Samantha (Sumi) Abeysekera
Samantha Abeysekera is a partner at Akerman LLP. There she handles a wide range of
employment law issues, with a concentration on wage and hour matters including class and
collective action litigation before federal and state courts and the Department of Labor (DOL), as well as advice and counseling regarding overtime pay, exempt status, the calculation of hours worked, and other issues under the Fair Labor Standards Act and state wage and hour laws. Samantha also litigates single- and multi-plaintiff employment discrimination, harassment, and restrictive covenant matters before federal and state courts, administrative agencies including the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and arbitrators.
Samantha has been an active member of the Senesh PA and is currently engaged as a member of the Parent Diversity initiative group. She is an avid ambassador for Senesh and has three children, Rohan (6th grade), Leela (Class of 2021) and Nayan.
David is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of The Jewish Education Project. After working in formal and informal Jewish educational institutions in Australia, Israel, and North America, David earned his Ph.D. in Education and Jewish Studies from NYU, focusing on the identity development of Jewish adolescents. David has authored several articles and presented broadly on topics ranging from the Jewish teenage experience, innovation and change in Jewish life, Israel education and more broadly about Jewish education. David lives in Brooklyn with his wife, Mirm and two children Jonah (11) and Abby (8).
Since arriving in the United States from Kiev, Ukraine, Alex has been working in the Jewish communal field for over 20 years and currently serves as the CEO and Executive Director of the Edith and Carl Marks Jewish Community House of Bensonhurst. Under Alex’s leadership, Marks JCH has evolved from being a local Jewish community center to a full-service human service agency serving clients from more than 30 zip codes throughout New York City. Alex holds masters degrees in journalism and social work from Columbia University. He is a graduate of the Institute for Non-profit Management – a joint program of Columbia University School of Business and UJA-Federation of New York as well as the Executive Development Training Program administered by JCC Association of North America. His international involvement continues through his consulting in the former Soviet Union on strategic planning, organizational development, and leadership development for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), AVI CHAI Foundation, as well as many other NGOs. Alex is a member of the Board of the New York Chapter of the American Jewish Committee, as well as a member of the Board of the Jewish Community Centers Association, Subotnick Housing for the Elderly, and is a founding member of Russian American Jews for Israel. Alex lives in Park Slope with his wife Maria and two daughters Anastasia and Talia Asya.
Andrew Ceresney is a partner in Debevoise’s New York office and Co-Chair of the Litigation Department. He represents public companies, financial institutions, asset management firms, accounting firms, boards of directors, and individuals in federal and state government investigations and contested litigation in federal and state courts. Andrew has many years of experience prosecuting and defending a wide range of white collar criminal and civil cases, having served in senior law enforcement roles at both the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. Mr. Ceresney has tried and supervised many jury and non-jury trials and argued numerous appeals before federal and state courts of appeal. From 2013 to 2016, Mr. Ceresney served as the Director of Enforcement at the SEC under Chair Mary Jo White. Andrew and his wife Rachel Levine were Senesh Gala honorees in 2018. He is a former Senesh Board member and is currently advising Senesh on governance related legal documents. His two sons graduated from Senesh—Ethan ‘15 and Jonah ‘18.
Andrew Epstein is the Managing Director of Finance and Administration at the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey where he is responsible for core finance functions including financial planning, accounting, and payroll, as well as risk management, human resources, facilities and data processing. He came to Federation after serving for nine years as the chief financial officer of Ascend Public Charter Schools where he oversaw all financial matters, including financial policies and planning, budgeting, accounting, regulatory compliance, financial reporting, payroll, employee benefits, insurance, purchasing systems and controls, and real estate borrowing. Andy previously served as a consultant at Charter School Business Management (CSBM) and as senior director of finance at Democracy Prep Public Schools. Prior to that, Andy spent a decade in the music industry, notably at Universal Music Group and Island Def Jam. He is a graduate of the University of Michigan (during which time he spent a semester at Tel Aviv University) and received his MBA from Columbia University. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, Lauren, and two young children, Layla and Sam (a current Senesh first grader). In his free time, Andy enjoys seeing live music, hiking, and watching sports, especially the New York Mets, Jets and Knicks and Michigan Wolverines.
Yehudit Feinstein-Mentesh is an artist, writer, and facilitator. With extensive education and experience in psychoanalysis and happiness studies, she believes creative expression is a vehicle for healing, growth, and change. Yehudit began her career as a teacher and a facilitator for adults and teens. She then spent 15 years in the not-for-profit sector, leading small gatherings and large-scale functions for regional, national, and global organizations. Now an independent practitioner, Yehudit offers workshops that explore the intersection of art and identity to help people fully inhabit their lives. Rooted in compassion, curiosity, and spiritual engagement, Yehudit’s workshops are designed for both groups and individuals. She is especially focused on supporting the journeys of women and girls as they navigate personal challenges. Yehudit grew up in Israel and has lived in Brooklyn since 2000, where she resides with
her husband and three sons.
Ashley Firestone (she/her) is a Senior Program Officer at the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA). In this role, she has spearheaded broad equity-based reforms to one of the nation’s largest competitive sources of public funding for arts & culture. She is also the founder of Minds at Work, a grassroots giving circle committed to compassionate justice across multiple issue areas, and serves on Senesh’s Parent
Diversity Committee. Ashley lives with her family in Brooklyn, and is a proud graduate of Brandeis University and NYU.
Chad Gessin is a Partner at Chatham Development Company / First Dunes, a Residential Development and Construction company focused on building comfortable, resilient, and environmentally conscious homes and communities in New York City and Long Island. Chad oversees all phases of the project life cycles including land acquisition and project finance, design and execution, and post construction operations.
Since 2004, Chad has managed the development, delivery, and long-term success of over 250 homes, townhouses, and apartment units, bringing a deep passion for design, practicality, and sustainability-through-durability to each of the projects. Chad sits on the boards of two condominium associations including serving as the President of 125 North 10th Street Condominium since 2010. Chad received his
Bachelor of Science from Emerson College and accreditation by the US Green Buildings Council, Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, and the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners. Chad resides in Williamsburg, Brooklyn with his wife Courtney, their daughter Margaux (Class of 2029) and Golden Retriever Aldous.
Ariella is a Managing Director at HealthpointCapital, a Private Equity Firm focused on the medical device market. She is a member of the Firm’s investment team, manages the Firm’s Scientific Advisory Board and other clinical relationships and oversees the operations of the Firm. Prior to joining HealthpointCapital, Ariella was a Project Leader for the Health Care Practice of the Boston Consulting Group, where she advised global life science companies on strategic management issues including product positioning, sales force restructuring and academic medical center alliances. While in business school, Ariella worked at Wyeth Pharmaceuticals in the Women’s Health Marketing division. She is a member of the board of the Israeli medical device company, OrthoSpace Ltd., and the Executive Council of the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Harvard School of Public Health. Ariella received a B.A. and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Pennsylvania’s College of Arts and Sciences. She went on to receive an M.B.A. from the Wharton School with a concentration in Health Care Management and an M.D. from the School of Medicine. Ariella and her husband, Tal, live in Carroll Gardens with their two daughters Eden (Class of 2022) and Dalia (Class of 2025).
Lisa Kleinman is a writer and editor who works on print and digital marketing materials for clients, from individuals to non-for-profits to private sector. Previously she was the Managing Director of Marketing at the Jewish Federations of North America and has held various agency communications leadership roles. Lisa is an active lay leader at Kane Street Synagogue. Lisa is an alum parent, founding member of Senesh and a previous Chair of the Board. Her three adult sons graduated from Senesh—Jacob ‘03, Roger, ‘06 and Elliott ‘13. Lisa is currently on the Advancement Committee of the Board. She has greatly contributed to the development of an alumni strategy for Senesh and is engaged in planning for the campaign for Senesh@25.
Avery is the founding principal of VirtualGC, an innovative legal services platform that delivers “virtual” or outside general counsel services to a variety of businesses. His career has included big firm practice and in-house roles at Napster and Best Buy. Avery sits on the advisory boards of several start-ups and is a board member of Hospitality for Family and Friends, a not-for-profit that offers free hotel rooms to visiting relatives of pediatric cancer patients. At Senesh, Avery has co-chaired the annual campaign, supports his wife, Corinne’s, PA and gala work and can often be heard encouraging parents to march in the Israel Day Parade. Avery and Corinne live in Carroll Gardens with sons Eli (Class of 2023) and Bryce (Class of 2026) where he runs the DeGraw Street Association (mainly organizing block parties and listening to various people complain about unsolvable issues). Avery loves to play hockey with his sons, cabana days at the Silver Gull Beach Club, and tending to his backyard “kibbutz”.
Melissa Kushner is a global thought leader, non-profit-executive, and social justice advocate. She is a recognized expert in international development and the recipient of numerous awards for vision and achievements. Melissa is the founder and board chair of Yamba Malawi, an international nonprofit organization focused on ending childhood poverty. Melissa received her Masters in Public Administration from New York University and Bachelor of Arts degree in Urban Studies from the University of Pennsylvania. Melissa is currently the vice chair of the Senesh Board of Trustees, the chair of the Advancement Committee, co-chair of the Strategic Planning committee and a member of the Parent Diversity Committee. Melissa resides in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn with her husband Jeremy Kaplan and four children Raya (Class of 2025), Aviv (Class of 2028), Leyla (Class of 2028) and Lena (Class of 2029).
Marcella Kanfer Rolnick
Marcella Kanfer Rolnick focuses on creating meaning and value every day through her diverse family enterprise – which includes GOJO, the global leader in professional skin care and hygiene solutions, and an array of early-stage ventures and two philanthropic foundations. Marcella serves on multiple for-profit and non-profit boards, including American Jewish World Service. She earned her BA in Public & International Affairs at Princeton University and MBA from Stanford University. She and her husband, Josh, live in Prospect Heights with their three children, Meyer (Class of 2019), Heshel (Class of 2021), and Lev (Class of 2024).
Andy is the Chief Operating Officer at 100 Resilient Cities, a non-profit dedicated to helping cities become better equipped to deal with the economic and natural stresses which threaten them. Andrew holds a masters degree in Public Administration from Syracuse University, as well as a BA in Economics from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. He lives in Clinton Hill with his wife, Micki Fagan, and their two children, Asher (Class of 2019) and Levi (Class of 2021).
Judy Schoenberg is a seasoned mission driven leader with two decades of professional experience in the social sector focused on research, program development, strategy and philanthropy. She is currently a leadership consultant partnering with academic, non-profit, and start-up ventures. Previously, during her fifteen-year tenure at Girl Scouts of the USA, Judy was Chief Research Executive and led the Girl Scouts Research Institute. Her work has been featured at White House events and in national media outlets. Judy has also held positions as a program officer at a national women’s foundation and as a Brooklyn legal advocate. She is passionate about social action and wellness and was a Coro Leadership New York fellow in civic participation and is a certified health coach. For over a decade, she has co-led cooking classes with students at the Storefront Academy in East Harlem. She is currently a member of the board of Teens for Food Justice, a youth-led hydroponic farm program. Judy is also the chair of Senesh’s pioneering Giving Circle. Judy holds a bachelor of arts (comparative literature) degree from Haverford College and a master’s in education (human development and psychology) from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education. A native New Yorker, she lives in Brooklyn with her husband, Jonathan and two sons, Robin (class of 2022) and Sascha (class of 2025) and enjoys spending time with family and friends in the Berkshires.
Chuck Goldman, z”l