Kol Koleinu 2023-2024 Mentors
We are pleased to welcome our 2023-2024 Meyer-Gottesman Kol Koleinu mentors.
Loen Amer is the Senior Manager of Teen Education and Engagement at The Jewish Education Project, where she supports professionals in New York who serve teens. Loen previously worked with teens at Temple Israel of Great Neck, Bet Torah in Mount Kisco, National Ramah Commission, Hillel at Hofstra University, Woodbury Jewish Center, and Temple Beth Sholom in Roslyn Heights. Loen has a love for lifelong Jewish learning, and most recently studied Torah le’shmah, Torah for its own sake, at the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem. She has a B.A. with honors from Gratz College. Loen lives on Manhattan’s Upper West Side and enjoys baking and reading.
Em Besthoff (they/she) grew up personally and professionally in shuls. A former NFTY Kid, they used their natural ability to connect with people and their love of Judaism to follow their passions. They earned their Master’s in Religious Education from Hebrew Union College in 2019. From a young age, they knew Jewish teen experiences were vital and were constantly dreaming big. Recently, they co-created and participated in a Shabbat dinner experience called Queer Kehilah for Romemu Brooklyn. As a queer Jew, they want to bring spiritual experiences to those who are looking for community and conversation. A common theme in her life is mindfulness, and when not at work, Em can be found reading in a cozy sweater with their cat Angus Burger, adding to their vinyl collection, and walking around New York City.
Steph Black is a Jewish activist and writer based in Washington, D.C. where she fights to expand abortion access and reproductive justice and imbues this with Jewish values, prayer, and ritual. Through her consulting business, Steph connects with mission-driven organizations to drive social change through digital strategy. She is proud to be the Communications and Community Weaving Manager at jGirls+ Magazine. Steph works closely with abortion clinics and funds across the country, is a self-managed abortion educator, pregnancy options counselor, practical support volunteer, abortion doula, and mikvah guide and educator. She is a columnist in The Progressive Magazine and her words have appeared in Bustle, Ms. Magazine, Rewire News Group, Vice, Lilith Magazine, Alma, and more. Steph lives with her wife Hannah Ruth, two cats and many plants. All typos in her work can be attributed to her cat, Goose. Read her writing, follow her work, and subscribe to her newsletter at stephblackstrategies.com.
Rebecca Brommer is the Rabbinic Community Organizer at the New York Board of Rabbis. Rebecca currently lives in Washington Heights, but focuses on supporting rabbis in Queens and Long Island. Rebecca came to New York City with her husband and dog after receiving her bachelor’s of social work, and a minor in women and gender studies from Loyola University of Chicago and her master’s of social work from University of Illinois Chicago. Rebecca has long been an advocate for women, including being the Associate Director of Hotline Services at Shalom Task Force and volunteering with Chicago Volunteer Doulas and the Loyola Sexual Assault Crisis Line. Her previous work gave her the opportunity to be the Lifelong Learning Coordinator at Temple Sholom, and a social work intern at Between Friends and EZRA Service Center. Rebecca is an active member and volunteer at the Fort Tryon Jewish Center and spends the rest of her free time taking hikes, camping, and cooking.
Rochelle Chaiken is an endocrinologist/diabetologist who spent the first half of her career in academic medicine and the second half as the head of several medical affairs groups in a large pharmaceutical organization. In all of these roles, Rochelle has been a mentor, advisor, and supporter of colleagues at all stages of their careers. She has served as a mentor to not just colleagues in her group, but to many colleagues in other functions including summer interns who are recent high school graduates. Currently she is a consultant to a vaccines start up company. Rochelle lives in New Rochelle, New York.
Lindsay Davidman currently serves as the Director of Women’s Philanthropy at the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia. She has worked in the Jewish community for over 13 years in a variety of development roles, including major gifts, planned giving, and events. She received her undergraduate degree in Communication Studies from the University of Georgia, where she was a member of SDT, and her Masters in Nonprofit Management from The New School. Lindsay grew up in North Potomac, Maryland, and now lives with her husband, twin boys, and their dog in the Philadelphia suburbs. She credits BBYO with sparking her interest in Jewish communal life.
Jayme Epstein is Assistant Director of Lifelong Learning at Congregation Emanu-El of the City of New York (Temple Emanu-El). Jayme began her career in Jewish youth work with BBYO where she was the Regional Director of North Florida Region for 3 years. Following this, Jayme worked as the Youth Director at Congregation Ohev Shalom in Maitland Florida while she completed her Masters in Jewish Education from Davidson, Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS). Jayme lives in Westchester, NY and enjoys spending time outdoors and with her friends and family.
Annie Fortnow lives in Watertown, Massachusetts and is the Director of Operations at Yad Chessed. She started her role in August 2023 after receiving her MA in Jewish Professional Leadership and Social Impact MBA from Brandeis University. Annie has worked at a variety of Jewish organizations, including UMass Hillel, the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, and as a Board Fellow at Yad Chessed. She is passionate about supporting the Jewish community and helping to building a more equitable Jewish future.
Lindsey Garfield is an assistant professor at Loyola University Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing. She is a registered nurse and a women’s health nurse practitioner. Lindsey received her Ph.D. in 2012 and her research on perinatal mental health for people and communities facing barriers is funded through the National Institute of Health. Lindsey is a mom of two teenagers, two dogs, and one horse and lives in Glenview, Illinois.
April Peveteaux (Goldman) is an author, journalist and podcaster living in Los Angeles. Her debut novel Gluten Is My Bitch (Abrams, 2013), was described as “highly entertaining” by The New Yorker, and she went on to write two more hilarious books about digestive disorders, The Gluten-Free Cheat Sheet (Perigee, 2015) and Bake Sales Are My Bitch (Rodale, 2017). Her current projects include completing her first novel about elementary school drop off and vehicular manslaughter, and an exposé on the world’s largest evangelical church camp she attended as a teen growing up in Oklahoma, called Falls Creek.
Laura Hemlock-Schaeffer is a Project Manager for the Platelet Disorder Support Association, where she conducts advocacy and educational programs for people like herself living with immune thrombocytopenia (ITP). Prior to her current role, Laura spent more than 12 years working in the Jewish non-profit space at organizations such as UJA-Federation of New York, BBYO, Hillel of Buffalo, and the Yeshiva Day Schools of Pittsburgh. Laura holds a master’s degree in education and a bachelor’s degree in Theater, both obtained at the University at Buffalo (go Bulls!). Outside of her professional life, Laura serves as vice president of the board of directors of the Hillel of Buffalo and is an active member of the Nahum Goldmann Fellowship Alumni Network and B’nai B’rith International Connect.
Kelly Kossar lives in Boston, MA and is a Jewish Learning Guide at Temple Beth Shalom in Needham, MA where she teaches kindergarteners, teens and many ages in between. In the summer, Kelly is part of the leadership team at the Ramah Boston Day Camp. Kelly has a BA in Judaic studies from Binghamton University, a certificate in Jewish education specializing in adolescents & emerging adults from HUC-JIR, and master’s in Jewish education from JTS (focusing on Israel education) and Hebrew College (focusing on special education).
Hillary Kern LaMarche is a buyer for Ulta Beauty where she works on the strategic partnership between Ulta and Target. Hillary and her husband, Lee, live in Northwest Arkansas with her cat Yuki and dog Melly. Hillary started her career working at Hillel, working with college students, and helping them explore their Jewish identity at Clark University. Through this work Hillary got to travel to the Middle East, Germany and India, leading trips of students to learn about the communities there. Hillary’s work in the non-profit world led to her going to graduate school to get her MBA from Boston College Carroll School of Management in 2019. It was through this program that Hillary realized that her passion for helping people find their interests in college, translated to the helping people find the right products for them in retail. Hillary is excited to resume working with young women to expand their passions for Judaism, feminism and tikkun olam.
Hilarie Lieb is currently a professor of instruction emerita in the Department of Economics at Northwestern University. Although she became emerita in 2018, she continued to teach and do academic advising for the University. Her areas of interest are labor economics and economic history in the context of gender. During the past two years, she has helped in the development of Jewish Free Loan Chicago, a non-profit start-up, in the role of Chair of the Board. She looks forward to mentoring members of Moving Traditions Kol Koleinu 2023/24 cohort in their tikkun olam projects.
Rikki Marver lives in Dallas, Texas, but grew up in Columbia, Maryland. She is the founder and president of Rikki Ragland Media Group, a boutique media relations and consulting firm for healthcare, healthcare IT and Artificial Intelligence. Prior to her public relations role, Rikki was a TV news anchor in Dallas and a TV show host for PBS in Chicago, Illinois. She also worked for the Weather Channel, covering breaking news. Rikki also served as the spokesperson for the American Red Cross and Spirit Halloween, which was created by her father-in-law. She graduated from Towson University in Maryland where she majored in communications and was a member of Phi Mu Fraternity. Rikki loves to volunteer and enjoys emceeing fundraising events. She is a hockey mom of a 13-year-old son who became a bar mitzvah in October 2023.
Lizzi Meister (she/her) is the public programs manager at the Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience in New Orleans, Louisiana. She’s originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin where she went to Jewish summer camp and fell in love with thinking and programming Jewishly. She has a BA in anthropology from the University of British Columbia and a master’s degree in museology from the University of Washington. After completing a fellowship in Jackson, Mississippi at the Institute of Southern Jewish Life, Lizzi decided to make the South her home. She loves to grapple with the complicated reality of her new home of New Orleans as a complex intersection of rich Jewish, queer, and American culture. In her free time she can be found finding amazing vegetarian food in her meat-loving city, snuggling with her two cats, taking an adventure with a new foster dog, or having a feisty discussion about museums.
Lynn Miles lives in Porter Ranch. Lynn is a surgical nurse. She has a bachelor of science in Nursing. Lynn’s career as a nurse includes patient care, mentoring and educating nurses, assisting surgeons in the surgical field.
Shira Muroff is a Los Angeles native and a graduate of the University of California, Davis with a degree in Human Development. A Mississippian since 2016, she has worked developing curriculum and programs for southern Jewish communities as well as Mississippi history materials for students across the state. She has mentored teens and young adults in religious school, camp, and archival and nonprofit spaces. Shira is also a community editor for Rooted Magazine, an online space where Mississippians tell their stories.
Merissa Nathan Gerson is an author, an activist, an ex college Professor and a Rabbi in Training. She is based in Philadelphia, slightly reluctantly, and recently moved from New Orleans where she taught Jewish Studies and Communication at Tulane. Her focus is inherited trauma and sex and Judaism. Her writing appears in the New York Times, Playboy, Elle, Lilith, The Atlantic, and beyond. Her book, Forget Prayers, Bring Cake: A Single Woman’s Guide to Grieving came out in August 2021. She is a rape prevention activist, a Mardi Gras enthusiast, and is devoted to making Judaism fun, cutting edge, thoughtful, and exciting for the next generation.
Rabbi Jennifer Rudin is the founder of Simcha-Services, Congregation Derech HaShalom, an independent Jewish community in metrowest Boston. Rabbi Rudin is also the Director of Jewish Life at Camp Young Judaea, NH. She graduated Wheaton College with a BS in urban bilingual education, earned her MA in Jewish education at Hebrew College, was ordained as a Rabbi in 2016 and holds certificates in Jewish family education and Jewish special education. Rabbi Rudin believes in authentic and meaningful Jewish learning, living and celebrating .
Michele Scher is the social worker at B’nai Torah Congregation in Boca Raton, Florida. She has been in the field of social work for over 20 years serving children, families and seniors in a variety of clinical and community settings. Mrs. Scher has also taught social work and psychology courses for Barry University and Kaplan University and currently leads suicide prevention workshops. When not at shul, Michele loves to volunteer with organizations including Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Floridians Protecting Freedom, Keshet, and National Council for Jewish Women.
Haley Schulman (she/her) works at Pardes as the Director of Programs and Education in North America. Haley is a career Jewish Professional, having also previously worked at Hadar, Hillel at Baruch College, and the American Hebrew Academy. Haley received her BS in Human Development from Binghamton University, and is currently studying for her MA in Jewish Professional Studies at Spertus. Haley lives with her husband, Evan, on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, where she has lived for over 9 years.
Shoshi Shapiro lives in Chicago and is passionate about creating effective learning programs. She is an alum of Northwestern where she studied learning science and human centered design. Shoshi currently works at Feeding America supporting the learning management system website and supports webinar production. In her past, she has built adult learning programs and worked with teens at a museum. Beyond work, Shoshi is on the board of Metro Chicago HIllel and is a foster dog mom.
Lauren Silva is originally from Sacramento, California but now resides in Redwood City, California. After graduating from the University of Michigan with degrees in economics and Judaic studies, she became the Director of Youth and Family Engagement at Peninsula Temple Sholom, where she still works today. Her passions include cooking, arts and crafts, board and video games, swimming, reading, and, of course, feminism and Judaism.
Melo Taylor (she/her) has a bachelor’s degree in Theatre Arts with a minor in Gender Studies. She has a variety of Jewish professional experiences in summer camps, synagogues, Jewish Day schools, NFTY and JCCs. She has been a part of many LGBTQ+ organizations including Keshet’s Teen Shabbaton and her university’s Transgender Taskforce. Her passion is teaching young people through art, theater, and music. In her free time, she enjoys hiking with her dog, gardening, and shopping for shoes she doesn’t need.|
Amee Wurzburg is a Gender Advisor at USAID in the Office of HIV/AIDS. She has over 12 years of experience working globally and domestically on sexual health and rights, gender-based violence prevention and response, and LGBTQI+ rights. Her work has taken her to India, Kenya, South Africa, Brazil, and all over the US, as well as also supporting country teams throughout Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Eastern Europe. Her commitment to human rights and social justice has led her to focus her career on ensuring that all people are able to live with the right to bodily autonomy and live free from violence. Amee received her MPH from UNC-Chapel Hill and her BA in History from Barnard College. She currently lives in Silver Spring, MD with her wife, son, two cats, and too many books to count.
Gail Zatz lives in Los Angeles. She received her BA from UCLA and her law degree from the University of California, San Francisco School of Law. Gail works as a public policy/government relations consultant for mostly nonprofit organizations.
Ellen Zieselman has been Youth Director at Temple Beth Shalom in Santa Fe, New Mexico since 1990. She teaches 7th-12th grades in the Religious School and has been the Advisor of Beth Shalom Temple Youth (BSTY) a part of NFTY-SW. She was the Curator of Education at the New Mexico Museum of Art for 25 years and currently is a private tutor and Art History lecturer at Santa Fe Prep. Originally from New Rochelle, NY, she is a graduate of New Rochelle High School (go Huguenots!), has a BA in Art History from Brown University and an MA in Art History from Williams College. Her favorite character from the Torah is Lot’s Wife.