Carrie Rosenfelt said she has always felt an internal drive to give back to the community.

She originally expected to end up in politics, describing herself as “young and idealistic,” and believing she could make the world a better place in that way. While she did work in Washington D.C. in politics for a while, she pivoted and entered the nonprofit arena for several years before eventually segueing into a role in the private sector that frequently works in conjunction with nonprofits. She described herself as a “behind the scenes person” who sought to empower others.

“I enjoy empowering other people,” Rosenfelt said. “I think seeing people succeed and live their purpose is really fulfilling. I like seeing us make progress as a community. I’ve been (back) in Cleveland for about 18 years and just seeing how our city has evolved has been really rewarding.”

She said she was finally able to identify the internal drive for her desire to give back when she learned about the concept of tikkun olam, or repairing the world.

“Once I learned about tikkun olam, that is probably my strongest point of connection to Judaism,” she said of how her faith has impacted her mission of giving back. “To know that it has a name, and it has tradition, that my ancestors have all been committed to this same principle is pretty amazing.”

Rosenfelt was this year’s chair of the 74th Annual Meeting of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland’s Community Relations Committee & Sidney Z. Vincent Memorial Lecture. She was instrumental in bringing together a panel of community leaders from the Black, Latinx and Jewish communities to discuss “Overcoming Challenges Together.”

She is also an active member of Women in Philanthropy and the Jewish Professional Women’s Group of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland.

She advised younger people who were just starting their careers and looking to get involved to first figure out where their passions lie.

“Listen and ask questions of what other people are doing, and then figure out where you’re passionate and how you plug in – how you can use your strengths and interests to contribute,” she said. “Don’t do stuff just because it gets your name on a board list or committee list or it’s something you think will look good on your resume. You got to do things that really resonate with you and be authentic.”

Her other piece of advice for younger people was something she admitted people don’t always do well at any age – collaborate.

“Be part of the team, no matter what it is you want to get involved in,“ Rosenfelt said. “Find other people that are interested (in a similar goal) and do it together.”

She said she is continuing to work on improving herself, particularly by taking her own advice, listening to what others have to say and collaborating.“I have a lot of ideas and I tend to be very type A and charge ahead,” she said. “But I’m really trying to slow down and listen more and take on things that really resonate with me and and have some momentum.”

She also said her main driver is helping others who may not have the same advantages succeed in their lives.

“The majority of my career, for at least the last 15 years, has been (focused) around empowering minorities and women,” she said. “That’s really what I’m most committed to, making sure there’s equity, the concept of economic justice.”

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