Photo of Lauren Friedman
Lauren Friedman

Student, Graduate Center for Jewish Education
Director, Early Childhood Education, Westside JCC

Lauren Friedman has served as the Director of Early Childhood Education since February 2019. She had been WJCC's Director of Family Programs for eight years prior. Before joining WJCC’s administrative team, Lauren was a substitute teacher in our preschool (and is a 2nd generation WJCC preschool graduate!), as well as a Graduate Student Intern. Lauren truly has grown up with us!

Lauren earned her undergraduate degree from Pitzer College, a member of the Claremont Colleges Consortium, in 2007 with majors in Jewish Studies and Psychology, and a minor in Sociology. Lauren continued her education in the Dual Degree program at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and the University of Southern California, earning a Master of Arts in Jewish Nonprofit Management (MASJNM) and a Master of Social Work (MSW) in 2011. She is currently working towards a third Master's degree in Early Childhood Education at American Jewish University. Lauren has served on the Executive Committee and is an active member of Jewish Communal Professionals of Southern California (JCPSC).

Lauren enjoys working for the very organization that she credits with instilling in her the passion to do Jewish communal work.

I applied to this program because I thought one day, maybe, I might want to try my hand at being a preschool director. I had been working as the Director of Family Programs at Westside JCC since graduating from my first round of graduate school in 2011 (MSW from USC and Masters in Jewish Nonprofit management from HUC-JIR)...

I applied to this program because I thought one day, maybe, I might want to try my hand at being a preschool director. I had been working as the Director of Family Programs at Westside JCC since graduating from my first round of graduate school in 2011 (MSW from USC and Masters in Jewish Nonprofit management from HUC-JIR). First a bit of background – I am a graduate of Westside JCC’s preschool and began working in the preschool when I graduated high school, and continued through college and after. I also did my graduate internship at WJCC and didn’t leave until they hired me.

In my work with family programs, I found myself more and more involved with the day to day workings of the preschool. The more I contributed, the more I thought, “Hey, maybe I want to do this one day.” When I found out about the program at AJU, it all just seemed to come together. In the midst of our second semester, a big challenge was presented to me. The JCC was looking for a new preschool director and I was to act as Interim during the search, a search that would involve my candidacy. Flash forward to the present, I am now the Director of Early Childhood Education at Westside JCC. I can absolutely say without a shred of doubt that I would not have had the confidence, the knowledge, or the skills to even conceive of doing this job without the Early Childhood Education Masters at AJU. In our child development theory class, I wrote a paper which explored my own personal philosophy of early childhood education. This led to my leading my first ever professional development workshop for my teachers on the value of positive communication with preschoolers! The quality education, as well as the support of my professors, mentors, and classmates have been invaluable. They have helped me through times of frustration, tears, hopelessness, and simcha. I am so thrilled to have gone through this experience with them. It truly feels like it was b’sheret (meant to be).