“There’s Something About this Place” Theme of JCC Annual Meeting

The Jewish Community Center of Greater Columbus held its annual meeting on Wednesday, May 27, honoring inspiring leaders and program successes over the past year. Rachel Lichten chaired the event, opening the evening with her remarks. She reflected on the meeting’s theme: “Where else can you get friends, family, culture, athletics, recreation and a community all in one place.  There’s something about this place,” she said.

In addition to her remarks, JCC Executive Director Carol Folkerth presented Valerie Lofton with the Joel Dinkin Professional Development Award, recognizing excellence and accomplishment by a JCC staff member. Lofton, whose service to the JCC spans more than a decade in a wide array of areas ranging from camp to marketing to the Executive Office, began working at the JCC in 1998. After two years, she be­came the Executive Administrative Assistant. In addition to her myriad roles at the JCC, Lofton serves in the United States Army Reserve, and has served two extensive deployments in Kuwait and Afghanistan.

Folkerth then thanked Lisa Newmark for serving for two years as JCC Board of Trustees President. Folkerth praised Newmark as “the guiding force behind our decision to host the JCC Maccabi Games next summer. As President, Lisa has demonstrated to our Board members and our staff the importance of […] always doing what is right for the JCC and of caring about each and every member and guest and community person – as our own family. She has indeed set a high bar for future JCC leadership.”

Newmark delivered remarks about her pride in what the JCC does and introduced Joyce Garver Keller, who was honored with lifetime JCC membership for her work on behalf of the Jewish community. Keller secured millions of dollars in state and federal funds for Jewish agencies in Ohio, including two million dollars for the JCC of Greater Columbus’ capital projects on College Avenue and in New Albany for senior transportation and services and for ESOL and new immigrant citizenship. Keller has served for 25 years in her position as Executive Director of Ohio Jewish Communities, whose mission is to secure government funds to enhance the Jewish community’s ability to serve human needs; encourage sound public policy; educate public officials about the work of the eight Jewish Federations and their partner agencies; and maintain relationships with state and federal officials.

Jody Karmia, niece of Helen Nutis who passed away recently, presented Shana Levin with the Helen Nutis Volunteer Mitzvah Award. Nutis, a long-time JCC volunteer, established the award to recognize outstanding volunteer contributions of individuals or groups at the JCC. Levin served as the Chairperson for the College Avenue Early Childhood Parent Committee, the Early Childhood Education Council and is currently the 2016 Junior Maccabi Chairperson. She served on the JCC 100 Funfest and Funtacular committees and the JCC fitness Committee. Levin has been a member of the JCC Board of Trustees since 2007, recently serving as Secretary.

Rena Vesler presented the 2015 Rabbi Nathan and Sylvia Gaynor Jewish Cultural Award to Mim Chenfeld and Marc Rossio. “The Rabbi Nathan and Sylvia Gaynor Award embodies my parents’ commitment to Jewish life, education and culture, as it recognizes excellence and innovation in Jewish cultural and educational programming at the JCC, promoting excitement and inspiration in the community,” said Vesler.  Embodying excellence in programming for Jewish children, Chenfeld and Rossio enrich the weekly creative movement classes and Shabbat assemblies they’ve led at all three JCC Early Childhood preschool sites. After being presented with their award, Chenfeld and Rossio performed together with the exuberance, zest, and energy they are both known for.

Inna Treskunova was selected as the Shehecheyanu Teacher of the Year. This award was established by the Brad and Holly Kastan family. This is the 17th year of the award, and Treskunova was voted unanimously to receive the award by all three early childhood sites. Treskunova teaches toddlers at the ECE College Avenue site, where she has worked for the past 22 years.

The Shem Tov/”Good Name” Award was presented to Ali Senser by 2014 award recipient Lindsay Schottenstein. The award, established in 2004 in honor of Larry Schaffer and his outstanding contributions to the Central Ohio community, is presented to an individual who represents the next generation of community leadership. Senser, as Co-chair of the New Albany preschool parent committee, who currently serves on the JCC Board of Trustees and on the JCC Maccabi Games 2016 Steering Committee, chairing the Maccabi Games fundraising committee, has “showed true leadership and jumped in when the JCC needed someone to lead the effort to raise funds for this important project,” remarked Schottenstein at the awards presentation.

Immediate Past President Joe Sniderman presented the 2015-2016 slate of JCC Board members, including newly elected Nelson Genshaft, Aaron Garry, David Goldach, Or Mars, and Liz Shafran. Benjamin Zacks, who will serve as JCC Board President over the next two years, then gave the event’s closing remarks. He described his vision for the JCC in the coming years, presenting four goals for the future of the JCC. These include sustained self-sufficiency through doubling endowments and investing in infrastructure; growing services and programs; growing membership by 20%; and pursuing development opportunities with a community focus for staff and lay leadership. “In the next two years, it’s my hope to work with all of you, to focus our daily efforts on member services so we may build our relationships in the Greater Columbus Jewish community and honor our Jewish values…,” said Zacks.

For more information or to download a copy of the JCC’s 2014-2015 Annual Report, click here or call (614) 231-2731.