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Meet the members of the JDC Ambassadors Steering Committee
Ellen Block, Co-Chair
Palm Beach, FL
Ellen “Ellie” Block is a philanthropic leader deeply committed to addressing critical issues that affect children and families in need, both nationally and internationally. She currently serves as: Emeritus JDC Board Member, Chair of the Board of Advisors at Tufts University - Friedman School of Nutrition Science & Policy; Trustee of the University of Chicago Medical Center; Trustee of the Toy Industry Foundation; Member of the Executive Committee of the Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYULMC and Member of the Advisory Council of the Focused Ultrasound Foundation. A founding Member and past Steering Committee Member and Grants Committee Chair of the Jewish Women’s Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago (JWFMC), Ellie is founder and Chair of The Ellie Fund at JWFMC, and a Member of Women Moving Millions. Additional leadership posts past and present include: Chairman of the Hasbro Children’s Foundation; Chair of the JDC’s International Development Program Committee; Vice Chair of Meyers Brookdale Institute and Chair of the Children’s Committee; and a Director of the Taylor Institute Think Tank on Urban Issues. Ellie is a graduate of Tufts University and is a registered occupational therapist and business owner. Honors and awards include: Honorary Doctorate from the Audrey Cohen College for Social Research, the Children’s Aid Society Charles Loring Brace Award, the National Hannah Solomon Award, and the 2010 TAGIE Humanitarian Award.
Cheryl Fishbein, Co-Chair
New York, NY
Cheryl Fishbein has a long history of voluntary leadership involvements. She is on the Board of UJA-Federation of NY, where she is the recipient of the 2008 Generosity of Spirit Award. She is the past Chair of the Caring Commission, of the Hurricane Katrina Relief Committee, of the Missions Committee, and of the Trauma Task Force of UJA-Federation. She is a Member of the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency (JAFI), and The United Israel Appeal (UIA), and is on the FSU and Property Reclamation Committees of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC). Cheryl serves on the Board of Governors of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) and is co-Chair of the New York Region Diplomatic Outreach Committee. She is past Chair of the Commission on Jewish Contemporary Life at AJC. Cheryl is on the Board of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA), where she carries the Israel Strategy Portfolio. She is on the Executive Committee of the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC), where she co-Chairs the Commission on Intergroup Relations; the Jewish Home and Hospital Board; the Board of the JCC Association of North America; the Board of the Jewish Funders Network; the Board of the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), where she chairs the Emergency Committee and where she is past chair of the Domestic Council; and several other boards of non-profit agencies. Cheryl serves on the International Board of Governors of Beit Hatfustot, Museum of the Jewish People, and is the Immediate past President of the "American Friends" group. She serves on the Board of the Israel Trauma Coalition and as Secretary of the Board of Israel 21c. Cheryl is the past President and Chair of the Edith and Carl Marks Jewish Community House of Bensonhurst in Brooklyn.
Cheryl is in private practice as a clinical psychologist and an attorney. She has worked as an attorney at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and continues to do philanthropic consulting for individuals in the area of their donations to charity organizations. She holds a Doctorate in psychology from SUNY at Stony Brook, a law degree from New York University, and a Bachelor’s in psychology from Barnard College. She is married to Philip Schatten and they have four children and 3 grandchildren..
New Rochelle, NY
Ron Burton is known by known by many as the “Connector General” – a title that reflects his passion for bringing people and organizations together. Raised in a home infused with Judaism and community service, and a product of Camp Ramah and USY, Ron most recently served as President of the Westchester Jewish Council, working with 141 local Jewish organizations and synagogues, and has been on the Board of Directors of Schechter Westchester and the American Jewish Committee's Westchester Chapter. He helped create UJA-Federation’s New Rochelle's Family Campaign, as well as AIPAC’s Westchester Leadership for Tomorrow initiative.
Professionally, Ron has been with the real estate law firm of Goldfarb & Fleece LLP since 1992, where he became a partner in 2000. He received his B.A. and J.D. from Columbia University. His claim to fame in college was that he was the radio play-by-play announcer for the Columbia sports teams and never called a football win in his four-year tenure. What Ron cherishes the most, however, is the Jewish home he has built in New Rochelle with his wonderful wife, Jocelyn and their three (most-of-the-time) terrific children, Ben, Maddie and Zach.
Danielle Flug Capalino
New York, NY
Danielle is a nutritionist in private practice. She is passionate about continuing her family’s legacy in Jewish philanthropy, and first joined JDC’s Children’s Impact Network to help build school gardens in Israel as well as help mothers in Bulgaria set up daycare centers. Danielle travelled on a mission to Cuba with JDC and was immediately hooked - she looks forward to many more adventures with the JDC.
Danielle graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and has a Masters degree in Public Health Nutrition from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She lives with her husband, Reid, in New York City.
Beth and Donald Capelin
New York, NY
Donald and Beth are new to the JDC family. They learned of the organization’s work in Ukraine in 2014 and then traveled with JDC to Cuba later that year. Longtime residents of Scarsdale, NY where they raised their three college-aged children, they are active members of both Bet Am Shalom Synagogue and Metropolis Country Club in White Plains.
Donald is currently the President of Metropolis Country Club. He is also the CIO and President of Five Iron Capital Management, LLC, a private wealth management firm. Donald is a 35-year veteran of Wall Street, having served in multiple officer positions, including a decade at JPMorgan Chase. Beth worked for many years as an Occupational Therapist before becoming the CFO (Chief Family Officer) of the Capelin household. She currently volunteers in the career office of Scarsdale High School and at the Yonkers School System Partners in Education. Donald holds an MBA. from the Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania, and Beth holds a Bachelors Degree from Tufts University in Occupational Therapy and a Certificate Degree in Prosthetics & Orthotics from New York University.
Debra G. Cohen
Debra G. Cohen is a native Houstonian and has been active in many Jewish organizations. She has served as a Member of the Board of the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston for the past 17 years, receiving the Barbara Falik Young Leadership Award and serving as Women’s Philanthropy Chair for two years. Presently, Debra is a member of various committees, including the Women’s Cabinet, Israel/Overseas, and Fund for the Jewish Future.
Debra has been a Board Member and on the Executive Committee of Jewish Family Service in Houston for the past ten years, serving as both Vice President of Program Services and Development. Most recently, Debra co-Chaired the 100 Names for 100 Years campaign in recognition of the 100th anniversary of Jewish Family Service. Additionally, Debra serves on the Houston Jewish Family Foundation board. Debra has been an active board member of Holocaust Museum of Houston since 2003, and previously served on the Executive Committee.
Debra was on the National Young Leadership Cabinet for six years, holding several portfolios. She was a National Women’s Philanthropy (NWP) Board Member for six years, and is presently a Member of the Advisory Board of NWP. Debra is a Board Member of Jewish Federations of North America and serves on the Israel/Overseas Committee.
Debra is passionate about the global Jewish world. She has traveled extensively on local and national missions to Israel, Ukraine, Russia, Morocco, Czech Republic, Hungary, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, and Ethiopia. She serves as a Committee Member on the Board of Governors for Jewish Agency for Israel, an overseas partner of the Jewish Federation of North America. Debra attended Tulane University. She is married to Steven Cohen and has two daughters, Courtney and Hilary.
Susan serves on various local and national boards including the Jewish Federations of North America, United Israel Appeal(UIA) , the International Board of the Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning and Mechon Hadar.
She is a member of the JFNA Israel and Overseas Committee. Locally Susan is Chair of the Jewish Endowment Foundation of Western MA and is past president of the Jewish Federation. Susan serves as Vice President of Temple Beth El and is board member of Heritage Academy Jewish Community Day School of which her children are graduates. She is a past member of the UJA Young Leadership Cabinet and is a recipient of the Philip E Saks Young Leadership Award.
Susan is the former President of Plastic Packaging Corp. She holds B.S. degree from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from the Harvard Business School. She is married to William Firestone and they have adult twin daughters.
Morton “Mort” L. Friedkin
San Francisco, CA
Morton Friedkin is Founder and Chairman of Friedkin Realty Group, a real estate development firm based in San Francisco. Morton has been a JDC Board Member since 2003; he also serves on the Boards of the Jewish Community Foundation, the Pacific Northwest Region of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Friends of Israel Political Action Committee, the Lark Creek Restaurant Group, Hood River Distillery, and the Anti-Defamation League.
Morton has degrees in Economics and Political Science from California State University, Hayward. He and his wife, Amy, have three children, Benjamin, David, and Jennifer, and three grandchildren, Brian, Sarah Anne, and Nicole.
Susan lives with her husband Michael in Wyomissing, PA and New York City. They have two adult children who also live in New York. Susan served as President of the JCC of Reading Board of Directors, and Safe Berks, a domestic and sexual violence prevention agency. She was also a member of the Board of Opportunity House, an emergency shelter in Reading, PA and the Jewish Federation of Reading. She is currently a member of the Safe Berks Board of Directors and Caron Treatment Center’s New York Regional Board. Susan worked as a Prevention Educator for Caron Treatment Centers in PA and NYC and currently volunteers at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
She graduated from the University of Michigan with a Bachelors in Business Administration.
Susan and her husband traveled to Russia with JDC in February 2017.
Ellen and Frank Hagelberg
Ellen Hagelberg has been an active volunteer on both the local and national levels for many years. Locally, Ellen served on the Board of Directors of the Jewish Community Federation of Greater Rochester for 15 years, served as President of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children/New York Branch, the Greater Rochester Chapter of NAWBO, the Rochester Area Hillel Foundation and the Hillel School Foundation. Nationally, Ellen served on the Board of Directors, Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life and was a member of the UJA National Young Women’s Leadership Cabinet. Professionally, Ellen has held various positions in the human resources field for close to 30 years, and recently retired as Executive Director of Temple Beth El, Rochester, NY.
Frank Hagelberg is an attorney in Rochester, NY. A former Chair of the UJA National Young Leadership Cabinet, Frank was also a member of UJA’s National Training Center and has conducted solicitation training sessions for Jewish communities across North America as well as in Europe, Australia and South Africa. From 2001 to 2003 Frank served as the Executive Director of UJA-Federation of New York’s Philanthropic Leadership Group, responsible for all donors contributing $25,000 or more to the annual campaign. He also served as a member of the Board of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry and was a member of the Board of the Rochester, NY Jewish Community Federation for many years.
Ellen and Frank are the parents of Robert, who lives in Rochester, and David, who lives in Jerusalem.
Carol R. Levy
Park City, UT
Carol Levy has been President of Stillwater Investment, Inc since 1986. In that capacity she has led investment groups in the purchase of moderate-size manufacturing companies. She currently serves as Chairwoman of B&P Process Equipment and Systems, a Saginaw, Michigan- based manufacturer of large scale mixing and separation process equipment. Prior to forming Stillwater,
Carol spent two decades in lending and finance, including posts as Vice President of Prucapital, a subsidiary of Prudential Insurance, and Vice President of J. Henry Schroder Bank and Trust Co. She holds a BA from Mount Holyoke College, an MA from the University of Michigan, and an MBA from New York University. She has served on a number of corporate and non-profit boards, including the Jewish Federation of Utah, and resides in Park City, Utah.
Shari B. Levy
Shari Levy is involved in various local and national organizations and has served on the Board of Directors and Executive Committees of The Conservative Synagogue of Westport and Weston and UJA/Federation of Westport, Weston, Wilton and Norwalk (WWWN).
She is currently a Member of the Executive Committee of Camp Ramah New England in Palmer, MA, a Trustee of The Washington Institute, a Member of the Northeast Council of AIPAC, and a JDC Board Member. Shari has been recognized for her service to the community by UJA/Federation WWWN, United Synagogue, and the Anti-Defamation League.
Shari grew up in New York and earned a BA in Humanities from SUNY College at Purchase and then went on to earn an MA in Museum Studies from Case Western Reserve University. She has taught various subjects to all ages, from preschool to adults, in diverse settings.
Shari and her husband, Harold (Co-President of Iridian Asset Management), live in Westport, CT, and they have three children.
New York, NY
Rebecca Lieberman serves as executive director of The Applebaum Foundation, Inc., a 67 year-old foundation that suppoerts medical research and education, cultural institutions and Jewish educational, religious and welfare organizations in the United States and Israel. Rebecca previously served as a senior advisor to The Nadav Foundation, and Israeli philanthropy focused on Jewish identity and cultural initiatives, and held executive positions in the fields of education reform, child and family wellbeing, and civic engagement, including launching an organization dedicated to non-partisan voter mobilization. As a volunteer Rebecca is engaged with Carmel Academy in Greenwich, Connecticut and Conservative Synagogue Adath Israel of Riverdale. Rebecca holds a JD from The University of Pennsylvania School of Law and a BA from Barnard College in English Literature.
New York, NY
Alexandra Machinist is a literary agent at ICM Partners in New York. While she primarily specializes in fiction, she represents New York Times and internationally bestselling authors across a wide range of genres. A graduate of the University of Michigan and the University of Virginia School of Law, Alexandra practiced law at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld before becoming an agent. A Member of the New York Bar, Alexandra also serves on the Publishers and Literary Committee of the New York Public Library and on the Board of the Publishing Division of UJA.
A native New Yorker, Alexandra lives in Manhattan.
New York, NY
Jenny Morgenthau served, until recently, as the Executive Director of The Fresh Air Fund since 1983. The Fund, one of New York City’s premier non-profit organizations, has provided free Summer experiences to more than 1.8 million children from low-income communities since 1877.
Jenny has designed and implemented several capital campaigns to build new camps, upgrade facilities, and enhance educational programming. Her vision for The Fresh Air Fund has expanded the educational horizons and career paths for thousands of inner-city adolescents by creating a Career Awareness Program that takes place year-round at Camp and in New York City.
Jenny’s leadership of The Fund is the culmination of a rich career in public service. After graduating from Smith College and earning a Master’s Degree in Urban Planning from Columbia University, she worked for New York City’s Child Welfare and City Planning Agencies and for New York State’s Urban Development Corporation.
She participates in the Women’s Impact Network of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) to support programs that help women in need, especially in the areas of employment and health. JDC began in 1914 with a founding telegram from her great grandfather, Henry Morgenthau Sr., when he was the U.S. Ambassador to Turkey requesting aid for the 60,000 Jews in Ottoman-ruled Palestine.
For almost 30 years, Holli was recognized as one of the nation’s leading crisis communications counselors and worked across a wide range of industries and government entities advising on critical reputational issues. She specialized in crisis communications, corporate positioning, M&A, bankruptcy and restructurings as well as corporate governance. She was Vice Chairman and Chair of the Executive Committee of Financial Dynamics (FD), a global business communications firm.
Most recently, Holli has focused on photography and graduated from the International Center of Photography (ICP) in New York City. Her work has been shown in curated exhibitions, books, newspapers and magazines. Among other activities, she works with non-profit organizations helping them tell their stories and raise visibility and resources through compelling images.
Holli is a graduate of Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, and served two terms as a Trustee of the College from 1988 to 2000. She did graduate work at the London School of Economics in international relations and defense issues, and completed the Karl Landeggar Mid-Management Training Program in International Business-Government Relations at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service. She currently serves on the board of Women’s World Banking, was an InterFace Fellow with the JDC, is a Founding Member of both the Beacon Group (a giving circle) and TEDxWallStreet, and is a member of the Belizean Grove.
Holli lives in Larchmont, NY and Sag Harbor with her husband Ben Sax. They have two adult sons; Matt a playwright, musician and actor living in Los Angeles, and Sam a writer, poet and musician who is a Michener Fellow at the University of Texas, in Austin.
Felice Shapiro has been an entrepreneur in publishing for her entire career. She grew her multi-title parenting magazine group (Family Publishing Group) and sold it to a conglomerate in London (UAP). As Founder/Publisher of this on-line magazine, BetterAfter50.com (BA50), she has created a platform for women at mid-life and publishes work around topics relevant to mid-lifers as they enter their next phase.
Her personal journey has given her writing a focus on reinvention and figuring out next acts. Felice writes on fashion, health, goal setting, the arts and what’s next. Felice is published on betterafter50.com and the Huffington Post. Through her publishing company, she runs full day workshops for women around next steps at mid-life, Shedidit.com. Felice also taught Entrepreneurship at Tufts University from 2009 to 2014 and now serves on the Entrepreneurship Leadership Board at Tufts University where both her boys went to school.
Felice and her fabulous husband Bill split their time between Boston, Larchmont, New York and Martha’s Vineyard. She loves to spend time with her buddies’ while running, hiking, skiing, and after yoga. She is the proud mother of 2 boys, Caleb who is a top 40 singer/songwriter of the duo Timeflies living in Los Angeles and Jake who is a senior product developer at Amazon in Seattle. She is a graduate of the Georgetown School of Foreign Service and holds an MBA from George Washington University. Felice is excited to be part of the launch of the JDC Art Circle and helping to build awareness about JDC through community outreach in the arts.
Joyce Silberstang, Ph.D.
New York, NY
Dr. Joyce Silberstang, an industrial/organizational Psychologist and award-winning author and scholar, has consulted senior leaders of corporations, nonprofits and government agencies for the past twenty-five years. She specializes in leadership development, team building and organizational transformation. Joyce was, until recently, an Associate Professor of Management at Adelphi University’s Willumstad School of Business, where she was named “Woman of the Year.” A former school director, she also served as the Technical Advisor to the Department of the Navy’s Civilian Leadership Board and to the Secretary of the Navy Group on Ethics and Character.
Joyce serves on the National Board of Governors of the American Jewish Committee (AJC), where she is a Member of the Leadership Development Committee. Joyce is on the AJC Asia Pacific Institute Board and on the AJC New York Board, where she is an Officer-at-Large, and Co-Chair of the Charting Israel’s Future Committee. Joyce serves on the Board of Directors of DOROT, where she is Chair of the Research and Evaluation Committee. Joyce is also actively involved with UJA, where she is a a Member of the Global Jewish Peoplehood Committee, serves on the Steering Committee of the Global Jewish Connectivity Research Project, is a Member of the Women’s Executive Circle and provides pro-bono consulting to CEO’s of Jewish non-profits through the UJA Management Assistance Program.
Joyce is married to Richard A. Rosen. She received her degree from The George Washington University.
New York, NY
Orna Stern is a consultant in the arts, Jewish education and Israel Advocacy. She grew up in Israel, served as an Officer in the IDF and earned an MA in Statistics from Tel Aviv University. While raising three children, Orna was involved with the Abraham Joshua Heshcel School in Manhattan and the Bi-Cultural Day School in Stamford. An art collector and consultant, she has sat on the board of the Tel Aviv Museum and is a docent at the Aldrich Museum in Ridgefield, CT. She has Co-Chaired the Fairfield Council of AIPAC and serves on AIPAC's National Board.
Orna is part of the JDC Ambassador program and serves on the Steering Committee. She and her husband divide their time between Connecticut and New York.
Bettina Waxman is currently a full time mother and homemaker. Prior to devoting herself to her family, she practiced law as a litigator. Bettina serves on the Executive Committee of SAR Academy in Riverdale, New York, and on the Ambassadors’ Steering Committee of the JDC, and has been a JDC Board Member since 2016. She is a graduate of Boston University and the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.
Bettina and her husband, Spencer, live in New York and have three children.
Etta Gross Zimmerman
Boca Raton, FLEtta Gross Zimmerman is the Chair of the Africa & Asia Committee and a past Chair of the JDC Ukraine Area Committee, and has been a JDC Board Member Since 2002. She has traveled extensively throughout the world visiting various JDC programs, and speaks of her overseas travels, using personal photojournalism to engage communities in supporting overseas needs.
Etta is a past Chair of the Board of the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County and an Honorary Board member of the Jewish Agency for Residential Care.
Etta and her husband, Raymond, have one daughter, Leya Edelstein.