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Awards honor community non-profit contributors

Rochester Business Journal
October 26, 2012

Fourteen individuals and four organizations will be honored at the 2012 Greater Rochester Awards for their contributions to the non-profit sector.
The event is presented by the Rochester Business Journal and the United Way of Greater Rochester Inc. and sponsored by Bank of America Corp., Excellus BlueCross BlueShield and Financial Architects, a member of the MassMutual Financial Group.  Nominations were received in seven categories. Here are the honorees:
Board Leadership Award: presented to non-profit board chairmen and chairwomen who have enhanced the mission and reputation of their agencies through effective leadership, fundraising, strategic planning, community collaboration and problem-solving. This year's recipients are Kathy Costello, Christopher's Challenge; Cornelia Labrum, Cameron Community Ministries; and David Riedman, Seneca Park Zoo Society.
Career Achievement: presented to staff members not in senior management who exhibit innovation, leadership and creativity to help deliver positive, measurable results. The award will be given to John Barr, Hillside Family of Agencies; James Dentinger and Daniel Bock, Mary Cariola Children's Center; and Robin Sturm, Building Healthy Children.
Community Champion: given to individuals, volunteers or staffers, whose efforts with local human service non-profits have made a significant positive impact on the community. The recipients are Randall Farnsworth, Randall Farnsworth Auto Group; Bridgette Wiefling M.D., Anthony L. Jordan Health Center; and Fran Weisberg, Finger Lakes Health Systems Agency.
Outstanding Corporate Volunteer Group: presented to a group of co-workers or affinity group members who have come together over the past year to make a difference in Greater Rochester through their collective volunteerism. The award will be given to Entercom Rochester LLC, Getinge and Woods Oviatt Gilman LLP.
Rising Star: given to staff members who have demonstrated a fast-track record of accomplishment and growth of responsibilities in delivering agency services. The honorees are Shlynn Ciciotti, LDA Life and Learning Services; Tarlon Gibson, Threshold at the Community Place; and Terra Keller, Foodlink Inc.
Bank of America Impact Award: presented to a program that has demonstrated measurable, positive results. This year's recipient is Warrior Salute, CDS Monarch Inc.
MassMutual Executive of the Year: given to an executive with a record of innovative leadership in delivering services with a measurable positive impact. The award will be given to Leslie Berkowitz, Jewish Community Center of Greater Rochester.
The ceremony to recognize the honorees will be held Oct. 29 from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Rochester. Tickets are $50 per person or $500 per table of 10 and can be reserved at

Board Leardership
Kathy Costello
Kathy Costello is a woman on a mission.In 1997, her 8-year-old son Christopher was diagnosed with leukemia. He needed a bone marrow transplant to survive. A man in Portland, Maine-who later became mayor of that city-was a perfect match, and today, Christopher, 24, is healthy and completing a degree in business administration at Medaille College.
Like any other parent in that situation, Costello might have stopped there. But she didn't.
Concerned that potential bone marrow donors might be unable to donate because of the $100 fee, she and friends established Christopher's Challenge in 1998. The non-profit organization raises money through special events, such as basketball and golf tournaments, to offset the cost of blood typing.
Costello and her 11 fellow board members lead an organization that has typed more than 4,600 potential donors through bone marrow drives over the years. Of the people who have been tested, 32 individuals have become donors, helping others like Christopher.
"Kathy has worked relentlessly to make the community more aware of the possibility of becoming a bone marrow donor," says board secretary Cindi Bouchard. "She puts so much work and dedication into this organization."
Costello, whose son Kevin, 28, has development disabilities, also is local director of TIES-Together Including Every Student-which promotes participation by students with disabilities in community and extracurricular activities.
Costello says working with others who care as much as she does about raising awareness of bone marrow donation is a great feeling.
"We say to everyone who will listen: Please get tested. What more can you do in life than to save another person's life?"
-Debbie Waltzer

Cornelia Labrum
Roughly six years ago, while leaving worship services one Sunday morning at Third Presbyterian Church, an acquaintance approached Cornelia Labrum and asked if she would join the board of trustees at Cameron Community Ministries. The hub of the city's impoverished northwest neighborhood provides a soup kitchen, youth and after-school programs, clothing and emergency services.
After learning about the organization, Labrum quickly agreed to join the board. Two years later, when she retired from a 39-year teaching career, the Webster resident received a call asking if she would serve as board chairwoman.
Again Labrum said yes, and she has never regretted her decision.
"The needs in our community are so great," she says. "We serve 200 free hot meals every day at noon. We run an after-school program for 40 children, where we help them with their homework, do a fun craft project together and feed them a hearty supper, because many of them have no food at home. And if their electricity at home has been shut off-as is often the case-at least they've been able to get their homework done at Cameron."
Labrum is driven to help indigent individuals, says Cindy Harper, the organization's executive director.
"In 2008, we served approximately 37,000 meals; in 2012, we expect to serve over 75,000 meals," Harper says. "Cornelia has played a key role in working with the board to manage this level of growth ... by adding a food pantry for those who cannot access our meal program and (introducing) a summer kindergarten-readiness program for neighborhood children."
The work never ends, Labrum says, telling stories of parents reusing diapers for their babies and children wearing flip-flops in the snow.
"We are small but mighty, but we need all the help we can get," she says. "Nobody has a lot to give-but everybody has something to give."

-Debbie Waltzer

David Riedman
Growing up on seven acres of land in Chili with chickens, beef cattle and dogs for companions, David Riedman developed a love for animals early in life.
For the past several years, Riedman-president of Riedman Cos. and its residential construction subsidiary, @home Builders-has expressed his passion for animals through his involvement with the Seneca Park Zoo Society.
Since joining the organization's board in 2003, Riedman has taken on increased responsibility, serving as board president since 2010. Most notable, others say, has been his leadership role since 2005 as chairman of the capital campaign committee for the zoo's new $14 million exhibit, A Step Into Africa. In fact, the campaign's lead gift of $1 million came from the Riedman Family Foundation.
"David's combination of overall vision for improvements of the zoo facility, his ability to hone in and pursue financial growth areas and his support for me as executive director of this not-for-profit make him the best overall Seneca Park Zoo Society board president that I have had the pleasure to work with during my tenure," says Rachel Baker August, executive director.
Riedman is pleased with the new exhibit's success.
"The zoo, and particularly the African exhibit, provides a different context for learning that is totally engaging," he says. "The exhibit makes a positive and measurable impact on visitors."
Riedman and his wife, Betsy, whose family are Vermont dairy farmers, live in Victor with three children and an amusing tortoise named Mike. Being around animals-wild or domestic-is a valuable experience, he says.
"Visitors to the new zoo exhibit can learn firsthand about a way of life that is far away."
-Debbie Waltzer

Career Achievement
John Barr
The Hillside Family of Agencies owes a lot to John Barr-its very name, in fact.
Hillside has grown considerably since Barr first became a board member in 1992, and officials say that growth is due in no small part to his contributions. His experience from the private sector helped shape the agency's marketing efforts and even craft a new corporate name to reflect its structure.
The head of the organization's marketing department since 1997, Barr was one of the first executives at Hillside to have spent the greater part of his career in the for-profit sector. The experience and knowledge he brought allowed Barr to be "a disruptive force in the decision-making process of Hillside Family of Agencies," officials note, "by asking key questions that others in the leadership body did not know to ask."
Throughout his work, Barr has helped Hillside see the need to adopt principles and strategies of the commercial sector, colleagues say. He led the organization in creating its first strategic marketing plan, and he spearheaded a comprehensive brand strategy including a new corporate name, graphics standards and an integrated brand campaign, "Believe."
"When we talked to people about the perception they had of Hillside, it became clear that we needed to rebrand the organization to better reflect and show our values," Barr says.
Barr was influential in Hillside's efforts to use analytics and metrics in decision-making by launching the first customer satisfaction surveys and competitive analyses, Hillside officials note.
Barr, who also works with other non-profit organizations, says he believes Hillside has influenced him just as much.
"The values I learned at Hillside I try to bring to all the other organizations I work with," he says.
-Nate Dougherty

Daniel Bock and James Dentiger
The Adaptive Equipment Workshop at Mary Cariola Children's Center Inc. provides specialized equipment for disabled children, thanks to multimedia specialists James Dentinger and Daniel Bock.
"It is not just woodworking," says Denise Miller, director of the workshop's day program. "They design, weld and do whatever needs to be done to create an environment where children are safe and can participate in learning."
Dentinger and Bock have made innovative equipment for a combined 60 years. Dentinger joined the center in 1981, a year after the workshop was opened, because of a lack of specialized equipment for the disabled. Bock joined in 1983.
Their designs meet the unique needs of children with disabilities, such as hot pink vinyl padding on a wheelchair tray that protects a young girl's arms.
"It makes me feel good every day," Bock says. "I look forward to coming here every day."
Dentinger has a degree in civil technology, Bock in psychology.
"Jim's expertise in engineering, carpentry, fabrication and design of therapeutic equipment is a rare commodity," says Brad Pearson, director of agency advancement, who served as interim executive director until the center hired a new president and CEO this month.
Bock's interest in building was spawned while watching his dad make cabinets and other family members build houses, Pearson says.
"Dan was using power and hand tools at an early age," he says. "Like Jim, he can do it all. Their skill sets are like having the developer, builder, contractor and subcontractors all rolled into one."
The workshop has produced thousands of pieces for the center's 53 classrooms and their students.
"There was a time when we made our foam rubber from a liquid, with the student right in it so it fit the right way," Bock recalls. "That was very special."
Among the most recent creations are a shadow box schedule with tactile cues such as a toy school bus to symbolize departure time for a child with impaired vision; an adjustable stander to enable children to move from a lying position to standing; light switch covers that restrict operation to teachers only; and a disguised screen that minimizes classroom distractions.
"The workshop has always been an important resource in improving our programs," Miller says. "Sometimes just the smallest change or modification can make a world of difference to a child."
-Thomas Adams

Robin Sturm
In Monroe County, the level of cooperation among agencies serving teenage and young mothers is higher than in many other places, Rebecca Sturm says.
She would know, as she plays a major role in it.
Sturm is Mt. Hope Family Center's coordinator for the Building Healthy Children program. The program is a collaboration among Mt. Hope Family Center, the Society for the Protection and Care of Children and the University of Rochester Medical Center's departments of pediatrics and social work.
The partnership supports young mothers and their children by determining the most effective ways to reduce child abuse and neglect, improve self-sufficiency and promote optimal development. It was selected as one of 17 programs nationwide to be recognized by the federal Administration on Children, Youth and Families.
Sturm says receiving a Greater Rochester Award is humbling and a sign of validation for those working on the program who may not see results so readily.
"Sometimes with a program like this it's hard to see progress right away," she says. "To have the work that we are doing be acknowledged like this is great."
The program itself was a Greater Rochester Award winner in 2011, taking home the Community Impact Award. Sturm says she hopes it can continue to make a difference for young mothers in the county.
"Monroe County unfortunately has a high rate of teen pregnancy and also poverty, and knowing that the county can come together to support families and then to see the results is great," Sturm says.
-Nate Dougherty

Community champion
Randall Farnsworth
While working for General Electric Co. in Schenectady roughly 40 years ago, R. Randall Farnsworth had his first brush with fundraising after being chosen as an annual-giving campaign representative for his department. At the time, he was taking an MBA course on social responsibility.
"I remember thinking what I was learning in class was for real," says Farnsworth, president of Canandaigua-based Randall Farnsworth Auto Group. "That lesson learned has been the motivating factor for the contributions and trying to give back to our community and our community members in need."
Since then, various causes have interested Farnsworth, a third-generation car dealer who signed his first General Motors franchise agreement in 1977 at age 26.
In 2002, Farnsworth became involved at Thompson Health as a member of the capital campaign committee, helping to fund the renovation of the hospital's emergency room and diagnostic imaging facility. A year later, he received a Thompson Health Star Performer award for his service to the committee.
In 2007, Farnsworth joined Thompson's foundation board. He is now a member of the health system's board and has sponsored the Rose Walk, an annual event for the scholarship fund of Thompson's cardiac rehabilitation and fitness center.
Farnsworth's passion for philanthropy goes beyond health care: From 2006 to 2009, he was co-chairman of the Canandaigua YMCA's capital campaign and with his wife, Margaret, founded Canandaigua's Athena Award program to honor local women's accomplishments.
-Sheila Livadas

Fran Weisberg
When Baltimore native Fran Weisberg came to study psychology at the University of Rochester in the 1970s, she poured much of her free time into grass-roots activism and improving town-and-gown relations. Her efforts included inviting non-profit agencies to campus so they could recruit volunteers.
"Basically, I see myself as a community organizer and always have," says Weisberg, executive director of Finger Lakes Health Systems Agency, an independent community health planning organization.
Unrest across the country also spurred Weisberg to dig deeply into activism. The anti-Vietnam War movement was nearing its peak when she arrived at UR, and the Attica Prison riot soon followed.
"I was always pushing the envelope to mobilize and organize people," she says.
Weisberg has carried her social consciousness to FLHSA, which often convenes nearly two dozen coalitions, commissions, networks and task forces to tackle health care issues.
In June, the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation-which was established by federal health care reform-gave FLHSA a $26 million grant to improve primary-care services and lower health costs in the Rochester area. Local insurers, hospitals and employers have backed the plan.
When this community puts its shoulder to the wheel, there is no stopping it, Weisberg says.
"Rochester became my home very quickly," she adds.
-Sheila Livadas

Bridgette Wiefling
Volunteering in nursing homes and veterans hospitals near Pittsburgh as a teenager sparked a lifelong interest in community service for Bridgette Wiefling M.D.
"I think from my early experiences I wanted to make things better and be a positive force," she says.
Wiefling is CEO of Anthony L. Jordan Health Center, a non-profit primary-care center on Holland Street in Rochester. Her ties to Jordan stretch back to 2005, when she became one of the center's staff physicians.
At the helm two years later, she shepherded the center through a financial turnaround. Her other accomplishments included reinvigorating the board of directors, expanding the patient base and raising millions in private, state and federal funds to renovate the dental center and urgent care facilities.
Last year, Jordan acquired Westside Health Services, expanding the center's reach to more than 30,000 patients with more than 100,000 visits annually. Beyond her administrative duties, Wiefling rolled up her sleeves for Jordan's outreach efforts, as well as neighborhood cleanup projects in northeast Rochester.
Wiefling is transitioning to become senior vice president of clinical innovation at Rochester General Health System.
"I feel like I've been given a lot, and it's my responsibility to give back," she says.
-Sheila Livadas

Outstanding Corp. Volunteer Group
Since 1988, the staff at Entercom Marketing Results Group has eased the experience for sick children and their families while the little ones receive medical treatment in Rochester.
Every year during the Lilac Festival, the radio conglomerate runs a 10-hour radiothon to raise funds for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Rochester NY Inc. This event has pulled in more than $750,000 to support the families and programs of RMHC.
In addition, Entercom employees help with spring and fall outdoor cleanup at the facility, shop for and prepare meals for families, run on-air promotions to help stock the kitchen's pantry and emcee the organization's annual Red Tie Gala fundraiser.
"Efforts by our friends at Entercom have produced results and outcomes that have been invaluable to our organization year after year," says Carol Anne DeMoulin, executive director of RMHC. "We would never be able to pay for or replace all the support provided to RMHC by the Entercom Marketing Results Group."
The company is happy to help, says Susan Munn, vice president and general manager for Entercom Radio.
"Our goal has always been to create a platform for our listeners to make a difference for their community," she says. "This radiothon is successful because of the passion and generosity of our listeners and advertisers. It makes us feel proud to be the liaison that makes this happen."
Volunteering to help families in need is extremely rewarding, she adds. "Our staff and the RMHC staff have become true partners and friends over the years. We know we're all pulling together to help the families of sick children during some of their most difficult days."
-Debbie Waltzer

When Michael Contestabile died in September 2009 of pancreatic cancer at age 46, he left behind a grieving wife and three young children.
Contestabile also left behind a cadre of close friends at Getinge Group, where he had worked for 20 years as director of engineering.
Those co-workers, along with several Getinge retirees, decided to pay tribute to their beloved friend by organizing the Michael F. Contestabile Memorial Golf Tournament to benefit pancreatic cancer research.
With three successful events, a 10-member tournament committee has raised more than $25,000 for the James P. Wilmot Cancer Center at the University of Rochester Medical Center.
To prepare for the annual July event, the committee starts meeting in March at least twice a month to report on logistics, finances, donor solicitations and more.
Committee members want to do all they can to keep alive the memory of their friend, while helping to eradicate pancreatic cancer. In a statement, they note: "Mike was a devoted worker who made many friends at Getinge and was highly respected as a professional in his field. Although his life was cut short, he lived life to its fullest and accomplished more than many people do in a lifetime."
Grassroots efforts such as the tournament are essential to the success of research initiatives, say researchers at Wilmot Cancer Center.
"While coveted federal grants often range in the millions of dollars and generate great publicity, they can't be realized without the seed funding that provides the foundation of our research and makes a grant application more viable," says Aram Hezel M.D., assistant professor of medicine and oncology, who specializes in pancreatic cancer research. "Getinge employees are clearly making a positive impact on our pancreatic research, and we are extremely appreciative of their support."
-Debbie Waltzer

Woods Oviatt Gilman LLP
When Visiting Nurse Service of Rochester and Monroe County first came up with the idea of having businesses adopt routes to deliver meals to shut-ins for its Meals on Wheels program, Woods Oviatt Gilman LLP jumped at the chance.
Now, 20 years later, the firm has 32 attorneys and staff members who take meals to residents of the Gateway Apartments every Thursday, and is considered one of the most dedicated teams in the organization. Paul Groschadl, a partner at the firm and captain of the team, says the enthusiasm for the program remains high among employees.
"Every once in a while I'll send an email blast to see if people are interested in joining, and the response is always great," Groschadl says. "We have a great volunteer record to begin with at Woods Oviatt Gilman, but this program is very popular."
The interest is so great that even former employees have stayed on to participate, notes Kimberly Benson, former manager of Meals on Wheels and volunteer services for Visiting Nurse Service. Thirty-six people are part of the team, she says.
The benefits extend beyond the people who receive the meals, Groschadl notes. The project has helped build stronger bonds among employees and encourage more volunteering within the firm.
For Benson, much of the enthusiasm of the Woods Oviatt Gilman team originates with Groschadl himself. She says his positive energy has rubbed off on other team members.
As a result, Woods Oviatt Gilman employees have been known to go beyond their duties, Benson notes. She recalls several instances when volunteers have gone out of their way to provide portions of meals that were missing.
"To some, these actions may seem like very small ways to show someone they care, but to the recipients of these kind and thoughtful gestures, it made all the difference."
-Nate Dougherty

Rising Star
Shlynn Ciciotti
The young man, 19, had a low IQ and was an unhappy high school dropout with no plans for the future. In stepped Shlynn Ciciotti, service navigator for LDA Life and Learning Services, a non-profit agency that helps individuals with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and other learning and developmental disabilities.
During the next few months, Ciciotti arranged Social Security and Medicaid benefits for the young man. She also assembled a comprehensive life-skills program for him, which included learning modules in cooking, home cleaning and repair, personal budgeting and job hunting.
Happily, the client-now connected with the state Office for People with Developmental Disabilities-has a brighter future.
"I love my job," Ciciotti says.
A Hilton resident, Ciciotti, 30, has worked at LDA since 2005. She has helped more than 80 individuals in similar circumstances since attaining her current United Way-funded position in January 2011. "So many people in need don't know what services are out there or how to access them. I've learned that helping people in small ways can have a huge impact on them."
Ciciotti has tremendous leadership and communication skills and is a compassionate problem-solver, says Marilyn Kraitsik, LDA's clinical services director. Prior to Cicciotti's current assignment, she was a residential habilitation counselor, assistant residence manager and residential manager.
"Shlynn is an example to follow and contributes above and beyond in everything she sets out to accomplish," Kraitsik says.
During the summer, Ciciotti takes vacation time to work with disabled children at Genesee Valley Rotary Camp in Pike, Wyoming County. There she helps children in wheelchairs learn new skills like archery.
Clearly, with her help, Ciciotti's clients have hit the bull's-eye.
-Debbie Waltzer

Tarlon Gibson
Tarlon Gibson wants urban teens and adults in their early 20s to envision a bright future.
In his role as manager of adult education and workplace development for Threshold at the Community Place, Gibson runs a GED-preparation program with 144 cur-rent participants. On average, 64 percent have passed the GED exam since the program's inception in 2001.
Gibson, 35, a native of Pinehurst, N.C., also helps young people prepare for entry-level jobs. He and his colleagues run workshops on creating portfolios, preparing resumes, honing interview skills and maximizing job-shadowing experiences.
Employers are responding. Graduates of Threshold's Learning Center have landed positions at Strong Memorial Hospital, Rochester General Health System, retailers and restaurants.
"Tarlon demonstrates strong leadership, commitment and passion to help improve the lives of the young people who enter the Learning Center of Threshold," says John Olsan, Threshold board chairman. "He constantly strives to enhance their experiences and better prepare them for prosperous and productive careers."
Gibson is committed to the organization's mission. "We are working to get students off of public assistance by reconditioning their minds to embrace independence and employment," he says. "I love encouraging students to change their perceptions and actively plan their future."
He says the students inspire him. One young woman had an autistic child and was pregnant with her second child. The GED exam was extremely challenging for her, yet she was determined to pass it. On her seventh attempt, she did just that-and then was named keynote speaker for the program's commencement ceremony. Today, the woman is studying to be a nurse.
"Our message never changes," Gibson says: "Keep striving and keep pushing."
-Debbie Waltzer

Terra Keller
Terra Keller is on the fast track at Foodlink Inc. Thomas Ferraro, founder and executive director of the organization, calls Keller "Foodlink's goalie-because nothing gets past her."
Just 27 years old, Honeoye native Keller has held several positions of increasing responsibility during her five-year career with Foodlink.
Starting as an intern in the special events office, the 2007 biology graduate of SUNY College at Geneseo organized Foodlink's "Savor Rochester: Festival of Food." Next she participated in a Lean Six Sigma effort, redesigned Foodlink's volunteer program and managed the organization's social media offerings.
Currently, Keller's title is project manager. Her first order of business was to orchestrate Foodlink's massive move to new headquarters on Mt. Read Boulevard, a project she says she adored.
"I had never retrofitted a warehouse before, but despite a few hiccups such as a freezer delivery that initially was behind schedule by three weeks, the move went off without a hitch," Keller says. "I enjoy problem-solving, and I'm grateful to have opportunities at Foodlink that present new challenges."
Keller says she cannot imagine working in the for-profit world. She also is fascinated by the issue of hunger and is committed to doing her part to eradicate it.
"Someone didn't just wake up hungry one morning; other things are going terribly wrong in their life, such as unemployment, underemployment, illness and more," she says. "The need for our organization is huge. In fiscal year 2008 we shipped 8 million pounds of food to people in need; in fiscal year 2012, that figure skyrocketed to 13 million pounds.
"No one, and I mean no one, should go hungry."
-Debbie Waltzer

BOA Impact Award
CDS Monarch's Warrior Salute
When Greece native John Prosser, 27, returned from a 15-month deployment in Kirkuk, Iraq, in 2010, he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and had received a traumatic brain injury.
Thankfully, Prosser, a four-year U.S. Army veteran, was able to get help from CDS Monarch's Warrior Salute program. Created in 2010 and funded by private donations and community fundraising efforts, the program helps veterans regain their lives by providing clinical and rehabilitative services as well as life and job transition support.
Warrior Salute provides a 14-bedroom home for transitioning veterans, who receive counseling, physical and occupational therapy, vocational training, job placement help and other services. Residents may stay at the home for up to six months while they deal with problems ranging from vision and hearing loss to permanent disfigurement and spinal cord injuries.
Group therapy sessions are regularly offered on topics such as anger management, problem-solving, brain fitness, communication skills and trauma recovery.
The program is making a huge difference in Prosser's life.
"At Warrior Salute, I set goals for myself and am supported to help reach those goals," he says. "I participate in clinical therapy groups that help me cope with PTSD and TBI. Being with other veterans who like me are trying to reintegrate into civilian life makes me feel more comfortable and supported. It's easier to get better together.
"I look forward to finally getting back to being myself-enjoying the community, my family and friends and being successful at the things I want to accomplish."
-Debbie Waltzer

Mass Mutual Exec of Year
Leslie Berkowitz
As executive director of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Rochester, Leslie Berkowitz has found her calling.
"I love working within an organization that has an important mission to serve the community," Berkowitz says.
She didn't originally plan to head up an organization with a budget of $9.1 million that serves more than 10,000 active members annually. Rather, Berkowitz in 1996 signed on with the JCC as a human resources consultant, then became the organization's human resources director.
After two years, she moved up to the position of associate executive director. In 2002, after the unexpected departure of her predecessor, Berkowitz was named executive director by a board that recognized her innate talents.
Former board presidents cite her ability to develop programs for diverse interests and needs. Under Berkowitz's guidance, staff members provide more than 300 programs weekly in the areas of health, wellness and physical fitness; cultural arts, including theater; children and youth services; activities for seniors, enrichment programs for adults with developmental disabilities and more.
"Our staff is an amazing group of people, and our members and non-members who use the facility are wonderful," she says. "Working at the JCC is a pleasure. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else."
Berkowitz says members inspire her to provide innovative programming that has an impact on their emotional, intellectual, spiritual and physical lives.
Participants range in age from 8 weeks to 100 years. Borrowing a phrase from friend and former JCC president Elliott Landsman, Berkowitz says, "The JCC is a place where parents bring their children and children bring their parents."
-Debbie Waltzer

10/26/12 (c) 2012 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email

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