Saying goodbye: Julie Hollander goes to Baltimore
by Shiela Steinman Wallace, Editor
For four years, Julie Hollander has provided exemplary leadership to the Jewish Community Center’s Children’s Department. Now she has moved on to Baltimore, MD, where she is the senior associate for teen programming at Jewish Volunteer Connection, a program of The Associated, Baltimore’s Jewish Federation.
“Over the past several years, Julie has made a significant impact in our community,” said Sara Wagner, Jewish Community of Louisville senior vice president and COO. “She lifted our camp program to new heights, carefully implementing improvements over the years, and our children’s department enjoyed creative new programs and energy under Julie’s watch. Julie’s roles and responsibilities grew immensely from the time she began. Most recently she successfully brought together all JCL family programs to create a cohesive team. Our loss is certainly Baltimore’s gain.”
Hollander views the changes in the camp program as her biggest achievement in Louisville. The first summer she was here, the camp averaged 197 campers a week. This summer, that average was 282 campers a week.
This year alone, she said, “we brought an Israeli shlicha to camp and we increased the offerings of specialty camps,” many of which were offered in partnership with other organizations. There was Lego camp offered in partnership with Bricks 4 Kidz, sailing with River Cities Community Sailing, and horseback riding with the Louisville Equestrian Center, as well as collaborations with the University of Louisville and the Speed Art Museum. Discover CATCH was also integrated into the program.
Over the years, she has also introduced an annual camp talent show and increased opportunities for middle school campers. A ga-ga pit was built and the Israeli game became very popular and all campers now get swimming lessons in the Lenny Krayzelburg Swim Academy. Always mindful of incorporating Jewish values into camp, she introduced the concept of philanthropy by creating a week of caring and sharing, augmented by weekly food drives and a community garden.
She also started an inclusion program for children with special needs to ensure each child had the assistance he or she needed to participate fully.
Camp was so full this year, Hollander had to be creative in her use of space, and more camp activities were held outside than ever before.
Hollander improved communication, too, from posting photos daily on Facebook for parents to introducing a new camp logo and upgrading the brochure to making the registration process better.
She implemented the same kinds of quality changes during the school year. School’s Out Days offer quality programming with daily themes whenever Jefferson County Public Schools are not in session; and Hollander incorporated half-day specialty camps into the winter and spring camps programs offered during school vacations.
She also created one-time programs like a modern mock Shabbat dinner for kindergartener through fifth graders and their families and cosponsored a Justin Roberts children’s concert with the PJ Library. She started painting projects that enabled children to create Jewish art and ritual objects and overnights for older children, too.
For the first time in many years, the Louisville JCC is again participating in the nationwide Maccabi Games program, thanks to Hollander’s leadership.
Through it all, she also created a program that included incentives for children to return year after year and stay involved. For example, campers know that second graders can participate in overnights and fourth graders get to do more trips. Grade school students look forward to participating in Teen Connection in middle school and those teens look forward to joining BBYO.
The Jewish community appreciated her efforts. In 2012, Hollander received the Arthur S. Kling Award for her outstanding work.
“I want the community to know that there are great staff members on the youth and camp teams who have been working hard and will continue with the great things we’ve been doing,” Hollander said.
She also expressed appreciation to the “staff, parents and volunteers who helped grow the programs. A lot of parents had a vision of what they wanted their children to experience within the Jewish community and what they wanted the Jewish community to have and provide for them. I’m glad I was a part of helping to fulfill their vision.”
“It was a great experience for me to help parents and children to build connections with one another, to have shared experiences and to find things that bring them together,” Hollander said.
She found Louisville to be a warm community. “Moving here from outside,” she said, “I was welcomed by so many people when I moved to town and that was how I was able to develop and do so many things. I felt at home here almost immediately.”
“It’s been a good experience overall,” she added and she enjoyed “meeting and working with so many people in the community. They were supportive of new ideas and new programs I wanted to bring here. It has been a good stepping stone for my career.”