Breaking the Glass Ceiling Annual Awards
The annual Breaking the Glass Ceiling Award was established by the Jewish Museum of Florida in 1995 for Jewish women in Florida who have broken the proverbial glass ceiling in professional fields that are normally dominated by men. To date, more than 80 outstanding winners have been honored with this distinction, from a wide variety of fields such as medicine, banking, accounting, academia, politics, law, aviation, journalism, sports and entertainment. Nominees are also judged based upon activities in the Jewish and civic communities and serving as role models for other women.
"This event is always an uplifting experience," said Tamra Sheffman, a chair of the award committee. "We especially encourage students to attend, as it is such an inspiration to hear these women's personal stories of their often rocky paths to success."
2014's Honorees are Iris Acker, Melissa Fronstin, Susan D. Kronick, and Dr. Zena Lansky. The Museum is proud to recognize these women as examples to others to aim for the stars, and to welcome them into our prestigious group of Breaking the Glass Ceiling honorees to date. Thank you to our Event Sponsors: Isabel Bernfeld Anderson; Commissioner Sally Heyman; Kenneth Bloom in memory of Ilse Posner; Ruth Greenfield and Lori Gold & Allan Hall.
2014 Breaking the Glass Ceiling Awards Recipients
Iris Acker (Hallandale, Florida) broke through the glass ceiling nearly 30 years ago, when she served as the Executive Producer and host of the local arts program On Stage with Iris Acker. She was also the first woman president of the South Florida Chapter of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), in an era before women were accepted within these organizations' leadership roles.
Melissa Fronstin (Fort Lauderdale, Florida) is a forerunner in the sports arena management business, an industry that continues to be dominated by men. In 1987, she became the first Director of Sales and Marketing for South Florida's original entertainment facility, Miami Arena, which was home to the Miami Heat, Florida Panthers and live entertainment events including concerts and family shows. In 2011, Melissa's career came full-circle, when she was named the first female Arena Director of the 4,500 seat Don Taft Arena at Nova Southeastern University.
Susan Kronick (Miami, Florida) has had a distinguished 37-year retail career in retail management. Her climb to the top of the corporate ladder began at Bloomingdale's where she rose to Senior Executive Vice President of Stores. In 1997, she was named Chairman and CEO of Burdines in Miami. In 2010, she retired as Vice Chairman of Macy's, Inc., a 25 billion dollar company, where she was responsible for all Macy's divisions and Bloomingdale's nationwide.
Dr. Zena Lansky (Clearwater, Florida) is a woman of "firsts." She was the first woman to graduate from the University of Pennsylvania's School of Medicine (1967), the first female surgical resident at NYU's Bellevue Hospital where she rose to become its first female Chief Surgical Resident; the first female surgeon at Morton Plant Hospital in Clearwater and its first female surgeon to be named Chief of Surgery; the first female member on Plant Hospital's Medical Executive Committee and the first female general surgeon in Florida. Dr. Lansky's career highlights include establishing a nationally recognized a Patient Nutrition Program and developing the "G" Tube, a device that allows a pump to add liquid food directly into the stomach. This device alone is credited with keeping tens of thousands of nutritionally challenged people around the world alive.
2014 Awards Ceremony Pictures
Brief Biographies of the Winners - 1995-2014*
(Note: information is current for each winner at the time of the award)
Iris Acker 2014
Iris Acker broke through the glass ceiling nearly 30 years ago, when she served as the executive producer and host of the local arts program “On Stage with Iris Acker.” She was also the first woman President of the South Florida Chapter of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), member of Screen Actors Guild (SAG), and a union representative for Actors’ Equity, all in an era before women were accepted within these organizations’ leadership roles. Iris’ stage career began on the New York Stage over five decades ago. She has appeared in more than 250 commercials and was a regular on the TV series, Wiseguy. Her current program, “Spotlight on the Arts,” runs each week on BECON TV. Iris is a judge for the Carbonell Awards for South Florida’s regional professional theater and board member of The Florida International Press Club.
Shirley Forrest Arkin 2001
Shirley Arkin was trained in the field of performing arts, an avocation in which she remains active. She entered a new field as a stockbroker, with Bache Securities, in the 1970s. There she climbed the ladder in the firm and retired in 1992 after serving as vice-president of Prudential-Bache’s securities division in Miami. She has actively been involved with the Foundation of Jewish Philanthropies and in the local arts community.
Karen Aronowitz 2008
Karen Aronowitz is the President of United Teachers of Dade, a union representing 39,000 teachers and education support professionals in the Miami-Dade Public Schools. Since her election in 2004, the union has built organizational stability and achieved a high degree of success in the political arena. Ms. Aronowitz has led successful reform initiatives and gained significant salary increases for educators and support personnel. She currently serves on the board of The Children’s Trust and United Way of Miami and is a member of the Miami chapter of the NAACP. Ms. Aronowitz is a proponent of High Schools That Work and is a multiple honoree in Who’s Who Among American Teachers. A member of Temple Samuel Or, Ms. Aronowitz was also a member of B’nai Israel Synagogue where she organized their first sisterhood in the 1980s.
Lori Goodman Baer 2005
Lori Goodman Baer was the first female Port Director in Florida and only the sixth to be named at any port in the U.S. She has a nearly 30-year background in seaport management, including senior positions at the Port of Miami, Port of Palm Beach and the American Association of Port Authorities. Her experience includes work as a seaport industry consultant. She believes port management is a field wide open to women and international trade and transportation are very important to the economic vitality of our community and region. Lori is a supporter of the Jewish Federation and the State of Israel.
Hilarie Bass, Esq. 1999
Hilarie Bass is a shareholder and Department Head of Litigation at Greenberg, Traurig PA. She is active in the American Bar Association, United Way of Dade County, Orange Bowl Committee, Super Bowl Committee, Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce and also teaches at University of Miami Law School, her alma mater.
Ruth Behar 2009
Ruth Behar is a cultural anthropologist, poet, writer, filmmaker and noted feminist. In 1988 she became the first Latina woman to be awarded a MacArthur fellowship "genius grant." Latina Magazine named her in 1999 one of the 50 Latinas who made history in the 20th century. She is co-editor of Women Writing Culture, a pioneering look at the unique contributions that women have made to the field. Ruth’s personal life experiences as a Jewish Cuban-American woman are frequently an important part of her writing. Her recent book, An Island Called Home: Returning to Jewish Cuba, is about her quest to know the dwindling Jewish community that remains on the island she left as a child. Her love of Sephardic culture also led her to direct and produce Adio Kerida, Goodbye Dear Love: A Cuban Sephardic Journey, distributed by Women Make Movies, which documents Cuban Jews living in Miami and New York and has been shown around the world.
Esther K. Belfer 2002
Esther K. Belfer was born in Cuba. She arrived in Miami in 1960, attended the University of Miami and the American Institute of Banking, and earned degrees in Political Science and Finance. Her involvement with Women’s American ORT resulted in the development of major fundraising and membership programs, and led to her becoming Regional Vice President and member of the National Executive Board. Esther began her professional career with the State of Israel Bonds Organization as a field representative. Her contribution was so significant that in 1980 she was promoted to the highest position ever held locally by a woman, Executive Director of Greater Miami, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. She held this position until May 1999, when she retired after an outstanding performance that placed Miami as one of the top communities in the United States in leadership and bond sales. Esther and her husband Bill are members of Temple Menorah, supporters of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, Mt. Sinai Hospital, Hadassah, Women’s American ORT, Miami Jewish Home & Hospital for the Aged, Jewish Museum of Florida, AIPAC, Children’s Resources, The Leading Ladies and many other community charities and institutions.
Michelle Bernstein 2005
Michelle Bernstein, young culinary star, is at the pinnacle of her career. Articulate, detail-oriented and passionate about her cuisine, she has created signature menus that feature the Latin flavors of her childhood, blended with Asian, new Caribbean and classic French influences. After positions as Executive Chef at South Florida’s The Strand and Azul, she won the AAA Five Diamond Award. She recently opened her own restaurant in Cancun, and a second one on Biscayne Bay will open in 2006. Michelle is known for her philanthropic and humanitarian efforts in the Jewish community.
Roslyn K. Berrin 2000
Since the 50s, Roslyn K. Berrin has been involved in the selling of acreage and commercial and industrial sites, a field previously dominated by men. She has also served as a community leader, activist and innovator in both the Jewish and general communities. Her involvement ranged from the Jewish Federation, JCCs, NJCW and Temple Beth Am. She has also served as a board member of the Area Agency for Aging for Dade and Monroe Counties as well as other community agencies.
Col. Lettie Bien 2007
Lettie Bien is a recently retired Army Reserve Colonel who completed 30 years of service including active duty and the reserves. Her last assignment was as a civil affairs officer assigned to the Pentagon. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, Col. Bien was deployed to Iraq where she served as US Senior Advisor/Senior Consultant to the Iraqi Ministry of Industry and Minerals in Baghdad. Because of her expertise, she also served as the Military Advisor to Ambassador Richard Jones, former Deputy CPA Administrator and Chief Policy Officer in Iraq, who is now the US Ambassador to Israel. Lettie is currently the principal of a consulting firm that specializes in continuous process improvement and privatization of nationalized industries. She is a frequent speaker on community economic development, women’s issues, privatization of state controlled enterprises and US military matters.
Hon. Elaine Bloom 2006
Hon. Elaine Bloom - 1974-1978 & 1986-2000 FL State Rep. (Speaker Pro-Tempore of FL House 1992-94); 1981 Government Affairs Consultant for FL Association of Jewish Federations.1979-1981 Radio talk-show host-WKAT. Elaine is a South Florida legend. She has been actively involved politically in South Florida for four decades, always dedicated to civil and women's rights. She was influential in obtaining State funding for the Jewish Museum of Florida. She was one of the premier female legislators in the State. Her Jewishness found homes as a Board member of National Council of Jewish Women and the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, among other organizations. As a role model for other women, she is a member of the Dade County Commission on the Status of Women.
Samantha Brucker 2008
Samantha Brucker is the Planning Technical Lead for Navigational Projects at the Army Corps of Engineers in Jacksonville. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in International Business from Drexel University and a Master of Arts degree in Economics from the University of Oregon. During her tour of duty with the U.S. Army, she distinguished herself as Navigational Economist. Samantha’s community involvement is extensive, working with the Big Brothers and Sisters organization and Salzberger Homeless Shelter in Jacksonville. She has been active in the community advancing Jewish concerns including the implementation of a Yom Hashoah program at the Army Corps of Engineers and an advisor for the Kadimah group at Ahavath Chesed Synagogue.
Miette Burnstein 2009
Miette K. Burnstein has served as the first woman and first Jewish Circuit Court Judge in Broward County (1976), as well as the first woman and first Jewish Chief Judge (1985) in Broward. She was the first woman chair of the Florida State Conference of Circuit Judges and also served as Chair of the Florida State Judicial Qualifications Commission. Miette’s long list of honors and awards includes: Who’s Who in American Women (1967), State Attorneys and Public Defenders’ Outstanding Service on the Criminal Bench Award (1978) and Women of Achievement, Brandeis University National Women’s Committee (1985). A life-long resident of Broward County, she has been active in numerous community, civic, professional and Jewish organizations, as well as being a licensed private pilot and certified scuba diver.
Raquel Cohen, M.D. 2006
Raquel E. Cohen, M.D., MPH - Consultant/Trainer, Dept. Epidemiology, University of Miami Medical School; Director, Children's Unit, State Attorney's Office; former Associate Professor of Harvard Medical School. A native of Lima, Peru, Raquel graduated with the first class of women at Harvard Medical School and has worked with victim relief government and non-government agencies around the world. Having always been concerned with children as well as psychological and social consequences from disasters and intervention methods, her Manual for Humanitarian Workers is used to train disaster workers throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. She began and has continued her career as consultant, specializing in cross-cultural mental health issues. She feels strongly about supporting Jewish causes, and is a member of the Golden Care Board of Jewish Philanthropies.
Judge Jeri Beth Cohen 2013
Judge Cohen, a dependency court judge in Florida’s 11th Judicial Circuit, began her service on the bench in the criminal division when few women held judiciary positions in Miami-Dade County. She was the first to develop a pilot program for rehabilitating DUI offenders, which won her national awards. She also established the first Dependency Drug Court in the nation. She has worked with the Department of Justice to develop curricula and train dependency drug courts across the U.S., with her court serving as a mentor for The Center for Substance Abuse Treatment.
Hindi Altman Diamond 2000
Hindi Altman Diamond is a journalist who has covered stories in Latin America and South Florida. She was the first American woman foreign correspondent in Latin America, covering riots, revolutions and fast-breaking events for several news services including the United Press and McGraw-Hill. Diamond has actively served in professional organizations including Women in Communications and the Miami International Press Club. Her contributions to Jewish life in South Florida have centered on the preservation of Yiddish language.
Judy Drucker 1998
As a girl, Judy Drucker, founder and president of the Concert Association of Florida, Inc., wanted to become an opera star. Instead, she has brought the great musical artists of the world to South Florida. At a time when impresarios had only been men, Judy turned a resort beach town into one of the great cultural capitals of the world. Almost four decades ago, Judy began by presenting concerts for Temple Beth Sholom, using local talent. Within a few years she was bringing world-famous performers; as a result, South Florida has become an important stop on any classical concert tour. She has also given her community a great deal, providing fundraising concerts for a myriad of Jewish causes and free concerts for children.
Ethel Blum Dublin 2006
Ethel Blum Dublin, freelance travel writer, syndicated to 40 newspapers and President of Society of American Travel Writers; also, host of syndicated travel talk radio show; also, Cruise Editor of Travel Trade and Cruise Trade. Ethel has been a writer all her life; her first article was published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer when she was nine years old. She never thought about a glass ceiling until she interviewed for a position as Travel Editor at The Miami Herald and was told she was the most qualified, but the managing editor "would be uncomfortable with a woman traveling the world alone," and gave the position to a man. So Ethel became a freelance travel writer and within two years was selling her stories to The Miami Herald and was syndicated in 40 other newspapers. She has spoken in the Knesset about the importance of understanding its visitors. She has a Fellowship from Hebrew University. Ethel's Jewishness expressed herself wherever she went. She arranged for Holiday services and meals for Jewish service people and in Japan convinced the General to donate a church that was underused to the Jewish refugees fleeing from Shanghai. In Germany she met with city councils to make sure the Jewish cemeteries were appropriately designated and perpetual care was in place. She arranged for children of Jewish military to visit Jewish old-age homes. She wrote about these events; her articles were carried in publications around the world.
Marsha B. Elser 2000
Marsha B. Elser is a family trial lawyer. Active in many areas of the profession in South Florida, Marsha served on and chaired the 11th Judicial Circuit Judicial Nominating Committee and other commissions. Her Jewish community involvement has included the American Jewish Committee and Temple Israel of Greater Miami.
Sherryl Susan Evans 2013
Sheryl Susan Evans served as deputy sheriff for Hillsborough County for more than 32 years. She was the first woman police officer in the St. Petersburg Beach Police Department. Sherryl went on to become deputy sheriff for Hillsborough County, as one of the first women in the department. She walked the beat and patrolled the city of Tampa for several years until she was promoted to the Civil Division.
Sally Feinberg 2003
Sally Feinberg was the only female owner and manager of her family’s truck repair business, learning the business from the ground up, starting as a secretary. She took management classes, hired a business coach and became licensed and certified. She secured major contracts such as Miami-Dade County school and city buses. Sally is also active in several Jewish organizations and social causes.
Audrey Rothenberg Finkelstein 1999 (deceased, 2010)
Audrey Finkelstein, broadcast interviewer for Straight Talk on WLRN-FM National Public Radio served as the chair of the Dade Community Relations Board from 1974-75. Audrey held chairmanships and board positions also with United Way Fund, Area Agency of Aging, Girl Scout Council Tropical Florida and National Board, University of Miami Women’s Commission, President’s Commission on Mental Health, Biracial Committee for Dade County Public Schools, WLRN Channel 17 and FM radio and WPBT Channel 2 Community Television. She has served as President of the Greater Miami Chapter of American Jewish Committee (AJC) 1964-67, Member off National Executive Committee and Chair (1983) Oral History Project for AJC.
Joyce Pinn Fox 2010
Joyce Pinn Fox was the first “old lady” to enter Chase Manhattan Bank’s program for global credit training. Within 5 years she was a V.P. in charge of a $4.5 billion portfolio of problem loans. Before retirement, Joyce served as executive director of global credit for American Express, managing portfolios representing 43 countries and $50 million in lending authority.
Ellen Freidin, Esq. 2005
Ellen Freidin has been a leader in efforts to attain equality for women in the law. She was the first woman lawyer to be appointed by the Florida Bar to the 11th Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission and the first woman to Chair. She Chaired the Special Committee for Gender Equality in the Profession and received awards from the Florida Bar, the Florida Association for Women Lawyers and the Dade County Board of Commissioners. She was appointed by Governor Chiles to serve on Florida’s Constitutional Revision Commission, adding an equal rights amendment; she won several awards for her work there. Ellen has served on the Board of Directors of Beth David Congregation and helped establish the Gordon Day School and Early Childhood Center.
Melissa Fronstin 2014
Melissa Fronstin is a forerunner in the facility management business, an industry that continues to be dominated by men. In 1987, she became the first Director of Sales and Marketing for South Florida’s original entertainment facility, Miami Arena, which was home to the Miami Heat, Florida Panthers and live entertainment events including concerts and family shows. Following 14 years at the Arena, Melissa oversaw public relations for 26 Benihana properties. In 2010, Melissa became Executive Director of the Boca Raton Centre for the Arts and in 2011, Melissa’s career came full-circle, when she was named the first Woman Arena Director for the 4,500 seat Don Taft Arena at Nova Southeastern University. She was also recognized by the industry as an Outstanding Venue Professional. Melissa’s volunteer activities include American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Women of Tomorrow and Children’s Cancer Caring Center.
Sonia Pressman Fuentes 2013
Sonia Pressman Fuentes joined the General Counsel's office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in 1965 as its first woman attorney. She drafted the EEOC's first Guidelines on Pregnancy and Childbirth and the decision protecting employment rights of stewardesses. In 1966, she was one of 49 founders of the National Organization for Women. In addition to more than 20 years as an attorney with the federal government, she was also the highest paid woman at the headquarters of multinational corporations GTE and TRW.
Marilyn Hoder-Salmon 2013
Marilyn Hoder-Salmon was recruited to direct Florida International University’s new Women’s Studies Center in 1982. She initiated a Women’s History Month Conference that became a South Florida institution, involving Miamians in the national and international feminist community. When she stepped down in 1999, the center offered a bachelor’s degree in women’s studies and plans for a graduate certificate were under way. She was also a founding member of the Dade County chapter of the National Organization for Women and the Florida Women’s Political Caucus.
Dr. Judy Genshaft 2011
Dr. Judy Genshaft was appointed President and CEO of the University of South Florida System in July 2000, a position achieved by few women, and even fewer Jewish women in Florida. During Dr. Genshaft's presidency, the USF System has been nationally recognized as a top-tier national research university and a leader for economic development, especially related to high-technology and bioscience. The National Collegiate Athletic Association board recently elected Dr. Genshaft as its first woman to hold the position of Chair.
Hon. Mara Giulianti 2002
Mara Giulianti has resided in Hollywood for 27 years. She has a degree in psychology. First elected as Mayor of the City of Hollywood in March 1986, she is currently still serving in that capacity. She serves as Vice Chair of the Workforce One Council and is a member of several Boards of Directors on community as well as Jewish councils and societies. She has been honored by many local and national organizations and is listed in all editions of "Who's Who in America" since 1987.
Rep. Elaine Gordon 1997 (deceased, 2000)
Elaine Gordon was a person who had many firsts to her name. She was elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 1972 and was the first woman elected to hold the office of Speaker Pro Tempore. She became Dean of the Florida House (longest-serving member in 1993). She retired from the Legislature in 1994 after 22 years of service to the State of Florida and was a major contributor to women's issues and was at the forefront of women's rights. Some special highlights of her career include being the first woman inducted into the Florida Women's Hall of Fame, first Floridian to receive the State of Florida United Way Award for outstanding leadership and achievement, and was an honorary member of the Blue Key Honor Society of the University of Florida. She was also a recipient of an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Barry University and was a contributing author for the Encyclopedia Britannica, Annals of America. Ms. Gordon was President Apogee Projects, Inc., a consulting, marketing and public relations company, and was Vice President of Duke Industries, Inc. She was also the Assistant Vice President for University Outreach at Florida International University. Her leadership consistently aimed for freedom from violence for economic equality.
Meg Green 2001
Meg Green is nationally recognized in the field of financial services. Among her achievements are the national broadcast call-in shows and television newscasts about money and investing as well as numerous national publications. She has been active in community service organizations including the Greater Miami Jewish Federation's Women's Division. She has served actively in Women of Tomorrow, an organization that focuses on mentoring high school girls.
Ruth Greenfield 2009
Ruth W. Greenfield is a gifted musician, composer, concert pianist and teacher who has been an impresario of arts and culture in south Florida since the 1940s. Even before federal law mandated desegregated education, Ruth took courageous steps in the early 1950s to establish the Fine Arts Conservatory, the first integrated music-arts school in Florida. She also established the “Lunchtime Lively Arts Series,” in Miami in 1972, offering free cultural programs for students and downtown workers, featuring professional musicians, ballet dancers, singers, artists, poets and actors. Her civic activities have earned her extensive recognition, including the Urban League Award for Outstanding Community Inter-Racial Service (1964), Governor of Florida (Askew) Award for Contributions to the Arts (1975), Outstanding Citizen’s Award, American Jewish Congress (prompting the award to now be named the Ruth W. Greenfield Outstanding Citizen Award), 1987 and Woman of the Year, Anti-Defamation League, 1988.
Nicki Englander Grossman 2005
Nicki Englander Grossman was the first Jewish woman elected to the Hollywood City Commission, the first Jewish woman to Chair the Board of Broward County Commissioners and for more than ten years has been President/CEO of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, overseeing a $28 million budget. Her awards include being named one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Tourism, and one of the 25 Most Extraordinary Sales and Marketing Minds in Hospitality and Travel. She is a lifetime member of the National Council of Jewish Women and a Super Sunday participant.
Deborah Hecker 2003
Deborah L. Hecker is a commercial airline pilot for American Airlines. Deborah successfully balances her roles as pilot, wife and mother. She also founded the “Keep Flying Scholarship,” a program providing financial assistance and flight school scholarships for women in aviation. She worked on a moshav in Israel during the Gulf War, another job atypical for women.
Commissioner Sally Heyman 2008
Commissioner Sally Heyman has been fully engaged in the traditionally male careers of public safety, law enforcement and criminal justice for more than 30 years and an elected public official for more than 20 years. Since her election to the Miami-Dade Commission, Sally has worked with regional, state and national government for Miami-Dade legislative needs, authority and appropriations. She continues to work on responsible growth management, workforce housing initiatives, transportation alternatives, public safety and animal services. Sally is a Crime Prevention Specialist for two police departments and an Adjunct Professor of Criminal Justice at Florida International University. Her involvement in the Jewish community is also extensive as she maintains membership in ORT, Hillel of North Dade, MAR-JCC, the Jewish Federation and Jewish Community Services.
Allison K. Hift 2002
In Allison’s career as an attorney, she chose to specialize in telecommunications and technology, legal specialties dominated by men. She directs the Telecommunications Practice at her law firm of over 100 lawyers, most of whom are men. She is a regular speaker for government, corporate, academic and other groups on the national, regional and local levels. She has published more than a dozen scholarly articles in The Miami Herald’s “Business Monday” and was nationally syndicated in the Daily Business Review and The Florida Lawyer. She co-authors CyberLaw.News for Becker & Poliakoff, P.A. She is a speaker on women’s issues in the law for the Organization of Women in International Trade and Women & Technology International. Allison raises funds for the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, is in the Young President’s Club at Mt. Sinai Medical Center, and currently chairs the Emerging Technology Committee of the Internet Coast Institute. She is involved with the Second Generation Descendants of the Shoah, Jewish Museum of Florida and the Women in Communications Law Committee of the American Bar Association.
Jacqueline Hodes 2011
Jacqueline Hodes is among the few female attorneys in prominent ranks in the private equity and mergers and acquisitions arena. She is currently a partner at the firm of McDermott Will & Emery, and she was the youngest associate promoted to partner within her firm. She has been recognized and featured in Chambers USA as one of the leading lawyers in her field.
Laurel Myerson Isicoff 2010
When Laurel Myerson Isicoff graduated law school in 1982, she was told that since she was married, it was likely that she would get pregnant and quit and that all the money spent training her as a lawyer would be wasted! She is the first female bankruptcy judge appointed to the bench in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Southern District of Florida.
Betsy Kaplan 2013
Betsy Kaplan is the mother of public arts education in Miami-Dade County. In college, she made a commitment to arts education for all public school students. As a teacher, volunteer and politician, Kaplan worked to make that goal a reality. When school districts began cutting electives in the 1980s, she was elected to the School Board and guarded resources for the arts programs of every school and grade. It is a tribute to Kaplan that the Miami-Dade County school district is nationally recognized as an outstanding model of public arts education.
Michelle Kaufman 2005
Michelle Kaufman is a successful sportswriter in a field that still discriminates against women. She balances her roles as wife and mother with her passion for sports. She is a regular contributor of opinion columns for The Miami Herald. She has also covered the past eight Olympics, three World Cups, Wimbledon, French Open, Super Bowls, Final Fours, both Marlins World Series wins, NBA Finals, and more. Michelle also teaches a sports writing course at the University of Miami. She is an active Temple Judea member and her speaking engagements include the Jewish Federation, other Jewish organizations and charities.
Helene Kenvin 2001
In the 1960s few women lawyers were hired on Wall Street. Helene Kenvin pursued a position doing litigation in such a firm. After sending over 100 letters, she was indeed hired as one of the first woman lawyers in a Wall Street firm. Kenvin has been active in Jewish affairs including the international Caucasus Network that has helped Jews from the former Soviet Central Asia emigrate.
Susan Kronick 2014
Susan Kronick has had a distinguished 37-year career in retail management, retiring in 2010 as Vice Chairman of Macy's, Inc., a 25 billion dollar company. Her climb to the top of the corporate ladder began at Bloomingdale’s where she rose to Senior Executive Vice President of stores, followed by four years as president and chief operating officer of Atlanta based Rich’s/Lazarus/Goldsmith’s. In 1997, she was named chairman and CEO of Burdines in Miami. Four years later, she was named Group President of Federated Department Stores, Inc. where she was responsible for the company’s regional nameplates at the time, The Bon Marche, Burdines, Goldsmith’s, Lazarus and Rich’s. She was named Vice Chairman in 2003. Susan’s volunteer activities include serving as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Miami City Ballet, Trustee of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and co-chair of the 2011 grand opening of the home of the New World Symphony.
Carolyn J. Kurtz 2010
Carolyn J. Kurtz is the first woman in Florida to become a harbor pilot, a person who brings incoming ships from the open Gulf waters through a narrow and lengthy channel. There are few women in this position; fewer still are Jewish. Kurtz previously served as a ship’s officer from Third Officer to Chief Officer on large cargo/oil ships.
Gabriela Landau 1998 (deceased 2014)
Gabriela Landau did not begin the career that led to her breaking the glass ceiling until midlife. She had been a successful She had been a successful documentary photographer, the wife of a prominent rabbi, mother of two children and volunteer leader of a wide range of synagogue work at Beth David Congregation. In the 1970s she resumed her college education receiving her undergraduate degree in 1975 and her MA in 1977. She entered the professional world of finance, a field that has traditionally been one where men only attained high positions. Ms. Landau began a steady upward climb to her present position as First Vice President, Investment Portfolio Manager at Prudential Securities in Coral Gables. Working first for Merrill Lynch Pierce Fenner & Smith, she moved to Prudential Securities in 1983 and by 1985 was a member of Prudential’s Director’s Council and Coordinator of Retirement and Estate Services. Gabriela found the time to volunteer for community and Jewish causes and has received honors from the City of Miami and the Bernard Baruch Society of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation.
Dr. Zena Lansky 2014
Dr. Zena Lansky is a woman of many “firsts.” She was the first woman to graduate from the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine in 1967; the first female surgical resident at New York University’s Bellevue Hospital, where she rose to become their first female Chief Surgical Resident; the first female surgeon at Morton Plant Hospital in Clearwater and its first female surgeon to be named Chief of Surgery and the first female General Surgeon in Florida. Dr. Lansky’s career highlights include developments in the nutrition field, which are credited with keeping tens of thousands of nutritionally-challenged people around the world alive. She and her husband are co-founders of the annual Not for Profit Workshop, the largest nonprofit educational event in the state and she is a member of the Florida Holocaust Museum’s Leadership Council.
Judge Joan A. Lenard 1996
Judge Joan Lenard received her J.D. from Antioch School of Law in 1976. She worked for the Office of the State Attorney in the 11th Judicial Circuit of Florida (Dade County) from 1976 to 1982, serving as assistant state attorney from 1976 to 1978, as chief of the Consumer Fraud Division from 1978 to 1980, and as chief of the Consumer and Economic Crime Division from 1980 to 1982. Lenard served as a Dade County Court judge from 1982 to 1993 and as a circuit judge for the Family Division of the 11th Judicial Circuit from 1993 to 1995. President Bill Clinton nominated Lenard to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida on September 29, 1995, to the seat vacated by James Lawrence King. Confirmed by the Senate on December 22, 1995, she received commission on December 26, 1995.
Wynne Leon 2002
Wynne Leon is Vice President of National Accounts in an international company dominated mostly by men. Wynne attended Ithaca College. She married and had (her only) child. In the late 1960s, newly divorced and a single parent, she put herself through school and became a legal secretary. She began working as a legal assistant while attending night classes for a Paralegal certification at Miami-Dade Community College. In 1976, Wynne began working at the Wackenhut Corporation as a paralegal. By 1979 she was Manager of the Contracts Management Department and in 1980 became Manager of Field Support Operations. In 1982 when her daughter left for college, Wynne had the opportunity to move into an Operational position. Any division she would attempt to manage would be made up of mostly retired military, police and FBI men. She accepted a position in New Jersey as Area Manager. In 1987 she became Regional Director with 17 offices reporting to her. In 1988 she returned to Miami to become Director of National Accounts and in 1992 was promoted to Vice President of National Accounts, the first woman vice president in sales and operations, selling for 125 offices.
Daniella Levine 2007
Daniella Levine is the Founder and Executive Director of the Human Services Coalition of Dade County, an advocacy organization dedicated to empowering individuals and communities to create a more just and equitable society. By combining strategies of civic engagement, economic fairness and access to health and human services, she successfully integrated a conglomeration of existing human service agencies under one umbrella to form an organization that has become a powerful advocate for their clients. Daniella’s collaborative leadership has led to her pioneering many innovative healthcare initiatives and coalitions, such as being the first to champion children’s enrollment in Medicaid after parents lost benefits through welfare reform. Most recently she convened a Healthcare for All Task Force to address systemic barriers to healthcare access. Daniella also lends her skills to provide advocacy training for other organizations.
Laurie Levine 2006
Laurie Ellen Levine - Vice President for Business and Finance at Lynn University; Vice President for Finance at HIP Health Plan; Controller at HIP Health Plan. Laurie passed her CPA exam on her first attempt and joined the Big 8 accounting firm of Touche Ross where she quickly advanced to Manager for Auditing Services. After eight years she left public accounting to become Controller with HIP Health Plan of Florida. Each time an opportunity to advance occurred, Laurie jumped in, and today works in multiple capacities. Her Jewish life is rich: she's on the Budget Committee at her synagogue and is a JCC and Broward Federation member. Judith Lewis 2009 Judith L. Lewis, former Director of National Sales for TWA, negotiated major contracts with TWA’s largest national travel agency accounts and developed new business by targeting major corporations. In her first year, she created and ran a 64 person sales staff that brought in over $100 million in incremental revenue. She began her career in the male-dominated airline industry in 1972 in Florida as a customer service representative for Eastern Airlines and worked her way up to Sales Account Executive. During that time, she served as President of AWE, a national volunteer organization at Eastern to train women in corporate management. She continues to provide personal coaching services for corporate executives. She has also been an active volunteer in the Tampa community, using her skills to assist Jewish and social service organizations in management skills and team building.
Hillelene Lustig 2003
Hillelene S. Lustig was the 25th woman CPA in the State of Florida and one of only three to graduate with an accounting degree. She was the first Jewish president of the American Society of Women Accountants and is active in Jewish organizations such as Hadassah and the Greater Miami Jewish Federation. She still practices as a self-employed CPA.
Joy V.W. Malakoff 1998
Senior Vice President of Colonial Bank, Joy Malakoff has been on the road to achievement since her youth. After being Valedictorian at Miami Beach High School, she attended Radcliffe College where she was on the Dean’s List and graduated from the University of Miami, cum laude. In 1980 Joy entered the banking industry as a management trainee for American Savings & Loan Association of Florida and from 1980 through 1986 was Branch Manager. In 1985 she moved CenTrust Bank. In 1990 Joy moved to Jefferson Bank of Florida, which later became Colonial Bank of South Florida where she became Vice President, and in 1993 attained her current position. Her responsibility is civic, community relations and business development. Ms. Malakoff’s community activities are well known in the community. Some of them include: Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce; Chairman, City of Miami Beach Planning Board; Citizen’s Advisory Committee, Miami-Dade County Parks & Recreation; and Treasurer and Executive Board Member, Temple Beth Sholom.
Senator Gwen Margolis 1996
Gwen Margolis was elected to the District 4 seat of the Metro-Dade County Commission in 1994. She served as Chair of the Budget and Rules Committee and Vice Chair of Finance and Trust Funds Committee. She also served as a member of the following committees: Parks, Recreation and Culture, Aviation Operations, Health and Public Safety, Maritime, Trade and Tourism and Government Operations. She began her public service career in the Florida Legislature when elected to the House in 1974. She was subsequently re-elected for three terms. Her career in the Senate began in 1980 where she was appointed Chair of the Finance, Tax and Claims Committee and assisted in leading the state out of recessions and budgetary crises. In 1990 Senator Margolis was sworn in as the first woman President of the Florida state Senate. She spearheaded the passage of landmark legislation touted as the toughest ethics legislation in the nation, as well as a constitutional amendment that opened all government records and meetings to the public.
Sara Maman 2007
Sarah Maman is senior vice president of the Fire, Life Safety & Security Institute, Inc. She entered the field of engineering when there was only one other female in her Chemical Engineering graduating class. Sarah began her career as the first woman field inspector hired by the Insurer’s Advisory Organization, evaluating the fire protection of commercial and industrial facilities and making recommendations to improve their levels of protection. She became an expert the male-dominated arena of fire protection specialists, with a background in hazard risk assessment, loss prevention, performance based analysis, code consulting and designer. She also serves as a volunteer consultant to improve fire protection and life safety in Miami Dade County Public Schools and volunteers as a Fire Safety Recertification Program instructor for Fire Safety Officials.
JoAnn Mason-Parker 2008
JoAnn Mason-Parker is a nationally known professional billiards champion. She maintained Top Five status in the field for eight out of ten years, playing international tours and winning competitions at the U.S. Open and Masters levels. Currently, she is an Early Childhood Teacher at the Hillel Community Day School. She has been the official spokesperson for the March of Dimes and has participated and coached in the Special Olympics. She has also donated her time and skills to the American Heart Association, Breast Cancer Foundation, Muscular Dystrophy Association and HIV/AIDS Foundation.
Phyllis Miller 1997 (deceased, 2002)
Phyllis Miller served Dade County as a Public School Board Member 1972-1980 and chair 1977-1980. Miller was instrumental in establishing college credit for the High School in Israel program, as well as WPBT public TV. Her innovative ideas and persistence enhanced public education, in fact, a school was named for her.
Deborah Natansohn 2006 (deceased 2006)
Deborah Natansohn - Since July 2004, President & COO of Carnival Corporation's Seabourn Division; was Sr. VP, Sales & Marketing, Cunard Line; Pres., Orient Lines; VP, Marketing, Ocean Cruise Line & Pearl Cruises. Starting her career as editor of a travel magazine, she worked her way up the ranks, continuing in London at Travellers International before moving to Arthur Frommer International. In the cruise industry she started in sales and marketing, then by 1992, was named executive vice president of Orient Lines. In 1998, she was appointed president, becoming the first female president of a cruise line in the United States.
Cantor Rachelle Faith Nelson 2010
Cantor Rachelle Faith Nelson was the first invested Reform female cantor in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, as well as the first female cantor graduate from Hebrew Union College, School of Sacred Music, to serve South Florida. Her first blockade was the faculty at HUC, who believed these pioneering female cantorial students were searching for a husband! She began as cantor at Temple Israel of Greater Miami and now serves at Temple Beth Am, Pinecrest.
Edith G. Osman 2000
Edith G. Osman is completing her term as President of the Florida Bar, only the second woman in this position in the Bar’s 49-year history. Osman, a graduate of the University of Miami Law School, has practiced civil litigation and family law. She climbed the ladder of professional leadership by serving in the Florida Association of Women Lawyers and other organizations. On a community level, Osman has actively served on the Focus on Miami’s Homeless and Hadassah.
Justice Barbara Pariente 2002
Barbara J. Pariente is the first Jewish woman to be appointed to the Florida Supreme Court and only the second woman in the Court's 150-year history. She attended Boston University and George Washington University Law School, was in private practice for 18 years, was appointed to the Fourth District Court of Appeals in 1993 and became the 77th Justice of the Florida Supreme Court in 1997. In 2004 she became Chief Justice. She is a member of many steering committees, institutes and task forces. She speaks on professionalism, family court and juvenile justice issues and crime prevention. She has authored many articles and publications. She is an involved Jew in her community. Justice Pariente is married to the Honorable Frederick A. Hazouri.
Priscilla R. Perry 1999 (deceased 2012)
Pricilla Perry was the first woman to be named Associate Director of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, 1954-58. Listed in Who’s Who in Worldwide Jewry, she has also served on the Executive Committee of the Greater Miami Chapter of the AJC. She was founder and director of the Institute for the Study of Aging at the University of Miami; founding editor, Miami Interaction, University of Miami; founding member and vice president, Southern Gerontological Society, founder and president, University of Miami Canterbury Day Care Center; founder and co-director, League of Working Mothers.
Rabbi Gayle Pomerantz 1997
Rabbi Gayle Pomerantz of Temple Beth Sholom on Miami Beach brings a new image to the traditional perception of rabbi. She has helped define the role of women in Judaism today. Only in recent years do young Jewish women have a role model if they want to pursue the rabbinate as a career.
Aliza Ranish 2003
Aliza Ranish served as the first woman to represent the Israeli AFL-CIO in the southeastern United States, requiring her to speak in front of the predominantly male bastion of American union leaders. She is currently Executive Director for the Southeast Branch of American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, and is active in Young Israel, Hadassah and the National Council of Jewish Women.
Dr. Fleur Sack 2011
Dr. Fleur Sack was the first female chair of a Baptist Hospital medical department, the first female physician appointed to the hospital’s medical board, and, she was only the fourth female to serve as president of the Florida Academy of Family Physicians in its 55-year history. Dr. Sack was one of the first Miami physicians to treat HIV/AIDS patients, and recognizing the risk for females, she authored one of the first texts addressing HIV prevention for women.
Eris Sandler 2007
Eris Sandler is president and chief executive officer of retail banking for Colonial Bank’s South Florida region and the first woman to hold such a position. Eris is responsible for the growth and profitability of 49 retail offices in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Martin counties, with her market bringing in nearly 15% of the bank’s total deposit base. Previously at Regions Bank, she took the retail consumer loan production from a $19 million to $35 million monthly average in less than six months, while also growing the loan portfolio by more than $40 million deposits. Eris has worked her way up in the banking industry over her 20-year career to a high level position in a publicly traded, financial services organization while also serving as an active community leader and role model.
Rachel A. Sapoznik 2010
Rachel A. Sapoznik is a proven leader in the insurance industry with the largest woman owned employee benefits agency in South Florida. When she began her career her work often required evenings, and when she started her family, she was terminated for not meeting sales quotas. She started her own employee benefit insurance company and with revenue figures of $10 million annually, she is a marketplace leader.
Ruth Shack 1996
Since becoming the President of Dade Community Foundation, Ruth Shack has spearheaded a campaign that has more than quadrupled the Foundation's assets that distribute to nonprofit institutions in Greater Miami. She serves on national boards of the Council on Foundations and the Coalition of Community Foundations for Youth. Her career in public service began in 1976 when she was elected to the first term as a Metro-Dade County Commissions, and re-elected to a number of subsequent terms. In her tenure there, she forced the County and its municipalities to consider their historic resources including the Art Deco District on South Miami Beach, and in 1981 sponsored its first historic preservation ordinance. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities from Dade's Batty University and a Master of Arts in Social Science with specialization from the University of Colorado. She has taught sociology and political science at Florida International University. She hosted a regularly scheduled talk show for WNWS each Saturday in 1985-6. She is the recipient of the Governor's Award for the Arts; American Institute of Architects Community Service Award; Presidential Award from the Cultural Executives Council; Tropical Audubon's Conservation Award; Society of the Arts Award, Florida South Chapter; Miami each Taxpayer's Association, Public Enlightenment Award; and Dade County's Outstanding Citizens Award.
Brenda Shapiro 2003
Brenda Shapiro is an attorney who was the first woman director of a Hillel Foundation at a State University (FIU), a position previously held only by men. She is active in numerous causes, including the Women’s Division of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, creating the multi-cultural Women’s Intergroup Network, and being the first woman director of the Florida American Jewish Committee.
Carol Shear, M.D. 1997
Former Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Miami Medical School, Dr. Carol Shear, is a physician, administrator, author and teacher who has an abiding dedication to improving the lives of children. She recalled enrolling in a physics class; the teacher insisted the name must be “Carl.”
Lisa Sirota, M.D. 2008
Dr. Lisa Sirota is a pediatrician and partner at Children’s Medical Association and a member of the Board of Directors at Jewish Adoptions and Foster Care Organization Previously, at Plantation General Hospital, Dr. Sirota served as Chief of Pediatrics and Chief of Staff. She was the first female in the history of the hospital to serve in the Chief of Staff position. Dr. Sirota is also a physician-mentor to medical students and physician–assistants at Nova Southeastern University College of Medicine. As a member of Temple Adath Or, she hosts holiday celebrations and discussion groups. At Temple Beth Torah, Dr. Sirota leads Community Healing Service and conducts Bikur Cholim visits in the area.
Samantha Steinberg 2011
Samantha Steinberg is one of the top forensic artists in the country. She was the first person in the county to hold the title “forensic artist and she co-founded the Miami-Dade Police Department’s Unit. Samantha created the Steinberg Facial Identification Catalog, used by police agencies around the country. She has impacted countless lives by helping identify criminals, giving families closure, and placing criminals behind bars.
Annette Stiefbold 2007
Annette Eisenberg Stiefbold worked her way up through the ranks of the Lockheed Corporation, beginning as a bilingual secretary to serve the Latin American market in the company’s two-person office in Coral Gables to the Director of Commercial Markets analyzing aerospace industry markets and competitors and developing new business strategies. She was instrumental in the launch of several new businesses based on Lockheed’s core capabilities, and for many years, she was the only woman in the room for meetings. During her career she was selected to represent Lockheed at the first International Aerospace Trade Show in Moscow and subsequently joined a small Lockheed team that visited science and engineering laboratories in Israel to identify advanced technology for potential partnerships. She was both the only woman and the only Jewish member of the team.
Anita Stiles 2011
Anita Stiles notes there are few Jewish women who are licensed funeral directors, and even fewer who are not married to the owners. She faced challenges all along the way, as most men are doubtful that women can handle the hours or the tasks of heavy lifting and cleaning. She has been funeral director of Beth Israel Memorial Chapel, Boynton Beach, since 2001.
Carolyn Kerner Stein 2006
Carolyn Kerner Stein- Pres., "The Training Express" Carolyn says that helping women achieve success and reach their potential has always been one of her objectives in formulating her personal development workshops. She started in the motion picture production industry in 1971, when it was totally dominated by men. In those days, the professional speaking and training fields featured men as trainers. Carolyn has helped to change that with her workshops. The focus of much of her training is to help women develop a stronger sense of self-esteem, techniques to network, develop presentation skills, present a professional image and become entrepreneurs. She founded a chapter of ORT in 1982. She has been active in the South Florida Conference of Soviet Jewry and went on a mission to Russia.
Hon. Debbie Wasserman Schultz 2005
Hon. Debbie Wasserman Schultz is the first Florida Jewish woman to be elected to the U.S. Congress. She was first elected to public office in 1992 to the Florida House of Representatives at age 26, the youngest woman ever elected to the Florida Legislature. In 2000 she was elected to the Florida State Senate. In both positions she was involved with many committees on diverse matters of community needs; she also wrote and successfully passed two bills to protect children. She has received awards from many organizations. She is a wife and mother of three young children, and is never reluctant to stand up for her Jewish beliefs. When being sworn in as a U.S. representative, she asked for a Jewish Bible and waited until it arrived to be sworn in.
Gloria Bass Weinberg 2010
Gloria Bass Weinberg is Chairman of the Dept. of Medicine, Mount Sinai Medical Center, Miami Beach. She attended the Albert Einstein College of Medicine when a minority of medical students was female. Gloria designed one of the country’s first geriatric units, and in 1981, she was recruited to Mount Sinai to develop a geriatrics program. She climbed the ladder, and in 2006, Dr. Weinberg was appointed Chair of Medicine, a position held by only ten percent of women nationally.
Pauline Winick 1996
Pauline Winick is second in command of the pro basketball team, the Heat, indeed unusual for a Jewish woman. Before she went to work for the Miami Heat, Pauline Winick wasn’t particularly fond of sports. But Winick learned a lot during her three years as executive vice president of the Miami Heat. A New York native, Winick spent most of the 1980s working in the public sector, first, as top PR person for the Metro-Dade county manager, and later as executive assistant to Miami’s city manager. She started her own public relations business in 1987 and landed a job working with the future owners of the Miami Heat—that led to her position as the Heat’s marketing maven. She was one of only two female executives among the NBA’s 27 teams.
Judith Wolf 2007
Judith A. Wolf began Pan American World Airways as a ticket agent, spending her first 10 years learning the airline industry. Judith became the first female at Pam Am to hold the senior positions of station manager, ramp manager, passenger service manager and Director of Commuter Services. She was also on the first training team when Pam Am switched from manual to computer check-in. During Judith’s tenure, Pam Am opened 10 stations and they were the first company to incorporate a “mom & pop” airline into a major flag company. Once she was promoted, they formed a Women’s Council to train women for management, using her as a role model.
Miriam Zatinsky 1998
Miriam Zatinsky’s appointment as Executive Director of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Miami was breaking the glass ceiling in a field that for 100 years had not seen a woman as executive director in a major city. In 1972, Miriam was selected to head the Miami Beach Activity Center, when the elderly were a major factor in the South Beach population. Her innovation in using a model of a settlement house was highly successful. She started an array of senior programs, including a Frail Elderly Center, Meals on Wheels, Friendly Visitors. She moved to the Central JCC office to head the Department of Elderly Programs under Director Steve Lecker. When he resigned, he recommended Miriam for his job. Under her leadership, the agency adopted new programs for children and adults, including adult education, sports and childcare.
LIFETIME ACHIEVING AWARD – Marcia Jo Zerivitz 2011
Marcia Jo Zerivitz, Founding Executive Director and Chief Curator, Jewish Museum of Florida, has been “breaking the glass ceiling” in the Florida Jewish community for nearly 50 years. When the first National UJA Young Women’s Leadership Cabinet was formed in 1974, Marcia was selected. In 1978, she was one of the earliest female presidents of a Jewish Federation. Marcia traveled around Florida to retrieve its unknown Jewish history and then led the evolution of the MOSAIC traveling exhibit project into the Jewish Museum of Florida. Marcia initiated both Florida Jewish History Month and Jewish American Heritage Month to further her goal to help ensure Jewish continuity by strengthening Jewish memories and identity.