Board of Directors
Rabbi Carole Balin, Board Chair
Rabbi Carole Balin is a Professor Emerita of History at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, New York and Senior Director of Special Projects at Auburn Seminary. Carole curated the national traveling exhibit “Bat Mitzvah Comes of Age” and wrote and narrated the animated short, “The Click Moment: Jewish Feminism 101.” She appears on PBS’ regularly-aired The Jewish People: A Story of Survival, blogs for the Huffington Post, and lectures at synagogues and universities throughout the world. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Wellesley College, Carole is an ordained rabbi and earned a Ph.D. in history at Columbia University. She has honed her spiritual practice in the Institute for Jewish Spirituality’s two-year program for clergy. She made her “Broadway debut” on West 4th Street in a student production of The Vagina Monologues and lives in New York City with her husband, Michael Gertzman, and three children.
Barbara B. Dobkin, Founding Chair
Barbara Dobkin, former chair of the AJWS board of trustees and chair of the executive committee, is a funder, activist and leader in the social justice arena. With a particular focus on the advancement of women in all sectors of society, she is a preeminent and visionary creator of programs that serve women and girls and that encourage women of means to play a significant role as independent philanthropists. She was the co-founder of Mayan, the Jewish Women’s Project of the JCC in Manhattan, the founding chair of the Jewish Women’s Archive, the founding chair of the Hadassah Foundation and a founding board member of Advancing Women Professionals and the Jewish Community. Barbara has served on the boards of the New Israel Fund, Lilith Magazine , the Women Donors Network, the Jewish Funders Network, the Women’s Funding Network and American Friends of the Israel Women’s Network, among others. Presently, she chairs the board of the Dafna Israeli Fund in Israel. She has been recognized for her philanthropic work by several organizations including the Council on Foundations and the New York Women’s Foundation. In 2000 the Jewish Funders Network awarded her the Sidney Shapiro Tzedakah Award for her creative and innovative grant making.
JWA Founding Chair Barbara Dobkin Receives LEAD Award, April 28, 2010
Paean to a Troublemaker: Barbara Dobkin by Letty Cottin Pogrebin
About Barbara B. Dobkin, So Laugh a Little Honoree
A Few Words about Barbara Dobkin by Nicki Newman Tanner
A Letter about Barbara Dobkin from Gail T. Reimer
Rachel A. Bendit
Rachel Bendit lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where she serves on the board of the University Musical Society and recently worked for the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses. Her previous volunteer work includes service on the boards of the Jewish Funders Network, the Dispute Resolution Center, and the Bendit Foundation. Rachel holds a BA from the University of Michigan, a MEd from Loyola College of Maryland, and a JD from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University. In 2009, she and her husband, Mark Bernstein, were awarded the Claire and Isadore Bernstein Leadership Award by Jewish Family Services of Washtenaw County.
Vanessa Kroll Bennett
Vanessa Kroll Bennett is the founder of Dynamo Girl, a New York-based program that builds girls’ self-esteem through sports and physical activity. The company’s mission is reflected in its motto: “I am a girl and I believe that my body is strong, my mind is bright and my heart is true." Vanessa’s experience attending an all-girls summer camp and a women’s college cemented her belief that all-female environments act as a source of power and courage for girls and women. In her volunteer capacity, Vanessa has served on the Alumni Executive Board of Rye Country Day School and as a Durant Society fundraiser for Wellesley College. As a parent at The Heschel School, she chaired several major events and creative projects for the school community over the last 10 years. Vanessa graduated Magna Cum Laude from Wellesley College with a BA in American Studies and during her time at Wellesley, she was JWA’s first intern in the fall of 1997. She also received an MA with Distinction in Jewish History from the Jewish Theological Seminary. Vanessa lives in New York City with her husband and four children.
Emily Dubinsky, Treasurer
Emily Dubinsky is a Private Wealth Advisor in the Investment Management Division of Goldman Sachs where she advises clients on asset allocation, portfolio management, and philanthropy. Emily joined Goldman Sachs in 2016 after receiving her MBA from Columbia Business School. Prior to business school, Emily spent five years with the Gemological Institute of America, where she served as Senior Manager of the Colored Stones Identification Group in their New York and Bangkok laboratories. In this role, she oversaw client services and research projects for colored gemstones. Emily received a Master’s Degree in Geological & Environmental Sciences from Stanford University and a B.A. in Geology summa cum laude from Amherst College. She sits on the leadership council of the Greensward Circle, the young professionals’ network of the Central Park Conservancy.
Esther Safran Foer, Clerk
Esther Safran Foer was the Executive Director and CEO of Sixth & I for ten years, during which she led the creation of what the national media called “a new paradigm for Jewish life”. In 2008, Esther was recognized as one of the “Forward 50” Jewish leaders in the country and in 2015 she was named one of the most powerful women in Washington by Washingtonian Magazine. Prior to being recruited to Sixth & I by its founders, Esther spent most of her professional life working in all aspects of the public relations profession, eventually running her own firm representing Fortune 500 companies. She was involved in politics as a state press secretary and state director for a major presidential campaign. She is the daughter of Holocaust survivors, the wife of Bert Foer (an attorney and public interest advocate), the mother of three sons (best-selling authors Frank, Jonathan, and Joshua Foer), and the grandmother of six. She is on the board of Sixth & I, Yahad-in-Unum, Jewish Historical Society of Washington and the Jewish Women’s Archive. She is currently at work on a post-Holocaust memoir.
Alyson Friedman has been serving as a community-wide volunteer in Baltimore for the past eighteen years. Currently, she is completing her term as Board President at Art with a Heart, an organization which brings interactive visual arts classes to vulnerable populations. Additionally, Alyson serves on the Center for Community Engagement and Leadership Board of the Jewish Federation of Baltimore where she also sits on the Agency Excellence Board, Associated Women’s Board and the Jewish Women’s Giving Foundation. Alyson has previously served as President, and was a founding Board Member of the Jewish Women’s Giving Foundation. She was also President of CHANA, Baltimore’s response to domestic violence, childhood trauma and elder abuse in the Jewish community. Additionally, Alyson served as Women’s Campaign Chair of the Jewish Federation of Baltimore. Alyson currently serves as a tutor and mentor at Adelante Latina, an after-school academic enrichment and college preparatory program for promising Latina girls attending Baltimore City schools. Alyson received her BA from The University of Michigan and her MA from Towson University and is a certified rehabilitation counselor (CRC).
Michelle Kravtin Gary
Michelle Kravtin Gary is an attorney who formerly practiced administrative and corporate law in the Washington D.C. office of Winston & Strawn. Her involvement as a leader in the Jewish community started in her teenage years in her hometown of Columbus, Georgia and has continued in every community in which she has lived: Washington D.C., Atlanta, Boston and New York City. She has been an active member of the American Jewish Committee for the past 14 years. Starting with the Executive Committee in Atlanta, she presently sits on the Board of the New York Region where she is active in diplomatic and interfaith outreach. Michelle is an Associate National Commisioner of The Anti- Defamation League and sits on the New York Regional Board, while in the Boston ADL, she worked on Jewish-Catholic relations. Always interested in interfaith relations, Michelle was active in the World Pilgrims organization of Atlanta, a group of Muslims, Christians, and Jews that regularly met and traveled the world together. Michelle is a very big proponent of continuing Jewish education, having taught Hebrew to adults in her congregations for the past 25 years. She also tutored special needs students to become B’nai Mitzvah in the Gateways Program of Boston. She was a Holocaust educator of adults and children at the Bremen Jewish Museum in Atlanta. She sat on the Board and studied at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem for 6 years. She was a co-founding parent of the Jewish Primary Day School in Washington, DC. Michelle was educated at Northwestern University, Georgetown University (A.B.) and Georgetown University Law Center (J.D.). She lives with her husband, Marc, in New York City. They have a son and daughter-in-law that live in the New York City area, and a daughter and son-in-law that live in Atlanta.
Rabbi Laura Geller
Rabbi Laura Geller was the first Reform woman rabbi to be selected as the Senior Rabbi of a major metropolitan congregation when she was asked to join Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills in 1994. Rabbi Geller has been recognized with numerous awards and honors, including being named one of Newsweek’s 50 Most Influential Rabbis in America for two years in a row, and receiving the California State Legislature’s Woman of the Year Award. In 2015, she was named one of the 33 most inspiring rabbis by The Forward. Prior to being chosen as Senior Rabbi in 1994, she served as the Executive Director of the American Jewish Congress, Pacific Southwest Region. At AJCongress, she created the AJCongress Feminist Center, which became a model for other Jewish feminist projects around the county. Rabbi Geller is a Fellow of the Corporation of Brown University from where she graduated in 1971. She was ordained by the Hebrew Union College in 1976, and is the third woman in the Reform Movement to become a rabbi. In June 2016, Rabbi Geller celebrated 22 years at Temple Emanuel and transitioned to Rabbi Emerita. She is married to Richard Siegel and is the mother to Joshua and Elana Goldstein, the step mother to Ruth and Andy Siegel and the very proud grandmother of Avery and Levi Goldstein.
Cathy Schatz Glaser
Cathy Schatz Glaser is an attorney and the former South-Central Regional Director of the Anti-Defamation League. Prior to her position with ADL, she was a permanent Law Clerk for Justice Walter F. Marcus of the Louisiana Supreme Court and an associate in the New Orleans law firm of Stone, Pigman, Walther, Wittmann and Hutchinson. Cathy has served on the Boards and in volunteer capacities for many New Orleans non-profit organizations. She was a past Board Chair of the New Orleans Jewish Community Center and on the Board of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans and served as Campaign Co-Chair in 2014-15. She is currently a Board member of the Anti-Defamation League, the New Orleans Charter and Math High School, Chair of the New Orleans Holocaust Memorial Committee and a steering committee member and program co-chair of Limmud Fest New Orleans. She and her husband, Charles Glaser, are the parents of three married children.
Karla Goldman is the Sol Drachler Professor of Social Work at the University of Michigan where she directs the Jewish Communal Leadership Program and teaches in Judaic Studies. She is the author of Beyond the Synagogue Gallery: Finding a Place for Women in American Judaism (Harvard, 2000). She served as Historian in Residence for the Jewish Women’s Archive from 2000-2008 where she spearheaded projects like This Week in History and JWA's celebration of the 350th anniversary of American Jewish community. Prior to her work at JWA, Karla taught American Jewish history at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati where she was the first female member of the tenure-track faculty. Her research focuses on how American Jewish experience has reflected the social, gender, class, racial, and political identities available to Jews within broader American contexts like cities, social movements, and universities.
Joanna Goodwin’s philanthropic work is focused on empowering youth and women to become effective leaders and especially peace builders, negotiators, and sustainers. She serves as president of both the Goodwin Foundation and the Middle East Peace Dialogue Network, Inc. She is a member of J Street’s Board of Directors and J Street’s Women’s Leadership Forum Steering Committee. She also serves on the Board of Directors of the Alliance for Middle East Peace (ALLMEP), a consortium of more than 85 organizations that conduct people-to-people coexistence and reconciliation programs and activities both within Israel and cross-border. Joanna is actively developing a U.S. support network for WePower, a non-partisan Israeli NGO promoting women's leadership, gender integration and equality at all political levels of Israeli society. She is a committed supporter of the Israeli NGO Women Wage Peace (WWP). In 2015, Joanna and her father, Richard Goodwin, received J Street’s highest honor, the Tzedek v’Shalom award for their lifetime commitment to peace. Joanna received her undergraduate degree from Temple University, cum laude. After 25 years in Los Angeles, she now lives in Baltimore, MD, with her husband, Mark J. Friedman. Between them, they are parents to two daughters, three sons, one daughter-in-law, and two precious red-haired grandchildren.
Lynne Himelstein is the co-director of the Story Archive of Women Rabbis and sits on the board of the Jewish Women’s Theatre in Los Angeles, CA. She is the Lion of Judah Endowment Chair for the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles. She has served as the Lion of Judah Endowment co-chair for National Women’s Philanthropy. In Indiana, she was the State Public Affairs Chair for the National Council of Jewish Women for Indiana and the Women’s Campaign Chair for the Jewish Federation of Greater Indianapolis. She also served as the General Campaign Chair of the Jewish Federation of Greater Indianapolis, the Governmental Affairs Chair for the Jewish Community Relations Council of Indiana, and on the board of directors for the Jewish Community Center of Indianapolis.
Rebecca Kobrin is the Russell and Bettina Knapp Associate Professor of American Jewish History at Columbia University and the Associate Director of Columbia's Institute for Israel and Jewish Studies. Her areas of expertise include East European and American Jewish History, specializing in modern Jewish migration. She received her B.A. (1994) from Yale University and her Ph.D. (2002) from the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to coming to Columbia, she held Post-Doctoral Fellowships at Yale University (2002-2004) and New York University (2004-2006). Her first book Jewish Bialystok and Its Diaspora (Indiana University Press, 2010), was a National Jewish Book Award finalist that focused on migrant Jews’ relationship to their former homes in Eastern Europe and to other Jewish immigrant outposts around the world. She is the editor of Chosen Capital: The Jewish Encounter with American Capitalism (Rutgers University Press, 2012), and is co-editor with Adam Teller of Purchasing Power: The Economics of Jewish History (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015). In 2015, she was awarded Columbia University’s Lenfest Distinguished Faculty Award for her passion in the classroom and inspirational use of service learning in the classroom. She lives in Riverdale, NY, with her husband and three children.
Liz Miller, MD, PhD is Professor in Pediatrics, Public Health, and Clinical and Translational Science at the University of Pittsburgh and Director of the Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine, UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. Her research addresses interpersonal violence prevention and adolescent health promotion in clinical and community settings. She was born and raised in Japan. She is on the board of her synagogue’s women’s group called Women of Temple Sinai. She lives in Pittsburgh with her spouse Joshua Breslau (researcher at RAND) and has a 23-year-old daughter who is moving to Japan and a 17-year-old son who is headed to Cleveland Institute of Music for vocal performance.
Rabbi Suzanne Offit
Suzanne Offit was ordained at the Hebrew College Rabbinical School and entered enthusiastically as one of the founding students in 2004. (Like Rabbi Akiva, she started her deep Jewish learning in earnest at 40; unlike Rabbi Akiva she experienced tremendous guilt when consumed with glorious hours of Jewish learning away from her children.) She is a Board Certified Chaplain and serves as the Palliative Care chaplain in post-acute services at Hebrew SeniorLife in Boston. Her focus is geriatrics and end-of-life work with patients and families. Rabbi Offit is dedicated to understanding through her many experiences and research how best to serve vulnerable populations in our society and how substance use disorder, moral injury, chronic illness and racism affect families. She is the immediate past Chair of the Hadassah Foundation. Among other institutions, she has served on the board of Gann Academy and as the long serving Chair of the Pluralism Committee (bringing together rabbis and educators from across the Jewish spectrum of belief and practice dedicated to living pluralism in the high school experience), and on the founding board of Zaggo Care, an organization dedicated to concrete methods to help patients and families navigate the health care system during a health crisis. She is married to Andy. Together they have three boys – two (almost) successfully launched and one in college. She also loves agrarian activities, beekeeping, biking and poetry.
Amy Oringel is the editor of Fig Tree Books, an independent publisher of literature that chronicles the American Jewish experience. Amy is also a frequent contributor to The Forward and a reviewer for the Jewish Book Council. Prior to joining Fig Tree, Amy spent a decade as a freelance writer about topics including women’s entrepreneurship and local politics. Her work appeared in The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Crain’s New York Business and Self Magazine. She started her career at Oxygen Media where she managed all content concerning women in the workplace. A serial volunteer, Amy has lent her time or served on the boards of the Bedford Free Library, the Foundation for Bedford Central Schools, Neighbor’s Link immigration services, Get Out The Vote and her alma mater, Cornell University. She lives in Bedford, NY with her husband and their two daughters.
Lisa Mednick Owen
Lisa Mednick Owen is, and has been, involved in initiating, leading and participating in several community based, educational and social justice organizations. She currently sits on the Law School Board of Advisors at George Washington University, as well as on the Board of the Johns Hopkins Hillel. Lisa is also a long-time member of the Advisory Board of the Citizens Committee for Children, and a founding member of the NY Leadership Council for American Jewish World Service. Lisa started her legal career practicing corporate law at the firm of Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, and then spent nine years as in-house counsel at Dow Jones & Company, Inc. She currently works as the Director of External Relations for LV Adhesive, a conversion services and specialty paper products supplier to the graphics arts industry. Originally from Los Angeles, Lisa received her B.A. in Political Economics from the University of California at Berkeley and her J.D. from George Washington University, and has also earned two professional certificates from the NYU School of Continuing and Professional Studies-one in Arts Administration and the other in Fundraising & Development. She lives with her husband, Steve Owen, in New York City and has two grown sons.
Most recently, Sarah was the Executive Director of The Second Step, a Newton-based organization that delivers comprehensive services to survivors of domestic violence. Sarah currently serves on the Boards of Directors of the Anti-Defamation League, the Newton Schools Foundation, Temple Emmanuel of Newton, and the Jewish Women’s Archive; the Advisory Boards of Step Into Art, Waypoint Adventure, and Dove (DOmestic Violence Ended); and is the Chair of the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Council at Newton-Wellesley Hospital. Sarah has led consulting projects for many local organizations, including The Isabella Steward Gardner Museum, City Year, Citizen Schools, WBUR, and The Boston Foundation. She graduated magna cum laude from Yale University with a B.A. in History and has an M.B.A. with distinction from Harvard Business School and an M.P.A. from Harvard’s Kennedy School. Sarah lives in Newton with her husband, Tony Kingsley, and her three children (Jacob, Andy, and Daniella).
Jenny Nathan Simoneaux
Jenny Nathan Simoneaux is currently the Director of Annual Giving Campaigns at Tulane University, overseeing direct marketing strategy for a $13 million annual fundraising effort. Previously, Jenny served for six years as Director of Development at Tulane Hillel. Jenny is originally from Bloomfield Hills, MI, and attended the University of Michigan where she was student body vice president in 2004. Jenny worked as a grassroots administrator for the National Council of Jewish Women in Washington DC, and currently sits on the board of the NCJW Greater New Orleans section. Jenny also worked in campaign politics in Michigan for many years, including serving as the Women’s Vote Director for the Obama-Biden campaign in 2008, and as finance director for Senator Gary Peters during his first term in Congress.
Founding Board of Directors
Peggy Charren, z"l
Barbara B. Dobkin
Ruth B. Fein
Penina Migdal Glazer
Sally A. Gottesman
Barbara W. Grossman
Lee M. Hendler
Martha L. Minow
Suzanne G. Priebatsch
Brenda Brown Rever
Prudence L. Steiner
Nancy Schwartz Sternoff, z"l
Nicki Newman Tanner
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Board of Directors." (Viewed on September 18, 2019) <https://jwa.org/aboutjwa/whoweare/board>.