OLAM’s annual Focal Point gathers Jews engaged in global service, international development, and humanitarian aid to network, exchange ideas and best practices, and celebrate their shared commitment to serving the world’s most vulnerable individuals.
Focal Point 2023 brought together nearly 200 people from 12 countries, for OLAM’s first fully in-person Focal Point since 2019. It took place May 8-9, at the Georgetown Marriott Hotel in Washington, DC. Session topics ranged from localization of our work to development philanthropy to artificial intelligence to climate change. One-on-one braindates allowed participants to share expertise and learn from each other, and meaningful conversations about our role as a Jewish community in addressing global issues took place both during plenaries, session, and in hallway meetings.
When Focal Point Fest 2022 was held in July, the world had begun to open up again, in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic; not enough to allow for a fully in-person meeting, but enough to allow for regional gatherings that brought together hundreds of people in seven cities across the world: Jerusalem, Kampala, Kigali, New York City, London, Tel Aviv, and Washington, DC. Even more came together for our virtual events, which included a presentation on OLAM’s report looking at the Jewish & Israeli response to the Ukraine crisis, an exclusive talk with UNICEF CEO Michael Nyenhuis (for partners and individual members), sector-specific sessions for practitioners, a job fair and career panel, and so much more.
Focal Point 2021, held in November 2021, was a hybrid event, with online sessions and in-person meetups in London, Jerusalem, New York City, and Washington, DC. Funders, practitioners, Jewish communal leaders, rabbis, volunteer program alumni, and others came together to explore different elements of the theme: shaping a Jewish vision for a more equitable and sustainable world. In all, more than 300 people from 20 countries participated in all the events. 53 speakers made presentations at a total of 18 sessions.
Focal Point 2020, held Oct. 14 and 15, 2020, was our first virtual event. Nearly 300 people from 17 countries took part in 19 online sessions that explored the Jewish community’s commitment to global issues and deepened participants’ understanding of the field of international development. Our 59 speakers included funders, practitioners, Jewish communal leaders, rabbis, and volunteer program alumni.
Focal Point 2019 took place July 1-2, 2019, at the Pearlstone Retreat Center in the United States.
President and CEO, American Jewish World Service (AJWS)
President, US Jewish Portfolio, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation
Executive Chair, Pears Foundation
Social Justice Consultant and Global Ambassador for American Jewish World Service (AJWS)
Executive Director, Sojourners
President and CEO, UNICEF USA