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Professional Staff

  • Executive Director, Ari Gauss

    Ari Gauss

    Executive Director
    agauss@nchillel.org

    Ari is entering his tenth year as NC Hillel's Executive Director, and loves life in The Southern Side of Heaven after twelve years in the northeast. He lived for nine years in New York City, where he served as a Director of Development for the American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science, and also received masters degrees in non-profit management from New York University and Judaic studies from the Jewish Theological Seminary. He previously earned a BA in Philosophy from Pomona College.

    Ari has also worked for Hillel at Tufts University and Yale University. In fact, he and his wife, Hollis, met when they were both Hillel Jewish Campus Service Corps Fellows. Hollis and Ari are the proud parents of Aaron, who is a Tar Heel born and a Tar Heel bred.

    A native San Franciscan, Ari also lived in Jerusalem for two years, where he was the Jerusalem Little League Baseball Commissioner and coached the Israeli national baseball team for three summers.

  • Michelle B Horowitz Headshot

    Michelle Brownstein Horowitz

    Associate Director, UNC Chapel Hill
    mbhorowitz@nchillel.org

    Currently in her eighth year as NC Hillel's Associate Director, Chapel Hill, Michelle oversees NC Hillel’s staff, programs and relationship development at UNC-Chapel Hill.

    Michelle grew up in Western New York (NOT upstate) and went to American University in Washington, DC, earning her B.A. in Communications, Law, Economics and Government. After graduating she worked in  political communications and ran a dropout prevention program in the DC public schools. She then moved to Madison, WI where she earned her M.S. in Curriculum and Instruction with a focus on Multicultural Education at the University of Wisconsin - Madison.

    While in her Master’s program, Michelle particularly enjoyed teaching an Introduction to Communications class for first-year students, inspiring her to pursue a career in Higher Education, and leading her to the opportunity to work at Hillel and combine her enthusiasm for supporting college students with her passion for Jewish education.

    In her free time Michelle likes to spend time with her husband and twin 3-year old sons as well as her husband, run and make jewelry.

     

  • Ginny Vellani

    Ginny Vellani

    Director of Statewide Initiatives
    gvellani@nchillel.org

    Ginny Vellani is excited to start her third year as the Director of Statewide Initiatives, overseeing student engagement, programs and leadership development across the state, outside of Chapel Hill.

    Ginny has been with Hillel for six years, previously serving as Acting Director at Elon Hillel. At Elon, she helped to lead the community’s growth as it doubled in size, opened a permanent building on campus, and expanded to include a historically Jewish fraternity, an Israel advocacy and dialogue club, and a chapter of Challah for Hunger. Her work has emphasized immersive experiences and off-campus opportunities, including Birthright Israel, teaching a month-long Holocaust Studies course in Europe, and traveling with students to interfaith leadership conferences across the country. 

    Ginny is a member of the Weinberg Accelerate Executive Training Program’s fourth cohort. She has a B.A. in Religious Studies from Agnes Scott College, a M.A. in Jewish-Christian Studies from Seton Hall University, and also studied at the University of Haifa’s International School. A proud native North Carolinian, she currently lives in Winston-Salem with her husband.

  • Levy, Yarden photo

    Yarden Levy

    Israel Fellow
    ylevy@nchillel.org

    Yarden Levy, soon to become NC Hillel's sixth Israel Fellow, recently received her degree in engineering and management from Ben-Gurion University, and also spent a semester studying abroad at Concordia University in Montreal. A dancer since age six and a member of a professional Israeli folk dance troupe since age ten, Yarden has traveled to New York to dance, and has also volunteered extensively with children in low-income neighborhoods, teaching dance and music. She was a lieutenant in the IDF, serving in human resources. Yarden is an entrepreneur at heart.

    She is excited to begin her shlichut (emissary role) and move to North Carolina, and says, “I have always believed in bringing together all Jews and people from all over the world and being open to new cultures and ways of life. It will be a great honor to represent Israel abroad, teach people about life here, and learn from them about life outside of Israel.”

  • Zishuk, Tamara photo (1)

    Tamara Zishuk

    Student Leadership Coordinator
    tzishuk@nchillel.org

    Tamara Zishuk is so excited to begin her journey as UNC Hillel’s Student Leadership Coordinator. Before joining the team, she worked as a Graduate Coordinator for Housing and Residence Life at the University of Central Florida, where she worked with students and resident assistants in the residence halls. 

    Tamara graduated from UCF in 2017 with a B.S. in Psychology and Minor in Leadership Studies, and is currently pursuing her M.S. in Hospitality and Tourism Management. At UCF, she was involved in many student organizations, such as Honors, LEAD Scholars, Housing and Residence Life, Chabad, and Hillel, where she developed her love of working with Jewish students. Growing up in Orlando, Tamara has a deep love of all things Disney. She enjoys cooking, hiking, traveling around the world, and hummus.

  • Vicki Cathcart headshot

    Vicki Cathcart

    Director of Student Life, Greensboro
    vcathcart@nchillel.org
    (336) 355-1173

    Vicki Cathcart is excited to start her first year as Director of Student Life, Greensboro for North Carolina Hillel. Vicki grew up in Northbrook, IL and attended the University of Missouri-Columbia where she received a BA in English and Religious Studies.  Her career has encompassed working with all in ages in the Jewish community including with The Jewish Federations of Greater Charlotte and Chattanooga, Aleph Bet Children’s Center, and Jewish overnight camps in Wisconsin and Georgia. 

    Mostly recently she served as the Jewish Family Service Special Needs Coordinator in Dallas. Vicki recently moved to Greensboro with her husband Jason, and three children, Jordan (11), Samara (7), and Daniella (7). They have two hermit crabs, Cubbie and Climb. In her free time, Vicki likes to watch sports, play Candy Crush or board games, and hang out with friends and family. 

  • Cohn, Sarah

    Sarah Cohn

    Campus Director, NC State
    scohn@nchillel.org
    914-456-2132

    Sarah Cohn is looking forward to joining the Wolfpack and North Carolina Hillel as the first full-time Campus Director at NC State. She has a Master's degree in Social Work from Columbia University and has spent much of her career working in the Jewish not-for-profit world. Sarah is a licensed psychotherapist and previously served as a hospice social worker and entrepreneur. She is also a host for Moishe House Without Walls, facilitates a Well Circle through At the Well, and is currently planning a retreat on spirituality and wholeness. 
     
    Sarah is from the Hudson Valley, attended college at The George Washington University and has previously lived in New York, Seattle, and Michigan. She is excited to relocate from Ann Arbor to Raleigh with her partner, Davin, and dog, Delilah.

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    Rabbi Melissa B. Simon

    Rabbi/Senior Jewish Educator
    msimon@nchillel.org

    Rabbi Melissa B. Simon is the Senior Jewish Educator and Rabbi at UNC-Chapel Hill, providing students with rabbinic support, facilitating students’ meaningful Jewish experiences and playing a central role in crafting the Jewish educational vision for UNC Hillel. Under Rabbi Melissa's leadership, UNC Hillel began participating in the Jewish Learning Fellowship and Workshop Shabbat.

    Prior to joining the North Carolina Hillel team, Rabbi Simon was the Jewish Chaplain and Hillel Director at Muhlenberg College and the Director of Lifelong Learning at Shir Tikvah, a Reform synagogue in Minneapolis, MN. Rabbi Simon received Master's Degrees in Jewish Education and Hebrew Letters and was ordained by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. While a student at HUC-JIR, Rabbi Simon was named a Mandel Fellow, studying visionary leadership and Jewish education. Rabbi Simon received her undergraduate degree from Mount Holyoke College. Rabbi Simon served as the Cooperberg-Rittmaster Rabbinic Intern and Director of Children's Education at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah in New York and the Rabbinic Intern at Denison University in Ohio. Rabbi Simon has been named a Selah Fellow with Bend the Arc and a Rabbis without Borders Fellow with CLAL and is currently a rabbinic fellow with JOIN for Justice's Clergy Leadership and Organizing Program. 

    She is passionate about Jewish education, social justice, inclusive Jewish communities and empowering young people.

     

  • Jamie Schecter

    Jamie Schecter Krusch

    Assistant Director, Charlotte
    jkrusch@nchillel.org

    Jamie is the beginning her third year as Assistant Director, Charlotte. Jamie grew up in Dallas, Texas before attending Indiana University, where she completed a B.A. in political science and criminal justice. As a student at Indiana, Jamie was very active with Hillel, participated on a Birthright Israel trip, and was a member of a Jewish sorority. After graduating, Jamie relocated to her new adopted hometown of Charlotte, NC, where she obtained her J.D. at the Charlotte School of Law. While in law school, Jamie restarted and revitalized the Jewish Student Law Association. After law school, she worked for a corporation and remained involved with both the Charlotte and international Jewish communities. Jamie has been active in the Jewish Federation of Greater Charlotte, and was selected as a participant of Class 10 the Bernstein Jewish Leadership Group. She is also active with other Jewish organizations including Hadassah, AIPAC, and Save A Child’s Heart. Jamie happily resides in Charlotte with her husband, David, a Charlotte native, and their two lovable but mischievous dogs. In her free time, Jamie enjoys reading, kayaking, and making custom jewelry.

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    Tova Boehm

    Cook and Kitchen Manager
    boehm.tova@gmail.com

    Tova joined UNC Hillel in 2014, and enjoys working with students in all parts of preparing weekly Shabbat dinners in the kosher kitchen on campus. Tova was part of the first graduating class of the American Hebrew Academy, and went on to study weaving at Earlham College (IN), where she graduated in 2008 with a BA in Art with minors in Jewish Studies and Art History. During college, she took a semester off to be an Adamah Fellow at Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center (CT).  During that fellowship, she developed expertise in community and collaborative leadership, and sustainable agriculture.  Following the fellowship, she developed and taught a 2-credit course at Earlham College, entitled “Spirituality, the Land, & Food” and started a small bread bakery at the college food co-op.  In 2010, after several years working on sustainable farms in NC and MD, including Pearlstone Conference Center, she launched Short Winter Soups, an innovative business providing area share-holders with high-integrity soups and artisan bread on a weekly basis year round.  Tova lives in Chapel Hill with her husband, and loves contra dancing and hot chocolate.
  • Diana Fenves headshot

    Diana Fenves

    Development and Communications Associate
    dfenves@nchillel.org

    Diana Fenves is beginning her second year as the Development & Communications Associate at North Carolina Hillel. Before joining the North Carolina Hillel team, she taught English as a Second Language at Durham Tech and Academic Writing & Research at NC State. She loves working with students and creating inspiring learning environments.

    A native Texan, she relocated to North Carolina to earn her masters in Creative Writing at NC State. Prior to living in North Carolina, she was the Marketing & Events Coordinator at Family Gateway, a homeless family services organization dedicated to ending child homelessness in Dallas.

    She began her nonprofit career with an interest in the arts and interned at theatres in Seattle and New York City. She received her undergraduate degree from Hampshire College. She is passionate about education, social justice and creative expression. In her free time, Diana enjoys writing science fiction, reading epic series and traveling.

  • Quigley, Laura photo

    Laura Quigley

    Operations Manager
    lquigley@nchillel.org

    Laura Quigley, who joins NC Hillel as our new Operations Manager, returned home to North Carolina in 1997 after more than a decade away. After converting to Judaism with Rabbi Jonathan Perlman at Beth Meyer Synagogue, she became an active member of the Durham-Chapel Hill Jewish community.

    Laura earned a BA in Political Science from Emory University. She spent the first 15 years of her career as a paralegal, including work with the Federal Public Defender for the Eastern District of North Carolina and the Center for Death Penalty Litigation. After volunteering at Beth El for many years, she had the opportunity to join the staff in a part-time capacity when her children were young. She loved the work and the community and eventually served as the Executive Director for nine years.

    Laura lives in Durham (and has been known to root for the darker shade of blue) with her husband, Howard Bomze, and their children, Buddy and La. In her free time, she enjoys knitting, spinning her own yarn, and camping.
North Carolina Hillel Foundation
210 West Cameron Avenue
Chapel Hill, NC 27516
(919) 942-4057

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