By Ben Tinsley
DALLAS — Angela Aaron Horowitz, entering her second year as the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center of Dallas’ board chairman, outlined the J’s most ambitious project yet at their annual gathering last week.
Horowitz announced plans are underway and funds have been appropriated to create an “entirely new, renovated and expanded JCC” over the next 10 years.
Or even sooner.
“The current facilities are 60 years old and in much need of major renovation, expansion and replacement,” she explained.
Horowitz said a project this ambitious might seem impossible right now but can and will be accomplished with a strategic plan and successful capital campaign.
The objective is to build on previous successes and create enthusiasm around possibilities, she said.
Horowitz said Gensler, a top design firm, has already been engaged to come up with the master plan for the J campus and facilities.
There will be focus groups, individual meetings and consultation with key individuals to gauge visions and designs for the future, she added.
“We are in the final stages of selecting a campaign consultant to assist us with a feasibility study,” she said.
Horowitz’s comments were offered before a packed audience. The 7 p.m. 137th annual meeting took place Tuesday, June 14 in the Zale Auditorium at the Aaron Family J.
David Greenstone, Lori Ordiway, and Jill Tananbaum formally chaired the meeting and presentations.
Horowitz’s remarks were all in line with the metaphor of “the Giving Tree,” the theme of the program. The Giving Tree involves taking a community seed and watching it grow into numerous successful programs.
As an illustration throughout the meeting, artist Jerod DTOX Davies remained on the stage painting a Giving Tree portrait in full view of audience members.
During her comments, Horowitz said she attended the opening of a new facility in Dallas a few months ago and was inspired by the master plan and vision for the project — and how that process started 10 years earlier.
“A light went off,” she said.
Horowitz asked the audience to visualize the JCC’s potential for growth and improvement.
“Last year I asked you to close your eyes and imagine the J 10 years from now with very special dynamic vibrant programs and facilities,” Horowitz said. “Now I am asking you to open your eyes and join with us. …”
Prior to the remarks by the president, Aaron Family J CEO Artie Allen offered high praise for Horowitz’s performance over the past year, as well as her ambition and her “failure is not an option” philosophy.
“She has made the J — and leading it — a priority,” Allen said.
Allen thanked all JCC volunteers for their hard work. He specifically praised the work ethic and accomplishments of the JCC professional management team of Ashley Bundis, marketing services and program director; Tara Sutker Ohayon, director of Early Childhood Education; Laura Seymour, director of Camping and Youth Services; Scott Braswell, assistant executive director; Carol Agronin, associate director and CFO; and Eric Samaniego, general manager of Sports, Fitness, and Wellness.
Scott Cohen oversaw the JCC’s elections. During those elections:
The 2016-17 slate of JCC officers was unanimously approved by the audience.
These include Angela Aaron Horowitz, chairman of the board, and Jay Liberman, chair-elect, as well as Vice Presidents Doug Baer, David Greenstone, Monte Hurst, Liz Liener and Ellen Ungerman.
The members of the 2016-17 board of directors who will continue their service were also unanimously approved by the audience.
These include Neil Beckerman, Kim Cuban, David Friedman, Sherry Goldberg, Mike Horowitz, Rachel Kramer, Esther Meyers, Michael Ochstein, Lori Ordiway, Zev Shulkin, Wendy Stanley and Michael Waldman.
Board members nominated for election — and unanimously approved by the audience — were Cathy Brook, Candy Brown, Sondra Brumbelow, Dan Levitan, Benton Middleman, Debra Phares, Pam Pluss and Lauren Savariego.
Some board members were nominated for re-election and also unanimously approved. These include David Friedman, Marc Grossfeld, Lisa Lieberman, Marilyn Schaffer, Steve Schneider, Ruthie Shor and Jonathan Tobolowsky.
Meanwhile, the Hank Bodner Award for Good Sportsmanship went to Amanda Steinborn and Jordan Sternblitz.
Amanda Steinborn, originally from New Mexico, moved with her family to Dallas in 2007 and is currently a North Dallas resident. She attends Yavneh Academy of Dallas and will graduate in May 2017 with plans to attend an academically rigorous university, according to her biography.
In addition to being an extraordinary student she participates in many extracurricular and volunteer activities, including the Excel Volleyball Club. This past year, 2015, was Amanda Steinborn’s fourth and final year representing the J at the JCC Maccabi Games — for which she was awarded the silver medal for volleyball. She also served on the Athlete Teen Committee.
Jordan Sternblitz, a junior at Greenhill School, is a huge basketball fan — which has led him to excel in the sport and become a great leader on his way to a fantastic future.
Jordan Sternblitz started his basketball career at the J as part of the Peanut League with his father serving as coach. That team won many championships. Jordan Sternblitz went on to represent the J and bring home medals in various JCC Maccabi games in Austin, Boca Raton and Dallas.
During this next year, his fourth and final as a Maccabi athlete, he is going to serve as one of the leaders for the 16U Boys Basketball Team as they head to St. Louis for the 2016 JCC Maccabi games.
As a volunteer, Jordan Sternblitz coaches an amateur league of third and fourth graders, which won a championship under his leadership. He has been part of Greenhill School’s basketball program since seventh grade and has played varsity for the Hornets for the past two years.
He serves as president of the BBYO Eamonn Lacey AZA chapter, which took home the AZA Championship last year.
Also during the JCC ceremon, the Sam Slusher Award for Distinguished Service for Senior Adults was presented to Kay Hale, a Richardson High school graduate and 15-year Richardson Independent School District employee.
Hale joined the J in 2008 as Artie Allen’s executive assistant. She moved to the senior department in 2014 to become office manager and assists the ever-growing Nosh Nook catering service.
This mother of three and grandmother of two is known as the “go to” person for projects, and is known to be professional, dependable, well organized, and very talented, according to her biography.
The Leader of the Year award went to Liz Liener, a published author, third-generation Dallas resident, and UT Austin graduate..
Liener is entering her sixth year on the J’s board in the new role of vice president. She previously served on the membership of the Software Task Force, on the Governance Committee, and as vice chair of hospitality and food for the 2015 JCC Maccabi games. She has chaired the Dallas Jewish Book Festival for the past three years, with her most recent position as Jewish Living/Learning Cultural Arts Chair.
Outside the J, Liener serves as vice president of the Dallas Jewish Historical Society and The Legacy Senior Communities and has served previously on the boards of Yavneh Academy and Akiba Academy.
Liener’s memoir, Markus, Planter of Trees, is about the life and times of the late Dallas businessman-philanthropist Marcus Rosenberg. It was published in 2012.
The evening wrapped up with a tribute to the late Karen Stern, who served the JCC from 1988 to 2001 and passed away Jan. 31 after a four-year battle with cancer.
The tribute was presented by Lisa Brodsky, executive director of Chai House, who worked with Stern at the JCC and had a close friendship with her for the rest of her life.
During her 13 years with the Dallas JCC, Stern strived to create an agency steeped in Jewish values, according to her biography.
Brodsky said Stern had a “deeply held belief that community was important.”