By AJW Staff Report
Washburn High School senior Eliana Pierotti is the recipient of this year’s Howie Stillman Young Leadership Award in recognition of her efforts to better the world.
Pierotti is the 34th recipient of the award that has been given since 1987 to highly accomplished Jewish high school seniors in the Twin Cities.
“Eliana has an incredible list of accomplishments and is a rising young leader in our community and we felt she truly embodies the spirit of the Howie Stillman Young Leadership Award,” interview committee co-chair Bruce Goldfarb said when announcing the award.
“She has been an active advocate of gun reform, served as an election judge and she worked hard for social justice reform at Washburn High School where she is finishing up her senior year.”
Pierotti was a co-founder and co-president of the Civically Engaged Teens Club at her high school. She said she created the group hoping to get more students involved in community action. The group helped get more than 40 seniors registered to vote. Pierotti also served as president of Shir Tikvah’s youth group, co-captain of Washburn’s varsity tennis team and co-president of Washburn’s Jewish Student Union.
“I’m very flattered,” said Pierotti of receiving the award. “It makes me proud that other people besides my family members see me as a leader and a compassionate person. It’s nice to get that recognition. I’m humbled to carry on the legacy of Howie Stillman and hope that I can continue to make meaningful contributions to my community in the future.”
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the Howie Stillman Young Leadership Fund still found a way to give out the annual award. A subcommittee conducted interviews via Zoom in mid-April. Even though having the annual event in May wasn’t possible, the committee members and the Stillman family still wanted to honor the up-and-coming leaders in our community.
“This year’s seniors had so many things taken from them,” interview committee co-chair Joel Glaser said. “No prom. They won’t get to walk across the stage for graduation. While we can’t honor them in person at the event, at least we can still let the community know about some of the incredible accomplishments the nominees achieved during their time in high school.”
As the recipient of this year’s leadership award, Pierotti will receive a beautiful menora. The Committee gives out a menora to the recipient with the hopes that each year they use it in the future, the candles will serve as a reminder of the light that Howie brought into everyone’s lives as well as the light that they bring into their community through their leadership.
The 2020 finalists, in alphabetical order, were: Olivia Cohen, Hopkins, Beth Shalom, editor-in-chief of school paper, participating in Israeli cultural exchange program, religious school teaching assistant; Isabel Freeman, Hopkins, Adath Jeshurun, Kinnus Convention chair, Saturday morning tutor at Adath Jeshurun, youth group executive vice president; Jordan Geller, Robinsdale Armstrong, Adath Jeshurun, member of USY’s regional board, participant in Israeli cultural exchange program, teen staff advisor for Talmud Torah; Ruth Goldenberg, Blake, Adath Jeshurun, Hobey Baker School Character Award, student director of admissions, varsity softball captain; Zach Greenwald, Hopkins, Adath Jeshurun, president of Young Democrats Club, dance team “Rookie of the Year,” National Honor Society, Ethan Meisler, St. Louis Park, Beth El, restarted and served as co-editor-in-chief of school’s satirical newspaper, Beth El Rishon USY’s programming vice president, member of school’s Architecture, Construction, and Engineering Mentor Program; Adam Metchnek, Wayzata, Adath Jeshurun, USY chapter president, member of USY’s regional board, Ultimate Frisbee captain; Sofia Seewald, St. Louis Park, Beth El, managing editor of school newspaper, Med Club president, participated in national “Jewish Law” mock trial competition; Ruby Stillman, St. Louis Park, Adath, president of Thespian Society, Rose Reese Peace Award, USY regional board member (a youth director nominated Ruby who withdrew herself from consideration because of her family connection); Mollie Tankenoff, Hopkins, Adath Jeshurun, founding member and vice president of newly created BBYO chapter, managing editor of school yearbook and newspaper, Student Council chair of public relations; Sara Ventura, Wayzata, Adath Jeshurun, executive board member of HEART (Helping Every At Risk Teen), recipient of three Presidential Volunteer Awards, vice president of school’s Jewish Student Union; Eitan Weinstein, St. Louis Park, Beth El, president of USY’s Regional Board, varsity math team captain, co-editor-in-chief of school’s satirical newspaper.
The Howie Stillman Young Leadership Award was created to recognize the leadership and personal qualities of a high school senior who is active in a Twin Cities synagogue youth group or BBYO.
Nominees are selected based on a number of criteria including youth group involvement; engagement in educational, community and school-related activities; leadership qualities, and personal qualities of warmth and concern for others. The Howie Stillman Young Leadership Award is an attempt to honor a high school senior who demonstrates these qualities in the spirit of someone who embraced them so well.
The Howie Stillman Young Leadership Fund was established in the summer of 1986 by a group of Howie’s friends. It is a permanent memorial to a young man who touched the lives of so many with his warmth, courage and optimism.
Each year interest earned from the fund is used to sponsor an annual lecture given by a prominent journalist which is free and open to the public. The lecture is in recognition of Howie’s aspiring career as a journalist. The group had to cancel the event this year because of COVID-19.
(American Jewish World, June 2020)