Meet members of the JDC Ambassadors Steering Committee
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 2008 recipient of the Generosity of Spirit Award. She is past chair of the Caring Commission, of the Hurricane Katrina Relief Committee, of the Missions Committee, and of the Trauma Task Force at UJA-Federation. She is a member of the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency (JAFI), and The United Israel Appeal (UIA), and she 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. 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 also continues to do 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.
Jayne Lipman, Co-Chair
JDC Board Member since 2011; Mamaroneck, NY
As a resident of Westchester, New York for the past 16 years, Jayne has been an active volunteer with leadership roles in numerous community organizations, including Board positions at Larchmont Temple, the Mamaroneck Schools Foundation, the Emelin Theater, and the Student Aid Fund.
Currently, she is Co-President of the PTSA at Mamaroneck High School and a member of Cornell University’s Advisory Council for the College of Arts & Sciences.
As a Board member of JDC and co-chair of its Ambassadors’ Circle, Jayne has traveled on a number of JDC missions, including ones to Lithuania, Ukraine, the Russian Far East, and Uzbekistan.
Jayne holds a B.A. from Cornell University and an M.B.A. from Columbia University, and continues to study intensive Hebrew. She and her husband, Bob Goodman, have three children, ages 21, 17, and 11.
Palm Beach, FL
Ellen “Ellie” Block is a philanthropic leader deeply committed to addressing critical issues that affect children and families in need, nationally and internationally. She currently serves as: 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 in 2010 the TAGIE Humanitarian Award.
Danielle Flug Capalino
New York, NY
Danielle Flug Capalino is a nutritionist in private practice. She is passionate about continuing her families legacy in Jewish philanthropy, and first joined JDC’s Children’s Impact Network which is helping to build school gardens in Israel as well as help mothers in Bulgaria to set up daycare centers. She travelled on a mission to Cuba with JDC and was immediately hooked - Danielle looks forward to many more adventures with the JDC. Danielle is also a member of Educational Alliance’s Young Professional board.
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 its 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 CC. He is also the CIO and president of Five Iron Capital Management, LLC, a private wealth management firm. He's a 35 year veteran of Wall Street, having served in many officer positions, including a decade at JPMorgan Chase. Beth worked for many years as an Occupational Therapist before becoming the CFO (Chief Family Officer) in 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 M.B.A. from the Wharton School at U. of Pa, and Beth holds a Bachelors Degree from Tufts University in Occupational Therapy and a certificate degree in Prosthetics & Orthotics from N.Y.U.
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. In addition, she serves on the Houston Jewish Family Foundation board. Ms. Cohen has been an active board member of Holocaust Museum Houston since 2003 and has also served on the executive committee.
Debra was on National Young Leadership Cabinet for six years, holding several portfolios. She was a National Women’s Philanthropy (NWP) board member for six years, with leadership portfolios, and she 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.
Morton “Mort” L. Friedkin
JDC Board Member since 2003; San Francisco, CA
Morton Friedkin is Founder and Chairman of Friedkin Realty Group, a real estate development firm based in San Francisco. Mr. Friedkin 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.
Mr. Friedkin 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.
JDC Board Member since 2014; Los Angeles, CA / Denver, CO
Bettina Kurowski recently retired as CEO of the LA chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. Before that she led her own health care biotech consulting firm for 10+ years; was a pioneer in the HMO industry; managed two medical centers; and started it all as an academic at the Univ. of Colo. Schools of Medicine, Nursing, and Business. She holds a Ph.D. and M.P.A. in Health Policy and a B.S. in Finance from U.S.C. Currently, she runs the family real estate business.
Throughout her professional and volunteer activities, she has received numerous awards and honors. All her volunteer activities have focused on fundraising for Jewish organizations. She has held 12 chairs spanning three communities over 25 years in several Federations, most recently having chaired the Los Angeles Campaign & been President of the Valley Alliance. She has also been involved in fundraising for her synagogue, Valley Beth Shalom, as well as the Jewish Outreach Institute. She and her husband, of blessed memory, have 5 wonderful grandchildren from 4 children.
Michele Levin has been a “professional” volunteer on the local, national and international level for many years. She is currently the President of the Board of Directors of Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy in Bryn Mawr, PA., vice-chair of the Negev Creative Vitality Initiative steering committee of the Jewish Federations of North America, a national board member of American Associates of Ben-Gurion University and the immediate past co-chair of the Center for Israel and Overseas of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia. Michele is also active in her synagogue, Har Zion Temple, Penn Valley PA, having held multiple roles as an officer.
Michele is currently studying for her master’s degree in Organization, Development and Leadership at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. She is a consultant with gestaltworks, llc, specializing in strategic planning for faith-based organizations.
Michele grew up and still resides in Philadelphia, PA. She earned her BS in Business and Economics from Lehigh University. She and her husband Robert have 3 amazing children Jake, Samantha and Andrew.
Carol R. Levy
Park City, UT
Carol R. 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 chairman of B&P Process Equipment and Systems, a Saginaw, MI based manufacturer of large scale mixing and separation process equipment. Prior to forming Stillwater Mrs. Levy spent two decades in lending and finance, including posts as VP of Prucapital, a subsidiary of Prudential Insurance, and VP of J. Henry Schroder Bank and Trust Co. She holds a BA from Mt. Holyoke College, 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,currently, 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.
She is currently a member of the executive committee of Camp Ramah New England in Palmer, MA, a trustee of The Washington Institute, and a member of the Northeast Council of AIPAC. Ms. Levy has been recognized for her service to the community by UJA/Federation WWWN, United Synagogue, and the Anti-Defamation League.
Ms. Levy grew up in New York and earned a B.A. in Humanities from SUNY College at Purchase and then went on to earn an M.A. in Museum Studies from Case Western Reserve University. She has taught various subjects to all ages, from preschool to adults, in diverse settings.
Ms. Levy and her husband, Harold (co-president of Iridian Asset Management), live in Westport, CT. They have three children.
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.
JDC Ambassador since 2013; New York, NY
Jenny Morgenthau has been the Executive Director of The Fresh Air Fund since 1983. The Fund, one of New York City’s premier not-for-profit organizations, has provided free summer experiences to more than 1.8 million children from low-income communities since 1877.Ms. Morgenthau has designed and implemented several capital campaigns to build new camps and 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. Ms. Morgenthau’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.
White Plains, NY
Diane Werner is the President of WB&E Realty, a real estate management firm in White Plains, New York. Diane is a past President of Westchester Hebrew High School and serves on the board of the Westchester Jewish Council. She also serves on the Westchester Leadership Council of the American Jewish World Service. Recently, Diane founded Mosaic of Westchester, a new initiative working for the full inclusion of LGBTQ Jews into Westchester Jewish life. Ms. Werner has master’s degrees in both Journalism and Business Administration from Columbia University. She and her husband Michael have four sons and live in White Plains, New York.
Etta Gross Zimmerman
JDC Board Member Since 2002; Boca Raton, FL
Etta Gross Zimmerman is the Chair of the Africa & Asia Committee and a past Chair of the JDC Ukraine Area Committee. 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.
Ms. Zimmerman 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.
Ms. Zimmerman and her husband, Raymond, have one daughter, Leya Edelstein.