For Ashley Klapper Pressman, Work Guided by Jewish Values

Jmore talked with Pressman about how Jewish values have influenced her career, the advice she would you give young women entering the workforce today, and more.

What inspires you in your line of work?

I’m inspired by the opportunity to make a difference in the world, and I’ve been lucky enough to have been in the right place at the right time a number of times over my career when we had the chance to create something that really mattered in the moment — most recently, that was the chance to spearhead a retreat at Pearlstone for Israeli families living in Baltimore who have all been traumatized by the war between Israel and Hamas.

I’m also inspired by the chance to work with incredible teammates and to figure out how best to support each person to become the best professional they can be. My colleagues have truly been family to me and that keeps me going through the tough times.

Who was or is your professional role model?

It’s hard to pick just one. I’ve learned from each of my supervisors about the value of good supervision, the need to balance work and life, and the importance of being ambitious and visionary. I’m especially grateful to Leslie Pomerantz for having the confidence in me to get me launched on my first significant leadership role.

But I realized a couple of years ago that the person who had the most impact on my leadership style is actually someone I never met in person. During the pandemic, I picked up the book ‘The Carolina Way’ by Coach Dean Smith and as I read it, I realized how much his leadership had impacted the entire culture I grew up in. His focus on gratitude and acknowledgement, fair play, learning the basics and the mantra ‘Play hard. Play smart. Play together’ (which I thought everyone knew until I moved out of Chapel Hill!) are all integrated into my understanding of what it is to be a leader.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?

I’ve gotten so many gems of advice over the years, but the one that always sticks out to me is a lesson my father taught me as a child, through example as much as through his words.

His advice was, ‘It’s got to get done. Someone’s got to do it. It might as well be me.’

I think those words have guided me a lot over the years, as I’ve stepped into a lot of opportunities with a ‘get ‘er done’ attitude that allowed us to figure things out as we went, and still know where we were going and what success would look like.