meet the staff
Audrey David, Director of Generation R
From the building’s inception until 2005, Audrey Beeber David served on the JCC’s Board of Directors with her husband Greg David. She later joined the staff in order to launch a long sought after dream—to create a comfortable space at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan for Russian-speakers of a younger generation. Audrey graduated magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in Russian Area Studies and has since made more than 40 professional trips to the Former Soviet Union.
Rabbi Brian Fink, Director of the UJA-Federation of New York's Engage Jewish Service Corps at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan
After growing up in Cleveland, Brian attended college at Tulane University in New Orleans, and previously lived in New York as a participant in the Avodah: Jewish Service Corps, working at the Urban Justice Center in Manhattan. While attending the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College (RRC) in Philadelphia, Brian had many internships in congregational, campus, chaplaincy and social justice settings. After graduating from RRC in 2011, he served as the Rabbinic Fellow at Cornell University Hillel. Brian and his wife Aileen live in Park Slope, Brooklyn
Sarah-Kay Lacks, Senior Director of Institutional Programs
Sarah-Kay is a raised (though not born) New Yorker who has lived in 3/5 boroughs and worked in all 5 of them. After graduating from Vassar College with a degree in Urban Studies & Religion, she went on to work for City Government and received an MPA from the Wagner School at NYU in Non-Profit Management. A voracious reader, hostess and maker of puns, she has worked for the past 15 years at JCC Manhattan, currently as Senior Director of Institutional Programs, building community throughout their 11 story vertical neighborhood. Skay, as she is known to all, splits her shabbats between Shabbanging at the JCC once a month, R&R-ing weekly and hosting dinners in her own dining room with family, friends, nomads and assorted gypsies. Sarah-Kay's favorite kind of Jewish programs are surprising, magical and free. Sarah-Kay lives in Brooklyn with her husband, their 3 kids, dog and cat.
Susan Lechter, Senior Director of Adult Programs
Susan Lechter has been at the JCC since 2005 and has loved both programming and building community among the adult populations. Susan grew up in Montreal and studied at Harvard and Columbia. She spent several years in Paris where she worked as a consultant at UNESCO; as Education Director for Kehillat Gesher, the French Anglophone Jewish Community; and then as Director for the OSE Center for Holocaust Survivors.
Susie Kessler, Director of Makom and Support Programs
Former coordinator of the National Center for Jewish Healing, Susie brings knowledge of spiritual support and Jewish wisdom to all of her program areas. Her passion is helping people grow and heal from the inside-out by uncovering and exploring their spiritual journey as well as teaching techniques and practices that can help them find their deepest connection to themselves, to each other and to the Divine. It is her belief that this kind of growth is the fertile ground that allows for true social change. Susie has been a member of the Upper West Side Jewish Community for over 40 years and a member of the JCC staff since the building opened.
Tess Sommer, Associate Director, The Selma and Lawrence Ruben Center for 20s + 30s
Tess is from Scottsdale, Arizona and graduated from San Diego State University in 2016, where she studied Political Science and Environmental Science. Upon graduating, Tess worked at the Lawrence Family JCC in San Diego as a Program Coordinator. She moved to New York in July of 2017 to work at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan and now helps to plan events for New York City Young Professionals in their 20s.
Julie Smelansky, Director, The Selma and Lawrence Ruben Center for 20s + 30s
Having formerly worked for Masa Israel Journey, The Jewish Agency for Israel, and for the last five years as part-time youth director for NFTY, Julie brings immense programmatic experience to her role as the director of the Selma and Lawrence Ruben Center for 20s + 30s. In this position, Julie works on both large- and smaller-scale programming to engage young Jewish professionals. Julie grew up in Minneapolis and graduated from the University of Minnesota with a bachelor's degree in individualized studies in retail merchandising and art history.