Alyssa Abrahamson, one of the 2006 Young Professional Award winners, was the Director of Arts, Jewish Culture and Adult Education at the 14th Street Y of the Educational Alliance. Since assuming her position, Alyssa has attracted a whole new segment of young Jewish adults, many of whom have no other Jewish outlets. She has created Novel Jews, a literary series, Jewbilation! and Big Jewish Quiz Thing, among various programs. Margo Bloom, Director of the 14th Street Y, indicated that “Alyssa developed a series of strategic collaborations and produced innovative and unusual programs that created a new brand for the Y and for Jewish arts and culture in New York.”
Alyssa’s resume reflects a commitment to Jewish learning and she has a Masters in Jewish Education from the Jewish Theological Seminary. She has also studied at the Drisha Institute of Jewish Education and at Pardes Institute in Jerusalem. She served as a Jewish Campus Service Corps Fellow at the University of Minnesota and has expressed a commitment to “creating unconventional Jewish arts and cultural opportunities for Jews to express their heritage, culture, and identity.” Alyssa wants to address Jews who may feel disenfranchised from Judaism and believes that “interactions amongst Jews from diverse backgrounds enhance Jewish continuity and creativity.”
Ilana Aisen, a winner of the 2006 Young Professional Award, was the Service Learning Manager of the American Jewish World Service. A native of Toronto, Canada, Ilana graduated from York University and completed the Muehlstein Institute for Jewish Professional Leadership in non-profit management and Jewish communal service. Ruth Messinger, President and Executive Director of AJWS indicated that Ilana “never ceases to actively pursue opportunities to build on and improve work she has already done.” Additionally, “Ilana is irrepressibly collaborative. She seeks opportunities to bridge organizational divides in pursuit both of efficiency and of creative excellence.” During the past year, Ilana re-envisioned and standardized the educational curriculum that accompanies service volunteers into the field for AJWS.
Ilana indicated that “Passion for building community motivates the work I do with and for the Jewish people. Robust Jewish communities hold great potential for bringing greater justice, joy and holiness into the world.” She further believes that pursuing “justice for all those in need whether globally or locally is obligatory Jewish work.” Jewish community, the Jewish elderly, diverse leadership, excellence in Jewish education and gender equity are some of the important concerns that hold Ilana’s attention. In addition to her considerable work responsibilities, Ilana also tutored small groups of recent immigrants and people with learning disabilities in functional math and critical reasoning in an adult literacy program.
Maggie Bar-Tura joined the Foundation for Jewish Camp in 2006 as Chief Operating Officer in 2006. Previously, she was Executive Director of the Office of Management and Budget at UJA-Federation of New York.
Maggie lived in Israel for more than three decades, most of that time as a member of Kibbutz Hulda. She has served as the Executive Director of the Carmel Institute for Social Studies and Policy, in Zichron Yaakov, overseeing applied research to inform policy making in the fields of youth development, civic service, community building, and equality between Arab and Jewish citizens of Israel. Prior to that she founded and directed the Department of Resource Development and Special Projects of the United Kibbutz Movement. The Department worked with grassroots activists to develop and implement programs for immigrant absorption, women’s leadership, advancement of Jewish pluralism, and cooperative volunteer action between secular and religiously observant Jewish Israeli youth. During that time she also served as an organizational consultant and strategic planner for numerous Israeli not-for-profit organizations.
Maggie served for three years as an educational emissary to the Union for Reform Judaism in New York, taught at Hebrew Union College, and spent three summers as an educator at Kutz Camp. Upon her return to Israel she was appointed Executive Director of the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism in Jerusalem. She has served as scholar in residence to Jewish communities in Australia and South Africa, as well as on college campuses in the United States.
In addition to the above activities, Maggie has translated numerous works from Hebrew into English, including Amos Oz’s works: “In the Land of Israel,” “The Slopes of Lebanon,” and “The Story Begins.”
Maggie is a graduate of Habonim Dror summer camps. She is married to Ami Bar-Tura and they are the parents of two sons.
Zhanna Beyl is a Coordinator of Bukharian Teen Services at the Jewish Child Care Association. There she works to develop appealing after-school youth programs, organize and lead teen trips to Israel, and oversee program planning and fiscal management. Previously, she worked at the Kings Bay YM-YWHA as the Director of Teen Services and Kings Bay Adventures Camp Director. There she also was involved in developing social, cultural, and recreational activities for the youth. In addition, she worked at the Marks JCH of Bensonhurst as a Teacher and Division Leader, where she led many successful programs including Mommy & Me (1.5-3 year olds) and Sunday Camp Fun (3-5 year olds). Zhanna is a graduate of Boston University (B.A, Psychology, 2002). Zhanna currently attends Hunter College Graduate School for Social Work.
According to Debby Perelmuter, Vice President of Services in the Jewish Community at the JCCA, “Zhanna has shown talent as a youth worker and aspiring social worker, and her special passion is to make a difference in the Jewish community, especially among the youth.”
Richard Altman, CEO of the JCCA, also believes that Zhanna is extremely passionate about her work: “She is a young professional who continuously ‘goes the extra mile’…”
In short, “Zhanna is a passionate, articulate, and persistent advocate…”
Dr. Erica Brown is the Director for Adult Education at The Partnership for Jewish Life and Learning and the Scholar-in-Residence for The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington. She is also an adjunct professor at American University and George Washington University, was a Jerusalem Fellow and is a faculty member of the Wexner Foundation. She lectures widely on subjects of Jewish interest and leadership, in addition to extensive writing in journals of education and Jewish studies. She has chapters in Jewish Legal Writings by Women, Torah of the Mothers, and Wisdom from All of My Teachers and writes a weekly internet essay on topics of Jewish interest. Erica is the author of the book, Inspired Leadership: A Jewish Perspective and Jewish Boredom (forthcoming), a National Jewish Book Award finalist and co-author of The Case for Jewish Peoplehood. She resides with her husband and four children in Silver Spring, Maryland.
Audra P. Berg is Assistant Vice President, Leadership Development at the Jewish United Fund-Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago. In this position, Audra is responsible for creating an infrastructure to prepare leadership for the highest levels of involvement at JUF-JF.
She was most recently the Program Director for Advancing Women Professionals and the Jewish Community, an organization dedicated to creating gender equity in Jewish communal life, and has served as the Director of Development for the Makor/Steinhardt Center of the 92nd Street Y and as the Midwest Region Director of the United Jewish Communities National Young Leadership Program.
Audra, a Wexner Heritage Program participant, is on the Executive Committee of the Jewish Communal Service Association of North America, the Board of Directors of the University of Florida Hillel and the University of Florida – Department of Religion, Advisory Committee. She is also co-chair of the Jewish Communal Professionals of Chicago and co-chair of the Leadership Development Affinity Group at United Jewish Communities.
She graduated from the University of Florida with a BA in Religion and History, and lives in Chicago with her husband, Josh Fienberg and their son, Jonah.
Eddie M. Bruckner, a winner of the 2007 Young Professional Award, currently serves as Senior Development Officer of Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Boston. His accomplishments include the creation of a group of young professionals that has raised more than $3.5 million and has been the driving force in creating housing for people with disabilities.
Through his interpersonal skills and dedication, he has developed a cadre of focused, enthusiastic and committed volunteers who will be part of the next generation of Jewish leaders.
Mark Charendoff is the President of the Jewish Funders Network (JFN), where he works with a number of Jewish organizations and foundations. Prior to JFN, Mark was the Vice President of the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies where he helped to establish the Birthright Israel program, and he previously served as Director of Jewish Educational Services for the JCC Association of North America. He currently serves on the boards of BBYO, the New York Jewish Week, the Jewish Communal Service Association of North America, and on the advisory board of the Washington Institute for Leadership and Values. Mark has been named one of the top 50 influential rabbis in North America. Most recently, Mark and JFN have been supportive of those family foundations who were severely affected by the Madoff scandal, offering comfort and solutions during a difficult time.
Steven M. Cohen, is Research Professor of Jewish Social Policy at hebrew Union college, New York. Steven’s current research interests focus upon pattern of Jewish identity and self-organizing initiatives among Jews in their twenties and thirties, much of it in a series of studies in collaboration with Prof. Ari Kelman, and supported by the Andrea & Charles Bronfman Philanthropies. Other interests include establishing the Jewish Policy Archive at NYU (with the support of the Berman Foundation and the Revson Foundation); examining synagogue transformation (with Profs. Isa Aron, Larry Hoffman and Ari Kelman); serving as Research Director of the Florence G. Heller / JCCA Research Director where I conduct JCC-related studies with the help of Lauren Blitzer; serving as Research Director of Synagogue 3000; and conducting a series of pro-bono studies on behalf of such institutions as HUC-JIR, JTS, and Limmud, in collaboration with Dr. Judith Veinstein.
Lisa Colton is the founder and president of Darim Online, a 10 year old nonprofit committed to helping Jewish organizations succeed in the digital age. As a trainer, consultant, coach and public speaker, Lisa has worked with hundreds of Jewish organizations to help them create comprehensive online strategies, and expand their successful use of social media to achieve their missions and goals. Lisa was one of JCSA’s 2005 Young Professional Award winners, and since then has helped hundreds of Jewish communal professionals build and strengthen the Jewish community by using the latest technologies as relationship building tools. She is a graduate of Stanford University, Livnot U’lehibanot and Pardes.
David Cygielman, 29, is the founder and CEO of Moishe House, an organization that serves as a hub for young Jewish adults in North America and beyond to create dynamic community and to build Jewish identity in meaningful and enduring ways. In just a few short years, David has made the Moishe House into a growing phenomenon–now the largest Jewish organization in the world for young adults after college.
David is a graduate of the University of California-Santa Barbara in Business/Economics in 2003, where he was a golden key scholar. In 2003 he chaired the Super Sunday event for the Jewish Federation, raising $120,000, and by 2004, he was already chairing the Santa Barbara Jewish Festival. Among his many accomplishments and early awards, David chose to highlight his creation of Feed the Need, a community homeless feeding organization he established at the age of 16 in the Bay Area. Shortly after college graduation, David became the Executive Director of Forest Foundation, managing a $20 Million private foundation on a part-time basis, securing an endowment of $20 million. He became the full time director of the Foundation and was able to increase the staff to more than 100, which enabled the expansion of programming and the distribution of more than $1.5 million in charitable giving. In 2008, David became the CEO and founder on Moishe House…and, In 2009, David became the recipient of the Avi Chai Fellowship.
David was nominated for the JCSA Young Professional Award by Lynn Schusterman who told us that “David is an exemplar of all that our community is seeking. His commitment to Jewish peoplehood, his creativity, his positive spirit, his understanding of his generation, his innovative way of finding solutions to every obstacle, his humility—even in the light of his successes—and his belief in what community can accomplish all represent qualities that can and should be the hallmarks of our current and future leadership…in short order, under David’s skilled management, the Moishe House model has expanded to 31 houses in 10 countries fostering a sense of peoplehood and Jewish vitality in communities as far flung as Buenos Aires, Cape Town, London, Beijing, Tel Aviv, Philadelphia, and many others…
“In short, David is the kind of innovative, entrepreneurial Jewish leader who can and will make a dramatic and enduring impact on Jewish identity and peoplehood…The support, recognition and prestige that the JCSA Young Professional Award affords will propel David forward in a manner that will enable our community to more quickly and fully reap the rich and bountiful rewards of his visionary leadership.”
Brigitte Dayan is Director of the Alumni Network for the Wexner Foundation. In that capacity, she conceives and implements initiatives that link the nearly 2000 alumni of the Wexner Foundation programs: lay leaders and Jewish professionals in North America and Israeli public officials.
Brigitte has a dual background in Journalism and Jewish Studies. Prior to joining the Wexner Foundation, she was the managing editor of JUF News, Chicago’s Jewish community newspaper. She has served as education director at Anshe Sholom Bnai Israel Congregation in Chicago, and she has taught Jewish studies for various adult education programs, including the Florence Melton Mini-School and JCCs. She initiated and taught classes on Women and Judaism for high school girls at the Ida Crown Jewish Academy in Chicago. She is a member of the Advisory Board of Sh’ma: A Journal of Jewish Responsibility and a member of Kol Dor, an international initiative bringing young Jews together in creating a global conversation.
Brigitte holds an MS in Journalism from Northwestern University, where she graduated with Highest Distinction, an MA in Bible from Yeshiva University, and she spent two years studying Talmud at the Drisha Institute for Women in New York.
A native of Paris and of Moroccan roots, she comes from a large family spread throughout North America, Europe and Israel. She spent most of her childhood vacations in Israel, a trend she continues to the present day.
Rabbi Lou Feldstein is the Chief Operating Officer of the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta where he has served for the past two years. Before coming to the Federation, he worked for United Jewish Communities (now JFNA) in a variety of capacities including, Associate Vice President for Research and Analysis, Senior Managing Director of UJC Consulting and Director of the Southeast/Southeast Florida area offices. Prior to joining UJC he was the founding Executive Director of Atlanta YAD: The Jewish Young Adult Agency; a Jewish outreach agency serving 18-35 year olds in the Atlanta area.
Prior to moving to Atlanta, Rabbi Feldstein was the Director of the Hillel Jewish Student Center at the University of Miami for five years. A native of San Francisco, he has been throughout his career a popular educator, lecturer and Rabbi-in-Residence speaking to and facilitating workshops for numerous federations, campus, synagogue and Jewish organizational groups. He is married to Sharon (a talented artist) and is the father to four growing kids who were, when younger, all under 4 at the same time.
Matt Fieldman has spent his career in Jewish Communal Service, having worked for Hillel at the University of Maryland, Hillel International, and the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington. He’s also spent two years of his life volunteering overseas, on Project OTZMA in Israel and for the Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) in St. Petersburg, Russia. Just recently he left his position as Senior Associate at the Jewish Community Federation of Cleveland and is looking for new opportunities in the Jewish world.
Allison studies and writes about the intersection of social media and social change. She is the author of the award-winning book Momentum: Igniting Social Change in the Connected Age (Wiley & Sons, 2006). Her new book, The Networked Nonprofit, co-authored with Beth Kanter, was published by Wiley & Sons in 2010.
She is a Senior Fellow on the Democracy Team at Demos: A Network for Change and Action in New York City. In 2008, she published a paper on young people and activism commissioned by the Case Foundation call Social Citizensbeta, and edited a collection of essays, Rebooting America, about transformative ways to reinvent 21st century democracy using new media tools. Allison hosts a monthly podcast for the Chronicle of Philanthropy called Social Good and writes her own blog, A. Fine Blog.
Allison was the Founder and Executive Director of Innovation Network, Inc. from 1992-2004 providing program planning and evaluation support for nonprofits and foundation. She served as the C.E.O. of The E-Volve Foundation in 2004-2005. Allison is a graduate of Vanderbilt University and New York University.
David Fisher of Cincinnati is the United Jewish Communities National Campaign Chair.
Fisher has a long record of affiliation and accomplishment within the federation system nationally and locally. He is a member of the UJC Board of Trustees, past major gifts chair, past co-chair of the National Young Leadership Cabinet, and a board member of the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati.
His engagement and success in the Cincinnati Jewish community is extensive. His thoughtful and passionate involvement inspired a whole generation to become young leaders, including the largest group in memory of UJC Young Leadership Cabinet members hailing from Cincinnati. He was one of the key players who developed a consensus vision for our new JCC and spurred a successful $40 million capital campaign. He serves on the board of the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati and is a recipient of the federation’s young leadership award.
Fisher is president and chief executive officer of Jones the Florist, one of the nation’s largest floral companies, and its affiliate, Sweets in Bloom. David was previously involved in different business ventures his father and brothers.
“Going back generations, my family is one of doers and givers,” Fisher said, citing his grandmother’s tzedakah box and his father’s chairmanship of a campaign to build a synagogue on the grounds of the U.S. Naval Academy. “When we get involved, we like to do so in a significant way and not just take up a seat at the table.”
Fisher is a graduate of Indiana University, where he chaired a campus campaign for United Jewish Appeal.
Shoshannah D. Frydman, a winner of the 2007 Young Professional Award, is the Director of Family Violence Services at New York’s Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty. Working with a small staff, she has taken a leadership position to assure the continuation of a full spectrum of services to a significant case load of victims and survivors of domestic violence.
She also has taken on the training of rabbis and the education of the lay public. She is committed to ensuring that the community fulfills its obligation to protect and support its most vulnerable members.
Alisha Goodman, one of the 2006 Young Professional Award winners, was the Deputy Director for Program Operation of the Rita J. Kaplan Jewish Connections Programs of the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services. A graduate of the dual degree Masters programs at Columbia University School of Social Work and the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, Alisha was also selected to be a Kaplan Fellow at Brandeis University this past summer. Alisha worked for the Project Oren Kibbutz Programs and the Jewish Federations of the North Shore of Boston before her current position where she is the project manager for 9/11 outreach and consultation services, project coordinator for the National Center for Jewish Healing and works on Jewish Connections programming. Dr. Alan Siskind, Executive Vice President and CEO of JBFCS, wrote that Alisha “has consistently sought out new opportunities and eagerly taken on new responsibilities,” both locally and internationally. Among Alisha’s duties she has coordinated the Bi-National Trauma Response Project that links JBFCS’ Center for Trauma Program Innovation and the Israeli Trauma Coalition.
Alisha has been the irrepressible force behind the creation of Advancing Jewish Professionals, the local Jewish professionals’ group in the New York area. She indicated that she is “dedicated to helping my peers become better professionals…. We need to consistently update our abilities, challenge each other and bring new skills to our profession.” Alisha added “It is now also about helping the Jewish community in so many other ways—helping not only to enrich Jewish life, but also to provide some basic needs to all parts of our diverse community.”
Deborah Grayson Riegel, MSW, ACC, is a coach, trainer and speaker who helps Jewish organizations and individuals achieve personal and professional success without the tsuris.
Deborah’s energetic workshops and speaking programs are in high demand with North American Jewish organizations, Fortune 500 companies, national and local government agencies, and small start-ups, and her one-on-one coaching has propelled Jewish professionals across industries and interests to get farther, faster.
Deborah was the Director of Education and Training for the Mandel Center for Leadership Excellence at United Jewish Communities (UJC), where she developed innovative training programs for Federation professionals and lay-leaders, and co-authored an award-winning interactive solicitation training website. Deborah also worked at the Jewish Association for Services for the Aged (JASA) as the Director of the only program in North America that trains senior citizens to be lobbyists. In addition, Deborah was a key player in the development of New York’s Makor/Steinhardt Center for young Jewish professionals.
Deborah earned a B.A. in Psychology at the University of Michigan, and her M.S.W. at Columbia University, supporting her expensive school habit by performing improvisational and stand-up comedy.
She and her husband Michael are the proud parents of twins, Jacob and Sophie, who inspire her to choose naches over tsuris everyday.
Sherri Greenbach is the Executive Director of the Jewish Women’s Foundation of New York (JWFNY), the grantmaking organization that meets the needs of Jewish women and girls in metropolitan New York and beyond.
As a college student, Sherri knew her calling was Jewish philanthropy. After graduating from San Francisco State University, Sherri earned her Master’s degree in Social Work with a concentration in Jewish communal service from Yeshiva University’s Wurzweiler School of Social Work while also working as a field representative for United Jewish Appeal’s (UJA) University Programs Department.
Sherri honed her fundraising, budgeting and administrative skills at UJA-Federation of New York where she served in two consecutive positions as Assistant Director of Trades & Professions and Development Executive of the Lawyers Division. Notably, in 1997, Sherri was named a Kesten Fellow to the former Soviet Union and Israel.
Prior to joining JWFNY, Sherri spent three years at The Jerusalem Foundation where she served as Director of the organization’s New Leadership Group and was promoted to Assistant Director of the Foundation.
Louise B. Greilsheimer is the Senior Vice President for Agency and External Relations at UJA-Federation of New York. Mrs. Greilsheimer served as President of UJA-Federation from 1994-1998. She has been a volunteer at UJA-Federation all of her adult life, and has worked in varied positions throughout her career in not-for-profit and government organizations. She served as Deputy Director of The Office of Educational Development of the Human Resources Administration-City of New York, Job Corps, and Director of Development for the Dalton School. She has also served on the boards of The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, Council of Jewish Federations, The Community Council of Greater New York, Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services, and The Jewish Community Relations Council.
Marjory Kaplan is Chief Executive Officer of the Jewish Community Foundation of San Diego, a position she has held since 1994. Under Marjory’s leadership, the Foundation’s assets have grown to more than $260 million from $14 million. The Foundation is the largest grant maker in San Diego County and awards grants of more than $55 million annually.
Before joining the Foundation, Marjory worked at the Scripps Foundation for Medicine and Science in La Jolla, California. She also had a career in corporate banking in both human resources and investments.
Lori Klein is the Assistant Director for the School of Jewish Communal Service at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute for Religion, in Los Angeles. She is a 1991 alumna of the program, holding a Master of Arts in Jewish Communal Service. She also holds a Master of Social Work from the University of Southern California, with a concentration in Community, Organizing, Planning and Administration.
For the past 18 years, Ms. Klein has held programming and fundraising positions in various settings in the Jewish community, including Federations, a Jewish Community Center, Jewish Family Service, a synagogue and a Jewish day school. She has expertise in organizational development, board development, teen philanthropy, and supervision and mentoring. A major component of Ms. Klein’s current portfolio is overseeing the field education component of the Jewish Communal Service program at HUC. In this capacity, she has had extensive experience working with both Millennial graduate students in their internships as well as their more seasoned professional supervisors and mentors. Ms. Klein has observed the challenges of integrating the Millennials into the Jewish communal workforce and has strived to address the needs of all cohorts. Together with her former Millennial student, Shira Liff-Grieff, Ms. Klein co-authored an article for an issue of the Journal of Jewish Communal Service, From Generation to Generation: Changing Behavioral Perceptions and Expectations in Jewish Non-Profits. In November, she presented a workshop on this topic at the Jewish Communal Professionals of Southern California Conference.
When not working with Millennials, Ms. Klein enjoys spending time with her husband and three children, and is busy serving as the Parent Organization President and a member of the Board of Directors at her children’s Jewish Day School.
Melanie Levav Kohler, a winner of the 2004 Young Professional Award, was nominated by Howard Wasserman, the Executive Vice President of the Marks Jewish Community House of Bensonhurst (JCH). In his letter, Mr. Wasserman noted that Ms. Kohler “has filled the challenging and critical position of Director of Jewish Education. Melanie has a dual degree education from Columbia University School of Social Work and the Jewish Theological Seminary and uses her knowledge to help individuals and families discover and embrace Jewish tradition.” This is particularly important at JCH, which has a large constituency of émigré families from the former Soviet Union. Melanie also noted that she has striven to carry out her work in Jewish communal service by keeping a clear vision of what she hopes to accomplish in sight. This, she believes, is one of the keys to success in leadership.
Susan Kohn, LCSW is the Executive Director of Volunteer & Leadership Development Division at UJA-Federation of New York. In this position, Ms. Kohn’s portfolio includes Volunteer Services, connecting individuals and groups with experiential volunteer experiences, Leadership Recruitment & Placement, a referral program for governance opportunities within the UJA-Federation network, and Volunteer Training & Education, offering learning opportunities that support leadership development. From July 2001 – July 2002, Susan held the position of Director of Hands On Voluntarism.
Prior to joining UJA-Federation, Ms. Kohn served as the founding director of the Meyerhoff Teen Initiative in Baltimore, MD, dedicated to engaging youth post-Bar/Bat Mitzvah in an ongoing relationship with Judaism. Earlier positions include Program Director of the Mid-Island Y JCC in Plainview, Long Island and Director of Adolescent services at the Samuel Field YM&YWHA in Little Neck, Queens.
Susan holds a Master of Science in Social Work from Columbia University. She has also completed two post-graduate certificate programs in Not-for-Profit Management from the Columbia University Graduate School of Business.
Joshua Krakoff is the Chief Operating Officer at JCC Rockland. A graduate of the Masters Program at the Davidson School of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, Joshua worked for over 10 years at the Jewish Community Center in Manhattan. He currently resides in Westchester County.
Alisa Rubin Kurshan currently serves as Senior Vice President of UJA-Federation of New York for Strategic Planning and Organizational Resources. She has worked at UJA-Federation of NY for the past 11 years and has served in numerous capacities including as the director of the Jewish Continuity Commission. She received her Ph.D. in Jewish Education from the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1996. She was a Wexner Graduate Fellow 1992- 1996 and is a recent graduate of the Mandel Leadership Development Program.
Alisa has published numerous articles on Jewish Identity and Continuity.
Alisa has lived with her husband, Rabbi Neil Kurshan, in Huntington, NY for the past 24 years where they raised their four children and they are now proud grandparents of Shira Leora Gerber and Amalia Gila Gerber.
Shira Liff-Grieff recently completed two masters degree programs at the University of Southern California where she earned a degree in Communication Management and at Hebrew Union College where she earned a degree in Jewish Communal Service. She wrote two masters theses about Millennials in the Jewish nonprofit sector specifically highlighting the contributing factors to Millennial satisfaction in the workplace and both the challenges and opportunities presented in effectively integrating them into the current workforce. Shira is currently living and working in Phnom Penh, Cambodia for the Cambodian Women Movement’s Organization as an American Jewish World Service volunteer. A pdf of her masters thesis is available to download from her blog at: www.shiraliffgrieff.com.
Elissa Maier is the Senior Director of Learning and Development at the Jewish Federations of North America Mandel Center for Leadership Excellence. Elissa has worked in the Jewish communal field for over 25 years.
Prior to working at JFNA, Elissa worked as the NJ Regional Director of the Jewish Theological Seminary and as a major gifts director at the American Society for Technion.
Elissa has also worked as a consultant and trainer in the areas of board governance, program management, effective communication skills and volunteer professional relations as well as many other topics. She has taught courses and conducted board retreats for UJA-Federation Weiner Center and various synagogues and day schools.
As a volunteer, Elissa recently completed her term as President of the Solomon Schechter Day School of Bergen County. She is active in her synagogue and volunteers in the community. Elissa has a Masters Degree in Social Work from Yeshiva University and a BA from the University of Miami. She and her husband Bruce are the proud parents of two daughters, Jordana and Alexandra.
Hadassah Max is an associate director of communications at American Jewish World Service where she oversees online strategy and the AJWS website, and is the online “voice” of AJWS president Ruth Messinger. She has worked for AJWS for over five years and during that time has seen the organization experience tremendous growth, particularly in its communications work. Hadassah has a degree in law and is a graduate of the University of Michigan’s Drachler Program in Jewish Communal Leadership. In addition to being excited about the world of online communications, Hadassah is even more excited about the birth of her first baby later this year.
David L. Michaels, 27, is Director of Intercommunal Affairs for B’nai B’rith International,
New York and Washington, D.C., which he joined in 2004. His analytical, organizational and writing skills made him a strong choice for this new post, created in 2006, dedicated to interreligious and intercommunal affairs. Beginning with his coordination of B’nai B’rith’s audience with Pope Benedict XVI in 2007, he has greatly expanded the oldest major Jewish agency’s engagement with diverse religious and ethnic groups. David has worked with a wide range of Protestant denominations, including the World Council of Churches. He recently participated in the Madrid interreligious conference called by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. He is widely quoted in major news outlets around the world, and among his many articles is “The Yeshiva Boy Meets the Pope” in The Jewish Week (1/12/07). He is a native of New York and a graduate of Yeshiva University (B.A, Cum Laude, 2003). David was one of the winners of the 2008 Young Professional Award.
Andy Neusner is UJC’s Web Content Manager, responsible for much of the content that UJC runs on ujc.org and offers to federations directly or via UJCweb. Lately, he has worked quite a bit on social networking — managing the Jewish Community Heroes campaign and the earlier Facebook-based SuperJews youth initiative, writing @jewishevents (named one of JTA’s top 100 Jewish Twitter feeds), running the ‘Voices from Sderot’ blog and setting up assorted Facebook pages and blogs for UJC. Previously, he was director of digital media for the JTA News Service, and has an editorial background in book publishing and business journalism.
Serena Orgel is the Senior Development Officer of The Educational Alliance, a UJA-Federation of New York network agency. Previously, she served as the Director of Development of the 14th Street Y of The Educational Alliance. Serena was the Director of S.C.O.P.E. (Summer Camp Opportunities Provide and Edge) a program of the American Camp Association, raising funds for scholarships for underserved NYC children to attend non-profit over night camps. She started her career in the Federation world working for four years at UJA-Federation of NY in the Missions and Lawyers Divisions. She been a speaker on volunteer management, development and service programs at the GA, and the NY Association of Volunteer Administration, and UJA-Federation of NY Network Agencies.
Rabbi Michael Paley is the Scholar in Residence and Director of the Jewish Resource Center at the UJA-Federation of New York. He is also an adjunct Professor at the Columbia School of Journalism and a member of the faculty of the Ivry Prozdor at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America.
Prior to his arrival at UJA-Federation, he was a Professor of Jewish studies at Bard College where he was engaged in the design of a Jewish Academy for high school-aged students in New York. He also served as Vice President of the Wexner Heritage Foundation, where he remains a member of the permanent senior faculty.
Leonard Petlakh, a winner of the 2005 Young Professional Award, was the Assistant Executive Director of the Hebrew Free Loan Society of NY. Since arriving in New York from Minsk, Belarus at the age of 15, Leonard Petlakh has become a prominent member of the emigrant community from the Former Soviet Union. Having joined the Hebrew Free Loan Society of New York in 1999, Leonard helped develop the organization’s focus on the communities from the Former Soviet Union, which now comprise 70% of the agency’s loans.
In 1994, Leonard won the American Jewish Committee’s Undergraduate Essay Contest “What being Jewish means to me,” and became one of the youngest Directors in the Hillel system when he held the position at Baruch College and Pace University. He is the co-founder and Vice President of Russian American Jews for Israel (RAJI), and has been elected co-chair for the First National Conference on Russian Jewish Leadership, to be held in May 2006.
Barry Rosenberg has served as the Executive Vice President of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis since August, 1993. Prior, he served for 14 years with the Jewish Federation of North Jersey; the last eight years, as its Executive Director. A native of Boston, Barry received his Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from Northeastern University in 1973. He received a Masters degree in social work from the State University of New York in Albany in 1975. For the past 10 years, Barry has been an Adjunct Professor at the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis. In that capacity he currently teaches two graduate level courses: The American Jewish Community: Organization and Services and Board Governance & Volunteer Management.
Barry has served in leadership positions in a variety of professional organizations and non-profit boards. He was a founding member of the Passaic County, NJ, Human Relations Commission and the Advisory Board of the Center for Social Justice at Saint Louis University’s School of Social Service. He currently serves on both the Dean’s Advisory Committee and the Management Specialization Advisory Committee of the George Warren Brown School of Social Work. He has been an instructor in the Council of Jewish Federations’ Continuing Professional Education Program.
David Rosenberg, a winner of the 2004 Young Professional Award, was the Director of the Center for Social Responsibility and was nominated by his supervisor, Joy W. Goldstein, Vice President for Policy, Strategy and Funding at Philadelphia’s Jewish Federation. Ms. Goldstein noted that “David is an exemplary colleague who is committed to the betterment of the Jewish community and devoted to excellence in everything he does. He is dedicated, passionate, extremely professional, hard-working and unfailingly approachable.” Ms. Goldstein also reported that David “is very committed to helping the Jewish poor. He spearheaded the federation’s Task Force on Jewish Poverty, through which the community has allocated over $1 million to grass-roots and agency efforts to address the emergent and ongoing needs of elderly, low-income and at-risk Jewish families in creative ways.” David received dual degrees from the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Work and Gratz College in Philadelphia.
Debra Roshfeld is Vice President of the UJC Mandel Center for Leadership Excellence, providing programs, services, resources and initiatives designed to strengthen the federation system through its greatest resource – its people.
A seasoned trainer and facilitator, Debbi was previously Associate Vice-President of UJC’s Development Department, where her particular expertise was as a consultant and trainer in the areas of goal setting, management and supervision. More than five years ago she left the Development Department to help build the UJC Mandel Center, where she has provided direction for a range of professional development initiatives, including the Professional Leadership Summit and the Executive Development Program.
Most recently Debbi has partnered with UJC’s community consulting teams to bring an increased focus on human resource development to UJC’s community consulting engagements. She has spent more than 20 years in the federation system, both at the community and national levels.
The world of Jewish communal work is Debbi’s second career, after several years in the field of counseling psychology. She now utilizes her skills as a facilitator and problem solver in the areas of leadership development, volunteer-professional relationships, group process, supervision and management — both with volunteer and professional leadership.
Debbi is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Brandeis University, with honors in psychology, and she studied under a graduate fellowship in psychology at the University of California at San Francisco.
Naomi Leah Sage, 30, is Associate Director, Short-Term Service Programs, for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee in New York. In that post, which she created, Sage directs volunteer programs that connect young Americans to the overseas communities that the JDC serves. She joined the JDC in 2001, and was quickly recognized for her tremendous initiative, which has since moved the organization forward in new directions. Her original responsibilities included recruitment and outreach for the JDC-Jewish Service Corps, a year-long overseas volunteer program. She was then Program Associate for JDC’s International Development Program, where she helped create disaster relief and development programs to assist non-Jewish communities overseas. Naomi has worked and studied in Europe, South American and Israel and represented JDC with many organizations, including the United Nations. Naomi is a graduate of Cornell University (B.A., Cum Laude, 2001) and New York University (M.A., Public Administration in Nonprofit Management, 2008) and Hebrew and Judaic Studies (M.A., 2008). Naomi was one of the winners of the 2008 Young Professionals Award.
Tova is the Chief Business Officer at JGooders.com. Before joining JGooders, Tova served as the Executive Director of KolDor, a global network of Jewish leaders and activists dedicated to strengthening Jewish Peoplehood as an organizing principle in the Jewish world. Previously, Tova worked as development professional for a variety of other not-for-profit organizations in Israel and the United States including the Jewish Agency for Israel, Hillel, The Foundation for Jewish Life on Campus and the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation. Tova is also an alumnus of the Bronfman Youth Fellowship Program and OTZMA and a frequent speaker on fundraising, young leadership, and Jewish Peoplehood. Tova holds a B.A.in Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard University (2002). Originally from New York, Tova moved to Israel in 2004 and today lives in Herzliya.
Jacob Solomon has served as the President & CEO since 2008 and Executive Vice President of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation since 1992. He began his affiliation with the Miami Federation in 1981. Prior to his appointment as Federation’s Chief Executive Officer, Jacob served in a variety of positions including Director of Planning and Budgeting and Assistant Executive Vice President overseeing the annual Federation – United Jewish Appeal Campaign.
Before coming to the Miami Federation, Jacob trained at the Jewish Federations in New York and Philadelphia, while a student at Yeshiva University’s Wurzweiler School of Social Work, where he received his Masters Degree. He began his studies in Jewish communal service as a recipient of a Federation Executive Recruitment and Education Program (FEREP) scholarship award. He also holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in Oriental Studies from the University of Pennsylvania. Jacob is the recipient of the 2005 Mandelkorn Distinguished Service Award from the Association of Jewish Community Organization Professionals (AJCOP) and the 2007 Professional Leadership Award from the World Council of Jewish Communal Service (WCJCS).
Dr. Jeffrey R. Solomon is the president of the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies. As such he provides professional leadership to its philanthropic efforts primarily in the Jewish community, focusing on projects and initiatives in Canada, Israel and the United States. Among the foundation’s innovative launches are birthright israel and Reboot, two initiatives aimed at connecting young, assimilated Jews to their tradition as well as The Gift of New York, a powerful response to September 11, helping to heal families of victims through the power of culture. He previously served as the Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of UJA-Federation of New York.
Other past positions include executive positions at Altro Health & Rehabilitation Services, Miami Jewish Home and Hospital for the Aged and Jewish Family and Children’s Services in Miami. Dr. Solomon also served with the City, State and Federal Governments. An author of over 70 publications, he serves as adjunct associate professor at New York University and sits on numerous nonprofit and foundation boards including the Council of Foundations and the Foundation for the Jewish Community. He is a founding trustee of the World Bank – World Faiths Development Dialogue and has received a number of honors from professional associations and universities.
Eva Stern is the Director of Training at the Jewish Outreach Institute (JOI). JOI’s mission is to honor Jewish values by promoting a more welcoming and inclusive North American Jewish community that embraces intermarried families and unengaged Jews, and encourages their increased participation in Jewish life. At the JOI, Eva is responsible for coaching and consulting for more than 400 Jewish communal professionals and volunteer leaders from Jewish organizations across North America. She is also a volunteer Young Adult Coordinator at the Town and Village Synagogue in New York, where she implements creative monthly Shabbat, social, and social justice programming. Previously, Eva worked as a Teacher at Kesher Newton in Newton, MA and multiple synagogues throughout Boston and the Lower Manhattan area, teaching Justice, Ethics and Values and Hebrew language at both. Eva is very active in developing Jewish culture in young teens, which shows in her work: worked as a counselor in BIMA implementing Jewish education for those in summer programs and worked as a Program Staff Member at Elat Chayyim supervising a variety of programs for youth that incorporated Judaic culture into arts, sports, and drama activities. Eva is a graduate of Brandeis University where she earned both her B.A and M.A in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies (2002 & 2004, respectively).
Rabbi Kerry Olitzky, JOI Executive Director wrote: “Eva has contributed importantly to the growth and development of JOI. She has very high professional standards and challenges all of us, including those of us to whom she reports. This is not an easy task for a young professional, but one she carries off with aplomb.”
The director of adult services at the JCC in Chicago, Ilene Uhlmann told us this: “Over the years our agency has availed itself of Eva’s expertise in Outreach and she has done an amazing job of communicating the vision, goals, methodology of Outreach, as well as mentoring my colleagues to effect a change in attitudes, language and sensitivities. …The impact of her work can be measured in the success that we have had in reaching out to the unaffiliated and underserved in the Jewish community…”
Additionally, her supervisor, Paul Golin, commented that “I am in awe of Eva’s excitement about her work and her genuine interest in helping and learning from others. We know that the training and consulting Eva has conducted over the past 5 years within the Jewish community has lead to the deeper engagement of thousands of Jewish individuals and families, especially intermarried families, who otherwise would not currently be participating in Jewish communal life. She exemplifies everything we should be looking for in a young Jewish communal professional.”
Cara L. Unowsky, 30, is Senior Project Manager of Strategic Planning for the Jewish Home and Hospital Lifecare System, the largest nonprofit long-term health care provider in New York State. With her strong work ethic, intellectual curiosity and commitment to perform at the highest professional level, Cara oversees several major initiatives at the organizations Bronx and Manhattan campuses. They include the Intergenerational Youth Program and the Geriatric Career Development Program, which reach out to students at risk of not completing high school with training, academic support and counseling to prepare them for future careers and leadership posts in healthcare. She is also involved in senior housing and other outreach programs. Cara is also Project Manager for the $250 million rebuilding project of the Manhattan Nursing home campus, and oversees many areas of strategic planning. She is a graduate of The Pennsylvania State University (B.A., Phi Beta Kappa, 1999) and Brandeis University (M.A., Near Eastern and Judaic Studies; M.A., Jewish Communal Service, 2003), and is a 2009 candidate for an Executive M.B.A. degree at Baruch College. Cara was also selected to be a Ralph Goldman Fellow in 2003-2004 and worked in Eastern Europe and the FSU. She was one of the winners of the 2008 Young Professionals Award.
Amy Wagner Biloon, Director, Program Initiatives, UJC Mandel Center for Leadership Excellence, was one of the 2005 Young Professional Award winners. In her three years with United Jewish Communities, Amy Wagner Biloon has made significant contributions towards the advancement of early career professionals. As Director of the Federation Executive Recruitment and Education Program (FEREP), of which she is a graduate, Amy increased the funding available for FEREP, and expanded the education and networking opportunities for FEREP students and alumni.
Amy was promoted to Director of Program Initiatives at the Mandel Center for Leadership Excellence, where Amy was coordinating the “Learning Leaders” initiative at the 2005 UJC General Assembly. Amy established the National Recruitment Corps, a team of early career federation professionals who promote careers in the Jewish community. She also helped create “Amazing Day,” a flash video designed to attract early-career professionals, which has been distributed widely in the Jewish professional world.
Ruthie Warshenbrot is currently pursuing a Dual Master’s Degree in NYU’s Dual Degree Program, earning an MPA from the Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service and an M.A in Jewish Studies from the Skirball School of Hebrew and Judaic Studies. Before returning to school, Ruthie worked as Executive Director of Limmud NY. There, she was responsible for providing guidance and direction to a growing organization. She oversaw staff and worked with 90+ volunteers. In addition, she created a long-term development plan and raised the funds necessary to sustain and build Limmund NY. Ruthie is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she earned her B.A of Psychology (2005).
Nina Bruder, who submitted Ruthie’s Young Professional Award nomination, describes Ruthie as “a superstar.” “She is one of the most talented, mature, committed, and inspiring Jewish communal professionals I have met in years.
Karen Radkowsky, President of the Board of Directors of Limmund NY also praised Ruthie: “Ruthie’s rise within Limmud NY was both rapid and stellar. She played an ever increasing role with the organization, exceeding expectations at every step.”
“Ruthie embodies all the characteristics of a true leader”, which led her to be nominated and selected to be a 2009 Young Professional Award recipient.