“I grew up spending a lot of time in the Owings Mills JCC,” says Solomon. “It’s funny to be back working in the community I grew up in.”
Solomon is a member of the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation but said she finds herself usually going to Temple Isaiah with her in-laws in Howard County. Solomon also frequently volunteers with the Jewish Volunteer Connection (JVC, an agency of The Associated) and Repair the World.
Solomon runs two of 4Front’s core programs: the Social Innovations Program and E3 Teen Professionals Network.
What is it like to work at 4Front?
It is a lot of fun, yet still very challenging. Teens are at such an important stage of their lives. It is really important for them to have positive influences and role models.
These individuals are incredibly smart and reflective. At 4Front we strive to give teens a seat at the table, to make a program not for them, but with them.
The fun-slash-unique part is I am coordinating the professional development programs for youth, as a “youth” myself. I’m not someone who comes with 20 years of experience — I am very much in the trenches with them! It offers a unique perspective in creating the program, to know what they need day to day. I get to participate in the learning and then use it in my work.
What was your previous position like with Authentic Israel, where you coordinated Israel birthright trips?
It was a really great first job experience for me; I was right out of college and I was there for three and a half years. It had a small, supportive, and fun atmosphere, and was my first exposure to working with a Jewish organization. Getting feedback from participants about how life-changing the experiences were really reinforced my passion for mission driven work.
Can you share a particular moment that sticks out for you as an example of why you enjoy your work?
The Social Innovation Fellowship is a program I helped create from scratch, and the year culminates with our Demo Day. Teams [of teens] in groups of three or four work on developing business ideas of their own business, and they pitch it to their parents. That moment — watching and listening to them pitch all their hard work and seeing it coming to fruition — was really awesome. I’m always so proud of the teens, and the fact that their businesses all work to create a positive impact.
How is Jewish identity incorporated into a program like the Social Innovation Fellowship?
They’re learning about business but through a Jewish lens. Their Jewish values and morals motivate them. There are different ways to connect innovations and Judaism. Looking at different text studies through innovative lenses; looking at when Jewish people had to innovate; when Jewish had to be perseverant and socially conscious — it all relates to social responsibility as Jews.
What would you like people to know about 4Front, and how might they get involved?
We are really striving to be this hub for Jewish teen engagement. If any family with a teen or even a middle schooler is interested in getting involved, come to us. We will find the right fit for them, whether or not you think Judaism is your thing. There really is a right fit for every teen and a different way to connect for every teen. JT
To learn more about 4Front’s programs for teens, parents, or parents with their teens, visit 4frontbaltimore.org.
Have a suggestion for a You Should Know? Nominate your interesting Jewish co-worker, cousin, camping buddy — anyone youthful leader currently living in the Greater Baltimore area. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.