Miami native Wayne Firestone, A.B. ’86, began his association with Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life as a student at the University of Miami. “It was a big part of my social life and my extracurricular activities,” he says, noting that he used to attend local and national student conferences, “trying to figure out ways to plug into community networks.”

Over the years Firestone has stayed “plugged in” to the national organization, becoming its president this September. Headquartered in Washington, Hillel thrives on 500 campuses worldwide and aims to “enrich the lives of Jewish undergraduate and graduate students so that they may enrich the Jewish people and the world.” As president, he hopes to raise Hillel’s endowment to $100 million within five years.

“People invest in great universities because they understand that the community, and society overall, will benefit from the great innovators, social thinkers, and social servants who will graduate from the universities,” Firestone says. “The next great innovator is somewhere on a college campus now, and that’s where we are, so we see that as a very valuable proposition.”

At UM, Firestone studied politics, public affairs, and Judaic studies on a debate scholarship. A WVUM disc jockey, he hosted “The Sunday Morning Simcha,” a mix of music, interviews, and Israel-related news. And WVUM offered him the best simcha (happy occasion)—meeting his wife, Stephanie.

A member of Phi Beta Kappa, Firestone went on to earn a degree from the Georgetown University Law Center. He and Stephanie spent seven years in Israel, where two of his three daughters were born. He served first as an administrator and lecturer at Technion, the Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, then as founder and CEO of Silicon Wadinet, Ltd., and finally as director of the Israel Regional Office of the Anti-Defamation League. Now a Maryland resident, Firestone returned to his Miami stomping grounds on October 18 for an event hosted by the UM Hillel and Alumni Association in his honor.

— Leonard Nash