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16th Annual JProStl Recognition Event Honorees

Please consider a tribute to celebrate an honoree, your organization, or our professional community to support professional development. Learn more about tribute opportunities here. All tributes will be personally acknowledged in writing to both the honoree and donor.

To register for the event, please visit the main Annual JProStl Recognition Event page.

Bonnie Solomon, Partnership Award

Bonnie has lived a life of deep commitment to the St. Louis Jewish community, first as a staff person and then as a volunteer leader for over 50 years. Bonnie launched her career as the first Executive Director of Covenant House (now Covenant Place) from 1972-78. She then spent nearly 30 years with the Delmar Gardens Family as Executive Director of Garden Villas Retirement Community and then Vice President of Retirement Living Services.

Her volunteer leadership in the Jewish community is expansive, including with the Jewish Federation of St. Louis, Covenant Place, Congregation Shaare Emeth, the J, JFS, B’nai B’rith Women/Jewish Women International, and NCJW-St. Louis Section.

Highlights of her volunteer leadership include Chair of Women’s Philanthropy and Jewish Federation board member, Vice President and 10-year board member of Congregation Shaare Emeth, Vice President of NCJW-St. Louis Section and six-year board member, President and over 40-year board member of Covenant Place, along with dozens of committees at these organizations. She has also served the Jewish community through the J’s Jewish Book Festival and Adult Services Department, JFS Agency Services, and the Women’s Auxiliary Foundation for Jewish Center for Aged.  

B’nai B’rith called on Bonnie to chair its National Committee on Senior Housing.  

Outside the Jewish community, Bonnie was Board President of the Mid-East Area Agency on Aging (now Aging Ahead) and its associated Foundation, Chair of the Senior Housing Council at the National Association of Home Builders, and President of the Town & Country/Frontenac Chamber of Commerce.

In addition to local and national professional awards and honors, Bonnie was recognized as a Jewish Light Unsung Hero in 2016 and the NCJW-St. Louis Section Leadership Award in 2017.

She is married to Norman Solomon, the mother of two sons, and the grandmother of four.

“Bonnie is a role model to our developing leaders, helping them to sharpen their skills. She is an excellent communicator, never leaving anyone in doubt as to the message she is conveying. Bonnie’s dedication to so many organizations demonstrates her commitment to the Jewish community and beyond.”  –Stacy Wagerman, Manager, Jewish Federation of St. Louis Women’s Philanthropy

“Bonnie enthusiastically invests herself in her volunteer work. She is forward thinking, embracing change and opportunities for engaging and supporting our community. Her energy and enthusiasm for community work and the number of lives she improves through her volunteerism is inspirational!” -Joan Denison, President & CEO, Covenant Place.

Alyssa Banford, Emerging Leader

Alyssa is the Director of Civic Engagement for the JCRC in St. Louis. Among many education and service events she organizes, her largest programs are the Jewish and Muslim Day of Community Service, the Jewish Coalition for New Americans Day Camp at the International Institute, and the Jewish Coalition for Racial Equity’s Virtual Conference.

She graduated from Washington University with a bachelor of science in Communications and Public Relations and is currently pursuing a master’s in International Relations from Harvard University.  Before her transition to the non-profit world, she began her career in 2007 working in Fortune 500 advertising and marketing, then co-founded a startup called SYNEK out of CiC’s 4240 building.

She is part of the first Marian Bland Langdon Cohort of the LEAP (Leaders in Equity, Antiracism, and Parity) Institute, is a trained liaison with Faith and For the Sake of All initiative designed to educate the St. Louis community about racial inequity, and serves as Welcoming Chair for the St. Louis JProStl Board.  She also is a 2019 New Israel Fund Global Activism Fellow, focused on understanding social and political issues in Israel; a 2019 Bend the Arc Jeremiah Fellow, focused on a national immigration reform campaign; and a former Member of the Board at Central Reform Congregation.

In her free time, she loves to backpack with her partner and pup, ski in the Rockies, practice meditation and yoga, and travel to learn about this wonderfully diverse world.

“Alyssa has revolutionized the way that we work within the Jewish community and with partners across the region. Her genuine love for all people and her curiosity about other communities has led her to build strong and lasting relationships. Her passion for social justice compels her to create programming that is impactful, far-reaching, engaging, and transformational — both for the people touched and by the volunteers involved in the work.” -Maharat Rori Picker Neiss, Executive Director, JCRC

Debbie Bram, Career Achievement

Debbie is Director of Jewish Life and Learning at Congregation Shaare Emeth. A native of Chicago, Debbie received her MSW from Loyola University of Chicago, is a Certified Marriage and Family Therapist, and returned to school for a M.A.  in Religious Education degree from HUC-JIR. Debbie spent the first 13 years of her career as a marriage and family therapist. Debbie and her husband, Rabbi Eric Bram z”l (of blessed memory), first came to St. Louis in 1985. In 1992, Debbie followed Carol Rubin as Religious School Director at Temple Israel. During those years, Debbie was also an educator for Our Jewish Home, a program of CAJE.

Debbie continued to create impact as a Jewish educator. Debbie shaped Jewish family education programs at the Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation, where she was the congregation’s first full-time kindergarten teacher. A highlight in Indianapolis was turning the Indianapolis Zoo into a living exploration of Biblical animals. When the Brams moved to Cleveland for Rabbi Bram’s role as senior rabbi at Suburban Temple-Kol Ami (ST-KA), Debbie became Director of Education, transforming the supplemental religious school program. Debbie joined a group of educators across the country reimagining how supplemental schools teach Hebrew. Rabbi Eric and Debbie Bram also received a Legacy Heritage Grant to create, “Neighborhoods,” a chavurah style program with most of the groups continuing nearly 15 years later.

Following Rabbi Eric Bram’s untimely death in 2010, Debbie moved back to St. Louis to work at Congregation Shaare Emeth in 2012. Her contributions over the past eight years have been extensive, including expanding early childhood programming, developing a Baby Boomer program, training as a Wise Aging facilitator from the Institute of Jewish Spirituality, partnering with Seniors on the Move, guiding the creation of the Mitzvah Garden, assisting with Moving Justice to the Center Campaigns and working with Shaare Emeth members and JCRC to create a day camp for refugee children at the International Institute. Most recently, Debbie organized Traditions with a Twist to reimagine safe ways to celebrate Jewish holidays during COVID. Steering Through Sukkot was their first program.

Debbie is the mom of Jessica (and her soon to be son-in-law, Warren), and Daniel. Debbie holds national leadership roles with Association of Reform Jewish Educators, Commission on Social Action, Program and Engagement Professionals of Reform Judaism, and the HUC-JIR Alumni.

“Debbie’s long and successful career in Jewish communal leadership and education exemplifies dedication and excellence. She inspires others to get involved and join her in imagining outcomes that increase knowledge, engagement and joy in Jewish living. She inspires so many within our congregation to volunteer, to learn and to share their gifts.” -Rabbi James Bennett, Congregation Shaare Emeth

Anita Kraus, Educator

Anita has taught children in the St. Louis Jewish community for over 30 years. Anita serves as the Director of Early Childhood Education and Assistant Director of Operations at Congregation B’nai Amoona, where she supervises the teachers and develops programming and educational opportunities for families with young children. She also leads family services and is Director of Camp B’nai Ami. In addition, Anita works with all of the ECC directors as Chair of the St. Louis Jewish Early Childhood Educators Council. During the height of the pandemic, the Council shifted from monthly meetings to weekly meetings to provide information and support to each other as schools reopened.

Prior, Anita was the Director of Education at Kol Rinah. A member of Temple Israel, Anita worked at TI as a teacher in the Deutsch Early Childhood Center and the TI Hebrew School.  During the summers, she was a co-director of the Rabbi Mark and Carol Shook Camps of Temple Israel.  She also taught at Epstein Hebrew Academy. Anita is a graduate of University of Kansas with B.S. in Elementary Education and has extensive continuing education in early childhood and Jewish studies.

Anita has also been an active in leadership roles, including Greentrails Elementary PTO Board President, Temple Israel Board, and with Jewish Federation’s YPD and Women’s Philanthropy. Anita has volunteered as committee member for the Cancer Society Taste of Italy event and the J’s Jewish Book Festival. Anita and Ken are the proud parents of Danny (Mara) and Ben.

“Anita shows up every day with an ability to listen, care, respect, reframe, and create community. Her passion is to connect people to Judaism. She is respected by peers, parents, clergy, and colleagues. People turn to Anita for advice, not only because her depth of knowledge, but also for her ability to see the big picture, while always remembering every single detail required for planning and execution.” -Liessa Alperin, Director of Innovation Learning & Engagement, Congregation B’nai Amoona

Diana Matthis, Pillar

Diana is the “go to” person for the entire Jewish Federation of St. Louis staff, managing Technology & Cybersecurity, Welcome Desk, Central Services, and Facilities. Diana started in 2013 as a Resource Assistant and has been promoted several times in recognition of her skills, contributions, and extensive impact on Federation and its partner organizations. In 2020, she launched “work from home” without disruption, worked on the COVID policy team, and also assisted staff throughout the community with the technology for online programming options, often working nights and weekends to help staff ensure the success of their programs. Diana continues to coordinate all ongoing technology needs, including advancing cybersecurity training. Diana oversaw the 2017-18 renovations to the Kaplan Feldman complex and current facility transition in preparation for the new St. Louis Kaplan Feldman Holocaust Museum. She is also assisting AgeWell with the distribution over 105 tablets and training to keep older adults connected to the community and virtual events. She and her husband are the proud parents of Ashleigh and Sydney.

“Diana has built deep trust and respect and is admired for both her professionalism and her character. She helps others feel good about themselves and their work. She has helped advance the current positive culture at Federation, which in turn impacts the entire community. Diana truly represents what it means to be a pillar in an organization.” -Don Hannon, Chief Operating Officer, Jewish Federation of St. Louis

Erin Wolfman May, Dedication

Erin is the Communications Director at Temple Israel, a position she has held since 2015. She oversees and manages the congregation’s communications strategy and brand through publications, website marketing, social media, publicity, community partnerships and relationships. As the point person for all communications, she works closely with staff and board on articulating the congregation’s vision, mission, and core beliefs. Erin has helped TI develop a brand look and voice, update the organization’s website and marketing materials, and manage communications for their Education Center Capital Campaign. During the early days of the pandemic, Erin created the communications plan and messaging while effectively managing communication with national press focused on Temple Israel.

Erin previously worked as the Marketing Manager for Jewish Federation of St Louis. While at Federation, Erin worked with leadership to create marketing campaigns and communications processes, which supported engagement, community connections, and fundraising goals. Her first nonprofit role was as Creative Director at Connections to Success, where she worked with the board, staff, and Communications Committee to rebrand the organization and plan their first signature event, Tribute to Success: A Celebration of Women.

Erin received a master’s degree in Nonprofit Administration with an emphasis in International Studies from Lindenwood University. She is also a graduate of Vision Leadership St. Charles and co-chaired the JProStl Marketing Affinity Group. She began her career in small business marketing working for start-up companies in Minneapolis and Los Angeles to build brands in the health and wellness market. She recently started a consulting business called Plant-Based Partner. Erin and her husband, Matt, are the parents of Zoe and Josh.

“Erin is remarkable at everything she does. She works tirelessly to get everything right, and she always gets it right. She took what started as a half-time position and grew an entire department, and now we can’t imagine being without it. Erin is also a visionary, creating and leading separate staff and board retreats to push us out of our comfort zones and ask the why of our existence. She helps us not only clarify our goals and values, but holds us to them.” -Rabbi Amy Feder, Temple Israel

Mark Morgan, Chesed/Kindness

Mark has been employed by MERS Goodwill going on 13 years, first working as a Case Manager out of the organization’s South County office. As the Coordinator of Jewish Community Employment Services, Mark is responsible for steering individuals within the Jewish community who are struggling to secure employment and, ultimately, helping these individuals seek out employment and provide strategies to secure jobs. Mark works with different agencies, including caseworkers at JFS and rabbis at congregations and organizations, receiving referrals of clients and congregants. Mark builds relationships with top employers in the St. Louis area in order to provide these companies with qualified candidates for a wide variety of positions.

Prior to working at MERS Goodwill, Mark worked in Colorado as a Youth Treatment Supervisor, overseeing the Education Department at Denver Children’s Home. Previously, he was a Mental Health Technician at Cherry Creek Schools. He has been active with JProStl and served as co-chair of the 2019 JProStl Recognition Event. Mark and his wife, Emily Deutsch Morgan, are the parents of four children who are in constant movement between all of their sporting activities.  

“Mark exemplifies everything about ‘dedication.’ He dedicates himself whole-heartedly to the individuals he serves. ‘No one works harder than Mark Morgan’ is a quote often made by those who work with Mark. He is always ready and able to support his co-workers and is viewed as a valued resource and employment expert, and is also known for having a great sense of humor and keeping things positive.” -Beth Brown, MERSGoodwill

Rabbi Hershey Novack, Visionary

Rabbi Hershey Novack and his wife, Chana, helped found the Chabad House at Washington University 18 years ago, where he serves as director and senior campus rabbi. Chabad on Campus started in a living room of a rented apartment and now owns its own building and involves over 1,000 undergraduate and graduate students each year in a wide array of programs, both at WashU and at local colleges throughout the St. Louis region.

Rabbi Hershey does everything that needs get done to engage students in Jewish life, from Torah learning to hosting large-scale meals (adapted to take-out meals during COVID) to even helping them get their car repaired. He makes himself available to current students and alumni at any time of day for celebrations and is present for them during times of need.

Over the past decade Rabbi Hershey and Chana renovated and opened the Chabad House on Forsyth, dedicated a Torah scroll from the former Jewish Hospital chapel, increased the staff to nearly 10 full and part-time employees, and expanded programming for graduate students. Hershey brings out the best in the student leaders, who come from all backgrounds and arrive in St. Louis from across North America.

Prior to coming to St. Louis, Rabbi Hershey studied at Yeshivas in England, Australia, New York, and Los Angeles. He helped lead the largest Passover Seder in the world in Kathmandu, Nepal, and served as a volunteer chaplain for the American Red Cross at the World Trade Center site. He is part of the prestigious ROI Community, an international network of over 1,300 Jewish activists, entrepreneurs, and innovators who are enhancing Jewish engagement and fostering positive social change globally. He currently serves on the board of JFS, on the Barnes-Jewish Hospital Ethics Committee, and as chair of the Washington University Interfaith Campus Ministries Association. Rabbi Hershey and his wife, Chana, a former JProStl honoree and member of the JProStl board, have four wonderful kids.

“Rabbi Novack is committed, passionate, and innovative. He is committed to supporting young people; he is passionate about his work as a leader and role model; and he is innovative in developing new programs, partnerships, and advancing people that he supervises. His relationships with former students continues long after they’ve left St. Louis and his impact on the St. Louis Jewish community goes way beyond the campus.” -Rabbi Yosef Landa, Chabad of Greater St. Louis

Ashley Stockman, Mentor

Ashley has been Director for Adult Day at the J since 2016, offering two unique programs, IN and Connection, supporting adults of all ages and all abilities to be as independent as possible. ADJ delivers a variety of recreational programming to promote cognitive, physical, and social engagement while also encouraging opportunities for individual growth in an inclusive and supportive environment. Ashley has been working with her ADJ team to diversify program offerings and introduce innovative activity enhancements. In addition, Ashley has helped to further the J’s mission of inclusivity through advocacy efforts focused on awareness education for J staff and members to ensure that events, programs, and services offered are adequately adapted to be accessible and inclusive for people of all abilities.

Ashley was born and raised in Jefferson City. She received a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from University of Missouri and then a MSW at Saint Louis University with a certificate in Non-Profit Management. 

Ashley’s passion for advocacy, social justice, and inclusion, especially for older adults, was ignited as a volunteer in high school. Ashley is proud to have promoted advocacy and equality by contributing to the establishment of PRISM, the first straight/LGBT Alliance group at Westminster College, and GRL (Gamma Rho Lambda), the first LGBTQ sorority chapter at Mizzou.

Accomplishments achieved in her current role include receiving the Missouri Adult Day Services Association Award for Excellence in Innovative Programming and Service Delivery, the establishment of the IN program within the ADJ, Dining With Dignity campaign, and establishment of the Growing Together – Intergenerational Horticulture Therapy project.

Ashley serves on a variety of professional committees including St. Louis Area Day Services collaborative, the Alzheimer’s Association, AgeWell St. Louis, and the St. Louis Care Alliance. Ashley is an active board member and officer of the Missouri Adult Day Services Association. She is an avid kayaker, fisherwoman, and weather nerd, and she loves camping, DIY and woodworking projects, and spending time with her wife Lindsey and extended family.

“Ashley is selfless, compassionate, innovative, fearless, tenacious, and these words truly just touch the surface. Ashley is always striving to improve; and, with that desire, she is not afraid to aim big. Ashley has over a decade of experience in the social services field and has done everything from direct support to Director. What sets Ashley apart from others is her passion, which is recognized by the J staff and the families whose loved ones she serves.”Kristen Conrad, Assistant Director, Adult Day Center, The J

Maxine Weil, Career Achievement

Maxine has spent nearly four decades as Jewish educator in St. Louis and has made a tremendous impact on generations of Jewish learners. She is currently the Director of Congregational Learning at Central Reform Congregation, where she implements and oversees all educational programming for students from birth through senior adult learning. Maxine joined the CRC Team five years ago and brought her passion for Jewish education as well as her expertise and enthusiasm for early childhood education to CRC. One result of her love and hard work is The Nest, the only Jewish Early Childhood Program in the City of St. Louis.

Maxine began her career as the Director of Education at Congregation B’nai El, taught at Solomon Schechter Day School, and later served as Director of the Shirlee Green Preschool at Congregation Shaare Emeth for seven years. At the Central Agency for Jewish Education (CAJE), Maxine was the Director of Camp Sarasohn’s Hebrew Institute, Director of the Jewish Community Hebrew School, Director of the Commission on Conservative Jewish Education, and was Director of JOLT (Jewish Opportunities of Learning for Teens), for CAJE and later for Jewish Federation of St. Louis.

She received her BS in Education from University of Missouri and received a master’s degree in Education with an emphasis in Jewish Studies and School Administration from WashU. In 2007 Maxine received the Fred A. Goldstein Award for Professional Excellence from the Jewish Federation of St. Louis. This award recognizes outstanding professionals for their innovative achievements in Jewish communal service.

In addition to Maxine’s work at CRC, she serves as a member of the Olivette City Council and has served as Mayor and the Liaison to the Parks and Recreation Commission. Maxine was re-elected last summer for a third term.

Maxine is married to Roark Weil and is the mother of Joseph and Samantha. She is the daughter of Rita and Sanford (z”l) Goldman.

“Maxine is an expert and gifted Jewish educator in all areas. Few Jewish professionals can match the longevity or depth of her experience. She continues to innovate and expand programs to meet the needs of children and their families. Through her 30+ years as a Jewish educator, she has engaged and inspired multiple generations and is endearingly known as ‘Morah’ Maxine by all.” -Rabbi Susan Talve, Central Reform Congregation