Teen Ovation Board Wins Jewish Programming Award, Blueprint For Facilities Worldwide

In the midst of the pandemic, and faced with a lack of intergenerational engagement with our elders, the Jewish Home and Care Center, under the guidance of VP of Development, Tanya Mazor-Posner, created a new teen led organizational board, Teen Ovation.

Designed to teach leadership and career skills, while fostering relationships with residents and other teens by participating in discussions and activities, the board has been awarded the Association of Jewish Aging Services Jewish Programming award.

“I’m so proud that we won the Jewish programming Award from the Association of Jewish Aging Services at its most recent National Conference,” Mazor-Posner said. “Teen Ovation has been recognized as a model for other organizations to follow.”

“I love that we finally have a teen leadership group that really works in tandem with our older adults and our community,” Mazor-Posner continued. “Our board is about getting teens together whether they are Jewish or not. Our teens come from different schools, different walks of life, have different backgrounds, and different experiences. Teens of all faiths and backgrounds ranging in age from 13 to 19 are eligible to apply.”

Just one year after its creation, Teen Ovation’s impact has been felt not just at Ovation Communities, but throughout greater Milwaukee.

New co-presidents, Eliana Tabak (sophomore at Nicolet High School), Maddie Weber (senior at Homestead High School), and Joey Arnstein (8th grader at Bayside Middle School), are looking to expand on Teen Ovation’s presence within the community.

“I think that under leadership from a teenager, this can become more widespread and reach other teens,” Tabak said. “I hope that under my leadership Teen Ovation can be a model for other facilities, both Jewish and non-Jewish, in its ways of connection and intergenerational learning.

“We hope that soon we can begin to organize more community projects and hold larger-scale events with the residents,” Tabak continued, “My goal is to get as many actively involved members to continue the legacy of Teen Ovation.”

Gathering monthly, Teen Ovation board members participate in various social, mitzvah, and intergenerational activities such as, a summer picnic where the teens made garden decorations to add to one Ovation’s outdoor resident garden, safe in-person gathering with Ovation residents, and making hand-made Rosh HaShanah cards for each resident.

In addition to building friendships, Teen Ovation is designed to help teens learn communication and leadership skills, while also participating in fundraising activities and sensitivity training in volunteering with older adults.

“I think it’s so important to hear from everyone on their opinions and lives,” Weber said. “I hope to learn the life skill of communication. Not everyone communicates in the same way or has the same ideas, but I want to be able to hear out every idea I can on any topic or situation.”

“You never know where the next good idea is going to come from, and I think we underestimate the power of a good conversation with a wiser person.”

If you or any teen you know is interested in joining the Ovation Communities Teen Ovation board, please contact Tanya Mazor-Posner at TMazor-posner@ovation.org, or call 414-721-9260.

  • June 23, 2022

Ovation Communities Public Relations Manager: Get to Know Ryan Berlin

Ovation Communities is thrilled to welcome Ryan Berlin to the team. Ryan joined Ovation in January 2021.

Having a passion for people and storytelling, Ryan Berlin, Ovation Communities new Public Relations Manager, knew immediately that Ovation Communities was the place for him.

After moving to Milwaukee in 2016 with his wife Adrienne, Ryan knew that he wanted to expand on his career. A journalist by trade, Ryan graduated from Central Michigan University in 2010 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism.

“When we moved to Milwaukee, I was looking for something more career wise,” Ryan said. “I had worked as a writer, journalist and magazine editor. I knew I was looking to take the skillset I already had and add to it.”

Ryan, his wife Adrienne, brother Stu, and children Maxine and Eli, enjoy their annual trip to Sobelman’s for Maxine’s fourth birthday.

Post-graduation, Ryan kicked off his career in journalism working at a small-town newspaper in Mount Pleasant, Mich. While working as a journalist Ryan was exposed to the public relations side of communications and decided to pursue it as a career.

After making the switch to PR, Ryan worked for two years as the communications director for the American Power Boat Association before being promoted to the director of operations.

While working as a writer for a trade magazine in Milwaukee, Ryan went back to school to get a master’s degree in public relations from Kent State University.

“When I got my master’s degree, I bounced around a little bit professionally,” Ryan said. “It took me some time to find my niche within public relations. I worked for a couple of different agencies and agency life just wasn’t for me. I wanted to work directly with people, working toward a specific mission and Ovation has given me the opportunity to do that.

“My favorite part about working in public relations is being able to tell a story through an organization’s mission, vision and core values,” Ryan continued. “I believe this positively impacts both the residents and the community as a whole.”

Ryan, and his wife Adrienne attended Wrestlemania 32 and Wrestlemania Axxess on their honeymoon in Dallas, Texas.

Ryan is a one-person department at Ovation, and his role focuses on promoting all aspects of the organization. This includes managing digital and print advertising and developing different campaigns that align with Ovation’s overall mission.

Some of Ryan’s main duties include working with and engaging residents, overseeing external communications, managing and updating social media platforms, producing content for the quarterly newsletter and updating the website.

“Jumping into this position and getting to talk with residents and listen to their needs and telling their stories has been one of my favorite aspects of the job,” Ryan said. “I love engaging with the
residents and the rest of the team, it feels great to be part of a community both here at Ovation and in Milwaukee.”

One of Ryan’s main goals for the future is expanding Ovation’s social media presence. He wants to highlight the activities, events and living that goes on at Ovation. He would also love to see
Ovation’s social media presence expand to platforms like Instagram and TikTok.

While serving the Ovation community Ryan plans on continuing to position the organization as an industry leader in assisted and senior living.

“I want to break the stigma of senior living facilities being referred to as a ‘home.’ Ovation isn’t just residents sitting around, there is so much life here that I want to showcase and highlight,”

Ryan said. “I want to show the community what life is really like here and the care and expertise that Ovation has to offer.”

  • June 23, 2022

Ovation Employees Recognized for Excellence in Resident Care and Customer Service

The Maurice S. Surlow Award for Employee Excellence was established in 2000 and made possible at the direction of his extended family, including Jim, Bob and Burt Zucker. Mr. Surlow was
born in Hungary and immigrated with his family to Milwaukee in the early part of the 20th century.

At his passing in 1997, he left a major bequest to the Jewish Community Foundation of Milwaukee Jewish Federation. A portion of that bequest is annually directed to the Jewish Home and Care Center Foundation. Originally working closely with Bob and now his daughter Debbie Zucker, a team of staff members who made special efforts to care for residents with the best customer
service are selected.

The Spring 2022 Maurice S. Surlow Award for Employee Excellence winners are:


Cathy Thornton, C.N.A. and
LaToya Bradley, C.N.A,
holding awards; (Bianca Floyd,
Laundry Aide, not pictured.)
Accompanied by Scott Kwiatkowski,
Patty Anderson, Katie Quintanilla.

Jody Steingold, Resident
Assistant, accompanied
by Trish Cohn and
Cheryl Buckman.

  • June 23, 2022

A Message From The CEO

In this issue of Kavod we have the distinct honor of recognizing an extraordinary leader, friend, and generous contributor to Ovation Communities; Bill Komisar. Bill recently decided to step down as a director of both our Jewish Home and Foundation boards of directors. This follows 25 years of dedication to our residents!

Bill however won’t be leaving us completely; he will remain a member of our investment committee. Please read about his unparalleled impact on the lives of Jewish Home and Chai Point residents.

Bill is just one of more than 60 of our board directors and committee members who all selflessly dedicate their time and expertise to further our mission and to honor our mothers and fathers. We are so grateful to all of our volunteers and our community is forever enriched by their dedication and service.

If you would like to join them in adding life to our residents’ lives, please let me know, and I guarantee we have a place for you!

  • March 8, 2022

After Decades of Service Bill Komisar Retires from Ovation Boards

William (Bill) Komisar recently announced his retirement from the Ovation Jewish Home and the Jewish Home and Care Center Foundation Boards of Directors. Throughout his tenure, Bill graciously took critically important leadership positions as Chairman of the Board of Sarah Chudnow Community, Jewish Home, and Jewish Home and Care Center Foundation, as well as spearheading several major projects and fundraising efforts. Michael Sattell, President & CEO, sat down with Bill to talk about his long involvement with Ovation Communities, his plans for the near future, and his passion for volunteering.

Bill reflected that his involvement began in fourth grade visiting his grandfather, Frank Komisar, at the Jewish Convalescent Center on 51st and Silver Spring. “Later, I saw how well they took care of my grandma and my Aunt Bessie as well.” (The Convalescent Center later merged with the Jewish Home).

Around 1986, Nita Corre asked Bill to join the Jewish Home and Care Center Board, where others quickly “found out you’re a CPA and then, you’re Treasurer,” according to Bill.

Throughout his career, Bill recalls several moments he is proud of, with perhaps the rebuilding of the Jewish Home, from 2005 thru 2007, being most impactful. Along with that came the extraordinarily considerate, but complicated decision to purchase the Mequon Care Center so all Jewish Home residents could move there to avoid living through the tumult of the substantial reconstruction of their home. Bill feels that “the rebuild was remarkable and remains beautiful today.”

Bill is grateful for the relationships he’s made with other board members over the years, pointing out his friendships with Rick Rakita and Mike Joseph early on. During his leadership tenure, both Bill’s mother and father resided at the Jewish Home, where Bill continued to witness “the loving care they gave to my parents. Such kind souls.”

Bill, who also happens to be an attorney in his professional life, has recently retired as a partner at CLA, following a more than 40-year Public Accounting career that included leading his family’s firm, Komisar, Brady & CO., and is currently working as the CFO at a spice company. His wonderful wife Becky said, “My husband retired to a 40-hour per week job!” He and Becky enjoy traveling to see their three children and grandchildren — two and counting! — in Washington, D.C. He remains an integral part of our Foundation’s Investment Committee and hopes to continue volunteering. Bill and Becky have also been incredibly generous donors to the Foundation and in support of all residents.

“A ‘Mensch’ is a person of integrity and honor, this describes my friend, Bill Komisar, both on a personal and professional level,” said Arleen Peltz, Ovation Jewish Home and Jewish Home and Care Center Foundation board member. “His years of serving on the boards of the Jewish Home and the Foundation of the Jewish Home was with dedication.

“In the many years we have served together, I learned so much from him, especially when I became the chair of the Jewish Home and Bill was my mentor,” Peltz continued. “The achievements Ovation Communities has made would not have been possible if not for his wise counsel and patient advice. I am proud to call Bill my friend.”

A fund in Bill’s name was established several years ago to support employee enhancements. He encourages others to immerse themselves in volunteering, offering a good way to start is to “show your talents in a specific field by joining a committee. You meet a lot of really good people, which is very rewarding. And those relationships are invaluable.”

  • March 8, 2022

Helen Bader Center Set for CBRF Renovation

Committed to providing residents with a full continuum of care options, Ovation Communities staff prides itself on clinical excellence and offering the best care possible. To further extend that continuum of care, Ovation Communities will be opening a Community-Based Residential Facility (CBRF) in the summer of 2022. The Helen Bader Center, on second floor of the Jewish Home, will be transformed to take care of 16 adults facing memory issues.

“We have an opportunity to introduce a service to the community that we previously haven’t had — an assisted living environment for those living with memory loss,” said Michael Sattell, Ovation Communities President and CEO. “The CBRF allows us to honor and elevate the memory and vision of Helen Bader.”


A substantial rebuild of the Helen Bader Center will feature enlarged community spaces, larger apartments, new bathrooms, and a new solarium overlooking Prospect Avenue. Designed by Zimmerman Architectural Studios, construction is set to last throughout the winter of 2022.

“By providing an outstanding environment, and reintroducing Monya’s Rooftop Patio Garden that overlooks Lake Michigan, the new CBRF will allow our loved ones living with Alzheimer’s to experience sensory stimulation in the arts, music, and other programming,” Sattell said.

In addition to enhanced programming and functionality of the space, a generous donation of fine art from the estate of Rita Seitner will be adding to the overall beauty of the CBRF.

“Rita Seitner was a remarkable woman, entrepreneur, and collector of fine art,” said Tanya Mazor-Posner, Jewish Home and Care Center Foundation Vice President of Development. “She loved art made by Jewish artists. In the collection there are pieces by Itzchak Tarkay and Bracha Guy. “Rita’s parents were residents of Ovation Communities, and one of her desires was to one day move into Chai Point. Unfortunately, she never had the opportunity,” Mazor-Posner continued.

For a short time, Rita was a rehab patient at the Jewish Home and saw first-hand the care and compassion staff have for residents.

“Rita had a deep passion and cared so much about our mission and caring for members of the community,” Mazor-Posner said. “This gift is a beautiful gesture of love, and Rita’s way of fusing her home and her second home of Ovation.”

  • March 8, 2022

Elevated Dining Experiences Coming to Ovation

In 2022 Ovation Communities is undertaking several projects to elevate the dining experience in both the Jewish Home and Chai Point. With a focus on wellness, food quality, and enhanced experiences, residents can expect to see many positive changes throughout the year.

Part of the refresh includes a new partnership with NexDine Hospitality to lead the operations and management of the overall dining service program. NexDine is an industry leader known for their mission-based approach and commitment to excellent quality and service. Residents and visitors will enjoy a new customized dining program tailored to the Ovation community, featuring fresh ingredients and made from-scratch cooking, accompanied by unique restaurant style dining options.

In addition, the Chai Point kitchen is being completely renovated to better serve residents. When it was first built nearly 30 years ago, the kitchen was mainly envisioned as a space for warmup and heating. The renovation will more than double the size of the kitchen allowing for improved workflow, dedicated meat, dairy and parve areas, and top of the line new appliances.

“We know how important it is to make daily life purposeful and enjoyable for our residents, and food is a huge part of that,” said Tricia Cohn, Ovation Chai Point Executive Director. “Everyone is excited to experience the restaurant like dining, wider variety of food options, and choices that support better nutrition and wellness.”

The new space is expected to be complete this summer. In the meantime, Chai Point residents are enjoying dining in beautiful Rubenstein Pavilion, overlooking Lake Michigan.

  • March 8, 2022

Introducing Dr. Taani, Ovation Communities’ Second Professor in Aging

Ovation Communities is excited to announce its new Professor in Aging, Dr. Murad Taani. This position is supported by the Jewish Home and Care Center Foundation. Dr. Taani succeeds Dr. Christine Kovach who retired in 2020.

Question: Tell us a bit about your background.

Dr. Taani: I grew up in Jordan and earned my bachelor’s degree in nursing there in 2007. In 2010, I moved to the United States and subsequently completed my master’s in public health at New Mexico State University in 2014 and doctorate in nursing at UW-Milwaukee in 2017. During my graduate studies I also worked as a nurse in medsurg, oncology and critical care, and worked in research and as a teaching assistant. My current role is assistant professor in UWM’s College of Nursing, where I teach nursing students and conduct research around improving quality of life in older adults.

Q: Why did you decide on the career path you are on today?

DT: I have always been interested in science and research and had a desire to impact lives in positive ways. Nothing is as interesting and rewarding to me as helping older adults. I am also very passionate about conducting research, learning about the aging process, and promoting health in our older adult population.

Q: What research projects are you currently working on?

DT: Through a grant from Bader Philanthropies, we are in the first phase of a study on lung health. We are looking at ways to improve lung health, strengthen respiratory muscles, and increase physical ability in older adults. The team will be recruiting participants for the study in the next month or two, and the project is expected to take about two years to complete.

Q: What are you most excited about in your new role as Ovation’s next
professor in aging?

DT: I want to thank Ovation Communities for this wonderful opportunity. It will allow me to focus on my passion of promoting health in aging adults. I work with many organizations and have never seen one as dedicated as Ovation is to helping people live longer, better, healthier lives. Together, I hope we can increase our research capabilities to continue to improve the health and wellbeing of Ovation’s residents, and older adults nationally and internationally.

Q: What trends in older adult wellness are important to pay attention to?

DT: There are a few areas that are especially important right now: improving physical performance and physical ability to keep people independent longer; addressing social isolation especially during the pandemic; and investigating causes and treatments for cognitive impairment.

Q: What are your initial impressions of Ovation Communities?

DT: I have found Ovation to be a place that truly cares about its residents. Everyone works seamlessly as a team and goes above and beyond to provide the best possible care in every aspect of daily life, not just health. I am so grateful to have this opportunity to work with them. Ovation is really an unbelievable, wonderful residential facility.

  • March 8, 2022

Live Classical Music Returning to Ovation

Ovation Communities is committed to providing high-quality programming for its residents. Thanks to a recent generous endowment gift to the Jewish Home and Care Center Foundation, a new Chai Point Classical Music Fund has been established allowing for the return of live classical performances.

“We are beyond grateful for this gift and excited to see all the joy the Chai Point Classical Music Fund will bring to our residents, many of whom are classical music lovers,” said Tanya Mazor-Posner, Jewish Home and Care Center Foundation Vice President of Development. “Many of us haven’t been able to go out and hear live music over the past year, so we wanted to bring the music to Ovation.”

Classical music is often recognized for its calming effects and recent studies have found it can also positively enhance memory. The musical performances will be available to all residents through both in person and remote options

  • March 8, 2022

Partnership with University Trains Next Generation of Health Care Administrators

Originally from Sun Prairie, Wis., and attending University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire, Ally Thiel knew she wanted to work in the health care industry.

“Originally when I got to Eau Claire, I was a nursing major,” Thiel said. “I was also working as a CNA, and after about a year, I realized that nursing wasn’t for me.

I wanted to work more on the business side of health care.

“I had a friend in the Healthcare Administration Program, and she highly recommended it,” Thiel continued. “I looked into that, and I liked that it was a combination of the medical side of things, but also the business side of things, so I joined the program and changed my major.”

As part of the UW–Eau Claire Healthcare Administration program, students are required to participate in a 50-week administrative residency.

Interviewing at several facilities, including ones in Iowa and Minnesota, Thiel knew Ovation Communities was exactly where she wanted to be. Working directly with Katie Quintanilla, Jewish Home Administrator, Thiel has been able to experience every facet of senior living.

“When I interviewed with Katie, I knew this was my number one choice,” Thiel said. “I have really enjoyed it here and learning from everyone.”

Running from June 2021 through May 2022, Thiel takes her turn working with every department from nursing to admissions, marketing, and dining, learning how each department operates.

While she has, and is spearheading several projects, including a resident snack program, a falls prevention program, a school supply collection drive, and Teen Ovation, the most exciting and important part of the residency for Thiel has been getting to know the residents.

“During my Activities Department rotation, I got the chance to play trivia with the residents, and it was incredible how they knew every answer,” Thiel said. “People don’t give seniors enough credit. They often think that seniors aren’t paying attention. Then you play a game of trivia with them, and you realize they know more than you do.”

Throughout the residency, Thiel has been able to gain valuable experience and leadership skills that will help guide her over the course of her career.

“This program is so important and valuable, not just for the student to gaining real-world experience and opportunities in the day-to-day operations of a facility,” Quintanilla said. “But also, for the facility, having fresh eyes and having another team member being part of quality improvement projects to enhance the daily lives of residents

“One of the best things about Ally is her initiative,” Quintanilla continued. “She’s not afraid to ask the right questions and she’ll follow through on her own. My hope is that Ally continues her career in health care. She is such an empathetic, caring, and intuitive person. That is such a value to health care.”

As she approaches her May graduation, Thiel doesn’t know what the future holds but she would never rule out a return to Ovation Communities.

“Trish Cohn always says, ‘all roads lead back to Ovation.’ So, we’ll see what my future holds.”

  • March 8, 2022