Board of Directors

Robert M. Friedman

Bob is currently serving on the Board of Directors with NexGen Alpha AG, an organizer of European based mutual funds for hedge funds and the NexGen Alpha UCITS, a Luxembourg registered SICAV. Previously he served as Chairman of the Luxembourg based American Express and World Express Funds. At American Express, Bob served on the Benefits and Pension Investment Committee overseeing the company’s defined benefit retirement plan and served as Chairman of the Retirement Investment Committee for the defined contribution plan. Bob was referred to Hazon by UJA/Federation based on his interest in Jewish values and sustainability and decided to join the board after participating in the Israel Food Tour with Hazon. Bob and his wife Susan have completed 2 years now running a Hazon CSA through their synagogue in Stamford. In addition to the work Bob is now doing with Hazon he is serving on the BJF task force of COJIR at UJA.

Boca Raton, FL
Valerie Gerstein

Valerie Gerstein is a dedicated Jewish lay leader. Valerie is a member of the National Young Leadership Cabinet. Since graduating from New York University, she has dedicated her volunteer efforts to UJA-Federation of New York including COJIR’s (Commission on Jewish Identity and Renewal) Youth and Young Adults and Beginning Jewish Families Task Forces where she was the liaison to Hazon for the Setting the Table program in its inaugural year in 2011. In addition to past leadership roles at the JCC in Manhattan and other Jewish organizations, Valerie is on the NYU Bronfman Center (Hillel) Alumni and Global Strategy Teams as well as the John Jay College Hillel Advisory Board and Camp Ramah in Nyack Advisory Board. Dedicated to remembering the past and protecting the world for our children’s future, Valerie is committed at the Abraham Joshua Heschel School through the Holocaust Commemoration Committee and the adult choir she founded, the Heschel Notes.

Valerie headed the strategic marketing department of Aveda Online, an Estée Lauder company. She served as the brand ambassador to Evelyn Lauder’s Breast Cancer Research Foundation awareness campaign.

Valerie and Mark’s daughters are growing up learning to be activists and live on New York City’s Upper West Side.

New York, NY
Ellen Goodman

Ellen P. Goodman is a Professor of Law at Rutgers University – Camden. Ellen is one of the nation’s leading experts on information law and media policy. She has been a Senior Visiting Fellow at the London School of Economics Media & Communications Department, Distinguished Visiting Scholar with the Federal Communications Commission, and grantees of the Ford Foundation and Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation. Ellen co-founded and is co-director of the Rutgers Institute for Information Policy & Law, is a frequent contributor to the Guardian on data ethics, internet governance, and information policy, and consults with government and think tanks on information policy issues. Her scholarship probes the appropriate role of government, markets, and social norms in supporting a robust, just information environment. Ellen also pioneered the teaching of animal law at her school as part of a nascent legal movement. Her three children are all at Barrack Hebrew Academy outside of Philadelphia and her husband is on the Board of the Perelman Jewish Day School.

Philadelphia, PA
Jessica Haller

Jessica is a sustainability champion and entrepreneur. In her varied experience, Jessica has started a business with a NASA climate scientist and worked at Major League Baseball on data strategy. She has an M.P.A. in environmental science and policy from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and the Earth Institute and a B.S. in economics and information management from the Wharton School of Business. She is a LEED Accredited Professional with the US Green Building Council, and a member of The Climate Reality Project, trained and charged by Al Gore to speak publicly on issues of climate change. She is currently the VP of Strategy for Itemize, a fin-tech start up.

Jessica lives in Riverdale, NY with her husband, Chad, and children Leila, Avery, Chloe, and Mattie.

New York, NY
Michael Hidary

Michael has translated his passion for clean energy into Samba Energy, a company dedicated to bringing cost-saving solutions to customers nationwide. Michael has more than 18 years of sales and management experience. Michael also has deep technical expertise on a broad range of clean energy solutions including solar, LED, EV charging, battery storage, waste to energy, building management software (BMS), smart home solutions and monitoring, demand response, building and utility bill auditing, Energy Star benchmarking, cellulose insulation, cork stucco, geothermal, wind, etc.

Michael is the investment manager for the Hidary Family Office and Foundation tasked with creating deal flow, analyzing prospective investments and managing the portfolio.

Michael also has a solid background in real estate and is a limited partner to Hidrock Realty which develops and owns Marriott and Hilton hotels as well as office buildings, shopping centers, and condominium projects.

Michael studied entrepreneurship at Babson College and studied abroad at Bar-Ilan University.
Michael lives in Brooklyn with his wife, Sarah, and their children David, Aimee, Joshua and Chloe.

Samuel Konig

Sam Konig is the Director of Development, Northeast Region for the American Friends of Bar Ilan University.  Sam was born in Vienna to Jewish – Polish parents, who were expelled from Poland with their families in 1969, and sought refuge in Copenhagen, where Sam grew up. He completed his secondary schooling in the United Kingdom. Sam attended McGill University, and then moved to Ottawa, where he completed his M.A. Sam moved to Baltimore, where he was the Executive Director of Towson University Hillel. Three years later he moved to New York City, where he started working for Hillel International as a Major Gifts Officer in the Tri-state area. Sam resides in Washington Heights with his spouse Aliza where he is a board member at the JCC of Washington Heights-Inwood.

New York, NY
Marina Lewin

Marina is the Chief Operating Officer of Foundation for Jewish Camp, following a 30+ year high-profile career in banking. She served most recently as the Global Head of New Business Development for BNY Mellon, where she successfully managed large teams in complex and competitive environments. She was consistently recognized and promoted for her ability to profitably grow her businesses, develop strong client relationships, and develop, coach, and mentor talent within her organization. Marina also serves on the board of the JCC Manhattan, and has worked with Romemu on its finance and operations. Marina received her BA degree from Barnard College/Columbia University and MBA from New York University. She lives in NYC with her husband Andrew and they have two grown sons.

New York, NY
Jakir Manela

Jakir Manela is the Executive Director of the Pearlstone Center near Baltimore, MD. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 2004 and has worked as a Jewish environmental educator and nonprofit leader ever since. After founding Kayam Farm at Pearlstone in 2006, Jakir now oversees the entire agency, as Pearlstone engages over 17,000 participants each year in retreats, transformative Jewish education, and hands-on sustainable agriculture. Jakir lives just up the road from Pearlstone with his wife, Netsitsah, and their two sons—Lev Yodea and Shama Nissim. Together they hope to soon establish a Jewish intentional community near Pearlstone.

Reisterstown, MD
Trisha Margulies

Trisha S. Margulies is a trained Jewish social worker and chef, and is currently on the boards of Hazon and The Teva Learning Alliance as well as Eden Village. Together with her husband, Rabbi Fred Margulies, she co-founded Pushing the Envelope Farm in Geneva, IL, in 2007: after attending the 2007 Hazon Food Conference, they were inspired to transition the field next to their family business, Continental Envelope, from conventional corn and soybean production into an organic community farm. The farm is growing into a gathering place where people can experience and explore Jewish thought, tradition, and agriculture. Trisha is a member of the board of the Wurzweiler School of Social Work and a past National Vice-President of Hadassah. She has recently become a proud grandparent!

Geneva, IL
Ruth Messinger

Ruth W. Messinger is the president and executive director of American Jewish World Service, an international human rights and development organization providing support to grassroots social change projects throughout the world. Previously Ms. Messinger was in public service in New York City for 20 years. She is an active member of her synagogue and serves on the boards of several not-for-profit organizations. She has also received honorary degrees and special awards from various Jewish and secular organizations. Ruth is a cyclist and has done 12 New York rides.

New York, NY
Howard Metzenberg

Howard Metzenberg has traveled to more than 50 countries on five continents, and he has seen many of them from a bicycle. Howard developed the e-commerce website www.dickblick.com (Blick Art Materials) and continues to serve as a board member and advisor. Before working on the Blick website, he worked for technology companies such as Apple, Kaleida Labs, and Sun Microsystems. He first became familiar with Hazon as a participant in the Israel Ride. As a Hazon volunteer, he has been active in planning and organizing new initiatives, such as the California and Cross-USA Jewish Environmental Bike Rides. Howard received a BA in History from Oberlin College and an MS in Economics from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He has recently moved to Seattle.

Seattle, WA
Joshua Ratner

Rabbi Joshua Ratner serves as the director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater New Haven and as Associate Rabbi of the Joseph Slifka Center For Jewish Life at Yale University.  Josh served as the rabbi of Congregation Kol Ami in Cheshire, CT, from 2012-2014.  Ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary in May 2012, he was a Joseph Neubauer Fellow and also earned a Master’s Degree in Midrash and a Certificate in Pastoral Care.  During rabbinical school, Josh worked as a Public Policy Fellow for the Rabbinical Assembly and as a Rabbinic Fellow for the Jewish Council for Public Affairs.  He also received training in congregation-based community organizing, traveled to Mexico as part of an American Jewish World Service Rabbinical School Delegation, and was part of the original rabbinical student cohort of CLAL’s Rabbis Without Borders fellowship program.  Josh was an attorney for five years prior to entering rabbinical school. Rabbi Ratner believes that Judaism offers unique language and wisdom for addressing environmental stewardship and food justice.  He has been inspired by Hazon’s successes, particularly with its food conferences, CSAs, and Shmita consciousness-raising, and looks forward to helping Hazon continue to play a leading role in articulating a compelling vision for Jewish sustainability and immersive experience. Josh is married to Dr. Elena Ratner and they are the proud parents of Dimitri, Eli, Gabby and Sasha.

New Haven, CT
Sandy Rocks

Sandra M. Rocks is Counsel at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP in New York City, where she represents various financial industry participants in connection with asset-based financing and derivative transactions. Sandy received a B.A. from Susquehanna University and a J.D. from Columbia University. She is very active in bar association and related activities and has authored or co-authored many articles (and a book) and is a frequent speaker at industry-sponsored educational programs, both domestic and international, all having nothing to do with the environment. She is, however, careful to recycle everywhere and always carries her own non-disposable coffee mug. Sandy is a member of the Board of Trustees of Susquehanna University (and its executive committee), a member of the Board of Advisors of Gonzaga University School of Law’s Commercial Law Center and a member of the Panim el Panim Social Justice/Social Action Task Force of Congregation B’nai Jeshurun on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. She has lived on the Upper West Side for over 30 years, where she raised two children (Benjamin Plum and Deborah Plum). Sandy became a Hazon-nik in 2001 when she went on the very first New York ride, and after intermittent participation has joined every other ride since 2010 – also helping on the recruiting committee in 2011 and the New York ride committee in 2012.

New York, NY
Howie Rodenstein

Howie Rodenstein grew up in Worcester, MA and became very involved in Young Judaea in high school. Upon high school graduation Howie attended the Young Judaea Year Course in Israel. Howie received his BA from Brandeis University and spent two years in Israel prior to earning an MBA from Harvard Business School. Howie has been involved in a number of different businesses in the computer, health care and direct marketing industries and currently serves as CFO of Adheris, Inc. Howie and his family spent 4 years in Israel in the early 90’s while his wife Susie attended the Jerusalem Fellows.

Howie is the founder and Chairperson of the Arava Institute Hazon Bike Ride in Israel, on the Board of Directors of the Arava Institute, and is also very active on the Board of the Solomon Shechter Day School of Greater Boston. He is also the Chairperson of Hazon’s Finance Committee.

Needham, MA
Mark Russo

Mark has been a practicing veterinarian for over 40 years specializing in veterinary neurology and holistic medicine. He served as President of the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center’s Board of Directors for 4 ½ years and formerly chaired the Elat Chayyim Jewish Retreat Center’s Board. Mark and his wife recently created a farm-to-table restaurant and day retreat center at their small farm in Plympton Massachusetts. He also serves on the Board of Selectmen there and fervently spearheads open space preservation and park formation. Other interests include long distance walking, building forest paths, and teaching Jewish contemplative practices.

Kingston, MA
Nigel Savage   President & CEO

Nigel Savage, originally from Manchester, England, founded Hazon in 2000, with a Cross-USA Jewish Environmental Bike Ride. Since then, Hazon has grown the range and impact of its work in each successive year; today it has more than 50 staff, based in New York City, at Hazon’s Isabella Freedman campus, and in other locations across the country. Hazon plays a unique role in renewing American Jewish life and creating a healthier and more sustainable world for all.

Hazon is one of only two groups to have been in the Slingshot 50 every year since inception, and in 2008, Hazon was recognized by the Sierra Club as one of 50 leading faith-based environmental organizations.

Nigel has spoken, taught, or written for a wide and significant range of audiences.  (A selection of his essays are at hazon.org/nigel). He has twice been named a member of the Forward 50, the annual list of the 50 most influential Jewish people in the United States, and is a recipient of the Bernard Reisman Award. He has given Commencement speeches at Wagner (NYU, in 2011) and at Hornstein (Brandeis, in 2014). In 2015 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Jewish Theological Seminary.

Before founding Hazon, Nigel was a professional fund manager in London, where he worked for NM Rothschild and was co-head of UK Equities at Govett. He has an MA in History from Georgetown, and has learned at Pardes, Yakar, and the Hebrew University.  He was a founder of Limmud NY, and serves on the board of Romemu.

Nigel executive produced the British independent movies Solitaire For 2 and Stiff Upper Lips and had an acclaimed cameo appearance in the cult Anglo-Jewish comic movie, Leon The Pig Farmer.  He is believed to be the first English Jew to have cycled across South Dakota on a recumbent bike.

New York, NY | 212.908.2503 | nigel@hazon.org
Julie Shaffer

Julie Shaffer is the Executive Director of the Oreg Foundation in Boulder, Colorado. She has been involved in Colorado’s non-profit world as a professional and lay leader for over 20 years. Julie is the Co-Chair of the Board of Encounter and a member of the Board of Directors of Joshua Venture Group. She serves on several committees of the Boulder JCC where she was the honored for her leadership at their annual gala. Julie was a founding board member of the Boulder Jewish Community Foundation and was honored by them for her dedication and extraordinary work in the Boulder Jewish Community.

Julie and her husband, Bruce, raised their three kids in Boulder and now spend time in both their Boulder and Jerusalem homes.

Boulder, CO
Robert Sherman

Bob Sherman is currently the CEO of The Jewish Education Project, an organization that seeks to spark and spread innovation in Jewish education for children, teens and families that results in greater impact and wider reach.    Prior to taking this position 8 years ago, he was the Executive Director of the San Francisco Bureau of Jewish Education.  Bob began his career in Jewish education as the head of two day schools:  the Maimonides Academy in Danbury, CT and subsequently, the San Diego Jewish Academy.   Bob also taught in the Poets-in-the-Schools program in south Florida for several years and worked as a writer in public relations.   He lives in Manhattan with his wife, Lorraine, and has three grown children.

New York, NY
Richard Shuster   Chair

Mr. Shuster is the Lead Portfolio Manager for the Robeco Weiss, Peck & Greer(WPG) Small and Micro Cap Equity products. He joined Robeco WPG, an investment division of Robeco Investment management, in mid-1999 to head the firm’s Small Cap Value Team. He joined the firm from APM Partners, where he was a Managing Partner, responsible for managing a small cap value hedge fund. Mr. Shuster began his investment career as a financial analyst with Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette, later moving to First City Capital, where he spent three years as a Vice President, research analyst. Mr. Shuster was a portfolio manager with Value Equity Associates where he co-managed an event-driven stock portfolio. He holds a B.S. degree in economics from the University of Pennsylvania. Mr. Shuster has thirty years of investment experience, fourteen of which were spent specializing in small cap equity investing.

New York, NY
Richard Slutzky

Richard began his career in the nonprofit endowment field in 1985. His areas of expertise include: nonprofit investment management, charitable administration, private philanthropy, planned giving and endowment development, and nonprofit governance.

For 13 years, he was the First Vice President and Senior Philanthropic Consultant for the Merrill Lynch Center for Philanthropy & Nonprofit Management. He consulted with public charities and family foundations in the South Florida, Metropolitan New York, and Northeast Regions. He has worked for the last four years within the Philanthropic Solutions group at U.S. Trust, serving both U.S. Trust and Merrill Lynch clients and prospective clients.

For three years he was the Director of the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Kansas City after having practiced law there for five years. For over eight years, he was the Executive Director of the Jewish Community Foundation of Metro West, New Jersey. While there, he also served as Chief Executive Officer of a $73 million endowment fund (now over $350 million). He helped raise more than $50 million in donor-advised funds, supporting foundations, and endowment funds. He also raised more than $60 million in deferred gifts, including charitable trusts, bequests, and gifts of life insurance. Richard developed a successful campaign for a legacy society to raise unrestricted and annual campaign endowments. Richard was also responsible for administering and managing over 400 separate funds for the Foundation.

Richard currently serves as Vice President and Investment Committee Co-Chair of Daughters of Israel Geriatric Center in West Orange, N.J. He has also served as a member of the Board of the Jewish Community Foundation of Metrowest, N.J., and the Philanthropic Planning Group of Greater New York (PPGGNY). He also participates on the New York City Advisory Committee for Emory University School of Law as well as the New York Historical Society Professional Advisory Committee.

Richard is a Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy®, a designation he received from the Richard D. Irwin Graduate School of The American College in Bryn Mawr, PA. He holds Series 7 and 66 licenses. He is also a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor.

He is a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis and Emory University School of Law.

Maplewood, NJ
Marc Soloway

Rabbi Marc Soloway has served as the rabbi of Congregation Bonai Shalom in Boulder, Colorado since 2004. He has always loved food, perhaps a little too much, and in recent years has thought more deeply about where this food comes from, how it is produced and how all of that fits with deep Jewish obligations and values. Marc has ridden twice in the Hazon-Arava Institute Israel Ride in 2008 and 2010. Marc co-chaired two Hazon Food Conferences on the west coast in 2010 and 2011, he is on the Hazon Steering Team in Colorado as well as the Jewish Life team for the Rocky Mountain Jewish Food Summit in April 2012. Marc was instrumental in bringing Boulder’s first Jewish CSA through Hazon, which is now a collaboration of five synagogues and the JCC with two weekly drop-off sites. Marc is also a proud member of a Jewish goat and chicken co-op across the street from his synagogue. Marc was very active with the Limmud Conference in the UK, serving as co-chair in 1996 and 1997 and he was a founding board member of Limmud Colorado in 2008, which has informed his work with Hazon. He was in Ghana as part of the second AJWS Rabbinic Delegation, volunteering with a grantee in the south, as well as a fellow of the Rabbis without Borders program with CLAL. Marc is also a graduate of the 5th Rabbinic Cohort of the Institute of Jewish Spirituality. Before becoming a rabbi, Marc was an actor, storyteller and massage therapist in his native London and currently is the narrator of a documentary film about the Baal Shem Tov.

Boulder, CO
Meri Weber

With experience working in both the private and public sectors, Meri Weber helps organizations tell stories both internally and externally to achieve strategic objectives. Currently managing internal communications at Zocdoc, Meri previously worked on Capitol Hill for Congressman Tim Holden, for the City of New York’s Department of Small Business Services, and for a boutique PR firm in Manhattan. She has led communications through crises like Hurricane Sandy, large-scale change like a mayoral transition, and raising general awareness for topics ranging from economic development and small businesses, to public health. Meri received her BA from Barnard College and her MPA from NYU’s Wagner School of Public Service. Preferring the outdoors over the indoors, Meri lives between two parks on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, and enjoys biking, playing tennis, practicing yoga, and picnicking. She is a member of Darkhei Noam and fell in love with the warmth, vibrancy, and spirituality of Isabella Freedman during Sukkahfest, 2015.

New York, NY
David Wolfe

David has known Nigel Savage since childhood and has been involved with Hazon since its inception. David’s most significant involvement with Hazon to date was probably when he co-hosted the first Food Conference. No surprise there – he loves food. David refers to Nigel as his children’s spiritual conscience leaving him the freedom to focus the rest of his working hours on consumer marketing and commerce. David describes his career as a 25-year start-up. His expertise is in bringing new ideas to life through product, technology and marketing innovation. He is President of The BrandJourney Group that has both global clients and a portfolio of interests in small start-ups. In the distant past David was a partner at Stoy Hayward (now BDO) in London before starting his first company Prime Strategy Consultants in 1990. His first US venture was the Vacation Store (started in ’95 and sold in ’98). In 2000 David co-founded Envest Ventures a small Private Equity firm that has just completed investing its third fund. In 2005, David started what is now The BrandJourney Group. David’s greatest good fortune was marrying Helen, who he met on his first day at Birmingham University. They married right after college in 1984. They spent time in London and Paris before moving to Virginia Beach in 1994. They still live in the same house close to the beach and bought a second home in Israel a few years ago. They have 2 daughters, Jemma who lives in New York, and Sophie who is at college in Boston. David’s formal education included Carmel College, Birmingham University (BSc in Engineering) and London Business School (MBA). David travels extensively for business and pleasure but recently achieved one of his life goals by relocating his business to a building across the street from the beach, a short walk from his home.

David has completed the New York ride with each of his daughters and the Israel ride with Sophie in 2006. All were transformative experiences for David personally and for his relationship with his daughters. David serves on Hazon’s Board of Directors.

Virginia Beach, VA
Val Yasner

Val Yasner practiced Endodontics and taught at the University Of Pennsylvania School Of Dental Medicine for 15 years. After severe carpal tunnel Val retired from Endodontics and rediscovered her love of food.

Val’s involvement with Hazon began when she helped bring Hazon CSA of Southern New Jersey to her Cherry Hill community. Over the years Val has participated and taken leadership positions in the full range of Hazon activities including riding and crewing the NY Labor Day Ride, cycling in the California Ride and a portion of the Israel Ride. She has attended multiple Hazon Food Conferences on both coasts as well. Under her leadership Philly Hazon is continuing to expand its role in the community.

Val brings her health care perspective to the world of food and nutrition. She has a passion for cooking, eating, and talking about food while tying all of this to our Jewish heritage and tradition.

Cherry Hill, NJ