Commitment to Faith, to Career and to Community Define Anne Neuberger
Sometimes the beliefs that define your life create the perfect foundation for the career in which you prosper, even in cases where such beliefs might be thought to be a career impediment. Such has been the case for Anne Neuberger, Chief Risk Officer at the National Security Agency and founder of Sister to Sister, a charity serving single mothers in 30 Orthodox Jewish communities in the United States and Canada. Anne’s story was recently featured on National Public Radio’s “Weekend Edition Sunday,” and though she has reached a point that can be accurately described as successful, one gets the sense that her story is a long way from complete.
A Strict Upbringing
Anne was raised in a strict Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn, NY. As a child, Anne went by her Hebrew name, “Chani,” spoke Yiddish at home and attended an all-girls Jewish school where religious instruction was given during fully half of each day. Though on the surface this would seem an unlikely breeding ground for a focused, strong professional career (the Orthodox Jewish environment is one that considers the role of women first and foremost to be that of wives and mothers rather than determining how far to push the envelope of intelligence collection when citizen privacy must be balanced against national security), in fact Neuberger has found that her strict upbringing and continued adherence to the practice of her beliefs has given her an inner strength that has truly buoyed her success: “The discipline and rigor, the restrictions on what one can eat, the restrictions on how one behaves, I hope I bring that in values, living true to one’s values, trying to bring that integrity into the way you approach your job each day and how you interact with people, every single day.”
Beyond her faith-based upbringing, Neuberger’s career path has also been strongly guided by a sincere desire to give back, both to country and to community. It was after the horrific events of September 11, 2001, that she determined to seek a position that would allow her to serve the United States, preferably in a security role. She became a White House Fellow, and eventually found her way to the NSA where she is touted as a “rising star.”
Sister to Sister
Her successes have not blinded her to the issues facing other Orthodox Jewish women who may find themselves suddenly a single parent, poorly prepared to enter the workforce in order to support themselves and their children. Because of the stigma the community has historically placed on women in the work force, some may feel judged for their situation even though it may not have occurred through their own choice. Others may be reticent to seek the help they need, or even know where to seek it.
It was her desire to help those who found themselves in these unfortunate circumstances that led to the creation of Sister to Sister. This non-profit organization offers these women the help they may need in job training, counseling and coaching. And through her own experience, Neuberger is able to reassure those she helps that they need not abandon the practice of their faith in order to survive; in fact, it may truly be the source of strength they need.