Angelique Power is an accomplished champion for racial justice who comes to the foundation after serving as president of the Field Foundation in Chicago.
Angelique Power remembers being 13 years old, as the daughter of a white Jewish mother and a Black father, standing in a synagogue on the south side of Chicago, not so sure she fit in.
Power pulled the synagogue’s rabbi aside, telling him she had many doubts, not even sure if she believed in God. She asked the rabbi, “Am I still a good Jew if I don’t believe that?”
The rabbi asked her two questions in response. “Do you take care of your neighbors?”
“Yes,” Power responded.
“Do you ask good questions?”
“I try to,” Power answered.
“Then you’re a good Jew,” the rabbi told her.
Taking care of one’s neighbors, asking good questions and the concept of tikkun olam are not only embedded in Judaism, but in Power’s life and career.
Power will join the Skillman Foundation, a diversity-driven and inclusion-minded private Detroit youth philanthropy that works to strengthen K-12 education, afterschool learning opportunities and college and career pathways in Detroit, as president and CEO, beginning on Sept. 13. Power is an accomplished champion for racial justice who comes to the foundation after serving as president of the Field Foundation in Chicago.
“Judaism was a huge part of my upbringing,” said Power, who attended Hebrew school twice a week and became a bat mitzvah.
Power’s father converted to Judaism before he married her mother. “When I was younger, my father was also going to Hebrew school in the adult class, so it was really a family affair,” Power said.
The concept of tikkun olam is important to Power in her life and career, including a strong desire to make the world better.
“That part of Judaism for me is about taking care of our neighbors, is about study, about having a veracious curiosity about how the world works and our place within it, and our power to change what is unfair, not just to us or our family, but what is unfair and unjust,” she said.
Graduating with a master of fine arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Power never thought she would find herself in the philanthropic or nonprofit realms, but believes her Jewish values played a huge role in driving her path.
“This constant study and questioning that is a core part of my Jewish values has guided me into my career,” Power said. “It’s by employing critical thinking and questioning of systems — who benefits and who is harmed; it’s by enjoying being in community — whether that’s in the private sector, philanthropic or nonprofit sector; and believing that if we build together, we’ll build something that benefits all of us.”
Power believes she’ll continue to carry her Jewish values in her incoming role with the Skillman Foundation.
“Not only do I plan on carrying this over and centering the concepts of tikkun olam, but I plan on relying on young people and their ingrained knowledge of how to achieve ‘repair of the world’ to lead us in this new role.”
Power says she plans on spending a year listening and learning with people across Michigan, including the large Metro Detroit Jewish community she’s very interested in connecting with. Power believes it’s an interesting time to be Black and Jewish, with a connectedness in similar issues they face.
“That connective tissue of experience, that bridging and understanding between how racism operates and how antisemitism operates, is really important to have a literacy in,” Power said. “I think that’s the way I operate in the world is understanding that.
“I’m excited to enter into this community that I know has been doing a lot of thinking around that and see what sparks.”