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September 22, 2011 - Image 14

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2011-09-22

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Two agency leaders step down
after a long history of service.

Elizabeth Applebaum
Special to the Jewish News

ary likes painting.
Norm likes working out.
They both like reading, and
they both love the Jewish community.
Since 1998, Norm Keane has served
as CEO of Jewish Family Service; his
wife, Mary, has been executive director
of Hebrew Free Loan since 2000.
They both had many early meetings
and late nights, and they both brought
to their jobs a sense of compassion,
endless patience and dedication to
making certain that respect and care for
clients always was the No. 1 priority.
"Norm and Mary have been a won-

derful asset to our community,' said
Linda Blumberg, planning director for
the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan
Detroit. "They are both exceptional pro-
fessionals as well as compassionate and
caring individuals whose efforts have
benefited literally thousands of individu-
als in need. We have been very fortunate
to have had them as part of our com-
munity, and we will certainly miss them
both. We truly wish them all the best."
Perry Ohren, chief program officer
at JFS, has been named the new CEO.
Ohren has been with agency since 2004,
and also served in the early 1990s. From
2003-2004, he was director of support-
ive communities for Federation, and
from 2000-2003, he was supervisor of

Mary Keane: People First


ne client had fallen behind
on payments and still owed
money to Hebrew Free Loan
(HFL). Her financial situation was
bleak, and she had no job prospects.
Still, she put in a call to HFL Executive
Director Mary Keane and said, "I'll be
having a garage sale this weekend, and
I'm going to sell some of my furniture.
I'll be able to send you a check then:'
Mary responded in less than a heart-
beat: "No, you will not."
She could hardly bear the thought. It
never was and never will be about the
money, she says. It's all about the people.
At HFL, "we see the story first:'
Mary Keane has served as head of
HFL for the past 11 years and is about
to retire —but she's going to miss it.
A native of Ohio, Mary met Norm
Keane when they were both working
at Jewish Family Service in Cleveland.
After the couple married, they also lived
in Arizona and Pittsburgh. Mary's pro-
fessional career included working for
Blue Cross, as a real estate agent and as

of Pittsburgh's
largest Jewish
nursing home,
with more than
300 residents.
She was an
innovator, corn-
ing up with new
ways to care for
the senior citi-
zens and managing a large staff.
It was Norm who brought the two
to Detroit. "He's always being wined
and dined," she says. He applied and
then accepted the position of executive
director of Jewish Family Service of
Metropolitan Detroit.
A move to Michigan? "I'm thinking:
`What will I do?' I wasn't about to retire,"
Mary says.
Reading through the Detroit Jewish
News, Mary saw a job opening with
HFL. Eager to continue working in the
Jewish community, she decided to give
it a try.

Mary Keane on page 16


September 22 • 2011


rehabilitation services with JVS.
David Contorer has been named
new executive director of Hebrew Free
Loan. Contorer was previously at the
philanthropic services office with the
Community Foundation for Southeast
Michigan. From 2000-2005, he served
as director of donor development
and assistant campaign director for
Federation, and from 1995-2000, he
was director of trades and professions,
senior development associate and
development associate for the Jewish
Federation of Greater Philadelphia. LI

Elizabeth Applebaum is a marketing spe-

cialist for the Jewish Community Center of

Metropolitan Detroit.

The Jewish Federation of Metropolitan
Detroit will host "Working Together: It's
Been Keane," an evening honoring Mary and
Norm Keane, at 6 p.m. Monday, Sept. 26, at
the Berman Center for the Performing Arts,
6600 W. Maple Road, West Bloomfield.
The evening will feature cocktails, a
strolling supper and a musical perfor-
mance by Hazzan Daniel and Lauren Gross,
and Cantorial Soloist Neil and Stephanie
Additionally, Federation has established
the Keane Community Crisis Fund to provide
emergency financial assistance to individuals
and families jointly served by HFL and JFS.
To purchase tickets or make a donation,
go to www.itsbeenkeane.com or call (248)

Norm Keane: Empathy

ust a few months ago, an enve-
lope arrived with a bright mes-
sage to an uncertain recipient:
"I don't know if you're the Norm Keane
from Ohio, but if you are, thank you. If
not, I'm sorry to have bothered you."
It was the right man.
Decades earlier, Norm Keane had been
a social worker in Cleveland, where he
had moved from a town in Pennsylvania
with a population of some 5,000 and "a
handful of Jews, all of whom were rela-
tives of mine," Norm says.
He moved to Cleveland in search of
a bigger Jewish community. Then he
enrolled in college. "I had no clue of what
I wanted to be, so just like everyone else
I declared myself pre-law."
Meanwhile, he needed money. He
found a job working with at-risk teens,
and he loved it. Norm could connect with
the kids, and he never stood in judgment
of who they were: Their behavior might
be challenging, but the teens themselves
were great.
Eventually, Norm attended graduate


school, majoring
in social work,
and found a
position with
Jewish Family
Service (JFS)
in Cleveland.
He went on to
hold jobs in
Arizona and
and finally, in 1998, he was named head
of JFS in Metro Detroit.
The letter he received was from a
former client, David, once a teen whose
brother was a drug addict and who came
from a troubled home. But David had
become a success both professionally
and personally and now he had a daugh-
ter who, inspired by David's stories of
Norm Keane, was ready to begin work
with at-risk teens herself.
People first, always. Fill out the forms,
attend the meetings, get the budget
straight but "remember why you're here
Norm says. (He likes to tell the true

Norm Keane on page 16

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