Federation celebrated some of Jewish Atlanta’s most dedicated volunteers, program innovators, and committed changemakers at a virtual Community Awards Ceremony last week. At a time when we are socially distanced, it’s easy to overlook individual accomplishments, yet this Zoom ceremony shined a warm personal spotlight on five individuals who have really made a difference in our community. Some are “new” in Atlanta, others have been here for years. All have filled in important gaps and driven their organizations to meet human needs in ways that align with our highest Jewish values. If you missed the program, you can view it here.
Marilyn Shubin Professional Staff Development Award: Kim Sucan, Director MJCCA Preschools
Presented to an outstanding Jewish communal professional with an expressed passion for creating a strong Jewish community and the ability to motivate and inspire others.
As Director of The Weinstein, Schiff School and Sunshine Schools, which enroll more than 500 children, Kim is a tremendous shaper of young Jewish lives. She manages more than 100 teachers and 10+ administrative staff over the three preschools and ensures that MJCCA preschools have the highest quality staff. MJCCA preschools have been voted a top Atlanta workplace for nine consecutive years, which is a direct reflection of Kim’s leadership.
Mary & Max London People Power Award: Elana Frank, CEO and Founder, Jewish Fertility Foundation
Presented to a volunteer who has made a significant difference in the quality of Jewish life in Atlanta by their personal commitment as a hands-on direct service volunteer.
After experiencing infertility, Elana Frank was able to start her family in Israel, where IVF treatments are far less costly than in the U.S. Returning home, she realized that others weren’t as lucky — for many it takes years, miscarriages, unbearable debt, and oceans of tears before finally giving birth, if at all. With the cost of IVF ranging on average from $14,000 – $25,000 in America, Frank identified a huge need for funding, support and enhanced awareness of this “unspoken” issue in the Jewish community. She created the Jewish Fertility Foundation in Atlanta, starting as a volunteer until she was able to grow it enough to take it on professionally, and this year opened a second office opened in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Abe Schwartz Young Leadership Award: Gabby Spatt
Presented to an outstanding individual under the age of 40 who demonstrates a considerable level of involvement in our Jewish community and significant leadership potential.
Gabby Spatt is a someone who commits 100% wherever she gets involved. As an active member of American Jewish Committee’s ACCESS young adult group, she advocated extensively for AJC and parlayed that experience into a leadership role with Atlanta Jewish Film Festival. Gabby was the first applicant to Jewish Women’s Fund of Atlanta’s ACT program and has proven herself a devoted member throughout this pilot year. Professionally, Gabby is the founder and Executive Director of The Blue Dove Foundation, and she is fearless about sharing her own story and lifting up narratives focused on mental health struggles. Gabby was recognized as one of the AJT’s “40 Under 40” and remains active in several nonprofits outside the Jewish community.
Gerald G. Cohen Community Development Award: Robin Sysler
Presented to an outstanding individual who is not a native of Atlanta and has lived in the community less than seven years. The award recognizes exemplary levels of community engagement for newer members of the community.
Though new in our community, Robin Sysler has cultivated a large circle of friends in a very short time. Robin is known as someone who always comes to the table with fresh ideas and who actively recruits others to engage with Federation and Women’s Philanthropy programming. She currently serves on the Federation Board of Trustees and is a rising leader in Women’s Philanthropy as Campaign Vice Chair. Robin is a docent at The Breman Museum and a trustee of Jewish Women’s Fund of Atlanta.
Tikkun Olam/Community Impact Award: Linda Davis, Co-Chair, Zaban Paradies Center Board of Directors
Awarded to a Jewish member of the community who has played a significant role in improving the world and has done innovative work at a nonprofit not directly associated with the Jewish community.
Linda Davis led the effort of the Zaban Shelter (a project of The Temple), to become its own 501c3. She also helped orchestrate the shelter’s transition to become the Zaban Paradies Center for Homeless Couples, which not only houses and feeds homeless couples during cold winter months but provides the opportunity for these residents to learn life skills, thus transitioning out of homelessness. Outside her work with Zaban Paradies Center, Linda has been instrumental in the rapid growth of the Jewish Women’s Fund of Atlanta, where she serves as Vice Chair, and is currently Vice President of inter-religious affairs for the Atlanta chapter of American Jewish Committee.