heard Congressman John Lewis say that to be an effective public servant, you must love people. Serving in leadership roles with JWI and the ADL has given me a sense of purpose and the opportunity to build a community that actively engages in these ideals. If you want to learn more about getting involved with the ADL or JWI, please reach out.

Allie: Do you have a Jewish role model who inspires you?

Shelley: I have many, but two women stand out – Wendy Singer, Executive Director of Start-Up Nation Central, and Anne Neuberger, Director of Cybersecurity at the U.S. National Security Agency.

shelley and friendsAllie: Describe your dream DC day from start to finish.

Shelley: I’d start the morning with a run around the Mall, head to brunch at Le Diplomate, meet a friend for coffee at the Eaton Hotel, then head to the courtyard of the Portrait Gallery to read.

I’d end the day with drinks at Fig & Olive before seeing a play at either the Kennedy Center or Arena Stage, or if it’s Friday host Shabbat dinner in my apartment!

Allie: What do you do to relax at the end of a long week?

Shelley: I’ve recently become a bit of a bookworm. I discovered the newly remodeled West End Library and created a Goodreads account last year, which has significantly accelerated my reading motivation. I’m participating in their Reading Challenge this year – follow my progress and join me on Goodreads!


Allie: Do you have any book recommendations?

Shelley: “The Second Mountain” by David Brooks. “Educated” by Tara Westover. “Catch 67″ by Micah Goodman. “The Art of Gathering” by Priya Parker.

Allie: Do you have a resolution, intention, or word for 2020?

Shelley: My word for 2020 is “infrastructure.” I finally feel like I’m home in D.C. – I officially became a resident this year! I want to focus on the community I have here and build upon its robust foundation.

Allie: Speaking of the new year, what motivated you to go on Awakening the Divine, the silent, Jewish meditation retreat over New Year’s this year?

Shelley: For some unknown reason, I had a deep yearning for an intense spiritual experience. I was considering either going to Burning Man or seminary in Israel. I couldn’t secure a ticket to Burning Man and seminary was too complicated logistically – I strangely viewed this Jewish silent retreat as an in-between experience that would scratch my itch. I actually originally read about the retreat in Sarah Hurwitz’s book, “Here All Along

Allie: What is something people might be surprised to know about you?

Shelley: I’m a dogsitter! I have a very active Rover account and usually have a new pup every weekend.

Allie: When Jews of DC Gather…

Shelley: It’s at my apartment for Shabbat dinner!



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