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Welcome to Kara Schell, ADL Mountain States Associate Director of Development!

  • September 18, 2023

Kara Schell

The ADL Mountain States Region is thrilled to welcome Kara Schell as its new Associate Director of Development. Kara joined the team in June after leaving her hometown of Austin, TX, where she was deeply involved in the development field.  Her passion for helping others began to blossom while working with the special needs community as a teenager, which initially guided her college and post-college career at The University of Texas. While considering how to transition from special education to a new field, she found her love for non-profit work during her time overseas in Beijing, China. Kara looks forward to deepening her involvement and knowledge of the Denver community with her husky, Noodle, alongside her.

We sat down for a conversation with Kara to learn why she chose to devote her talents to working for ADL.

ADL: What led you to want to work at ADL? Is there something in particular about ADL’s work or mission that speaks to you?

Kara Schell: Our mission first speaks to me as a Jew, but more profoundly impacts me as a Jew who doesn’t live “in the bubble.” I want my future family to feel safe when they attend Hebrew school, and I want my friends’ future families to feel safe when they share with their classmates that they have two dads or they have a Black parent. Our mission mirrors my morals and values, and that is a really beautiful thing. By working at ADL, I am able to live each day as my honest self, and inspire others to be a part of our mission, too.

ADL: Who are some of the people that have served as role models for you, both in the area of social justice and generally?

KS: My father and grandfather have had different approaches to leading a life of fulfillment that have been equally important in my development. My father adheres to Maya Angelou’s belief that “people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Upon walking into my dad’s office, whether as a ten-year-old child or a thirty-year-old adult, someone invariably greets me by saying that I’m so lucky to have him as my dad, and it’s true. With my grandfather, I always experienced a healthy level of intimidation as I watched him come back from board meetings to sequester himself away in his office with a glass of wine and Bach playing in the background. That intimidation eventually morphed into profound respect as I grew up, and we began to share a love of reading and discussing politics. Both of these men taught me the value of curiosity and equality, as my dad navigated the Jewish world after converting and my grandpa opened his home to  people from marginalized backgrounds in a time when it was uncommon (particularly in the South) for white men to do so.

ADL: What is your advice for people committed to positive change?

KS: Be actionable! If you want to support marginalized groups, volunteer. If you want change in your government, participate in a call bank. Get involved locally. A disease of these times is performative activism in which people rant and post about the injustices of the world without taking actionable steps to change it. I believe strongly that when you take that step to volunteer you will not only help a cause you deeply care about, but you will feel like you have more power in addressing the problem. Be the change you want to see.