In Remembrance of Barbara

Barbara R. Nurenberg

Died November 29, 2018 

Barbara was the beloved wife of the late Donald Nurenberg, cherished mother of Leah Nurenberg (Jason) Moore, and loving Nana of Addison “Addie” Moore. She is also survived by her loving companion Fred Apel, many loving cousins and a myriad of friends and colleagues.

To JVS and the people we served during her more than 40 years at the Agency, Barbara Nurenberg was an impassioned leader who dedicated her life’s work to enhancing the quality of life for people who were most vulnerable. At her core, this included people with severe disabilities, frail elderly, veterans and our community’s unemployed.

To those that didn’t know her well, Barbara seemed formidable. However, it was her heart that fueled her life and her career.

This can actually be traced back to college. As an undergrad, she pursued a degree in business administration. But in her first professional job working with female inmates, she learned the power of helping people make significant changes in their lives.

Barbara was so moved by this experience that she rerouted her education from business to social work. She earned her bachelor of arts in business administration and master of arts in vocational rehabilitation counseling from Wayne State University in Detroit. She also attended post graduate programs at Harvard Business School, University of Michigan and Michigan State University.

Ultimately, it was the combination of her business acumen and passion for helping people that provided the foundation of her professional success.

As CEO, after a tough day or difficult meeting, it was the hugs from her friends with disabilities in the Adult Day Program, and the smiles from our Senior Service Corps members that fueled her and gave her strength and joy.

Barbara started at JVS Human Services (when the agency was known as Jewish Vocational Services) as a career counselor and she ultimately became president and CEO.

During her many years of leadership, Barbara grew JVS from a vocational agency with a budget of $6.5 million, serving 5,224 people, to a comprehensive human service organization with a $20 million budget, serving nearly 20,000 people.

In the forefront of creating programs and services to meet the changing needs of the community, Barbara was a pioneer in providing people with disabilities the opportunity to work in the community rather than in sheltered workshops. She was also a strong advocate in how we honor and care for the elderly. She designed and implemented several programs for the elderly that are still operation. Barbara was also instrumental in the launch of the Jeanette & Oscar Cook Jewish Occupational Intern Program (JOIN), which provides summer internships for college students.

The direct and indirect impact of Barbara’s life extended well beyond the 300,000-plus people served during her JVS career. Add to that, the lives that were touched by over 30 years where, as a surveyor for CARF International (formerly Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities), Barbara consulted with agencies across the United States and Canada to enhance services for people with disabilities. And, further, her service on local, national and international boards – the range of her impact has been even more far reaching.

Further, consider the many people whose lives and professional development she impacted over the years and the number of lives that have been enhanced because of Barbara is immeasurable.

Throughout her career, Barbara served on numerous boards of directors including CARF, Oakland County Workforce Development Board, the International Association of Jewish Vocational Services and SourceAmerica (formerly NISH), among others.

Barbara was recognized with many prestigious awards including the 2009 winner Mandell L. and Madeleine H. Berman Award for Outstanding Professional Jewish Communal Service; Executive of the Year from United Way of Southeastern Michigan; Nonprofit Leadership Award from Harvard Business School Club of Detroit; and the Bernard S. Rosenthal Leadership Award from the International Association of Jewish Vocational Services.

After her retirement from JVS in 2013, Barbara moved to West Palm Beach, Florida. She entered the next stage in her career – continuing her life’s work on behalf of people with disabilities – when she was named President and CEO of Seagull Services, a non-profit that serves people with disabilities in Orange County.

This then, forms the foundation of Barbara’s legacy……countless lives are better because she lived.

May Barbara’s memory be for a blessing now and always.


Video of funeral service for Barbara Nurenberg at Ira Kaufman Chapel