Meet the Staff
Rabbi Joy Levitt, Executive Director
Prior to coming to the JCC, Rabbi Levitt served as a congregational rabbi on Long Island and in New Jersey for 20 years. She earned a bachelor's degree from Barnard College, followed by a master’s degree from New York University and a rabbinical degree from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. Rabbi Levitt founded the Jewish Journey Project, an initiative designed to revolutionize Jewish education for children. As a lay leader, she serves on the boards of Avodah: The Jewish Corps for Service and The Shefa School, a new Jewish community day school for children with language-based learning disabilities. Joy is married to Michael Strassfeld, also a rabbi, with whom she coauthored A Night of Questions: a Passover Haggadah. Together, they have five children.
Todd Elkins, Chief Health and Wellness Officer
Responsible for the vision and fulfillment of all of the health, wellness, aquatic and athletic programs offered each season at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan, Todd manages the senior programmers of the Fitness, Athletics, Aquatics, Membership, and Registration departments. In total over 10,000 members of all ages inf our community take part in these programs. Todd enjoys collaborating with with members of the community, theJCC's Board of Directors, and leaders in the field of health and wellness. Some of his major accomplishments in his career at the JCC include facilitating the Saturday Morning Partners program, creating the ACES program, and welcoming to the JCC the veteran anglers group Project Healing Waters and Achilles Tri-Athletes team. Todd truly believes that JCC is a place of absolute inclusivity and welcomes all that want to make health and wellness a lifelong journey.
Hillel Hyman, Chief Financial Officer
For the past sixteen years, Hillel has served as the chief financial officer of the JCC. Upon his arrival, he spearheaded the successful effort of securing the financing necessary to construct the JCC's current home. In addition to his role as CFO, Hillel currently oversees technology and building operations and has served in the past as Interim associate executive director of development, where he headed up fundraising activities and forged extensive relationships with both the community and the JCC Board of Directors. According to Hillel, it is the special relationship and strategic cooperation that exists between the JCC staff and the board that makes the JCC such a special place to work. Prior to his coming to the JCC, Hillel worked for the firm of Deloitte and Touche, and during that time received his licensing as a certified public accountant. In addition to his work at the JCC, he has served in multiple executive board member capacities in his local synagogue and has coached high school varsity basketball for his daughter's team. He graduated with a bachelor of science in accounting from Yeshiva University, and currently resides in Teaneck, New Jersey. He is married and has four daughters.
Mindy Schachtman, Chief Development Officer
Mindy has dedicated her career to raising critical funds for a wide scope of programs in the higher education and Jewish communal worlds. Originally from Minneapolis, Mindy began her career as a consultant for Community Counselling Service LLC, where her clients included the United States Holocaust Museum and City University of New York, among others. She has served as a major gift officer for The Brooklyn College Foundation and director of institutional advancement for both Yeshiva University's High Schools and Mechon Hadar. In her role as chief development officer, Mindy is responsible for setting the vision and direction of the JCC's fundraising efforts—including the annual campaign, special events, grants, program funding, legacy gifts, and donor development. She brings years of strong organizational, development, and fundraising skills to her role. Mindy has served as a mentor in Yeshiva University's Certificate in Jewish Philanthropy program and as a coach for Amplifier’s Giving Circle Incubator. She holds a BA from Columbia University and a BA and MA from the Jewish Theological Seminary. Mindy enjoys living on the Upper West Side and is a regular volunteer at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Hospital.
Dava Schub, Chief Program Officer
Dava is responsible for setting the vision of many programs offered each season at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan. She manages the senior directors whot operate the centers for Jewish Living, Israel, Arts + Ideas, Social Responsibility, Family Life, and Community programming. She also works closely with members of the JCC's Board of Directors, initiating new projects that reflect the vision of our stakeholders and nurturing a dynamic partnership between lay leadership and professional staff. She serves as a staff liaison for various UJA-Federation and other community committees. Dava has been working in the JCC field since 1994, and joined the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan in 2007. She is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and completed her master’s in Social Work at Yeshiva University's Wurzweiler School in 1999. In addition to her professional capacities, Dava also serves as the co-chair of the BJ/SPSA homeless shelter and has volunteered at One Heartland, a camp for children and families living with HIV/AIDS, for more than a decade.
Eric Winick, Chief Marketing Officer
Eric hails from Marblehead, Massachusetts, birthplace of the American Navy and home to the JCC of the North Shore, where he spent his formative years. He has worked in nonprofit marketing since 1994, including over 14 years as as director of marketing at the Off-Broadway theater Playwrights Horizons. At the JCC, Eric supports the perception of the organization as one of the country's primary purveyors and incubators of 21st-century Jewish ideas and programs, and ensuring that the JCC's core values are conveyed in all aspects of JCC messaging. A graduate of Middlebury College, Eric resides in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn.
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
After growing up in Cleveland, Brian attended college at Tulane University in New Orleans, then 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.
Judy Gross, Director of Literacy + Math Programs
Judy is a New York State–certified reading specialist and a graduate of Teachers College Columbia University. While working as a real estate attorney in the ‘90s, Judy’s penchant for helping children led her to volunteer at the JCC’s Gift of Literacy Program. Judy was so impressed with the effects of one-on-one support for struggling readers that she chose to pursue a second career and enroll in the reading certification program at Teachers College. She has served as the reading specialist for second graders at PS 6, as coordinator of Academic Intervention Services for PS 75, and as a private tutor for elementary school students struggling with literacy skills. Since 2000, Judy has overseen the JCC’s literacy and math programs, creating numerous opportunities for volunteers to work one-on-one with students performing below grade level in our public schools.
Susie Kessler, Site Manager: What Matters
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 by 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.
Sarah-Kay Lacks, Senior Director of Institutional Programs
Sarah-Kay is a raised (though not born) New Yorker who has lived in three out of five boroughs and worked in all five of them. After graduating from Vassar College with a degree in Urban Studies and Religion, she went on to work for city government and received an MPA from the Wagner School at NYU in nonprofit management. A voracious reader, hostess, and maker of puns, she has worked for the past 15 years at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan, currently as senior director of institutional programs, building community throughout its 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 three kids, and their dog and cat.
Susan Lechter, Senior Director of Adult Programs
Susan 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.
Ruth W. Messinger, Social Justice Activist in Residence
Having served as president of American Jewish World Service (AJWS) from 1998 to July 2016, Ruth Messinger is currently the organization’s inaugural Global Ambassador. In this role, she is continuing her crucial work of engaging rabbis and interfaith leaders to speak out on behalf of oppressed and persecuted communities worldwide.
Ruth’s remarkable 18-year presidency at AJWS began after a 20-year career in public service in New York City as a City Council member and Manhattan Borough President. Under Ruth’s leadership, AJWS grew exponentially—granting more than $270 million to promote human rights in the developing world and launching campaigns to end the Darfur genocide, reform international food aid, stop violence against women and LGBT people, end land grabs, and respond to natural disasters around the globe.
A tireless advocate and social change visionary, Ruth mobilizes rabbis and faith-based communities throughout the U.S. to promote human rights. She previously sat on the State Department’s Religion and Foreign Policy Working Group and is currently a member of the World Bank’s Moral Imperative Working Group on Extreme Poverty.
Currently Ruth also is doing international human rights work for AIDS Free World and serving as the inaugural Social Justice Fellow at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America.
Ruth has been honored for her leadership with awards from many national Jewish organizations and honorary degrees from five major American rabbinical seminaries. In 2015, she was the recipient of the Julia Vadala Taft Outstanding Leadership Award. Ruth was named one of the 10 most inspiring women religious leaders of 2012 by The Huffington Post; the sixth most influential Jew in the world by The Jerusalem Post; and was listed annually on The Forward’s “Forward 50” for nearly a decade.
Ruth is an active member of her congregation, the Society for the Advancement of Judaism, and serves on the boards of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, Hazon, Aegis Trust, and Surprise Lake Camp. She holds a B.A. from Radcliffe College and an M.S.W. from the University of Oklahoma. She is married to Andrew Lachman and has three children, eight grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.
Arienne Pelletier, 60+ Department Administrator
Since joining the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan in 2012, Arienne has worn many hats, but recently transitioned into her current position as 60+ Department Manager. She is passionate about giving back to the community and is excited to enroll and educate volunteers about our opportunities. Prior to working at the JCC, she worked in theater management in New York City and South Florida. Outside of the JCC, she has been involved with a nonprofit arts organization that provided arts education to in-need children throughout New York City. Arienne received a bachelor of arts in theatre management from Barry University in Miami.
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.
Tess Sommer, Program Manager, The Joseph Stern Center for Social Responsibility
Before joining the Joseph Stern Center for Social Responsibility, Tess was the Associate Director of the JCC's Selma and Lawrence Ruben Center for 20s + 30s. In that role, she focused on community building and social responsibility. Tess graduated from San Diego State University with a degree in Political Science and Environmental Science, and is now pursuing her Master's of Science in Urban Policy at Hunter College. She is especially interested in public health policy and feminist wellness.
Tiaisha Tirado, Coordinator of Literacy + Math Programs
Prior to joining our staff, Tiaisha received a master of fine arts degree in graphic design from New York Institute of Technology, and worked as an art teacher for preschool-aged children. Tiaisha has over 19 years of experience working with children ranging from infants to 15 years old and believes that exposure to art is a vital component of a student's educational experience. Her long and affectionate connection to working with children, young adults, and parents make Tiaisha a natural fit for her current position with the Literacy + Math program. In her spare time, Tiaisha enjoys the outdoors, spending lots of time with friends and family, traveling, and, of course, creating her own artwork whenever she can!
Sheryl Parker, Director, The Joseph Stern Center for Social Responsibility
Sheryl has dedicated her career to helping New Yorkers give back to their communities. After receiving a BA in Biology from Middlebury College and a MPH in Epidemiology from UNC-Chapel Hill, Sheryl relocated to New York City where she found a professional home at New York Cares. Over the next 7 years, she worked her way up from a temporary position on their events team to serve as the organization’s Senior Director of Programs – leading a multiyear program expansion plan and overseeing the organization’s response to 9/11 which mobilized 10,000 volunteers. More recently, Sheryl served as the Director of Strategic Volunteer Engagement at UJA Federation of New York where she launched two volunteer initiatives including the Engage Jewish Service Corps. Sheryl is an enthusiastic traveler and hiker who aspires to visit all 7 continents (to date she has visited 5). She lives in South Orange NJ with her two children and Italian Water Dog.
Arts + Film Programs
Megan Whitman, Director, The Lambert Center for Arts + Ideas
Megan is the Director of The Lambert Center for Arts + Ideas at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan. During her tenure at the JCC, Megan has developed the JCC’s marquee program area, Conversations, which has welcomed thousands of audience members and notable guests such as Chelsea Clinton, Roxane Gay, Malcolm Gladwell, Madeleine Albright, Alan Cumming, Tom Brokaw, and Nora Ephron. She also oversaw the monumental installation of the Sol LeWitt Wall Drawing #599 in the JCC's lightwell and has curated performing arts programs that feature internationally acclaimed artists across genres. Prior to the JCC, Megan occupied various positions in the Arts, from managing the Global Creative Leadership Summit to coordinating The Chicago Community Trust Arts Education Initiative. Megan received her BA with Honors from The University of Chicago and has a Master of Arts degree from Columbia University
Jason Blitman, Program Director, The Lambert Center for Arts + Ideas
Originally from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, Jason grew up with a passion for the arts and no shortage of imaginative ideas, so was thrilled to join the Arts + Ideas team at the JCC in the summer of 2019. With a background in theater, Jason spent nearly eight years working in the artistic departments of both The Public Theater and TheaterWorksUSA. He has created initiatives championing emerging artists across multiple disciplines, worked with the New York Philharmonic, New York Fringe Festival, and The Old Globe in San Diego; and has produced and directed readings, concerts, and productions in and around New York City and in Chicago, where he’s a graduate of The Theatre School at DePaul University. Jason lives in Manhattan with his husband and their dog.
Jen Cinclair, Director, Culinary + Studio Arts, Lambert Center for Arts + Ideas
Graduating from the International Culinary Center in Classic Pastry Arts was a late-coming dream for Jen after years of working in the nonprofit world. A graduate of Hood College with a degree in sociology, Jen was the proud recipient of the 2012 Outstanding Recent Alumni Award. As the former pastry chef at Spoon Catering and TBSP in Chelsea/Flatiron, Jen enjoyed making a variety of treats for six years. More recently, she worked at Hudson County Community College as the recreational culinary coordinator and at Dine Market as an account manager helping restaurants and vendors connect meaningfully through an online ordering platform.
Yaara Kedem, ReelAbilities North America Coordinator, Guest Liaison
Yaara is the coordinator of ReelAbilities North America, based in NY. She graduated with a degree in film and television and special education studies from Tel Aviv University in Israel. She spent several years in post-production, program localization, and film brand development for film festivals, interactive gaming, live events, TV networks, and children’s programs. She also worked as the travel director and tour leader at a summer camp and travel program for children and teens with special needs based in Pennsylvania.
Morgan Magid, Program Manager, the Carole Zabar Center for Film
Morgan is from Princeton Junction, NJ, and graduated from the University of Missouri with degrees in documentary journalism and sociology. She worked at Go2Films, an Israeli distribution company, for =two years after interning in their Jerusalem office in 2016. She has also interned at Engel Entertainment, a production company in New York, and wrote for The Aqaurian, an alt-weekly in New Jersey.
Alaina Nuehring, Manager of Studio Arts Programs, Lambert Center for Arts + Ideas
Alaina is an artist who hails from Minnesota. She relocated to the East Coast to attend the Rhode Island School of Design, earning her BFA in painting and printmaking, and has exhibited her work throughout the East Coast and the Midwest. Prior to working at the JCC, Alaina worked in many areas within the arts while in New York. Her experience includes working as a studio assistant for a sculptor and printmaker, gallery assistant, and program assistant for an artist-in-residence program in Woodstock, NY, which ignited her interest in arts administration. She joined the JCC in the summer of 2015 as arts administrator for the Studio Arts and Culinary Arts programs, where she enjoys utilize her arts expertise to help the Arts + Ideas department thrive.
Kareema B. Partin, Associate Director, Cinematters: NY Social Justice Film Festival
Kareema helps manage all aspects of the CSJFF from film selection to auxiliary programming, schedule, and partnerships. The festival will provide five days of films and events that spark conversation and activate social change during Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend in 2020. Prior to that, Kareema spent the last nine years working in various aspects of the Entertainment industry from network TV and box office film production to creative development, representation, academia, and social impact. She is from New York City and an alumna of SUNY Albany (Phi Beta Kappa) and Syracuse University's Newhouse School. Her love for cinema is extended to her artistic talents as a filmmaker and poet having been a fellow under Film Producer, Christine Vachon and the Cambridge Writers' Workshop, an artist residency hosted by Harvard alumni. Kareema also has a heart for volunteering. When she can, she lends her time to organizations like Project Sunshine and Glam4Good, which both offer entertainment to children in hospitals.
Isaac Zablocki, Senior Director, Film Programs and Israel Film Center
Born in New York, Isaac grew up in Israel and served in the IDF's leading film unit as an educational film producer. He attended film school at Columbia University and went on to work at Miramax Films. At the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan, he runs weekly screenings, and programs multiple film festivals annually, including the acclaimed Other Israel Film Festival and ReelAbilites: NY Disabilities Film Festival. Isaac has developed the largest online database of Israeli films as well as Israel Film Center Stream, the leading site for streaming Israeli films. Isaac lectures around the world at major institutions and writes for a variety of publications, including the Huffington Post.
Children + Families
Yael Kahn Pinto, M.S.Ed.
Director, The Bert and Sandra Wasserman Center for Family Life
and Director of Programs for Infants and Young Children
Yael earned her MS E.d. in Early Childhood General and Special Education from Bank Street College of Education. She began her teaching career at the JCC where she became passionate about and developed expertise in the Reggio Emilia approach and constructivist education. During her time teaching, she also served on the school's leadership team and as the Director of the Day Camp @ the JCC. She then spent several years working as an educational consultant at The Jewish Education Project, focusing on leadership development and teacher training. She is thrilled to be back at the JCC and is passionate about working with children and families and cultivating positive experiences from early childhood through the teenage years.
Rabbi Lori Forman-Jacobi, Director, Jewish Journeys
Rabbi Lori has worked in Jewish education for over 25 years, heading both a community congregational school and two Hebrew high schools. She is the co-editor of Sacred Intentions: Morning Inspiration to Strengthen the Spirit, Based on Jewish Wisdom. Lori has rabbinic ordination from JTS and is a graduate of U.C. Berkeley. She lives in Teaneck with her husband, Simcha, and daughter, Maya.
Nessa Geffen, Assistant Director, Camp Settoga
Nessa has an M.A. in Jewish Experiential Education from the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City. She graduated from Hunter College with a B.A. in both music history and Jewish social studies. In her sophomore year of college, Nessa studied abroad at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Rothberg International School. While in her M.A. program, she taught Hebrew language to third and fifth graders at Stephen Wise Free Synagogue on the Upper West Side. Before coming to Camp Settoga, Nessa lived in Jerusalem and worked for KIVUNIM as the associate director of community outreach and alumni engagement. Prior to that, Nessa worked as a graduate student intern at the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) writing a curriculum for their short-term college-age service learning trips around the world. Nessa went to Camp Ramah in Canada for seven summers, and then worked there as a counselor and unit head for seven summers. Nessa loves camp and is excited to spend summers at Camp Settoga!
Emmy Goodman, Associate Regional Director, BBYO Manhattan Region
Emmy works to mentor and guide teens through leadership development, relationship building, and Jewish self-exploration. Beyond Manhattan, She is part of BBYO’s global network, working on summer leadership experiences and membership initiatives. Emmy received her B.S in Organizational & Community Leadership and Masters in Entrepreneurship and Design from the University of Delaware. Her pursuit of working as a social entrepreneur was motivated by her experience with Hillel, Gamma Phi Beta and Residential Life and Housing at the University of Delaware.
Gabriella Kula, Director, Havurah
Gabriella has been the director of Havurah since 2013. She attended Jewish day school and earned her BA in art history from the University of Michigan and an MSEd, with a focus in museum education, from Bank Street College of Education. Gabriella has worked in classrooms, art studios, and museums with children of all ages, but especially loved teaching at Havurah prior to becoming the program’s director. In addition to working at the JCC, Gabriella is an educator for youth, family, and adult audiences at The Jewish Museum, The Noguchi Museum, and The Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum.
Sari Lipschitz, Site Director, Day Camp @ The JCC
Sari Lipschitz began working at the JCC six summers ago at the JCC Day Camp in Manhattan. In previous summers, Sari worked as the art specialist, and for the last two summers, has taken on the role of snack specialist. Sari currently works as the Atelierista in the Saul and Carole Zabar Nursery School. In this role, she helps to supply the children with a creative learning environment to further explore new and old materials in various ways. She received her master’s degree in early childhood general education and special education from Fordham University. Sari is looking forward to spending the summer with you and your children!
Tal Magaril, Director, School-Age Programs
Tal graduated from Macaulay Honors College at Hunter College, where she majored in sociology. During her time at school, she interned at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, and completed social research on the biking habits of NYC cyclists. A long-time camp counselor, Tal is an avid believer in positive youth development and leading by example. At the JCC, the highlight of Tal's day is picking up the nursery school students and hearing them chatter excitedly about going to Clubhouse and their afterschool classes.
Adam Metzger, Director, Camp Settoga
Adam began working at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan six years ago as a floating teacher and a coach for afterschool sports. He was also a coach at the Day Camp @ Pearl River for two summers (2010 and 2011). He has spent most summers as a camper, counselor, or specialist at various camps around the country and feels very much at home in the camp environment. He is currently a head teeacher in the nursery school and on the Leadership Team. He received his M.S.T. in early childhood general and special education from The Graduate School of Education at Fordham University. Adam believes that children are capable and creators of their own knowledge, and that community is at the heart of what we do both as early childhood educators and members of a Day Camp Staff.
Sheira Schiff, School-Age Program/Birthday Party Coordinator
Sheira graduated from Smith College in 2008 with a self-designed BA in Jewish Studies. She grew up on Long Island where she attended religious school at Temple Beth Israel, after school music and gymnastics, and day camp. Before coming to the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan she taught at the Children's All Day School, worked with the development team at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, and in office and business management at DR Theatrical Management. She enjoys connecting with children and learning about their individual interests and favorite flavors of cake!
Genna Singer, Director, JCC Camps
Genna Singer joined the staff at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan in June 2002, assisting the day camp director during the first summer of camp. Genna grew up attending day camp and overnight camp, and worked as a staff member at an overnight camp for five years. In September 2002, Genna became the director of After School Programs at the JCC, while still maintaining an active role in the summer camps. In September 2006, Genna became the director of camps. She developed our outdoor camp, the Day Camp @ Pearl River while also maintaining our programs at the JCC: the Day Camp @ the JCC and Summer Stock Theater Camp. Genna combines a love of children, a passion for camp, and a desire to help families find their place at the JCC as she plans for the summer. Whether outside in Pearl River, visiting the pool deck on the 6th floor, or wandering in and out of classrooms on the 2nd floor, Genna marvels as each child finds a new bit of his/herself at the JCC Summer Camps.
Michelle Wexler, MSW, Tween Coordinator, Center for Family Life and Center for Special Needs
Michelle Wexler joined the Center for Family Life in 2017 after a year-long social work internship with Adaptations in the Center for Special Needs. Michelle graduated from Brandeis University with a B.A. in American studies and in Social Justice, Social Change. She graduated with her MSW from Columbia School of Social Work with a focus on advanced general practice and programming in 2017. Prior to coming to the JCC, Michelle worked with children, teens, and adults of all abilities in recreational and educational settings. Michelle serves as the tween coordinator in the Center for Family Life and a unit head at Camp Settoga over the summer. Michelle also currently serves as the coordinator for Boost! and Transitions in the Center for Special Needs.
Jon Zeftel, Director, BBYO
Jon grew up in Buffalo, New York. After graduating from Penn State University in 2009 with a BA in sociology and French, he spent a year in Montpellier, France, teaching English to high school students before moving to New York City in 2011. Prior to fall of 2017, when he began his role with BBYO at the JCC, he worked at YM & YWHA of Washington Heights and Inwood from 2013 through 2017. He directed a variety of youth-serving programs at the Y. Jon received his master's degree in Urban Policy and Leadership, with a specialization in non-profit management, at Hunter College in December of 2015.
Andrea Bernardo (aka Coach Andrea), Gymnastics Coordinator
Andrea joined the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan in 2007 as a part-time gymnastics coach and became our head gymnastics coach in 2013. Over the years, she has expanded her knowledge and interest of various sports and now also assists in sports classes throughout the week, including classes for children with special needs. She has always loved fitness and gymnastics and has been involved in the sport for many years. She was a competitive gymnast during high school, a college cheerleader at The College of Staten Island, and a circus acrobat after she graduated. To this day, she is still actively involved in various aerial arts. Outside of sports and aerial work, she acts in her local community theater in Brooklyn, where she is currently a director for the Theater for Children department. Some of her favorite roles include Peter (Peter Pan), Alice (Alice in Wonderland), and Rapunzel (Into the Woods).
Michelle Jimenez, Coach
A native of the Upper West Side, Michelle has always had an interest in learning and playing any sport she came across. As a child, she played for an UWS basketball league and by high school had become the MVP of her soccer team. As an adult, she continued to expand her athletic foundation and began playing professional women's football for the New York Sharks. In addition to land-based sports, Michelle is also quite the swimmer. She began her JCC tenure in 2007 in the Aquatics department, first as a lifeguard and then as one of our instructors, which is where she discovered her passion for working with children. In 2018, after 11 years on the sixth floor, she went down a few flights to join the third-floor athletics team as a full-time coach, where she finds joy every day inspiring and coaching young athletes as they master new skills and gain confidence—all while having fun!
Darren Michel (aka Coach Darren), Senior Athletics Director
Darren has been coaching children of all ages on the Upper West Side and Upper East Side for the past 25 years. He studied finance at New York University, and, after spending one year working on Wall Street, ealized his passion for working with children, and has been doing so ever since. Darren is the youngest of seven children, and was raised in a home where sports were omnipresent. He played many sports throughout high school and college, but he specializes in playing and teaching tennis and lacrosse. Darren has worked at the JCC since January 2002. Currently the Senior Director of Athletics, he also acts as the sports specialist for the Saul and Carole Zabar Nursery School and the 2s Together program at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan.
Mary Beth Greiss, Health Club + Athletics Operations Coordinator
Mary Beth, who initially joined the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan in 2008 teaching summer tumbling classes,has been a gymnast and cheerleader throughout her life. She began as a tumbling toddler and ended as a Syracuse University cheerleader, where she cheered on the Orange basketball and football teams and competed in the UCA National Championships. After graduating in 2011 and working in a financial institution for one year, she decided to go back to gymnastics and working with children. She returned to the JCC in the fall of 2012 and became director in early 2013.
Carolina Stapleton, Senior Director, Children's Aquatic Programs
Carolina was born and raised in Brazil. She came to New York as an international correspondent and end up staying for good. Looking to add an extra job and some fun into her reporting career, Carolina became a lifeguard and certified swim instructor in 2009. She joined the JCC in 2012 as a swimming instructor and shortly after became part of the Aquatics department. Carolina worked as an Aquatic Director for the JCC Day Camp in 2014 and Day Camp in Pearl River in 2015 (now Camp Settoga). Today, Carolina is still teaching kids to swim, to be safe and love the water. She has two young kids and lives in Pearl River, NY.
Shereef Taylor, Athletics Director
A former pro basketball player, Shereef Taylor began honing young athletes’ skills as a coach at the JCC’s Camp at Pearl River before working in our afterschool programs and eventually becoming a full-time athletics coach in September 2016. Majoring in both psychology and sociology at SUNY New Paltz, Shereef also played on the school’s basketball team for all four years of his college career. A football and basketball fan (Go, Cavaliers!), Shereef, who grew up in both Poughkeepsie, NY, and South Orange, NJ, hopes to inspire, influence, and give back to youth and be remembered for generations to come.
Shelby Ebert, Director of Leadership Gifts
Shelby works with our young families; strengthening their connection to the JCC and raising critical funds for the organization. She also manages Team JCC, our TCS NYC Marathon team, our Atid giving circle, as well as several other initiatives. Before coming to the JCC, Shelby was a Senior Development Officer at the National Institute for Reproductive Health, and had also worked for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and Weil, Gotshal, and Manges. A graduate of Boston University, she resides in Montclair, New Jersey with her husband and son.
Adena Kerstein, Director of Special Events
Adena oversees all of the JCC's major fundraising events, including White Hot Saturday Night, Annual Benefit, Casino Night and everything in between. Collaborating with other members of the Development department, Adena assists in creating strategy to maximize each event’s impact. Before coming to the JCC Adena was the Associate Director, Special Events at the Jewish Museum. She also worked in the Advocacy department at Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America. A graduate of George Washington University and resident of the Upper West Side, Adena is an avid Yankee fan and enjoys training for the occasional marathon and hanging out with her shih-tzu Bernie.
Mark Labadorf, Development Officer, Leadership Giving and Director, Out at the J
Mark spends most of his time on the development team working with the Center for Jewish Living, the David H. Sonabend Center for Israel, the Joseph Stern Center for Social Responsibility, the Jack and Shirley Silver Center for Special Needs, and the Selma and Lawrence Ruben Center for 20s and 30s. He is also the Director of Out at the J, making sure LGBTQ Jews and friends have a safe and inclusive space at the JCC. After receiving a BA from Tulane University in 2014, he spent four years at UJA-Federation of NY before coming to the JCC. Originally from Port Washington, New York, Mark now lives in Brooklyn with his beautiful cat, Polet. In his spare time, you can find him rollerblading, enjoying Sweetgreen, or working out at Barry's Bootcamp.
Breanne Matloff, Director, Leadership Giving
Since 2016, Breanne has been engaging individuals, foundations, and corporations in meaningful partnerships with the JCC. In her role as Senior Director or Development, Breanne manages institutional giving, facilitates corporate partnerships, promotes planned giving, and garners support from individuals around special initiatives and programs at the JCC. Previously, she spent six years at The Pingry School in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, launching and successfully completing their $65 million Blueprint for the Future Campaign. In her personal time, she serves on the Junior Advisory Board of Partners for Women and Justice, which is an organization that provides legal assistance to victims of domestic violence. Breanne holds a MA in Public and Organizational Relationships from Montclair State University, a BA in Human Development from SUNY Binghamton, and a Certification in Jewish Philanthropy from Yeshiva University.
Nicole Minkoff Nachimow, Director of Operations
Nikki oversees operations for the Development department working closely with the Chief Financial Officer and the Finance team. A 12 year veteran of the JCC, Nikki previously worked in several departments including Membership and Registration, Family Life, and Finance. Originally from North Woodmere, New York, Nikki spent several summers working at the early childhood center at the Marion and Aaron Gural JCC. A graduate of the University of Maryland-College Park, Nikki resides in Hoboken with her husband, son, and her miniature schnauzer Pliny.
Melissa Regan, Directorial of Institutional Giving
Melissa has spent her career helping social and human service agencies achieve their fundraising goals, build organizational capacity, and provide critical services to their communities through effective grant writing, prospect research, program development and strategic planning. Prior to the JCC, Melissa worked for the Jewish Board of Children and Family Services, the NY Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, Seattle Children's Hospital and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. She holds a B.A. in English from Syracuse University and an M.A. in Adolescent Education from Hunter College.
Fitness + Wellness
Melissa Donovan, Chief Operating Officer, The Center for Health and Wellness
Melissa is in her 15th year at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan, where her role converges her passion for community-building and proficiency in strategic planning. She supervises the directorial staff, strategy and operations of the Athletics, Aquatics, Fitness & Wellness, Membership, Registration, and Afterschool areas of the JCC. Melissa loves working broadly across these departments to produce programs for children and adults of all ages, support key partnerships, ensure member service and smooth program operations, create performance measures and analytics, and supervise the JCC's talented and committed staff. Melissa is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and also the Muehlstein Institute for Jewish Professional Leadership. She was recipient of the 2017 JCC Award for Staff Excellence. She lives on the UWS with her husband (whom she met at the JCC), three children, and dog, and enjoys being active in the JCC Nursery School Parent Association.
Joelle Evans, Fitness + Wellness Program Manager
Joelle has worked with the JCC for the past seven years, first on the fitness floor at the front desk and now as the Health and Wellness program manager. She is an avid fan of health and wellness and loves to work out, swim, run, ride her bike, and play with her niece and nephews. She is so happy to be a part of the JCC family.
Caroline Kohles, Senior Director, The Center for Health and Wellness
A health and wellness professional for over 25 years, Caroline is co-founder of Nia New York™. Nia is a holistic lifestyle and fitness practice. As a somatic educator and Nia Trainer, she co-facilitates intensive trainings at the white, green, blue, brown and black belt level. She holds certifications in yoga, indoor cycling, personal training, life coaching, and 5 Rhythms—a dynamic movement meditation practice. A former professional dancer with a passion for anatomy and the brain, Caroline is drawn to using movement to help special populations. In her 16 years working at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan, Caroline has been instrumental in leading a progressive slate of fitness programming. She created and designed our 100+ group fitness class schedule and health and wellness programs for every population, from tweens/teens to prenatal/postnatal moms and seniors. Her signature work includes developing a range of cancer care programs in partnership first with Mount Sinai Hospital and now Breastlink NYC. She also designed the nationally and internationally recognized Edmond J. Safra Parkinson's program, now in its twelfth year, in partnership first with The Fresco Institute at NYU Langone Medical Center and now with Northwell Health. In addition, Caroline developed the JCC's popular "Doctor Is In" program, in conjunction with NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell, as well as many other nutrition and brain health programs. Caroline has been recognized as a teacher, programmer, a wellness mentor for staff, and a constant advocate for JCC members and the Upper West Side community. She was honored with the Award for Staff Excellence for her leadership, dedication, passion, and contribution to the JCC's Center for Health and Wellness.
Fran Motola, Aquatics Facilities Director
A native New Yorker, Fran began her career working in the International Broadcast Department of CBS. During a brief relocation to St. Louis to finish her undergraduate work in communications, and indulge in a love affair with the city’s famous custard, she was introduced to the world of health and fitness as a part-time fitness Instructor. When Fran returned to New York, she connected with her native fitness community as the sports manager for an exclusive fitness club. Her love of water and long-standing desire to be a mermaid brought her to the JCC, where she oversees the facilities operations of the Aquatics Department. Fran is passionate about encouraging others to understand swimming as a sport of longevity, and to enjoy the healing properties of water.
Christian Ramirez, Fitness Operations Manager
For as long as Christian can remember, he’s had an appreciation for all forms of movement. When he wasn't playing, running, or dancing, he was taking things apart trying to figure out how they work. Working in a fitness center is a natural fit; he enjoys being part of a team that's excited to provide our members an opportunity to enhance their day through awareness, movement, and community.
Rabbi Abigail Treu, Director, The Center for Jewish Living and The David H. Sonabend Center for Israel
Rabbi Abby comes to the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan from the National Ramah Commission, where, as director of strategic advancement and Reshet Ramah, she built an alumni and community network engaging thousands of Ramah alumni and friends. She previously served as a Rabbinic Fellow at the Jewish Theological Seminary, teaching, writing, and leading High Holiday services, as well as in a number of development roles. Abby has served on the board of Big Tent Judaism, working to build Jewish communities welcoming to all kinds of Jewish families, as well as on the Women’s Committee of the Rabbinical Assembly. She is an alumna of the Clergy Training Program of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality. In 2005 she co-authored, with Dov Peretz Elkins, The Bible’s Top 50 Ideas, and she has written a number of articles and op-eds. An avid knitter and yoga enthusiast, she lives in Manhattan with her husband and three children.
Susie Kessler, Site Manager: What Matters
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.
Rachel Kunstadt, Program Manager, The Center for Jewish Living and Assistant Director, Out at the J
Rachel comes to the JCC from the theater world, where she is a musical theatre writer, playwright, and producer. She holds an MFA from NYU–Tisch School of the Arts’ Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program and a BA from NYU–Gallatin School of Individualized Study. Rachel was actively involved in The Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life at NYU, having served as the president of Keshet and Koach.
Moshe Samuels, Program Director at the David H. Sonabend Center For Israel
Moshe served as a community emissary of the Jewish Agency in Birmingham, AL; an Israel fellow at the University of Western Ontario; delegation head to Camp Ramah in Canada and Educational Director at Camp Ramah in the Rockies. He was the Educational Director of NOAM, the Masorti (Conservative) youth movement in Israel, and the Director of 'Tikkun Olam in Tel Aviv-Jaffa', BINA's service-learning Masa program. Moshe founded The Wandering Jew, a consulting business for Jewish education, and recently ended a 4-year tenure as the Director of Israel Engagement at Congregation B'nai Jeshurun in the UWS.
Bren Bater, Marketing Assistant
Bren is responsible for distribution of promotional materials, creating physical advertisements, and compiling online content such as email promotions for programs and events. Coupled with a background in media production, he has been actively involved with the JCC and its Adaptations program since 2015. He was an intern for the Museum Access Consortium’s Supporting Transition project, which seeks to increase opportunities at cultural organizations for adults on the autism spectrum. With a passion for research and advocacy, Bren is originally from Orange County, California, and earned his BFA from Chapman University. He currently lives on the Upper West Side.
Natalie Batshaw Batalion, Director of Program Marketing
Natalie grew up in Montreal and has a Bachelors degree in business from McGill University. She also has an MBA from Fordham graduate school of business where she focused on Marketing and finance. Natalie has worked at the JCC since 2011 and has always focused on the Family Life area. She has loved being the Marketer for Infants + Young Children and has found it even more rewarding since the birth of her two kids. Natalie lives on the UWS with her husband and two daughters. You can often find her girls running the halls of the JCC and enjoying all the wonderful kinds programs the JCC has to offer.
Angelica Ciccone, Multimedia Specialist
Angelica is a NY Native and lifelong creative who hails from the fine art world. She worked as a teacher's assistant and dark room aide at the International Center of Photography for 5 years. As a photographer, Angelica worked in 35mm and medium format film photography, fine tuning her skill for composition and visual storytelling before embarking on the digital journey. She received a BFA in Photography and the Digital Image and minored in Art History at FIT, and how has over a decade's experience in photography and filmmaking, including for her own company, Twin Tomato Creative, for whom she has directed and produced digital media for a diverse clientele. At the JCC, Angelica directs production of the organization's original content for all centers, and produces (with Leah Rosensweet) the popular "Get To Know Us" video series.
Nicole Dancel, Manager of Program Marketing
Nicole is the Marketing Manager for The Lambert Center for Arts + Ideas where she oversees strategy for all Performing Arts, Conversations, Studio Arts, and Culinary Arts programs. She has worked in arts and event marketing for companies like Situation Interactive, Serino Coyne, 101 Productions, Second Stage Theatre and Gay Days Anaheim. Nicole was Playwrights Horizons' first Audience Outreach Coordinator, where she created on-site and online interactive audience engagement experiences. Outside of the office, she is a freelance graphic designer, avid travel photographer, and Chair of the Young Alumni Committee of Northfield Mount Hermon School.
Jessica Epstein, Director of Marketing Operations
Jessica coordinates the pipeline and process from start to finish of all designed materials created by the JCC marketing department, along with marketing the JCC’s film programs and festivals. She was born in France and lived, studied, and worked in 12 countries across Europe, Latin America, and Asia before moving to New York, her dad’s hometown. She has previously worked as an executive assistant, copy writer/editor/proofreader, and project manager at small nonprofits and publishing houses overseas. She speaks fluent Spanish, passable Portuguese, and bits and pieces of five other languages. Jessica came to New York in 2012, primarily out of a desire to reconnect with her roots—including her extended family, as well as the American Jewish community—and she found a big part of that connection when she began working at the JCC in 2013. Now she calls New York home, and in her spare time, she loves attending the theater, visiting museums, and walking around the city.
Peter Hines, Senior Director of Creative Services
Peter has helmed the design department at the JCC for 15 years, and counting. Born in Baltimore, he grew up in Briarcliff Manor, NY. He has lived in Baltimore, Washington, DC and London. Peter has attended (and occasionally collected degrees from) The George Washington University, MICA, and SVA, among others. He is married, has two boys (and two cats) and lives in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.
Arielle Karpf, Director of Program Marketing
Arielle hails from Philadelphia, and is a self-proclaimed Philly sports fan. She has worked in nonprofit marketing since graduating college in 2012, including four years at the Katz JCC in Cherry Hill before finding her way to the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan in 2015. At the JCC, Arielle oversees the marketing for Camp Settoga, Jewish Journeys, and all school-age and afterschool programs. A cum laude graduate of the Baccalaureate Honors Program at Rider University in Lawrenceville, NJ. Arielle currently lives on the Upper East Side.
Sherri Lerner, Editorial Director
In her role as editorial director, Sherri produces the JCC’s program guide three times each year and edits all marketing materials that go out to members and the general public. She also has had the privilege of getting to know many members of the JCC community, as well as learning about the organization’s many programs, through the stories she has written about them both for the program guide and the JCC Stories section of our website. Prior to joining the JCC family in April 2015, Sherri worked as a copy editor, copy chief, and managing editor at a number of consumer and business publications and websites, including Grandparents.com, Parents, Cosmopolitan, and Nick Jr. Family Magazine.
Morgan Long, Manager of Program Marketing
Morgan graduated from New York University with a bachelors in Film Production and Marketing. She recently directed, wrote, and produced a short film, which won an award for Best Screenplay at the Micropolitan Film Festival. She's been an active environmental activist since 2015 with a handful of environmental organizations including 350NYC, Extinction Rebellion, and Sane Energy Project. She is the marketer for The Joseph Stern Center for Social Responsibility and JCC Harlem.
Jordana Roat, Manager of Program Marketing
Jordana is the marketer for the Center for Jewish Living, Center for Israel, What Matters, and Makom. Before coming to the JCC, she worked in magazine publishing and creative production. She graduated from Barnard College with a double major in English and Jewish Studies and a minor in Psychology. Jordana is a proud Philadelphia native and currently lives on the Upper West Side.
Allison Rosen, Director of PR + Community Engagement
With more than a decade of public relations and marketing experience in the nation's top media markets, she began her career with a boutique PR firm, working with clients including Sesame Place, the Mann Center for the Performing Arts, Moshulu Restaurant, Ride the Ducks, and Mitch Albom. Following her Birthright trip, she found a passion for the non-profit sector and moved into a PR and marketing role with the Katz JCC. Following a five-year tenure as director of communications for a non-profit trade association, she returned to the JCC world where she promotes diverse Jewish programming to benefit the larger community. Allison is from the Philadelphia area and earned a journalism degree from Penn State University. She currently lives in Westchester with her husband, toddler, and dog.
Leah Rosensweet, Director of Program Marketing + Social Media
Leah graduated from The New School and has lived in NYC for 11 years. She began at the JCC in 2013 as a marketing assistant and today oversees the marketing for Development, Nursery School, 20s + 30s, and manages institutional social media. Leah hails from Baltimore, MD, and lives on the Upper West Side.
Amanda Schechter, Manager of Program Marketing
Amanda graduated from Rutgers University in 2016 with a Bachelors in Psychology. She began her career at the JCC fresh out of college as a marketing assistant, and has since been promoted. Amanda currently oversees the marketing for the Jack & Shirley Silver Center for Special Needs, Out at the J, and BBYO Manhattan, as well as assists with membership marketing and the Center for Health + Wellness. Amanda is a die-hard Yankee fan who hails from Ridgewood, New Jersey and currently lives in Hoboken.
Ellie Shulman, Marketing Associate
Ellie is responsible for the marketing of the 60+, Parkinson's Wellness, and Tweens areas at the JCC. Her previous marketing experiences include working on campaigns for Broadway shows including Waitress the Musical, The Cher Show, and Oklahoma!. She is a native New Yorker (Long Island counts!) and a graduate of CUNY Queens College. Ellie is a fan of all things related to baseball, football, and theatre.
Shira Kaiserman Verteramo, Senior Director of Program Marketing + Social Media
Prior to the JCC, Shira worked at the advertising agency Grey in account management for Procter & Gamble brands. After an inspiring Birthright Israel trip in 2010, she left the corporate world to pursue a career in the Jewish nonprofit world. Shira is in charge of marketing membership for the JCC and The Center for Health + Wellness, as well as social media. Shira is a graduate of Brandeis University and was a World Confederation of Jewish Community Centers’ Global Fellow. During her fellowship, she developed the first-ever international Taglit-Birthright Israel trip for young professionals from New York, Argentina, and Israel, to bring together Jews from different backgrounds. She was also a recipient of a Birthright Israel NEXT/Natan Grant for Social Entrepreneurs, which allowed her to create a Jewish sports league for young professionals that has run at the JCC since 2011.
Allison Kleinman, LCSW, Director of the Center for Special Needs + Adaptations
Allison is the founding director of The Jack and Shirley Silver Center for Special Needs at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan. In her creation and spearheading of this department, Allison's focus has been on developing individualized paths for all people to connect to community and achieve their potential for independence. Among Allison’s premier initiatives are a workforce development program that provides services and support to job candidates with learning and communication challenges. She has developed a unique and specialized social community called Connections for young adults with intellectual, physical, and developmental disabilities. Additionally, under Allison’s leadership, the Adaptations social community, for people in their 20s, 30s, 40s and beyond with special needs has grown to serve over 500 participants, with more than 300 programs held every year. Prior to working with adults with developmental disabilities, she worked at United Jewish Communities in the area of organizational development. Allison received a B.S. in psychology from the University of Florida and a master's degree in clinical social work from Fordham University. She received her license in clinical social work as a result of her individual and group work with adults with autism and other developmental disabilities experiencing challenges with transitions and mental health issues.
Hannah Badain, Director of Connections
Hannah has worked with the Connections program since its inception in 2011. In her role, she has developed a flourishing young adult social community for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Hannah has increased the programming to include a variety of trips, overnight retreats, art groups, and cooking classes. Prior to joining the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan, Hannah worked with individuals at residential treatment facilities, camps, and afterschool programs. She graduated from Scripps College with a BA in psychology in 2011 and is trained in traumatic crisis intervention.
Kelley Bligh, LMSW, Girls' Night Out Coordinator
Kelley started at the JCC in 2014 as a social work intern for programs for children and adolescents with the Center for Special Needs. Since then she has been the lead facilitator for Boost! Sr. and is now the teen program coordinator for Foodie Friends and Girls Night Out. Outside of the JCC, she serves as the program manager at the Friends for Governors Island. Kelley received her BA in English and media studies from Sacred Heart University in 2012 and her MSW from Fordham University in 2016.
Hannah Cohen, Director of Special Needs Parenting + Support Programs + The Shabbat Shop
Hannah first came to the JCC more than 15 years ago, as a teacher for toddler classes. In this position, she was able to see the need for support for parents whose children were being diagnosed with developmental delays, leading to the start of support programs at the JCC. Hannah has developed and now facilitates the support groups within the Center for Special Needs for parents of children, teens, and adults, as well as a unique group tailored specifically for fathers. She established the volunteer-run Parent2Parent Resource Center, which gives parents an opportunity to speak with other parents of children with special needs for guidance and support. Hannah has brought experts from every field and modality within the special needs community to present to both our staff and and the community of families with whom we work. The Shabbat Shop, a pop-up shop in the JCC lobby which sells products for Shabbat and holidays and is a training ground for learning job skills for our Adaptations participants, is her most recent project.
Andrea Goodman, LMSW, Director of Adaptations Job Program
Andrea joined the Center for Special Needs in February 2015 as a job coach/developer. She has experience working with people of various ages and at various stages of life, including teens, young adults, and older adults. The common thread connecting all of her jobs is her passion for helping individuals maximize their independence and quality of life. Andrea holds an MA and an EdM in counseling psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a master’s degree in social work from Fordham University.
Alex LoPinto, LMSW, Adaptations + Ha Dereckh Coordinator
Prior to coming to the JCC, Alex LoPinto worked with children, adults, and the aging population with varying abilities in school, camp, and therapeutic settings. Alex earned a master's degree from the Columbia School of Social Work, where she spent her first-year placement at Selfhelp Community Services, providing in-home support services for Holocaust survivors. Her final year of graduate school was spent interning at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan's Center for Special Needs. She has worked with members of our Adaptations, Connections, Boost!, and Community Cooks programs. Alex currently serves as the Adaptations and Ha Dereckh program coordinator.
Dorsey Massey, LMSW, Associate Director of the Center for Special Needs
As the associate director of the Center for Special Needs, Dorsey spearheads an inclusion initiative at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan. In an effort to provide a more robust catalog of social and recreational opportunities for individuals of all ages with disabilities, Dorsey works with other departments to develop, modify, and implement staff training to better support varied learning and communication styles. With a goal of ensuring that individuals are supported and connected to the community, she has created a comprehensive internship program to promote the development of graduate students' understanding and awareness of work within the disability community. Through partnerships with Columbia University, Fordham University, NYU Silver and Steinhardt Schools, and Hunter Silberman School, Dorsey serves as acting educational coordinator and a clinical field instructor for the Center for Special Needs. She also helps manage the day-to-day operations of the Center. Dorsey earned a bachelor's of social work degree with honors from San Jose State University and her master's of social work with a focus on programming and advanced general practice from Columbia University School of Social Work. Dorsey is also an adjunct professor at Columbia University School of Social Work, where she teaches a course on diversity and disability to graduate students.
Caitlin McInerney, MSW, Program Director of Adaptations and 40+
Caitlin joined the Center for Special Needs in 2014. She has since been involved in the coordination of Adaptations programming, 40+ programming, Boost! afterschool classes, SibFun groups, and summer camp. Prior to coming to the JCC, Caitlin worked with children with a variety of abilities at elementary schools, and helped launch a nonprofit organization that supports access to arts education for New York City youth. Caitlin earned her master's degree at New York University's Silver School of Social Work, and currently serves as the program director for the Adaptations and 40+ groups.
Lawrence Quigley, Web Manager
Originally from Haworth, NJ by way of Dallas, Lawrence previously managed Memberlink® the website for the Institute for Private Investors. An organization that educates Ultra High Net Worth investors. Before joining IPI, he worked at Cyverasia, a company that does in-language versions of preexisting websites. He was responsible for the language layout and user interface of E*TRADE for the domestic Chinese market. He holds a Bachelors degree in Painting from the Rhode Island School of Design and is a practicing artist.