Honorees at Annual Installation and Awards

Three women were presented with awards for their leadership, service and contributions at the NCJW/Essex Annual Installation and Awards Evening, which took place Tuesday, June 2, 2015 at Cedar Hill Country Club in Livingston, NJ.

“These are extraordinary women,” said Deborah Legow Schatz, President of NCJW/Essex, about the three award winners. “Working with them on a daily basis is really at the core of why being President of NCJW/Essex is such a special experience.”

Phoebe Pollinger of Montclair, NJ, was the recipient of The Hannah G. Solomon Award, presented by NCJW/Essex to an individual who has changed the lives of others through leadership efforts and service on a community level. Pollinger is an avid lover of the arts and an outspoken voice for reproductive justice. At NCJW/Essex she has channeled her passions and made a difference on a community level, earning her the distinction of the Hannah G. Solomon Award.

Pollinger first joined NCJW/Essex in 1996 to work on the Focus on Art Show, and then extended her work in community arts by serving as President of Studio Montclair and a founding chair of the Montclair Arts Council. Since then she has taken a leading role in grant writing for NCJW/Essex and the Back 2 School Store, served on the Advocacy, Personnel Practices and Project Evaluation Committees, and was vice chair of the Nominating Committee. Advocating for reproductive justice, Pollinger served on the board of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund of NJ and has chaired two important community events for NCJW/Essex: Roe at Risk in 2014 and Roe & Religion in 2015.

Diane Beni of Maplewood, NJ, was the recipient of the Service to Section Award, recognized for her passion and dedication as a volunteer since 1999. Beni has contributed countless hours and talents to NCJW/Essex, most notably for the Teen Dating Abuse Project (TDA). Passionate about working to prevent domestic violence and seeing young audiences as the place to start, Beni serves as a presenter and trainer for TDA and has also served as chair of the committee. She was recently instrumental in developing a video for TDA entitled, “Crossing the Line.”

In addition to TDA, Beni has been on the House Tour and Nominating Committees, served as chair of Volunteer Recognition during the Centennial Celebration, co-chaired Installation in 2014, co-chaired the 2015 Golf Invitational and a day at the 9/11 Memorial . It is Beni’s broad spectrum of activities as a volunteer that has earned her the Service to Section Award.

Paula Green of South Orange, NJ was the recipient of the Henrietta Weiser Emerging Leader Award, presented to a promising NCJW/Essex member who has demonstrated leadership potential. Green is proof positive that you can work full time and integrate meaningful volunteer activities into your life. It wasn’t long ago that a friend introduced her to the Back 2 School Store and after several years of involvement, including co-chairing the Child Recruitment Committee, she has emerged as a leader for the event, serving as co-chair in 2014 and again this year.

Green’s leadership doesn’t stop there. In addition to working on such projects as Moving Forward, Mitzvah-in-a-Minute and the Investment Sub-Committee, she has served as Recording Secretary for the NCJW/Essex Executive Committee and Section Board. Green accomplishes all of this while working full time managing her husband’s busy pulmonary medicine practice in West Orange.

The three winners are as a different as “night and day” explained Schatz, “but, when all’s said and done, they share an intense desire to better the circumstances of women, children and families and exude a strong sense of social justice that permeates everything they do.” That, she explains, is the core of NCJW: different women, with different strengths, coming together to educate and advocate for others.

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