2020 Section Awards
We congratulate honorees who have received NCJWSTL 2020 Section Awards for going above and beyond in their service to NCJW and the Community.
Community Service Award: Steve Epstein
As owner of Klayman Pants Company, Steve has been a valued partner in supplying school uniforms for the NCJW Kids Community Closet.
With Steve’s help, NCJW distributed more than 1,500 pairs of uniform pants and 1,300 uniform shirts this school year alone.
Steve’s generosity has been vital in helping NCJW meet the needs for emergency clothing at 32 schools in 7 school districts, providing access to 10,000 children throughout St. Louis City and County.
Fritzi Lainoff Advocacy Award: Marilen Pitler
Since 2014, Marilen has fought tirelessly to combat human trafficking by serving on the NCJW Human Trafficking Task Force and Co-Chaired the Committee on Human Trafficking.
She worked diligently with State Legislators in Jefferson City to help pass 2018 House Bill No 1246 that mandated human trafficking hot line posters be created and installed in critical locations.
In 2019, Marilen was asked to serve on the Washington University Human Trafficking Collaborative Network’s Steering Committee.
Emerging Leader Award: Melissa Alper Forrester
Melissa has been an active member of NCJWSTL since joining the section during college, taking on a variety of committee and leadership roles.
She has been on the NCJW Board for four years and has served as State Policy Advocacy Chair. In 2016, Melissa received the Fritzi Lainoff Advocacy Award. Melissa has Co-Chaired Trivia Night and currently Co-Chairs the Bylaws and Resolutions local committee to prepare for the NCJW national convention.
Melissa currently serves as a social media trainer for the Section and has presented this topic at national meetings. Melissa is the volunteer coordinator at Casa de Salud, a community health clinic.
Leadership Award: Melissa Baris
Melissa has been a longtime leader at NCJWSTL.
She Co-Chaired the Back to School! Store, has been a Board member since 2015, and served as Vice President of Community Service from 2016-2020, overseeing projects and programs that improve the lives of women, children and families.
Melissa's leadership has strengthened programs including: The Healing Hearts Bank, The Back to School! Store, Kids Community Closet, Project Renewal and Jean Stein Bloch Wife Widow Woman.
Melissa is an attorney and partner at Husch Blackwell, LLP.
Volunteer Service: Alissa Arst
Alissa has been a dedicated and passionate volunteer of NCJWSTL, serving as Co-Chair of the Back to School! Store for the past six years.
Alissa led efforts to provide a Resource Room at the BTSS, offering families valuable resources and information. During her tenure as Co-Chair, the BTSS has provided more than 8,000 children with the essentials they need to start school with confidence and ready to learn.
Alissa is a licensed clinical social worker with 20 years’ experience in the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) field.