Coronavirus (COVID-19): Important Update on HMI Operations


National Staff

Mike Wise | Co-CEO

Prior to founding Honeymoon Israel, Mike served as CEO/Executive Director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Buffalo. Mike has served CEO of the JCC’s of Greater Atlanta, and was the CEO of the Jewish Community Board of Akron, OH for 17 years. While in Akron he led the complete restructuring of the Jewish communal system, now a national model for small and intermediate communities. Mike grew up in Minnesota earning his BS from the University of Minnesota and a Masters of Social Work from The University at Buffalo.  

Avi Rubel | Co-CEO

Before co-founding Honeymoon Israel, Avi was the founding North American Director of Masa Israel Journey, bringing more than 10,000 North Americans to Israel annually. Avi has lived in Israel for several years and also spent more than a decade working on Jewish community development in the former Soviet Union with Hillel and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. Avi served as a United States Peace Corps volunteer for two years in Kyrgyzstan. Avi earned a BA from Binghamton University and a Masters in Public Policy from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

Avital Ingber | Chief Advancement Officer

Prior to joining HMI, Avital served as the President and CEO of The Jewish Federation of Greater Houston. Avital led the Houston Federation in its historic response and recovery efforts after Hurricane Harvey. Prior to taking on the role of CEO for the Houston Federation, Avital spent nearly thirteen years at the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington where she served as both the Chief Development Officer and Managing Director of Federation’s United Jewish Endowment Fund. Avital is a nationally recognized community leader, innovator and change agent. She is a well-known expert in resource development and multi-generational family philanthropy who has a passion for Jewish identity and community building locally, in Israel and around the world. She received her Executive Masters in Leadership from the Georgetown School of Business and her Bachelor of Arts from the Kogod School of Business at American University. Avital lives in New York City.  She loves to travel and visits at least one new country every year.

Lesley Matsa | Chief Strategy Officer

Lesley Matsa is Honeymoon Israel’s Chief Strategy Officer. She previously worked for 12 years at the Crown Family Philanthropies, Chicago’s largest Jewish foundation, where she was the lead staff member for domestic Jewish grantmaking.  Her prior work experience includes strategic planning for non-profit organizations as a Consultant at Wellspring Consulting, management consulting work in the for-profit sector, and engaging young adults as Program Coordinator at UC Berkeley Hillel.  Lesley holds an MBA from Harvard Business School, and a Bachelors degree with highest honors from the University of California, Berkeley. Lesley is a recipient of the JJ Greenberg Award, awarded to one foundation professional internationally each year for extraordinary leadership in Jewish philanthropy, and is a Wexner Field Fellow.

Michael Himmelstein | Chief Finance Officer

Michael Himmelstein is Honeymoon Israel’s Chief Financial Officer. For the past 23 years, Michael has served as a fractional CFO serving several businesses in the Atlanta area. Prior to that, he served in several financial leadership positions primarily in the healthcare field. Michael is a Certified Public Accountant in the State of Georgia. He grew up in New York and earned a BS in Accounting from the University of Delaware. His passion for Israel stems from his granddaughter living in Jaffa with her parents.

Rachel Zieleniec | Chief Program Officer

Rachel Zieleniec is the Chief Program Officer for Honeymoon Israel. Prior to joining the team, Rachel worked in philanthropy as a Program Associate for The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta and for the Tikkun Olam Women’s Foundation in Washington, DC. In these roles, she supported and managed a number of grant making initiatives, helping award millions of dollars to local nonprofits. Following college, Rachel volunteered in Israel for a year with Yahel, an educational service learning organization, and was a member of its first cohort of participants. After her time in Israel, Rachel joined Yahel as a staff member to help grow the organization and manage digital media and recruitment for its programs. Rachel is a member of the ROI Network, an initiative of the Schusterman Foundation. Originally from Cleveland, OH, Rachel earned a Bachelors in Journalism and Public Relations and certificate in Global Leadership from Ohio University.

Laura Bernstein | Director of Marketing and Communications

Laura is an experienced professional specialized in using marketing and communications to achieve business goals. She has a diverse background, working with industry leaders in sectors including nonprofit, finance, and professional services, both in-house and in an agency setting. Laura holds an Executive M.S. in Strategic Communication from Columbia University. She went on the Brooklyn Honeymoon Israel trip in 2018 and fell in love with the organization. 

Mikelle Belfore | Trip Operations Manager

Mikelle is the Trip Operations Manager for Honeymoon Israel. Her prior work includes Director of Business Development for a technology company, adjunct professor at Paradise Valley Community College, and Director of Admissions and Licensed Professional Counselor for a non-profit organization.  Mikelle earned a BS in Psychology from The University of Arizona and a Masters in Education and Human Development from The George Washington University.  Mikelle and her husband, who were enthusiastic participants in the inaugural Honeymoon Israel trip from Phoenix, reside there with their two toddler children. 

Jennifer Jalowiec Carrocci | Information Systems Manager

Jennifer Jalowiec is the Information Systems Manger for Honeymoon Israel. Prior to joining the team, Jennifer worked as the Operations Manager for Hillel at Arizona State University and started, and continues to run, her own business consulting with non-profits/small businesses. Jennifer is passionate about Israel. She has travelled there 5 times and recently lived and studied in Jerusalem for three months. Jennifer earned a BA in Communication from The University of Arizona and a Masters in Public Administration from Arizona State University. 

Shaina Kass | Marketing and Communications Manager

Before joining the team, Shaina worked as a Communication & Marketing Associate for American Hebrew Academy in Greensboro, North Carolina and owned her own business as a photographer, designer and marketing consultant in Cleveland, Ohio, where she is originally from. Shaina has also worked with several organizations doing community management and donor engagement. She earned a B.S. in Communication and a B.S. in Visual Communication from Ohio University. 

Naava Frank | Institutional Giving Manager

Naava Frank, Ed.D., brings to Honeymoon Israel her passion for Israel and community building as well as her extensive grantsmanship experience. Naava has devoted her career to building a rich and diverse Jewish community, with significant achievements in program design, evaluation, and management. A seasoned consultant and facilitator, she speaks and gives workshops about communities of practice and nonprofit networks for foundations and nonprofits. Naava enjoys swimming and singing. She holds an Ed.D. from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education and a B.A. from Barnard College/Columbia University.

Hannah Bohenko | Administrative Coordinator

Prior to joining the team, Hannah built a career for half a decade coordinating in the entertainment industry, working for studios like Warner Brothers, HBO, Netflix, and Fox. Hannah received her BFA from the University of North Carolina School of The Arts, and then traveled extensively after graduation. Hannah lived and worked in New Zealand for a year, and then moved to Los Angeles for a year before coming back to the Southeast to work in the booming film industry in Atlanta. As an HMI Alumni and half of an interfaith couple, Hannah is thrilled to bring her experience to an organization she is truly passionate about. In her free time, she loves to cook and develop amazing vegan recipes. She is also an avid swimmer and runner and is always training for her next marathon.

Laura Parker | Applicant Experience Manager

Laura Parker is the Applicant Experience Manager for Honeymoon Israel. Prior to joining Honeymoon Israel, Laura spent 6 years in the corporate world, most recently in marketing/tradeshows. Laura experienced Israel for the first time May 2019 and fell in love with the country and community. Laura has a BS in Anthropology from Kennesaw State University and resides in Atlanta, Georgia. In her free time, Laura can be found in the mountains of North Georgia with her dog and husband. 

Local Staff

Chloe Nassau | Regional Director, East Coast

Chloe Markowitz Nassau brings a wealth of expertise in community organizing, international service learning and non-profit management to her work as NYC Director of Community Engagement for Honeymoon Israel. Chloe joins the Honeymoon Israel team after four years as the Youth Program Director at the 14th Street Y in Manhattan. Before which she gained a B.A. in International Relations from Boston University and a Master’s in Social Work from Hunter College. Chloe served as a Jewish Service Corps Fellow in Turkey with the JDC, as well as a Volunteer Corps participant in Thailand and Group Leader in Nicaragua with American Jewish World Service (AJWS). Chloe has visited Israel over 25 times and speaks Hebrew and Spanish. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and daughter.

Jenn Green | Regional Director, West Coast

Jenn joined the team in partnership with NuRoots to build an inclusive and meaningful community for couples in Los Angeles. Jenn has worked as an advocate for youth in foster care and on probation in South LA, and currently serves as a volunteer CASA (Court-Appointed Special Advocate). She has been a teacher and community organizer across the globe, and her passions have taken her from the townships of South Africa to the villas of Argentina and the southern tip of South Korea.

Zach Pellish | Director, One Trip Cities

Originally from the Chicagoland area, Zach graduated from the University of Illinois with a B.A. in History. It was during college while living in Jerusalem and working at The Institute of Terrorism Research and Response that Zach’s passion for Israel developed. Since then, Zach has worked as the North American Operations Manager for Shorashim, helping to oversee the organization’s Birthright Israel trips. Zach joined the Honeymoon Israel team after serving as the Michigan Associate Director at AIPAC. He currently lives in Old Town with his wife, with whom he loves to travel, read, and explore the city.

Hannah Spinrad | Atlanta Director of Community Engagement

Before joining the HMI team, Hannah worked in the Development Department for the Jewish Federations of Boston, Miami, and most recently as the Senior Development Officer in Women's Philanthropy in Atlanta. Hannah graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a B.A. in International Studies and minors in Spanish and Jewish Studies. Hannah earned her MBA and MA in Jewish Professional Leadership from the Hornstein Program at Brandeis University. She is an alumna of the Jewish Federations of North America FEREP Program. Hannah is so excited to be able to combine her love of travel with building community in the Jewish South with Honeymoon Israel. 

Sarah Wasser | Boston Director of Community Engagement

Sarah Wasser is a Boston-native with a passion for immersive experience and community building. Prior to joining the team, Sarah was the Program and Operations Manager at Trybal Gatherings. She also founded a beverage company, ParTea, in 2015 and continues to run the company today. She holds a B.A. from the Gallatin School at New York University. In her free time, Sarah can usually be found cooking, entertaining friends, exploring the outdoors, or playing mahjong. 

Stephanie Goldfarb | Chicago Director of Community Engagement

Stephanie Goldfarb is a veteran Jewish community professional specializing in experiential Jewish education. Goldfarb holds Masters Degrees in both Gender Studies and Clinical Social Work from Loyola University, as well as a certificate in Experiential Jewish Education from Yeshiva University. She is dedicated to providing high-quality, unique, and immersive learning experiences for people of all ages in Chicago. Stephanie is also an accomplished chef and in her spare time she can be seen competing on (and winning) national cooking shows. She also operates frequent pop-up dinners (a nod to her passion for the intersections of Judaism and food) from which she donates all of the proceeds to Chicago-based non-profits.

Geoffrey Bleeker Mudd | Chicago Applicant Couples Coordinator 

Geoff Bleeker Mudd joins Honeymoon Israel from the world of Chicago storefront theater, where he is a freelance director and production manager, and was Producing Director for Bailiwick Chicago. Originally hailing from Houston, Geoff served as the Southern Outreach Director for the National Union of Jewish LGBTQ Students. He lives in the Andersonville neighborhood with his husband Gabriel and their two dogs.

Leah Leaves | Denver/Boulder Director of Community Engagement

Leah Leaves is the Director of Community Engagement for Denver/Boulder. As an HMI alumna and half of an interfaith couple, she brings a fresh sense of excitement for Jewish life and its iterations into her role. With personal experience in both the Denver and Boulder Jewish communities and a professional background in management and operations, Leah serves as a supportive and reliable resource to help build meaningful connections for new HMI alum in her community.

Jessica Gisondo | Los Angeles Director of Community Engagement

Jessica is Honeymoon Israel's Director of Community Engagement for Los Angeles. Prior to joining the team, Jessica worked in international human rights and philanthropy at Open Society Foundations and Bloomberg Philanthropies in New York City. Previously, she worked for the Government of Rwanda at the United Nations, where her work focused on peacekeeping policy and protection of civilians. Jessica earned a BA in International Studies and History from the University of California, San Diego and an MA in International Affairs from The George Washington University. She is thrilled to be back in her hometown of LA, surrounded by her favorite things - tacos, the beach, and family.

Sarah Pollack | New York City Director of Community Engagement

Sarah Pollack is the Director of Community Engagement in New York City for Honeymoon Israel. Prior to joining the team, Sarah worked for Encounter Programs for three years in Jerusalem and one year in New York. In these roles, she facilitated immersive travel to Palestinian communities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem for influential Jewish American leadership. Before making her way to Encounter, Sarah spent two years living in Jerusalem learning about Judaism and Jewish peoplehood at The Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies with a focus on Social Justice and Conflict Resolution. Sarah is a member of the ROI Network, an initiative of the Schusterman Foundation. Originally from South Florida, Sarah earned a Bachelors of Arts in Anthropology from The University of Florida and currently lives in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

Julianne Kanter | New York City Assistant Director of Community Engagement

Julianne Kanter is the NYC Assistant Director of Community Engagement for Honeymoon Israel. She participated on Honeymoon Israel’s May 2016 trip from New York City with her husband, Jason, and is thrilled to join Chloe in nurturing and growing the HMI NYC community. Prior to joining the team, Julianne managed program evaluations as a Senior Research Associate for ExpandED Schools and served as a Research Analyst for San Francisco Unified School District. She holds an Ed.M. in Education Policy and Management from Harvard University and a B.A. in History with a minor in Neuroscience from UCLA. In her free time, you’ll find her learning new languages, managing the travel blog “It’s Five O’Clock Here,” and hiking up mountains. A native Californian, Julianne now resides in Brooklyn with her husband and their two Tonkinese cats.

Monica Boardman | SF Bay Area Director of Community Engagement

Monica is Honeymoon Israel's Director of Community Engagement for the SF Bay Area. She is a Bay Area native who graduated from the University of San Francisco with a MA and BA in International Studies. Prior to joining HMI, Monica was the Grants Management Associate at the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco. From 2017-2018, she lived in Netanya, Israel for ten months as a MASA Israel Teaching Fellow, teaching English to elementary school students, and was previously a Program Associate at the Koret Foundation, a private Jewish foundation in San Francisco. Monica has travelled with JDC Entwine to Cuba, Bulgaria, Greece, Argentina, Finland, and Estonia and now serves as a 2019 Community Representative for Entwine. In her spare time, Monica enjoys reading, yoga, and going to SF Giants baseball games.

Curtis Sechrist | SF Bay Area Assistant Director of Community Engagement

Curtis is an alum of Honeymoon Israel's fifth trip out of NYC in 2017, and a recent transplant to the East Bay Area of Northern California. He was an active member of the HMI community in NYC, as well as an alum of the Exploring Judaism program at Central Synagogue. He has made a career in Arts Education for the last twenty years in London UK, Japan, UAE and across North America. He is passionate about inclusivity, access and equality, as well as creating pathways to living a Jewish life in the many forms that can take. He lives in Emeryville, CA with his husband, Adam, and their rescue dog, Carmen Miranda.

Andrea Deck | Washington DC Director of Community Engagement

Originally from the DC area, Andrea joins the team after kicking off her career in the Jewish community with Federations across the world, most recently as the Senior Associate in Community Planning and Impact with the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta. She holds an MSW from Columbia University, an MA from the Jewish Theological Seminary, and a BA from Franklin & Marshall College. Andrea loves dancing, knitting, and trying new things! 


Board of Directors 

Joseph Kanfer - Chairman, Akron, OH
Melissa Bordy, Los Angeles, CA
Karyn Cohen, Boston, MA
Barrett Cohn, San Francisco, CA
Avraham Infeld, Israel
Alisa Levin, Brooklyn, NY
Jordy Linkow, Denver, CO
Melanie Nussdorf, Washington DC
Linda M. Radow, Atlanta, GA
Sarah Schaff, San Rafael, CA
Camille Seigle, Chicago, IL
Howard Zack, Kentfield, CA


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