Hillel Trailblazer: Cindy Hughey Named Recipient of Berman Award

December 5, 2013 | Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit

Well-recognized as a mentor and visionary leader and known on college campuses throughout the state as a Hillel Executive Director of exceptional qualities,Cindy Hughey recently was named the 24th recipient of the prestigious “Berman Award.”

Established in 1988 by Mandell L. and Madeleine H. Berman, the award honors the career achievement of an outstanding professional employed by the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, its family of agencies and other Detroit-area Jewish social service organizations.

According to their time-honored tradition, the Bermans themselves presented the award at the November meeting of the Federation Board of Trustees. In her remarks, Madeleine (Madge) described how Cindy has played a transformative role with Hillel, starting with a two-year campaign to raise the funds to build the Lester & Jewell Morris Hillel Jewish Student Center where student activities now flourish. “As Executive Director of MSU Hillel, Cindy recognized the need for Hillel outreach to Jewish students throughout the state, so she envisioned a unique model for collaboration – the alliance we call HCAM.”

Nearly 6,000 students now served

Today MSU Hillel serves as a center for Jewish life and a hub for approximately 3,500 students on the East Lansing campus. With 36 student leaders and 26 paid student internships, MSU Hillel offers more than 200 programs per year, including two Birthright trips and three Alternative Spring programs. Cindy and her MSU Hillel staff connect and anchor Hillel activities for another 2,500 students in the 10-campus HCAM consortium, which includes  Alma College, Albion College, Central Michigan University, Eastern Michigan University, Grand Valley State University, Kalamazoo College, Michigan Technological University, Northern Michigan University, Saginaw Valley State University and Western Michigan University.

Beyond her roles with Hillel, Cindy continues to make an impact in the Jewish community. Recently she accepted the additional role of Executive Director of the Michigan Jewish Conference to build relationships in state government and strengthen the Jewish voice in Lansing.

As a community volunteer, Cindy has held leadership positions with ORT, Congregation Shaarey Zedek of Lansing, the East Lansing Board of Education and the Greater Lansing Jewish Welfare Federation. Though Cindy’s multiple roles put her on the road to Michigan campuses far and wide, she and husband Steve find time for regular visits to Washington to see daughter Jennifer (married to Eric Ross) and granddaughter Isla.  Closer to home in East Lansing, Cindy’s son, Eric, recently married Robyn Berkowitz, MSU Hillel Assistant Director.

Accepting the Berman Award, Cindy acknowledged an outstanding network of community support. “You can have vision, great ideas and a plan to execute the vision, but without the financial support of donors, nothing happens,” she said. “I have every past, present and future donor to thank for their generosity, but my greatest reward comes from seeing the impact our combined efforts have on young people across the state. I am very lucky to do what I do and I hope that I have made a small contribution to the future of our community.”

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