Florence Schornstein was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, an only child raised in an adoring, extended family. Flo's volunteer career began in the Civil Rights Movement and has encompassed civic issues including voter registration, school integration, equity for women, and pro-choice rights. She credits the National Council of Jewish Women with giving her a start in political leadership, and says, "For me, the best expression of my Judaism is to make the world a better place for other people."
When the mayor of New Orleans asked Flo to run his Parks and Parkways Department in 1982, she took on the challenge with gusto. Although she had no experience in horticulture, her skills as an organizer and coalition-builder allowed her to marshal a corps of 13,000 volunteers who are dedicated to keeping the city's green spaces healthy and beautiful. It is no understatement to say that Flo transformed the face of the city.
In addition, Flo has served as Chairwoman of the Board of United Way, Chairwoman of the Board of Touro Infirmary (and later Executive Director of the Touro Infirmary Foundation) and, through NCJW, helped create a precursor of the Head Start program. She says, "I often wonder who and how many will follow our mandate for tikkun olam, repair of the world? Judaism teaches that to save a single life is to save the world. I once heard a Shabbat prayer that expresses this, and it goes like this: God bless everybody's children, and mine too."