Thursday, 12 July 2012

My International Division Election Manifesto

Amanda Ruback - International Division Manifesto

My professional life has focused on two areas - communications and international development, enabling me to bring value and highly relevant skills to the activities of the International Division.

Over the last 10 years I have specialised in international development, encouraging businesses to engage with communities in emerging economies – providing unique experience that the International Division can use. This includes encouraging entrepreneurship, leading sustainable development programmes, supporting women’s empowerment, and disaster relief.  My work in over 30 countries has given me the opportunity to work extensively with international organisations such as the United Nations and the Clinton Global Initiative.  It has brought me into contact with world leaders in politics, diplomacy, business and academia.

Much of my work involves campaigning and developing partnerships amongst different organisations.  I look forward to bringing these experiences to the benefit of the Board and  my community.

Of specific relevance is my work engaging with the Muslim world.  In projects in Pakistan and Central Asia, I worked very closely with the Aga Khan Development Network.  This experience has equipped me with the skills to deal with cultural sensitivities, recognising there are issues which bridge religious and communal divides for the benefit of the wider community.

And for any Deputies reading this, if you want more reasons to vote for me...

Although I’m a new Deputy, I am confident that as a fast learner, I can add value to the International Division as well as bring a blend of first hand experience of real-life international development from my professional life, together with a vision of how the UK Jewish community - with all its diversity of belief, passion, energy and intrinsic benevolence can make a positive contribution and support and protect Jewish communities around the world.

I believe that as our society becomes more polarised, as different groups become more entrenched with the real danger of retreating into fundamentalism and prejudice, we need to project Jewish values in a positive light - whether secular, spiritual, or Zionist. For me this means practical engagement, such as Israel's work in areas of the world traumatised by natural disaster, for example in Haiti. In my own work, I have succeeded in getting major private and public sector bodies to support international development in many parts of the world and in a wide range of ways - from earthquake relief in Pakistan, providing micro finance in Africa, and promoting sustainability initiatives in Central and Eastern Europe – experience that I’m sure will be valuable to the International Division.

There are many active advocate groups for Israel, but the Board of Deputies can deliver its support in more practical ways than just through hasbara and lobbying. A bigger vision is needed, and I would relish the opportunity of working within the International Division to make this happen, learning from what has already worked and sharing my ideas further.

In addition to international development, I have a background in marketing and communications and so I am sure that I can support the Division in many ways and wherever it focuses its efforts. Women now make up almost a third of all Deputies.  That’s brilliant for the Board for so many reasons – not least that we’re great at making change and doing so with creativity and insight but without confrontation or conflict. I’d really love your support and your vote – as high up your preference list as possible – to help make sure that women also make up their fair share of the International Division too. 

Board of Deputy Divisional Elections - another first for me

This coming Sunday - 15th July - sees my first experience of the Board's Divisional Elections.  Those in the know have encouraged me to get stuck in and stand for one of the Divisions - the choices are between Community Issues, Defence, Finance and Organisation and International.  Given my career is in international development, I felt that it was here that I could make the greatest contribution.

And so to the process.  Each candidate provided a 200 word manifesto which was collated and circulated to all Deputies.  We were all encouraged to reach out by phone and email to other Deputies to solicit their support - but where to start?  As a new Deputy, my network is not yet well developed, so  it didn't take long to get in touch with the people I know and ask for their support.  I joined the Facebook groups and followed and contributed to the conversations and I reached out to a carefully selected group of people who I thought might vote for me.

I may have been too selective and left it too late - but who knows.  The elections work on a STV (single transferrable vote) system.  Pretty complicated stuff, but the Changing the Board group posted a very useful 'unofficial' guide that made it clear that I need to get 21 votes to have a chance of getting in.

I've read all the manifestos; I've pulled together a list of the people that have said they'll support me and who I want to vote for and there's pretty much little else I can do... except of course share my manifesto here.  It's coming soon in my next blog.