The Florence G. Heller Professional Award

Allan Finkelstein, the 2016 Florence G. Heller Professional Award Recipient

AllanAllan Finkelstein spent his entire career working to strengthen Jewish Community Centers (JCCs) and the role that they play in American Jewish life. He retired from leading the Jewish Community Centers Association of North America in 2015, where he has served as president and CEO since 1994.
During his tenure at the organization — which serves as the continental umbrella organization for JCCs, YM-YWHAs, and camp sites in the U.S. and Canada — Allan sought to strengthen both the operations and scope of programming that JCCs provide to the Jewish community. By offering such services as the association’s Benchmarking Project, JCCs were able to measure the effectiveness of their services, always within the mission of strengthening Jewish community.

During his tenure he pushed the organization to offer a wider scope of programming tools to its member JCCs, enabling them to become go-to destinations for fitness and wellness, Jewish, Israel , cultural and arts programming. He helped initiate many new programs, including: JCC Maccabi/ArtsFest, a teen performing and visual arts competition that runs as a companion program to the organization’s JCC Maccabi Games; Boarding Pass, an Israel travel program designed to meet JCCs’ needs; discover CATCH, a child-focused health and wellness program, and Sheva, a signature approach to early childhood programs.

While at JCC Association, Finkelstein has overseen two branding efforts for the Movement, with a goal of bringing a unity of vision, language and imagery to JCCs across the continent. The most recent effort will launch at the organization’s 2014 Biennial in San Diego, beginning on March 28.

Finkelstein grew up attending the Emanuel Cohen Center in Minneapolis, the precursor of the JCC, and a JCC resident camp, where he met his wife, Bonnie. Finkelstein first began working at the JCC of Greater Buffalo where he held several positions. In 1982, he was hired as the executive vice president of the Leo Yassenoff Jewish Community Center of Columbus, Ohio, where he served until 1991. At that time, he was named executive vice president of the Jewish Community Centers of Greater Los Angeles, where he worked until coming to JCC Association.

Finkelstein has a Master’s in Social Work from the University of Minnesota, where he also received his bachelor’s degree. He has served as the chair of the professional advisory committee of the Benjamin Hornstein Program in Jewish Communal Service at Brandeis University where he also served on the faculty of the Sherman/Kaplan Seminar for Emerging Professionals. He has also been a faculty member at Irwin Daniels School of Jewish Communal Service at Hebrew Union College.

Honor Allan Finkelstein with a tribute to salute him for his contribution to the JCC Movement. He will receive notification that a gift to JCC Association has been made in his honor.

About the Florence G. Heller Professional Award

The Board of Directors of JCC Association established the Florence G. Heller Professional Award on January 21, 1968, to honor the memory of its president and beloved leader, Mrs. Florence G. Heller. This award is presented at each JCC Association Biennial Convention to a JCC professional.

Past Winners

For distinguished professional service within JCC Association’s fields of work.

1968 Miriam R. Ephraim
1970 Irving Brodsky
1972 Sanford Solender
1974 Emanuel Berlatsky
1976 Louis Smith
1978 Herbert Millman
1980 William Kahn
1982 Abe Vinik
1984 William Grossman
1986 Murry Shapiro
1988 William Budd
1990 Bernard T. Rosen
1992 Samuel I. Sorin
1994 Bessie Pine
1996 Art Rotman
1998 Jack Boeko
2000 Burt Garr
2002 Zev Hymowitz
2004 Jerry Wische
2006 Lewis Stolzenberg
2008 Avrum Cohen
2008 Solomon Greenfield
2010 Arlene Barron
2012 Louis (Buddy) Sapolsky
2014 Alan Mark Mann