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The Awards celebrate tikkun olam, or “repairing the world.” The Diller Family Foundation knows that supporting Jewish teen leadership today means creating and inspiring future generations of strong Jewish leaders in the global community. The Awards provide $36,000 for each recipient so that they may use it to further their initiative or education.

About the Helen Diller Family Foundation

Along with the Awards, the Foundation also funds the Diller Teen Fellows program, an international leadership program for Jewish teens. The Foundation has also supported a number of programs and institutions in the Bay Area and throughout the world, including UCSF, UC Berkeley, and UC Santa Cruz.






Meet the Staff

Erica Aren

Program Director

Erica is a mid-westerner at heart, but Bay Area proud since 2003. Erica’s graduate studies in education and Jewish service learning allowed her to examine experiential education through the lens of equity and social justice. Erica brings a passion for the intersection of social justice and youth leadership – including work experience at BBYO, American Jewish World Service and InterfaithFamily as well as managing the Bay Area Diller Teen Fellows from 2007-2010.


Jessie Austin

Marketing & Outreach Manager

Jessie is thrilled to join the Awards team, merging her three great passions: Judaism, social justice, and youth empowerment. Jessie most recently worked as the Jewish Community Outreach Coordinator at JVS, running the Kohn Summer Internship Program. A proud Bay Area native, she holds a degree in Modern Jewish Studies from San Francisco State University and spent many years running programs and teaching social justice through the arts at Rooftop Elementary School. On Shabbat you can find Jessie singing at The Kitchen, a religious start up in San Francisco, where she helps people connect to Judaism through music.

Lia Woertendyke

Program Associate

Most recently, Lia served as the People Operations Manager for Wild SF Walking Tours. Prior to her relocation to the Bay Area, Lia filled many roles at the Coalition for Hispanic Family Services in Brooklyn, where she was responsible for after school programs, curriculum for youth arts and activism, and teacher training. In San Francisco Lia is focusing on her commitment to social justice and community building through volunteer work with the Bay Area Childcare Collective, Alemany Farm, and her involvement in the nonprofit dance collective No Mirror Movement. She is also a certified community mediator through Community Boards.

Jennifer Smith

Executive Director, Helen Diller Family Foundation Programs

Jen serves in the newly created role of Executive Director, Helen Diller Family Foundation programs, leading the work of programs such as Diller Teen Fellows and the Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awards, with a focus on strategic innovation. Jen has worked in the nonprofit sector, and within the Jewish community for two decades, primarily in the areas of youth leadership, social justice, interfaith relations, and civil rights. Previously, Jen served in senior leadership roles at the Anti‐Defamation League (ADL), where she developed and led a range of community‐based programs and campaigns, including: No Place for Hate, an anti-bullying initiative, Camp Interfaith (Camp IF), and the Imagine a World Without Hate campaign. With a strong commitment to fostering leadership through Jewish values, Jen worked for many years as a Jewish educator, and served on the staff and board of Camp Yavneh in New Hampshire.