The Jewish Federation of Orange County’s major community event planned for 2020 was to celebrate and honor eight special women in the county on June 28.
The federation is not certain that the event can take place, but “we do know that now more than ever is the time to highlight the amazing contributions that individuals are making to their communities,” the organization said in the press release detailing the program.
“In every generation there are Women of Valor. These amazing women from around our county, in every stage of life from teens to 80’s, inspire us with their passion and their drive to make their communities better. From Peace Corps to School Boards, from grassroots organizing to incredible philanthropy, each of these women demonstrate what one individual can do to make the world a better place. We are proud to share with our community these amazing honorees.”
What follows are select biographies of four of the women.
Sophia Maier, Highland Mills
Sophia completed her freshman year at Fordham University. Throughout high school she volunteered at Monroe Temple’s Religious School and was highly involved with her temple youth group, serving as President in 2018. In college, she works at Temple Emanu-El's Religious School and is an active member of Fordham's Jewish Student Organization, which she will serve as Vice President of next fall. Outside of Jewish life, Sophia spends her time reading about history and politics and tutoring low-income students in the Bronx.
Kiowa Pratt-Gordon, Warwick
Kiowa was raised in the Temple Beth El community and began her teaching career at Temple Beth Shalom where she taught Hebrew school and tutored bar mitzvah students. She took her lessons of Tikkun Olam and went on to teach in the Women’s Studies Department at the University at Albany. Later, she served in the United States Peace Corps where she worked with the Department of Education to improve the teaching methodology of teachers in rural Mongolia. She was also awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to work with university professionals and displaced populations in Colombia, South America. She recently graduated from Harvard University with a master’s degree in Education Policy and Management. Kiowa now works for an international education technology group that provides for the needs of English learners abroad.
Aviva Snyder, Highland Mills
Aviva is Hillel International’s Campus Support Director, helping a portfolio of 14 campuses in the Northeast and New England drive excellence on campus. Aviva began her career at Hillel in 2002, serving her alma mater, University of Albany, first as the Hillel’s Jewish Student Life Coordinator, and eventually becoming Executive Director. During her tenure there, she grew the Hillel from a small program to engagement of approximately 2,000 students and a new board of directors. She developed award-winning campus and community partnerships and a strong relationship with Hillel International and other national organizations. In 2009, she joined the Talent department of Hillel’s Schusterman International Center. In her role as Director for Talent Acquisition, she has guided countless current Hillel directors, local boards and universities through the process of selection and placement of senior leaders. She has been instrumental in revamping the recruitment strategy and process including new tools, resources, training and best practices for hiring managers. She has served as faculty for New Professionals Institute as a field professional and served as team leader for New Directors Institute to train professionals for the field. In her current role, she builds strategies with campus Hillel staff, lay leadership, funders, students, university partners and community stakeholders to help the Hillel excel. In addition to her degree in Jewish Studies and archeology, Aviva spent a year in Israel as part of Young Judea Year Course. She lives in New York’s Hudson Valley, where you will catch her running marathons, half marathons and chasing after her daughter, Noa.
Carol Levine, Goshen
Carol began her involvement with federation as a member of Young Leadership of Orange County. Currently she serves on the Endowment Committee, which was founded by her late husband, Harold. She is a Federation Lion of Judah, part of the most dynamic philanthropic Jewish women in the world, comprised of strong women of all ages. They are an international sisterhood of thousands of global activists who care deeply about the Jewish future. For many years, Carol was a member of Temple Sinai's Board of Education and President of the Middletown Day Nursery. Her past affiliations include membership in the Junior League and a board member of her NYC co-op.