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Dara Schnee

Vice President of Philanthropy
Baltimore Community Foundation

Why is community service critical to your career and your personal leadership journey?

I was raised by parents who taught me to be grateful for what you have and to help others who might not be as fortunate. Growing up in a Jewish household, there were certain phrases instilled in me. One is Tzedakah which means “righteousness” in Hebrew. It refers to the religious obligation to do what is right and just. In the Jewish religion, community service is not seen as voluntary, but rather a way of life. I have been doing Tzedakah my entire life. From a young age, I remember collecting change in a box and as it filled up we would donate it to charity. As a leader it’s critical to me that my team gives back so we volunteer. I would consider community service to be one of the hallmarks of my leadership and a journey I am still evolving in, personally and professionally.

Self-care connects everything in life: career, interactions and one’s personal life. Is this something you are doing well or is this a goal? What are your secrets if you are succeeding and what are you goals if this is a focus area where you want to learn from others?

Over the years I have learned that to be a good leader, I need to make sure I take time for myself and model this behavior for my team and family. I encourage my team to use their vacation days, to think about something that makes them happy and try to do that a few times a week and to let me know if they are feeling burnt out. There was no better test than trying to balance it all over the course of the pandemic and working from home. I started blocking off time on my calendar to go on walks with neighbors, spend intentional time outdoors, scheduling online workout classes and making sure to have family dinner four times a week. Taking care of oneself is not always easy, but the benefits are worth the work to make it happen. My weekly rituals make me a more thoughtful and calm leader.