By Michael Jacobs / firstname.lastname@example.org
When alumna Michelle Krebs Levy returned to B’nai B’rith Girls in 2012 as the adviser to Atlanta Council BBYO’s B’yachad chapter, she struggled with uncertainty.
She knew she wanted to volunteer with BBG and give back to an organization through which she had learned leadership skills, developed relationships and gained confidence during high school. The timing was right because she was not working a “crazy, stressful, long-hours job” and could bring more life and work experience and more maturity to the job than most advisers, who tend to be in their mid-20s.
But she said it took a while to figure out what her role should be as she balanced providing support and guidance for the teen girls in the chapter with letting them do things for themselves and giving them room to learn from mistakes.
She appears to have hit the right balance because she was awarded the international David Bitker Unsung Hero BBG Advisor of the Year Award at the BBYO International Convention in Atlanta on Feb. 14.
“I’m really grateful and really humbled that I was selected,” Levy said. “It just means a lot to me. It’s just a huge, huge honor, and it’s really a privilege to still be a part of BBYO.”
Atlanta Council BBYO Director David Hoffman said Levy’s award was a surprise just because of the numbers — BBYO has more than 600 chapters, each with at least one adviser — but made sense. “She is a role model for what it means to be a leader in the Jewish community and has demonstrated nothing but compassion, patience and love for all members of the Atlanta Council BBYO community.”“Shabbat Sam” Fistel, The Sixth Point’s Michelle Levy and Jessica Heilweil finish planting a tree beside North Avenue during Trees Atlanta’s Tu B’Shevat planting Feb. 8.
In announcing the award, B’yachad members Hayley Katzenstein and Maddie Fleischmann called Levy a friend, a mom, a role model, the chapter MVP and a key part of Atlanta Council.
“We constantly hear praise from other Atlanta Council BBGs and Alephs telling us how cool she is and how lucky we are to have her as one of our advisers,” Hayley said.
The two girls cited a change in attitude that Levy brought to the chapter: emphasizing the quality of relationships over the quantity of members.
“Michelle taught us that numbers aren’t everything, and since her arrival, B’yachad has become a closer, more well-rounded chapter,” Maddie said.
B’yachad was one of the biggest BBG chapters when Levy arrived, but she told them that having 115 members on the rolls but only 40 participating in programs wasn’t something to be proud of. “One of the things that I really tried to emphasize with them is just focusing on the friendship and being welcoming.”
Levy, who grew up in Atlanta and has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Georgia and an M.B.A. from Georgia State, applies those same lessons as the founder and CEO of The Sixth Point, an engagement organization for young Jewish professionals in Atlanta.
She said she loves being a part of BBG and spending time with the girls and the other advisers, and the Bitker Award provides nice reinforcement. “It definitely gives me confidence that I’m on the right track,” Levy said, plus “maybe a little pressure to keep doing a good job.”