Meet Our Staff
We have a combined 70+ years of knowledge of the Greater Hartford Jewish community and its changing needs. Our staff is uniquely suited to support your philanthropic goals. We look forward to hearing from you!
The following staff is available to provide services in these specific areas:
President & CEO
(860) 523-7460 ext. 6181
Jacob is a veteran Jewish professional committed to improving lives through values-based organizations, grounded in boldness, passion and innovation.
He has served as the President & CEO of Goodman JFS of Broward County, the JCC of Greater Kansas City and Hillels of Georgia. Jacob also held positions with the ADL in Jerusalem and AIPAC in Washington.
An award-winning journalist, Jacob served as the Editor of the Atlanta Jewish Times and a Staff Writer for The Jerusalem Post. He holds an M.A. in Arab-Israeli Affairs from The Hebrew University. In his spare time, Jacob enjoys playing tennis (wanna play?) and softball, fishing, hiking and cooking. He adores his wife, Dr. Edna Levy, and their three children, dog and cat.
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Michael Elfenbaum, J.D.
Vice President, Grant Programs
(860) 523-7460 ext. 6187
A Jewish communal professional for almost 25 years, Michael joined the Foundation in 2007 and helped grow its annual grantmaking from $3 million to over $4.5 million. He spearheaded the Israel Experience, a program that awards annual scholarships for teens to visit Israel to explore and develop their Jewish identity. Michael serves as a trusted advisor to donor advised fund holders who rely on his in-depth knowledge of the Jewish community to help them achieve their philanthropic goals.
Born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, Michael is a proud graduate of Indiana University and THE Ohio State University College of Law. Michael and his wife, Anna, live in West Hartford and have three children.
Michael lives his life knowing that all roads lead to Bruce Springsteen.
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Vice President, Philanthropy
(860) 523-7460 ext. 6193
Kathryn has been a member of the Foundation leadership team since December 2013, first serving as marketing and communications director and then directing the Center for Innovative Philanthropy since 2015. She also served as the organization’s interim CEO in 2018.
Before coming to the Foundation, Kathryn ran Development Operations at the California Community Foundation, a Los Angeles-based foundation that now has $1.8 billion in assets. Kathryn holds a B.A and M.A. from Yale University in East Asian Studies. She was named one of Hartford’s 40 Under 40 in 2016.
Kathryn loves action movies, boxing and has recently discovered paddleboarding. She is an avid reader and creative writer, as well as a certified executive coach. A resident of Avon, Kathryn enjoys walking the trails with her husband and two dogs.
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Gift and Finance Associate
GJerGJi is a first generation Muslim Albanian who moved to America when he was ten. Growing up, GJerGJi discovered his passion in analyzing numbers and pursued a career in Finance. He earned an A.S. in Business Finance at Naugatuck Valley Community College and a B.S. in Finance Investments and Markets at Western CT State University. GJerGJi is grateful for and enjoys assisting the Foundation’s Finance department.
GJerGJi loves playing sports such as soccer, ping-pong, and volleyball, and has an obsession with basketball. But everything took a back seat once his two children came into this world. He is passionate about spending time with them and trying his best in building their character so they are ready for anything the world throws at them.
Vice President, Operations & Donor Services
A 25-year veteran of the Foundation, Susie manages the Foundation’s database platforms, donor portal and processes. Agencies and donors rely on Susie for their reporting needs. Internally, Susie collaborates with and provides training across all departments of the Foundation.
In her personal life, Susie loves being a mom of 3 young adults and serving as co-president of the Loomis Chaffee Parents Association with her husband. If you live in Greater Hartford, you may have heard Susie’s soprano voice. She is a Cantor for Mary, Gate of Heaven Parish in Windsor Locks, and sings in church choirs, weddings and funerals. Susie’s largest audience was when she sang the National Anthem live at the Yard Goats 2019 Jewish Heritage Day.
Gift and Finance Controller
Christine has over 31 years of financial/accounting and management experience in the insurance and banking industries, and non-profit community foundation sector. She joined the Foundation in 2005 and currently serves as the Controller of the finance and investment accounting functions. Christine is responsible for asset/cash reconciliations, investment income allocations to donor funds, expense payables, gifts and other general ledger record keeping and year-end tax reporting to vendors and donors.
Christine serves as her church’s Sunday School Superintendent and Treasurer of its Planning Committee. When she’s not crunching numbers, Christine loves helping children with their homework and reading, as well as preparing and serving meals at local homeless shelters. Christine and her husband have two children, who help make sandwiches for the shelters.
Vice President, Finance
Rhona has over 40 years of financial and investment accounting and management experience in for-profit and nonprofit organizations. She spent over 20 years working in actuarial analysis and managing pension, tax and mutual fund accounting and cash management operations at several large insurance companies. Since February 2000, Rhona has been expertly managing the Foundation’s financial and investment accounting and tax reporting functions focusing on data integrity and reliability.
Rhona and her husband have three adult children and they love spending time with their three wonderful grandchildren! Rhona is a born-again Christian who enjoys working in the ministry where she serves as an Associate Minister, Sunday school teacher, choir member and leader and Treasurer. She enjoys counseling, encouraging, helping and serving others.
Madison joined the Foundation in 2019 after earning her bachelor’s degree in Spanish and linguistics from Mount Holyoke College. Her professional background includes mentoring undergraduate students in written and oral argumentation as well as typing and editing legal transcripts for a Jerusalem-based company. Madison brings her expertise in writing and research to her work on the Development team.
Outside of the Foundation, you can find Madison oil painting, exploring nature with her dog, or trying out a new challah recipe.
(860) 523-7460 ext 6184
Maureen has more than 20 years of communications experience helping nonprofits and corporate foundations achieve their goals while championing social issues, such as STEM education, economic empowerment, and diversity and inclusion, through strategic campaigns. A former correspondent for The Hartford Courant, Maureen has developed and executed award-winning media campaigns for numerous prominent brands including The Bayer Foundation, Northwestern Mutual Foundation, FIRST and Keep America Beautiful.
Maureen earned her MBA from Bay Path University. She is an adjunct professor in the University’s Business Department, teaching Marketing and Branding classes.
In her leisure time, Maureen loves travel adventures with family and friends, and enjoys the outdoors including hiking at her favorite spot: West Hartford Reservoir. She is a self-professed chocolate connoisseur always in search of a piece of chocolate confectionary perfection.
(860) 523-7460 ext. 6180
Elana is a big believer in strengthening communities. After getting her B.A. at Union College, Elana was a Corps Member at City Year Boston, an AmeriCorps Program, and then worked at Combined Jewish Philanthropies. She worked at United Way Detroit and a neighborhood teen center while earning her MSW at University of Michigan.
For 15 years, Elana worked at the Mandell JCC. She ran the Jewish Book Festival, established the Israeli Shaliach program, opened the Mandell JCC Valley Sports and Community Center in Canton, created outreach programs and events, and was an inaugural member of the JCCA/JTS National Jewish Experiential Leadership Initiative (JELI). In her role, Elana developed meaningful relationships with leaders at every local Jewish organization and synagogue.
Elana manages JCF Hartford’s two giving circles: JewGood Hartford and The Lillian Fund, directs stewardship activities and the Life & Legacy program.
Elana spends her free time serving the community, too. She’s a Board member of JTConnect and a volunteer for Achilles International. On the weekends, you can find Elana doing long runs, races or Ragnar’s with her running squad. Or, you’ll spot her at a local field or court cheering on her two sons – and husband – as they play – and coach – almost every sport imaginable.
Grants and Donor Services Assistant
Goldy has more than 13 years of experience in information technology and customer service, and has held posts at the Mandell JCC and the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford. In her current role at the Foundation, Goldy interacts with donors, processes grant letters and reports, and maintains the Foundation’s grant files. A consummate team member who is always ready to help, Goldy oversees administrative office functions and supports all staff members on various projects.
After work hours, Goldy enjoys exploring health and wellness activities, and can be found exercising at the Mandell JCC. She also enjoys hanging out with family and friends, and a good Netflix binge with Gray’s Anatomy at the top of her binge-worthy list.