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Simona BogodeSimona Bogode

Simona is a busy mom of two active boys (10 months & 10 years) and two dogs, one of which is certifiably crazy. She loves to travel and cycle both indoors and out. Simona supports the Jewish community through her role as the Chair of Emanuel Congregation’s Blood Drives, the Emanuel Eeshas (women’s group) and her work with the recently established Chicago Jewish Alliance. She can also be spotted organizing a school event or two.

Simona was born in the former Soviet Union and emigrated to the United States with her family at age five. She graduated from Deerfield High School, earned a BFA from Columbia College, and became a licensed physical therapy assistant.

Since 2012, Simona has practiced as a clinician in Chicago. She’s recently advanced to an administrative role at Elite Home Health in Northbrook, where she reviews the work of other physical therapists to ensure Medicare compliance. She is passionate about streamlining medical documentation and ensuring that clinicians provide the best possible care to patients. She also dedicates herself to optimizing her organization’s processes.


Jennifer GilbertJennifer Gilbert

Jennifer was born in Chicago and raised in the southern suburbs. She went to the University of Pennsylvania and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in communication and a minor in psychology. She studied abroad in Melbourne, Australia.

Jennifer started her career in the sports industry and has been fortunate to have worked at both of Chicago’s esteemed ballparks, Wrigley Field, and Sox Park (now known as Guaranteed Rate Field). Seeking greater purpose, Jennifer pivoted her career to help tech-forward companies, like Accenture and UScellular, connect with their communities and be a force for good. She is passionate about creating a more sustainable world by driving positive social and environmental impact. Jennifer specializes in working cross-functionally to develop integrated marketing and communications campaigns for sustainability, social impact, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG), strategic partnerships, employee engagement, and philanthropic initiatives.

Jennifer also enjoys spending time with her family and friends, traveling, reading, baking, playing tennis and running along the lake (when the weather is nice).


Carol GranofCarol Granof

Carol was born in Wisconsin and raised in a suburb outside Milwaukee.
She is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin – Madison with a Bachelor of Science.
Carol started her career in imports and sales for the J. Gregor and Co Gemstones Company and later transitioned to the cosmetic industry along with real estate in the New York area. When she and her husband relocated to the North Shore of Chicago, Carol stayed home to raise their three daughters. Once the girls were in school full-time, she and her husband formed a successful consulting business specializing in directors’ and officers’ liability.

In 2020, she lost her husband unexpectedly. This tragedy propelled her in a new direction. To cope with grief and to support others who also suffer from significant losses, Carol and her daughters began envisioning a company that could help the bereaved find comfort. With a focus on jewelry and home accessories, the hope is to help others keep the memory of their loved ones alive.

Carol and her husband Perry have three daughters, Sarah, an influencer marketing expert, Arielle, an international filmmaker, and Natanya, who is finishing up her bachelors in an honors program for diplomacy and leadership in the Jewish world.

Carol enjoys travel, playing Rummikub and badminton, spending time with her family and crossing her comfort zone in search of new and compelling adventures.


Kimberly SchulteKimberly Role Schulte

Kimberly has been working in nonprofits for the past decade and is currently the Manager of Corporate & Foundation Grants at Brightpoint, a child and family service agency serving 30,000 families across Illinois. She oversees the statewide grants process, including identification, cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship. Kimberly is passionate about writing and enjoys simplifying complex information into easily relatable and compelling stories. Before fundraising, she worked in supportive housing as a social services provider. Kimberly has a Master’s in Clinical Psychology from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology and a Bachelor’s in Psychology from DePaul University.

For the past few years, Kimberly has served as a jBaby Ambassador and PJ Library Parent Connector. She finds joy in building a strong Jewish community by coordinating programs and connecting young families.

Kimberly currently lives in Deerfield with her husband and two young daughters. In her free time, you can find her reading historical fiction or romance novels, taking yoga classes, and spending time with her family.


Tracy SchultzTracy Schultz

Tracy was born and raised in Silver Spring, Maryland and earned her Bachelor of Architecture at the University of Maryland, College Park. She lived in Israel for a year before attending grad school, where she worked on an archaeological dig in Caesarea as well as for various architects. Tracy earned a Master of Architecture from the University of Illinois Chicago, where she fell in love with the city and her future husband.

After working for a few years in the architecture field, Tracy decided to leave the workforce to stay home with her children. During this time, she was a member of the UIC Hillel Board, served as the registrar for Rogers Park AYSO soccer, and volunteered in the library and for the hot lunch program at Hillel Torah and for the Mishloach Manot project at Hebrew Theological College.

Tracy returned to the workforce in 2018, when she joined the YU Torah Mitzion Kollel as the assistant to the Rosh Kollel. She now serves as its Director of Operations, utilizing her analytical and organizational skills to efficiently manage the ever-shifting needs of the Kollel.

Tracy lives in West Rogers Park with her husband, Matia, and their three children. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, birdwatching, playing strategic board games and expressing her creativity through crafting.


Yelena SpectorYelena Spector

Yelena Spector was born in Moscow, Russia, and emigrated with her family to Chicago in October 1989, just before her 9th birthday and the fall of the Soviet Union. She graduated from DePaul University with a degree in Marketing. Following graduation, she pursued a career in marketing and recruitment in London, England.

After the birth of her second child, Yelena stopped working to be home with her children for a few years before they both started attending Akiba-Schechter Jewish Day School in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago. She began working at Akiba-Schechter the following year as the Director of Admissions and Marketing. Developing a strong network in the Jewish community and a passion for Jewish education, in 2020 Yelena transitioned to her current role at Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School as the Special Operations Manager for the Office of the Head of School. In this capacity, she provides crucial support to the leadership team and the Board of Trustees. In 2021, Yelena completed a Certificate in Jewish Leadership at the Spertus Institute.

Yelena is married to local architect and small business owner, Vladimir Radutny, together they have 3 children, Ronit, a rising senior at Lincoln Park High School, Asher, a rising junior at Lane Tech and Sam a middle school student at Akiba-Schechter. She enjoys exploring architecture, cooking, yoga, spending time with her family traveling, slowly skiing down the safest run on the mountain, and many summertime baseball games.


Zhanna SoloveychikZhanna Soloveychik

Zhanna’s life unfolds in threes: residing in three countries, speaking three languages, earning three degrees, pursuing three professions, and raising three children.

After graduating from St. Petersburg Herzen University in Russia with a degree in Russian Literature, Zhanna taught at a high school for several years until she made an Aliya to Israel.

There, she changed her professional path, earning a degree from the School of Social Work at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. After graduation, Zhanna worked as a social worker in a world of non-profit organizations, such as family planning services or a center for youth in distress.

Upon moving to the United States after marriage, Zhanna took a hiatus from her professional career to devote herself to raising her children.

Currently, she serves as a senior case manager at Multi-Service Center EZRA (JUF), assisting clients with public benefits and advocating for their rights. In 2021, Zhanna’s professional achievements were recognized when she was invited as Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky’s honorary guest to President Joe Biden’s first Congressional Address.

Recently, Zhanna completed a Master of Arts in Jewish Professional Studies at Spertus Institute. She is an optimistic and curious person who loves people, literature, cooking, and new experiences, especially travel.


Chavie SosaChavie Sosa

Chavie is a Senior Consultant, Executive Search & Advisory at Chamberlain Advisors, where she leads executive searches for private equity firms & their portfolio companies. In her role, she leads talent searches for senior leadership positions, drives internal strategy and marketing efforts to support the growth of the firm, and leads business development efforts, such as the Chicago Women in Private Equity monthly breakfast series that she established.

Prior to Chamberlain Advisors, Chavie was a Senior Associate at Financial Decisions, a private wealth management firm in New York, where she helped manage investment portfolios for private clients. She started her career as an Associate at the Win-Win Coalition, where she helped facilitate partnerships between corporations and women’s funds to build women’s empowerment programs.

Chavie has an MBA from MIT Sloan, where she studied human capital management and data analytics with a focus on building unbiased hiring algorithms. She has a BA in History from Barnard College.

Chavie lives in Skokie, IL with her husband and daughter and is very active in her synagogue, Skokie Valley Agudath Jacob.


Lindsay SweetLindsay Sweet

Lindsay was born and raised in Highland Park and Northbrook. She is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin’s Honors Humanities Program, with a Master’s Degree from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, where she studied Health Policy and Promotion.

Lindsay began her career as a health educator and project officer at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), working in tobacco control. She then moved back home to Chicago and managed community health programs at the American Academy of Pediatrics.

After taking a career break to raise three children, Lindsay is delighted to be working for Community–The Anti-Drug, a community coalition whose mission is to reduce drug use among youth in Highland Park, Highwood, Deerfield, Bannockburn and Riverwoods.

Lindsay is married to her husband, David, and they have two sons, one in high school and one in college, and a daughter in junior high school. She enjoys travel, volunteering for Girl Scouts, sustainable gardening, pilates, and spending time with her family.


Rachel TanzerRachel Tanzer

Rachel has 25 years of experience in the Jewish non-profit world. She has a B.S. in sociology from the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point. Her passion for Jewish communal service began as a camp counselor and unit head at the Minnesota JCC’s Camp Olami.

Upon relocating to Chicago, Rachel’s dedication flourished at CJE SeniorLife, where she initially served on the Center for Health Living team, delivering health and technology education, home safety assessments, and community engagement initiatives. Transitioning to the Information Technology team as a business applications analyst, she found fulfillment in supporting her colleagues and enhancing agency operations.

Rachel’s path led her to JCC Chicago, where she initially immersed herself in programs like Apachi Rogers Park, Apachi Evanston, and the Early Childhood program at the Bernard Horwich JCC. Today, as a project manager on the JCC Chicago Customer Solutions team, Rachel supports impactful initiatives within the organization.

During the school year, Rachel teaches second graders at the Joseph & Belle Braun Anshe Emet Religious School. In her personal time, Rachel enjoys the company of her husband and two canine companions, hiking in the many county parks nearby, gardening, cooking, baking, and canning.

Melissa FradkinMelissa Fradkin

Melissa is a manager in the healthcare consulting practice at Crowe LLP, one of the 10 largest public accounting, consulting, and technology firms in the US. She has a history of demonstrated success leading cross-functional teams to solve complex business challenges and deliver transformational results. Her areas of expertise include: Strategic Planning, Data Analytics, Process Improvement, Organizational Development, Automation, Project Management, Knowledge Management, and Operations. Melissa received her Project Management Professional (PMP) certification from the Project Management Institute and CHFP and CRCR certifications from the Healthcare Financial Management Association. She graduated from the Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and a second major in History.

Melissa is involved in the Washington University Alumni Network (Executive Co-Chair of the Reunion Committee, Chicago Young Alumni Committee), Israel Cancer Research Fund (Visions Young Leadership Board), and Jewish United Fund (2023 Cohort of the Gesher Leadership Program) and enjoys participating in programming and events for a wide range of Chicago Jewish organizations. In her free time Melissa enjoys traveling, hiking, reading, history, museums, and photography.


Rachel KamenirRachel Kamenir

Rachel started her career in consulting, with a focus on financial crime investigations and data analytics. At Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA), she is currently innovating internal Ethics education as Director of Compliance Training & Communications. She also empowers opportunities for cross-cultural learning, such as recently spearheading company-wide and departmental Antisemitism Awareness & Allyship events.

Rachel is actively involved in the Birthright Israel Excel Fellowship community, through which she interned in Tel Aviv and served as a founding member of the organization’s Global Fellow Board. She has facilitated Jewish community experiences by staffing four Birthright trips to Israel and hosting local & virtual events for organizations like Moishe House without Walls and Shorashim.

Rachel believes in positively reframing the conversation around mental health through education. She serves on the Board of Directors for No Shame On U (NSOU), a nonprofit with roots in the Chicago Jewish community dedicated to eliminating the stigma associated with mental health conditions.

Rachel holds a Bachelor of Science in Accountancy from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In college, Rachel’s first internship was at the Illini Hillel center for Jewish Life. She is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE), and is Certified in Financial Forensics (CFF).

Rachel resides in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. In her free time, you can find her exploring coffee shops, reading, and writing.


Devorah KaufmanDevorah Kaufman

Devorah has been working in international sales and business development for over 25 years. After completing a degree in music at the University of Michigan, where she also studied Asian languages and cultures, she leveraged her interest in China and Chinese language skills through several China and Asia related jobs, in fashion, biotechnology, and export market development. Most recently, in Los Angeles, she served as the North American and Israeli Representative for Zhuhai (a city in southern) China, attracting foreign direct investments in biotech, aviation and advanced manufacturing. She earned an MA in East Asian Studies from UCLA, and an MBA from Touro with a focus on international marketing.

In 2017, she moved back to Chicago to be closer to her aging parents, accepting a position in consultative sales with Euromonitor, an international research company. At Euromonitor, she helps clients like the FDA, National Institute for Standards and Technology, and US agricultural groups use research developed out of Euromonitor’s 16 global offices to make sense of consumer trends and sales opportunities around the world.

Devorah has traveled extensively, and has lived and worked in in Shanghai, China, Melbourne Australia, Los Angeles, New York City and sweet home Chicago. Outside of work, Devorah is close to her mom and her amazing and wonderful adult children, and has many interests, including studying Jewish texts, practicing yoga, and swimming at the J. She can often be found puttering in her native plants garden, enjoying the outdoors with her rescue dog Sadie, or practicing ukulele for an all-women’s Jewish music group.


Maggie Marx EnriquezMaggie Marx Enriquez

Maggie was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska. She relocated to Chicago to attend Loyola University, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Social Work. With an early passion for nonprofit work, Chicago was the obvious choice due to its vast number of public resources and services. While in school and soon after, Maggie worked at several nonprofit organizations of all shapes and sizes, and eventually found a home with JCC Chicago, drawn in by the size, scope and well-known reputation of the agency.

Maggie’s first role at the J was working the front desk closing shift at the Bernard Horwich JCC, where she was soon promoted to Customer Engagement Manager. In 2020, Maggie became a core member of the Salesforce Implementation team that spearheaded the JCC’s expansive software integration project. Drawn to this work, Maggie has since taken on agencywide training, and management of the Customer Solutions team. Maggie received her System Administration Certification in 2021 and she continues to advance the J’s application of Salesforce and integrated systems.

In her current role as Assistant Director of Customer Experience, Maggie oversees the Customer Solutions and Fee Assistance teams. She acts as liaison between the community members, program departments, and the finance team, overseeing all financial accounts across the agency. As a self-proclaimed “math nerd,” she loves the daily opportunity to combine her love for numbers, policy, and structure with her social work and human behavior background.

In her free time, Maggie enjoys reading, watching reality television, and the occasional escape to the Colorado mountains with her husband, Zachary, and her two rescue pups – Lucy and Muñeca


Hilary PrimackHilary Primack

Hilary is the Marketing Strategist at Mahoney Environmental in Joliet, IL, where she leads everything from social media management to developing messaging around Mahoney’s sustainability initiatives.

Before joining Mahoney Environmental, Hilary made an impact at America’s SAP Users’ Group and Beth Hillel B’nai Emunah in Membership Marketing and Communications functions.

Hilary is a graduate of the University of Delaware with a B.S. in Human Services and a Master of Social Work from the University of Southern California with a concentration in Community, Organization, Policy, and Administration.

When Hilary isn’t working, you can find her exploring Chicago with her dog, Toby, traveling around the country, serving on the Board of Directors for MKTG WMN, and spending time with friends.


Jacqueline SaperJacqueline Saper, CPA

Jacqueline is an award-winning author, commentator, public speaker, and translator. Her memoir, From Miniskirt to Hijab: A Girl in Revolutionary Iran, won the Chicago Writers Association 2020 Book of the Year Award. The book is also a finalist for the Eric Hoffer, Feathered Quill, and the Clara Johnson book awards, the Foreword Reviews’ “Diversity Book of the Week,” and the Curated Magazine Must Read book of Fall 2020.

Saper was born and raised in Tehran by an Iranian father and a British mother. Growing up in the Middle East with a bicultural and bilingual upbringing has allowed her to develop a deep appreciation for diversity and different ways of life. She witnessed the Iranian revolution of 1979 and lived under the Sharia laws of the Islamic Republic for the following eight years. In 1987, she left Iran with her husband and two young children. Saper is a frequent lecturer, panelist, instructor for various organizations, and guest on television and radio shows. Her opinion columns appear in national and international publications.

Saper has worked as an accountant and a business and international studies faculty member at Oakton Community College. She earned a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Business from Northeastern Illinois University (summa cum laude). She received the designation of CPA (Certified Public Accountant) from the Board of Examiners of the University of Illinois. Saper is also a graduate of the Hadassah Leadership Academy and the Florence Melton School (Morasha for educators). In 2018, she received Oakton College’s Distinguished Alumni Award.


Naomi ShiclyNaomi Shicly

Naomi has a background in Sociology and Public Health. She is passionate about education and communications. Naomi started her career in Special Education and has lived in several different geographic locations to understand the breadth of unique communities and sensitive populations. She has focused her efforts on prevention with special emphasis on sensitive topics and a desire to better serve the community. She is committed to a holistic and comprehensive approach while also appreciating diversity. She is a strong believer that everyone has something to contribute. With a positive outlook, she sees the good in everyone and focuses on solutions creating effective systems and brainstorming progressive strategies to cause forward movement and productive change.

She enjoys creative outlets whether it be participating in a performance (theatrical, dance, spoken word and poetry) or collaging, writing and discussing a book or fascinating ideas and current events. As a working mother, she especially enjoys taking her kids out doing family activities including parks, museums and nature centers as they love to explore the outdoors and follow their curiosity.


Sheryl SteinesSheryl Steines

Sheryl was born in Chicago and raised in the suburbs. She graduated from Wright State University, in Dayton, Ohio with a bachelor’s degree in English.

Sheryl began her career as a customer service representative for Household Retail Services and worked her way up to Report Analyst in two years. She continued to work for the company until her children were born. As a stay-at-home mom, Sheryl volunteered her time writing for the local PTO and temple sisterhood as well as an all-female football team, the Chicago Force. Over the years, Sheryl has put her writing skills to good use in a variety of different fields from interior design, finance, and health care working as a technical writer and procedure writer.

For the last fifteen years, Sheryl’s been following her lifelong dream to be an author and has published five books. She was a Kindle eBook of the Year finalist in 2011, received Book of the Year from in 2011, was #1 in Occult Genre, May, 2012, and a Semi Finalist for the Kindle eBook of the Year, 2019. Currently, she’s working on the next urban fantasy novel and starting a cozy mystery series in her spare time. She’s ready to take a chance on herself and started her own company to explore other options for her writing.

Sheryl is married with two kids. She enjoys reading, hiking, flea marketing, and interior design.


Mimi SternMimi Stern

Mimi (she/her) is an EHR System Analyst at JCFS Chicago, combining technical work in database management with strategic leadership for cross-agency projects. She is passionate about helping organizations prioritize data-driven decision-making and strong tech infrastructure as a way to ensure sustainable social services for the communities they serve.

Prior to her current role, Mimi worked on JCFS Chicago’s QAC (Quality Accreditation and Compliance) team and at SHALVA, first as an Avodah Service Corps Member, and then as the Clinical and Development Assistant. She holds a B.A. in Economics from Oberlin College and an M.S. in Civic Analytics from UIC.

Since moving to Chicago in 2016, Mimi has volunteered with various organizations supporting reproductive justice and ending sexual and domestic violence, and is engaged in local politics. Her commitment to work in Jewish social services is fueled by her life in the Jewish community and relationships to Jewish institutions, including Camp Ramah and Avodah.

Mimi lives in Irving Park with her fiancé. She enjoys hiking, backpacking, canoeing, and paddleboarding, and in her spare time can usually be found training for her next outdoor adventure.


Jody Zalkin-WeisskopfJody Zalkin-Weisskopf, DMD

Jody was born and raised in a small town ninety miles outside of New York City.

She attended Skidmore College and then graduated as a dentist from the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine.

Jody practiced dentistry for 22 years in New York and Chicagoland. In addition to building her private practice she was a clinical supervisor at Northwestern Dental School for a couple of years when she first moved to Chicago. Later in her professional career she volunteered as a dentist at the Ark.

She and her husband, Philipp, of 26 years, raised their three sons in Highland Park. David is a graduate of the University of Chicago with a major in Astrophysics and minor in Molecular Engineering. He works in Maryland for Northrop Grumman. Joshua is a rising fourth year at the University of Chicago majoring in Economics with a Data Science Specialization and minoring in Molecular Engineering. Daniel is a junior at Rochelle Zell Jewish High School.

Jody enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, and walking outdoors with her Bichon Frise.


andrea aguarAndréa Aguiar

Andréa is a research faculty member at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign and a longtime active member of the Champaign-Urbana (CU) Jewish community.  For the past two decades, she has juggled her academic career with various volunteer and part-time positions at different CU Jewish organizations. Her academic work investigates how various environmental factors – in particular, chemicals present in food and consumer products–impact pregnant women’s health and their children’s development. The ultimate goals are to educate the community about how to minimize exposure to harmful environmental agents, as well as inform policymakers so that collectively we can protect mothers’ and children’s wellbeing. As a member of the local Jewish community, Andréa has worked to foster strong connections and social capital both within as well as across the Jewish community and other faith and cultural communities.  As a former dancer, Andréa has been involved in teaching Israeli dance to Jews and non-Jews in CU, using dance as a community-building tool.

Andréa was born in São Paulo, Brazil, where she was raised in a blended and interfaith Catholic-Jewish family. As a teenager, she joined a group of high schoolers on a 3-month visit to Israel, where she lived and worked in Kibbutz Dalia during the week and traveled the country on weekends. This transformational experience forged her deep connection to Judaism and the diverse peoples of Israel.  At 19 years old, she came to the US to study Psychology at UCLA. After completing her Bachelor’s, she worked as a Case Worker for the Department of Children and Families Services (DCFS) in LA County.  She was part of the first Latino Case Worker unit at DCFS in LA, serving Latino families in South Central LA for 2 years before moving to Illinois for her doctorate in Developmental Psychology at UIUC.

Andréa has been married to her husband Dov for 23 years. They lived in Canada at the start of their marriage, but CU has been their beloved home since 2002.  They have two teenage daughters who are also dancers and assist Andréa in her various Israeli dance projects.


lauren berndtLauren Berndt

Lauren is a graduate of Ithaca College with a B.S. in Therapeutic Recreation. She began her career in recreation working with people with Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities. After several years in the field, she was introduced to fundraising and has been in development ever since. Currently, Lauren is the Director of Major Gifts at Per Scholas, a workforce development program which advances economic equity through rigorous training for tech careers. She believes that philanthropy has become an important way for people to express their identity. She feels privileged to be able to match donors with meaningful investments.

Lauren lives in Highland Park with her husband, two children, and two crazy dogs. They enjoy traveling, being outdoors, and just spending time together


sarah cortSarah Cort

Sarah (she/her) recently started a new role as the Midwest Regional Program Director at Repair The World.

Prior to Repair The World, her passion for experiential education and relationship building led to a career as an overnight camp professional. She was the Summer Camps Director at McGaw YMCA Camp Echo for seven years. One highlight of Sarah’s tenure at Camp Echo is her work with families and staff to facilitate and implement the first all-gender cabins. While she spent her summers at camp, she led Taglit-Birthright Israel trips most winters, and was in the first cohort of Birthright Fellows.

Prior to her role at Camp Echo, Sarah served as the Director of Education at KAM Isaiah Israel in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago, where she ran the Religious and Nursery School programs. To better meet the needs of that community, she created Shoresh, a Shabbat-based experiential program, where children would attend Religious School on Friday afternoons, ending with family Shabbat services.

Sarah has a degree in Early Childhood Education from Indiana University and volunteered for a year in Israel as an OTZMA Fellow, part of the Masa Israel Journey. Sarah is also on the board for Camp For All Kids, which facilitates racial diversity at overnight summer camps in the Midwest. Sarah is a St. Louis native and proud Cardinal’s baseball fan. She has been living in Chicago since 2012.


Michelle mantelMichelle Mantel

Michelle wears dual hats as an Educator and the Social Media Marketing Coordinator for the Board of Jewish Early Childhood Centers (BJE-ECC).

She also teaches Kindergarten to 2nd graders at the Ezra-Habonim Niles Township Jewish Congregation’s Religious School.

Michelle is very committed to teaching children core Jewish values. She is the Founder of Early Tikkun Olam Adventures, which introduces children to hands-on opportunities to connect with concepts like Mitzvot and Tikkun Olam.

Michelle graduated from Illinois State University with a degree in Journalism in 2007. Prior to her work in the Chicago Jewish community, Michelle was a news reporter for the NBC-TV news affiliate in East Peoria, Illinois and CBS radio news affiliate in Bloomington, Illinois.

During her free time, she enjoys reading, playing softball, gardening, and spending time with her friends, family, and cats Finley and Fezco.


lauren perlmanLauren Perlman

Lauren Perlman holds a Bachelor’s degree from Yeshiva University/Stern College for Women in art history and education. She continued her learning at Bank Street College of Education and received a Master’s in Museum Education, with a specialization in museum special education. Lauren worked for eight years at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. It was in the ancient Egyptian galleries where the idea for her company, Mummies and Masterpieces, was born. Inspired by the visual images of the artifacts, she sought to create programming for Jewish schools, telling the stories of the Torah through worldwide museum masterpieces. She was passionate about reaching and teaching all kinds of learners and enabling them to feel success through visual and hands-on museum programs.  Her years at the Met brought her to teach in schools, hospitals, nursing homes, group homes, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, and centers for abused and battered women. With these experiences, she expanded her business to include students of all ages, backgrounds and abilities and currently teaches, trains, directs and oversees staff and programming in several states in the US and in Canada. Most recently, her programming was implemented in Israel. Mummies and Masterpieces just celebrated its 28th anniversary.

Lauren enjoys volunteering in the local and international community. During the Second Intifada she held the second national Israeli Vendor Fair in the country. After organizing two fairs in the Midwest, she served as a mentor for 22 additional US cities, helping to raise a total of $3 million for Israel.

In 2015 Lauren spearheaded a fundraiser through Artists for Israel to provide Healing Arts Kits for the Jewish community of Paris. These kits enabled children to work through their trauma of the Hypercacher kosher food market terror attack, through art and play.

Amidst the current pandemic, Lauren worked with The Museum of Childhood, Ireland in an international online and in-person youth exhibit of art and poetry. The exhibit provided a safe emotional space for young artists to express their feelings about life in the times of COVID-19.  She co-curated the exhibit at The Art Center of Highland Park, which was the first venue outside of Europe to host the collection.

Lauren is the proud mother of three wonderful children and mother-in-law to her new, much-loved son-in-law.


rebecca raffRebecca Raff

Rebecca is the Director of Financial Planning and a Senior Wealth Manager at Nadler Financial Group, Inc. in Deerfield, IL.  She joined the firm in 2011 and became a shareholder in 2021.  Rebecca is a two-time Five Star Wealth Manager award winner and is passionate about helping clients achieve their financial goals.  Two areas of significant interest for Rebecca include charitable planning and retirement planning for small business owners. Rebecca also dedicates much of her time to internal firm management.

Prior to joining Nadler Financial Group in 2011, Rebecca gained several years of experience in the financial markets working at a firm that specialized in trading equity options. Rebecca is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) and completed the financial planning coursework through Northwestern University’s School of Continuing Studies. Rebecca graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a bachelor’s degree in Economics and a minor in Mathematics.

Rebecca is also a proud member of the Israel Cancer Research Fund (ICRF) Chicago Board.  Rebecca lives in Buffalo Grove with her husband Mike and their two daughters: Hannah, age 8; and Natalie, age 6.


rebecca silvermanRebecca S. Silverman, MPH

Rebecca has worked in the nonprofit sector in Chicago for 15 years. She began her career as a fundraiser for various arts organizations before transitioning to a career in medical administration. She worked in the dean’s office of the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine and in the UChicago Medicine Department of Surgery for nearly a decade, and now works at a network of federally funded healthcare centers as a quality improvement advisor.

Rebecca received her undergraduate degree from Washington University in St. Louis and her Masters in Public Health from University of Illinois – Chicago. She volunteers monthly at Dress for Success Worldwide Central, is an active member of the Mishkan Chicago congregation, and enjoys her free time by participating in athletics, book clubs, photography workshops, Spanish classes, dance lessons, and anything else that seems fun.


Melissa villegasMelissa Villegas

Melissa is the Assistant Director of Evaluation and Quality Improvement at the Jewish United Fund (JUF). She provides evaluation consultation and technical assistance to JUF funded agencies, leads, and implements internal evaluation initiatives, and works with community partners through the Shared Outcomes project to demonstrate collective impact. With 15+ years of nonprofit experience working in direct service and administrative capacities, she has cultivated skills in community organizing, program evaluation, and educational workshop facilitation. Melissa holds a BS in Psychology and a BA in Political Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She earned a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor with a focus in Social Policy and Evaluation and a specialization in child welfare. Outside of work, Melissa loves to go on travel adventures and always tries to discover the best bakery in any new place she visits.


jenny weiserJenny Weiser

Jenny has been a Youth Programs Specialist for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families (ACF), Family and Youth Services Bureau since 2003. She has been able to demonstrate her leadership and programmatic expertise by providing guidance, leadership, and technical assistance to Runaway and Homeless Youth Federally funded organizations.

As a Youth Programs Specialist, she enhances her leadership aspirations by collaborating and partnering with non-profit organizations, youth, Federal agencies, and other stakeholders to improve service delivery and program governance.   She does this to ensure and enhance programmatic outcomes that benefit runaway and homeless youth and youth at risk of running away and their families.

She has enhanced her leadership aspirations through participation on various Work Groups that address the needs of runaway and homeless youth.  These include her agency’s Strategic Racial Equity Action Plan Work Group, ACF Pilot Work Group, the Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs Adolescent Health Team, and the ACF Region 5 State Quarterly Team meetings, to name a few.

Outside her profession, she is actively involved in various Jewish organizations for both herself and her family. As an active member of her synagogue, she participates in Congregation Beth Am Sisterhood activities such as the annual Women’s Seder.

In addition, her family participates in various Jewish activities.  For example, they donate to their synagogue Food Pantry to make a difference in people’s lives.   They also participate as a family in JUF Tov Network’s Good Deeds Day through various service projects in their local community.


rebecca zakemRebecca Zakem

Rebecca has an established career at Northwestern Memorial Hospital where she started as a Clinical Nurse in Gynecology/Oncology. Currently, she works in the Emergency Room as a Clinical Nurse and Nurse Navigator. She has always been energized by the integration of the science and art of medicine and health. Pursuant to these interests, and to broaden her knowledge and understanding of the challenges in healthcare overall, she recently earned a Masters in Health Communication from Northwestern University. Rebecca is motivated to apply her new skills and knowledge to improve both the patient and healthcare provider experience. She feels fortunate that her professional work provides a unique perspective of each of these components. Volunteer work for CJE, New Field Elementary School and Makom Solel Lakeside Congregation feed Rebecca’s appetite to help others.

Away from work, Rebecca is married and loves spending time with her son, Eli. She enjoys exercising, cooking, baking, reading, and listening to her favorite podcasts.

Frequently Asked Questions

JCC Chicago is proud to launch the 2024 Women inPower cohort, a 10-month fellowship pairing local business leader mentors with ambitious female and Jewish identifying women looking to advance their own professional career, change careers or re-enter the workforce while striving to help advance women in every industry. Non-Jewish women employed by Jewish organizations are also welcome to apply. Women inPower is fueled by an impressive group of Mentors and Selection Committee members including Honorary Chairperson, Roz Varon, Traffic Anchor, WLS-TV.

Any woman who is Jewish or works in a Jewish organization with 4-8 years of work experience looking to advance to a management or supervisory position in the next 2-4 years or returning to the workforce with same experience.

Fellows will commit to a 10-month program that requires attendance at all lunch and learns. Additionally, Fellows will meet with their assigned mentor, at minimum, 4-times during the 10-month program.  Each Fellow will give a D’var Torah (short 5-minute talk on a Torah portion) at the start of the lunch and learn.

High-level education focused discussions addressing the challenges that female leaders face when taking the next step in their career. Lunch and learns are mandatory attendance for Fellows.  Dates/times provided in advance of applying.

Mentors are high-level experienced female leaders from all over Chicago agencies and industries.  These volunteers agree to work with Fellows over the course of the 10-month program providing guidance and support to individual Fellow-driven desires needed to advance in their current position, move forward in another area or return to the workforce.

Each Fellow provides a detailed bio which are then shared with Mentors.  Each Mentor chooses their top 3 Fellows that they would care to work with.  The Mentors also provide bios which are shared with Fellows, and they choose their top 3 Mentors.

Every effort is made to pair top choices. Unfortunately, you may not receive any of your top 3.  The committee diligently reviews requests, bios, and industries/businesses to make sure matches are a good fit.  Switching mentors is not an option.

The first lunch & learn will be in person. Fellows will be invited to JCC Chicago programs happening throughout the 10-month cohort including speakers, classes and films. Some will be at no expense and some will have a fee. These are optional growth opportunities.

Yes! Meeting with your cohort outside of planned programming is highly encouraged.

Yes, please share the information with your friends and colleagues.

We accept 10-12 Fellows to the program. Size is based on the number of volunteer mentors. The ratio of mentors to fellows is 1:1.

We ask that you vet your calendar against the dates provided for the lunch and learns, prior to applying.  For the cohort to be a cohesive group, every Fellow needs to be present and share their voice.  While we understand situations arise that might be cause for missing 1 meeting, if you can’t make the majority of dates, we ask that you not apply.

Lunch & Learn Meeting Schedule
Second Wednesday of the month, 12-1pm

  • June 5*
  • July 10
  • August 14
  • September 11
  • October 9
  • November 13
  • December 11
  • January 8, 2025
  • February 12, 2025
  • March 12, 2025
  • April 2025 (Date TBD) End of cohort celebration

*Meeting will be on the first Wednesday of the month due to Shavuout

2024 Mentors

Lisa Lecker Bloom

Information Systems Expert

Francine Ephraim

Owner & Managing Director Ephraim Nonprofit Solutions and Immediate Past President of Hadassah Chicago-North Shore

Amy Galvin

Managing Partner, Luxury Living

Alissa Luck

Chief People Officer, Q-Centrix

Marilyn Mages

Marketing & Communications Expert & Certified Association Executive

Debra B. Natenshon, MS

Founder, DBN Associates

Megan Rachal

Chief Human Resources Officer, JCC Chicago


Thank you to our 2023 Mentors

Lisa Lecker Bloom

Information Systems Expert

Jodi S. Cohen

Reporter, ProPublica

Francine Ephraim

Owner & Managing Director Ephraim Nonprofit Solutions and Immediate Past President of Hadassah Chicago-North Shore

Susan Field

Head of US Change Advisory and Governance, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce

Amy Galvin

Managing Partner, Luxury Living

Alissa Luck

Chief People Officer, Q-Centrix

Debra B. Natenshon, MS

Founder, DBN Associates

Candice Silver

Director & Assistant General Counsel, Sidley Austin

Stephanie Tuchten

HR Business Partner, Northwestern Medicine

Wendy Weissman

Assistant Director, Development, JCC Chicago

Selection Committee

Roz Varon, Honorary Chairperson
Traffic Anchor, WLS-TV

Alison Gutterman
CEO/President, Jelmar

Phyllis Tabachnick
Managing Director, J.P. Morgan

Bonnie Vozar

Women inPower Includes:

Regular meetings:
Gathering regularly over 10-months.

Meetings will be held virtually monthly from Noon-1pm.

Cross-sector mix:
Connecting women from different backgrounds and industries

Skill building:
Providing opportunities for self-growth and learning

Peer-to-peer mentoring:
Creating the space where women guide and support each other—either peer-to-peer or by matching women with more senior mentors

Socializing and friendship:
Offering fun events that allow for shared experiences and lasting connections


Please contact Hillary Wenk at for more information.