After serving as legislative and communications director and then chief of staff for State Senator Cheryl Kagan (D – District 17) over the course of two and a half years, Abby Snyder feels ready to transition from the legislative side to the lobbying side of work in Annapolis. In mid-August, she joined the Baltimore Jewish Council (BJC) as its new director of government relations.
“As an active member of the Jewish Community, this position felt like the perfect next step in my career,” said Snyder, 30. “I hope to represent the ideals of the Baltimore Jewish community in Annapolis and successfully create partnerships with legislators and activists to further our goals.”
You graduated from Towson University with a major in biology and minor in chemistry. What was your journey from science to politics?
I’ve always had a passion for helping people and a strong connection to the Jewish value of tikkun olam. I also grew up really liking science, so I figured that meant I was destined to work in a medical field of some sort. After graduation, in true Millennial fashion, I found myself working at an intellectual property firm in DC, which had absolutely nothing to do with my degree!
After five years there, some frustration with my local municipal leaders, and a lot of encouragement from family and friends, I decided that maybe the way I was destined to help people was through policy change. So, I threw my hat in the 2019 Bowie City Council race. Even though I didn’t win, I made some incredible connections and now serve as Chair of the City’s Environmental Advisory Committee, which I really enjoy — but I knew that I wasn’t quite done exploring the world of policy.
While I was running for City Council, a cousin of mine connected me with Senator Kagan, whom he grew up with (gotta love Jewish geography). When she asked if I wanted to come and shadow her in Annapolis during the legislative session, I jumped at the opportunity. About halfway through the day there, she offered me a job. The rest is history.
I’m so grateful that I took that initial step to run for City Council, because it changed the entire trajectory of my life for the better.
What stands out to you about the Baltimore Jewish community?
It’s very comforting to me to now be a small part of the vast Jewish community in Baltimore. Having lived in Prince George’s County my whole life, it was rare to connect with other Jews outside of the ones I knew from my own congregation. Not to mention the annual trips up to Seven Mile Market around the holidays to get all the things we needed, simply because they weren’t available where I lived!
The immersive Jewish culture in the Baltimore region is something that holds a special place in my heart, and I’m thrilled to be working in partnership with this community.
What is an existing initiative or new project the BJC is working on that JT readers should have on their radar?
One of the things that I’m really excited to get to work on is the BJC’s annual Environmental Legislative Forum. It will be held this winter, hopefully in person. The environment is one of my policy sweet spots, and we collaborate with some great community leaders, legislators, and advocates for this event.
Who is your Jewish hero or role model?
It’s sappy, but my Jewish role model is my mom: Felicia Snyder. Aside from the obvious reasons — instilling Judaism in my everyday upbringing, giving me the tools to live my life as a true steward of tikkun olam — she also just wrapped up her two-year term as president at our temple. During this time, she was forced to navigate keeping our small congregation afloat and connected during the terribly isolating time of the COVID pandemic; and she did it with pure grace and the well-being of every member, both young and old, at heart. It was truly inspiring.