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Asking the Right Questions: Nigel Savage on Ruth Messinger's Influence

In his interview on yesterday’s episode of Smashing the Plateau, Nigel Savage, the founder and president of Hazon, a faith-based environmental organization, discussed lessons learned during his transition from the private to public sector. One key feature to his success was learning to form partnerships and ask the right questions. During his talk, he discussed in detail one such partnership that helped him move forward in navigating the non-profit world, implementing new programs, building community support, and raising public awareness: his partnership with Ruth Messinger.

Ruth Messinger founded American Jewish World Service after retiring from Manhattan city politics in the early 2000s. Nigel describes how at the time the two met, her organization “had a budget of 2 million dollars and a staff of about 9 people. Today it has a budget of about 70 million dollars and probably 130 people.” Impressed by her leadership and non-profit prowess, Nigel initially approached Messinger to ask for financial support for his own budding non-profit. Messinger would help the organization grow, but as a constant mentor and member of the board instead of a financier: “If I email her at 6 in the morning she replies at 2 minutes past six. If I email her at midnight, she replies at two minutes past midnight.” Nigel describes how both organizations seek to pair Jewish faith with positive global change. In fact, Nigel found that their two organizations also faced many of the same developmental issues and could build upon each other’s experiences. In his interview, Nigel cites the question of “functional leadership vs. geographical leadership” as one such parallel.


About the author, David Shriner-Cahn

David is the podcast host and community builder behind Smashing the Plateau, an online platform offering resources, accountability, and camaraderie to high-performing professionals who are making the leap from the corporate career track to entrepreneurial business ownership.

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