18th Annual JProStL Recognition Event

Thursday, March 9, 2023

2:00 pm Doors Open
3:00 – 4:15 pm Program

The J Staenberg Family Complex
2 Millstone Campus Drive, 63146

Advance registration is now closed for the 18th Annual JProStL Recognition Event.

Walk-in registrations accepted. See Kathy at Registration.

Doors open at 2 pm, Thursday, March 9, at The J Staenberg Family Complex.


Donations Only: Sponsorships and Tributes

Make a Tribute

Please consider a tribute in recognition of an honoree, your organization, or our professional community. Honorees will be notified of all tributes and donations in their honor. Sponsorship benefits at the $250 and above levels are now closed.


2023 Peer Honorees

Penny has a passion for creating connections and her philanthropic endeavors extend to several community non-profit organizations. Alper is Immediate Past Board Chair of WashU Hillel, a former board member of Kol Rinah and Co-Chair of its Capital Campaign, and past President of the J Associates. She appreciates her association with the Jewish Student Union, as well as her involvement with The Arthritis Foundation and Operation Food Search, among other charitable groups.

“Grateful,” is the word Penny uses to describe her opportunity to work with so many talented, knowledgeable professionals and colleagues throughout her long volunteer career. She values learning from each experience and embraces relationships that each team affords.

Penny has a background in education. She and her husband Marc reside in Clayton and enjoy traveling and spending time with their three children and four grandchildren.

“Penny is an extraordinary lay leader who invests her full self into the success of each organization in which she is involved.” — Jackie Levey, CEO, WashU Hillel

Cheryl Adelstein, VISIONARY
 Cheryl Adelstein, VISIONARY, serves as the Deputy Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis. Cheryl’s role at the JCRC includes government relations, mobilizing the Jewish community to advocate on issues such as racial equity, immigration, voting rights and criminal justice reform, and supporting the development efforts of JCRC including grant writing and evaluation. She has more than 30 years of community relations experience in the St. Louis region, including serving as the first Executive Director of Central Reform Congregation and later as Assistant Vice Chancellor for Community Relations and Local Government Affairs at Washington University in St. Louis. Cheryl received her B.A. from American University in International Studies and her Master of Government Administration from the University of Pennsylvania. She is a graduate of the Hadassah Leadership Academy (2002), and Coro Women in Leadership (1995). Cheryl and her family are members at Central Reform Congregation, lifetime member of Hadassah, and a member of Women’s Voices Raised for Social Change. In addition, as a volunteer leader, Cheryl is a past board chair of Cultural Leadership and currently chairs Cultural Leadership’s advisory Committee. She was also a member of the Millstone Leadership Institute Advisory Committee. Cheryl is a native St. Louisan. She and her husband Daniel Davison reside in the City of St. Louis.

“Our staff look up to Cheryl as a mentor and experience her passion and energy to be invigorating, inspiring current and future Jewish leadership.” — Maharat Rori Picker Neiss, CEO, St. Louis JCRC

Liessa Demba Alperin, CAREER ACHIEVEMENT
Liessa Demba Alperin, CAREER ACHIEVEMENT, was born on Yom Kippur and always felt it was her destiny to become a Jewish professional. With 30 years in the Jewish community, her work has allowed her the opportunity to do what she loves. Liessa has spent the majority of her career in her hometown of St. Louis, currently Director of Innovative Learning, Youth, and Engagement at Congregation B’nai Amoona and previously as Director of Education at Congregation Shaare Emeth. Earlier, Liessa was the Inclusion Coordinator at The J, Religious School Director at CRC, and also Youth and Camp Director at Temple Israel. Liessa received a BA in Education, Judaic Studies, and Holocaust Studies from Tulane University and an MSW from Yeshiva University’s Wurzweiler School of Social Work. Previous positions in other cities include as a Hillel Assistant Director, Jewish Federation Israel Program Director and Community Outreach, and JCC Judaic Resource Director. Liessa recently completed the Change Accelerator with UpStart for Jewish Innovation. Her many different positions have presented her with opportunities to contribute to diverse aspects of Jewish life and to share her motto that “doing Jewish work” is about the connections you make with individuals (no matter their age) and therefore creating positive Jewish memories. Liessa and her husband Mark Alperin are the parents of Ellye and Micah.

“Liessa knows what she is on earth to accomplish and that is creating meaningful Jewish life, something she has been doing for over 30 years.” — Anita Kraus, Executive Director

Jen Bernstein, PILLAR
 Jen Bernstein, PILLAR, grew up in Denver and moved to St. Louis with her family the summer before her senior year of high school. Jennifer received her B.A. in Journalism from George Washington University, attended Hebrew University of Jerusalem and completed her MSW at Brown School of Social Work, Washington University in St. Louis. Jennifer has been working in the St. Louis Jewish Community since 1997, when she did her concentration practicum at JF&CS (now JFS). She spent several years on staff at JF&CS as the Child Abuse Prevention Program Coordinator and later at Central Reform Congregation as the Director of Advocacy and Communication. Jen joined the NCJWSTL staff in 2016, first as Development Director and is now currently the Advocacy Manager. Prior to joining the NCJWSTL staff, she served on its board for several years as VP of Advocacy and State Policy Advocacy Chair. She currently serves on the board of AJC St. Louis and volunteers for her college sorority, AEPhi. Jen is married to Scott and they have one son, Ari, who will be graduating from Saul Mirowitz Jewish Community School this spring.

“Jennifer has dedicated her career to making the world a more equitable space and serving the Jewish community.” — Ellen Alper, CEO, NCJWSTL

Debbi Braunstein, CHESED/KINDNESS
Debbi Braunstein, CHESED/KINDNESS, a native New Yorker, earned an undergraduate degree from SUNY at Buffalo and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. Following graduation, Debbi worked in the private sector specializing in operations, project management and process development. She transitioned to the non-profit sector and joined the Camp Rainbow Foundation in 2010, becoming its first Executive Director. In 2017 Debbi became Program Manager of Sharsheret Supports STL, a program of Nishmah at The J, and a community partner of the national, non-profit Sharsheret organization. Sharsheret provides free, individualized, and confidential support to anyone facing a breast or ovarian cancer diagnosis, and provides crucial, life-saving education regarding hereditary cancer risk. Since joining in 2017, she has grown the St. Louis program significantly, bringing resources and education to more than 1,300 women and men. Debbi currently serves on the Board of Camp Rainbow. She also has lent her time and expertise to Jewish Federation’s Women’s Philanthropy Social Action Subcommittee; Pedal the Cause as a participant and fundraiser; B’nai Amoona Sisterhood; St. Louis Children’s Hospital Patient and Family-Centered Care committee; and Mentors 4 College, helping students and parents find their best secondary education program. Debbi is married to Brian Braunstein, Risk Management Counsel for Enterprise Holdings and Board President of JFS. They have two children: Dr. Zachary Braunstein (Amelia) and Danielle Braunstein, a pediatric Nurse Practitioner.

“Debbi is knowledgeable, dedicated, thoughtful, detail-oriented, and brings a passion and commitment to serving those facing the challenges of cancer.” — Rabbi Brad Horwitz, Chief Engagement Officer, St. Louis JCC

 Risa Shyres, CHESED/KINDNESS has worked for 27 years as a pediatric Occupational Therapist in St. Louis, with the past 12 years at Saul Mirowitz Jewish Community School. Risa was born in Massachusetts and grew up in New Jersey. She began her Jewish education at 4 years old at Harry B. Kellman Academy. Her family moved to Florida while in high school. She graduated from the University of Miami with a Bachelors of Science in Psychology. While at Miami, she was active in Hillel and over summer breaks she worked as a camp counselor at the Boca Raton JCC. Risa received a Masters of Science in Occupational Therapy from Washington University School of Medicine. At Mirowitz, she enjoys collaborating with teachers, students, and parents to help students be successful learners. She is married to David and they are the parents of Sarah, Jessica and Rachel. Risa also volunteers at her daughters’ school and enjoys being a Girl Scout Troop leader.

“Risa show up for students each and every day, expecting nothing in return, but the knowledge that her students will be successful – academically, socially, and emotionally.” — Morah Leiba Levine, Teacher

Scott Eirich, DEDICATION
 Scott Eirich, DEDICATION, is entering his forty-third year as Superintendent for New Mount Sinai Cemetery, and continues to accomplish this serious work with precision, cheerfulness, and kindness. Scott was preceded in this position by his father and grandfather, and knows everything about the forty-two acres of land and the Jewish community he has served all these years. Scott has supported generations of families whose ancestors are buried at the New Mount Sinai. He recognizes there is always an important task at hand, to ensure the beauty and sanctity of the nineteenth-century design he oversees. Scott is a longtime member of the Affton Chamber of Commerce and other civic organizations, including the Masonic Lodge. Scott is a graduate of St. Louis Community College Ornamental Horticulture program and has been landscaping since age 12.

“Scott always shows compassion and professionalism, serving generations of families during their times of great need.” — Don Meissner

Anita McCullar, DEDICATION
Anita McCullar, DEDICATION, is the Administrative Assistant at the Harvey Kornblum Jewish Food Pantry. She has provided devoted support to pantry guests, volunteers, and the staff team for more than 11 years. Anita welcomes each pantry guest with warmth and friendliness – and makes their days brighter. Anita keeps the food pantry operating smoothly by registering guests, ordering supplies, managing Unite Us referrals, keeping files and records up to date, organizing the Commodity Supplemental Food Program for older adults, and coordinating food deliveries to Covenant Place and Crown Center. Anita helped the food pantry to adapt throughout the pandemic to ensure that clients, volunteers, and staff felt safe and comfortable – even standing outside in extreme weather
conditions for hours to register guests and keep pantry operations strong. Anita goes above and beyond every day to ensure the dignity and health of all pantry guests.

“Anita shows kindness and care to clients from the moment they walk through the door, helping to make each person’s day a little brighter.” — Erica Steen, Manager, JFS Harvey Kornblum Jewish Food Pantry.

Rabbi Yossi Golombeck, EDUCATOR
Rabbi Yossi Golombeck, EDUCATOR, is Principal at Torah Prep School. He grew up in Brooklyn, NY, and attended Yeshiva Toras Moshe in Israel, Ner Israel Rabbinical college in Baltimore, MD, and Yeshivas Mir in Jerusalem. Rabbi Golombeck earned a Principal Training Certificate and a Mashgiach/Guidance Counselor Certificate from Torah Umesorah. In 1997, he received his Rabbinical Certificate (semicha) and moved with his family to St. Louis to join the St. Louis Kollel. He began teaching at Torah Prep School in 2000. In 2012, Rabbi Golombeck assumed the principal position for the Boy’s Division of Torah Prep School. He resides in University City with his lovely wife, Raizy, and is a father of 10 children.

“Rabbi Golombeck is an exceptional teacher and a role model for staff and students. He creates a positive environment that reverberates throughout the school.” — Rabbi Beyamin Travis, Executive Director

Helen Turner, EMERGING LEADER, is the Director of Education for the St. Louis Kaplan Feldman Holocaust Museum. She grew up in England before moving to the United States in 2000. She decided at a young age that she wanted to study the Holocaust and pursued that passion by attending Binghamton University in Upstate New York. Post-graduation, Turner began an internship at the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County (HMTC) in New York where she was able to gain invaluable experience as a member of the education team. Whilst working at HMTC, Turner pursued her master’s in history, specializing in Holocaust and genocide studies with a focus on museum and memorial sites. Turner later became the Director of Education for HMTC serving thousands of students and schools throughout the New York Metro region. In 2022, Turner heard of the reopening of the St. Louis Kaplan Feldman Holocaust Museum and applied for the position of Director of Education. After accepting the offer, Turner moved to St. Louis and began the project of opening the new Museum. Turner has served as the Director of Education for the St. Louis Kaplan Feldman Holocaust Museum since July of 2021 and has been intrinsically involved in the curation of the exhibition and crating the Museum’s educational pedagogy.

“Helen’s expertise, leadership, and impact goes way beyond her age and time in St. Louis, playing a key role in helping to vision and open the new museum.” — Lory Cooper, Manager of Business Development

Cynthia Wachtel, MENTOR
 Cynthia Wachtel, MENTOR, grew up in Lima, Peru. After graduating high school, she moved to Israel and lived in Jerusalem for several years while attending Hebrew University. She relocated to St. Louis to finish her undergraduate degree in International Relations at Webster University. She also holds a Master of Business Administration from the Olin School of Business at Washington University and was the recipient of the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management (CGSM) Fellowship. She worked in the private sector specializing in business development, strategic planning and international marketing. Cynthia joined the Jewish Federation in early 2017 to jump start and manage the Shinshinim program, which brings young Israeli emissaries to St. Louis to teach about Israel and Israeli culture and to forge long lasting relationships with community members. Cynthia is married to Arik Poremba and they have two children, Talia and Yoav.

“The establishment and growth of the STL Shinshinim program is a tribute to Cynthia’s ability to mentor and support the Israeli teens, engage the host families, and build relationships of trust with all of the partner organizations.” Karen Rader, Director, Israel Center.

The JProStL community will also recognize Lynn Wittels, President & CEO of the St. Louis JCC for her impact on The J and the St. Louis Jewish community.



JProStL is the local association for staff who work throughout the Jewish community in organizations, congregations, and Jewish schools. An initiative of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis, JProStL’s mission is to provide training, resources, and networking opportunities in order to strengthen staff members, their organizations and the community as a whole. JProStL is supported by Mont & Karen Levy, the Lubin Green Foundation, a supporting foundation of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis, and affiliated with JPro (of North America).




President: Sarah Levinson (JFS)
Vice President: Rabbi Lori Levine (Congregation Shaare Emeth)
Past President: Randi Schenberg (Crown Center for Senior Living)

Committee Chairs:

Jeremy Goldberg (Jewish Federation of St. Louis), Rabbi Chaim Landa (Chabad Jewish Center of St. Charles County), Mark Morgan (MERS Goodwill), Stacy Wolff Smart (St. Louis Jewish Light)

At Large Board Members:

Rachel Andreasson (Temple Israel), Jessica Duneman (NCJWSTL), Tamyka Perine (Cultural Leadership), Rabbi Janine Schloss (Temple Emanuel), Ashley Stockman (The J), Shira Swidler (Esther Miller Bais Yaakov)

Event & Award Committee Members:

Lauren Abraham, Rachel Andreasson, Jen Baer, Scott Berzon, Rabbi Karen Bogard, Emily Bornstein, Marianne Chervitz, Robert Colton, Jessica Duneman, Rabbi Jordan Gerson, Jeremy Goldberg, Andrew Goldfeder, Marian Gordon, Isaac Greg, Marla Guggenheimer, Natalie Hillman, Jordan Kadosh,  Rabbi Lori Levine, Lauren Lourie, Erin May, Mark Morgan, Cori Neidenberg, Ben Panet, Tamyka Perine, Karen Rader, Rabbi Janine Schloss, Kathy Schmeltz, Tamar Shulman, Ellen Soule, Tanya Spivey, Ashley Stockman, Shirley Wise, Nancy Weigley,

Marci Mayer Eisen, Director, Millstone Leadership Initiatives/JProStL
Karen Sher, VP, Community Impact and Community Leadership & Engagement
Jonathan Deutsch, Vice Chair, Community Leadership & Engagement
Brian Herstig, President & CEO
Bob Newmark, Board Chair

For additional information on JProStL and professional development opportunities, contact Marci Mayer Eisen at 314-442-3810 or MEisen@JFedSTL.org.