Alayne Lowenberger, who directed the Jewish Scholarship Service for more than 28 years, has retired, Jewish Family and Community Services announced.
JSS is a program administered by JFCS on behalf of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh.
“Many members of the Pittsburgh Jewish community today can proudly say that college was made more affordable for them and their family as a result of Alayne’s work with JSS,” Jordan Golin, JFCS president and CEO said.
Over the past 28 years, JSS helped between 3,000 and 4,000 students with need-based scholarships for college and graduate school, according to JSS officials. JSS consists of dozens of private funds created to help address the high cost of college.
JSS also has managed the distribution of other scholarship funds, including those established through National Council of Jewish Women, Jewish Women International and family foundations held by the Jewish Federation and the Pittsburgh Foundation. Through one application, Jewish students have access to multiple scholarship programs. An advisory committee composed of community lay leaders works with JSS staff to award the scholarships.
Lowenberger, who is both a social worker and an attorney, assumed her role at JSS in 1994. The most meaningful part of her job, she said, was her interactions with students.
“I watch them grow from high school into young adults,” she said. “We get to help them on the road to their careers. It’s a wonderful thing. With adult students, we help them change careers and have a chance to better support their families. It’s so fulfilling to see what a difference you can make.”
JSS encourages students to maintain a Jewish connection on campus and in their post-college lives. Lowenberger said she periodically recognizes the names of former awardees in the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle as they have gone on to become community leaders.
“It is so gratifying to know in some small way we helped them,” she said.
Dana Himmel, who worked with Lowenberger for many years as the administrative assistant of JSS, and stepped into the role of scholarship coordinator when Lowenberger retired in September, credits Lowenberger with transitioning the application from a paper process to one that is online, making it easier for students to apply.
“The students were always her first priority,” Himmel said. “Alayne did whatever it took to get a student the help they needed. While most scholarship programs weed out applicants, Alayne was the exact opposite, trying to get all students that qualified to apply and receive awards.”
JSS is one of the programs included within JFunds, an initiative to increase access to financial aid within the Jewish community.
Lowenberger’s contributions to JSS over nearly three decades will be missed, Golin said.
“We will miss Alayne’s passion and dedication for our community’s college students, her painstaking attention to detail, and her incredibly warm heart,” he said. “We wish Alayne all the best in this next phase of her life.” PJC