Volunteers make a difference for local Jewish agencies

Jewish community agencies honored volunteers with special recognition awards as part of the Community Awards Celebration & Annual Meeting 2020 that the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona hosted last month on Zoom. Here, the agencies offer a closer look at these dedicated lay leaders.

University of Arizona Hillel Foundation

Suzanne Baron Helming
Suzanne Baron Helming

Suzanne Baron Helming served the Hillel board selflessly for seven years, including five years as treasurer, plus agreeing to stay on for an extra year to continue in her role as our financial guru. She is a calming presence who looks at things with an objective and straightforward perspective, really helping to get things done efficiently. In addition to her financial service to Hillel, Suzanne also participated in our policy task force, which over the course of two years reviewed and updated almost every Hillel policy including the by-laws. Her legal expertise and wordsmithing skills were always appreciated and helped us to complete the projects in a very timely way. We are extraordinarily grateful for her service!

Jewish History Museum/Holocaust History Center

JHM-color-logoJosephine Harris has been a passionate presence and active champion of the Jewish History Museum for many years. Jo joined the board of directors in 2015 and served as the museum’s membership chair for the bulk of her tenure on the board. Jo also served on the volunteer committee and as a docent. In all areas of her work with the museum, Jo has been notable for her personal touch, curiosity, kindness, and deep care for the museum and all who visit. She is a reliable attendee and participant at the museum’s public programs where she greets others to the campus with warmth and gratitude. An important piece of Jo’s support of the museum that is not visible to others is her unwavering concern for the well-being of its staff, who reciprocate their care for her.

Jewish Family & Children’s Services of Southern Arizona

Morgan Pfau

Morgan Pfau received her undergraduate degree in aviation management from the University of Alaska and her master’s degree in aeronautical science from Embry-Riddle. She joined the JFCS staff in 2015 after spending nearly eight years in the Air Force as a finance officer. Within a short time, Morgan rose to the task of replacing the previous vice president of finance, and in this position she had a significant impact on the success of the agency. Under her tutelage, JFCS restructured the finance department, adding HR, IT, facilities, and billing. Morgan and her team worked hard to modernize the agency’s systems, and due to her dedication, JFCS functions much more efficiently. Although Morgan left JFCS as a staff member in 2018, she continued to act as a consultant for JFCS. She currently serves on the JFCS board of directors and acts as chair of the finance committee. Her extensive knowledge of programs, grants, billing, revenue, expenses, etc. makes her the ideal person for that position. JFCS would not be where it is today without her commitment. According to Morgan, providing community services is in her core, which explains her dedication to JFCS. She values the act of changing people’s lives and making the world a better place. We are all grateful for Morgan’s hard work and altruism.

Tucson Hebrew Academy

Eric Spitzer

Eric Spitzer, CPA has been the chair of the board of directors for JETCO (Jewish Education Tax Credit Organization) for the past three years. JETCO is the primary provider for financial assistance at THA. Both THA and JETCO are very fortunate to have him as JETCO president, where he has made a difference for many THA students in this capacity. Eric has been very active in the community as a coach for over 25 years with AAU basketball, high school basketball, and competitive club soccer. He holds a bachelor of science in business and accounting from the University of Arizona with a minor in communication.

Tucson Jewish Community Center

Randy Emerson

Randy Emerson has been a longtime leader of the Tucson Jewish Community Center. In the 1980s, Randy was on the building committee that envisioned the J at our current home on River Road and then he became the first board chair to serve us after construction was completed in 1989. In the 30+ years since, Randy has continued to provide warm guidance and mentorship to our team. Most recently, Randy spent more than two years spearheading the Garden of Hope project, which provides a space for quiet contemplation in a peaceful, colorful, and meditative outdoor environment while simultaneously celebrating the arts. Randy remains an active member of the J and often can be seen around the building, where his presence is always a gift. We are grateful to Randy for his continued leadership at the J and in the greater community!

Jewish Community Foundation of Southern Arizona

Aaron Rottenstein

Aaron Rottenstein has demonstrated outstanding leadership for the Jewish Community Foundation for many years. Having served on the Foundation’s investment and grants committees, Aaron was selected to join the executive committee and continues to bring his exceptional analytical skills, considerable experience in politics and community organizing, and fresh, youthful perspective to shape JCF’s governance and policy. A leader among his peers, this year Aaron is piloting a giving circle with the Foundation’s Legacy Team as an on-ramp for a number of emerging philanthropists to work with JCF, collaborating on a shared Donor Advised Fund, and thoughtfully considering collective and strategic impact in the community. Aaron’s integrity is beyond reproach and he demonstrates unwavering commitment to ensure we do what is right, what is important, and what is strategically going to deliver on behalf of the community.

Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona

Bruce Ash

As a volunteer, Bruce Ash is all-in, all of the time — graciously sharing his business acumen and contacts, establishing and activating volunteer networks, thanking donors, and generously giving from his heart. Bruce has an abiding commitment to and understanding of our mission in the broadest sense, supporting the most vulnerable in Southern Arizona, in Israel, and throughout the world, exercising and developing leadership, and participating in our necessary fundraising activities to enable and further this work and the engagement of our entire community. This past year, Bruce stepped in and stepped up to accept both short-term and long-term assignments. Among other efforts, he spearheaded an effort to quickly raise the funds necessary so University of Arizona softball players could participate on an Israeli team to compete in Europe and a chance to play in the Olympics. Although Bruce brings tremendous business and non-profit organizational experience to his numerous volunteer roles at the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona, he remains intellectually curious and open to new “best practices” to ensure that we are stewarding community resources entrusted to us to achieve the best possible outcomes as identified by our community members. It is an absolute pleasure to engage in our work with Bruce, who is consistent in his support of his co-volunteers and our professionals. We look forward to Bruce reprising his earlier roles in Annual Campaign and board leadership, as this year he serves as co-vice chair, together with Karen Katz, of our Annual Campaign and as a Federation vice chair.

Watch the video of the Community Awards Celebration & Annual Meeting 2020.