Washington, D.C., Dec. 19 -- Hillel named seven outstanding professionals as the 2002 Richard M. Joel Exemplars of Excellence at the Hillel Professional Staff Conference in Princeton, NJ.
"These professionals inspire and provoke a renaissance of Jewish life on their campus and serve as models for the entire Hillel community," said Hillel's President and International Director Richard M. Joel.
The award was renamed this year to honor Joel who is leaving in June to become president of Yeshiva University.
The 2002 Richard M. Joel Exemplars of Excellence are:
George Washington University Hillel Jewish Student Life Coordinator Sarah Raful
"I have yet to meet a Jewish professional as dedicated, as committed and as flat-out talented as Sarah Raful. She is, without doubt, the most magnetic and energetic Jewish professional I have ever worked with," said GWU Hillel Executive Director Simon Amiel.
At a school where the Jewish campus community consists of over 3,000 students, Raful has been at the forefront of student leadership development, program planning and engaging students to become involved with Hillel.
University of Wisconsin Hillel Executive Director Greg Steinberger
"I believe Greg has only begun to see his dreams come to fruition. As a visionary person, he is certainly one of the shining stars in the Jewish community today," said Diane L. Seder, vice president of University of Wisconsin Hillel.
Steinberger, one of seven recipients, was recognized for transforming the University of Wisconsin Hillel into a thriving Jewish community. Among the many challenges he faced when he became the director were a budget deficit, lack of students, and no lay leaders on the board. In three years, Steinberger more than tripled the annual operating budget. Jewish life is thriving with 26 Jewish student organizations under Hillel and a calendar filled with Jewish life and activities.
Multi-campus Hillel Philadelphia Associate Director Hila Reichman
"Hila derives great pleasure from helping others to succeed," said Marla Meyers, director of the multi-campus Hillel. "She has a gift for using her own clarity of vision and creative program strategies to inspire her students and colleagues to be the best that they can and to strive for excellence in all that they do."
Through her work with Hillel, Reichman, led numerous student-based initiatives and took a management role by supervising staff and working with the director to oversee the 12-campus system. Reichman reinvigorated Jewish life at several universities by expanding their programs, creating a strong faculty network and welcoming dozens of students to embrace Hillel. She has also dedicated herself to birthright israel and raised the program's profile. Her continuous work to create new initiatives, creates opportunities for numerous target populations, and has had an enormous impact throughout the Center and its many schools.
Brooklyn College Hillel Director Linda Askenazi
"What is wonderful about Linda is her persistence when she believes in an idea. She is willing to go against the current and to try new initiatives," said Barbara L. Gerber, president of the Hillel at Brooklyn College.
Askenazi was recognized for her direct involvement in fundraising; supervising her program staff and encouraging their creative ideas as well as helping them improve their management skills; launching an innovative summer program; mentoring other Hillel directors; and encouraging social outreach to the students. As the director for 20 years, Askenazi has dedicated herself to Hillel and Jewish life on campus. Brooklyn College Hillel recently became one of the first two Hillels to be reaccredited.
Washington University Hillel Business Manager Jackie Gerson
"Jackie has been an unsung hero as the business manager at St. Louis Hillel for the past ten years," said St. Louis Hillel Executive Director Margo Hamburger Fox.
In her tireless efforts as the business manager, Gerson is committed to her Jewish students and to Jewish campus life. She cares deeply about the success and mission of Hillel, and is patient and makes others feel comfortable when showing them the various financial tasks.
Hillel of San Diego Director Jackie Tolley
"Jackie has helped to turn Hillel of San Diego from a sleepy commuter campus into a vibrant, creative center where students feel welcomed, challenged and nurtured," said Hillel of San Diego Executive Director Lisa Goldstein.
Tolley, is a dedicated supervisor who invests in her staff's growth, success and commitment to Jewish life. She makes everyone feel appreciated and valued. "I can honestly say Jackie has changed the course of my Jewish life as well as my career. And I am not alone," said Barbara Hirschorn, director of special projects at Hillel of San Diego. "She is a source of strength and reassurance in an ever changing world."
Hillel Uruguay Director Enrique Dreisis
"Because of Dreisis passion, vision and determination, students in a community which is suffering economic hardships, now have a place where they can celebrate their Jewishness, socialize, and be openly proud of their connection to Am Yisrael," said Jay Rubin, executive vice president of the Schusterman International Center.
Dreisis began a new Hillel where none had previously existed, and created a vibrant, full service Center for Jewish Student Life. He capitalized on student's interests and offered cutting edge programs; transformed the university experience for students who generally commute to class; utilized a vast array of Hillel resources; and cultivated lasting relationships with colleagues from around the world. Dreisis has become an effective and tireless champion of Hillel in the community and is helping to launch new Hillels throughout the region.