Keep It Fresh

You have not updated your profilein 0 days. Update your profile.


Processing, please wait...

Search

About Us

Our Offices & Staff

The Wexner Foundation Offices & Staff

The Wexner Foundation
8000 Walton Parkway, Suite 110
New Albany, Ohio 43054
Map

614 939-6060

Education Team

Rabbi B. Elka Abrahamson

President

Rabbi B. Elka Abrahamson is President of The Wexner Foundation. She oversees the Foundation's full range of activities and, in partnership with Foundation chairmen and her mentors, Abigail and Leslie Wexner, imagines how the Foundation might further strengthen and educate Jewish professional and volunteer leaders in North America and public service leaders in the State of Israel. Rabbi Abrahamson has been associated with the Foundation for many years. For close to a decade she served as a member of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship's faculty and selection committee. She was the Director of the Graduate Fellowship Program and Vice President prior to assuming her current role in 2011.

A proud member of the Frozen Chosen, Elka, a native Minnesotan, earned her teaching degree from the University of Minnesota and spent the early years of her career creating curricula for religious schools and informal educational settings, particularly Jewish camps. Her Jewish soul sprang to life at Camp Herzl in Wisconsin and her Jewish leadership blossomed at Camp Swig in Northern California. She is still a camper at heart. Ordained at HUC-JIR, New York, Elka began her career as associate rabbi at Peninsula Temple Beth El, San Mateo, CA. She then served, with her husband, Rabbi Martin (Misha) Zinkow, as co-senior rabbi at Mount Zion Temple in St. Paul, MN.

Rabbi Abrahamson, a dynamic speaker and an engaging teacher, is optimistic about the Jewish future owing to the remarkable leaders she encounters in her rabbinate, many of them Wexner Alumni. She serves as the High Holiday Rabbi at the 92nd Street Y in New York City and has been published in magazines, books and journals. She is a popular scholar-in-residence, presenter, and keynote speaker for a wide variety of Jewish organizations. She received the Bernard Reisman Award as an outstanding member of the professional Jewish community and Newsweek once named her one of the 50 most influential rabbis in North America.

Elka is an avid student and dedicated teacher of Mussar. She also loves a good football game, especially if the Vikings (or Buckeyes) are winning.


Rabba Yaffa Epstein

Director, Wexner Heritage Program

Rabba Yaffa Epstein is the Director of the Wexner Heritage Program and oversees the development and curriculum for these dynamic lay leaders throughout the United States and North America who take part in the program. Yaffa has also served as a faculty member for the Wexner Heritage Program since 2015.

Yaffa most recently served as the Director of Education, North America for the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies where she implemented a comprehensive educational vision for advancement of the institute in North America.

A member of the faculty for Pardes since 2004, Yaffa has also taught at Yeshivat Maharat, the Drisha Institute, the Dorot Fellowship, and Young Judaea on Talmud, Jewish liturgy, Jewish law, constructive disagreement, leadership and women in Judaism. She has served as a Scholar in Residence for organizations such as Moishe House, JFNA, The Covenant Foundation, Nahum Goldmann Fellowship, Repair the World, Meorot Fellowship, KADIMA Fellowship, and the Jewish Education Project.

Yaffa received Rabbinic Ordination from Yeshivat Maharat and holds a Law Degree from Bar-Ilan University. She has lectured at Limmud Events around the world, has written curriculum for the Global Day of Jewish Learning and has created innovative educational programming for Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life.

When not teaching her incredible students or studying Torah, Yaffa enjoys exploring new coffee shops and listening to the Indigo Girls.


Or Mars

Vice President

Or Mars is a Vice President of The Wexner Foundation where he focuses on the development of Jewish professional and volunteer leaders in North America, and public leaders in Israel.

Or has worked in many different Jewish organizations (JCCs of Los Angeles, the Brandeis-Bardin Institute, the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, Jewish Family Services and the JCC of Manhattan) and has studied at various Jewish organizations (Hebrew University, the Pardes Institute, the Hartman Institute, The Jewish Theological Seminary.) He currently sits on the board of the JPRO Network and Or Halev (Jewish Meditation Group.) He is volunteer facilitator for Encounter. Or is a trained Jewish meditation teacher (Institute of Jewish Spirituality) and founder of the Jewish Meditation Project of Columbus and leads family services and Israel discussion groups at Temple Israel.

Or holds an MSW in Planning and Community Organizing from the University of Southern California and an MA in Jewish Non-Profit Management from Hebrew Union College. Or is an alumnus of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship Program and the Jerusalem Fellows and was formerly the Director of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship/Davidson Scholars Program. From 2000-2006 he served as the Executive Director of North Carolina Hillel, during which time he helped students and the North Carolina Jewish community create awesome Jewish life on campus. In 2004 he was awarded the Richard M. Joel Exemplar of Excellence Award – a top honor in the Hillel profession.

Or has lived in Los Angeles, Jerusalem, New York, Chapel Hill and Columbus. He loves exercising, racquetball, baking challah, Jewish meditation, hiking, UNC basketball and rock and roll. He is proud to be a bone marrow donor through The Gift of Life to a 7-year-old boy in 2009, who is graduating high school next year. He encourages everyone who qualifies to get swabbed to be in the bone marrow registry. In 2018, he read 109 novels (via audiobook).

Or lives in Columbus, Ohio, and can be reached at omars@wexner.net or via phone, (614) 939 6060.



Rabbi Jay Henry Moses

Vice President

Rabbi Jay Henry Moses is Vice President of The Wexner Foundation, having served for many years as Director of the Wexner Heritage Program, North America’s premier Jewish leadership education program. He joined the staff of The Wexner Foundation in 2003.

Rabbi Moses got his start in Jewish leadership through NFTY, Reform Judaism’s youth movement. He graduated from the University of Michigan with a BA in English literature, magna cum laude. Having relocated to the territory of arch-rival Ohio State, he still bleeds maize and blue but is keeping quiet about it.

Rabbi Moses pursued rabbinical studies at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and was awarded a Wexner Graduate Fellowship. Ordained in 1997, Rabbi Moses served for five years as Associate Rabbi at Temple Sholom of Chicago. From 2002 to 2003, Rabbi Moses studied Jewish mysticism in Jerusalem where he also taught and mentored rabbinical students at HUC-JIR. He has participated in the Rabbinic Program of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, an intensive study, meditation and retreat program.

Rabbi Moses sits on the board of the Columbus Jewish Day School. He is also on the board of Kavod, a non-profit tzedakah collective and is a member of the B’nai Ya’acov Council of the Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives.

Rabbi Moses has had essays published in four books in the series on High Holiday prayers published by Jewish Lights Publications, as well as in many newspapers and magazines. He also contributed insights on the role of religion in the process of healing from tragedy for Sheryl Sandberg's book Option B. Rabbi Moses serves as the Editor-At-Large of Shabbat: A Day of Rest, a special section of Arianna Huffington's Thrive Global media channel.

Rabbi Moses lives in Columbus, Ohio with his wife, Cantor Bat-Ami Moses, who serves as the Hazzan at Temple Israel, and their sons, Caleb and Ezekiel. An avid basketball player, he has lost a step taking it to the hole but makes up for it with decent (if streaky) shooting and the craftiness that comes with advancing age.


Rabbi Sharon Barr Skolnik

Program Director, Wexner Service Corps

Rabbi Sharon Barr Skolnik graduated cum laude from Brandeis University with a dual major in Near Eastern Judaic Studies and Hebrew Language and Literature. Growing up a native Hebrew speaker in a home with an Israeli father and fluent mother, she eventually became a Hebrew major and wrote one of the first Hebrew theses at Brandeis, about the intertwining of politics and culture with Israeli music. Sharon was ordained from the Jewish Theological Seminary in 2009, just three months after giving birth to their first child.

Over the past two decades, she has taught both in and out of classrooms, in religious schools and day schools. Most recently, she taught Hebrew and Judaic Studies to the second grade at the Columbus Jewish Day School, and right before that, to middle schoolers at the Jewish Academy of Orlando, but enjoys teaching students of all ages. Whenever you learn with Rabbi Sharon, you are likely to see her using music, art, drama, and creative writing to engage her learners where they are, and make contemporary and personal meaning of ancient Jewish wisdom. The Torah is her favorite book to read; she feels she could pour over it a million times and still find it interesting, fun and engaging. When not at school, you can find Sharon cooking and reading new cookbooks (her other favorite books after the Torah), hanging out with her husband (Rabbi Hillel Skolnik), beading (making jewelry and beaded serving pieces), and playing outside with her three adorable kids: Dafna, Liav and Hadar.


Becca Thomas

Director, Communications

Becca joined The Wexner Foundation as the Director of Communications in 2018. Growing up in rural Ohio, Becca found herself to be the only Jewish student in the school district, a fact that only strengthened her resolve to carve out a Jewish identity among the cornfields. This materialized in having Bat Mitzvah lessons via phone, getting involved with the Hillel at Ohio University, and taking adult education classes once settled in Columbus.

Becca earned a degree in Journalism with a concentration in Public Relations and Spanish from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University. From 2006-2008, Becca served as Account Executive at Paul Werth Associates, one of the top Public Relations agencies in Columbus. For nearly ten years Becca led the communications efforts and directed the largest Race for the Cure in the country at Susan G. Komen® Columbus.

When not tweeting, Becca can be found enjoying the fresh air with her husband Luke and running after Evey and Ari, their two young, adorable and wily children.


Ruthie Warshenbrot

Director, Wexner Field Fellowship

Ruthie Warshenbrot is the Director of Wexner Field Fellowship at The Wexner Foundation. In addition to developing and managing the newly expanded Wexner Field Fellowship (in partnership with the Jim Joseph Foundation), she also works with the Wexner Graduate Fellowship alumni community and the Wexner Service Corps, while also advising on Foundation-wide initiatives.

Ruthie grew up in Charlotte, NC and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Jewish Studies. She received her Masters in Public Administration (MPA) from the Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service at NYU and her MA in Hebrew and Judaic Studies through the NYU Wagner/Skirball dual degree program as a Wexner Graduate Fellow/Davidson Scholar and a Lisa Goldberg Fellow in Jewish Professional Leadership.

While at NYU, Ruthie worked as a Jewish Service-Learning Manager at Repair the World and as a Program Leader for Bend the Arc’s Jewish service-learning trips. She also participated in a Jewish service-learning delegation to Senegal with American Jewish World Service. She is currently working with a group of NYU alumni on the first ever Jewish Communal Professional Compensation Survey. Prior to graduate school, Ruthie worked for Limmud NY for five years, with the final two as the organization’s Executive Director. She is the recipient of the 2009 Jewish Communal Service Association’s Young Professional Award.


Stefanie Zelkind

Director, Wexner Graduate Fellowship/Davidson Scholars Program

Stefanie Zelkind is the Director of The Wexner Graduate Fellowship/Davidson Scholars program.

Stefanie graduated from Tufts University with a B.S. in Environmental Studies and Judaic Studies. Upon graduation, she attended the WUJS Institute in Arad, Israel and interned through the New Israel Fund. Stefanie made Aliyah and served as Program Manager at EcoPeace/Friends of the Earth Middle East and later as Director of International Affairs at Adam Teva V’Din: The Israel Union for Environmental Defense. Upon her eventual return to the States, Stefanie joined the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL) as National Field Director, bridging her interests in environmental awareness and education with Jewish engagement and activism.

In 2003, Stefanie completed her Master’s Degree in Public Administration (MPA) from the Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service at NYU and her MA in Hebrew and Judaic Studies through the NYU Wagner/Skirball dual degree program as a Wexner Graduate Fellow.

From 2006 to 2016, Stefanie served as the Founding Director of the Jewish Teen Funders Network (JTFN), a project of the Jewish Funders Network, engaging thousands of Jewish teens in hands-on philanthropic giving.

Stefanie joined the staff of The Wexner Foundation in 2016, making the big move from Brooklyn to Columbus, where she now enjoys the open space (but misses the subway) with her husband, Josh Feinberg, and son, Ari.


Dr. Tali Zelkowicz

Director, Curriculum and Research

A native of the Pacific Northwest, Dr. Zelkowicz completed her undergraduate work in Sociology on the Dean’s List at the University of British Columbia before attending Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles, where she received rabbinical ordination and an MA in Jewish Education from the Rhea Hirsch School. She earned her doctorate at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, as a Wexner Graduate Fellow. She received a Young Scholar’s Award from the Network for Research in Jewish Education and was granted a Writing Dissertation Fellowship from the National Foundation for Jewish Culture. Her articles and chapters on identity formation appear in a variety of journals, magazines and anthologies.

As a sociologist of Jewish education, Tali is endlessly fascinated by cultural straddling and the ways we manage the tensions that are produced by being a part of and apart from American life, as Jews. In 2016, after a decade of research, writing and teaching graduate students in rabbinical, educational and non-profit management degree programs at HUC in Los Angeles, Tali got to translate her research on integration and identity work into practice as the head of school at Columbus Jewish Day School, where she currently serves as a strategic advisor. Tali is delighted to be able to integrate sociology, education and Judaism as The Wexner Foundation’s first Director of Curriculum and Research.

Tali lives in Columbus with her film-animating and children’s-book-authoring husband, Benny, and their two children, Gavriela and Asher. When she is not integrating disciplines, she loves scuba diving, softball, board games, traveling, table tennis and is determined to coordinate a recreational Kosher Iron Chef competition one day soon.

Administrative Team

Rachel Sosin

Chief of Staff

Rachel grew up in rural Virginia and began connecting with her Judaism while in college at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. Following her passion for tikkun olam and social justice, Rachel spent several years working on political campaigns on the East Coast and in Ohio. In 2015, she helped launch a start-up focused on improving energy efficiency and lowering utility costs for low and middle-income Ohioans, driving the establishment of processes to build a scalable organizational structure. In her free time, Rachel enjoys travel, the arts, and clean cooking. A quick way to her heart is sharing robot or cat memes with her.


Dara Katzner

Administrative Associate

Dara Katzner joined the Foundation’s staff in December 2016 as an Administrative Associate. Dara graduated from The Ohio State University in May 2015 with a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education. A life-long Ohio girl, Dara was born and raised in Cleveland and moved to Columbus in 2011 when she began at OSU. She soon fell in love with the city and wants to help do her part to improve her community. She has been actively involved with OSU Hillel as well as at synagogue.


Trisha Kure

Administrative Associate

Originally from Michigan, Trisha brings more than eight years of hotel management and customer service experience with her to The Wexner Foundation. She has a BS in hospitality and tourism management with a minor in business management, with honors, from Madonna University. She enjoys spending time with her family and raising her daughter. Outside of work and the city, Trish enjoys getting lost on hiking trails while adventuring with her dogs and camping under the stars.


Linda Smith

Senior Administrator

Linda Smith joined the Foundation staff in May, 2003 as the Assistant to the Director of the Graduate Fellowship Program, the position she continues to hold as Senior Administrator. Linda has extensive experience in the Columbus Jewish community having worked as Assistant to the Headmaster at both The Columbus Torah Academy and the Columbus Jewish Day School prior to her move to the Wexner Foundation.

Linda and her husband, Daryl, a residential electrician, reside on a small farm in rural Fairfield County with their horses, dogs and cats. When not at work she can be found in the barn tending to the animals or in the yard working in her many flower gardens. Linda and Daryl also enjoy attending the athletic events in which the grandchildren participate. Other interests include browsing antique stores, crocheting, cross-stitching and trying new recipes using her antique iron skillets!

Linda and Daryl are the proud parents of twin sons; Matthew, a police officer (his wife, Nikki, is a middle school intervention specialist), and Andrew, a firefighter and paramedic (his wife, Lizzy, also a firefighter, paramedic and RN). They are also blessed with four beautiful grandchildren; Camryn, Zachary, Gavin and Adley.


Melinda Secrest Whittington

Director of Budget and Finance

Melinda Secrest Whittington joined the Foundation staff in October, 2000 as the Coordinator of Financial and Computer Systems. Prior to that she was an Accounting Manager for the Columbus Association for the Performing Arts. Melinda received a B.S. degree in Business Administration, with a major in accounting, from The Ohio State University.

Presidents Emeriti

Larry Moses

Senior Philanthropic Advisor and President Emeritus

In his 29th year of service to The Wexner Foundation, and after thirteen years as its President, Larry Moses serves as the Foundation’s Senior Philanthropic Advisor. He was the Founding Director of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship Program in 1987, and later Foundation Vice President. As Leslie and Abigail Wexner's senior advisor, he plays a key role in organizing the family’s philanthropic activities, and works closely with Jewish philanthropists and public leaders in Central Ohio, throughout North America and across the globe.

Mr. Moses sits on numerous international, national and regional boards, civic and Jewish. His published articles and frequent keynote presentations, often centering on the challenges of leadership in modern Jewish life, have been widely circulated. He has been the recipient of many professional awards.

Prior to joining the professional staff of The Wexner Foundation, he served as the International Director of Hillel (1984-1987) in Washington, DC. From 1980-1984, he was the Executive Director of the Bureau of Jewish Education in San Francisco. He began his career as the Hillel Director at San Francisco State University, where he also served as an instructor in the History Department (1975-1980).

Mr. Moses’ scholarly interests rest largely in the arena of Holocaust studies. His mother was a survivor of Auschwitz, and Mr. Moses has taught extensively on various historical, theological and human dimensions of the Holocaust. He has also taught university-level courses on Jewish mysticism, modern Jewish history, Jewish medical ethics and medieval Jewish-Church relations.

Mr. Moses received a BA in philosophy from Indiana University, an MA in modern Jewish history from the Baltimore Hebrew University, and an MSW from the University of Maryland School of Social Work and Community Planning. He also studied and taught at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In May 2006, Mr. Moses was the recipient of an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from Baltimore Hebrew University. He has received a variety of community and organizational awards and distinctions and serves on a number of boards and advisory committees, including as an officer of the Board of Directors of the Jewish Funders Network, as a Board and Executive Committee member of Hillel International and as a member of the External Advisory Committee for the USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive.

Mr. Moses is married to Dr. Susan Steinman, who is a psychotherapist, researcher and author. They are the parents of Alana Moses (Brandeis ’08), who is a PhD in clinical psychology and is currently doing post-doctoral work in New York, and Danielle Moses (Bard College ’12), who is in her second year of the MSW program at the Silver School of Social Work at New York University.


Rabbi Maurice S. Corson

President Emeritus

Since 1998 Rabbi Maurice S. Corson has been President Emeritus of The Wexner Foundation. A native Philadelphian, Rabbi Corson received a B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Cincinnati. After a year of study in Israel at Yeshivat Keren B'Yavne he studied at the Jewish Theological Seminary where he received a M.H.L. and was ordained in 1960. Following ordination he was a Chaplain in the United States Army. He served as the Rabbi of Herzl Conservative Congregation in Seattle, Washington, Beth Judah Congregation in Ventnor, New Jersey and as the Senior Rabbi of Chizuk Amuno Congregation in Baltimore, Maryland. He became Director of Inter-religious and International Programs of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Philadelphia during the 1970's, responsible for widely acclaimed programs on behalf of Soviet Jewry. Rabbi Corson has been Adjunct Professor of Jewish Studies at Seattle Pacific College, Trinity Luther Seminary and Methodist Theological School in Ohio. Prior to becoming the Founding President of the Wexner Foundation, he was Director of Development for B'nai Brith International.

Rabbi Corson was responsible for creating the initial programs of The Wexner Foundation including, the Wexner Graduate Fellowship Program, the Wexner Israel Fellowship Program and an Institutional Grants Program.

He currently serves as President of the National Jewish Book Council, which annually sponsors Jewish Book Month, the National Jewish Book Awards and coordinates Jewish Book Fairs in more than 100 communities throughout the US and Canada. He has served on the Executive Committee of the National Hillel Center, and the American Pardes Foundation and is a member of the Board of the Koppelman Institute on American Jewish Israel Relations of the American Jewish Committee.

Rabbi Corson and his wife, Ruth reside in New York City and Otis, MA. They are the parents of two daughters, Rishona and Aliza and currently grandparents of one granddaughter Maia Hanna.


Rabbi Nathan Laufer

President Emeritus

Rabbi Nathan Laufer joined the Wexner Heritage Foundation in 1986, soon after its creation, and served as Director of Programs and Vice President before becoming President and CEO in 1994. Prior to his arrival at the Foundation, he was Director of East Coast Educational Programs for the Simon Wiesenthal Center and Director of Legal Affairs for the Coalition to Free Soviet Jews. Laufer, who is a graduate of the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary of Yeshiva University and the Fordham University School of Law, teaches and lectures across the country regarding issues of leadership, Jewish identity, day school education and the future of Judaism and North American Jewry.


Rabbi Herbert A. Friedman

z"l, of blessed memory

Rabbi Herbert A. Friedman, (1918- 2008) served as the executive chairman of the national United Jewish Appeal for more than 20 years, and co-founded the Wexner Heritage Foundation in 1985 with Leslie Wexner, chairman of Limited Brands. Rabbi Friedman served as the Foundation's president for a decade. He was an eminent authority on Jewish overseas needs and on Israel's birth, growth and development. His contributions to Jewish life were numerous, and ranged from actively participating in the Haganah and its Aliyah Bet mission to creating the Israel Education Fund.

Rabbi Friedman was passionate, courageous and determined. He put adult Jewish learning on the Jewish map once and for all, and because of Herb we will forever couple Jewish learning and Jewish leadership.

The Wexner Foundation
420 Lexington Avenue, Suite 331
New York, New York 10170
Map

212 355-6115

Education Team

Angie Atkins

Director, Wexner Heritage Alumni

Angie Atkins is the Director of Wexner Heritage Alumni. Previously, Angie founded, ran (and then sold) an international jewelry business which manufactured in Israel and wholesaled fine designer jewelry around the world for 22 years. Working with Israeli artists and “bootstrap entrepreneurs” exposed Angie to a very zesty, secular, “left” intellectual part of Israeli society. From her warehouse in NJ, she listened to Galgalatz and skyped with her suppliers all day, and travelled to Israel often. Upon graduating from the Wexner Heritage Program (MetroWest 08), Angie was moved to devote more of her life to giving back to the Jewish world. She joined the Wexner Foundation staff in 2010 as Director, Wexner Heritage Alumni, to help galvanize the already tremendous work of their alumni. Angie has built up platforms, venues, and opportunities for our 1800 alumni to network and cross pollinate (both online and in person), to continue their high level Jewish and leadership learning, and to invigorate their dedication to the far reaching communal work in which they already engage. Angie’s personal/lay involvement in the Jewish world centers on learning and kiruv. Along with her husband Norman (also a Wexner Heritage Alum), she regularly hosts Shabbat minyans, seudot, and learning in her home on Manhattan's Upper West Side – the gatherings are unique in that they are trans-denominational, bringing many people together from across the spectrum of Jewish life. Angie serves on the board of Romemu, a shul dedicated to a Judaism that opens body, heart, mind and spirit to experience greater compassion, courage, and joy in our lives. She also serves on the SYNERGY advisory committee at UJA-NY Federation, which tries to bolster all New York City synagogues through collaboration and sharing of best practices. Angie has a B.A. in English from Yale University and three (more or less) adult children: Zohar, Ari, and Shira.


Lori Baron

Consultant

Lori Baron has been with the Wexner Foundation since 1989. Prior to joining the Foundation, she held several positions during her 10-year tenure with the National United Jewish Appeal (now JFNA), including five years as the Associate Director of the Young Leadership Cabinet. She began her career as a 10th-grade English teacher in New York after receiving her degree in English Education and Psychology. Lori is an avid reader, New York Times puzzle solver and is known to have 10 on-line scrabble games going on simultaneously. Those who know her cell phone number and call her - know that Billy Joel's Piano Man is her ring tone. She is a museum, theatre and movie enthusiast and will only vacation in warm climates.

The Wexner Foundation
3 Kiryat Hamada St., Har Hotzvim
Building D, 11th floor
Jerusalem, Israel 91450

קרן וקסנר ישראל
קרית המדע 3, קומה 11
הר חוצבים
ירושלים
טל. 02-5637035

Staff

Ra’anan Avital

Director General

Ra’anan spent the major part of his professional life in Israel’s Prime Minister’s Office, where he held a variety of positions at home and abroad, including, at one point, heading the office’s Senior Executive Development Program.

During the ten years before joining the Foundation, Ra’anan was co-founder and CEO of an innovative high school in Emek Heffer, Israel. The school, promoting an ethos of leadership, academic excellence and pluralistic Jewish values and culture, was established by Ra’anan and his co-founders as an experimental model for 21st century Israeli schools.

Ra’anan received both his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Political Science from Haifa University, and over the years has graduated numerous programs in Jewish Studies, management and education, including “The Art and Practice of Leadership Development” at Harvard Kennedy School’s Center for Public Leadership.

Israeli born Ra’anan is married to English born and raised Sara, a lawyer, and together they have three grown up children, all living in Israel.


Elisha Gechter

Senior Program Manager, Wexner Israel Programs

Elisha Gechter is with the Harvard Kennedy School and serves as the Senior Program Manager for the Wexner Israel Programs at Harvard's Center for Public Leadership. In her role at Harvard, Elisha works with mid-career Israelis who spend a year studying for a Master’s in Public Administration at the Kennedy School through the Wexner Israel Fellowship as well as Israelis who spend a month of intensive training in Executive Education at the Kennedy School through the Wexner Senior Leadership Program.

Elisha worked at Hebrew College in Newton, MA as the Associate Director of Adult Learning and Community Engagement, running programs to connect parents and people in their 20s and 30s to community and to Jewish wisdom. Before that she spent three and a half years working at Boston’s Jewish Federation, Combined Jewish Philanthropies, fundraising with local young leaders. She has a BA in psychology from Yeshiva University’s Stern College in New York and an MA/MBA from Brandeis’ Heller Hornstein Program in Jewish Leadership and Non-profit Management.

Elisha grew up in Riverdale, NY at the open Orthodox synagogue lead by Rabbi Avi Weiss (the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale). She now attends Minyan Tehillah in Cambridge with her husband Sam Gechter, their daughter Zoe and their son Erez. In her free time Elisha enjoys cooking, gardening and enjoys date nights in Boston that involve live music.


Dana Savoray-Hadar

Deputy Director

Attorney Dana Savoray-Hadar, an alumna of the Wexner Foundation Israel Fellowship (Class 17), joined The Wexner Foundation 4 years ago as the Deputy Director, Israel Office. Prior to joining the Foundation, she served as the Programs' Director for the Gandyr Foundation, an Israeli Philanthropic foundation, as well as serving as the Deputy Executive Director of Alma, a liberal arts college for the studies of Hebrew Culture in Tel Aviv. Dana also held the position of Head of the Municipal Women's Administration in the Municipality of Herzliya.

In 2000 she established the first municipal women's administration in Israel, which has become a state-wide model of municipal intervention for the advancement of women's status. For her achievements in this position, Dana received the Women's Leadership Award from the Authority for the Advancement of Women's Status in the Prime-Minister's Office and the Union of Local Authorities in Israel and The Kibbutzim College award for The Advancement of Gender Equality in the Educational System. She served as a defense attorney in the Israeli Military Advocate Headquarters and later in a private family law office.

Dana received her L.L.B and L.L.M, both magna cum laude, from the Tel Aviv University Law School. She also holds a Master in Public Administration from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and was nominated Lucius N. Littauer Fellow 2006 . Dana lives in Herzliya with her spouse, Omri, and her three sons, Yonatan, Yuval and Itamar.


Sivan Shani

Wexner Senior Leaders’ Network Director and Program Manager

Sivan joined The Wexner Foundation after a decade in the Office of the President of Israel, working for Reuven Rivlin and previously Shimon Peres, leading complex projects in the Strategy and Policy Department, with an expertise in the socio-economic field. Prior to that, Sivan worked in the media sector as a researcher at Channel 10 News, Channel 2 News and at the Galei Tzahal radio station (IDF radio). She earned her master's degree in Political Communication at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and her bachelor's degree in Political Science and International Relations. She is a Jerusalemite, married to Beri, and a mother to May.


Keren Zefania

Program Manager, Wexner Israel Fellowship

Keren Zefania is the Wexner Israel Fellowship (WIF) Program Manager at the Wexner Foundation, Israel. Prior to joining The Foundation, Keren worked as Director of External Relations at the America-Israel Cultural Foundation. Previous to that, she worked at the Mishkenot Sha’ananim Cultural Center, as Senior Program Coordinator where she produced residency programs, literary conferences, events and festivals such as the Jerusalem International Writers Festival. Beforehand she worked at the Consulate General of Israel in Los Angeles and the Jerusalem Foundation as its’ Culture, Community and Coexistence Coordinator.

Keren holds a BA in Communication and Political Science from the Tel Aviv University, and an MA in Management of Nonprofit Organizations from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She spent one year in New York working at a PR firm and obtained an Arts Administration certificate from New York University.

She lives in Jerusalem with her spouse, Shachar, and their four children, Modi, Aviv, Daniela and Noa.


Sharon Zini

Administrative Associate

Sharon Zini is the Administrative Assistant in The Wexner Foundation’s Israel Office. Sharon joined the Foundation after 5 years as Administrator & Purchasing Director for Alut – The Israeli Society for Autistic Children and prior to that – a long career in the hotel industry. She supports day to day operations for the Israeli team and provides administrative assistance, including support for social media and convention coordination for the Israeli programs.

Sharon made aliya with her family from the UK and resides in Ma’ale Adumim with her husband, and their 5 adult children are divided between Philadelphia, London & Tel Aviv.