Jewish Communal Professionals of Southern California (JCPSC) held its largest annual dinner in years last month, when more than 250 people gathered to honor Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles President John Fishel and six other honorees.
Fishel, who leaves his post at the end of 2009 after 17 years of service, received the career achievement award from JCPSC, an organization founded in 1975 that provides resources, professional development and networking opportunities to those who work in the Jewish community.
Over the last three years, JCPSC President Michael Hirschfeld has transformed the organization into one of increasing relevance and interest to its 250 members — up from 150 when he started.
Hirschfeld spent the first 20 years of his career with the Jewish Community Relations Committee at The Jewish Federation, and then worked for the American Technion Society. His position with JCPSC was a volunteer post.
“Michael did a fantastic job over the last three years, really taking this organization to a new level,” said Bill Kaplan, director of the Shalom Institute, who took the presidential gavel from Hirschfeld at the dinner. “It’s exciting for professionals to see the variety of programs and conferences and technology and information that is now available.”
Hirschfeld focused his tenure on leadership development, buffeting the executive committee and creating serial programming on relevant topics, such as fundraising, the new era of social networking and becoming a consultant. He involved lay leadership, having high-profile philanthropists host some events, and created a network with Tel Aviv fundraisers.
Kaplan, excited to build on what Hirschfeld began, is creating a NexGen committee and is continuing a mentorship program. Kaplan said many high level professionals are joining the executive committee as the organization gains cachet.
Kaplan plans to focus his tenure on professional development, exploring topics such as marketing, using technology and achieving work/life balance. The programming year kicks off Nov. 5 with a conference at the Shalom Institute in Malibu.
“We are creating value so people will naturally want to join and be involved,” Kaplan said.
Along with Fishel, six other professionals were honored at the June 16 dinner at Sephardic Temple.
Miriam Prum Hess, director of capacity building for the Bureau of Jewish Education, received the Alan J. Kassin Award for Outstanding Professional Achievement.
The Award for Professional Excellence in Fundraising went to Karen Schetina, director of annual resource development for Jewish Family Service. The Bobbi Asimow Award for Professional Mentorship went to Rhoda Weisman, founding executive director of the Professional Leaders Project.
The Dora & Charles Mesnick Award for Excellence in Senior Programming went jointly to social worker Karen Leaf, director of the Valley Storefront Senior Center of Jewish Family Service, and to Susan Leitch, community manager of the Los Angeles Jewish Home.
Marsha Katz Rothpan, senior program officer of the Synaplex Initiative, a program of Synagogue Renewal and Transformation, received the Mark Meltzer New and Innovative Programming Award.