More than 750 Hillel professionals, partner agencies and industry experts convened in Baltimore, December 18-21, for Hillel's International Professional Staff Conference. The event enabled Hillel staff members to sharpen their professional skills, network with colleagues, and celebrate Jewish life on campus.
The conference was structured around the objectives of Hillel's five-year Strategic Plan which was approved in May 2006. An opening keynote address from noted author Rabbi Joseph Telushkin provided insight into creating meaningful Jewish experiences through Jewish ethics. Advertising executive Linda Kaplan Thaler, author of "The Power of Nice," helped professionals create Hillels that are warm and welcoming. Scott Cooper of Southwest Airlines discussed how his airline has become a model in the field of human resources. "On the Horizon" sessions enabled professionals to discuss how to implement the Strategic Plan locally and globally.
In a keynote address, Ambassador Dennis Ross reported on the ever-changing relationship between American Jewry and Israel.
The 2006 PSC marked the first under Hillel President Wayne L. Firestone. Firestone delivered an opening address that praised local Hillels for their recent achievements and pointed toward new Hillel goals. Firestone also met with groups of Hillel professionals to discuss their needs and concerns, as well as the direction of the organization.
Hillel professionals paid tribute to their retiring colleagues: Tuvia Abramson, executive director, Hillel at Penn State University; Marcia Bloomberg, executive director of Cleveland Hillels; and Paul Cohen, regional director, Northern California. Hillel colleagues also bade fond farewell to former Hillel President Avraham Infeld.
Hillel honored seven campuses with awards for professional excellence. The awards, which correspond to the key objectives of Hillel's Strategic Plan, were presented to University of Arizona Hillel; University of Pennsylvania Hillel; University of Maryland Hillel; Hillel of San Diego; Stanford Hillel; Hillel at Virginia Tech; and Berkeley Hillel.
Hillel named seven professionals Richard. M. Joel Exemplars of Excellence: Michelle Blumenberg, executive director, University of Arizona Hillel; Brian Cohen, executive director, Hillel at the University of Virginia; Paul Cohen, regional director, Northern California; Nadya Drukker, assistant director and director for the Center for Russian Jewish Life: Tanger Hillel at Brooklyn College; Cindy Hughey, executive director, Michigan State University; Jay Lewis, executive director, University of Kansas Hillel; Dasha-Darina Privalko, engagement director, from the Hillel of Central Asia and Southern Europe; and Ed Rosenthal, executive director, Cornell Hillel.