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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.

Sheila Katz Cohen | Chief Finance Officer

Sheila is the Chief Finance Officer for Honeymoon Israel.  Prior to joining Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta where she was the Chief Financial and Administrative Officer, Sheila spent the majority of her career in accounting and financial leadership roles in the for-profit world.  She enjoys playing tennis, practicing yoga and going on outdoor adventures with her husband and two teenage sons.  Sheila is a CPA and earned her BS in Management from the A.B. Freeman School of Business of Tulane University in New Orleans.

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.

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 muli-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.

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

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 | Communications Manager

Shaina Kass is the Communications Manager for Honeymoon Israel. 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. 

Bryanne Mahoney Bowen | Boston Director of Community Engagement

Bryanne Mahoney joins Honeymoon Israel as the Boston Director of Community Engagement. Bryanne is passionate about creating strong, inclusive, inspiring spaces for couples and families in the Boston community. Prior to joining the team, Bryanne worked as a Jewish professional and nonprofit fundraiser at the JCRC of Greater Boston, Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP), the Jewish Federation of Boston and most recently at Enroot, an education nonprofit that works to advance immigrant rights in the greater Boston community. Bryanne is a proud double Husky, with a Master's and Bachelor's Degree in History from Northeastern University. As the child of an interfaith household and one half of an interfaith couple, Bryanne is excited about trips, tools, and resources that spark conversation between couples, their families and the community. Bryanne currently lives in Cambridge with her husband. 

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.

Samia Mansour | Cleveland Director of Community Engagement

Samia Mansour joins the Honeymoon Israel team in partnership with jHUB, an organization that works to connect interfaith couples and families to Jewish life in greater Cleveland. Previously Samia worked as Assistant Director of Oberlin College Hillel. She graduated with a BA in Religion from Oberlin College and received her Master's Degree in Social Work with a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Case Western Reserve University. Samia currently lives in Cleveland with her partner and in her spare time loves cooking, traveling, and going on runs through Cleveland's many parks.

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.

Lauren Sabloff | Montreal Director of Community Engagement

Lauren Sabloff joins the team in partnership with Federation CJA to help launch and build the Montreal Honeymoon Israel community. Lauren is from Montreal, Quebec, and is a graduate from the John Molson School of Business with a bachelor’s degree in marketing. She found her passion and footing for Jewish community work after a several year career in the fashion world. Outside of work, Lauren’s biggest passion includes anything and everything food related. She is the go-to resource for restaurant recommendations, the unofficial creative director and the behind-the-scenes sous-chef for her husband's popular food blog, Food Guy Montreal. 

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.

Rachel Kitt | San Diego Director of Community Engagement

Rachel joins the team in partnership with the Leichtag Foundation, collaborating to create Jewish community by igniting and inspiring vibrant Jewish life in San Diego. Born and raised in Northern California, Rachel has become a southern California local after living in San Diego for the past 12+ years. Rachel currently is a high school religious school teacher, Jewish preschool volunteer and previously worked at the Jewish Federation of San Diego County. She is also a prenatal and postpartum certified fitness instructor with FIT4MOM where she loves to create community for new moms. Rachel enjoys spending time with her husband and two young daughters, gluten-free baking and running half marathons.

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.

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 

Joe Kanfer, Chairman, Akron, OH
Barrett Cohn, Scenic Advisement, San Francisco
Avraham Infeld, Israel
Karyn Cohen Leviton, One8 Foundation, Boston
Melissa Bordy, Held Properties, Los Angeles
Sarah Schaaf, Honeymoon Israel alum, San Francisco
Jordy Linkow, Honeymoon Israel alum, Denver
Melanie Nussdorf, Washington DC
Alisa F. Levin, New York NY
Lindy Radow, Atlanta

 

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