Lisa Bodziner grew up in Savannah, GA and then graduated from the University of Wisconsin—Madison for her undergraduate degree. She lived in Israel for four years where she attended the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies and received her Master’s Degree in Jewish Education. After leaving Israel, Lisa taught 6th-12th grade for three years in California and then moved to Reisterstown, MD to work at the Pearlstone Center as an experiential educator and signature program coordinator where she also met her, now, husband (he talked about Towson a lot on their first date). Lisa became the Director of Educational Engagement at the Macks Center for Jewish Education and received a certificate in experiential Jewish education from the Yeshiva University. Lisa is humbled and thrilled to be the Executive Director of Towson University-Hillel. When she has spare time, Lisa does community service work, loves hosting Shabbat meals, and adores being with the TU alum, her husband, son and daughter.
Jake comes from “across the pond” in sunny Sydney. An Australian trying to live the American dream, he was previously the Executive Director of the Australasian Union of Jewish Students, the Jewish Student Life Coordinator of Hillel at Florida State University, and before that, a Mentor team leader and high school English and History teacher.
Currently studying for his MBA with a specialization in social impact, and passionate about learning and continuous growth, Jake has a Graduate Certificate in Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies, Masters in Gifted Education, Bachelor of Liberal Arts with a double major in English and History, as well as a Bachelor of Education majoring in Secondary Education.
Jake loves to cook and makes the best darn curry you’ve ever had—guaranteed! In addition, he’s a taekwondo instructor and a right proper fan of getting lost in the bush on hikes. Jake’s also a pretty tragic supporter of his beloved Cronulla Sharks rugby league team and cried like a baby fresh out the womb when they won a Grand Final. His number one hobby, however, is Jewish communal organizing and for that, he is so lucky to have made his passion his career.
Leora was raised in Harrisburg, PA before moving to Maryland to attend Towson University. As an undergraduate she played women’s Ultimate frisbee, co-founded and served as music director of an a cappella group, staged an original musical in the Smith Hall Planetarium as an Honors College independent study, and regularly led Friday night services for Hillel. She has been a song and prayer leader for the Harrisburg JCC Day Camp, Bolton Street Synagogue, and Beth Am Congregation. After graduating with her Bachelor’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology & Audiology, Leora served for two years as a full-time AmeriCorps literacy tutor in a Baltimore City school through The Literacy Lab while playing keyboard and singing in a nationally touring indie-pop band. Leora has enjoyed being a Moishe House Without Walls host leading song circles and Shabbat/holiday events in the apartment she shares with three other Towson Hillel alumnae. Leora cherishes the friendships that enrich her life, many of which have arisen through shared hobbies such as running, contra and swing dancing, African drumming, hula hooping, camping, kayaking, road-tripping, and urban farming. Leora hopes to connect Jewish students at Towson to other students, events, organizations, and service opportunities that will add fun and meaning to their college experiences and beyond.
Shachar is Towson University’s Jewish Agency Israel Fellow who is interested in philosophy and international relations. He is a graduate of the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) at Herzliya with a B.A. in Government, Diplomacy, and Strategy majoring in Conflict Resolution and Middle-Eastern Studies. While earning his degree Shachar spent a semester at Syracuse University in the Maxwell Student Exchange Program to study American Politics, Policy and International Security. He also volunteered at the IDC Writing Center teaching English and assisting students with their assignments. Previously, Shachar was a security guard and medic for tourists and hikers in Israel and escorted many Birthright trips and other tours. He was honorably discharged from the IDF after three years where he served as a soldier and medic at the Combat Intelligence Collection Corps.
Mikey Hess Webber hails from Baltimore, MD. She is a 2007 graduate of Hood College in Frederick, Maryland where she founded and led the Jewish Student Union on campus and graduated with a BA in Classical Archaeology. She is now in her fourth year of study at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College outside Philadelphia, PA.
From 2011-2013, Mikey lived in Israel on Kibbutz Ma’agan Michael. There, she worked in the fish ponds and then as a traveling pizza maker. She had the opportunity to connect with the wide range of Israeli/Palestinian voices and identities as she fed them and participated in their simchas. It is during this time in Israel that she developed a deeply complex and nuanced relationship with the place and the people. Since her time in Israel, as the political climate has grown more polarized, she has become passionate about raising up the humanity and diverse narratives that too often get forgotten in conversations about the conflict. This passion has led to her completion, in May 2018, of a Master's Concentration in Israel Education through the iCenter in Chicago and her completion of the 2018-2019 T'ruah Israel Fellowship. In Baltimore, she was a member of JUFJ’s inaugural Baltimore cohort of Jeremiah Fellows - an opportunity for her to explore how Jewish values and Jewish tradition can support the goals of economic and social justice for all people living in our city.
In her years leading up to rabbinical school, Mikey’s career centered primarily around the mentorship of Jewish teens and young adults. She spent five years working with BBYO as a Chapter Advisor and another three as the Youth Director at Oseh Shalom Congregation in Laurel MD - where she developed the congregation's teen leadership program called TeenConnect. In Rabbinical School, Mikey has worked for Whole Community Inclusion at the Jewish Learning Venture - an organization that engages people with cognitive and physical difference and their families, supporting their ability to access a fullness of rich Jewish educational experiences. There she also co-led the Reta Emerson Fellowship - Jewish Learning Venture’s education initiative through which teen madrichim are trained to assist children with disabilities who are experiencing difficulty in congregational classroom settings.
Mikey also spends a lot of time in the dirt as an avid gardener. She loves going on walks in the woods and drinking coffee. She also spends a lot of time with her cat, Reuben and her very wonderful husband, Scott.
After Mark graduated from Towson University he spent five years assisting Graphic Novelist and Director, Frank Miller, followed by a plethora of work in film and television production. He went back to school in 2014 to continue his education in Graphic Design at CUNY, Baruch College in NYC. Since then, Mark has been working as a self-employed graphic artist and web designer and is currently redesigning the Towson Hillel website. Mark just completed Towson Hillel’s new business cards, digital and print advertisements for the Towson University Visitor’s Guide (2019-2020), various promotional materials for Towson Hillel’s 21st birthday event, as well as the 2019-2020 Board Manual and 2019 Annual Impact Report. He is also helping to redecorate the Hillel lounge and designing new give-away items for the 2019-2020 school year. For more information about his work at Towson Hillel and beyond, visit www.markdelgallo.com.
The Towson Hillel Incubator Cohort is an elite group of student leaders who have a passion to bring their ideas to life. THIC is designed for any student that is driven, creative, outgoing, and innovative. Each THIC student receives seed funding for their project, networking opportunities, professional coaching, and a connection to a diverse cohort of students seeking professional growth.
Dr. Yarden Fanta (above) is the first Ethiopian woman to obtain her Ph.D in Israel and is a member of The Jewish Faculty and Staff Association. JFSA brings together Jewish professionals within all departments of the university for Lunch & Learn, panels, and parties (Nov 2018).