Alumni Spotlight: Maya Trabin
Maya Trabin has been a member of the Bay Area City Team since December 2007. She currently works at the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, which seeks to promote equal rights and opportunities for all people.
What motivated you to join the City Team?
My involvement started with a chance reunion with Heidi Winig [former Bay Area program officer]. I was recently back in the Bay Area after studying development in grad school, and the City Team was just about to start. Somebody in the Jewish community connected the two of us. The City Team was this perfect convergence of all the things I was interested in, wanting to connect my experiences abroad with local community building and organizing.
The thing that really drew me in was a chance to be part of building something in a community I care about and with organizations that really speak to my values. Being a part of the AJWS-AVODAH Partnership is a way to be engaged that forces me to reflect both internally and on the work itself – not only what the work is about, but also what we bring to it and how we are changed by it.
What has City Team worked on over the past year, and what are your expectations for it in the coming year?
We're definitely still in the learning and growing stage. We're from the Bay Area, so, as you know, we love our start-ups. This is a community-wide experiment. We're figuring out what works and what doesn't, and how we can bring together people that wouldn't necessarily connect otherwise but have similar values. A special part of the City Team experience is figuring out what we—as individuals, as a team, and across the larger community—are passionate about and then setting up our dominoes in a way that supports the pursuit of social justice in multiple directions.
This last year was really about starting to understand our role and our potential. For me, I found that the smallest event actually had the most lasting impact. I had a Shabbat dinner in my backyard as a follow-up to the "Story of Stuff" screening event. I invited other friends who were not connected or who were from different activist or Jewish communities. There are people who met that night who, almost a year later, are still connected, through the friendships that began that evening, or through their social justice work. You start to see community growing right before your eyes, and it can be very powerful.
How does your Judaism connect to this work?
It's definitely connected. I was doing Jewish stuff and activist stuff before and it was separate for me. When I came back to the Bay Area, I started working with a few organizations, and found that something was missing for me. I didn't know what it was until I started working with the Partnership: that I can explore the values behind my social justice work. The work actually looks different when I bring that spiritual, or reflective, element to it. I don't think it's the same conclusion that everyone comes to, and I actually find if helpful to bring those different perspectives together in our community. In the last year, one of the big pieces I've focused on is bringing people into the community that haven't always identified or don't identify with the Jewish community, or vice versa, people who are in the Jewish community and haven't always seen their role as social change agents. My connection between the two has definitely grown through this work.
What are you working on right now with the City Team?
I am going to be working with other City Team members on the Shabbat dinner series, which I'm so excited about. I'm also very interested in human rights and new media.
What do you do when you're not at City Team meetings?
Professionally, I work for a foundation that works on gay and lesbian rights, immigrant rights, education opportunities—like closing the racial and economic achievement gap, leadership work for nonprofits who are also working towards equality, and community projects in the San Francisco Bay Area. I have a background and interest in using participatory media in social justice work to help amplify people's voices—for both personal transformation and also as an advocacy or policy tool.
I live in a really beautiful place that I love to explore, usually on foot. After moving around, it's nice to keep a curious mindset, especially in the place you feel most at home. After being away for a long time it's also exciting to be near friends and family and to be a part of this very special community doing the kind of work that touches on the things I'm so passionate about. I have a lot to be grateful for.
Contact Maya and the SF City Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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