Meet the Honorees

Ed Lazere has led the work of the DC Fiscal Policy Institute (DCFPI) since its inception in 2001. Under his leadership, DCFPI has become the primary source of independent information on the DC budget and one of the most influential policy organizations focused on the District. Mr. Lazere’s work at DCFPI led to the creation of the largest state-level Earned Income Tax Credit for the working poor, expansions of funding for affordable housing, and the establishment of a requirement for an independent financial review of all proposed business tax breaks before they are considered by the DC Council. His work at the DC Fiscal Policy Institute has received numerous honors, including awards from Bread for the City, the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia, the DC Primary Care Association, The Center for Nonprofit Advancement, and DC Jobs With Justice. In addition, Mr. Lazere served as the Chair of the Public Education Finance Reform Commission in 2011-2012 and as a member of the DC Tax Revision Commission in 2012-13. He serves on the Board of Directors of the DC Primary Care Association and Temple Micah, and the emeritus Board of the Children’s Law Center. In 2018, Mr. Lazere ran (unsuccessfully) in the Democratic primary for Chair of the DC Council. He and his wife, Suzanne, have been married 30 years and have two sons, David and Adam. The family has lived in Brookland for over 25 years. He has an undergraduate degree from Harvard College and a Masters in Public Policy from the University of Maryland.

Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt and Rabbi Aaron Alexander serve as co-senior rabbis at Washington’s Adas Israel Congregation. Their leadership model is built upon the talmudic value of hevruta, a sacred partnership, in which they work together to further the vision of the synagogue and that of its Board of Directors. Under this innovative approach, Rabbi Holtzblatt, who is celebrated by the Forward as one of the 32 most inspiring rabbis in the country, and Rabbi Alexander, who is widely regarded as one of the nation’s leading authorities on Halacha (Jewish law), seek to shift the nature of the rabbinic role to one that equally collaborates on critical questions, ideas and opportunities, and leads with one voice to strengthen the congregation. They proudly share in each other’s work and recognize one another’s expertise. Together, with their combined strengths, the pair is paving the way for 21st century Judaism. While they thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to serve together, share trust and make space for one another, Adas Israel Congregation greatly benefits from their combined skills that permeate and bolster the life of the synagogue. Avodah celebrates this unique partnership model for leadership.

Jenna Gold was an Avodah DC Corps Member in 2007-2008, where she worked as a Job Development Coordinator at the So Others Might Eat (“SOME”) Center for Employment Training. Jenna discovered her interest in community-based job training and workforce development in this placement, and continued to work on these issues for five years, first at SOME and later with the Metropolitan Washington Council of the AFL-CIO. Jenna received her MBA from George Washington University in 2013 and started using her job training background in a very different way – as a participant in the Human Resources Leadership Program (“HRLP”) at General Electric. In six years with GE, Jenna has worked on employee and union relations in multiple factories, helped to lead an international acquisition of 65,000 employees, managed the HRLP program for subsequent classes, and became a senior leader for over 300 HR managers across the globe. Jenna currently works as the Senior Manager of HR Compliance and Investigations for GE Renewable Energy, a global business of 24,000 employees. Jenna joined the Board of Avodah in 2017 where she works hard to bring the best of both her non-profit and for-profit experiences to contribute to Avodah’s growth and overall success.

Emcee Sara Polon “Soupergirl” graduated from University of Pennsylvania where she studied history. Her career path then took many meandering twists and turns, including working at an Internet startup, leading tours through the Middle East, and several years as a stand-up comic in New York. In 2008, after reading Michael Pollan’s book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, she founded Soupergirl along with her mom, Marilyn Polon (aka Soupermom /Chief AnxietyOfficer). Sourcing seasonally from local farmers, the company makes a wide variety of healthy, kosher, all-natural, vegan soups that can be found all over the east coast. You can find Soupergirl products at Whole Foods stores from Kentucky through Virginia, and Costco Warehouse from Massachusetts to Washington, DC. The company also ships soup nationwide via their new Souper Meals program. Soupergirl has received national press and has been featured in such publications as the Washington Post, Food and Wine, O Magazine, and more. The soup duo was most recently seen on ABC’s Shark Tank and NBC’s Today Show.