Sherrie Saag, Communications Specialist, Jewish Federation of Omaha
The challenge to do all and be all is well known to high school students and their parents. The pressure to impress on a college application is its own kind of stress. This year’s Federation Teen Leadership Award winners are no different; as their resumes read like a community activities calendar. One could get eye strain just reading the list of accomplishments these young men have accumulated. So, I was prepared to interview them and hear tired, frenzied and clipped responses. My experience was the exact opposite.
Kevin Adler and Brad Kutler, this year’s Robert and Ellen Gordman Teen Leadership Award winners, were composed, relaxed, confident and thoughtful. They embody the very ideals on which the award is based. Through their respective involvement in community activities, both exemplified program management skills, leadership abilities and served as role models to those around them.
Brad was president of the Mother Chapter of AZA #1 during the 2010-2011 school year, and during his tenure he increased membership and changed the way programming was done. He initiated different and innovative types of programs and began new traditions. This year, Brad serves as Council President and in BBYO Director Jodi Levine’s words, “he amazes me.”
He has increased participation, brought in new members and increased joint programming amongst chapters. “Brad encourages his peers to be more active and assume leadership positions; not only for chapter, but council as well. His enthusiasm is contagious and his peers respond to him very well,” said Levine.
Brad is a student at the Omaha Jewish Chai School and a member of USY where he held several leadership positions as well. In fact, it was important to him that his participation in both youth groups be emphasized.
“Teens seem to think you can only engage in one youth group in town. But I tell them all the time that more than one is better. For me, it’s been a great experience.”
Brad’s parents are Debi and David Kutler, and he has two older brothers, Matt and Adam and two sisters-in-laws, Cally and Abby. When he does have some free time, he enjoys watching Ted Talks online and doesn’t miss the word scramble in the Omaha World-Herald. A soon-to-be graduate of Millard North High School, Brad is attending Boston University in the fall to study business.
Kevin Adler exhibits his leadership qualities through participation in BBYO, too. After holding multiple leadership roles in the Weizmann chapter of AZA, including president, Kevin went on to contribute his time and effort to the Council. Through his planning of Council Kallahs, he motivates and encourages his peers to become involved in programs and leadership. He was recently voted Cornbelt Council’s Senior of the Year.
“He is an extremely bright individual and a very charismatic leader within BBYO. His peers look up to him and respect him,” said Levine.
Last year, Kevin founded Teens for Israel, a local group whose members share an interest in political activism and love for Israel. With the help of Rabbi Jonathan Gross, Kevin began the process of writing legislation to promote an economic development exchange between Nebraska and Israel. His goal is to submit it to the Unicameral in Lincoln.
Kevin’s wit shows through when he describes the endeavor in this way, “At best, Nebraska generates 1000 new jobs; at worst, we get a new falafel restaurant.”
Also a student at Millard North High School, Kevin lettered all 4 years in Forensics and was named Academic All-American from the National Forensics League. A seasoned debater, he competed at the national level in extemporaneous speaking.
Kevin’s parents are David and Patricia Adler. He has a sister, Laura. When asked about his free time, I expected him to say, “What free time?” Instead he replied, “I eat food and read the newspaper each morning.” Kevin will be on the University of Nebraska campus next fall studying economics and political science.