More than 125 local board members, lay leaders and others who work on behalf of Hillel and Jewish college students gathered in Los Angeles on Jan. 16 for the first Western Hillels Lay Leadership Institute. Representing campuses from across the Western United States and Canada, attendees networked with other Hillel board members, campus professionals and members of the Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life Board of Directors and discussed how to work most effectively on behalf of Jewish college students.
Chaired by Jane Scher, a member of the Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life Board of Directors and the former board president of Hillel of San Diego, the institute was the first of several one-day regional events that will take place in 2005. Designed to maximize the number of participants from each board and encourage regional networking, the institutes focus on the sharing of best practices, effective board governance, fiscal management, fundraising, current campus issues and the board's role in fostering Jewish identity and pluralism.
"We are blessed with some of the most passionate, creative lay leaders in the Jewish world," said Hillel President Avraham Infeld, who delivered the luncheon plenary address. "To have so many of them join us for this first-of-its-kind institute demonstrates the importance of Hillel's work not only for Jewish students, but for the entire Jewish community."
Participants chose from a variety of workshops, whose topics included assessing board effectiveness and recruitment, development strategies, marketing, working with faculty, and Israel advocacy on campus. Former student leaders Mayim Bialik (star of TV's "Blossom") and Daniel Inlender shared how Hillel shaped their college experiences and how it continues to influence their individual Jewish journeys. Board of Directors Chairman Randall Kaplan stressed the importance of the relationship between individual Hillels and the Schusterman International Center, and Vice-Chairman Julian Sandler convened a special strategic planning workshop for board presidents.
The Exemplar of Excellence Award was presented to the following four lay leaders in recognition of their outstanding efforts to transform and strengthen their Hillels:
The Midwestern Hillels Lay Leadership Institute will be held March 6 on the campus of Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. Registration is open through Feb. 23.
- Shari Gootter, president, University of Arizona Hillel Foundation Board
- Alan Markow, president, Hillel of Silicon Valley Board
- Alan Sedley, member, Pierce and Valley Colleges Hillel Board
- Dan Shmilovitch, president, Vancouver Hillel Foundation Board