Interview with our 2019 Campaign Kickoff Speaker

Your grandmother was your best friend and mentor. How did you two typically spend your time together?
We’d mostly sit and talk, usually in her apartment. She’d share her thoughts and advice with me. She’d also let me ask questions about whatever was on my mind. We’d joke around, too. I’d try to convince her to admit I was her favorite grandkid. She never would. And there was always food. Usually a cheese sandwich or matzo ball soup. When I visited, I had to eat something. That was the rule.


You spend a lot of time volunteering at a shelter.
What do you enjoy about it?
I love spending time with the dogs. The other volunteers are really nice and have become good friends. We volunteer in groups, and it involves lots of collaboration. I like having the chance to be part of a team. I appreciate the humbling nature of it. The dogs don’t care what’s on your resume. And nobody is exempt from cleaning up after them. I admire the people in charge. They are great at what they do. I learn a lot from watching how they lead us. And did I mention, I love the dogs?

The invitations you’ve received to speak at different events have given you a chance to visit many places-from the Deep South to South Africa. What have you learned from all that travel?
I’ve learned I love the process of traveling. After all these years, I still get the same Tm-about-to-go-on-an adventure’ feeling when I step into airports or train stations. I’ve learned there is no substitute for showing up, experiencing a place and forming our own opinions. I’ve learned that most people-no matter when they were born, where they live or what they do for a living­have at least a few things in common. Above all else, I’d say I’ve learned I still have a lot to learn; about farms and business and music and a hundred other things. Every place I’ve gone, I’ve met people who know things I don’t know.

The stories you tell frequently focus on how your life has been touched by people who tend to get overlooked in the rush of our daily lives. Why do you find so much meaning in those encounters?

With all the tragedies and conflicts in the news-every day, it seems like there’s another one-the natural instinct can be to stick with the comfort and certainty of who and what we already know. Phones make that even easier. We can scroll through social media posts from friends and never look up and acknowledge, let alone get to know, the person standing next to us in the elevator or the cashier ringing up our groceries. On the other hand, because
that is so common now, it can have a real impact on someone when we don’t treat them as invisible in those brief moments. And over and over again, I’ve
found that if we make that small effort, we can meet some really good people.

The Silhouette Man tells the story of a young person’s civic and philanthropic efforts to create change, and the grandmother who mentored him. It is based on the story of Jefferson Award for Public Service honoree Greg Forbes Siegman.
On Feb. 16, Greg will be our guest speaker at our 2019 Campaign Opening Event.
Reception catered by Chef Tuck Curren of Biga
7pm in the Barbara and Dave Sylvan Auditorium at CSJCC
No cost to attend, but we invite you to make your 2019 Campaign pledge early!
RSVP by Feb 13 to

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