When I first joined BBYO, I didn’t understand the magnitude of the organization. All I knew was that I was in a chapter, sometimes I hung out with the whole region, and people go on this thing called CLTC in the summer. The more time I spent in BBYO, the more it made sense. I was opened up to a whole world of teens just like me.
My chapter has always been on the smaller side. We are a tight-knit group of girls with passion and strong sisterhood. Stepping into a leadership role felt like a natural move for me, so I ran for my first board position for the Spring Term of my eighth grade year.
It wasn’t until spring of freshman year when I was elected to my first term as Chapter Sh’licha that I gained some clarity about my future in this organization. There was something about the position that I was immediately drawn to. The work I did didn’t feel like a chore, and it was something I felt excited about. I was right where I needed to be. At CLTC in 2018, the idea of running for International Board popped into my mind. It was a short, quick thought that I quickly dismissed, knowing I was committing myself to lots of other activities in high school. Regional board felt like a reasonable goal to work towards, but not until my senior year.
I remember a night when I told my older sister, “I think I’m going to wait until senior year to run for Regional Sh’licha… I feel so passionate about it and I want to save it until then.” Just a few months later, regional declaration packets were released, and I realized that if I felt so passionate about the position, there was no reason to wait. On the day of regional elections, everything clicked into place for me. I was, once again, right where I needed to be.
I left for Perlman Summer (International Leadership Training Conference and International Kallah) with the intention of gaining perspective and thinking about my future. International Sh’licha had moved to the front of my mind, and I wanted to use the summer as my time to decide if it was right for me. In order to do so, I fully immersed myself in Jewish experiences at Perlman. I planned Shabbat services and made the most of the opportunities presented. I am so thankful for that summer. Leaving Perlman, though, I felt more passion but only slightly more clarity than I had before I left. When the time came for declarations for International Board, I would decide what route to take.
I was in love with the work I was doing in my region, and the idea of doing that work on a global scale was within reach, so why not go for it? I began the election process, and I found myself in the same position I was in when I ran for Regional Sh’licha: right where I needed to be. Of course, there was more pressure and the stakes felt higher, but I knew that whether I won or lost, I wanted to put everything I had into the election… and so I did.
Elections were a blur. My stomach was in knots for every election that preceded mine, but something was waiting for me at the end of the day: a new board position or a different path in BBYO. I just wanted to know which it would be. I don’t remember too much from being on the podium during my election, but I do remember one familiar feeling. I felt like I did when I ran for Chapter Sh’licha and Regional Sh’licha. I was right where I needed to be, up on that podium, sharing my passion with the International Order of the B’nai B’rith Girls.
Kelly Fagel has just been elected to serve as the 32nd International Sh’licha (Vice President of Jewish Heritage, Social Action, and Community Service) of the B’nai B’rith Girls. She has been an active member in BBYO since her eighth grade year, and she’s taken many leadership roles throughout that time. Kelly is passionate about creating meaningful Jewish experiences and involving teens in their communities. She is so excited to enter a new role in BBYO and work for the Jewish community on a global scale.