Richard H. Ryder, 2018
Masonic Maven has always maintained that, in practice, organizational leadership differs from corporate leadership. In an organizational environment, like Freemasonry, effective leadership is more about persuasion than coercion, and consensus versus authoritarianism. Sharing this belief is Brother Evan Weisenfeld from Rabboni Lodge, Westwood, Massachusetts. Evan has rich experience in both environments and agreed to share his experience for the benefit of others.
I first met Brother Weisenfeld at a Masonic Open House in 2015, when we spoke at length about his interest in Freemasonry, his profession and family, and his commitment to improving his community of Medfield Massachusetts. I immediately connected with him and mentored him as he began his Masonic journey. Within his first year Evan attained the Master Mason Rookie Award, granted by the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts. Without hesitation Evan became fully engaged in our lodge and inspired me to assist with the Medfield Foundation’s annual “Angel Run”; a race that helps provide the foundation with financial resources in support of local people in need. As an active member of Rabboni Lodge and President of the Medfield Foundation, Evan inspires everyone with his humility, enthusiasm, boundless energy, and positive attitude. He is truly a leader in every way.
Born in Queens, NY, Evan moved to San Diego at age 11, where he attended La Jolla High School. In his junior and senior years, he attended Beverly Hills High School, graduating in 1985. Evan’s introduction to organizational volunteerism started in high school where he spent four years on the year book staff. Each year he assumed increasing decision making and leadership responsibility, eventually becoming co-editor in his senior year. With complete responsibility for the yearbook design, these formative years served as an inspiration and foundation for future professional and organizational leadership roles.
At the University of California, San Diego, Evan continued his organization involvement, serving in student government, as Chairman of the Student Union Board, and as President of his Fraternity. This experience exposed him to a variety of people. It afforded him opportunities to serve on committees and school related initiatives, including master planning. Most of all, he began interacting with student campus leaders. His college experience taught him the difference between a decision made by committee and one made by an individual leader with ultimate responsibility for the outcome.
After college, Evan found himself in the San Francisco Bay area managing and turning around an underperforming photo copy store. It was here he gained management experience, responsible for hiring and firing staff, training, and other personnel issues.
Always looking for the next challenge and location, Evan eventually became Managing Director at Zentropy Partners, a web development and design company in Minnesota. Responsible for 10 direct reports and 90 employees overall, he was responsible for business development, strategic planning, account relationships, and external clients. Then, in 2000, Evan and his wife, Susan, moved to Medfield, MA with their children Craig and Alyssa. Evan had been offered a position as Vice President of Interactive Communications at Fidelity Investments in Boston, where he managed a 30-person team. His responsibilities were similar as those at Zentropy Partners, but on a larger scale. The move to Medfield did not just allow Evan to change jobs and expand his professional career, it also led to an opportunity to apply his organizational skills in new ways.
Evan immediately got involved in the community by joining, with his wife, the “New in Town” group, designed to help new residents become engaged in the Town of Medfield. Next, he joined the Medfield Coalition for Public Education, which provides system-wide support and academic enrichment for Medfield schools. Soon, Evan served on the Medfield Trust Fund Commission before joining the Medfield Foundation. In all his Medfield related organizational roles, Evan was able to apply his accumulated professional and organizational leadership skills to improve the Town of Medfield for years to come.
Evan believes that the skill set one needs to succeed in organizational leadership is like that of corporate leadership, but there are also important differences. For example, both require someone who works well with people and possesses strong communication skills. But in an organizational environment, where committees are the norm, one must be able to build consensus and strive for the best outcome for all, even if it does not reflect your own opinion. In corporate environments, even though consensus building can be a valuable skill, ultimately the leader is accountable. Staff members can contribute opinions, but it is the leader who must decide, not the majority.
Looking back on his professional and organizational careers, Evan was most inspired by those who demonstrated strong people skills. Not only were they great individuals, they were also great leaders, possessing strong listening skills, trustworthiness, and the ability to break down roadblocks to ensure success. Personally, Evan expressed admiration for Reverend Martin Luther King, sharing his philosophical beliefs and respecting MLK’s total commitment to a cause.
With Evan’s consistent dedication to helping others in his community, it is no wonder he sought out Freemasonry. Although he was always curious about Masonry, it was his mother’s excellent care at the Masonic Health Care Center in Elizabethtown, PA that impressed him enough to seek membership in the Fraternity. In 2015, due to radio publicity, Evan attended the annual open house in Westwood, MA and there began his Masonic journey. Evan is a true example of the kind of person Freemasonry wants to attract, and it is up to the lodge and the Fraternity to make Freemasonry a worthy endeavor for all. un:yes’>