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Meet Our Board of Directors and Staff

Mike Blechman

Mike went to Harvard College (‘62) and Harvard Law School (‘66) and studied in between at the Freie Universität Berlin on a Fulbright Fellowship. He spent his legal career at Kaye Scholer LLP, where he served on the Executive Committee, chaired the Antitrust Department and established the firm’s German Office. He is presently an independent arbitrator and mediator. He is also an author, having written various pieces for the Wall Street Journal, The Forward and the ABA’s Experience Magazine. He has taught arbitration at Fordham Law School and as a guest professor in Russia and Hungary. He began his work on shared society issues as a member of the then Committee on Arab Citizens of Israel of UJA-Federation of NYC. He also spent several weeks in Ramallah and Jerusalem negotiating the foundation documents for the Jerusalem Arbitration Center, a neutral forum established to adjudicate commercial disputes between Israeli and Palestinian businesses. He served for a number of years on the board of The Abraham Fund Initiatives and then followed Mohammad when he left TAFI for Givat Haviva.

Carmiel Arbit

Carmiel Arbit is a nonresident senior fellow for Middle East Programs at the Atlantic Council. Her research focuses on US-Israel relations, the peace process, Israeli and Palestinian politics, Congress, and broader issues affecting the Middle East.

A co-founder of Key Bridge Strategies, she has consulted for non-profit organizations around the world, advancing public diplomacy, government relations, and community engagement strategies in the United States, Israel, Palestine, Cyprus, Sudan, Sri Lanka, and Mexico.

 

She was previously the Director of Strategic Engagement in AIPAC’s office of Policy and Government Affairs in Washington, where she helped drive the organization’s strategy for engaging key policymakers and influencers. Prior to her time at AIPAC, she worked at the Brookings Institution’s Center for Middle East Policy. Her research there focused on Israel, counterterrorism, and international security. She has worked in government affairs and public diplomacy for the American Jewish Committee, Thomson Reuters and Penn Schoen and Berland Associates. She began her career on the international desk of the H.L. Education Center for Peace – Geneva Initiative in Tel Aviv, where she worked to bring together Israeli and Palestinian stakeholders in support of a two-state solution.

 

Arbit earned her BA from George Washington University and her MS from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. She has been recognized as a top Foreign Policy Influencer by Diplomatic Courier. She is also a Truman national security fellow.

Jeremy Burton

Jeremy Burton is the CEO of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston (JCRC), promoting a society that reflects the best of American and Jewish values; in Greater Boston, Israel and around the world. Through advocacy, organizing, service and partnerships, JCRC pursues social justice, ensures a vibrant Jewish community, and builds a network of support for Israel.

 

Jeremy has served on several boards and in many volunteer leadership roles, including as a founding board member and then co-chair of Darkhei Noam, the first ‘partnership’ minyan in the United States, in New York City. He was a founding board member of Bikkurim, an incubator for new Jewish ideas that is now part of UpStart, and a founding national board member of Keshet, working for the full inclusion of all LGBTQ Jews in Jewish life. He currently serves on the board of the Givat Haviva Educational Foundation and the Jewish Equity Diversity and Inclusion committee of the Jewish Federations of North America. Jeremy serves as a mentor for the Mandel Institute Executive Leadership Program.

 

He writes and speaks widely about the challenges and opportunities facing the Jewish community and has been published in the Boston Globe, JTA, Times of Israel, New York Jewish Week, Forward, Jerusalem Post, and the Washington Post.  Jeremy lives in Cambridge, MA. He avidly tweets about his passions including sports and science fiction.

Larry Cooley

Founder and President Emeritus of Management Systems International, Larry Cooley has more than 40 years' experience in the fields of strategic management, public sector reform, and international development.  He currently chairs the board of the Society for International Development and serves as a Trustee and past board chair of World Learning, and on the boards of ELMA Philanthropies and Communities in Schools.  He is an elected Fellow of the US National Academy of Public Administration, a non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, and founder/co-chair of a 2900-member global community of practice on scaling up development outcomes.  Larry has served as facilitator for three Cabinet-level working groups in the United States and as advisor to the leaders of more than a dozen governments.  Born in the US, he has lived and worked in Lesotho, Bangladesh, Guyana, Portugal, and Mexico. He and his wife, Marina Fanning, have three children and divide their year between Arlington, VA and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.  They have a large number of family members in Israel and are members of Temple Micah in Washington, DC where Larry is a past President and Marina served until recently on the Board of Directors.

Kenneth Cushner
Kenneth is an Emeritus Professor of International and Intercultural Teacher Education at Kent State University (1987 – 2015). Prior to his university appointment he taught in schools in Switzerland, Australia and the United States, and completed his doctoral studies at the University of Hawaii at Manoa while a degree scholar at the East-West Center.  Ken is a Founding Fellow, Past-President and currently the Executive Director of the International Academy for Intercultural Research; has been a Fulbright Scholar to Sweden (2008) and Poland (2016); a visiting professor at Shanghai International Studies University, the College of the Bahamas, University of Newcastle (Australia) and the University of Nis (Serbia); and twice served as director of COST – the Consortium for Overseas Student Teaching. He is author or editor of several books and articles in the field of intercultural education including: Teacher as Traveler: Enhancing the Intercultural Competence of Teachers and Students (2018), Intercultural Interactions: A Practical Guide (2nd ed., 1996) and Human Diversity in Education: An Intercultural Approach (11th ed., forthcoming 2025).  He has traveled with young people and teachers on all seven continents. Since retiring from Kent State University, Ken has consulted with such organizations as ECIS, a network of 400+ international schools in 90 countries; NAFSA: Association of Intercultural Educators; has instituted a professional development program for teachers in a Massai community school in northern Tanzania, and teaches with Semester at Sea, directing Teachers at Sea in the summers of 2010 and 2011, serving as the Intercultural Specialist on the Fall 2017 and Spring 2019 voyages, and directing the Global Studies course on the Spring 2022 and Spring 2024 voyages.  He has been associated with Givat Haviva since 2019, and is excited to be serve on the FOGH board.

Mohammad Darawshe

Mohammad Darawshe is the Director of Strategy at the Center for Shared Society at Givat Haviva. He holds a master's degree in Peace and Conflict Management from Haifa University, and is a Robert Bosch Academy Fellow and faculty member at the Hartman Institute. Previously worked as co-director of The Abraham Initiatives, elections campaign manager at the Democratic Arab Party and United Arab List, and was a leadership fellow at the New Israel Fund. Member of the executive board of Darkenu, Pnima, and Aaron Economics Center. Previously elected council member of his hometown Iksal. Presented lectures at the European parliament, NATO Defense College, the World Economic Forum, Club de Madrid, US Congress ,and Israel's Presidential Conference. Recipient of the Peacemakers Award from the Catholic Theological Union and the Peace and Security Award of the World Association of NGOs. Member of the National Committee on Coexistence Education Policy; the Three-Sector Roundtable at the Prime Minister's office; and the Strategic Planning Authority for Economic Development of Arab Sector.

Emily Hamlin Deakins

Emily concluded a 25-year corporate career in the field of Human Resources serving as BP’s Vice President, Global Diversity & Inclusion, leading the development and implementation of the company’s D&I strategy in its operations across the globe.  Prior to this appointment, she served in a variety of domestic and international Human Resources Management. Since retiring, over the last decade Emily has engaged in a variety of volunteer activities including: board member (current), co-chair of the Communications Committee, and member of theh Executive Committee of Friends of Givat Haviva; board member (current) of the ADL-Southwest Region, previously chairing the Education Committee which administered the “No Place For Hate” Initiative in over 400 schools in the Houston/Southwest Texas area; board member of Temple Sinai, serving in various roles including President, VP Education and Social Action Trustee; co-founder of the Houston chapter of the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom, engaging more than 150 Muslim and Jewish women in dialogue, learning and social action; and board member of Ten Thousand Villages, a non-profit fair-trade retailer of globally sourced artisan crafted items.  

       

Emily holds an M.B.A. from New York University and a B.A. in Cultural and Linguistic Anthropology from the State University of New York at Albany.  While pursuing her undergraduate degree in the late 1970’s, she lived in Israel, splitting her time between studies in Haifa and Jerusalem, and life on Kibbutz Gesher in the Beit Shean Valley.


Emily and her husband, John, live in Houston.  Their daughter, Isabel, is an optometrist, practicing in the Boston area.        

Chelsea Garbell

Chelsea Garbell is the Associate Director for Global Spiritual Life at NYU, Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Wagner School of Public Service, and Adjunct Lecturer in the Silver School of Social work, where she teaches about religion, democracy, and peacebuilding. She has previously held positions at the Bronfman Center at NYU, the New York Southeast Asia Network, the Asia Society Policy Institute, the Council on Foreign Relations’ Religion and Foreign Policy Program, and spent a year teaching English in Samut Sakhon, Thailand. Chelsea has over a decade of experience in interfaith activism, and today co-chairs a chapter of the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom and is a member of the Interfaith America Emerging Leaders Network. Her writing has been featured in USA Today, The Diplomat, Religion Dispatches, Tablet Magazine, The Times of Israel, and MyJewishLearning.com. Chelsea holds a BSc in Communication and an MPA in international policy and management from New York University. She lives in New York City with her husband and son. 

Larry Garber

Larry Garber is an independent consultant with more than 35 years of experience working on issues relating to international development, democratic elections and human rights.  He has served on the Board of Friends of Givat Haviva since 2017, and is a member of FOGH’s Executive Committee and chairs the Finance Committee.

 

Larry was a senior official with the US Agency for International Development (USAID) for 15 years, including five years as mission director for USAID/West Bank-Gaza (1999-2004).  From 2004-2009, he was the Chief Executive Officer at the New Israel Fund and, more recently, has worked as an adviser to The Carter Center and other non-governmental organizations.  He has observed elections in more than 30 countries, most recently the Zimbabwe harmonized elections in 2018 and the Palestinian municipal elections in 2022.

 

Larry taught for two years at the National Defense University’s Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy and currently teaches as an adjunct faculty at George Washington and Arizona State Universities.  He has published on a wide range of subjects, including advancing Palestinian development and democracy, promoting organizational reforms at USAID, observing elections in the United States and overseas, and preventing election violence.  He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the National Task Force on Election Crises, and , in addition to FOGH, he sits the Board of Election Reformers Network and on the Advisory Council of PalTechUS.  

David Heller

David is President, CEO and Cofounder of the NRP Group, one of the largest multifamily development, construction, and property management companies in the U.S., having developed more than 50,000 apartment homes and currently managing over 26,000 residential units across a fifteen-state footprint.

 

Heller has been actively involved in Cleveland’s Jewish community for more than 25 years. He was board chair of The Jewish Federation of Cleveland for the 2019-2022 term. He served as an officer of the Federation from 2007-2018 and served on the Executive Committee of the Federation’s Board of Trustees. As the 2013-2014 General Campaign Chair, Heller rallied community members to raise more than $58 million during the two-year period for the Federation’s Campaign for Jewish Needs, the annual fundraising campaign that serves Jewish Cleveland and the global community. He is a past chair of the Federation’s Government Relations Committee, past president of Jewish Education Center of Cleveland, past president of Ohio Jewish Communities, and past vice president of Gross Schechter Day School.

 

Heller also serves on the board of University Hospitals of Cleveland, and on the boards of the Parkwood Corporation, United Way of Greater Cleveland, American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, and the Dean’s Advisory Board for the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. Heller also serves on several university boards including Case Western Reserve University, and formerly served on the board Cuyahoga Community College and chaired the board of Northeast Ohio Medical University. Heller also serves on the board of the Cleveland Foundation, Cleveland Neighborhood Progress and United Way.

Jonathan Lack

Jonathan Lack is a serial entrepreneur and turnaround specialist focused on top line growth for bottom line results. Jonathan has been the President & COO of the Sally Forster Jones Group based in Los Angeles since July 2021 and a Strategic Planning & Marketing Advisor for the Carey Hagglund Condy Team based on Marin County since 2018.  Jonathan has consulted with several real estate teams across the country helping them develop a strategic approach to running their practices. Jonathan has over 30 years of management and strategic planning experience in both consumer and business-to-business markets (e.g., start-ups, mid-size, and Fortune 500) in a variety of industries (e.g., financial services, food & beverage, information services, healthcare, Internet, manufacturing, real estate, retail, and telecom). Jonathan is the author of Plan to Turn Your Company Around in 90 days published by Apress and is currently work on a real estate book.

Jonathan Lack grew up in Houston, Texas and currently commutes between Houston, The Bay Area, and Los Angeles. He late mother was a Holocaust survivor from Lithuania. Both his parents and paternal grandfather were active in the Houston Jewish Community and in their local synagogue Congregation Emanu El, a Reform synagogue established by his grandfather and other local Reform Zionists. Jonathan is one of six kids. He has a son Noah (24) who just competed in the Maccabiah 3x3 Men’s Basketball tournament (July 2022). 

Jonathan is also trained in conflict resolution. He worked for two years with Interns for Peace, an Israeli-Palestinian cooperative project. Jonathan lived in Christian Nazareth, Israel studying Arabic (Fall 1985) and in Kfar Tira, a Muslim town in Israel (Winter 1985 – Summer 1987) where he worked with neighboring Jewish communities Ramat Ha Kovesh, Kfar Saba, Raanana on Jewish-Arab cooperative projects, primarily in education and sports. 

Jonathan earned an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business and a Master's in International Relations from Johns Hopkins University's School for Advanced International Studies (SAIS) where he studied Arabic for a summer at Yarmouk University in Jordan (1989). He earned his BA from UC Berkeley in Middle East Studies during which time he interned at AIPAC’s Washington, DC office (Summer 1983).  He also studied one year in the Tel-Aviv University Overseas Program (1981-1982).

Lloyd Robinson

Since 1995, Lloyd Robinson has served as President of AWISCO International, a Fort Lauderdale-based export company supplying products to a number of Latin and South American countries, and since 2000, as President of AWISCO, a New York-based distributor of welding, safety and industrial supplies.  He presently serves as Treasurer  of Temple Israel of New Rochelle and the Giving Circle of Lower Westchester.  He served as President of Temple Israel of New Rochelle (2013 – 2016); Founding Member, Giving Circle of Lower Westchester (2015 – present);  Member of the Board of Trustees of Temple Israel of New Rochelle (2008 – 2017); and Trustee of the AWS Foundation (2010 – 2016).  He has also been active as President of the Gases and Welding Distributors Association, a Board Member of the Gases and Welding Distributors Association, a PENCIL Partner in NYC public schools, Vice-Chair and Board member of the New Rochelle Industrial Development, and President of the New York Welding Supply Distributors Association.  He enjoys golf, tennis and the theatre.  He has two sons, Ari (18) and Ben (16).

Dr. Shahar Sadeh

Dr. Shahar Sadeh serves as Director of Strategic Affairs at JCRC-NY. Since 2014 she has been working with academics, educators, and urban experts, developing future-looking programs and initiatives. She directs the Faculty Engagement Program and the Resilient Cities programs, working with faculty and administrators all across NYC to enhance nuance discussions about Israel and the Israeli Palestinian conflict. She curates and leads academic events, workshops as well as study tours to Israel and the Palestinian Territories. She also oversees the education portfolio at the JCRC-NY which includes the New York Education Initiative as well as the Youth-Bridge program.

Shahar is a scholar-practitioner in the fields of Environmental Diplomacy and Environmental Peacemaking in the Middle East. She received her degrees from Tel Aviv University and taught courses on environmental politics in the Middle East at Columbia University.  She has been part of the environmental movement and the peace camp in Israel. Shahar's interest in the Environmental Peacemaking field is not merely academic and she has been part of the environmental movement and the peace camp in Israel for many years.
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Judith Scheuer

 
Judith is an advisor at Bank Street College of Education, guiding teachers through their graduate work and supporting them in their classroom teaching and their individual professional development. She works primarily in a certification track master’s degree program for experienced public school early childhood education teachers, in collaboration with the New York City Department of Education.
 
Judith came to education from community organizing, recognizing its importance on the level of individual fulfillment and social emotional wellbeing, as well as its larger role in laying the groundwork for just and peaceful societies. She taught conflict resolution to NYC public school teachers with Educators for Social Responsibility (now the Morningside Center for Social Responsibility), where she served on the board, and began her engagement in cross cultural conversations about the middle east with the Dialogue Project where she also served on the board.
 
Her professional work, as well as her longstanding connection to the work of Givat Haviva, is grounded in a commitment to individual dignity, strong families and communities, and peaceful societies.

Rabbi Sid Schwarz

Rabbi Sid Schwarz is a social entrepreneur, author and teacher. He is currently a Senior Fellow at Hazon.  Rabbi Sid founded and led PANIM: The Institute for Jewish Leadership and Values for 21 years; its work centered on integrating Jewish learning, Jewish values and social responsibility. 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).  

 

Rabbi Sid 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 identifying, convening and building the capacity of emerging spiritual communities across the country. As a volunteer, Sid helped to establish and then co-chaired the Greater Washington Forum on Israeli Arabs, the first local affiliate of the InterAgency Task Force on Israeli Arabs housed at JDC. 

 

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 most recent book is Jewish Megatrends: Charting the Course of the American Jewish Future (Jewish Lights, 2013).

Michal Sella

Michal Sella is the Executive Director of Givat Haviva – the Center for Shared Society, and an expert in Israeli politics and public policy. She has extensive experience working with governmental bodies both in Israel and abroad, working as the Director of the Center for Policy Change at Shatil - New Israel Fund, a parliamentary advisor at the Knesset; a journalist and co-editor at Channel 2; a co-founder of The Whistle (the Israeli fact-checking NGO) and a pedagogical coordinator at Hashomer Hatzair youth movement. She holds a master's degree from Oxford University in public policy, as well as bachelor's degrees from Tel Aviv University in history and journalism. She lives in Tel Aviv with her partner and children.

Herb Wainer

Herb is Chairman of Horizons Incorporated, a 200-person manufacturer of high value, high quality identification systems, products and data/installation services for fixed asset, warehouse and government-based unique identification marking requirements, membrane switches and overlays for exercise, electronic and medical device applications, recognition and awards and nameplate and panels for industrial equipment. For over 40 years, Herb has been a board member, Development Chair and fund raiser for the ACLU of Ohio, Chair Alumni Fund for Western Reserve Academy, Board Chair and board member for the National Association of Nameplate Manufacturers, Board Chair and board member for Miles Ahead Corporation, rider and fund raiser for the American Diabetes Association in New England, rider and fund raiser for Pan Ohio, a Cleveland-based biking fundraiser for American Cancer Society Hope Lodges, a Regional Board Chair and Development Chair and currently board member, National Executive Committee member, Governance Committee Chair for the Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia and Western Pennsylvania Region of the Anti-Defamation League, Board Co-Chair of the Cleveland International Piano Competition, board member and development chair Apollo’s Fire. His main non-profit interests have been in civil liberties, social justice, women’s rights - fair treatment for all and music. His development orientation is doing, training for, and organizing personal solicitation of larger gifts. He is a passionate supporter of Givat Haviva and its mission. 
Sadie Baker-Wacks, Development Coordinator

Sadie began working for Friends of Givat Haviva in July of 2022. Before FoGH, she worked for a nonprofit that served Jews in addiction recovery, and before that, worked for a political nonprofit. She graduated from Reed College in 2020 with a Bachelor's Degree in Philosophy, concentrating on Ethics. She is passionate about social and economic justice for historically marginalized groups and wants to create a more equitable future.  

In her free time, she works on various textile crafts, reads, and enjoys an afternoon at the park.

If you have any questions about FoGH, feel free to contact her at sbakerw@givathaviva.org or at +1 (212) 989-9272 ext. 3.
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