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Mountain States Spotlight with Shelli Graff Angel

  • November 4, 2016


ADL Regional Board Member Shelli Graff Angel shares her passion for justice, excellent writing, and the work of the Anti-Defamation League.


How did you first become involved in ADL? How are you involved now?

I became involved in the Anti-Defamation League about five years ago when I met Sara-Jane Cohen, an ADL Regional Board Member from Boulder.  I had contacted her to see how I could become involved and she invited me to a Board meeting and a Civil Rights Committee meeting.   I was impressed with the work that was being done in the Mountain States Region and got hooked!  Now, I am on the Regional Board as well as on the Boulder Steering Committee and the Education Committee.


What do you do in your professional life?

A former lawyer and business owner, I handle the accounting and marketing for my husband’s commercial real estate law firm, Angel Law Offices.  I am also a volunteer attorney at J-Sup (Justice Shall You Pursue), a new law firm in Boulder that helps the homeless.  I’d have to say, however, my most important position has been mom to my daughter who is just entering her senior year in high school.


When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be an Olympic champion in figure skating!  (I trained for ten years and was at an elite level in the sport, but didn’t quite make it…)


Where were you born? From where do your ancestors hail?

I was born in Detroit, MI but spent most of my childhood in Los Angeles, CA.  My father grew up in Chicago, IL and my mother is from Toronto, Canada.  My grandparents are from England and Russia.


What’s your favorite holiday?

My favorite holiday is Sukkot, which we only started to celebrate over the past few years.  I just love having people over to eat and hang out in our sukkah.  Time seems to stop and the conversations we have as we call in our ancestors are magical.


What’s your favorite food?

Dark Chocolate with sea salt.


What are you reading?

The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman, about the family of artist Camille Pissarro.


What’s a special place you have visited?

This summer, my husband and I went to Berlin, Prague, Vienna and Budapest.  All of the places we visited were incredibly beautiful – full of fabulous architecture, history, culture and art.  Though the trip was wonderful, it was also difficult. To stand on the grounds where the Holocaust started and ended, to take the train routes our ancestors took as they traveled to their deaths, and to see the ongoing anti-Semitism occurring in Eastern Europe today was incredibly poignant and powerful.


What’s one thing every person should know or experience?

Being with a loved one when they pass.  It’s a sacred moment.


What teacher or class stands out to you the most in your education and why?

My 9th grade English teacher shared his passion for literature and grammar, infusing in me a love for language.  I am grateful to him to this day!


What are you passionate about personally? What can’t you stop talking about?

I am passionate about truth; taking responsibility, being authentic and always working to grow and do better.


Where can we find you when you’re not working?

You can find me writing in a coffee shop, or hiking the local trails in Boulder or up in the high country.


What would be impossible for you to give up?

Cappuccino.  I’ve tried many times, but I love my cappuccino in the morning!


If you had to teach something, what would you teach?

I would teach writing.  It’s one of my passions and hobbies.  I love to play with the written word, and make it sound beautiful.


Tell me a story that immediately pops into your mind that was a defining or significant moment for you.

My husband and I moved from Los Angeles to Sioux Falls, South Dakota for two years prior to moving to Boulder.  It was a shock culturally to be in the middle of the country where many people had never seen or met a Jew.  I had people ask me where my horns were, call me out loudly in public (“Aren’t you Jewish?!”) and not so subtly give our two-year-old daughter Christian-themed books.  It was the first time I truly experienced being the “other.”


Why do you choose to make a financial investment in ADL?

I believe that the work ADL does is extremely important, especially right now. Over the past several years with the advent of social media, hate speech is more prevalent and easy to access.  I truly believe that it is critical to speak out against any form of discrimination and hate.  The Anti-Defamation League is often the first (and sometimes the only) organization to do so. I also appreciate the great work that ADL does with law enforcement and with children through its A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE® and No Place for Hate® Initiatives.

Complete this sentence: For me, ADL is …

… the leading organization that promotes inclusiveness and fair treatment for all people, fighting against discrimination and injustice in order to create a world where we not only accept, but also honor and respect our differences.