James O’Connor, Moshe Ohayon, Anoosh Shariat, Seema Sheth and Dr. Shiao Woo – all immigrants, refugees or first-generation Americans – were recipients of 2018 Jewish Family & Career Services MOSAIC Awards.
Their achievements were showcased at the annual MOSAIC Awards dinner, Thursday, May 17, at the Omni Hotel.
Originally from Ireland, O’Connor was named Louisville City FC’s first head coach in 2014. He has built a local audience for soccer and led his team to two highly successful seasons, including the 2017 United Soccer League Championship.
He is involved with adding a soccer-only stadium to the skyline.
Off the field, O’Connor volunteers hundreds of hours with local charities and community partners and encourages his team and staff to do the same. He has provided free game tickets to underprivileged families, visited schools and dropped in on children at local hospitals.
O’Connor said he accepted the MOSAIC Award as a representative of Louisville City FC, which he described as “a special organization from top to bottom.”
Born in Israel, Moshe Ohayon came to the United States at age 8. He graduated from Columbia University and moved to Louisville to join his parents, using his math and science skills as a tutor.
He expected most of his clients to be kids who were struggling in school. Instead, most were students from privileged families intent on achieving perfect scores on college entrance exams to secure scholarships to elite universities.
Recognizing these students also needed meaningful community service projects, he founded, and is executive director of, Educational Justice, a nonprofit organization that designs and implements programs that create opportunities for high-potential learners of limited means. Ohayon enlists his paying clients as tutors.
A recipient of the Pyramid Award of Excellence from the Center for Nonprofit Excellence and the Alden Fellows Leadership Development Award from the Community Foundation of Louisville, Ohayon’s program model is being copied in other cities.
Mindful that his family came to America for a better life and achieved that dream, Ohayan said many others are not so fortunate. For those people, he said, Educational Justice is opening doors.
A well-known name in Louisville’s culinary sector, Anoosh Shariat comes from Iran and has been an honored and respected chef and restaurateur here for many years. His current restaurants are Anoosh Bistro for fine dining and Noosh Nosh for more casual fare.
He was the first Kentucky chef to appear on the Food Network, has been named “Best Chef” by Louisville Magazine, and has been featured in numerous national publications. He has cooked at the James Beard House four times and was a featured chef at the Culinary Institute of America’s World of Flavor Conference.
Shariat’s excellence in the kitchen extends to his charitable activities. Norton Children’s Hospital, Gilda’s Club, The Healing Place, the American Cancer Society, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), March of Dimes and many others have benefited from his efforts.
“Success is being part of the community,” Shariat said.
Seema Sheth’s parents came from India and Sudan, but she was born in the United States. A graduate of Kentucky Country Day, she earned a BA in theater and an MBA in entrepreneurship and finance.
A successful financial representative for Northwestern Mutual, she realized that many young people are financially illiterate, so she founded Adulting Academy, which teaches high school students financial skills they will need to become thriving, independent adults.
Sheth also serves on the boards of Metro United Way, Actors Theatre and KCDS and works with other nonprofits.
She quoted from a poem by Shel Silverstein: “Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.”
Dr. Shiao Woo
Born in Malaysia, Dr. Shiao Woo was recruited by the University of Louisville James Graham Brown Cancer Center as a radiation oncologist, specializing in the treatment of brain tumors and pediatric radiation oncology.
Today, he is the medical director of Louisville CyberKinfe and chairs the UofL School of Medicine Department of Radiation Oncology. Through his work, Woo has ensured that the department is fully accredited and has the most comprehensive array of technologies possible to treat cancer.
In addition, Woo is a founding member of the GFoundation, which strives to eliminate hunger in Kentucky. Focusing on homebound seniors in Louisville, GFoundation has eliminated the waiting list for the local Meals-on-Wheels program.
Each year at the MOSAICs, a scholarship from the Jeff and Phyllis Osbourn Educational Endowment at Jewish Hospital and St. Mary’s Foundation is presented to an immigrant or refugee pursuing a career in nursing or other high-demand healthcare field. This year’s scholarship went to Josip Petri, a refugee from Bosnia, who is pursuing a Master’s degree at Spalding University’s Auerbach School of Occupational Therapy.
Navigate Enterprise Center
Part of JFCS’ primary mission is to assist immigrants and refugees in their transition to American life. Through the Navigate Enterprise Center, the agency provides the support services entrepreneurially inclined clients need to launch, sustain or expand their own small businesses.
Those businesses showcased at this year’s MOSAICS were All Is Fair in Love & Fashion, Wonderfulee Marlee, Ziba’s Bistro, Reni’s Hats from the Heart, Rouge Atelier/REDS Naturals, RC Studio, KS Accessories, AlFurat and JD Creative.
Works of Art
This year’s MOSAIC awards were unique wall sculptures created by Indiana potter Adam Egenolf. Through his use of crystalline glazes and multiple firings, the artist sought to emulate the characteristics of water movement.
The 2018 MOSAIC Awards title sponsor was the Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence. The MOSAIC Sponsors were Kindred Healthcare, Brown-Foreman, Heaven Hill, WLKY, ParMerica and Steve and Terri Bass. The Patron Sponsors were Churchill Downs, Kosair Charities, Louisville Public Media, Kentucky Country Day, Papercone Corp. and Nathan and Ann Zimmerman.
This year’s honorary chairs were Steve and Terri Bass.