Shalom Austin Announces  2019 Community Award Recipients

Shalom Austin Announces 2019 Community Award Recipients

Community leaders Nora Lieberman, Ian Spechler and Julie Franklin have demonstrated true commitment to strengthening Shalom Austin and the greater Jewish community. Each will be honored at IGNITE! April 14 with a 2019 Community Award.

Nora Lieberman

Nora Lieberman has been named the 2019 Woman of Valor. Previously awarded at the Mosaic Luncheon, the Eshet Chayil/Woman of Valor award is presented to a Jewish woman who has proven to be a leader in the community. Stemming from a hymn in the Book of Proverbs, this woman is recognized as an openly giving and compassionate person who is committed to the cause of the Jewish people and Israel. This outstanding woman is a role model to others and inspires women to positively impact Jewish communities, in Austin and across the world.

Raised in Brooklyn, Lieberman has lived in Austin for almost 25 years. As the daughter of Holocaust survivors, the vision she had for her own children was to raise them in a vibrant, thriving Jewish community.

The moment Lieberman arrived in Texas, she instinctively felt that she needed to get involved to help make that happen. Her deep commitment to the safety and security of Israel led her to AIPAC, where she presently serves as the Austin chairperson. She is an active member of AIPAC's National Council. She was instrumental in launching Austin’s pro-Israel political network, in which she is still very involved. She has the joy of working with "the Jewish leaders of tomorrow," via her longtime Executive Committee position at UT Hillel. She works closely with Austin ADL. She served on her synagogue board, and has helped guide numerous students with their b’nai mitzvah. She currently is helping to reinvigorate a local Second Generation Survivors group.

But Shalom Austin is where she has found her countless mentors and true Austin mishpucha. Lieberman has devoted herself to Shalom Austin's Women's Philanthropy Cabinet, and is honored to have chaired its Mosaic Luncheon and Outreach programs. She presently is active in stewardship for the Lion of Judah Society.

Additionally, she serves on the Grants Committee and has been a member of the Jewish Foundation Cabinet. She believes the real heart of the Austin Jewish community resides on Hart Lane.

She and her husband of 32 years, Allen, are blessed with two beautiful children: Drew, a Longhorn grad and Hillel alumnus, and Perri, who is married to Ethan and lives in Dallas. Lieberman is truly grateful to be part of the wonderful things happening in the city.

Ian Spechler

Ian Spechler is the 2019 recipient of the Joe Krassner Campaign Leadership Award. Previously awarded at the Shalom Austin Annual Meeting and most recently at Momentum: Men’s Night Out, the Joe Krassner Campaign Leadership Award is in honor and memory of a man who cared deeply about the growing Jewish community in Austin. It is presented to a man that cares about community-building, leadership development, networking and philanthropy.

Spechler has been in Austin since he arrived from Dallas for his freshman year at the University of Texas in August 2000. At UT, he served on the student executive cabinet at UT Hillel. At UT Law School, he spent two years as co-president of the Jewish Legal Society. After law school, Dana Epstein asked Spechler to be a part of the Young Adult Division Board and helped him revive the monthly YAD Torah on Tap program. Thus began his Shalom Austin journey.

In 2009, Spechler was part of the first JLead class. Spechler's JLead classmates, Harriett Kirsh Pozen, and two very important Danas (Baruch and Epstein) helped him navigate the path of Austin Jewish community leadership. Under the exemplary leadership of Lawrence Maze, Spechler became part of the Jewish Family Service cabinet in 2010 and was fortunate to serve as cabinet chair from 2016-18. Spechler served on the Shalom Austin Board of Directors from 2013-18.

He has been on the University of Texas Hillel Board of Directors since 2010 and currently serves as board president, following in the footsteps of another great mentor in Jim Sud. Spechler also co-chaired two successful UT Hillel executive director searches. The first search, co-chaired with David Goldstein, landed a rabbi living in Seattle whom some of you might know named Rabbi Daniel Septimus. The second search landed the outstanding Maiya Chard-Yaron.

Spechler also serves on the Rapoport Center for Jewish Culture and Education advisory committee and the UT Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies advisory committee. He met his incredible bride, Shay Millheiser, at the YAD Milestone event in 2013. They were married on the Shalom Austin campus at B'Nai Abraham in 2015.

Shalom Austin has introduced Spechler to lifelong mentors and friends and Ian could not be more grateful to be part of Shalom Austin and to be receiving this award.

Julie Franklin

Julie Franklin has been named the 2019 Hymie and Louise Samuelson Young Leadership Award recipient. Previously awarded at the Shalom Austin Annual Meeting, the Hymie and Louise Samuelson Young Leadership Award recognizes an emerging young leader, around 25 to 40 years old, who has demonstrated care and commitment to the Jewish community.

Born and raised in San Antonio, Franklin was consistently active in her Jewish community. She was a Sunday school teacher assistant and participated in both BBYO and NFTY, the latter of which she served on the regional board. She attended Greene Family Camp as well as NCCJ’s Camp Anytown as both a camper and counselor at each. Franklin graduated from Texas A&M University with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and she earned her master of education from Texas State University.

Once in Austin, Franklin became active in YAD, and it was at the annual YAD Hanukkah party where she first met her husband, Ari. She and Ari were married in Austin, are Congregation Agudas Achim members, and are thrilled to raise their Austin-born children in such a unique, vibrant and wonderful community.

While she was a Shalom Austin staff member, Franklin created the PJ Power Hour and wrote a grant for its inception funding. It began as a social network of inclusive programming and events for young families around the Austin area, which served as the foundation for the current Shalom Families. She co-chaired YAD’s annual fundraiser gala, Milestone, as well as ADL Austin’s fundraiser gala, True Colors.

She previously served as a board member for JNFuture Austin and participated as a committee member for Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and Brushes with Cancer. Franklin also helped fundraise for and contributed to Shalom Austin’s Generations Campaign and supported the efforts to add a snack bar to the future JCC pool area development.

Currently, Franklin is a Women’s Philanthropy cabinet member and a Pomegranate Society co-chair as well as an ADL Austin board member and development co-chair.

In addition to various Jewish organizations, Julie and Ari also contribute to Austin Pets Alive!, FARE, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, the Paramount Theatre, Planned Parenthood and the World Wildlife Fund.

Franklin’s enthusiasm is infectious and the value she brings to this community is evident in more than just the positions she holds or the time she contributes. Her dedication to keeping her friends involved and also ensuring newcomers feel welcome and included make her an inspiring young leader and asset to this community. ■

To make a tribute gift in honor of one of these community leaders, please visit or call 512-735-8034.

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