Squirrel Hill Treasure Awards

The Treasure Awards Dinner was created to recognize our neighborhood Treasures, the people and places that make Squirrel Hill a great place to live, work and do business. The Squirrel Hill Treasure Dinner has become an annual celebration and fundraiser for the Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition. In 2023, we will honor four individuals who have made a great impact on Squirrel Hill and the city at large. Please join us on Wednesday, November 8th @ 6 pm for a celebration to remember! Event tickets, virtual ads and raffle tickets can be purchased here.

Announcing Our 2023 Treasures

JFCS Pittsburgh

Jewish Family and Community Services (JFCS) has served the Pittsburgh region since 1937. Based in Squirrel Hill, the agency is known as a leader in providing innovative and effective social service solutions for families and individuals of all ages. 

JFCS programs/services include:

Career Services: Job seekers from throughout Allegheny County receive individualized support to find sustainable employment. JFCS specializes in serving vulnerable populations, including mature workers, individuals with disabilities, refugees, and immigrants.

Mental Health Services: JFCS Counseling Services provides counseling and other services to children and adults, helping them achieve progress toward treatment goals. 

Hunger and Critical Needs: The JFCS Squirrel Hill Food Pantry serves food insecure individuals in zip code 15217. SOS Pittsburgh provides referrals to community resources and direct financial assistance.

Senior Services: Through counseling, care management, and other programs, staff help older adults maintain independence. 

Refugee and Immigrant Services: JFCS provides comprehensive resettlement services to refugees and vulnerable immigrants from around the world. In addition, JFCS connects immigrants to a variety of human services as the lead agency in Immigrant Services and Connections, a county-wide program. 

Legal Services: JFCS provides immigration legal services to help immigrants obtain or maintain legal status.

Youth Services: Provides comprehensive support to youth through after-school academic support, career counseling and planning for post-secondary education/employment, and support from UpStreet, JFCS’s teen mental health initiative.

Guardianship: JFCS Guardianship Services acts as Power of Attorney and develops, coordinates, and monitors professional services for individuals unable to make their own decisions. 

Ellen Perlow Kessler: Board Chair of Carnegie Museum of Art

Ellen Kessler has dedicated her adult life to being an active community volunteer and leader. She earned a BA in Speech Communications from Penn State University and an MA in Communications from the University of New Mexico. After graduate school, Ellen worked as a reporter and weekend sports anchor in Albuquerque’s television news industry. Later, she moved to Los Angeles and held positions in advertising and public relations before returning to Pittsburgh to become the Director of Advertising and Public Relations for Interstate Hotels Corporation, a hotel management company with global operations.

Ellen’s passion for volunteering and fundraising led her to work with several local nonprofit organizations following the birth of her two children. She has served on the boards of several organizations including the Winchester Thurston School, The Children’s Institute, Steeltown Entertainment, the Jewish Federation of Pittsburgh, and the JCC. She is currently a life Trustee of the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, and a member of the Carnegie Museum of Art Advisory Board, where she recently served six years as Board Chair. Ellen is also an officer and a Trustee of the Jewish Healthcare Foundation.

In her free time, Ellen enjoys art, sports, particularly golf, and travel. Along with her husband Jack, she is a collector of contemporary art. Ellen is passionate about her love of Pittsburgh and plans to continue being a part of the community as well as a lifelong learner. She has lived in Squirrel Hill most of her life and currently resides there with Jack.

Elizabeth Miller MD, PhD: Chief of Adolescent Medicine

Dr. Miller is Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics, Public Health, and Clinical and Translational Science and holds the Edmund R. McCluskey Chair in Pediatric Medical Education at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. She is Director of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine and Medical Director of Community and Population Health at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. Her research addresses interpersonal violence and adolescent health equity. She is co-director of a community partnered initiative in Allegheny County called The Pittsburgh Study that promotes racial equity and child thriving. She collaborates with community organizations in the Community Vitality Collaborative, initially focused on equitable distribution of COVID vaccines to underserved communities and more recently on a broad range of topics to address health equity. She is a board member of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh and a member of the advisory council for the Center for Loving Kindness at the JCC.  

Helen Wilson: Vice President of Squirrel Hill Historical Society & Friends of Neil Log House

The story of Squirrel Hill and the surrounding area has nurtured Helen Wilson’s passion for writing, history and research for close to twenty years.  After her retirement from teaching art in the Pittsburgh Public School system, Helen began studying Turner Cemetery on Beechwood Blvd which is the second oldest cemetery in Pittsburgh and dates to the late 1700’s when European settlers began moving into the area.  Helen continues to help research the cemetery and maintain its website,  

Helen’s research widened into the whole of Squirrel Hill’s history and geology.  She joined the Squirrel Hill Historical Society (SHHS) in 2006, and is currently its Vice President and Newsletter Editor.  Helen started the SHHS’s monthly newsletter in 2014, and still finds topics of interest for the general community.  She has written numerous articles about Squirrel Hill’s history which have been published in SHUC’s Squirrel Hill Magazine, and other publications. 

In 2015 Helen collaborated with her son Todd, a bridge historian, on Images of America: Pittsburgh’s Bridges (Arcadia).  She also edited and wrote for SHHS’s second book, Squirrel Hill: A Neighborhood History (History Press), published in 2017.  

She teaches courses about Squirrel Hill history for both Pitt and CMU Osher Lifelong Learning Programs, and produces the annual Squirrel Hill calendar with vintage pictures of the neighborhood.   Helen has also created Squirrel Hill historical displays for the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.  A new project involves putting the SHHS and SHUC photograph collections on the University of Pittsburgh Historic Pittsburgh website:  

2023 Treasure Dinner Details

This year’s Treasure Awards Dinner will be held on Wednesday, November 8th at the Pittsburgh Golf Club from 6-8pm. Tickets are $115 per person.

Event tickets, virtual ads and raffle tickets can be purchased here.

Thank you to everyone who helped make our 2022 Treasure Dinner a successful and fun event! See photos of the event below:


2022 Treasures: Carol Brown, Dr. Harry Clark, Mildred Miller Posvar, Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition

2021 Treasures: Nancy Polinsky Johnson, Brian Lee, Kiya Tomlin, Wightman Park

2020 Treasures: Norraset “Nor” Nareedokmai, Jasmine Cho, Barbara Burstin, First Tee/ Arnold Palmer Learning Center
2019 Treasures: The Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh, Michael Ehrmann, Sunburst School of Music, Our valiant City of Pittsburgh First Responders
2018 Treasures: Natalie Kaplan, The Pittsburgh Chinese School, National Council of Jewish Women Pittsburgh, Littles Shoes
2017 Treasures: E.J. Strassberger, Maria Caruso, John Katz, The Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh
2016 Treasures: The Friendship Circle, Classic Lines, Books and more, Pittsburgh Citiparks, Community Day School
2015 Treasures: Bill Isler, David Stock, Mike Chen, Taylor Allderdice High School
2014 Treasures: Pamela’s Diner, The Hebrew Free Loan Association, The Honorable William Peduto, The Homewood Cemetery
2013 Treasures: Rabbi James A. Gibson, Karla Boos, Wendell G. Freeland, Esquire, Squirrel Hill Post Office WPA era mural
2012 Treasures: Deborah R. Fidel, Esquire, Robert Qualters, The Manor Theatre, Holly McCullough and the Staff of the Squirrel Hill Branch of the Carnegie Library Pittsburgh
2011 Treasures: The Corner of Murray and Forbes, Deborah Acklin, Robert Levin, and The Honorable Sophie Masloff

about SHUC

Preserving, Improving, and Celebrating the Quality of Life in Squirrel Hill

For over fifty years, the Coalition has been an active and important link in the community. It has served as a sounding board for new ideas, as well as a “watchdog” in the areas of public safety, education, residential quality, the business district, and parks and open space. With its focus on the quality of life in the 14th Ward, SHUC continues to monitor activities and future developments in the community through a range of standing committees.


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