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Leadership 2017-03-26T14:36:47+00:00

LEADERSHIP

The JWT Leadership Board serves as champions of Jewish women. Members of the Board dedicate time to the ideal that the lives and passions of Jewish women in America should be represented on the stage and documented for posterity.

Our Honorary Board includes Honey Kessler Amado, Nancy Berman, Cambria & Howard Gordon, Janice Kamenir-Reznik, Faye Moskowitz, Gina Nahai, Joy Picus, Gail Twersky Reimer, and Rosanne Ziering.

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

RONDA SPINAK (Producer/JWT Artistic Director) created and produces JWT’s At-Homes Salon Theatre Series, now in its ninth season. She has curated more than 30 original Jewish-themed salon shows for JWT, as well as adapted many of the pieces performed. Spinak developed and produced Not That Jewish at JWT’s The Braid, which ran for 16 months, garnered an LA Drama Critics Circle nomination, only stopping to move to off-Broadway. Spinak co-wrote Stories From the Fringe, putting the stories of women rabbis on stage for the first time. Since then, she and her team have interviewed on videotape, 150 national and international women rabbis, and in partnership with Jewish Women’s Archive have made many of the interviews available online at www. jwa.org. She’s the author of the critically acclaimed exercise book, ProBodX (HarperCollins), wrote for Rugrats, and her plays include Oscar Wilde’s Wife, a favorite at the Ashland New Play Festival. Spinak graduated from Stanford University, completed her MBA at UCLA and her masters in writing at USC. She has served as a grant reviewer for the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, is on the board of the Alliance for Jewish Theatres and is a member of the Dramatists Guild. She feels blessed to be working with the many talented and inspiring women who give so generously to Jewish Women’s Theatre. Find more information: www.jewishwomenstheatre.org

JANIS C. NELSON has worked in the entertainment industry for over 40 years. She is an entertainment attorney with the law firm of Cowan DeBaets Abrahams + Sheppard, LLP in Beverly Hills, representing production companies, financiers, producers, writers, directors and actors working in theatre, film, television, publishing and new media. She has served on the boards of several prominent arts and media organizations, including Women in Film, Los Angeles Ballet and Dance Camera West. She began her career at the Repertory Theatre of Lincoln Center in New York City and she is a graduate of Barnard College and the UCLA School of Law.
LYNNE HIMELSTEIN has dedicated herself to the Jewish community, assuming leadership positions on the board of National Women’s Philanthropy.  In great demand as a speaker on Jewish philanthropy, she has traveled around both the United States and Israel, inspiring people to give to Jewish organizations.  She is currently the chair of Lion of Judah Endowment for the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and member of the board of Jewish Women’s Archive.
PATRICIA LINDEN is the Director of Financial Management at the RAND Corporation, a non-profit policy research organization based in Santa Monica. She brings 30 years of financial management experience to her role on the JWT Board and she holds an MBA from UCLA. Prior to RAND she worked in public accounting for nine years with a specialty in entertainment and non-profits and worked in the film production and sports entertainment industry for six years prior to joining RAND in 1984.
JODIE MENDELSON is a licensed architect in California, and works for SHP Project Development, a project development company in South Pasadena specializing in healthcare construction projects. When she’s not working at her day job or volunteering for Jewish Women’s Theatre and LimmudLA, Jodie also enjoys outings in Los Angeles via bike or public transportation.
GAIL SOLO is a civil rights lawyer who has devoted 39 years to fighting for workplace justice. She has been recognized for many years as a Southern California Superlawyer and one of the top women lawyers in Southern California by Los Angeles Magazine. She has extensive experience as a board member, and Personnel Chair, for numerous non-profits. She has volunteered extensively in public education, the Jewish community, the anti-genocide movement, and civil rights and women’s empowerment causes. She was honored by Temple Isaiah with the Hineini Award (“I am here and present to help”). She is the proud single mom of two amazing daughters who live the commandment of tikkun olam.
PENNY SPARK is a native of Shaker Heights, Ohio. She has a 25 year history of philanthropic board service in L.A. including executive search, fundraising campaigns, event planning and needs assessment studies. She is a 3-time award winning public speaker, earned the Phil Shoff Memorial Award for Outstanding Community Service and has twice earned recognition for exceeding greatest number of dollars raised in non-profit fundraising. Her passions include public speaking and teaching. In her professional life she has created, grown and sold multiple businesses. In her current role she was nominated by the San Fernando Valley Business Journal for the Business Owner of the Year award. Her company, Slate Ltd, assists residential property owners seeking builders, architects, designers, remodelers and contractors who have been professionally vetted. When Penny is not working or volunteering she can be found enjoying musical theatre, hiking, cooking, reading or traveling. She brings to JWT a passion for Jewish women’s stories and their perpetuation.
ELISA WAYNE served as President of the Women’s Conference, campaign chair, vice president of Organizations Assembly and board member of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles; creator of a young leadership program and board member for the Los Angeles Jewish Home; co- chair of the School of Jewish Communal Service Advisory Board and mentor at Hebrew Union College; Lion of Judah Endowment Fund; and alumni member of the National Young Leadership Cabinet. She has received several awards and honors for her leadership in the Los Angeles Jewish community and is recognized as an effective fundraiser and creative talent. Elisa works as a Senior Attorney with the Social Security Administration, Office of Disability Adjudication and Review and is an active member of the California State Bar. She sits on the Los Angeles Jewish Home subsidiary board of the Gerontology Education and Research Organization (GERO) affiliated with the Boren School of Gerontology at UCLA. Elisa is a writer and comedienne who appears at numerous comedy venues including the Hollywood Improv, Second City, Flappers and the Comedy Union. She is an ardent supporter of theater and dance, and a long time subscriber to the Ahmanson Theater, UCLA-Reprise, the Hollywood Bowl and Disney Hall. A graduate of the University of Michigan with a BA in Psychology and a JD from Southwestern University, Elisa is a mother of two daughters. She enjoys golfing, blogging, spinning and snow skiing.
Olivia Cohen-Cutler is an attorney whose nearly 40 year career includes senior executive positions in the areas of labor and employment relations, entertainment business affairs and broadcast industry content at Disney/ABC Television.  Since 2000, she served as Senior Vice President, Standards and Policy, ABC, Inc where she led the Broadcast Standards and Practices Department which is responsible for the acceptability of all entertainment programming and commercial material on ABC Networks. She has served as Chair, the MorningStar Commission founded by Hadassah advocating for strong and diverse media portrayals of Jewish women, a member of the Board of Directors for the Jewish Women’s Archive, and as an advisory Board member for the Dortort Center for Creativity in the Arts at UCLA Hillel. Olivia earned her JD cum laude from Boston College Law School, and received her BA and an honorary Doctorate of Business Administration from Simmons College.

JWT ADVISORY BOARD

LIZ ALTMAN is a native Southern Californian. She received a BA in Economics from the University of Michigan and a JD from SMU. She has volunteered for various organizations and currently is a captain of a tennis team. Liz produces the popular South Bay Salon for JWT and lends the organization her expertise in real estate. When she is not devoting her time to JWT or playing tennis, she works for a real estate management and development company, where she has been a vice president for the past 20 years. Prior to that, she worked as an in-house real estate attorney for two major retailers. She is licensed to practice law in Texas. She is married and has two adult children.
JULIE I BRAM is a full time community volunteer and activist. She has a B.A. in Communication Studies and an M.A. in Education, both from UCLA. As a founding partner of the Jewish Venture Philanthropy Fund, she has been blessed to work with many remarkable non-profit organizations. Her passion lies in using education and communication to effect positive change in the world. She was the chair of the 2013 Los Angeles Walk to End Genocide to raise awareness about today’s genocides and to fund raise for projects that help genocide survivors in Africa. Julie currently serves on several local and national advisory committees and boards of directors for a wide variety of charitable causes:

The American Friends of Hand in Hand, a group dedicated to supporting our growing network of award winning schools in Israel that educate Israeli Arab and Jewish children together.

American Jewish Committee, Board of Governors and Project Interchange national board as well as the executive board of the Los Angeles chapter. Current co-chair of the International Relations committee and participant in three diplomatic missions; one to Poland, the second to the Arabian Gulf States and most recently to Tunisia and Morocco.

Hebrew Union College, Zelikow School of Jewish Non Profit Management advisory board member and co-chair of its mentor program.

Jewish World Watch, an organization that fights against genocide and other atrocious human rights violations in Africa through education, advocacy, and refugee relief.

Jewish Women’s Theatre, board member, writer and advisor.
Julie is married to Steve Bram and they have two adult children, Ben and Alanna.

EVE BRANDSTEIN has made contributions to nearly every facet of the entertainment industry as a major studio executive, producer, director, writer/creator, talent manager, and author. Eve has a very notable career as a casting director, with hundreds of credits for major television and film projects. Some of her credits over her three decades of casting include the feature This is Spinal Tap as well as television credits that include Diff’rent Strokes, One Day At A Time, Facts of Life, and Who’s The Boss. She has also produced and written E/R the Comedy Series and produced several features. Recently she directed the Off-Broadway production of Voices Of Swords in NY, and the long-running comedy Shut Up, Sit Down & Eat which is currently at the Snapple Entertainment Center on Broadway. Other recent credits are the NY and LA premieres of Revisiting Wildfire, Ronnie Spector’s Beyond The Beehive, Waiting For Jack – A Beat Poetry Reunion, Claiming Allen Ginsberg, and Suzanne Wang’s Cracked Open. Eve has also directed the Jewish Women’s Theater shows Stories From the Fringe, Saffron and Rosewater and Hold Me, Heal Me. She is currently producing Poetry In Motion, a spoken-word event since 1988 in LA at Beyond Baroque and in New York at the Cutting Room.
GAIL ISRAEL has a MFA in Writing For Children and Young Adults from Hamline University and is currently working on her second novel for young adults, “Hannah Lost”. Her poems have been recognized for distinction by Writer’s Digest. Gail has volunteered extensively in academic institutions. Among her many accomplishments, she established and chaired the Community Service Committee at Windward School, where she served as VP of Community Service for four years. Through the Israel Family Foundation, Gail has supported the work of numerous Jewish and local non-profits including The Jewish Foundation for the Righteous, Camp United in Harmony and Reprise Theater Company. Gail grew up on Long Island and currently lives in Los Angeles where she and her husband, Bob, have raised their two wonderful children, Jesse and Rachel.
SUZANNA KAPLAN was born in Mexico City, to an American mother and Mexican father, and grew up speaking English at home and Spanish everywhere else. As an actress and dancer, she performed in some of Mexico’s famous Vaudeville stages, as well as acted in commercials and films and on the stage. Suzanna moved to the US where she partnered with her best friend in a translation service and language school Being young, they sold it as soon as it was making money and took off for Europe, eventually landing in Israel, which stretched out to 6 years, a husband, and a baby. Back in the US, Kaplan has been working in Hispanic advertising.
CAROL KIRSH has worked, volunteered and served on boards for a range of social services agencies since receiving her BA and MSW from the University of Michigan. Her focus has been on adolescents, older adults and homeless families. She also spent 8 years in Hong Kong working as an executive search consultant for Russell Reynolds and Norman Broadbent, two leading international search firms. Carol produces Jewish Women’s Theater in the Bay Area, where she hosted its first “at home” salon in San Francisco in 2012. A native Floridian with family roots in Alabama, Carol has continued the diaspora, living much of her adult life outside of the continental United States, including Bali, Guam and Hawaii. She and her husband, Tom Gottlieb, have two grown sons.
SHERRI MORR has spent the last several decades working and consulting in and out of the Jewish community as an expert in nonprofit management. Currently she is the Director for the West Coast Region of American Society of University of Haifa. She completed an MA and an honorary doctorate at Hebrew Union College. Sherri has published fundraising articles in technical journals, and had a blog on the Bay Citizen in San Francisco; she has numerous essays in her computer, and is working on several writing projects including “Captain Kirk Visits the Holy Land” and a memoir called “Canned Fruit, and other Stories of Jewish Identity.” Sherri has 3 grown sons, 3 grandchildren and lives in Los Angeles.
LISA ROSENBAUM is a writer and the executive producer of the Genesis Arts Council of the Santa Monica Synagogue, a professional theater group for modern and original works. She enjoys being a former president of her synagogue and even more, a former lawyer. Her debut novel, A Day of Small Beginnings (Little, Brown & Co. 2006), was set in contemporary Poland, and is a multi-generational story of a secular American Jewish family. It was a “Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers” selection. The novel she is now writing is a modern retelling of the Akeda, the binding of Isaac, which takes place in the Santa Clarita Valley, near the ruins of the St. Frances Dam. Rosenbaum lives in Pacific Palisades with her husband, Walt Lipsman, and their two daughters, Ariana and Maya.
MAUREEN SHUBOW RUBIN has been a professor of journalism at California State University, Northridge since 1984, where she specialized in teaching public relations and media law and ethics, In her 30 years on campus, she also served in a variety of administrative positions including Associate Dean of the Mike Curb College of Arts, Media, and Communications; Director of Undergraduate Studies; Director of Public and Community Relations at the Valley Performing Arts Center and founding Director of the Center for Community-Service Learning. Prior to joining the University, Rubin was Director of Public Information for President Carter’s Special Assistant for Consumer Affairs in the White House, and held similar positions for a U.S. Congresswoman, Consumer Federation of America and Beth Israel Hospital in Boston. She is a graduate of the Catholic University School of Law In Washington, D.C., and she holds a Master of Arts in Public Relations from University of Southern California and a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from Boston University.
RUTH RUBINSTEIN holds a PhD in Clinical Psychology and is a Licensed Marriage and Family Counselor. For the past 40 years she has resided and has a private practice in the Malibu area. Dr. Rubinstein has been intensely involved in the Jewish community. She is an original founder, 31 years ago, with seven other families, of the Malibu Jewish Center and Synagogue. Over the past 40 years, Dr. Rubinstein has served in leadership positions on many non-profit Boards of Directors and for-profit Boards of Directors including the Malibu Jewish Center and Synagogue and the Malibu Chamber of Commerce, to name a few.
ARLENE SARNER is an award-winning screenwriter/playwright/producer. She has written for every major movie studio including Universal, Fox, Columbia, Paramount, Disney, Warner Bros., Tri-Star, and Orion, as well as TV networks ABC, CBS, CBC, and VHI. Her film work includes Academy Award-nominated Peggy Sue Got Married and Blue Sky, starring Jessica Lange in her Academy Award-winning role. Recently, Arlene collaborated with director Agnieszka Holland on July Walking Home. Arlene and her husband and co-writer, Jerry Leichtling, turned Peggy Sue Got Married into a stage musical and mounted a successful production in London’s West End. A US production is in the works. Currently, Arlene is working on two book projects, a stage musical based on the life of Hollywood lyricist Al Dubin, as well as a movie based on the life of famed pianist Glenn Gould.
DAVA SAVEL first started writing sketch material in NYC as part of the comedy team of Cillo & Savel. After years of performing in cabarets, commercials and radio, Savel moved to LA and got her break writing jokes for an NBC game show. Her credits have since gotten better. They include: “It’s Garry Shandling’s Show,” “Dream On,” “Grace Under Fire,” “Dinosaurs,” “Ellen,” “Will & Grace,” “Jackie Thomas Show,” “Dharma & Greg,” “The Tony Danza Show,” “Book of Daniel,” and Disney Channel’s “Sonny With a Chance” and “That’s So Raven,” for which she received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Children Television. In 1997, Savel won a primetime Emmy Award and a Peabody Award for co-writing and executive producing the infamous coming out episode of “Ellen” as well as a WGA Award and LGBT Award nomination.

SANDY SAVETT is a retired family and child therapist. For over 20 years she worked with at-risk families dealing with abuse, neglect and cultural difference in child rearing. She developed her love of theatre in Toronto and frequent family visits to New York.

MARILEE TOLWIN has worked as a registered nurse in the areas of mental health and substance abuse for over 28 years. Her dedication and expertise tapped her to assume many positions of leadership, including a Directorship of a hospital. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of Tolwin Psychiatric Medical Group, as well as volunteers for various Jewish organizations. She is now pursuing her life-long passion in the arts as a painter. Marilee lives in the Pacific Palisades with her husband and son, who attends LMU.