A technology entrepreneur, professional violinist and music teacher, healthcare professional and community leader, social entrepreneur and women’s advocate, and a journalist who chronicled the 60’s through the prism of the Holocaust will be recipients of the 2019 Mosaic Awards.
These five individuals, who have made their marks in Louisville, will be recognized during the annual awards dinner on Thursday, May 23, at the downtown Marriott Hotel.
The fundraising event, which benefits Jewish Family & Career Services (JFCS), honors international Americans who have made significant contributions in their professions locally and globally.
“JFCS was founded to assist newcomers to Louisville, and this event honors its original mission,” said CEO Deb Frockt. “To date, the event has recognized 67 international Americans who make our community a richer and more interesting city, creating a mosaic of many colors and perspectives.”
A cocktail reception, showcasing new micro-businesses that have received training and financial assistance from the JFCS Navigate Enterprise Center, will start at 5 p.m.
“Many new businesses only have a small budget for marketing,” said Navigate Director Cynthia Brown. “By introducing our businesses to the people attending the MOSAIC Awards, we hope to generate interest in the products and services they provide and create new clients for them.”
Here is an introduction to this year’s MOSAIC recipients:
Purna Veer (India)
A nationally recognized entrepreneur and business leader, Veer runs V-Soft Consulting Group Inc., a software company started in 1997. It is one of the fastest growing tech companies in America with more than 1,000 employees in 42 states. V-Soft fills talent gaps by identifying resources and placing them in positions businesses need to fill for critical projects. In 2018, V-Soft broke ground on a $10.5 million headquarters in Jefferson County.
An active community volunteer, Purna decided in 2017 to bring foods from India to his hometown. Tandoori Fusion, on Chamberlain Lane, offers fresh flavors from his own farm, Veering Creek, with the belief that people should eat well, eat local and enjoy new flavors.
James Racine (Haiti)
Racine is a professional performer who has hosted events called “Books and Barbershops,” where young black men receive mentoring from professionals within his network. He is taking the project national, holding web training for professional men across America.
A music teacher at Kentucky Country Day, Racine has grown the strings program from a handful of interested students to a program with more than 100 performers from all three schools. He established the Blazin’ Strings Academy, allowing children from underserved communities to learn to play a string instrument at no cost.
As a professional violinist, he has performed with the likes of Gerald Albright and Chaka Khan. He has served as an artist in residence at Cincinnati Conservatory of Music.
Keisha Deonarine (Trinidad & Tobago)
As the senior community health director for the American Heart Association and the economic development manager for Louisville Forward, Deonarine has studied the inner workings of healthcare for six years. With her work in economic development, she has attracted businesses in the healthcare sector to grow the local economy.
She is the inaugural executive director of the Passport Foundation, focusing on developing programs beyond clinical care that improve social determinants of health for people in underserved and low-income communities. Deonarine has traveled across the country, touting the positive impact healthy communities have on workforce and economic development.
Surekha Kulkarni (India)
Founder and executive director of the nonprofit Beaded Treasures Project (BTP), Kulkarni is a social entrepreneur, jewelry artist and award-winning advocate for disadvantaged women in Louisville. Under her leadership, BTP has trained 300 such women, giving them the tools and resources to overcome barriers to success.
Using a micro credit approach to entrepreneurship, BTP trains women in jewelry making, home-based skills and basic financial literacy. Its twofold objective is to teach a crafting skill and to use art-making as a medium of empowerment.
Kulkarni co-chairs Equity, Diversity & Inclusion at Imagine 2020. She has received the Bell Award from WLKY and the Pyramid Award from CNPE. She also was honored as one of the Women of Distinction by the Center for Women & Families and one of the Daughters of Greatness by the Muhammed Ali Center.
Fred Gross (Belgium)
A journalist, Gross spent much of his career covering social unrest during the ’60s and ’70s. Gross’s perspective differed from his colleagues in that he viewed the upheaval through the lens of a Holocaust survivor.
His book, One Step Ahead of Hitler: A Jewish Child’s Journey through France, describes the tragedy and suffering of his family’s flight from Belgium through France, Switzerland and back to Belgium before immigrating to the United States. It was from this vantage point that Gross told the stories of individuals that would have otherwise been lost.
Gross worked for 13 years to pass legislation to mandate Holocaust education in Kentucky public schools.
The Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence is the title sponsor of the MOSAIC awards; WLKY 32, the media sponsor. Additional major sponsors are Heaven Hill Brands and Kindred Healthcare. Ellen and Judy Shapira are chairing this year’s event committee.
Want to go?
Tickets to the MOSAIC dinner are $150 per person; table sponsorships begin at $2,000. Contact Beverly Bromley, JFCS director of development, at 502-452-6341, ext. 223 or email@example.com.