The nomination form for Heather Pliskin reads, “Heather’s quiet demeanor does not hold back her passion for giving back to the Jewish community. ” Moreover, it specifically noted her years of service to the Jewish Community Center of Greater Columbus. “The secret ingredient of her value in making a difference in our Jewish community is that she makes the people she interacts with better ... her fellow volunteers respond positively to her passion and commitment, and the result is that everyone works together better to achieve incredibly positive results, whether that is more engagement, more fundraising, or more impact on the members of the Jewish community in Columbus.”
What is your most gratifying job and why?
Providing speech-language evaluations for families with young children was incredibly gratifying. Communication is at the center of a young child’s development and delayed skills can be a significant concern for parents. Being able to provide answers and support to parents while guiding their child towards growth was very rewarding.
Was there ever a turning point or shift that made you change how you approach community service or become active in the Jewish world?
In high school, within a six-month period, I traveled to Israel for six weeks as part of a BBYO summer program and co-chaired a BBYO Regional Conference. The significant impact of both these experiences played an instrumental role in shaping who I would become as a Jewish community volunteer and as a leader. As a teen, these experiences showed me the value and the importance of collaboration and working together to experience something amazing – whether that was a journey up Masada or an incredibly inspiring youth leadership or social action program. From then on, I understood that community service wasn’t simply about me showing up. Rather, it was about my working to encourage and welcome others to show up as well, knowing that the common thread – our Judaism – would create the momentum needed to do great things.
Who are your mentors and how did they impact you?
I had a professional mentor whom I first met when I was in graduate school when she was assigned to be my clinical supervisor. I was always struck by her intuitiveness in engaging with young children and their families, as well as her compassion for others. I observed that in addition to her job and her work with me, she was a caring wife, an amazing mom to her two daughters (one of whom had significant special needs), a friend to many and was very involved in her church. She was a role model to me both professionally and personally.
After graduate school, I had the good fortune to have her as my mentor during a clinical fellowship and then continued to work with her for the next 15 years. I will always cherish our relationship.
What’s one takeaway you have learned from the COVID-19 pandemic?
Being forced to simplify and slow down has truly been the silver lining for me during this global pandemic – I will cherish the long walks with my dog, movie nights with my husband and our boys, and the books I’ve read early in the morning while the house is still quiet.