Meet the Yahel Team
Shelly Mitchell lives in Manhattan with her husband, Neil, and their 3 children. Erica, their oldest child, participated in the Yahel Program in Gedera in 2013.
Shelly serves on the Board of Central Synagogue, a large Reform Congregation in NYC. She heads a Social Justice Initiative that the Synagogue does with the Educational Alliance on the Lower East Side. Central Synagogue sends volunteers to a Head Start Program twice a month to work with children in an underserved school. She also serves on the Board and Grants Committee of The Jewish Women's Foundation of New York, which awards grants to programs that help Jewish women and girls in Israel and the New York Metropolitan Area.
Shelly and Neil sponsor 1st and 2nd Graders through the I Have A Dream Foundation in East Harlem, New York. The aim is to motivate children from low - income neighborhoods to reach their education and career goals by providing mentoring, tutoring, and tuition assistance for higher education.
In her spare time, Shelly enjoys reading, going to the theater, and collecting contemporary art.
Lee I. Sherman became President/CEO of the National Human Services Assembly (“National Assembly”) in June, 2016. The National Assembly is a Washington, D.C. based association of over 75 of the largest national nonprofit human services organizations. Members and their affiliates and local service networks collectively touch nearly every household in America – as consumers, donors, volunteers, and staff. The mission of the National Assembly is to ensure that all people in the United States have the opportunity to fulfill their potential.
Previously, Lee was President/CEO of the Association of Jewish Family & Children’s Agencies (AJFCA) from March, 2009, through June, 2016, a network of over 125 human service providers in the U.S. and Canada. Lee came to AJFCA from Associated Catholic Charities in Baltimore, Maryland, the largest human services agency in the state, where he served as Director of Strategic Development in the Community Services Division.
Prior to working at Associated Catholic Charities, Lee was the President and COO of American Sports Classics, Inc., an archival-quality sports memorabilia and collectibles company with retail locations in Baltimore and Denver, Colorado, that he co-founded in 1991. Lee is an attorney and a Past Chair of the AJFCA Board of Directors. He has served in various leadership roles in the community over the years, including President of the Board of Directors of Jewish Family Services of Central Maryland (2002-2004), founding Board Member of Jewish Community Services in Baltimore, Maryland (2007 – 2009), Member of the Board of Directors of the Center for Jewish Education in Baltimore, Maryland (2005 – 2011), Member of the National Assembly Board of Directors (2014-2016), and Member of the Board of Directors of THE ASSOCIATED: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore (2002 – 2004; 2007 – present). Lee is also currently Board Chair of the international NGO, Yahel, a service learning program in Israel, and a Board Member of the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance.
Lee has given presentations at national conferences and workshops on capacity building in health and human services agencies, social justice, and moving organizations toward an “outcomes-oriented” model. Lee provides consultation on a number of topics, including strategic planning, community partnerships and collaborations, and executive search. Lee has a B.A. and M.A. from The University of Virginia and a J.D. from The College of William & Mary School of Law.
Susan Abravanel is the President of Susan Abravanel Consulting, LLC, a Washington, DC-based company she formed in January, 2014. As an educational consultant, she works with school districts providing professional development and coaching in service-learning and project-based learning. Born and raised in Canada, she holds a BA and MA in History and Literature from York University (Toronto), and an Ed.M. in Education and Social Policy Analysis from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Abravanel and her husband lived for more than 30 years in Portland, Oregon, where she worked as Education Director within several nonprofit community-based organizations and developed a nationally-recognized service-learning program. She was recruited to DC in 2009 as Vice-President of Education at Youth Service America.
A long-time participant within the Jewish community, Abravanel has served on a number of professional and community boards and advisory councils. She served as the professional director of the American Jewish Committee in Portland, later becoming a lay leader and president of AJC’s Portland Chapter. She was also the Portland Federation’s JCRC Chair. Nationally, Abravanel has been a Vice-Chair of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, and a member of the AJC Board of Governors for ten years, leading its Engaging America and Advocacy Task Forces. She is currently a member of AJC’s Washington Regional Office Board of Directors.
Neil S. Mitchell
Neil Mitchell has 30 years of experience providing financial advice to families and individuals with significant wealth. Neil and his team provide access to a full complement of Family Office services, including Cash Management, Lending, Investments, Trust and Estate Planning, Philanthropy Management and more. In recognition of his extensive experience working with athletes, entertainers and top professionals in the sports and entertainment industry, Neil was designated as a Morgan Stanley Global Sports and Entertainment Director. He is also an Alternative Investments Director, acknowledging his expertise in hedge fund and private equity investing.
In 2016, Neil was named to Barron’s list of Top 1,200 Financial Advisors, and to The Financial Times’ Top 400 Financial Advisors list. Every year since 2014, he has also been named to Morgan Stanley’s prestigious Chairman’s Club, an elite group composed of the firm’s top Financial Advisors.
Neil graduated from Lehigh University with a B.S. from the School of Business and Economics. He is a member of the NYU Stern Family Office Council and supports a variety of other philanthropic organizations in the areas of poverty, homelessness and education.
Neil and his wife are sponsors of the “I Have a Dream” Foundation, which provides after-school mentoring, tutoring and financial assistance for higher education to roughly 100 students of P.S. 7 in East Harlem, New York. He is also the past Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Project Renewal, a leading homeless organization in New York City, and serves on the Board of Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York. Neil and his wife Shelly live in New York City and Pound Ridge, NY. They have three adult children and a very demanding English Bulldog. When Neil is not at work, you can find him rooting for the New York Jets and Rangers, taking a spin class or going to the theater with Shelly.
A proven international development specialist, Joanne Moore has more than 20 years of business development and USAID-funded project management experience in sub-Saharan Africa and Haiti. As managing director of JoMoConsult LLC, she provides strategic business development support to international development companies and NGOs including developing approaches and strategies for new programs. She also partnered with creator of the Pratt Pouch to expand access to prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV medications. As Chemonics International’s Senior Vice President, Africa and Haiti Region Ms. Moore led and managed a team of 85 people in Washington and more than 300 people overseas with a budget of $150 million. She was responsible for providing vision, leadership, staffing, and management to the region, including home-office and overseas operations, developing and managing annual business strategy and budget for quality results and growth, creating a work environment that motivated staff and promoted teamwork, and contributing to the successful operation, management, and industry reputation of the company as a whole.
Ms. Moore is on the board of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and the American Associates of Ben Gurion University (AABGU). She is an alumnus of the Wexner Heritage Fellowship, AABGU Zin Fellows Leadership Development Program, the Jewish Leadership Institute (Washington, D.C.), and The Florence Melton Adult Mini School. She is a former chair of the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) Young Leadership Program and is a former board member of the American Jewish World Service, the JFNA, and the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington.
Rabbi Sid Schwarz
Rabbi Sid Schwarz is a social entrepreneur, author and teacher. He created and directs the Clergy Leadership Incubator (CLI), a program that trains rabbis to be visionary spiritual leaders. He also created and directs the Kenissa: Communities of Meaning Network which is building the capacity of emerging spiritual communities across the country. Both projects are housed at Hazon.
Sid founded and led PANIM: The Institute for Jewish Leadership and Values for 21 years. He is also the founding rabbi of Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation in Bethesda, MD where he continues to teach and lead services. Dr. Schwarz holds a Ph.D. in Jewish history and is the author of two groundbreaking books--Finding a Spiritual Home: How a New Generation of Jews Can Transform the American Synagogue (Jewish Lights, 2000) and Judaism and Justice: The Jewish Passion to Repair the World (Jewish Lights, 2006).
Sid was awarded the prestigious Covenant Award for his pioneering work in the field of Jewish education and was named by Newsweek as one of the 50 most influential rabbis in North America. Sid's latest book is Jewish Megatrends: Charting the Course of the American Jewish Future (Jewish Lights, 2013).
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Benji Bernstein currently works for Changing our World, a Philanthropy and Fundraising Consulting Firm in NYC. He graduated from Brandeis University in 2015, with a major in Economics and Philosophy. During his time at college he spent a semester abroad at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Throughout college, he was passionate about community service. He mentored and tutored children with autism and was a volunteer-coach for a team in a local at-risk youth basketball league. Benji grew up in New Jersey with a strong connection to the State of Israel and was a member of the Diller Teen Program through the Metro West Jewish Federation.
Benji was a Yahel Social Change Fellow in 2015-16 and was placed in the Ramat Eliyahu neighborhood. He volunteered in the Matnas (Community center) where he worked with youth in many different programs. He was also an English language teaching assistant at two local schools and volunteered in the Homework at Home tutoring program.
A graduate of Stanford University and Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, Michael Simon worked for seven years as the Associate Director of Harvard Hillel before coming to Northwestern in 2010. As Executive Director of Northwestern Hillel, Michael works with students, staff colleagues, and community members to inspire Jewish students at Northwestern to make a meaningful and enduring commitment to Jewish life.
Prior to his career in the Jewish community, Michael was a Teach for America Corps Member in Los Angeles and a policy analyst at The Providence Plan in Rhode Island. Michael has participated in the Dorot Fellowship in Israel and the Hartman Institute Fellowship for Campus Professionals. Michael is part of AJC Chicago's BDS Task Force, and has served on the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs’ Jewish-Muslim Community Building Initiative Advisory Board.
In 2013, Michael received The Rock Award from Northwestern University in recognition of his outstanding leadership at Hillel and his work toward strengthening the entire campus community. The following year, he was named a Richard M. Joel Exemplar of Excellence by Hillel International. Michael and his wife, Professor Claire Sufrin, live in Evanston with their two sons, Jacob and Ethan.
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Nicole Weishoff is a graduate student at Yeshiva University, Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology obtaining her Psy.D. in Adult Clinical Psychology. She grew up in New York City and graduated from Tulane University in 2015, with a major in Psychology and minor in Public Health. During high school and college Nicole became passionate about service learning and community building, and the complexities involved in creating a strong and enriching Jewish identity. She was involved in her synagogue’s youth group in high school; she served on the board for two years. Her professional aspirations include empowering underserved communities, specifically children and families.
Nicole was a Yahel Social Change Fellow in 2016-17 and served in the Ramat Eliyahu neighborhood. She volunteered as an English teaching assistant at Itamar, a school in the community, three days a week. She also helped students complete homework after school at the Matnas (community center), various Maodonits in the neighborhood, and in their homes through the homework at home program.