Erika Bocknek at work
Erika Bocknek at work

Dr. Erika Bocknek’s goal is to make the world a better place through service.

Dr. Erika Bocknek, 43, of Farmington Hills has been nominated as our Volunteer of the Week for being an active member in the community through her career and extracurricular volunteer work.

“Erika is passionate about advancing the local dialogue on racial and social justice. She strives to engage the community in meaningful changes through her volunteer work at the grassroots and local level,” said Sarah Miller, a fellow community volunteer.

Bocknek calls herself a helper and has always strived to make the world a better place for children and their families.

“My husband, Andy, and I both take this idea we call active citizenship very seriously,” Bocknek explains.

Bocknek has been a family therapist for nearly 20 years, a tenured professor at Wayne State University and a fellow at Michigan Medicine. She’s also on a few boards throughout the community: Brilliant Detroit and the Jewish Fund, and the advisory boards of Jimiri and the Coalition for Black and Jewish Unity. “One of my most rewarding activities,” she says, “is being part of a lay leader group who leads shivah services for Temple Israel families.”

The inspiration for community service comes from the people in Bocknek’s life and her Jewish values.

“To me, being Jewish is truly about the power of community and relationships. I’m inspired by so many people in my life, and we learn from each other,” she says. “These relationships are bidirectional, I can give but also, I receive, and these connections are the most important kind of service we can do.”

Erika Bocknek with friends
Erika Bocknek with friends

When Bocknek isn’t serving on a board or committee, she attends community events to show her support.

“To bring your enthusiasm, your spirit and your presence is just as much a component of leadership. It’s important to be a person who takes citizenship seriously,” Bocknek adds.

As Bocknek transitions out of the world of academia, she is shifting her focus on the escalating children’s mental health crises.

“I’m starting this new organization called Convo. We are on a mission to cultivate authentic, healthy families, and we are creating the ‘middle space’ for mental health — when you just have a question or need to have a conversation about parenting and mental health.

“Often people don’t come to therapists until it’s urgent,” she continues. “With Convo, we’re offering single sessions, no commitment, one-time appointments or multiple, if you want. This gives parents or families the opportunity to ask questions to experts and receive the support they need when they need it. Life gives us all
challenges, and we need to face them together!”

Bocknek wants to create a space for people to feel trust and love, building relationships through connection and community.

Hoping to inspire others to give back or share their skills with the world, Bocknek expresses the importance of finding out what your passion is.

“What is the kind of service you can do that brings you closer to people instead of separating yourself?”

To learn more about Convo, visit myconvo.org

If you would like to nominate someone to be the next volunteer of the week, send a nomination with a short paragraph telling us why to rsweet@thejewishnews.com.

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