Wherever we find ourselves today, we are a different community than we were one year ago. We have seen unprecedented threats to our health and wellbeing, tectonic shifts in the workplace and in our schools, and pivotal changes in our habits at home and away. Few have wrestled more intimately with the challenges of safeguarding the future of Jewish Detroit than Dennis Bernard, newly elected President of the United Jewish Foundation of Metropolitan Detroit. And few are as well prepared to meet the community challenges ahead.
As Founder and President of Bernard Financial Group, Michigan’s largest commercial mortgage banking and servicing firm, Dennis holds a longtime record of professional and philanthropic leadership in both the Jewish community and greater community of Detroit. Since the outbreak of the pandemic in Michigan, Dennis has co-chaired Federation’s Covid Emergency Campaign in partnership with Matt Lester, Federation President (also beginning his term in October). “Faced with a crisis, humans are truly remarkable,” Dennis reflected, “The response of our Jewish community - with their hearts, with their brains, with their wallets - has been nothing but astounding.”
If ever you wonder what inspires leadership at Jewish Federation, ask Randi Sakwa. An energetic and highly motivated volunteer since her early days with Federation’s TOV Volunteer Network, Randi now serves on the Boards of Federation and its Women’s Philanthropy. Her heart in Israel – and a frequent visitor there with family and friends closely tied to Michigan’s Partnership Region of the Central Galilee - Randi is fully committed to her work as Co-chair of the Parternship2Gether Steering Committee and its programming, now celebrating 25 years of fellowship and accomplishment. Beyond her service to Federation, Randi is Vice President of the West Bloomfield Board of Education and a member of the Boards of JCRC/AJC and Hillel of Metro Detroit. Additionally, she is a participant in the prestigious Shalom Hartman Detroit Leadership Program and a Graduate Fellow of the Legacy Heritage OnBoard Detroit Cohort (2019).
Outgoing and genuinely interested in people . . . a true friend and mentor. A trusted advisor, compassionate listener and astute observer of all who seek his counsel. A strategic planner and innovator in business and wealth management. A fundraiser, inspiring others to follow his lead in philanthropy; a creative thinker, problem solver and ready volunteer through more than four decades of service to the community, in partnership with his wife, Susie. An engaging storyteller who loves to make people laugh. Seriously. This is Norm Pappas - joining the ranks of Federation’s legendary leaders: the 2019 recipient of the Fred M. Butzel Award.
Could she have been a rabbi? Sherrie Singer’s lifelong love of Jewish learning certainly points in that direction. “I’ve been mentored and molded by rabbis my entire life,” she notes, “but I’ve chosen a different path.” From Federation’s executive track in Women’s Philanthropy to the boards of Temple Israel, BBYO, ORT and Hillel of Metro Detroit, from her weekly study circle of Melton grads to her present cohort of Wexner Fellows, from Thread (the nonprofit she created with friends to connect and inspire Jewish women), now to her seat at the Hebrew Union College Board of Overseers, Sherrie has indeed found her voice - not at a pulpit, but on the platform of an outstanding community leader in Jewish Detroit.