What a great pleasure it was to to have hosted so many "returnees" to the JEA on Wednesday evening at the 109th Annual Meeting of the Alliance. It was certainly wonderful to see all the familiar faces, the leaders, past, present, and future gather together to support this wonderful institution: the Alliance. You could tell that as people walked in there was a little bit of discomfort; do I shake hands? Who can I hug? What is appropriate? Can I take my mask off if I'm sitting with my family? Yet, after 15 or 20 minutes, it all felt familiar, it all felt right. One of the people at the meeting said, "It is like riding a bike...the biggest challenge is beginning." And begin again, we did!
Thanks to Sally Silbermann, Hattie Silbermann, Jamie Richman, Sunny Nayberg, and Debbie Sistino for helping set up the room in the Back to the Future theme. With flowers, and hoverboards festooning the tables, cut outs of Deloreans, and great deserts, the room was alive. And a big thank you to Seth Grenald our Board member and photographer extraordinaire (yes, that is his photo below).
This was a "turnover" Annual meeting when we change leadership. We are so very grateful for the (I was going to say hundreds) thousands of phone calls/ Zoom meetings that Michael "Buzzy" Karpf had with me and dozens of others. As one person commented, "He was THE right man at the right time." You can click here to read Buzzy's Outgoing President remarks. On behalf of a grateful community, "Thank you, Buzzy for a job well done."
The meeting also featured the presentation of the JEA Community Leadership Award. Due to the Pandemic, there was no award conferred last year, but this year's winner was honored in large part to the inspired leadership he provided to the Savannah community: Mayor Van Johnson. In presenting the award to Mayor Johnson, Buzzy stated,
"He is courageous, insightful and completely dedicated to the best interests of Savannah. He did not flinch at the obstacles and the seemingly intractable problems which came his way. He drew on an inner strength of which even he was probably unaware. Yet, that strength gave him the fortitude and resolve to do the right thing for Savannah. The community owes him our gratitude, and this award is but one small token of the measure of thanks to which he is entitled." (The entire contents of the speech is included in the current edition of Savannah Jewish Life magazine which should be delivered any day).
There were a number of other recognition awards given out including thank you to three Board members who had reached their maximum years of service: Lisa Mackowiak (3 terms), Cookie Gale (3 terms) and Scott Samuels who bookended close to two decades on the board including two stints as president. Also recognized were three JEA employees who were celebrating 5 years of employment: Gabel Williams, Denise Gills, and Haley Burke. Buzzy also made President's Awards to his Executive Committee (Edwin Byck, Robyn Carroll, Marcy Konter, Margie Levy, Kenneth Sadler, Joel Greenberg, Bill Sand, Scott Samuels, and Larry Silbermann) who helped guide the community through the Pandemic.
Former JEA President, Jeffrey Lasky took to the podium to invest new JEA President Larry Silbermann. We know that with Larry's personality, professional expertise as General Manager and Vice President of WTOC, and his very successful leadership as Board Chair of the United Way of the Coastal Empire, the JEA is in great hands for the coming years. You can read Larry's remarks by clicking here and it has a link to a wonderful video that was presented as part of his remarks.
Yes, we are Back to the Future and are ready to roar back to new heights!