JFS Perspectives

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Jewish Family Service to Honor Gay Curtiss-Lusher and Sam Zaitz at ‘The Faces of JFS 2017 Winter Soirée’ on December 14

Jewish Family Service to Honor Gay Curtiss-Lusher and Sam Zaitz at ‘The Faces of JFS 2017 Winter Soirée’ on December 14

Jewish Family Service of Colorado (JFS) will honor Gay Curtiss-Lusher and Sam Zaitz at The Faces of JFS 2017 Winter Soirée, on Thursday, December 14, 6:00 p.m. at the Grand Hyatt Denver, 1750 Welton Street. This inaugural fundraiser will celebrate the diversity of JFS clients while benefiting the life-transformative work of the agency. Community members are invited to pay tribute to Gay Curtiss-Lusher, who will receive the Joyce and Kal Zeff Humanitarian Award, and Sam Zaitz, who will be honored with the inaugural Yana Vishnitsky Leadership Award.

The evening will include cocktails, international-themed food stations, entertainment, and a short program with award ceremony.

Co-chairs Jeremy Abelson, Barry Curtiss-Lusher, Ben Lusher, and Stephanie Zaitz are leading a 42-person event committee.


Sponsorship packages start at $2,000 and are available now. Tickets are $350 and go on sale November 6. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.jewishfamilyservice.org/Faces or contact Dawn Richard, development director, at 720.248.4605 or drichard@jewishfamilyservice.org.

About the Honorees

Gay Curtiss-LusherGay Curtiss-Lusher, Joyce and Kal Zeff Humanitarian Award


It’s fitting that Gay Curtiss-Lusher is receiving the inaugural Joyce and Kal Zeff Humanitarian Award. She is a humanitarian to her core, exemplified by a lifetime of giving back. A long-time supporter of JFS, she is currently a volunteer with the JFS at the JCC program. Every weekday she serves seniors lunch and engages with them in activities and fun. Gay has been in that volunteer role for the past 12 years and still looks forward to her daily shift.

“This program is so important to our seniors,” says Gay. “Not only do they get a nutritious meal, but they socialize and engage in a variety of activities. I’ve gotten to know them all. They are such good people and I love seeing them together. I’m certain that I get more out of volunteering than they do from my presence.”

Gay and husband Barry have been supporting JFS for decades. She served on the JFS Board of Directors in the 1990s and helped to resettle a Jewish Russian refugee family. More recently Gay has served on two event committees.

Beyond JFS, Gay has been an ardent supporter of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and has served on its regional board for years. She been involved in two of ADL’s longest running programs: The Catholic-Jewish Dialogue and the Governor’s Holocaust Remembrance Program. Barry recently completed his three-year term as the ADL national chair.

Gay has a Master’s in Guidance and Counseling from the University of Michigan, and has worked at a federal penitentiary, at a radio station, as a caterer, as a tour guide at the Molly Brown House, and spent many years working at Eddie Bauer.

Gay and Barry have been married for 42 happy years. They have three grown children: Ben (Nicole), 34, and twins, Joey and Julie (Andrew), 30. They have three grandchildren, Anna, 4, Ellie, 2, and Addison, 1.

“This is such an honor for me,” says Gay. “JFS is a first-rate group that is very well run and serves from the heart. I’m so happy to be a part of it.”


Sam ZaitzSam Zaitz, Yana Vishnitsky Leadership Award


Three years ago, Sam attended his first JFS Development Committee meeting and was instantly hooked. He joined the committee and has since been a passionate advocate and effective fundraiser for the agency. He has served on the Executive Luncheon Committee for the past three years and was a co-chair of the 2015 event, which was keynoted by Magic Johnson. At 36, Sam brings a youthful energy and has introduced the life-transforming work of JFS to a new generation.

Sam, son of Mark and Carol Zaitz, is a Denver native and attended Cherry Creek High School, before going to Colorado State University and earning a Bachelor’s in Business. He is a partner at Legend Retail Group, a retail brokerage and development firm.

Sam is married to Stephanie and they have three children Zach (6), Chloe (4), and Penelope (infant).

“I am honored to be receiving the first Yana Vishnitsky Leadership Award as very few people in the history of Colorado have done more than she has for this community,” says Sam.“My favorite quote is from John Wooden: ‘You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.’ Yana is an incredible example of doing just that!”