Friends and supporters of the American Technion Society (ATS) gathered in Miami last month for the spring national board meeting, celebrating recent achievements and planning for the Technion centennial in 2024. Attendees officially voted Mark Gaines in as the incoming ATS National President, the 33rd in the organization’s history. Other ATS leaders were honored at festive events. And Technion executives, researchers, and alumni traveled from Israel to give presentations about their work and meet with donors.

Held at the Ritz-Carlton in Coconut Grove, the weekend began with a warm Shabbat dinner and candle-lighting ceremony, celebrating the Technion Latin/Jewish community in Miami. A member of that community, ATS – Miami President Mauro Wjuniski, who was raised in Brazil, greeted the guests. ATS National Chairman Steve Berger emceed the dinner while members Doreen Green, Michael Miller, and Melanie Moreno led the Shabbat blessings.

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Aerospace Workshop & ATS Family Night

On Saturday morning, many attendees toured the architecturally-striking Vizcaya Museum and Gardens to experience the Gilded Age at agricultural machinery magnate James Deering’s 1916 winter estate.

In the afternoon, participants gathered for the weekend’s main academic event, a workshop titled “Aerospace and the Future of Israel.” The Technion is home to Israel’s only department dedicated to research and education in aerospace. Created at the behest of Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, it has been said that the Aerospace Engineering Faculty has provided Israel with everything from night goggles to an entire aerospace industry.

The workshop opened with the presentation, “Wings of Success: How the Technion Shaped Israel’s Air & Space Industries.” Technion President Uri Sivan spoke about the University’s impact on Israel’s Aerospace industry, still felt today as 90% of the engineers in Israel’s Aircraft Industries were trained at the Technion. He was joined by Ph.D. candidate Neta Blum, head of the Israeli Ministry of Defense’s Cyber Section, who shared her story as a woman in the male-dominated field. ATS National Board member Stephen Klein, who has made significant contributions to the Aerospace faculty, facilitated a Q&A and chat with President Sivan and Ms. Blum on topics such as new directions in aerospace engineering and the start-up culture for young Israeli aerospace companies.

Associate Professor Beni Cukurel of the Faculty of Aerospace took the stage to discuss “A National & Global Priority: Philanthropic Needs for Aerospace” and provide behind-the-scenes insights into the current research and structure of the faculty. Its researchers still operate from the first building ever erected – more than 70 years ago – on the Technion’s main campus, making fundraising for a new building and faculty recruitment a priority for the Technion and a national priority for Israel. Please click here to learn more. Barbara Dahl, co-chair of the ATS national development committee, led the Q&A.

The presentations were followed by a hands-on workshop with smaller breakout groups for national board members to discuss and reflect on the presentations.

On Saturday evening, the organization took time to honor its devoted supporters. The ATS Spotlight on Impact Award recognizes a board member who has gone the extra mile to make a lasting impact on the Technion. Jewel Prince, who with her husband Allen have generously contributed to brain science research at the Technion, presented the award to Nancy Aronson for her inspiring leadership. Incoming ATS President Mr. Gaines congratulated Ms. Aronson, as did ATS CEO Michael Waxman-Lenz.

“You have been selfless in advancing our work,” said Mr. Waxman-Lenz. “You have long demonstrated your incredible commitment, and I know that you will continue to inspire us with your words and deeds.” Mrs. Aronson is active in both the local and national boards.

Later in the evening, Mr. Berger, as Chair of the National Board, invited Technion President Uri Sivan to join him at the podium to bestow Guardian pins on the newest Technion Guardians, those who support the University at the highest levels. “These individuals,” said President Sivan, “through their significant and sustained giving, represent our collective values and are “Guardians” of the Technion in the truest sense.”

One by one, the new Guardians were called onto the dais, where President Sivan spoke briefly about those being honored. Those who entered the most distinguished leadership giving circle were:

  • David and Valerie Farkas of Cleveland, who met and married in Israel, where David grew up and attended the Technion
  • Semyon and Janna Friedman, who immigrated to the U.S. from Kiev, Ukraine in 1979
  • Sol and Wendy Gordon of Washington, D.C., who became involved 30 years ago through Ms. Gordon’s uncle
  • Martin and Grace Rosman of Virginia, whose philanthropy has helped almost 1,000 students receive education at the Technion
  • Senator Paul B. and Sandy Steinberg of Miami, whose support stretches back to the early 1980s

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Technion & Israel: Partners in Innovation

While the weekend provided plenty of time for socializing, the BOD got down to business on Sunday morning. Leadership Committee co-chair Eric Dobrusin and Scott Leemaster updated committee members on the year’s events. Planning Committee co-chair Nancy Aronson presented a report to her committee’s members. Barbara Dahl, co-chair of the Development Committee, presented her report. Sol Glasner and Andi Wolfe presented to members of the Grants Committee, and Nancy Aronson and Rosalyn August gave their report to members of the Marketing Sub-Committee. Additionally, Technion VIPs President Sivan, Professor Kaplan, and the University’s new Executive Vice President and Director General Dr. Rafi Aviram met with several supporters and potential supporters.

Scott Leemaster, chair of the Technion Board of Governors, welcomed guests to the evening’s festive dinner, celebrating Technion & Israel: Partners in Innovation. Held in The Penthouse of the Riverside Wharf, perched high above the Miami River with spectacular views of the city skyline, the event’s theme revolved around Israel’s 75th anniversary and the Technion’s upcoming Centennial. Technion President Uri Sivan discussed the University’s mission as being forever linked to Israel’s economic, educational, and defense needs. He then introduced Israel’s 13th Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett, who was the guest speaker.

Janet Shatz Snyder, a second-generation supporter and immediate past president of ATS – Washington, D.C., conducted a Q&A with Prime Minister Bennett. He spoke eloquently about the Technion’s key roles in developing the Jewish State from the University’s inception in 1924 to its transformation into the Start-Up Nation. “Israel views the Technion as its special treasure or secret sauce. Israel would not be the Start-Up Nation without the Technion. Full Stop,” said the former prime minister.

Due to restrictions, the video linked above is password protected. If you attended the event and do not have the password, please reach out to your local fundraiser or [email protected] for more information.