Meet Allister Suarez

Allister has been involved with IMPACT for the past two years after initially joining CHAT (Conversations Happening Around Town). He is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in the ASPIRE program and is a co-instructor of organic chemistry lab at Coppin State University as part of the ASPIRE program. When he’s not working as a postdoc, he can be found volunteering with Repair the World.

Learn more about Allister.

How did you first get involved with The Associated?

I first got involved with The Associated as I was looking for volunteer opportunities within the Baltimore Jewish community after I graduated from grad school. I met with Rebecca Ellison, who was the senior development associate for IMPACT at the time, and she gave me wonderful suggestions based on my volunteer interests and passions. I joined one of IMPACT’s CHAT groups and then one opportunity led to another. I have been so grateful for the events that I have been able to attend and groups that I have been part of in The Associated.

What suggestions do you have for someone wanting to become a leader within the Jewish community?

The opportunities to learn from so many leaders in the Baltimore Jewish community through volunteer groups and synagogues has been one of the highlights that I have experienced. I have been so impressed by the leadership skill sets of the clergy, community organizers, coordinators of programs and events, and volunteer committees in the Baltimore Jewish community. I would suggest joining a Jewish volunteer group or committee and to learn leadership styles of the people around us.  

What are you most looking forward to once the world returns to normal and COVID-19 becomes a thing of the past?

I thought about this question for a long time. I don’t know if the world will exactly return to a pre-COVID-19 version of itself (as a result of long-lasting social, economic and health repercussions from the pandemic). I’m not sure exactly what the world will look like, but I do believe that it will be a time in which innovation and creativity will have more opportunities to shine.

What did you find to be the hardest part of the last year?

Learning how to manage trauma, while feeling somewhat isolated, was the hardest part. I think learning to let go of certain struggles, re-prioritizing and reflecting on what really are the most important things in life, while learning to accept challenges as they arise were all aspects of managing trauma.

While being stuck in quarantine during COVID-19, what was your greatest accomplishment or did you become an expert at anything new? Anything that became your worst habit?

I started playing my saxophone again in the midst of quarantine, although I have not reached the level of instrumental skill as Bill Murray’s character did in Groundhog Day when he started playing the piano. The worst habit that I developed was that I would get stuck in my head a lot and ruminate.

Which is harder, pursuing your Ph.D or golfing? And why?

Grad school and golfing have a lot of similarities. It’s a choose-your-own-adventure journey and is solitary at times. The resilience required to pick yourself up after a failed experiment, or rejected manuscript or grant, can be similar to trying to make a comeback after an errant tee shot. I never reached a highly competitive level of golf, since I did not pursue playing golf in college, but at those highly competitive levels – both the grad school experience and golf require applying your whole heart and soul. A supportive team of advisors, mentors, coaches, friends, and family also make all the difference and are essential. As a relaxing pastime, I enjoy being outside and experiencing the lowkey social aspects of golf, which helped to balance grad school well.

What is the last good book you read?

The last good book that I read was Sages and Dreamers: Biblical, Talmudic and Hasidic Portraits and Legends by Elie Wiesel. The themes in the book feel like they could apply to our current pandemic struggles. Perhaps, through this turmoil, we have the opportunity to reshape ourselves and emerge with a gentler spirit and pursue more acts of lovingkindness.

For more information about IMPACT and to connect with other young adults (ages 22-39) please visit

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