JCRC Gala Dinner Honors Sharri Berg, Gary Jacob and Elizabeth L.Velez - The Jewish Voice
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JCRC Gala Dinner Honors Sharri Berg, Gary Jacob and Elizabeth L.Velez

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On the evening of April 2nd, the New York City social scene was a buzz as over 600 people gathered for the much anticipated Jewish Community Relations Council of New York (JCRC-NY) 13th annual gala dinner at New York’s Pierre Hotel.

The Jewish Community Relations Council of NY (JCRC-NY) is the central coordinating and resource organization which protects and ensures the continuity and vitality of the diverse metropolitan area Jewish community, while serving New Yorkers of all backgrounds and faiths.

As the star-studded event commenced, a litany of A-list celebrities, media personalities, elected officials and religious leaders took part in a swanky cocktail hour that included the finest food and drink.

Along with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, a bevy of New York City politicians joined the others in attendance as they lauded the honorees as well as JCRC-Executive Vice President and CEO Rabbi Michael Miller.

Mayor de Blasio told the dinner attendees that a new report reveals that the number of anti-Semitic attacks in New York tripled last year and that it was “sobering” and an “eye opener.” He pledged to do everything possible to stamp out hate crimes. He also shared his life-changing experiences on JCRC-NY/UJA-Federation of NY missions to Israel as both public advocate and a member of the New York City Council.

Those exceptional individuals who were accorded special honors at this year’s dinner was Sharri A. Berg, Senior Vice President, News Operation, Fox News Channel and Fox Television Stations, who was presented with the Corporate Leader Award by Roger Ailes, Fox News Channel Chairman and CEO.

Gary Jacob, Executive Vice President of Glenwood Management was presented with the Community Builder Award by Jeffrey E. Levine, Chairman of Levine Builders and Douglaston Development.

Elizabeth L. Velez of the Velez Organization and the chairperson of Iran 180 was presented with the Community Partner Award by Rev. Jacques DeGraff, 1st Vice President, One Hundred Black Men, New York.

Of the honorees, Rabbi Miller said, “We are privileged to recognize these outstanding individuals for their commitment, dedication and leadership.”

Sharri A. Berg began her career at News Corporation more than 25 years ago as a sales assistant at WNYW-TV, then as an associate producer for FOX’s network news magazine program “The Reporters.” As a member of the original launch team of FOX News Channel in 1996, Ms. Berg was the Manager of Satellite Operations, where she was responsible for creating and implementing systems for the network’s worldwide satellite newsgathering and affiliates’ live desk operations. After two years, Ms. Berg was promoted to Director of Field Operations: overseeing the companies’ operational field personnel, managing the national ENG camera crew division and the network’s fleet of satellite newsgathering vehicles and technology for the field, and supporting all editorial and production needs.

In October of 2005, she moved into her role as senior vice president of news operations and services for FOX News and is based at the FOX News Channel headquarters in New York. Over the years, Ms. Berg helped lead news operations coverage of many prolific news events which included: the death of JFK, Jr, Hurricane Katrina, the 9/11 terror attacks, and the subsequent war in Afghanistan.

With this position, Ms. Berg was integral to the creation and launch of the ground-breaking newsgathering consortium between FOX, ABC & CBS, known as Network News Service (NNS). She later replicated this venture on the local television level, developing the business model and launching the Local News Service (LNS), a cost-efficient, news resource sharing cooperative with other local stations in the top 10 markets across the country.

Ms. Berg is a board member of the JCRC-NY and a member of the Strategic Leadership Team (SLT) and her daughter August’s school, PS 158.

As Executive Vice President of Glenwood Management Corp., one of the city’s largest owner/builders of luxury rental apartments, Gary Jacob has devoted his entire career to the acquisition, construction, financing and management of high-rise buildings in New York City. He is also the Vice President of the Rent Stabilization Association and an Executive Vice President of the Associated Builders and Owners of New York as well as serving on the M & T Bank’s Mortgage Advisory Board.

Mr. Jacob has spent much time involved in volunteering for a variety of community service organizations. He has dedicated himself to the Settlement Housing Fund, Inc,; a not-for-profit developer/manager of affordable housing in New York City, where he holds the office of Vice President. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation and is Chairman of the Lincoln Square Business Improvement District.

As New York Chairman of Israel Bonds, Mr. Jacob has been active in a variety of fund raising efforts for causes benefiting the Jewish people and the State of Israel. He is a member of the Real Estate Division’s Executive Committee of the UJA-Federation and a supporter of the Anti-Defamation League. For his steadfast commitment, he has been honored by the American Jewish Committee and State of Israel Bonds and has been the recipient of the Tree of Life Award from the Jewish National Fund.

Elizabeth Velez is the President of the Velez Organization, a second generation construction firm started in 1972 by Andrew Velez, her father. As one of the integral principals of Velez Organization, she is a supporter and leader of diversity and business issues facing the construction industry.

In addition to project involvement and corporate responsibilities, Ms. Velez is a staunch advocate for diversity in procurement and employment. In that capacity, she co-authored a seminar on Women Entrepreneurship for the New York State Assembly, and the New York Construction News, Bronx Life, The Daily News, The Wall Street Journal, among others have published interviews with Ms. Velez.

On the international front, Ms. Velez is co-chair of Iran 180 – an organization that advocates for human rights and the end of the threat of nuclear arms proliferation in Iran.

In April 2013, she was invited to the White House for a “Women in Transportation” Roundtable Forum with Secretary of Transportation LaHood, Secretary of Health and Human Services Sebelius and Senior Advisors to President Obama. A recognized advocate and spokesperson on diversity and construction industry issues, Ms. Velez was the keynote speaker at the launch of the 2013 Global Women’s Network for Skanska – one of the top ten construction firms in the world, and was a panelist at the Women Construction Owners and Executives 2013 “Women Build America” National Conference in Washington, DC.

Upon accepting their awards, Ms. Berg, Mr. Jacob and Ms. Velez emphasized JCRC-NY’s important role as a bridge builder within and beyond New York’s Jewish community.

Fox News anchor Bill Hemmer served as master of ceremonies, and Israeli Consul General Ido Aharoni offered remarks. Also attending the Gala were many distinguished guests and community and political leaders including NYS Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, NYS Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, NYC Public Advocate Letitia James, NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, NY County District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr., Kings County District Attorney Kenneth Thompson, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, and other members of the NYC Council.

The Jewish Community Relations Council of NY (JCRC-NY) is the central coordinating and resource organization which protects and ensures the continuity and vitality of the diverse metropolitan area Jewish community, while serving New Yorkers of all backgrounds and faiths.

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