Annual JProStL Recognition Event

The Annual JProStL Recognition Event, a program of Jewish Federation of St. Louis, took place on March 7, 2024, celebrating the work of professionals throughout the St. Louis Jewish Community. We are filled with gratitude for the opportunity to recognize all of the deserving honorees including a special recognition of Michael Staenberg. Many came together to make the event a reality including the sponsors/donors, JProStL board and committees, Jewish Federation staff, JCC staff, award nominators and presenters, volunteers and all in attendance.

Please enjoy these memories and feel free to share!
View Videos featuring the honorees
View Photos from the event on Jewish Federation’s Facebook page

Thank You To Our Event Sponsors
View the list of all Sponsors


2024 Honorees


Joe Pereles
Community Leader/JProStL Partnership Award

“Joe’s passion is inspiring and contagious. He leads by example, taking on all levels of tasks, and holding a high standard of excellence for everyone involved.”

Joe Pereles retired as Senior Vice President and General Counsel for Drury Hotels Company on December 31, 2019. He is now a full-time community volunteer. Prior to joining Drury Hotels Company in 1990, Joe was a partner with the St. Louis law firm of Greensfelder, Hemker & Gale PC. He received his JD/MBA from Washington University and his BS from the University of Utah.

Joe has been a Red Cross volunteer for over 37 years and was a member of the American Red Cross National Board of Governors (BoG) from 2005-2014 and on the St. Louis American Red Cross Board from 1986-2005 (serving as Chair from 1998-2000). Joe received the Harriman Award in 2015 as the American Red Cross National Volunteer of the Year. Joe is a Disaster Action Team member and responds to local home fires on a regular basis.

Joe currently serves as a member of the St. Louis Jewish Federation Board of Directors, most recently as chair of the Annual campaign. He previously served on the Federation Board from 2004- 2006. In 2021, Joe co-founded the non-profit, Be the Narrative (, a national 501(c)(3) organization, based on the St. Louis JCRC Student to Student model, which develops interactive, educational programs that connect Jewish and non-Jewish peers to learn about Judaism and dispel stereotypes. Joe is a past president of Congregation Shaare Emeth, serving on the Executive Committee from 2006-2016 and president from 2011- 2014.

Joe is past Chair of the St. Louis Jewish Community Relations Council. He received the Newmark Emerging Leader Award in 2017. Joe served on the national board of JCPA (Jewish Council for Public Affairs) from 2021 to 2022.
Joe is also a member of the Hebrew Union College-Cincinnati Campus Board of Advisers. Joe co-founded the St. Louis J Street Chapter and currently serves on the National Board of J Street as the Chair of the Governance Committee. He was the 2021 recipient of the Rodef Shalom (Pursuer of Peace) award from the St. Louis J Street Chapter.

Joe was a board member of AccessMO, a volunteer run state-wide PAC, inspired by Jewish values, that provides education about and support to candidates and initiatives in MO that embrace and advocate for reproductive freedom and healthcare. He is a past president of the Association of Hospitality Industry Attorneys and was a founder and board member of the Parkway Education Foundation, a non-profit organization that raised money to fund grants submitted by St. Louis Parkway School District teachers and administrators to support innovative educational programs not available in the regular Parkway School District budget. He served as President of the Foundation from 1993 to 1995.

From March 2020, Joe has been a volunteer at the Harvey Kornblum Jewish Food Pantry and currently serves as a pantry delivery driver. Joe and his wife Brenda reside in St. Louis and have two adult children, David & Natalie, and two granddaughters.


Pirchie Greenspon
Principal, General Studies
EMBY- Esther Miller Bais Yaakov High School of St. Louis
JProStL Career Achievement Award

“Pirchie’s professionalism and insight are evident in all she does. She demonstrates deep care and attention to the students and is skilled at modifying, accommodating, inspiring, motivating, enriching, and challenging all of us connected within the EMBY community”

Pirchie Greenspon has worked in the field of Jewish education for over 25 years. During that time she has taught a variety of Judaic Studies courses to students in 4th through 12th grade and Advanced Placement Psychology. In addition to her work in the classroom, Pirchie has worked as a Coordinator of Student Services for students with special needs in kindergarten through 12th grade. Ms. Greenspon has a Master’s in Jewish Education and Administration. She also has extensive training in differentiated instruction allowing her to meet the needs of many different learners in general education classrooms. As part of her work in differentiated instruction, Pirchie has provided professional development and mentored teachers in the St. Louis area and throughout the United States and Canada, training teachers to integrate effective educational strategies in both Judaic and general studies classrooms. Currently, Ms. Greenspon works as the General Studies Principal at Esther Miller Bais Yaakov where she has been since 2021. In this role, Ms. Greenspon combines her love of learning, mentoring, and inspiring others as she works with students, teachers, and parents. Ms. Greenspon lives in Chesterfield with her family and is an active member of the Tpheris Israel Chevra Kadisha congregation.

Tanya Lin (Covenant Place) and Melissa Katz (JFS), CHESED/KINDNESS

Tanya Lin
Social Services Coordinator
Covenant Place
JProStL Chesed/Kindness Award

“Tanya is always willing to help beyond her job description. She is sees every resident as an individual, directly supporting their immediate needs and quality of life.”

Tanya grew up in Minsk, the capital of Belarus, where she attended school in the middle-class living area. She was an active leader in the drama, chess. and applied math clubs. Tanya was an active volunteer with classmates, spending time with older adults. In 1992 Tanya and her family left Belarus due to extensive antisemitism and came to St. Louis to start a new life. Tanya appreciated Jewish Federation, JFS (formerly Jewish Family and Children Services) and all of the St. Louis Jewish community who supported Tanya and her family at that time.

At first, Tanya had to learn to speak, read, and write English. She then completed two and half years of prerequisites to become an occupational therapist. She first worked as a cable engineer at Lucent Technologies and then as a corporate travel consultant at Maritz Travel Company. Finally, she got to her favorite job: field- working with older adults. She began as a part-time employee at Crown Center and later moved into a full-time position at Covenant Place in 2010. Currently Tanya is Social Service Coordinator at Covenant Place. For Tanya, the best part of her job is serving people with their daily needs and seeing smiles on the faces of tenants when she speaks with them. Tanya helps tenants schedule doctor appointments, fill out paperwork for Medicaid, Medicare, Food Stamps, Food Pantries, and more, and refers tenants to different resources including affordable dental, vision, and transportation services.

A significant part of Tanya’s work is translation. Tanya often translates while tenants have phone interviews with the Social Security office or Family Support Division. Every single note delivered to tenants is translated and every review for recertification process is translated. Tanya is also part of every interview for new or prospective tenants for Covenant Place. In addition, Tanya teaches English speaking tenants how to speak Russian in order to be able to communicate with their neighbors and enjoy the company of others. The best part of Tanya’s job is seeing how she can change the life of an elder adult with kind words and genuine care.

Tanya’s special interests are traveling around the world (her second part time job is as a travel agent), helping to raise her beautiful grandson, cooking, and watching comedies.


Melissa Katz
Manager, CAPP – Child Abuse Prevention Program
JProStL Chesed/Kindness Award

“Melissa consistently models the values of kindness, fairness, and excellence. She brings kindness, joy, passion, positive energy, and humility to the work.”

Melissa grew up in Hollister, California, a heavily agricultural town with a large Mexican population. She grew up surrounded by Mexican culture, from recent immigrants like her grandparents to 3rd and 4th generation families – eating Mexican food, hearing the Spanish language, and seeing brown people throughout the community, all shaped who she is today. Melissa continues to hear her grandparents’ voices in her professional work through JFS, encouraging her to work hard and be kind and to never forget past lessons. In the words of her grandfather “Nunca olvidas sus hermanos” Don’t ever forget your brothers and sisters.

Melissa graduated from California State University- Chico in 2009 and for over 15 years has worked in community-based organizations and nonprofits helping children and families. Throughout high school, college, and post-college, Melissa has served the various communities where she’s lived by volunteering thousands of hours for groups such as Key Club, Camp Adventure, and AmeriCorps. Currently, most of her volunteering goes to her children’s school, their various sports leagues, and her daughter’s girl scout troop. She is also involved with The Brown Book Club, promoting books by Latino writers and encouraging literacy in the Latino community.

When she started with JFS in the Child Abuse Prevention Program (CAPP) six years ago, she immediately felt connected and welcomed and is proud to be part of an agency and program that cares for our community. Melissa has played a key role helping the program expand, including launching middle and high school programs, converting the programming to virtual during the pandemic, facilitating the new Train the Facilitator program, and most recently, helping to create a new program that will further expand the reach of JFS to adults.

Penny Taylor (Jewish Federation), DEDICATION

Penny Taylor
Creative Manager, Jewish Federation of St. Louis
JProStL Dedication Award

“Penny’s commitment to the work of Jewish Federation is exceptional and consistent, applying creative and meticulous details to every piece she touches.”

Penny Taylor is Creative Manager for the Jewish Federation of St. Louis, where she has worked for nearly 17 years. She manages all phases of graphic development work from concept to completion that promotes various campaigns and events for the Jewish Federation, including L’Chaim!, JProStL Recognition Event, annual campaign and special campaigns, YPD, Professional Society, Affinity Groups, Millstone Leadership Initiatives, Jewish Loan, Israel Center, Scholarship and Grant materials, Women’s Philanthropy’s Lion and Pom events, Legacy Giving, Major Gifts, finance forms, Holocaust Museum capital campaign, and basically every initiative event coming out of Jewish Federation!

With more than 35 years of design experience, she has a passion for creating meaningful designs that make a lasting impact. She started her design career in a family-owned business and has honed her skills in the advertising and marketing worlds of nonprofit, business-to-business, and for-profit where she created award-winning designs for John Deere, United Soybean Board, Cattlemen’s Beef Board, and Jewish Federation. Penny is an alum of Missouri S&T. She grew up in High Ridge, Missouri, and lives in St. Louis county. Penny loves books, movies, and any opportunity to be creative.

Erin Schaflein (Epstein Hebrew Academy), EDUCATOR

Erin Schaflein
Teacher, Epstein Hebrew Academy
JProStL Educator Award

“Erin is kind, compassionate, understanding, and has mastered the art of education, fostering a positive and productive learning environment for all of her students.”

Erin Schaflein is a dedicated and talented educator with 15 years of experience at Epstein Hebrew Academy. Her love for teaching shines through her diverse experience, having taught pre-K, second, third, fourth, and fifth grades. Currently focused on 2nd through 4th grade, she continues to inspire students through student-centered learning that creates rigor and higher order thinking. Erin grew up in Centralia, Illinois, where both her parents were teachers and saw education in her blood. Erin attended Illinois State University and received a B.S. in marketing. Soon after she moved to California and worked in sales but felt the pull to return to family in St. Louis and worked in the apartment industry as a marketing director. Erin recognized that she was meant to be a teacher and returned to school at UMSL for a B.A. in education. While completing her education degree, she applied to a Craigslist ad for a Kindergarten assistant position at a private day school called Epstein Hebrew Academy. Little did she know, she’d meet her new school family! Erin lives in tSouthwest Garden neighborhood of South City and enjoys spending her free time gardening, reading mystery novels, hanging out with her three dogs and her partner, Dan.

Lauren Abraham (JCRC) and Michelle Almengor (The J), MENTOR

Lauren Abraham
Director, Student to Student, St. Louis JCRC
JProStL Mentor Award

“Lauren prepares future leaders who graduate high school with knowledge, confidence, and skills to share Jewish joy and dispel misinformation. She builds bridges wherever she goes.”

Lauren hails from Dallas, Texas where she grew up attending Solomon Schechter Day School, The J’s Camp Sabra (first session) and was an active leader of BBYO. Lauren’s mother was her inspiration as she embarked on a journey to educate the next generation; she attended the University of Texas at Austin and then went on to graduate school at the University of Judaism (now known as American Jewish University). It was there that Lauren met Jeffrey Abraham in Hebrew class and as they finished their degrees in California, he decided to attend the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. Lauren became the Jewish Studies Coordinator of Rodeph Sholom Day School in Manhattan and developed the service learning curriculum and mentored countless middle school girls in the Rosh Hodesh It’s A Girl Thing Program, and served as their advisor. She journeyed there for eight amazing years, with an additional year spent in Israel as resident advisor in the high school gap year program called Kivunim.

When the Abrahams moved to San Antonio, Texas Lauren worked at the Jewish Federation of San Antonio as Education and Engagement Director for six years as she brought PJ Library engagement to town and focused on the Partnership2gether with Israel. In 2020, upon arrival in St Louis, Lauren became the Director of the Student to Student program of the Newmark Institute at the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC). Lauren followed in the footsteps of the esteemed Fawn Chapel and has come to make the program her own, with love and honor. She began with over 100 Jewish teen leaders and has taken the program during Covid through Zoom, masking and now into over 100 classrooms school year. Lauren has helped the program grow in social media, has helped guide schools with synagogue tours and engagement with local area clergy. Lauren has established new audiences including Senator Brian William’s Youth Advisory Board and dialogue groups around the St Louis area. Lauren has expanded to over a dozen new schools and built relationships with school leaders, camp directors, synagogues, and even in schools in small cities of Illinois. The Student to Student program is stronger than ever, and continues to break down barriers and help show the faces of Jewish teens and of the Israel we cherish as a Jewish people.

Lauren supports the PJ Library St Louis team as an advisor and parent connector, she is also an active member of the B’nai Amoona Sisterhood, Rosh Hodesh leader, and Mini-Minyan children’s Shabbat services co-leader with her husband Rabbi Jeffrey Abraham of Congregation Bnai Amoona. Lauren and Jeffrey have been married for 18 years and have three children who all attend the Saul Mirowitz Jewish Community Day School where she is the PTO president. Benny, Henry, and Joey are her life and she enjoys being with them and attending their basketball, baseball, soccer, and floor hockey games and cheering on their favorite teams together! The Abrahams can often be seen in the kitchen baking challah with fun flavors and creativity and delivering them all around town to help make a difference.


Michelle Almengor
Director of Early Childhood Education & Family Engagement
St. Louis JCC
JProStL Mentor Award

“Michelle makes sure all of her staff are set up for success. She is an active listener, creative brainstormer, and a knowledgeable and effective coach. She brings out the best in everyone.”

Michelle Almengor has worked in the field of Early Childhood for nearly 20 years. Specializing in Early Childhood Education, Michelle has degrees in English and Education with an additional certification in Teaching English as a Second Language. She began her professional career working at the J as Babysitter in the KidZone Babysitting Room and as Substitute Teacher for the Early Childhood Center. She quickly transitioned to a Full-Time Early Childhood Teacher and continued to work her way up through the Early Childhood Center to eventually serve as the center’s Co-Director for 7 years. In 2007, Michelle was selected to join a group of Jewish Federation and JCC’s professionals as part of the FOCUS Israel learning cohort. Michelle also had the honor of previously serving on the JPro board, both as the Special Events Chair and Vice President.

In her current role as Director of Early Childhood Education and Family Engagement, Michelle manages a department of more than 50 with responsibility for more than $3 million in revenue. More important, however, Michelle has become a true expert in the field of Early Childhood Education. She has created and curated the curriculum utilized in classrooms and is a fierce advocate for the children in the program. Every decision she makes, she does so with the framework of the children and the staff. Considering her expertise, she has been engaged by JCC Association to assist with the reimagining of the Sheva Center, an innovative approach to early childhood education that empowers teachers and directors. She is also working with JCC Association to help mentor New Directors as they begin their own leadership journeys.

In addition to her leadership role within the Early Childhood Department, Michelle is passionate about advancing DEIA initiatives at the J as the Co-Chair of the DEIA committee.

Nancy Lisker (AJC), PILLAR

Nancy Lisker
Regional Director, AJC (American Jewish Committee)
JProStL Pillar Award

“Nancy demonstrates steadfast perseverance in service of the AJC mission, working with elected officials across party lines, combatting antisemitism, and advocating for Israel.”

Nancy Lisker is regional director of American Jewish Committee (AJC) in St. Louis, a position she’s held since April of 2007. She is responsible for all of AJC’s legislative and diplomatic advocacy priorities on behalf of the Jewish community and Israel, as well as all the programming, fundraising and leadership development throughout the year. One of Nancy’s proudest career accomplishments was the passage into law of Missouri’s Senate Bill 739 in 2020. The Anti-Boycott Against Israel Act as it is known, bans the state of Missouri from doing business with companies that seek to boycott Israel and its people. Prior to AJC, Nancy worked as an advertising executive, developing marketing strategies for Fortune 500 clients at The Leo Burnett Company. Prior to her advertising career, she served four years with the Mexican Foreign Service as Consul for Press and Public Affairs in Chicago. In that capacity, Nancy was the principal spokeswoman for the Mexican government in the Midwest during the trilateral negotiations for NAFTA. Born and raised in Mexico City, Nancy holds a B.A. in Journalism from the National University of Mexico (UNAM) and an M.S. in Integrated Marketing Communications from Northwestern University. During the mid-1980s, Nancy lived and worked at Kibbutz Neot Mordechai, in Israel’s Upper Galilee. In addition to her native Spanish and her acquired English, Nancy speaks Hebrew, Yiddish, and French. Nancy resides in Creve Coeur. She has two young adult children and one rescue kitty named Leo.

Rabbi Chaim Landa (Chabad Jewish Center of St. Charles County), VISIONARY

Rabbi Chaim Landa
Co-Director, Chabad Jewish Center of St. Charles County
JProStL Visionary Award

“Rabbi Chaim has the tenacity to follow through on a vision and the people skills to develop meaningful relationships based on understanding and trust.”

Rabbi Chaim A. Landa, together with his wife Bassy, directs the Chabad Jewish Center of St. Charles County, which serves the county’s Jewish population of nearly 6,000. Rabbi Chaim was born and raised in St. Louis, where his parents, Rabbi Yosef and Shiffy Landa founded Chabad of Greater St. Louis in 1981. He studied at yeshivot in Toronto, Los Angeles, New York, and Israel before receiving his rabbinic ordination at the Rabbinical College of America from Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, former chief rabbi of Israel and the chairman of Yad Vashem.

Before making the permanent move to St. Charles, he was the associate director of media relations at ChabadLubavitch Headquarters in New York where he served as a resource for journalists around the world and developed innovative programs to educate the greater public about Jews and Judaism, including the holiday TV cooking segment initiative which continues to reach millions of people each holiday season.

Today, Rabbi Chaim serves as the rabbi and spiritual leader to the Jews of St. Charles. Among the flagship programs he has helped establish is “The Gan St. Charles,” the first Jewish preschool in the county and the “St. Charles Jewish Family Network,” a warm and child-friendly community for Jewish families with young children. The third annual “St. Charles Jewish Festival,” which was held in mid-August of 2023, attracted more than 3,000 attendees, and “Chanukah on Main Street” brought together more than 500 people for the kindling of a giant Chanukah menorah. Rabbi Chaim resides in St. Charles with his wife and three daughters.

Thank you to those who donated our door prizes: AR Workshop, Drury Hotels, Even Energy LC, Imagination Toys, JCC (Membership Fitness, New Jewish Theater, Jewish Book Festival), Kennelwood Pet Resorts, New Jewish Theater, Lien at Olivia and Olive Nail Lounge, Pieces Board Game Bar and Café, Schillers Camera, St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, Wallis & Andreasson Families, Michael Staenberg and The Factory, The MUNY, Pilates Center of St. Louis, Carly Scaduto Photography, Vitality Unlimited Spa, Wally’s


President, Rabbi Lori Levine (Congregation Shaare Emeth)
Vice President: Rachel Wallis Andreasson (Temple Israel)
Past President: Sarah Levinson (JFS)

Special Events Chair: Tanya Spivey (Congregation B’nai Amoona)
New Staff Welcome: Susan Kemppainen (Covenant Place)
Professional Development: Shannon Rohlman (Saul Mirowitz Jewish Community School)

Jessica Duneman (NCJWSTL), Rabbi Chaim Landa (Chabad Jewish Center of St. Charles County), Tamyka Perine (LEAD STL), Rabbi David Reinhart (United Hebrew), Rebecca Scallet (The J), Ashley Stockman (The J), Shira Swidler (EMBY)

Recognition Luncheon Chair: Tanya Spivey (B’nai Amoona)
Partnership Award Chair: Rachel Wallis Andreasson (Temple Israel)
Peer Awards Co-Chairs: Jessica Duneman (NCJW) & Andrew Goldfeder (Temple Emanuel)

Lauren Abraham, Rachel Wallis Andreasson, Jennifer Baer, Scott Berzon, Amy Bornstein, Jessica Duneman, Rabbi Avi Feigenbaum, Ellen Futterman, Katie Garland, Jeremy Goldberg, Marian Gordon, Stephanie Grant, Isaac Gregg, Rabbi Chaim Landa, Chelsea Leon, Rabbi Lori Levine, Sarah Levinson, Erin May, Amanda Miller, Tamyka Perine, Rabbi Moshe Shulman, Rebekah Scallet, Randi Schenberg, Rabbi Daniel Sentell, Raquel Sharf-Anderson, Tamar Shulman, Stacy Wolf Smart, Tanya Spivey, Ashley Stockman, Shira Swidler, Penny Taylor, Nancy Weigley

Marci Mayer Eisen, Director, Millstone Institute/JProStL
Carly Ferdman, MSW Intern
Devorah Stein, Resource Assistant
Brian Herstig, President & CEO
Bob Newmark, Board Chair

JProStL supports professionals working at 50 Jewish organizations throughout St. Louis. An initiative of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis and affiliated with Millstone Leadership Initiatives, JProStl provides training, resources and networking opportunities in order to strengthen staff members, their organizations and the community as a whole.

JProStL is generously supported by Mont & Karen Levy and the Lubin-Green Foundation, a supporting foundation of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis.