17th 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.
Debbie & Mike Lefton, Partnership Award
The Partnership Award recognizes Mike and Debbie Lefton as volunteer leaders who exemplify the lay-staff relationship through commitments to the Jewish community and St. Louis region, ethical leadership, Jewish values and acts of kindness. Debbie is the current president of J Associates and a long-time board member of Camp Rainbow Foundation. Debbie has held leadership roles on the JCC Board of Directors, Jewish Federation Women’s Philanthropy, Camp Sabra, the STL Maccabi Games, and the Jewish Book Festival. Mike is the immediate past president of Congregation Shaare Emeth and a recent member of the Jewish Federation’s Board of Directors. He is the current president of The St. Louis Men’s Group Against Cancer and serves on the board of Barnes Jewish Hospital, American Jewish Committee-St. Louis, Variety the Children’s Charity St. Louis, Big Brothers/Big Sisters and the advisory committee of NCJW. Mike and Debbie are the proud parents of Sydney (23), who is currently spending a year in Israel teaching English to Israeli children and Jacob (21), who is finishing his junior year at Miami University in Ohio, studying supply chain management.
“Mike and Debbie Lefton, together, are a ‘power couple’ of Jewish communal leadership. Their strong and effective presence in our community inspires others to follow their lead. They represent wisdom, generosity, kindness and a willingness to share in building a better St. Louis Jewish community and a better world.” -Rabbi James Bennett, Congregation Shaare Emeth
“Debbie and Mike are perfect candidates for the JPro Partnership Award because of the breadth and depth of their volunteer work. They demonstrate a true partnership across our diverse Jewish community. They consistently create a positive transformational journey for our community. Each undertaking has a clear, exciting path, and everyone connected is excited and inspired by their dedication and drive. They are leaders who demonstrate the core values of passion, community, engagement, and integrity.” -Lynn Wittels, President & Chief Executive Officer, Jewish Community Center
Career Achievement – Sally Lang, Jewish Community Center
Sally Lang has had a long and impactful career over the past 34 years at the Jewish Community Center (the J). She has worked in almost every department across the entire organization including Older Adult Community Action Program, Senior Adult Programs, Membership Department, Marketing, Camp Sabra, as well as Director of Day Camps and Youth Programs. She is currently the Director, Community Relations/Human Resource Manager. It’s hard to imagine the J without picturing Sally Lang. Some of her proudest accomplishments includes helping to create and manage a respectful scholarship process, which has helped hundreds of children attend camp and the Early Childhood Centers; engaging volunteers in J activities and services; and the development of staff training opportunities. Sally also played a significant role in the JCC Maccabi Games each time they have been held in St. Louis. In addition to her work at the J, Sally worked in the United Hebrew Congregation Religious School, where she is a member.
Other leadership roles in the Jewish community include having served as Vice President of Washington University Hillel and on the National Council of Alpha Epsilon Phi Sorority. She currently serves as co-advisor of the Washington University chapter of Alpha Epsilon Phi Sorority. Sally grew up in the Boston area and is a graduate of Washington University with a BA in Jewish Studies and Political Studies and an MPA from New York University. The J is truly part of the Sally’s DNA. What many do not know is that her grandfather, Sidney Strauss, for whom she was named, was the first paid executive of the JCC from 1915 to 1920. Sally met her husband Joe when they worked together in 1987 and their sons, Jeremy and Ethan, grew up at the J, where they both worked at Camp Sabra.
“For 34 years, Sally has aimed to enrich lives, build community, promote inclusivity, and create meaningful Jewish experiences through everything she does.” -Sarah Bliss, Director of Human Resources, Jewish Community Center
Chesed/Kindness – Pam Appelman, Congregation B’nai Amoona
Pam Appelman grew up in St. Louis and her family were members at Shaare Zedek Synagogue. After Ladue High School, Pam received a B.S. in Advertising from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and joined Congregation B’nai Amoona with her husband, Howard. She started her career at DMB&B (D’Arcy, Masius, Benton and Bowles) Advertising Agency as a Media Planner before staying home with their three daughters, Alyssa, Joni and Lindsay, all graduates of B’nai Amoona Early Childhood Center and alumni of Solomon Schechter Day School, where Pam was an active parent volunteer.
Pam first joined the Linda Rotskoff Early Childhood Center (LRECC) staff as a substitute teacher and then as the Administrative Assistant, now over 16 years ago. Pam is involved in every aspect of the school and helps set the tone for a warm and caring environment. Her kind, warm and approachable demeanor is a model for the entire staff. She listens to people and is aware of everything going on, especially in a busy environment. Always willing to take on new tasks and learn new skills, Pam helps everyone else feel successful. She anticipates needs and continues to show up and do what is needed no matter the situation. Pam wants everyone to be thought of and feel cared for every day and her smile lights up the room. Pam finds great fulfillment being part of the lives of the children and their parents along with supporting the work of the teachers, especially the past two years. While Pam is often behind the scenes and never looks for attention, she always helps the magic happen for our school.
“Pam shows kindness in all she does, providing incredible support to our entire early childhood community.” -Anita Kraus, Interim Executive Director, Director of Early Childhood, Congregation B’nai Amoona
Dedication – Theresa Dattilo, Crown Center for Senior Living
Theresa Dattilo has been with Crown Center since May 2006. She has held various administrative positions, and now as the administrative manager has responsibilities in the areas of accounting, technology, purchasing, and development. She provides support to colleagues, assists residents and community clients, interfaces with board members, interacts with volunteers, donors and vendors. Theresa makes sure that our staff has the tools they need to do their job, such as technology resources, gifts for residents and donors, art supplies, emergency kits, paper and pens, and boots for the maintenance staff. Her job also includes knowing a little bit about what everyone else is doing – that way she can step in when needed, to deliver meals, to help with housing, to answer the phones, or anything else that comes up. She seeks a better, faster, smarter way to serve her clients, whether they be donors, residents, or vendors.
Theresa has previously worked at a large multi-billion-dollar automation company, a small technology company, state government, and another non-profit organization, primarily doing human resources and finance activities. Throughout her adult life, Theresa has been a dog lover, and has volunteered with C.H.A.M.P. Assistance Dogs, Love A Golden Rescue, and the Second Chance Ranch. Over the years, she has fostered over 100 dogs, providing temporary housing for puppies through senior dogs. Recently, Theresa moved right next-door to Crown Center, so she can “hop” over whenever someone is needed!
“It was Theresa’s creativity, foresight, and dedication that helped us come through the most challenging times of the pandemic, while supporting our staff, supporting our residents, and never compromising our standards.” -Nikki Goldstein, Executive Director, Crown Center for Senior Living
Emerging Leader – Emily Bornstein, Jewish Federation of St. Louis
Emily Bornstein is a collaborative leader who works to empower people and organizations to create positive change. Emily received their Bachelors of Arts in studio art from Indiana University followed by a Masters in Social Work at the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis. Emily is driven by creativity and a passion for facilitating community-centered processes. Their career at the Jewish Federation of St. Louis began as a Planning & Allocations Associate. Emily was promoted within the organization to Manager of Impact & Evaluation and is now the Director of Community Investment & Evaluation, where they lead grant-making and evaluation efforts. Through their work, Emily promotes collaboration, builds a culture of evaluation, learning, and improvement, supports the development of new initiatives, leads data-driven and need-based investment (grant) processes, and enhances transparency with community partners and donors. Emily is married to Amy Bornstein, Manager of Major Gifts at Federation. Emily and Amy have a toddler, Evan, who brings them so much joy. Outside of work, Emily is passionate about creating LGBTQ+ inclusive communities, convening LGBTQ+ individuals working in the Jewish community, and volunteering with organizations like PROMO.
“Emily is committed to this work and growing as a professional to contribute as much as possible to making our community better for everyone.” -Mindee Fredman, Vice President of Community Impact, Jewish Federation of St. Louis
Educator – Itta Boyko, Epstein Hebrew Academy
Itta was born in the Uzbekistan (former USSR) and immigrated with her family to St. Louis when she was four years old. She attended Epstein Hebrew Academy through 8th grade and then Parkway North. Itta received her B.S. in political science and English at UMSL (Univ of MO St. Louis). She started her career first in business before quickly moving into education. She later received a B.A. in Education and M.A. in Arts & Teaching at Lindenwood where she also received a masters as a Reading Specialist in K-12. Itta began her teaching career at Torah Prep, where she worked for over eight years and had classroom experience with preschool through middle school.
She has been at Epstein since 2018. She started as Director of Student Support and Enrichment and is now in her third year as the Academic Principal. Itta has helped define the school’s core values and incorporated these values into the entire educational experience students receive at EHA. She recently completed Character Education for Emerging Leaders (CEEL) at UMSL, with a focus on incorporating values into the entire educational experience. CEEL aligns with Itta’s passion for creating the next generation of Jewish leaders who are critical thinkers and understand the importance of middot (good character). Itta and her husband Artem have three children, Sophia (8), Daniella (6), and Alexander (2 months).
“There are those distinguished individuals who possess the determination and integrity to truly lead. While only in my first year as Head of School of Epstein Hebrew Academy, it is abundantly clear that Itta possesses the qualities of educational leadership as she is continually ensuring we deliver the highest level of education while bringing out the best in each Jewish child.” -Rabbi Shmuel Miller, Head of School, Epstein Hebrew Academy
Mentor – Beth Kodner, Congregation Shaare Emeth
Beth Kodner grew up in St. Louis and graduated from the A.B. Freeman School of Business at Tulane University with a B.S. in Management. Following stints of living and working in New Orleans, Philadelphia, and Cleveland, Beth moved back to St. Louis and worked in healthcare and telecommunications for many years. Beth and her family have a long history with Congregation Shaare Emeth and Beth attended Nursery School, Religious School through confirmation and spent her high school and college summers as a camp counselor at the “original” Camp Emeth back in the 80s. Fast forward many years later…after marriage and children, she returned to work as a preschool teacher at Shirlee Green Preschool. While there, she earned her Child Development Associate Certification and became the Director of Camp Micah, the early childhood summer camp. She then moved over to Camp Emeth as Program Director and served in this role for five years, until she took over as Camp Director in 2018.
At Shaare Emeth, Beth has held and currently holds various roles such as Madrichim Coordinator for the Religious School, Hebrew School Teacher, Religious Action Committee Confirmation Trip Chaperone, Tot Shabbat Coordinator, and any other role that is asked of her. When not working or volunteering, Beth provides professional calligraphy services for her company How Inviting Calligraphy. Beth has also been involved with Federation’s YPD and Women’s Division and active with NCJW on the board, including chairing Back-To-School-Store and receiving their emerging leader award. Beth She enjoys spending time with her family and friends and playing mah jongg. She has been married to Bobby for 20 years and they have three children, Michael, 17 and twins, Will and Sarah,15 .
“Beth is positive, energetic, mission-focused, kind, compassionate, enthusiastic, and inspiring.” -Rabbi James Bennett, Senior Rabbi, Congregation Shaare Emeth
Pillar – Jessica Duneman, NCJWSTL
Jessica grew up in Commerce, Oklahoma. She moved to St. Louis in 2010 after graduating from Stephen’s College in Columbia, Missouri with her Bachelors in Fine Art (BFA). She has worked in the Jewish community for over 11 years. With more than 17 years of experience in retail management and non-profit work, she currently serves as the Director of Retail Operations for The Resale Shop, a charitable project of National Council of Jewish Women St. Louis (NCJWSTL).
Under Jessica’s leadership, The Resale Shop has grown from a small shop of little renown to a mainstay in St. Louis’ thrift landscape. The Resale Shop is well-known and successful, benefiting both the community and NCJWSTL. During Jessica’s tenure, The Resale Shop has more than doubled its annual net profits. She puts the mission of NCJWSTL first, making sure to tell the NCJWSTL story through her actions and deeds. Jessica leads 10 amazing staff members in addition to 40 plus shop and special event volunteers. She oversees all operations of the Resale Shop and works alongside the Marketing team on shop advertising and the newly launched Ecommerce site. She serves as a positive voice for NCJWSTL in the retail and resale community locally and around the country. Jessica is a volunteer in her community as well, continuing her work with her Alma Mata Stephen’s College as the St. Louis Alumnae Club Treasurer. She serves as a Junior Board Member at Angels’ Arms and volunteers at the St. Louis Zoo. Jessica lives in Affton with her husband Kenneth and their one-year-old son Camden. When she is not working, she enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, and of course thrift shopping!
“Jessica is the supreme multitasker, collaborating with volunteers and staff to create a positive shopping environment that translates into increasing sales and direct support for our mission based programming.” -Ellen Alper, CEO, NCJWSTL
Visionary – Rabbi Scott Slarskey, Saul Mirowitz Jewish Community School
Rabbi Scott Slaskey, fondly known as Reb Scott, infuses the life of the school with Jewish meaning, Jewish learning and Jewish values. He leads the development and documentation of the school’s Judaic curriculum, oversees the Judaic studies faculty, and collaborates with the head of school in the pursuit of Jewish educational excellence. The Director of Jewish Life is responsible for leading the school community in a way that brings to life the value of Jewish pluralism, provides guidance to faculty and families, and establishes Mirowitz as a model for what is possible when a community celebrates the diversity of Jewish perspectives, ritual practices, cultures, and beliefs.
His creativity and indefatigable enthusiasm has earned him the respect of every constituent of the school. He has the extraordinary ability to make Judaism meaningful, joyful and relevant for children at every age level, as well as their teachers, parents and grandparents. He’s willing to step up and collaborate with everyone, within the school and throughout the St. Louis Jewish community.
Rabbi Scott Slarskey graduated from Clark University with dual majors in Philosophy and Ancient Civilization as well as a minor in World Religions. He has taught in state parks, juvenile detention centers, synagogue supplemental schools, underneath elevated subway tracks, in colleges, and in Jewish day schools across the country. After ordination as a rabbi through American Jewish University’s Ziegler School of Rabbinical Studies, Scott worked first as the Jewish educator in residence at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco then as the Upper School Principal of the Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Boston. In addition to currently serving as a mentor teacher in the Legacy Heritage Teacher Institute for the Arts and as the Director of Jewish Life for Saul Mirowitz Jewish Community School, he enjoys playing banjo, fishing, and crocheting. Scott is grateful to be married to Rabbi Tracy Nathan and proud to be dad to 16-year-old Hanan.
“Reb Scott is an exceptional educator, a true visionary, who day-to-day work adds holiness to the St. Louis Jewish community.” -Cheryl Maayan, Head of School, Saul Mirowitz Jewish Community School