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JCC Movement Honors Lay and Professional Leaders at JCCs of North America Biennial

JCC Association is proud to announce the recipients of several distinguished awards, which will be presented at the JCCs of North America Biennial in San Diego in March. J. Victor Samuels of Houston, former president of the Evelyn Rubenstein JCC of Houston and a member of the JCC Association Board of Directors since 1996, will receive the Frank L. Weil Award for Distinguished Contribution to the JCC Field. Alan M. Mann, former executive vice-president and director of the Mandel Center for Excellence in Leadership and Management at JCC Association, will receive the Florence G. Heller Award.

The Frank L. Weil Awards were established in 1950 in the name of JCC Association’s late leader, who served with brilliant distinction as president of the Jewish Welfare Board from 1940 to 1950. They are presented for distinguished contributions to the two different aspects of the Jewish Community Center field-serving the whole Jewish community and caring for Jews in the military.

Recipient of the 2014 Weil Award for service to the JCC field, Vic Samuels has served as JCC Association’s treasurer, member of the executive committee, member of the national JCC Maccabi Games committee, and is currently the chair of the financial resource development committee. Samuels is the founder and owner of Victory Packaging, which is now run by his son Ben. His numerous philanthropic activities in Houston and nationally have spanned almost forty years and extend from the Jewish community to the world at large. A graduate of Brandeis University and Reed College, Samuels worked to integrate the Houston school system in the 1970s. He hired the first Jewish educator when he was president of the JCC of Houston. He also chaired Houston’s first Jewish demographic study.

“Vic Samuels has been involved with JCCs since childhood and has been an exemplary lay leader, committed to our mission of strengthening Jewish life, an advocate for engagement, leadership development, and a supporter of innovative programs that transform members and the community at large. His life’s volunteer work reflects the highest ideals for which the Frank L. Weil Award was established,” said Jerry Wische, former executive director of the JCC of Houston. Wische is currently chief operations officer at JCC Association.

The Florence G. Heller Award was established in 1968 to honor the memory of JCC Association’s beloved former leader, and it is presented to an exceptional JCC professional at each Biennial. The award gives recognition to contributions that enrich the totality and breadth of professional practice and knowledge.

This year’s recipient, Alan Mark Mann, is a native of Brooklyn, New York, and a graduate of Queens College and Yeshiva University’s Wurzweiler School of Social Work. Mann began his career at the Midtown YM-YWHA and the JCC of Atlantic City. Moving to Boston in 1976, he served as the executive director of the South Area JCC, then in 1980 became the associate executive director of the JCCs of Greater Boston. In 1993, he took on the role of executive vice-president of the agency until 2000. Alan was the key JCC professional involved in developing the new Jewish Community Campus in Newton, Massachusetts and became the first executive director of the Leventhal-Sidman JCC in Newton Centre.

A recipient of a scholarship from JCC Association (known at the time as the Jewish Welfare Board), Mann also participated in the executive leadership training the agency offered. He joined the JCC Association staff in 2000 as executive vice-president of community services. “Alan Mann played the major role in transforming the way that JCC Association delivers service to JCCs by bringing in a group of seasoned JCC executives to work with him,” said Allan Finkelstein, president and CEO of JCC Association. “His deep knowledge and dedication to the JCC Movement informed everything he did.”

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