ADL Mountain States Regional Board Member Leorah Young shares her passion for combating hate and fighting for civil rights and abortion rights, and how these interests along with her international background have led her to advocate so diligently for the Anti-Defamation League.
How did you first become involved in ADL? How are you involved now?
I met Senior Associate Regional Director Sue Parker Gerson when she was planning the Civil Rights Awards Reception at the Denver Art Museum in 2014. At the time, I was the Director of Events there and I was so excited to welcome the ADL as I’d long been familiar with their work. Sue introduced me to the Sturm Fellows Leadership Program, and I’ve been involved with ADL ever since. Now, as a Regional Board Member, I am a co-chair of this year’s Sturm Fellows Leadership Program and am on the steering committee for NexGen360.
What do you do in your professional life?
I work at the JW Marriott in Cherry Creek in event sales.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
An actress, dancer and singer. Triple threat!
Where were you born? From where do your ancestors hail?
I was born and raised in Toronto. My dad’s side lived in Canada (they came there from Romania at the turn of the century). My mom is Israeli, but was born in Riga, Latvia, after the war.
What’s your favorite holiday?
This is a tough one because my favorite experiences tend to focus around food. So I’ll have to say Hanukkah.
What’s your favorite food?
Cheese and chocolate. Can’t live without them.
What are you reading?
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
What’s a special place you have visited?
I love going to ancient places. Jerusalem, Rome, Ireland and Thailand top the list.
What’s one thing every person should know or experience?
Working in the service industry.
What teacher or class stands out to you the most in your education and why?
Eighth grade Social Studies. It was the first time I was excited and inspired by my teacher. Plus, as a new Canadian transplant, it was my first taste of American History, and I was fascinated. The class trip to DC was such a highlight.
What are you passionate about personally? What can’t you stop talking about?
Hate, civil rights and abortion rights.
Where can we find you when you’re not working?
At the newest restaurant or on my couch.
What would be impossible for you to give up?
If you had to teach something, what would you teach?
Sales & Hospitality.
Tell me a story that immediately pops into your mind that was a defining or significant moment for you.
We moved to the US from Canada when I was 12 years old. Though we were fully immersed in the Jewish community in Toronto, coming from an extraordinarily multi-cultural city, I was very much aware of and exposed to different cultures and ethnic backgrounds. I remember going to a dance class a few months after arriving in the US and when I told a classmate I came from Canada, she asked if I lived in an igloo. That was the day I learned what “stereotype” meant. My mother explained that I couldn’t fault her for her ignorance, she simply did not know any better. It was also one of the most disappointing days in my life. Looking back on it today, I can’t help but be relieved by how harmless that young girl’s understanding was. Young kids today see and judge things they don’t know or understand much more harshly.
Why do you choose to make a financial investment in ADL?
Simply because of the work that they do. For me, ADL encompasses everything I’m passionate about: our Jewish heritage and Israel, basic human and civil rights, women’s rights, LGBT rights. It’s a one-stop-shop where I can flow my energy and know that good will come of it.
Complete this sentence: For me, ADL is …
My community. I never would have guessed when I started to become involved how much it would affect my life. Not only is my participation fulfilling, but I’ve found community and built friendships and connections with people that I cherish. I am so grateful that I will have ADL in my life for a long time to come.