Monica Gebell hopes to channel her interest in equity and inclusion and programming to change perspectives as the new chief of the Levine Center to End Hate.
Gebell, director of community relations at the Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester, replaces Karen Elam, who is joining the New York City-based Jewish Council of Public Affairs as a senior vice president.
“I’ve always been drawn toward the power of stories, whether spoken word or literature, to change perceptions,” says Gebell. “I’m a big fan of the Levine Center’s programming and the focus on personal consequences of hate in addition to systemic issues. I look forward to continuing this important work and build a more inclusive Greater Rochester for all.”
Part of the Jewish Federation, the Levine Center to End Hate was established in 2018. Its goal: to develop programming that addresses community issues including anti-Asian hate, systemic racism and antisemitism. A $1 million gift from the William and Mildred Levine Foundation launched the center.
Since its start, the center has focused on uniting Rochester to end hate through events that foster learning, listening and taking action. It encourages community members to examine biases and be open to diverse perspectives and experiences.
The youth is also part of the effort. Its Youth Ambassador Council meets with community leaders and activists to understand and address discrimination. Youth ambassadors help the center with programming as well to further understanding.
“It is an incredible honor to join this initiative,” adds Gebell. “The Levine Center has an impressive history of stimulating programming and we have some exciting developments coming up that we can’t wait to share.”
Before joining the Jewish Federation, Gebell was a high school teacher. Through Roc the Mic Productions, where she is founder and chief creative officer, Gebell helps nonprofits with fundraising and building awareness through storytelling.
Last spring, Gebell organized a public shiva organization with Pathways to Peace at Washington Square Park. Community members sat in silence to honor victims of gun violence. As a founding member of Community Uprooting Racism in Brighton, she has hosted an interfaith Shabbat dinner, using the power of dialogue to break barriers.
At the Jewish Federation, Gebell has focused on education as a method to
increase acceptance of Judaism, officials say, frequently coordinating with the Levine Center.
The next event organized by the center is a “Concert to End Hate with Herb Smith.” Rochester Philharmonic trumpeter Smith, his Freedom Trio and other guests will showcase jazz, classical and original composition on Oct. 4.
Smriti Jacob is Rochester Beacon managing editor. The Beacon welcomes comments and letters from readers who adhere to our comment policy including use of their full, real name. Submissions to the Letters page should be sent to [email protected].