Erika Rief Hornstein, 31, works day and night to better the Jewish community through her volunteer work.
Hornstein grew up in Owings Mills and graduated from Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School. She attended Emory University in Atlanta, where she earned a Bachelor of Business Administration, and then worked for several years in consulting. She returned to Baltimore for a design leadership dual degree program between Johns Hopkins Carrie School of Business and the Maryland Institute College of Art. Hornstein now works as the director of engagement initiatives in the dean’s office at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing.
She and her husband John live in Clipper Mill with their 14-month-old daughter.
Is your current job something that you’ve always thought you would do?
No, not at all. It’s been quite the journey to get there. So my initial interest after graduate school was in older adults, and I was connected with a researcher who was a professor at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. I worked with her on different research projects and a program she had created for older adults. When she recently became the dean of the nursing school, I joined her in the dean’s office. I use my educational background in design thinking and help apply that to how the school operates. I make its programming, initiatives, the overall sense of the school more participatory in nature.
What does your day to day look like?
I’m working on different projects. For example, one is about the student experience to think about how we get feedback from students beyond clinical and classes. It is also the way we know how to act on the feedback so that students understand that we are listening to them and acting on their recommendations.
Are you involved in any volunteer work?
I’m involved in a lot. So first, I’m a [Macks Center for Jewish Education] connector for the Greater Hampden area, and what that entails is that we’re given a budget to create connections and programs with other young families in the area. So this year I have planned eight different events as well as done smaller coffee chats and get-togethers with young families living in the Hampden area and creating community.
I’m also on the board of the Jewish Museum of Maryland and the incoming chair. In June of 2023, I’ll be the incoming chair of the board, so I’ll be leading board meetings, meeting with the executive director weekly to talk about different things going on at the museum from a strategy level and implementation level. I’ll also be meeting with The Associated to help talk about the allocation that’s given to the Jewish Museum, meeting with funders with helping to think about bringing other board members on and meeting with the committee heads on the board to hear about the progress of their committees. A big focus that we are going to have is … young adult engagement with the museum.
Why do you love to do that?
I grew up being very involved in Hillel and Moishe House, and so I have always loved hosting and building connections. I just naturally am a connector, so this was my husband and I’s way of transitioning into parenthood. It was a natural way for us to transition doing similar types of work but for young parents.
Why is it important to you to volunteer for Jewish organizations?
I love being Jewish and love building that Jewish community. I think there’s a lot of value in our heritage and the way it can bring people together. I want other people to experience different aspects of Judaism, whether cultural or related to holidays. I want them to be in a position to either host events themselves or know how to create gatherings that have Jewish aspects.