HUC-JIR School of Jewish Nonprofit Management Alumni Newsletter


June 2013

Tammuz 5773


Campaign Update 


As of June 10, the 2012-2013 Annual Alumni Campaign has raised over $28,000 for student scholarships, and we are almost to our goal! Please help us bring the best and the brightest to the School of Jewish Nonprofit Management by making your gift today!




Stay Connected on Social Media


Facebook and Twitter 

Are you on Facebook? Like our page to get updates on what's happening on campus, be linked to interesting articles about our field, learn about job opportunities and stay in touch with other alumni.  


You can also follow SJNM on Twitter at @sjnm_la to experience Lunch and Learns and other events in real time.


Alumni Directory   

Looking for an old friend or classmate? Just go to The directory is password-protected, but contact for access.  And don't forget to let us know if your own information needs to be updated!


Alumni E-Learning 

You can explore online alumni resources and learning opportunities at the HUC-JIR 

E-Learning site:  





SJNM Alumni Association Executive Committee  




Andi Milens 



Vice Chair

Stephanie Bressler



Past Chair

Esther Cohen 



Alumni Council Representatives 

Alan Ronkin 

(MAJCS/MPA '91) 

Shaina Wasserman (MAJCS/MAJE '06) 

Recruitment Chair 

Bailey London 


Rachel Slaton



Alumni Advisor Program

Alan Ronkin 

(MAJCS/MPA '91) 


Campaign Co-Chairs

Naomi Abelson


Anna Schwarz Shabtay (MAJCS/MPA '09)


Communications Chair

Missy Bell



Professional Development


Paula Simon


 Marsha Rothpan (MAJCS/MSW '94)


Joy Wasserman

National Director of Alumni Engagement
Richard Siegel

SJNM Director
Mandi Richardson

SJNM Associate Director 

Jessica Ingram

Coordinator, Alumni Association


Thank you to everyone who served on the Alumni Association Leadership Team during this past year - your hard work and passion for our school and community is greatly appreciated! 

Dear Jessica,

We're excited to share with you what's going on in the School of Jewish Nonprofit Management! Read on for information on our new alumni and new students, upcoming events, and more!

Mazel Tov to our New Alumni! 

At the HUC-JIR Jack H. Skirball Campus Graduation Exercises on Monday, May 20th, eight graduating students received their M.A. in Jewish Nonprofit Management. Not only are they now new alumni, but all of them have already made a contribution to the SJNM Alumni Scholarship Fund:

  • Brian Jason Avner, MAJNM, MAJE
  • Sarah Rae Craemer, MAJNM, MBA
  • Natalie Paige Davidowitz, MAJNM, MAJE
  • Natalie Farahan, MAJNM, MPA
  • Aaron Gorodzinsky, MAJNM
  • Samira Setareh, MAJNM, MSW
  • Mindy Fay Sherry, MAJNM, MAJE
  • Daniel Aron Tarle, MAJNM, MBA

Graduating student Sarah Craemer delivered the Student Perspective, speaking about "Safety Can Be Risky." Reflecting on her anxiety about enrolling in the upcoming summer program at Yeshivat Hadar in Manhattan, she quoted from one of her SJNM instructors, Drew Kugler, who in his Collaborative Communication course observed that "safety itself is risky. Sometimes choosing what feels safe is the riskiest choice that we can make." Sarah concluded her remarks by challenging her colleagues, "As graduates, we need to push ourselves into areas where we feel uncomfortable in order to discover our true potential."


In addition, alumna Deborah Burg-Schnirman (MAJCS '88, MSW '88) was awarded an honorary degree as Doctor of Jewish Nonprofit Management (see her remarks below), and alumnus Ronnie Conn (MAJCS/MPA '07) confirmed the degrees and honors on behalf of the entire HUC-JIR Alumni Association with a rousing address emphasizing that they are graduating into a large network of colleagues who can be called upon for advice and support.


SJNM Welcomes Ten New Students

An outstanding class of ten students joined SJNM when the SJNM 2013-14 Summer Session began on June 17th. Considered a particularly strong group of students by SJNM Director, Richard Siegel, the class includes a Wexner Fellow (Jeremy Ragant) and a FEREP Scholar (Alexi Biener), and most are entering with several years of professional experience in the Jewish nonprofit arena. This year's cohort is a diverse group both geographically, with four coming from the Northeast and one from Israel (by way of Argentina), as well as professionally with three Joint Degree students, two MPAs, two MBAs, one MSW, and one MCM:


  • Alexi Biener (dual degree MSW)
  • Daniel Cohen (dual degree MBA)
  • Ted Dreier (Joint Degree)
  • Michele Goldfarb-Shapiro (dual degree MPA)
  • Sarah Magida (Joint Degree)
  • Rachelle Minteer (dual degree MBA)
  • Jeremy Ragant (dual degree MPA)
  • Mariela Socolovsky (single degree)
  • Emily St. Lifer (dual degree MCM)
  • Ben Zeiger (Joint Degree) 


Alumni Spotlight

Deborah Burg-Schnirman, MAJCS '88, MSW '88


I was honored by HUC-JIR and our colleagues last month when I was awarded an honorary doctorate in Jewish Nonprofit Management. It was unexpectedly an incredibly moving experience, especially the time we spent together with HUC-JIR president Rabbi David Ellenson before the commencement ceremonies. For those of us who were fortunate to have David as our Jewish history professor, this special time was a particularly meaningful treat. I feel so blessed to receive this honor as David winds down his tenure at the helm of HUC-JIR. We may very well be the last group of honorees to have David preside at graduation.



Upcoming SJNM Events


The 2013 Summer session kicked off this weekend with the annual Orientation and Retreat, and classes  started this week... here's a look at what's coming up this summer! 


Lunch & Learn Series

This summer's "Lunch & Learn Encounter Seminar" will be focused on the topic: "Trends in (Jewish) Philanthropy." Cosponsored this year with Jumpstart, a dynamic LA-based nonprofit working to advance the "Jewish innovation ecosystem," the seminar will serve as a follow-up to Jumpstart's highly successful recent philanthropy summit: "Innovation to Transformation: Changing Jewish LA, Changing LA Jewishly."


The seminar takes place every Tuesday from June 18th to July 30th from approximately 12:15-1:30 PST. The sessions will be live-streamed so alumni can join in. The school will be sending a notice to all alumni with the information when it is finalized. LA area alumni are invited to attend, but an RSVP is required since there is limited seating in order to maintain the integrity of a graduate seminar (email Mikaela Landis or call her at 213-765-2117). The schedule of remaining sessions is:


  • June 25: "On Becoming a Philanthropist" Presenter: Lisa Greer, independent philanthropist
  • July 2: "Giving Circles: Democratizing Philanthropy" Presenters: Paula Litt, Secretary, Liberty Hill Foundation, Julie Bram, co-founder, Jewish Venture Philanthropy Fund, and Dr. Sarah Benor, HUC-JIR faculty and research consultant to the National Study of American Jewish Giving
  • July 9: "The Jewish Future, Only Sooner: LA and US Jewish Philanthropy" Presenter: Shawn Landres, co-founder and CEO, Jumpstart
  • July 16: "Perspectives of the Philanthropic Professional" Presenters: Mitchell Singer, Senior Philanthropic Advisor, Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, and Naomi Strongin, Program Officer, Center for Designed Philanthropy, Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles  
  • July 23: "Social Impact Investing" Presenter: Lisa Richter, Principal, GPS Capital Partners, LLC
  • July 30: "What Counts for Success? How Funders Evaluate Their Giving" Presenter: Rachel Levin, Executive Director, The Righteous Persons Foundation


August 5-6: Scholar-in-Residence: Rabbi Joy Levitt, Executive Director, The JCC in Manhattan 


August 6: Culmination


Milestones and Mazel Tovs    

Have you moved, changed jobs, been honored, gotten engaged or married, or had children? Please share your personal and professional milestones as they happen so that our SJNM community can celebrate with you! Send your milestones to


Marla Abraham began a new position as the Director of Development at AJC in Los Angeles. In this new role, Marla and her department will be responsible for the full range of resource development- major gifts, events, planned giving, direct-online gifts, and much more!    


Rabbi Sarah Bassin (CJNM '10, Ordained '11), the Founding Executive Director of NewGround: A Muslim-Jewish Partnership for Change, received California's 2013 Governor's Volunteering and Service Award for Faith-based Organization of the Year for its program Muslims and Jews Inspiring Change: A High School Leadership Council. The award was presented in Sacramento on May 22, 2013. She was also invited to present a paper at the 10th Doha Conference on Interfaith Dialogue held in Doha, Qatar in April. Together with a New Ground alumna, Aziza Hasan, Sarah spoke on "Making the Personal Public: Engaging Personal Stories in Public Interfaith Settings" to a group of over 40 religious leaders from around the world.


Rachel Chertkoff (MAJCS/MACM '99) recently was awarded the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal, which is presented to those individuals who make unique and outstanding contributions to Canadian society. Rachel is currently the Director of Operations of CJPAC, the Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee.


Rebecca Garrison (MAJCS/MPA '06) married Edo Israely on April 27, 2013. She will soon be leaving her position as the Associate Director of the Jewish Women's Foundation in New York City to move to Los Angeles, where her husband has accepted a job. Rebecca is very excited to be rejoining the LA Jewish Community and looks forward to reconnecting with old friends and meeting other SJNM alumni!


Michael Jeser (MAJCS/MSW '04) will assume the role of Executive Director for Jewish World Watch on July 1, 2013. He takes over from Lois Weinsaft (MAJCS/MSW '79) who serves as JWW's Interim Executive Director right now. JWW's President and Co-Founder is Janice Kamenir-Reznik (MAJCS/MSW '74). This is an unprecedented situation- that the lay president and the incoming and outgoing execs are all graduates of the School! We are thrilled to help illustrate how much of an impact the School is making on the field of Jewish social justice! 


Bailey London (MAJCS/MSW '07) has been hired to serve as the next Allen & Ruth Ziegler Executive Director at USC Hillel. Bailey joins the staff there after serving as the Director of Emerging Leadership and Next Gen Initiatives at the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County, where she has worked for the past 5 years.


Andi Milens (MAJCS/MPA '94) was inducted into the Board of Governors of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) by Rabbi David Ellenson, HUC-JIR President, on May 6, 2013 at its meeting in New York. Rabbi Ellenson stated, "Andrea Milens is a distinguished alumna of our School of Jewish Nonprofit Management, dedicated Chair of its Alumni Association, and devoted Vice Chair of our Alumni Council. She is a powerful advocate for the State of Israel, social justice, and human rights. We look forward to her wisdom and guidance for our sacred mission in preparing leadership for the Jewish people." 


Alan Ronkin (MAJCS/MPA '91) is now the Constituent Representative and Policy Adviser at Congressman Joe Kennedy III. He also worked in that capacity on the Joe Kennedy for Congress campaign during the 2012 campaign season.


Jill Sava (MAJCS '02) is now the Children, Family and Camp Director at The Simon Family JCC in Virginia Beach, VA.


Dana (Rawitch) Sheanin (MAJCS/MSW '96) is now the Senior Director of Community Impact at the Jewish Federation of the East Bay in the San Francisco Bay Area.


Adynna Swarz (Certificate '08), her husband Michael and big sister Ellie welcomed a new addition to the family on May 20th. Gavriel Meir was born at 7:28pm, weighing in at 7lbs 4oz and 20 inches long. He has spiky brown hair.


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