Name: Erica Shein
Hometown: NYC
Sponsor Organization: 92nd Street Y (92Y)
Circle Start Date: March 2017


What do you do when you’re not running a Ben Franklin Circle?


I am a retired entertainment lawyer. I currently teach classes in French and political science, as well as lead book groups, at the 92nd Street Y (92Y). I run intergenerational programming which mixes students with senior citizens. I’ve also volunteered at Dorot, which seeks to alleviate social isolation among older adults, since 2003. This work has included making home visits and running a political science discussion group.

What attracted you to the Circles?


I was approached by staff at 92Y, who were familiar with my other classes and thought it would interest me. I think we all can search our inner selves by analyzing the virtues that Ben Franklin identified. I find the groups to be intimate; people are honest and share personal stories. It is a “feel good” hour.

Tell us a little about the composition of your group. How did you find members (or how did they find you)?


I run one group with the Himan Brown Senior Program, which consists of people aged 60-plus. I co-run the Himan Brown group with 92Y staff member Dafna Gorfinkle. My other 92Y group consists of employees of all departments aged 25 to 60ish. I also run a group at Central Synagogue, where members range from 30 to 75 years old. We have teachers, doctors, bankers, lawyers, fundraisers, real estate brokers, etc.

How has hosting a Ben Franklin Circle impacted you?


It has encouraged me to engage in self evaluation and strive to be a better person. I have shared my growth and some failures with my family and they are joining me in this effort.


Which virtue means the most to you personally and why?


Probably moderation, because we all need to work on this. Moderation applies to personal relationships, religion, social media, eating, drinking, really any “addiction.” One of mine is the gym!

What is the last commitment you made to yourself? How’s it going?


To listen more and talk less, and to use my cell phone less. It is going well. I put my phone in another room now when I am home and only answer certain calls. I am focusing on making one-on-one dates rather than phone or text conversations. And I am trying to really be present and listen with my phone turned off and in my bag. I guess the virtue of silence comes into play too because, the more silent I am, the more I hear what others are saying.