Danny Kerns, 31, of the Bay View neighborhood in Milwaukee, has been awarded the 2020 Benjamin E. Nickoll Young Leadership Award.
Each year it is given to a young man who demonstrates exemplary leadership within the Jewish community. Past winners include Herb Kohl, Stephen H. Marcus and the late R. Todd Lappin and Martin F. Stein.
Kerns was granted the award after about five years of involvement with local Jewish community volunteerism. It started when his grandfather, Pat Kerns, suggested that he consider the Weinstein Fellowship, to get involved with Jewish volunteerism.
“As long as I can remember he has always tried to impress that upon his grandchildren,” Danny said.
Danny soon joined the George Weinstein Fellowship, which is the leadership development program of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation. It brings together a diverse group of young adults to learn the leadership skills necessary to become an active leader and decision maker in the Milwaukee Jewish community. Weinstein Fellows go on to leadership positions not only at the Federation but at synagogues and other Jewish organizations throughout the city. The Fellowship includes a subsidized trip to Israel.
After the George Weinstein Fellowship, Danny joined the board of Bader Hillel Academy and the Milwaukee Jewish Federation Agency Review Committee. He said that through that committee and the Weinstein Fellowship, he’s learned about what different agencies do in the Jewish community. One of the challenges for Federation is to educate young people on what it does and what its agencies do, he said.
In a sweet moment, it was Danny’s grandfather who called him to tell him he had been selected. “I did not think it was going to mean as much to me as it did,” Danny said.
Originally established to honor Ben Nickoll, a leader of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation and Jewish community in the 1940s and 1950s, the Benjamin E. Nickoll Young Leadership Award has been presented by the Federation since 1962.