Our Team

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Board of Directors – Officers

Linda Kurtz
Board President

Linda Kurtz is a member of NCJW, SF Section since 1982 and recipient of the 2012 Hannah G. Solomon Award. Over the years of her association with NCJW SF, she served as section president, treasurer, recording secretary, vice president and committee chair.

Representing NCJW she specialized in issues of family safety working with Shalom Bayit and JFCS Task Force on Domestic Violence, and California Family Action. She represented NCJW also on JFCS Jewish Disabilities Task Force and Kohn Endowment Fund with Jewish Community Federation.

Linda served on NCJW Scholarships Committee and co-chaired the committee in the last 5 years. She served also on the Frieden Re-entry Program for men and women re-entering the job market.

Linda represented NCJW for several years on the JVS Strictly Business planning committee. During 1980’s, she organized the NCJW presence at the former Soviet Consulate for monthly vigil. She represented NCJW in planning and implementing conferences for clergy and service providers on domestic violence and Ethics in Economic Policy.

Linda worked 33 years as vocational rehabilitation counselor, first at Haight Ashburty Clinic, Guadalupe Health Center, San Mateo County Office of Education, and then 27 years at State Department of Rehabilitation, where she worked with referrals from Jewish Family and Children’s Services and JVS, MS Society, the VA, and several psychiatrists.

Linda is originally from Madison, Wisconsin. She attended University of Wisconsin at Madison and had her Junior Year in Jerusalem.  Linda has lived in San Francisco since 1968.

Katie Koyfman
Vice President & Board Secretary

Katie Koyfman joined the NCJW-SF Board in 2015 after interning with the Section and receiving the Tanette Goldberg Scholarship for Social Justice. Katie is dedicated to civic engagement and supporting mission-driven organizations through partnership cultivation, development, advocacy, and storytelling. She serves as the Director of Operations at PARCA, an organization helping people with developmental disabilities thrive. Katie also provides public affairs and project management consulting to social impact nonprofits and startups. She earned her B.A. summa cum laude in Political Science from Dominican University of California. Katie’s passion lies at the intersection of tech and social good; it drives her to do good and do well.

Nancy Kirshner-Rodriguez
Vice President

Nancy KirshnerRodriguez, Principal and co-founder of Synergy Public Affairs has been a leader in intergovernmental and community relations for more than 25 years.

Nancy has served as Executive Director of the California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls and in senior federal, state and local government positions including almost eight years in the Clinton Administration at the US Department of Labor and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in Washington. She has also previously served as Director of Government Relations for the City and County of San Francisco and member of  San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women where she worked to create the Cities for CEDAW Campaign and  championed local initiatives to reduce domestic violence and human trafficking; improve gender equality and advance girls’ services.  She serves as the National Board Treasurer of Emerge America and on the Jewish Community Relations Council.   Kirshner-Rodriguez graduated from Mount Holyoke College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political science. She received the Alumnae Medal of Honor in 2005 for her years of service to the college.

Dena Gardi
Vice President

Dena Gardi is a San Francisco native and lives in the city with her husband, three children and a big, happy dog. She is a graduate of San Francisco State University and holds an elementary teaching credential. She taught briefly, then, entered the corporate world.

After administrative positions at an insurance company, a distribution company and an architecture firm, she found her niche at McKesson Corp, where she worked as Community Relations Manager and Program Officer & Secretary, McKesson Foundation. She felt she was one of the luckiest people in the world to get paid for an interesting, inspiring, fulfilling job where she coordinated employee volunteer involvement, ran the United Way campaign, made grants to nonprofit organizations, and much more.

Seventeen years ago, Dena left corporate life behind to focus on raising her children, a son on the autism spectrum and newborn boy/girl twins. Since then, she has volunteered at her children’s schools, chairing events and serving on PTA boards. Her interest in NCJW was sparked by her mother, Tanette Goldberg, who was an active volunteer for many years and received the Hannah G. Solomon award for her extraordinary contribution to the Bay Area community. A few years ago, Dena began working with NCJW San Francisco Vice President, Linda Kurtz, to develop a scholarship program for the organization. NCJW SF now has five scholarship programs, awarding a total of 11-13 awards annually. Dena is currently Vice President of the Board of Directors of NCJW San Francisco.

Teddi Silverman
Vice President

Teddi Silverman received a Bachelor of Arts from University of California, Berkeley and a Masters in Social Work from San Francisco State University. She has worked as a professional, board member and volunteer with a variety of nonprofit organizations. Her professional career has included being an Executive Director, writing grants, strategic planning, board development, fundraising, budgets and program expansion. Her work has focused on women and youth in the areas of homelessness, disabilities, education, music, art, domestic violence and pediatric cancer. She currently works as a consultant with Circle of Friends – the Path to Inclusion and at the National Council of Jewish Women San Francisco Section where she is Vice President and Chair of the Development Committee. Teddi serves also as Steering Committee Member of the Jewish Coalition to End Human Trafficking and San Francisco Collaborative Against Human Trafficking.

Michael Gerber

Michael Gerber has been involved with NCJW San Francisco as volunteer and member for over 10 years. He is currently serving as NCJW San Francisco Treasurer, Chair of the Financial Committee and member of the Development committee. Michael has made a career as a professional programer and .Net developer, specializing in financial reporting and oversight. Michael has been highly commended for his passion for social justice and inspiring leadership at NCJW’s San Francisco Board of Directors.

General directors

Rachel Brasso
General Director

Ms. Brasso comes from a family of strong female activists and social justice advocates and it would be an honor to serve as a member of the National Council of Jewish Women to follow in their footsteps. She is a native San Franciscan and Lowell High School graduate. She attended Boston University, graduating magna cum laude with a philosophy degree and subsequently earned her JD from San Francisco’s Golden Gate School of Law. She published a Law Review Comment on an environmental justice topic and graduated with a distinction in public interest law. She is a member of the Washington State Bar and San Francisco Estate Planning Council and currently does Trust Administration for the City National Bank Trust and Estate team. Ms. Brasso serves as an Area Board Member for the Northern California Coastal American Cancer Society, Co-Chair of the Robin Brasso Social Justice Initiative and is a Member of the NCJW Racial Justice and Diversity Committee. Lastly, she has co-hosted the Representation Matters series, chaired by Representative Barbara Lee, with a mission to get women of color elected to Congress.

Emma Cohen
General Director

Emma Cohen is the Head of Growth for the Google Ad Grants program, which has given almost $10B of free advertising to 115,000 nonprofits across the world. She serves as member of the Board and Anti-Human Trafficking Committee of NCJW San Francisco. She has been involved also in the work of the San Francisco Collaborative Against Human Trafficking operated by NCJW San Francisco.

Prior to her current role at Google, Emma led global analytics for the company’s multibillion-dollar advertiser acquisitions business. In addition to her 6 years at Google, she has experience in marketing analytics and public sector management consulting, with a focus on human services.

In both her work and personal life, Emma is an avid traveler and has lived abroad in the UK and Italy. Recently, she joined an international development delegation to Kenya sponsored by NCJW and the Israeli consulate. She holds a BA in Economics and Italian Studies from Brandeis University, where she graduated magna cum laude with highest honors.

Benita Hopkins
General Director

Benita Dean Hopkins, an “Agent of Change” has worked in the non-profit sector for the last thirteen years. Benita most recently was the Director of Education for Generations United who serves the immigrant population of Redwood City, CA. Before GU, she was Director of Community Education and Engagement for Love Never Fails, committed to the trafficked population. She is the current Northern and Central California Liaison for the DeVos Urban Leadership Initiative and oversees her 1st Fruits Arts Project to offer underserved students of all ages the opportunity to express themselves and find healing through the arts.

She’s traveled to various countries to bring hope to those who suffer from shame and abandonment. Restoring to wholeness is a very important attribute and goal in life to Ms. Hopkins. Benita has traveled to Ghana, West Africa to serve with CORM Ghana at their Faith Roots International Academy and 7Continents their workforce development and prevention education programs.

One of Benita’s favorite quotations by Dr. King is: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Human trafficking and other injustices are critical to her work. Benita is a recent graduate of Cornerstone University, Grand Rapids, Michigan with a degree in Ministry Leadership. She was awarded the “2015 Abolitionist of the Year” for Education by the San Francisco Collaborative Against Human Trafficking and the “Working Women’s Award” by the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Association of Santa Clara Valley in 2011. She is on the Boards of Generations United, S.H.A.D.E. (Survivors Healing and Dedicated to Empowerment), and the Co-Chair of the San Francisco Collaborative Against Human Trafficking. In her spare time, she is the Principal Violist in the Mission College Symphony.

Lois Hirsch
General Director
Juliet Chaitin-Lefcourt
General Director

Juliet Chaitin-Lefcourt is a leading strategic counselor and media relations specialist at Outcast, an integrated marketing agency. Her expertise is in executive communications, thought leadership, product launches, proactive storytelling, and mitigating crises. Since joining Outcast in 2012, she has helped companies of all stages — from startups to hypergrowth to Fortune 100 – define and evolve their brands including Facebook, Intuit, StubHub, Lyft, Sephora, Zynga, GE Healthcare, and many more.

Juliet’s passion lies in racial equity and criminal justice reform and she leads a few organizations on these topics. Currently, she heads up communications for “A Safer SF For All,” a group of San Franciscans that support San Francisco’s District Attorney Chesa Boudin and opposes the recall campaign against him. Also, she co-leads the Bay Area chapter of Zioness, an organization focused on providing a political home for the millions of American Jews who are both progressive and Zionist and advancing social, racial, economic, and gender justice in the U.S.

Juliet loves traveling and immersing herself in different cultures. In January 2019, she joined NCJW and the Consulate General of Israel to the Pacific Northwest San Francisco on a trip to Kenya. It was an opportunity for young Jewish leaders to participate in the groundbreaking work of Israel’s MASHAV. In June 2019, she went to Morocco with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) to partake in the humanitarian efforts they offer the Jewish community in the country and how they’re advancing Jewish life there as well.

Juliet graduated from University of Southern California in 2012 with a B.A. in Political Science and a minor in Public Health.

Lindsey Newman
General Director

Lindsey Newman is the Director of Community Engagement at Be’chol Lashon. Be’chol Lashon strengthens Jewish identity by raising awareness about the ethnic, racial and cultural diversity of Jewish identity and experience. Prior to joining Be’chol Lashon, she worked in the fields of women’s rights advocacy and early childhood education, and has dedicated herself to inclusion and diversity in the Jewish community for over a decade. She participated in the 2016 Sela Leadership Cohort and was a 2018 Fellow of the Ruskay Institute for Jewish Professional Leadership. Lindsey received her B.S. in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University. She currently splits her time between two of the best cities in the world, San Francisco and New York.

Mizuho Takahashi
General Director

Mizuho was born and raised in Tokyo, Japan and received her B.A. in Philosophy from Toyo University. After she moved to San Francisco, she starts to teach Japanese language at private high school. Currently Mizuho is working as a freelance visual designer. Mizuho lives in San Francisco since 2011.

Ellyn Levinson
General Director

Ellyn Levinson is the Policy Chair of NCJW San Francisco and member of the steering committee of the San Francisco Collaborative Against Human Trafficking. She served as California Deputy Attorney General with the California Department of Justice, Office of the Attorney General, Civil and Public Rights Divisions from 1978-2014. Her Areas of Expertise are Health, Education and Welfare, Civil Rights Enforcement, and State Owned/Managed Lands and Natural Resources. Ellyn previous positions include State Bar of California, Human Rights Committee (Chair), Trust Fund Committee, Environmental Law Section (Judge-Negotiation Competition); Women Lawyers of Los Angeles (Officer, delegate State Bar Convention); Marin County Commission on the Status of Women, Commissioner; Marin Abused Women’s Services, Board Member; Acted as lead plaintiff in litigation preserving public open space property, Marin County; Volunteer activities, including, Edible Schoolyard, King Middle School, Berkeley; Children’s Hospital of Oakland; Aurora Theater; Oakland Public Library, Wider Horizons story time program, Head Start, Oakland; Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights – voting rights project. Ellyn holds Bachelor of Science, Sociology, Mills College, Oakland, California and Juris Doctor, Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, California. Ellyn has been a member of the State Bar of California since 1977.

Beverly May
General Director

Beverly May is the Director of Governmental Affairs and Special Projects of the California Massage Therapy Council (CAMTC.) Ms. May has been involved in regulatory affairs regarding massage therapy for over 35 years, including being a primary advocate for the first-ever California Massage Therapy Act. In her current position with CAMTC she interacts with law enforcement at local, state and federal levels, as well as with health departments, city attorneys and district attorneys.  She has helped develop policies and statutory proposals that facilitate identifying and abating human traffickers under the guise of massage. She participates in Human Trafficking Taskforces and Coalitions throughout California and other states around the country in order to help develop policies pertaining to massage therapy that are effective and fair. Beverly coordinated the development of CAMTC’s new database and law enforcement web portal so that information for investigations to unravel criminal networks is easily available. She has played an integral part in identifying and maximizing the resources available to CAMTC, as a non-profit organization.

Marlene Levenson
General Director

Marlene Levenson was raised in New York City and moved to Bay Area after her marriage. When her daughters were very young, Marlene and her family settled in Palo Alto. During those early years Marlene became involved in community affairs and served on the Board of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). After her family joined the Congregation Beth Am in Los Altos Hills, Marlene became a member of the temple’s Education Committee. For several years she served on the temple’s Board of Directors and chaired various committees including the Membership Committee, Adult Education Committee and Dues Committee. Currently, Marlene is a member of the Development Committee and Tzedek Council. Marlene has served also on the Executive Committee of the Union for Reform Judaism Pacific Central West Regional Board and during that tenure co-chaired two Regional Biennials, which were three-day long conferences designed to provide organizational and educational learning opportunities dealing with all aspects of congregational life. Marlene is currently serving as a Trustee on the National Board of the Union For Reform Judaism and on the Commission for Social Action. Since 2012, Marlene has also been acting as Liaison for the Peninsula on behalf of the Jewish Coalition to End Human Trafficking and National Council of Jewish Women San Francisco Section.

Advisory Board

Pat Greenstein

Pat Greenstein is a highly recognized grassroots activist and long-time volunteer who has been passionately and actively involved in charity efforts on non-profit and foundation boards. Since her arrival in the Bay Area in 1973, she served as Board President of NCJW San Francisco Section, Board President of San Francisco Hadassah Chapter, Board President of Sonoma State Historic Park Association, Board President of California State Parks Associations and Member of the Museum Committee of Temple Emanuel in San Francisco. Pat Greenstein is a co-founder of the Jewish Coalition to End Human Trafficking and Member of its Steering Committee. She was involved also in the formation of the San Francisco Collaborative Against Human Trafficking. Currently, Pat Greenstein serves as NCJW San Francisco Vice President and Member of the Public Issues Committee of Jewish Family and Children Services.

Deborah Lopez

Deborah Lopez is a fearless leader and fighter for women’s rights in all forms. She has served as the Vice-President of NCJW for the last 6 years bringing decades of experience in the non-profit Jewish world to our Board. She has served as the President of Hadassah San Francisco chapter and currently is the Vice-President of the Board of San Francisco Hillel as well as being involved with the Jewish Federation, San Francisco Collaborative Against Human Trafficking, Jewish Coalition to End Human Trafficking and other organizations. She recently completed her 4th term on the Board of Trustees of Hastings College of the Law where she graduated class of 1983.

Deborah has been a top-producing Realtor in San Francisco for more decades than she likes to admit and has lived here for more than 50 years.

Amy Rassen

Amy Rassen is a recognized leader in non-profit management with extensive experience developing and overseeing highly complex non-profit organizations. Amy is known as a pioneer in the field of family support. As co-founder and chair of national and local organizations she is one of a handful of leaders who have shaped the family support movement in the U.S. She has been instrumental in building national and state systems and enabling nonprofits to implement strategies for organizational sustainability. For the past 40 years, Amy has pursued her vision of social justice by improving the lives of countless men, women and children. Her work has been recognized by foundation officers, state and county leaders and professional societies, and the many organizations she has helped thrive. She is passionate about ensuring that children, individuals and families lead the best lives possible. As a VISTA volunteer in Los Angeles and then as a child welfare worker in the St. Louis Missouri Division of Welfare, Amy developed what would become a lifelong commitment to social justice.

She joined San Francisco-based Jewish Family and Children’s Services (JFCS) in 1978, where she founded and operated Parents Place, one of the first comprehensive family resource center for parents and children in the country, replicated in over 200 locations. In 1985, Amy became the Associate Executive Director of JFCS, a position that she held until November 2006. In this position, she oversaw multiple aspects of institutional advancement; designed innovative, replicable, financially sustainable programs; created consumer driven service delivery models, developed operations and accountability systems, raised millions of dollars annually; and developed and implemented outcomes-based quality assurance programs. She received national recognition for creating social enterprises and mission driven businesses, such as care for seniors at home, adoption and conservatorship services and for her visionary research on early intervention services for at-risk children and cost effective approaches to maintaining frail elderly in their own homes.

In 2006 she launched her own consulting business, Rassen and Associates, to enhance the capacity of nonprofit organizations to meet the demands of today and to prepare for tomorrow. Local philanthropists recruited her to start-up a national organization dedicated to helping the 23 million Americans who suffer from asthma. As Executive Director, she worked closely with the founders to plan the direction of the foundation and engaged major donors to support the foundation’s goals. Amy was subsequently hired by the California Health Care Prison Receivership (CHCPR) for her expertise in long-term care and organizational management to help revamp the health care system that served (at that time) 175,000 inmates of California’s 33 adult prisons.

Upon completion of her work with CHCPR, Amy turned her attention toward helping nonprofit agencies throughout the Bay Area in need of capacity building, strategic and business planning, turn-around and/or transition services. Over the past 10 years she has consulted to over 25 non-profit organizations of varying sizes addressing issues of organization development and design, system improvements, effective governance and accountability, while also coaching executive directors.

Two organizations addressed human trafficking. As Senior Advisor to SAGE she testified before the US Civil Rights Commission on “Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children”. She later prepared a “Landscape of Efforts to Combat Human Trafficking” in the Bay Area for The Economic Development & Justice Giving Circle of the Women’s Foundation. Human services, education, health, home care, human trafficking, workforce development and social justice have been the major foci of her practice. Amy has written a sizable number of reports, strategic and business plans as well as program, operations, employment and finance manuals. Publications and research papers can downloaded from her website (www.rassenassociates.org).

Amy is a licensed clinical social worker with a bachelor’s degree in history from Brandeis University and and a master’s degree in social work from Washington University. She sits on several boards and advisory committees. She is currently on the board of directors of the Northern California Community Loan Fund and Sour Flour and sits on several advisory committees. The loves of Amy’s life are her husband of 48 years and high school sweetheart, Dr. Joshua Rassen, her children, Jeremy and Elisa, son-in-law Gregory Rassen, and her twin grandchildren, Sylvia and Gabriel Rassen.

Dr. Emily Murase

For over 15 years, Dr. Emily Murase served as Director of the San Francisco Department on the Status of Women where she pioneered policies to advance the San Francisco CEDAW Ordinance, the first local legislation in the world to reflect the principles of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination. As a twice-elected member of the San Francisco Board of Education, she championed trauma-informed strategies in education. Currently, she serves as Executive Director of the San Francisco Japantown Task Force, Inc. to promote and preserve one of the last remaining Japantowns in the country. A graduate of Bryn Mawr College, she holds a masters in international affairs from UC San Diego and a PhD in communication from Stanford University.

Roberta Wyn

Roberta Wyn is a health policy researcher and data analyst whose work focuses on social justice and human rights issues related to health. She examines population-based and community health issues for groups historically underserved or who experience a disproportionate share of health risks. She was Associate Director of Research at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research from 1994-2011, involved with strategic development, planning, and funding strategies for the Center and helped manage the Center’s research, public service, and teaching activities. She also was Investigator on the NIEHS-funded ALERT program, a community training and research partnership to support community efforts to combat disproportionate exposure to air pollution in low-income communities in Los Angeles County and to improve community health. She is now a Center Faculty Associate. Currently, Roberta is a research consultant at the Public Health Institute in Oakland, CA, a position she has held since 2011. Her research focuses on the intersection of health and criminal justice issues. Complementing this effort, she is a member of the UC system-wide Criminal Justice & Health Consortium. Roberta is also Co-Director of Development and a member of the Strategic Planning Committee for the San Francisco Collaborative Against Human Trafficking (SFCAHT), a collaborative committed to ending sex and labor trafficking through collaboration, education, outreach, advocacy, policy, and support of survivors in the Bay Area.  Roberta received her PhD at UCLA in Public Health and her MPH at UC Berkeley.

Sally Lieber

Sally J. Lieber is a Mountain View City Councilwoman and was a Democratic California State Assembly woman and former Mountain View City Councilwoman and Mayor. Sally Lieber has been a leader in government advocating justice from her first elected position as a member of the Mountain View City Council and later as Mayor.  Next, she served as a State Assemblywoman representing Silicon Valley and as the State Assembly’s Speaker Pro Tempore, only the 3rd woman in California history to receive that honor.
Sally’s public service is characterized by her courageous and independent work for economic and social justice, education, protection of the environment and human rights.  In the State Assembly, she authored the California Trafficking Victim’s Protection Act, the first state law of its kind. She authored legislation to restrict ‘bride’ trafficking and to ban the use of debt bondage in California.  She has worked with numerous human rights organizations fighting modern day slavery, including the Polaris Project, the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking, and the Jewish Coalition Against Human Trafficking.
Sally has also worked on legislation to protect the rights and promote the rehabilitation of women in our state prisons, to protect the civil rights of people with disabilities, to empower women and families experiencing homelessness, and to advocate for children and youth in foster care and the criminal justice system.

Executive Director

Antonia Lavine
Executive Director

Antonia Lavine is a lawyer with over 20 years experience in criminal prosecution, litigation and oversight. She holds Master of Laws degrees in International Legal Studies and United States Legal Studies from the San Francisco Golden Gate University School of Law.

As a public prosecutor and criminal law expert in Europe, she specialized in law enforcement, justice reform and legislative action in the areas of human rights protection and combating complex crime, including money laundering, corruption, human trafficking and other forms of organized crime. With law degrees in both the civil and common law legal systems, Antonia is consulted regularly for her comparative and international law expertise and has served on numerous government, UN, and NGO-sponsored projects and panels. She has directly contributed to drafting various pieces of domestic and international legislation, including the European Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings, and served for several years as an appointed expert on the European Union’s Group of Experts on Trafficking in Human Beings. She has also served on the Board of Directors of the local victim service agency Standing Against Global Exploitation (SAGE), Inc.

In her current positions as Executive Director of the National Council of Jewish Women San Francisco, Coordinator of the San Francisco Collaborative Against Human Trafficking, Chair of the Jewish Coalition to End Human Trafficking and Treasurer of the International Alliance of Women, Antonia utilizes her legal expertise and project management skills in social justice reform and advocacy action. Antonia is also a long- time member of the Jewish Family and Children’s Services Public Issues Committee and has served for several years as a member of the Jewish Community Relations Council’s Assembly and Membership Committee.

For her social justice work in fighting discrimination, violence and exploitation, Antonia has received the prestigious CEDAW Women’s Human Rights Award of the San Francisco Friends of the Commission on the Status of Women and Award of Recognition for Outstanding Achievements in Cross-System Collaboration from the California Department of Social Services.