The Jewish Community Center has promoted Mike Steklof to assistant director of camping and youth services. In addition, Steklof is one of just 15 professionals working with teens in affiliated JCCs and camps in North America to participate in the Jewish Community Center Association’s Merrin Teen Professional Fellows Program.
The promotion means that in addition to directing the BBYO program and working with JCC Summer Camp, Stelof will provide leadership to the middle school program. He will work closely with Glenn Sadle, the youth and teen coordinator, to enhance the Teen Connection program and help him start programs for fourth and fifth graders
Steklof will also provide supervision to Children’s Department programs and his Summer Camp responsibilities will expand to include supervision of all unit heads.
“Over the past 2-1/2 years, Mike has become an integral part of our staff,” said JCC Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Sara Wagner. “Mike has demonstrated his ability to inspire and guide teens as well as provide leadership with our summer camp program. Mike’s promotion recognizes his additional responsibilities and commitment to the JCC.”
The Merrin Fellows Program will help Steklof further develop and enhance his management and leadership skills. The program consists of five seminars held over 14 months, with the first gathering in New York City in January 2015.
This selective professional development program focuses on developing leadership and management skills, learning how to serve teens more effectively, planning their career paths in the JCC Movement and deepening Jewish knowledge. One of the seminars is held in Israel.
“Mike is a talented young professional,” Wagner said. “I am very excited for him to have this experience. The Merrin Teen Fellowship is a prestigious program that will provide Mike a great experience to grow and mentor the next generation of leaders.”
“I first heard about the program through Edana Appel, the assistant director of Camp Livingston,” a 2011 Merrin Fellow, Steklof said. “She learned a lot from it” and she and a 2013 Merrin Fellow, Matt Steinberg from the JCC in Cincinnati, encouraged him to apply.
The application process, which began in August, included writing essays, getting a recommendation from the Louisville JCC and an interview via Skype.
“I’m really excited about it,” Steklof said. He expects the program to help him in many areas, “from meeting other teen professionals to having a much broader knowledge base.” He expects to bring back many program ideas and skills that will help him work better with teens, including how to help them work through issues.
Steklof joined the JCC staff in August 2012 and has demonstrated his leadership in both the camp and BBYO programs. Originally from Rochester, NY, he already knew a number of the Louisville teens before arriving in the city because he worked as program director/cornerstone liaison and unit head at Camp Livingston for the prior three summers.
Steklof has a B.A., cum laude, from the University at Albany, State University of New York, with a major in world history and minors in Judaic studies, education studies and sociology; and and an M.A. from the same school in women’s studies.
The Merrin Teen Professional Fellows Program was started in 1999, with the support of Seth Merrin and Anne Heyman. Their partnership with JCC Association initiated this exceptional program to give those working with teens the skills to better serve a critical sector of the Jewish community.
The program has enhanced the profile of those working with teens in their respective organizations and throughout the JCC Movement, enriched and deepened their Jewish identities, and built a stronger professional network of teen service providers across North America.
The Merrin Family Foundation has since deepened their commitment to the JCC Movement and Jewish teens by helping to establish the Merrin Center for Teen Engagement. This integrates the resources for teens provided to the field, including the JCC Maccabi programs and camping services.