About the Authors

Jewish Communal Leadership

Leading Practitioners Share Lessons Learned

Dr. Ron Wolfson

Dr. Ron Wolfson is the Fingerhut Professor of Education at American Jewish University, where he has been on the faculty for fifty years. He has had a profound influence on the Jewish community through his books Relational Judaism: Using the Power of Relationships to Transform the Jewish Community and The Relational Judaism Handbook, coauthored with Rabbi Nicole Auerbach and Rabbi Lydia Medwin, and Creating Sacred Communities: Leading Practitioners Share Lessons Learned with Rabbi Brett Kopin.

In addition to training clergy and educators, Ron is the author of twenty books bringing the values and rituals of Jewish life to a popular audience, including God’s To-Do List, The Seven Questions You’re Asked in Heaven, The Spirituality of Welcoming, the Art of Jewish Living series, and a memoir, The Best Boy in the United States of America (all Jewish Lights Publishing). He serves as president of the Kripke Institute.

Ron is a living kidney donor on behalf of his wife of fifty-three years, Susie Kukawka Wolfson. They are blessed with two children, Havi, married to Dave Hall, and Michael, married to Regina Pruss; and two delicious grandchildren, Ellie and Gabe Hall.

Dr. Jason G. Goldman

Dr. Jason G. Goldman is Director, Strategic Initiatives at Camp Ramah in California. He holds an MA in Jewish Nonprofit Management from the Zelikow School of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles.

Before joining Camp Ramah, Jason was an award-winning science journalist and author with bylines in Scientific American, The New York Times, National Geographic and elsewhere. His previous books include Wild L.A.: Explore the Amazing Nature In and Around Los Angeles and Science Blogging: The Essential Guide.

Jason received his BA in Psychology, and MA and PhD degrees in Developmental Psychology, at the University of Southern California, where he was an Annenberg Foundation Fellow. At the Zelikow School of Jewish Nonprofit Management he was a Legacy Heritage Mid-career Fellow.

When not at camp, you can find him hanging around the Academy of Magical Arts/Magic Castle where he is a magician member, photographing wildlife while hiking, or Israeli folk dancing. He and his wife live in Los Angeles, California.

Dr. Steven Windmueller

Dr. Steven Windmueller is an Emeritus Professor of Jewish Communal Studies at the Jack H. Skirball Campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles. Prior to coming to HUC, Dr. Windmueller had served on the staff of the American Jewish Committee (1969-1972), directed the Albany (NY) Jewish Federation (1973-1985), and the JCRC (Jewish Community Relations Committee) of the Los Angeles Jewish Federation (1985-1995). 

During his tenure at the College, Dr. Windmueller served for ten years as the Director of its School of Jewish Nonprofit Management and in 2005 was named to the deanship of the LA campus (2006-2010).  In 2009 he was named to an endowed chair and in 2014 was awarded an honorary doctorate by Hebrew Union College.

The author of four books and numerous articles, Professor Windmueller holds a Ph.D. in International Relations from the University of Pennsylvania.  His research has been primarily focused on Jewish communal trends, anti-Semitism, and Jewish political behavior. His articles have appeared in a number of secular and Jewish publications. 

Currently, Dr. Windmueller is consulting with national agencies, federations, synagogues, and foundations in connection with his current studies on virtual and privatized Judaism, the impact of COVID, and the broader social, economic and political trends reshaping American Jewish life. 

In 2014, he had occasion to teach in China offering lectures on American Jewry, Israel and Zionism at various universities in the Peoples Republic.

He recently served as guest editor for USC’s Casden Institute, producing The Impact of Donald Trump’s Presidency on American Jews and Israel, (2021) and is now focused on producing a volume analyzing 21st Century American Judaism and continues to write on Jewish political behavior for the Times of Israel and other publications in advance of the November 2024 elections.

Dr. Windmueller serves as a Fellow of the Jerusalem Institute of Public Affairs and as a Board Member of the Pat Brown Institute at Cal State, Los Angeles.  For the past eight years, he has been on the faculty of the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture, teaching across the globe.

Rabbi Denise Eger

A renowned leader and executive coach, Rabbi Denise Eger has been at the forefront of the fight for LGBTQ equality. She is the founding rabbi of Congregation Kol Ami, the Reform synagogue in West Hollywood, California, the first openly LGBTQ person to be President of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, and the first woman elected President of the Southern California Board of Rabbis. She is the author of 7 Principles for Living Bravely and is the editor of Mishkan Ga’avah: Where Pride Dwells, and co-editor of Gender and Religious Leadership: Women Rabbis, Pastors and Ministers.

Zack Bodner

Zack Bodner is  the President and CEO of the Oshman Family Jewish Community Center in Palo Alto, California. He oversaw the launch of the Taube Center for Jewish Peoplehood, which hosts the Architects of the Jewish Future Series and the Kol Isha Women’s Leadership Development Program. Zack created The Z3 Project, a global effort to reimagine Diaspora-Israel relations. Before joining the JCC, he served for fourteen years as the Pacific Northwest Regional Director of AIPAC. Zack is the author of Why Do Jewish?: A Manifesto for 21st Century Jewish Peoplehood

Dr. Erica Brown

Dr. Erica Brown is the Vice Provost for Values and Leadership at Yeshiva University and the founding director of its Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks/Herenstein Center for Values and Leadership. She previously served as the director of the Mayberg Center for Jewish Education and Leadership at The George Washington University and as the Scholar-in-Residence for the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Boston and the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington. Erica was a Jerusalem Fellow, an Avi Chai Fellow, the recipient of the 2009 Covenant Award, and is a faculty member of the Wexner Foundation. She has written or co-authored 15 books on the Hebrew Bible, spirituality, and leadership and has been published in the New York Times, The Atlantic, Tablet, First Things, and The Jewish Review of Books, wrote a monthly column for the New York Jewish Week and is a consulting editor for the journal Tradition. Her latest book is Kohelet and the Search for Meaning (Maggid, 2023). She currently serves as a community scholar for Congregation Etz Chaim in Livingston, New Jersey.  Erica has interviewed Isaac Herzog, the President of Israel, Madeleine Albright, David Brooks, Jeffrey Goldberg, Bret Stephens, Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt, David Gregory, Sarah Hurwitz, Dennis Ross, David Makovsky, Tal Ben Shahar, Ruth Messinger, and Dara Horn, among others. She tweeted on one page of Talmud study a day at DrEricaBrown. She is the proud mother of four children, four in-law children, and five beautiful grandchildren.  

Barry Shrage

One of America’s foremost Jewish leaders, Barry Shrage served for thirty years as president of Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston. Following his retirement from CJP in 2018, he joined the Brandeis University Hornstein Program as professor of the practice, where he trains and mentors students in their future roles as Jewish professional leaders. He is also a distinguished fellow at the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies at Brandeis, where he focuses on issues of Jewish identity and the Jewish future.

Dr. Bruce Powell 

Bruce Powell has consulted on the founding of 26 Jewish high schools throughout North America, including three in Los Angeles–Yeshiva University of Los Angeles High School, Milken Community High School, and most recently de Toledo High School. He has won both the prestigious Covenant Award, the Milken Jewish Educator Award, and the Marvin I. Schotland Leadership Award from the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles for his major contributions to Jewish education. Bruce also served for six years as a founding faculty member and mentor for the Day School Leadership Training Institute at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, and as a coach for the Head of School Professional Excellence Project at Prizmah. He is the co-author of Raising A+ Human Beings: Crafting a Jewish School Culture of Academic Excellence and AP Kindness. Currently, Bruce serves as the Dean, School for Jewish Education and Leadership at the American Jewish University.

Barry Finestone

Barry Finestone is President and CEO of the Jim Joseph Foundation. With more than $800 million granted in its first 18 years of operation, Barry oversees all aspects of finance and grantmaking at the Foundation. Prior to the Jim Joseph Foundation, Barry was Executive Director of the Lisa and John Pritzker Family Fund. He moved to the Bay Area in 2010 to become CEO of the JCC of San Francisco, where he oversaw dramatic growth and built it into the second largest JCC in the country. Earlier in his career he served as Executive Director of the two-campus Isaac M. Wise Temple and earned the Harris K. and Alice F. Weston Award for Outstanding Leadership. Barry’s first job out of college was as a residential camp director in Waupaca, Wisconsin for Young Judaea. Barry says, “he never would have hired himself,” but the experience was invaluable in helping him learn how to run and operate an entity. His philosophy in work is to have a vision, start going there, and then hire the very best people you can and get out of the road! Barry is a proud Glasgow, Scotland native with 34 years of experience in the Jewish nonprofit world. Along with his passion for the work of the Foundation, he loves football—the real kind played with your feet—and above all else, family.

Rabbi Mike Uram

Mike Uram is the first ever Chief Jewish Learning Officer for the Jewish Federations of North America. Previously, he served as the Chief Vision and Education Officer for Pardes North America building a new platform for Jewish education in North America. Mike led Penn Hillel as the Executive Director and Campus Rabbi for over sixteen years. He is the author of Next Generation Judaism: How College Students and Hillel Can Help Reinvent Jewish Organizations, winner of a National Jewish Book Award. He is a sought-after speaker and consultant on the changing nature of the American Jewish community, Jewish innovation, cutting-edge engagement and how legacy organizations can reinvent themselves in the age of millennials.

Dan Libenson

Dan Libenson is president of Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah, which is dedicated to helping Jews and fellow travelers apply Jewish wisdom to thrive and shape a better world. Previously, he served as founding president of Judaism Unbound, a digitally driven, radically open center for education, experimentation, and connection. Since 2016, Dan has co-hosted the Judaism Unbound podcast, one of the most popular Jewish podcasts. He spent over a decade working with Jewish students on campus, including six years as executive director of the University of Chicago Hillel and three years as director of New Initiatives at Harvard Hillel. Dan teaches Applied Jewish Wisdom at the Zelikow School of Jewish Nonprofit Management and teaches a variety of courses at Judaism Unbound’s UnYeshiva center for Jewish learning and unlearning. He also co-hosts The Oral Talmud videocast/podcast and is the translator of The Orchard, a novel about the early days of Rabbinic Judaism, by renowned Israeli novelist Yochi Brandes.

Daryl Messinger

Daryl Messinger began her congregational lay leadership as the youngest president in the history of Congregation Beth Am in Los Altos Hills, California. Her track record of sustained involvement and success led to her becoming the first women to serve as chair of the Union for Reform Judaism from 2016–2019. Currently, Daryl serves as chair of Leading Edge, an organization devoted to improving workplace culture and leadership in Jewish organizations.