Empowering city residents to build cities they can thrive in.
Pardes Chana, Israel
Initiating and engaging
Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
Residents of modern towns and cities can feel lonely and disconnected. Citizens living at the margins – as members of minority communities or in towns distant from economic power – are particularly disengaged from community life. A generation of younger adults are drawn to larger, more central cities where they believe they’ll have a higher quality of life. In cities of all types, young adults feel disconnected from their communities and disempowered to impact the environment around them in meaningful ways.
Bella has spent her career living out the belief that every citizen has the right and the opportunity to create the city they want to live in. Under her leadership, Eretz-Ir has empowered 53 different communities and supported 180 local entrepreneurs, while creating a sense of belonging, ownership, and responsibility that encourages young adults to invest in their local communities. Besides tangible community improvement projects, participation in the network drives attitudinal shifts – almost quadrupling young adults’ perception of being able to impact their city in a meaningful way. Bella remains on the board of Eretz-Ir and is proud to see how substantial its impact remains under its new leadership.
Following her previous work, she is now the Executive Director of Build, an urban strategic company that specializes in transforming and upgrading city living spaces for the benefit of the people who live, visit, and work in them.
“When I first started working at Eretz-Ir, we focused on Israel’s southern region. Under my leadership, our impact grew to serve the whole country, working with over 50 cities in order to increase the quality of life by supporting grassroots communities of young residents. When I began my job, the organization was very small—only six employees—and we had a budget of $600,000. After lots of hard work, believing in people, and developing new ideas, Eretz-Ir is now a thriving, professional organization of 80 workers with an annual budget of $5 million. I am proud to also serve on the board of Civic Leadership—- the umbrella organization of Israel’s social sector.”
How her leadership evolved over the two-year Fellowship:
“For nearly 20 years, my work helped establish communities that went on to strengthen their cities. Thanks to the Obama Foundation, I am on a journey to find out how the local councils and authorities can elevate their cities by strengthening community resilience.”
Obama Fellows who inspire her:
“Seema Gajwani has changed the American prosecutorial system from the inside, and not from the social sector, and I was inspired by her motivation and impact. Dedo Baranshamaje inspires me to remain myself even when serving in a higher position. Colette Pichon Battle has shown me just how important our stories are in shaping the present to impact the future.”