Geri Palast, IAN’s Executive Director, is responsible for overall IAN operations and directs and supervises all IAN staff. She has extensive experience organizing and leading broad-based national grassroots and legislative issue campaigns. From 2000-2011, she founded and ran two NGOs on school finance reform to ensure adequate funding for poor children and justice system reform. From 1993-2000, she served as the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs during the Clinton Administration. Previously, she served as the national Legislative and Political Director of Service Employees International Union (SEIU). She has served on numerous boards, including the JCPA, taught at universities, ran three social justice NGOs and she is an attorney.
Ethan Felson, IAN’s Executive Director, has worked to make the case for Israel and for Israeli-Palestinian peace for more than twenty-five years. Since 2004, he has been in the forefront of efforts to challenge anti-Israel boycotts, divestment and sanctions. Prior to joining IAN in 2016, Ethan served as Senior Vice President of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs which he joined in 2001. He led JCPA’s participation on more than 20 Supreme Court briefs, the creation of a groundbreaking project to restore civility in public discourse, and the formation of national and grassroots dialogues with mainline and evangelical Protestant leaders. He has led numerous Israel missions for Christian leaders. From 1988 to 2001, he served the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford where he directed the Jewish community relations council and federation Assistant Executive Director. He is a graduate of Lehigh University and the University Of Connecticut School Of Law. Ethan is the author of chapters in several books, including “Uneasy Allies: Evangelical Jewish Relations and the National Affairs chapter of the American Jewish Yearbook (2006-2015),” as well as articles in Sh’ma, JTA, and other journals and periodicals.
Max Chamovitz, IAN’s Deputy Director, brings a deep understanding of what it takes to establish successful issue campaigns, communications strategies, and effective fundraising. Prior to joining the IAN team Max spent seven years as Vice President at Strategic Marketing Innovations – a mid-sized lobbying firm in Washington DC – where he represented a wide variety of high tech and clean energy clients. At the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Max served as Deputy Director of Defense and Strategic Issues where he was responsible for advocating numerous U.S.-Israel strategic cooperation projects to members of the Senate and House Armed Services Committees, as well as the Defense Appropriations Subcommittees. In 1996 Max was a fundraiser for Adam Smith’s bid for the US Congressional 9th District seat of Washington State. After the successful conclusion of the election Max was recruited to follow the newly elected Congressman to Washington DC, where for three years worked as Legislative Assistant. Max graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a Bachelors of Political Science, and minors in both Economics and English.
Stephanie Hausner, IAN’s Director of Community Strategy, is responsible for strengthening the capacity of local community professionals in countering the assault on Israel’s legitimacy. In this role, she coordinates the activities Israel advocates throughout North America, leads mobilization programming, and proactively builds partnerships with communities vulnerable to anti-Israel messaging. She manages the Community Strategy staff and will be the point of contact for Federations and JCRCs. Among the initiatives Stephanie leads are the Bridges to Tomorrow program, legislative advocacy, and campus/community partnerships. Stephanie came to IAN after working in the Federation system in various capacities, most recently at the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey. Stephanie was part of the precursor to the IAN, the Israel Advocacy Initiative, as the Coordinator of Campus and Israel Programs. Stephanie also has over a decade of experience in political organizing. Stephanie serves as Councilwoman in the town of Clarkstown, a position she had held since 2010. Stephanie graduated from Johns Hopkins University, with a degree in International Relations, and a concentration in American Foreign Policy. Lastly, she was named one of Rockland County’s “40 under 40″ in 2010 and in 2013 was included in “The Jewish Week 36 under 36.”
Jennifer Hillel, IAN’s Director of Development, joined the team in February 2017 to build a national fundraising campaign for IAN through her expertise in foundation relations, major gifts, strategic planning, event planning, and young adult engagement. Prior to IAN, Jen served as Associate Director of Foundation Relations at Birthright Israel Foundation where she built relationships with institutional funding partners to secure increased support for the Birthright Israel program since 2010. With more than 13 years of experience in professional and lay roles in the Jewish community, Jen has also held positions at the Berman Jewish Policy Archive, Columbia/Barnard Hillel, the 92nd Street Y, and the Jewish Federation of Greater Indianapolis. She holds a BA from Indiana University (joint majors in History and Jewish Studies) and an MPA from New York University (focus in Nonprofit Management).
Avi Weinryb, IAN’s Assistant Director of Community Strategy and Communications, manages national organizing campaigns focused on developing, supporting and growing a collective of advocates across multiple disciplines to counter attacks on Israel’s legitimacy. In this role, he identifies and coordinates teams of faculty and other professionals, fostering relationships and creating resources to further their engagement and support. Avi regularly leads campaign teams comprised of national agencies and local community organizations in his efforts. Avi previously worked at the Canadian branch of the Simon Wiesenthal Center on campus affairs, conducted research at a public affairs think tank, and more recently coordinated communications for a political campaign in an Ontario provincial election. His writings on diverse topics have appeared online and in print. Avi holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Toronto and a graduate degree from the Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy, and Strategy at IDC Herzliya in Israel.
Aimee Ellis, IAN’s Senior Associate of Community Strategy, has worked extensively on public outreach and government relations for lobbying firms, plus served as a strategic adviser for elected officials and entertainment industry artists. She specializes in campaign strategy and strategic communications that target ethnic and progressive / left-leaning constituencies, plus crisis communications. Aimee previously was a Rotary Club Youth Ambassador to Ecuador, where she studied and lived with Ecuadorian politicians who led efforts to reform policies relating to the treatment of women, children and families. She is a longtime leader in the Junior League of San Francisco, is the vice-president of several San Francisco democratic organizing clubs, and directs an ethnic studies focused youth dance troupe. Aimee graduated with honors from San Francisco State University, where she studied sociology, modern grassroots political movements of the Americas, and ethnic dance anthropology. She also attended university abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she studied the Argentine economic crisis and trained at a modern-jazz dance academy.
Paulina Carey, IAN’s Program and Communications Associate, joined the team in June of 2015. Working primarily between two areas of operations, community engagement and communications, Paulina handles a variety of day-to-day and immediate tasks, including website maintenance, research and monitoring, and aiding in the creation of a diverse range of publications. Prior to joining IAN, Paulina was an intern for the Anti-Defamation League’s Civil Rights Division, where she assisted in opposition research. An alumna of Barnard College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Asian and Middle Eastern Cultures, Paulina is interested in Middle Eastern and West Asian politics as well as non-profit development and programming.
Zachary Schaffer, IAN’s Community Strategy Associate, educates and organizes the Jewish community to challenge the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement. He guides professionals through community relations crises and helps them with messaging, advocacy, and organizing. He trains activists in relationship-building and empowers people to articulate their support for a two-state for two-people solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Zachary also helps oversee national organizing and outreach campaigns with Mainline Protestants and supports local community efforts to deepen relationships with the African-American community. He is currently pursuing his Master of Science in Nonprofit Management. In 2015 he was recognized by the Jewish Educators Assembly as one of twenty emerging Jewish leaders in their twenties. He graduated with honors from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in Rhetoric and Political Science and a Certificate in Corporate/Community Relations.
David Denker represents the Israel Action Network in Israel. He is based out of the Israel Office of The Jewish Federations of North America, where he also serves as the Senior Associate for Government Relations. He is an active member of the Ein Prat Alumni community in Jerusalem. Prior to moving to Jerusalem, David studied and worked as a counselor at the Ein Prat Academy in Alon. David made Aliyah in 2009 and served as an infantry squad commander in the IDF’s Paratroopers Brigade. Before moving to Israel, David worked as the speech-writing assistant to Ambassador Sallai Meridor at the Embassy of Israel to the United States, and as a research assistant for Ambassador Michael Oren and Dr. Daniel Gordis at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem. David holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree in International Security Studies from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. David was born and raised in Chicago, IL.
The best way to reach IAN staff is to contact IAN’s Executive Assistant, Liz, who is located at the JFNA offices, at IANExecutiveAssistant@jewishfederations.org