The 2016 Stacy Marks Nisenbaum Award will go to Laina Meyerowitz, who is currently BBYO’s Kentucky-Indiana-Ohio Regional Board president and an active member of Louisville’s Jay Levine BBG. The award will be presented at the Jewish Community of Louisville’s Annual Meeting on Wednesday, June 15, at 6:45 p.m. at The J.
As Regional Board president, Meyerowitz leads a five-person girls’ board which works closely with their male counterparts. The officers come from communities throughout the region. “We are in charge of all the regional events, ensuring that the people who are planning are doing everything that they need to do and that the events themselves run smoothly,” she said.
Meyerowitz supervises all the BBG chapters in the region, and touches base with the chapter presidents to ensure they have support and resources they need to make their terms successful. She and her regional AZA counterpart, Jacob Speigel, select the coordinators for the regional conventions, “and we are the faces of the region representing K-I-O at International Convention,” she added.
Last year, she was the recipient of the Ellen Faye Garmon Award.
For Meyerowitz, being Jewish is an important part of her identity. Now completing her junior year at Ballard High School, she said, “I did Teen Connection in middle school, and as soon I got the opportunity to join BBYO, I jumped right for it.” BBYO started as an easy way to keep up with her Jewish friends “that I’ve grown up with since preschool or even before. … but it has become so much more.”
Laina quickly became a leader in her chapter, Jay Levine BBG, and in the second semester of her freshman year, she was elected mazkirah, vice president of communications, a post she held for two terms. She also served a term as morah, vice president of recruitment, and n’siah, chapter president.
Along the way, she’s attended many conventions and programs. Between her freshman and sophomore years, she participated in CLTC, Chapter Leadership Training Conference, a 12-day leadership development program; and last summer, she participated in both ILTC, International Leadership Training Conference, and International Kallah, both three-week programs.
At these conferences, not only did Meyerowitz acquire skills that she is using in her current position, but she made Jewish friends from around the world who have become like family to her.
In March of her sophomore year, she was the administrative assistant for the KIO (Kentucky-Indiana-Ohio) regional Kallah Convention. The program focused on “exploring your Jewish identity and the different aspects of Judaism, anywhere from Torah study to spiritual Judaism. It’s a lot of deep questions and discussions and it’s also the last convention for seniors.”
At International Kallah, she also planned an exchange program with Orthodox Jewish girls from the Morasha Camp where the BBGs spent a night at Morasha and later in the summer, the Morasha girls came to Camp Perlman for a night. “We had a dance party and a discussion session where we split up into smaller groups and got to learn about the different ways that we do things and to see what was different and what was similar.”
Last November, she coordinated the regional Spirit Convention along with Harrison Lippy from Columbus, OH, and administrative assistants Charles Bessen from Louisville and Abby Frank from Indianapolis.
She was also involved in planning BBG’s six-fold sleepover. This program, which happens once each term, incorporates activities for each of BBG’s areas of emphasis – creativity, recreation, social action, community service, Jewish heritage and sisterhood –in one night.
At Ballard, Meyerowitz is a member of Beta Club, Chemistry Club and Spanish Club. She’s also an athlete, and in the past, she danced for a studio team and swam competitively.
As a bat mitzvah present, she visited Israel in 2011. She feels a strong connection to the Jewish homeland. She has family members who live there and would like to spend some time living there.
She hasn’t made many decisions about the future yet, but she know that she wants to use the things she’s learned in BBYO to make a difference in the world. When she chooses a college, she knows she wants to choose a school where she can be involved in Jewish life. She is leaning toward studying art, design or communications and marketing.
She is grateful to the people who established this award and appreciative of the recognition. During her senior year, Meyerowitz plans on participating in the March of the Living, at trip that takes teens to the camps in Poland, including a march from Auschwitz to Birkenau on Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Commemoration Day and then to Israel to celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel Independence Day. She will use the Nisenbaum Award toward that trip.
She is the daughter of Sandra and Victor Meyerowitz, and has a younger brother, Zev.
Stacy Marks Nisenbaum Award
Stacy Marks Nisenbaum loved BBYO and was an active member of her BBG chapter growing up in Louisville. When she passed away a number of years ago, three of her close friends, Stacy Gordon-Funk, Wendy Snow and Sally Weinberg, established a scholarship program to honor her BBYO legacy. Originally begun as a BBG award, in recent years the award’s creators have given permission for recipients also to be young men who have been active in BBYO.