Shatil advocacy expert Leehee Goldenberg cites her mother as one of the primary influences on the professional course her life has taken: “My mother is just a good person, who is constantly helping other people. It was not unusual for a random stranger to show up at our Friday night dinner, because my mother had met him somewhere and decided he could use a good meal and some company.”
Goldenberg remembers her work at the Reichman University (Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya) legal clinic, while studying for her Bachelor of Law degree (LLB). “I met people from all kinds of disadvantaged backgrounds with complicated financial problems. It felt good to help people do things they couldn’t have done on their own.” Goldenberg proceeded to complete an MA at the Hebrew University in Sociology and International Relations. From there she went on to work in a legal capacity in the Tel Aviv Municipality and later in the State Prosecutor’s Office at the Ministry of Justice.
Goldenberg recalls: “Everything in the legal system seemed to move so slowly. My first job with an NGO — as Director of the Economics Department for the Israel Union for Environmental Defense — showed that change is possible.” Goldenberg is referring to a petition that she led vis-à-vis the Israel Water Authority to enforce limitations on industries from draining water from the Dead Sea. In addition to this successful litigation, Goldenberg secured amendments to the government’s road map for the offshore natural gas industry and led a multi-party lawsuit to halt the expansion of the oil refinery in Haifa.
In 2021, Goldenberg brought her wide range of experience working with regulators, government officials, MKs, and the private sector, to work at Shatil as an advocacy expert. “Shatil is important because it helps organizations grow and develop on their own. We don’t bring them fish, we teach them how to fish,” says Goldenberg, talking about why she chose to work at Shatil.
With Israel’s November 2022 elections looming, Goldenberg and her colleagues at Shatil’s Center for Policy Change are busy preparing organizations for a gamut of possible post-election outcomes. “Our new consulting package is multi-focal,” says Goldenberg. “We’re helping the organizations create both short and long-term contingency work plans. We’re encouraging them to take advantage of the primaries to put issues on the table, be ready to work with a new national budget, focus on coalition agreements, and think about strategies for working with the press, digital marketing, and social media. Even with the disappointment that came with the collapse of the “change coalition” and Israel’s embarkation on a fifth round of elections in less than four years, Goldenberg is optimistic.
She said, “In Israel there’s a butterfly effect: small movements can produce big changes. And not all organizations need to be big and professional. You need both community support and large, veteran NGO expertise. The magic happens when you get the grassroots and professionals to work together. And that’s what Shatil can do.”
Born to Israeli parents, Leehee Goldenberg grew up in Montreal, Canada and moved to Israel in 2001. She specializes in the legal and regulatory aspects of the energy and infrastructure economy, the extractive industry, and the management of natural resources. Goldenberg currently resides in Jaffa with her husband and daughter.