Joshua Sayles recently joined the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh as director of the Federation’s Community Relations Council. Sayles perceives his role as a “liaison of the Jewish community to the greater community” and will spend the upcoming months exploring both Pittsburgh’s Jewish and secular communities.
Prior to joining the Federation, Sayles was assistant director of the Connecticut regional office of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a position he held since 2012. Sayles maintained that his work at the ADL prepared him to lead the CRC.
“I think that there is a lot of overlap between the ADL’s mission to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all and the Federation’s mission and CRC’s mission to create a thriving, vibrant and engaged Jewish community in Pittsburgh and Israel,” said Sayles.
While at the ADL, Sayles handled various responsibilities. He responded to discrimination complaints and anti-Semitic incidents, monitored and exposed extremist group activity, worked on civil rights advocacy, lobbied and worked with the media. Sayles’ familiarity with journalism facilitated the latter. Prior to joining the ADL, he was a reporter for the Jewish News of Greater Phoenix and wrote for Villager Newspapers of Putnam, Conn.
Sayles is a native of Newton, Mass., and holds degrees in psychology and writing from Washington University in St. Louis.
He has particular hopes for his work with the CRC.
“I think that it’s incredibly important for the CRC to continue to stand with Israel and incredibly important to continue to be the face of the Jewish community in terms of advocacy and legislation, and I think that it’s important for us to continue our interfaith and intergroup work and that we also have a role to play in this community in addressing issues of poverty and hunger, the environment and immigration,” he said.
“The role we play in each of them will be proactive in some part, but we also need to, I also need to, learn the expectations of this community.”
Sayles continued: “I am in a lot of ways the liaison of the Jewish community to the greater community so I need to spend the next few months getting to know the Jewish community and secular community and finding ways to represent the Jewish community’s needs to the best of my ability.”
The Federation is eager to see Sayles’ abilities in action.
Federation president and CEO Jeff Finkelstein said, “Josh brings a real passion for building relationships and a wealth of experience, having previously worked for a Jewish community organization in the area of advocacy.”
“Josh brings with him to Pittsburgh a passion for justice,” said Cindy Goodman-Leib, chair of the Community Relations Council.
“He values the role of building relationships as a key component of his work in community relations. We welcome his many experiences, especially his work with the ADL and as a journalist. Josh will build upon what we have accomplished within and beyond the Jewish community.”
Adam Reinherz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.