Howard Levkowitz, co-founder and CEO at Tennenbaum Capital Partners L.L.C., a venture capital and private equity firm in Los Angeles, Calif., says he is very happy to see his good friend and former classmate Jon Ben-Asher working as head of school at Tucson Hebrew Academy.
The Levkowitz’s were among the families that founded THA, and getting the school up and running took a vast amount of time, energy and resources, he says.
“It was always part of my life and it was very important to the family,” says Levkowitz. “[THA] was something they were very committed to and remained very committed to.”
His mother, Bertie, has remained involved with the school and is the current president of the THA board of trustees.
Levkowitz was the first student to attend THA from first through eighth grades. There were only three students in his graduating class in 1981, and about 90 pupils attending the entire school. He says it’s terrific to see “that the school is continuing to thrive and create an environment where Jewish kids can get a uniquely Jewish education.”
He earned his Bachelor of Arts in history from the University of Pennsylvania, and a Bachelor of Science in economics, with a concentration in finance, from the Wharton School, graduating in 1989. He received his doctorate in law from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, graduating in 1993.
Being a THA student during the school’s early years instilled a strong sense of self-sufficiency, he says. The institution was so small that if you wanted to accomplish something you simply needed to act. Whether those circumstances created a sense of empowerment, or necessity, they had a positive effect overall, he adds.
“That fostered an environment for leadership, independence and initiative that was probably distinct from any other school — and ultimately a sense of pride,” he says. “I’m very happy to have gone there, and I hope that many more kids continue to have the opportunity to do so as well.”
Levkowitz and his wife, Elayne, have been married for 24 years and have four children, Olivia, Jack, Julia and Ella — all of whom have studied at institutions similar to THA. In a world where there are so many challenges to begin with, being rooted in Jewish and community values based on a strong moral tradition is invaluable, he says.
“Being in an environment where that’s learned, studied and fostered is really important,” says Levkowitz. “And the dual curriculum, although it’s more work, puts people in a better position to deal with rigorous academics.”