You Should Know … Madeline Suggs 

Date: July 7, 2016

Source: Baltimore Jewish Times


Madeline Suggs (Photo by Marc Shapiro)

Madeline Suggs, 25, serves as the director of public affairs for the Baltimore Jewish Council, where she has been for the past two years. During that time she has facilitated a number of interfaith and interracial events with the Jewish community, a hallmark achievement for which she received the honor of being named one of the Maryland Daily Record’s “20 In Their Twenties” leaders this past spring along with a spot on the Governor’s Commission on Middle Eastern American Affairs. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park.

What got you interested in public policy?

I studied political science in college, and I’ve been involved in various social justice groups and movements throughout high school and college. I did work around LGBT youth homelessness, and that was how I got started in the nonprofit world. I became really involved in women’s rights work and the aid-and-giving work as an ally in the LGBT community. It was really my passion, and I saw a lot of overlap between how I was raised in Judaism and the idea of giving back to your community and helping those in your community who are suffering from injustice. So for me, it was really an important part of my Jewish identity to build that social justice work.

What did you do before joining the BJC?

I was actually an organizer before that for a group called Feminist Majority Foundation, so I was traveling state to state teaching college students how to run campaigns around issues that they were interested in. So a lot of my work was around teaching them about Title IX, sexual assault on campus and how the process works of reporting and making sure colleges are accountable when it comes to reporting and following the process correctly. I did that for a year.

What is a typical day like for you?

During the legislative session it is very different than outside the legislative session. A lot of what I’m doing is having meetings with churches, other organizations and figuring out where our priorities overlap and how we can help each other achieve our goals. So I spend a lot of time out of the office, in coalition meetings, doing engagement for interfaith events, going to other ethnic communities, sort of acting as a liaison between Jewish community and other communities. A big part of what I do is identity building for BJC, so I’m running all of our social media, our press releases, our marketing so that we can help get the word out about the BJC, what programs we offer and how we can be a partner to other communities.

Was it exciting to be named one of the Daily Record’s “20 In Their Twenties?”

It was. I am really proud of that. I’ve been doing a lot of interfaith work for the BJC in the past two years, and sometimes it can be an uphill battle to get recognition for the Jewish-Muslim dialogue. It was amazing because I was nominated by Art [Abramson], our previous director, so I really appreciated that. I just was appointed as the co-chair of the governor’s Middle East commission, so I think that will allow me to do work among ethnic communities in Maryland at a level statewide and not just the Baltimore area. But I think the interfaith trialogue is definitely the work I’m most proud of at the council because it’s cross-generational and it gets people to form truly organic relationships across races and across faiths. And that’s really the ultimate goal of the work I do at the council.

What BJC moment stands out the most for you?

When we did the governor’s day to serve event at the Muslim Community Center in Silver Spring. We’ve done it two years now, and the very first one had folks coming in from the Jewish community who had never met a Muslim person, and people from the Muslim community who had never met a Jewish person. And watching them have an interactive discussion about why service and advocacy is important to them and watching them get to know each other and see what they have in common was a powerful moment for me. And it reaffirmed why I do what I do every day.

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