Sarah Lefton talks social entrepreneurship

Sarah+Lefton%2C+daughter+of+Kent+State+President+Lester+Lefton%2C+spoke+at+a+dinner+in+the+Cohn+Jewish+Studies+Center+on+Feb+20.+Sarah+Lefton+talked+about+how+she+is+able+to+pursue+a+creative+career+in+animation.+Photo+by+Brian+Smith.

Sarah Lefton, daughter of Kent State President Lester Lefton, spoke at a dinner in the Cohn Jewish Studies Center on Feb 20. Sarah Lefton talked about how she is able to pursue a creative career in animation. Photo by Brian Smith.

Rebecca Reis

Sarah Lefton, founder and executive director of G-dcast, spoke to students Monday at three separate events on campus about turning her creativity and passion into Jewish social entrepreneurship.

Lefton, the daughter of Kent State President Lester Lefton, visited Kent State from San Francisco to tell the story of how she became an entrepreneur and created her nonprofit production company.

Lefton’s vision for G-dcast is to use animations of the Hebrew Bible to improve Jewish literacy.

“Jews call themselves people of the book, but I find that most people haven’t read the book,” Lefton said. “This vision is about changing that.”

Lefton said after college she realized that despite her Jewish upbringing, she wasn’t religiously literate.

“I was really embarrassed that I had this amazing education but I didn’t know any Bible,” Lefton said. “So I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun to do sort of a School House Rock on the Bible?’”

She hired an animator and some friends to be voice actors. Within a few years, Lefton had to quit her other job because the demand for more G-dcast videos was so high.

“The Bible matters,” Lefton said. “People refer to it constantly in politics, and it’s important to know what people are talking about when they quote the Bible. It’s important when I go to movies that I understand Bible references.”

Lefton graduated from Cornell University and received her master’s in interactive telecommunications at New York University. Her previous jobs included publishing online content for the New York Times as well as an advertising agency.

It was while she was building websites for entrepreneurs at the advertising agency that she learned about the process of starting a business.

“You have to definitely have passion if you’re going to start something because you’re going to be doing it 18 hours a day,” Lefton said. “And I think you know you’re onto the thing that you’re passionate about when you actually don’t care about staying up all night doing it.”

Junior marketing major Adam Bergh heard Lefton speak as part of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Business Innovation’s Speaker Series class. He said he enjoyed learning about funding a nonprofit business.

“She’s doing a lot of great things for the Jewish community,” Bergh said. “It was really interesting to hear a nonprofit perspective, especially in the Speaker Series class.”

This summer G-dcast is going to bring 12 university students to San Francisco for an all expenses paid arts residency where students will work together to make short films based on the Bible.

Kyla Finestone, freshman fashion merchandising major, attended the presentation at the Cohn Jewish Student Center, where Lefton talked about turning her “creativity into a career.”

“I really liked how she made the connection between the creative side and the Jewish side,” Finestone said, “and how she made it all into a business.”

President Lester Lefton was also in attendance at the Cohn Jewish Student Center to see his daughter speak.

Sarah Lefton said the goal for G-dcast is to animate the whole Hebrew Bible, finishing it up in five years. She also said that other educational short films and games are in the works.

“When I grew up, religious schools looked a lot different than religious schools look today,” Sarah Lefton said, “and I hope that it looks a lot different when I get through with it.”

Contact Rebecca Reis at [email protected].