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Dynamic Duo in New Spertus Roles

Dynamic Duo in New Spertus Roles


Two Heads are Better Than One

Dynamic duo brings passion, experience, and ‘Twin Mom Brain’ to new Spertus Institute roles

Neither Brooke Herszage nor Camille Brown expected to become moms to twins (six years ago for Herszage, eight for Brown). Nor could either have guessed that being a “Twin Mom” would prepare them to be the perfect team, working together in new roles at Spertus Institute.

Neither is new to Spertus; Herszage came aboard in 2018 to coordinate the mentoring and executive coaching component of Spertus Institute’s graduate programs. Brown has worked on and off at Spertus since 2005. But the pair have now joined forces in exciting, expanded roles. Together they will spearhead an initiative to propel the institution’s public programming forward in interesting and innovative ways.

Officially, Brown has been named Assistant Director of Public Programming, and Herszage has been promoted to Assistant Director of Mentoring and Programs. Over the summer they have been assessing Spertus Institute’s public programming offerings and audience needs, brainstorming and researching new ideas, and creating plans for new programs.

All this, while both are working from home managing summer break for their respective pairs of twins (and their other kids, to boot).

Spertus staff member Jessica Leving sat down (over Zoom) with this dynamic duo to discuss their promotions, new roles, ambitious goals, and how they bonded over both being moms of twins.

Before we dive into your new roles, take us back for a minute. How did each of you first come to be involved with Spertus?

BH: Before coming to Spertus, I was home with my kids for 12 years as a stay-at-home mom. I was always involved in a ton of Jewish lay leadership, chairing the parent committee at Chicago Jewish Day School and working as a teacher and private tutor on Sundays. I have a master's in educational leadership administration, and my passion has always been in the area of Jewish learning. Once all my kids were in school, I decided to look for a part-time role to dip my feet back in. When I was offered the job of Coordinator of Mentoring and Executive Coaching last year, it was the perfect opportunity. It brought all the things I was looking for in a job into perfect harmony.

CB: Gosh, my story goes back further. I started as a Spertus student in 2003. I was close to the end of my courses in the Jewish Studies program, and I was at a seminar eating lunch at the old Spertus building one day when the director of the Asher Library (at the time) sat down at my table. We started chatting, and I mentioned that I was really interested in library work. I asked if he knew of any programs with a Jewish focus in library school, which is what I was thinking about doing next. And he said… “I don’t know of any courses, but…do you want a job here?” And I said yes, I do! So I started off working at the library as the Periodicals Assistant. In 2008, my role expanded to incorporate aspects of programming in the public and academic areas. I did that for a few years…and then I got pregnant with two! My plan had been to get pregnant with one and stay working… but alas! With twins, I was not able to come back to work full-time, so I moved into doing some occasional project work with Spertus from home. So even though this new role is my big return, in some ways I never really left.

Tell us more about the new initiative. How did your new roles and partnership evolve?

BH: This past year and a half, for me, has been really exciting as I’ve helped grow and expand the Spertus mentoring and coaching program. As part of the process, I soon found my work overlapping into other areas of the institution. I got my feet wet with programming, and fell in love with the work of coordinating, implementing, and executing events and seminars. Eventually, my role just naturally expanded to encompass both of these areas. My new role—and partnership with Camille—was created to help us evaluate how our processes are working and see what can be better and more efficient. We’ll essentially be working together to make sure we keep evolving as an institution.

CB: Yes, so we’ve put a think tank together that has begun to generate program goals, ideas, and possibilities. With that, I get to do the research around building the programs in ways that both educate and engage. This is the part that I love. Brooke then handles the logistics of the events and programs themselves, and does all the work needed to actually make it happen. As for how it evolved on my side, well, it was always my hope that I would get to come back to Spertus in a bigger way once my kids were older. I love this part of Judaism; the pursuit of knowledge in all kinds of different ways! When I found Spertus years ago, I felt like I found my Jewish home. So when I got the call about this newly designed position, I jumped at it. It was this perfect thing that fell into my lap at the right time.

You’ll be working pretty closely together as all this moves forward. How do you feel like your personalities and work styles mesh?

CB: The day that Brooke called me to talk about the new role, right before I was officially offered the job, I hung up the phone and immediately said to my husband, “Scott, I want to do this.” A lot of it was truly her personality. I was ready to get to work with this woman.

BH: It was exactly the same for me. Our connection was immediate. It was like a puzzle coming together. And now two heads are better than one! We both have this very natural “Twin Mom Brain” that is very focused and very able to multitask.

CB: And able to work under pressure! The biggest thing about twins is the ability to handle this one’s problem while this one’s crying. You can’t stress about it. It’s just, ‘I’ll be with you in a minute.’ Also, aside from the Twin Mom thing, I’m an introvert (hence a librarian). I love that Brooke’s a talker. I think our different personalities work really well together for these roles!

BH (laughing): Totally. I think that’s why we gel and this works so well. I want to execute; I want to do. I love having a partner who can do all the quiet research and important procedural work that, for me, doesn’t move at a fast-enough pace! Sounds like a perfect partnership.

I know I speak for many of us when I say, "I can’t wait to see what comes next from this pair!"

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Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Camille Brown, far left.
Brooke Herszage, immediate left. 

Both are Spertus alumnae, Brown of Spertus Institute's MA in Jewish Studies program and Herszage of the Certificate in Jewish Leadership, presented by Spertus in partnership with Northwestern University.