Board of Directors
The following community members are serving as JFCS East Bay’s Board of Directors for the term of July 2021 to June 2022.
Janis Burger, MPH
Rabbi Steven Chester
Jeff Ilfeld, MD
Suzan Kotch, MSW
Rachel K. Leff-Kich
Olga Reznick, Ph.D., MPH
Rabbi Peretz Wolf-Prusan
Rochelle Zak, MD
Michelle van Tijen, Federation Fellow
Paul Raskin, President
Paul is a retired executive previously managing customer service and telecommunications organizations in the health care and financial service industries. He is a graduate of Cornell University and also earned a Master’s Degree from the University of Michigan, both in Operations Research. Paul has served as a member of several community boards, including at Temple Beth Abraham in Oakland where he was a board officer, trustee, and president of the board. Paul and his wife, Flo, live in Piedmont, where they raised two children. He joined the JFCS East Bay board in 2016 and became president in 2021.
Sam Alcabes, Vice President
Sam is a real estate, land use, and small business attorney living in Rockridge. He grew up in the East Bay, attending nursery school at Congregation Beth El in Berkeley, and then participating as staff throughout college and law school in most aspects of the congregation’s youth programming; for the last six years, he has been a member of the Camp Kee Tov Board. Sam has volunteered or worked on political campaigns locally and nationally. He began his legal career as an immigration attorney and remains active in the space, including raising funds to cover DACA application fees and serving on the governing board of The Bare Life Review, a literary journal devoted to work by immigrant and refugee authors. Sam joined the JFCS East Bay board in 2019.
Mira Spaulding, Secretary
Mira became involved with JFCS East Bay as a volunteer with the Development Committee and has been a board member since 2016. After earning a Master of Health Services Administration from the University of Michigan, she moved to Oakland to serve as an Administrative Fellow at Kaiser Permanente. Mira now works for Kaiser Permanente as a Senior Consultant. Mira also serves on the Alumni Board for the University of Michigan Department of Health Management and Policy. She currently lives by Lake Merritt in Oakland.
Marshall Langfeld, Treasurer
Marshall recently retired after serving for twenty-nine years as the Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for Telecare Corporation, a provider of mental health services to individuals with serious mental illnesses. Marshall currently serves on Telecare’s Board of Directors and previously served on the boards of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the East Bay and Temple Beth Abraham, where he was the Treasurer. He attended Indiana University and began his career with the public accounting firm KPMG in St. Louis, Missouri. Marshall and his wife, Lynn, live in Alameda and have a son. Marshall joined the board in 2017.
Janis Burger, MPH
Janis retired in early 2018 from First 5 Alameda County after twenty years as Deputy Director and later CEO. She received her MPH from the UC Berkeley School of Public Health and worked for the Alameda County Health Care Services Agency for fifteen years with a focus on maternal, child, and adolescent health. She provided leadership to many countywide initiatives, including the Alameda County School-Based Health Center Coalition, Help Me Grow Developmental Screening, and others. Janis has served on many national, state, and local advisory boards in public health, early childhood policy, and health care. In retirement, Janis has been pursuing her passion of documentary photography and is continuing to consult in early childhood policy. Janis lives in Berkeley and joined the board in 2018.
Rabbi Steven Chester
Rabbi Chester is rabbi emeritus at Temple Sinai, having retired after a twenty-two-year, highly regarded tenure. In retirement, he served as interim rabbi at both Temple Israel of Alameda and Temple Isaiah in Lafayette. Rabbi Chester graduated from UCLA and was ordained at Hebrew Union in Cincinnati. He has collaborated widely in both the Jewish and general communities of the East Bay. Rabbi Chester served on the JFCS East Bay board from July 2012 to June 2018 and rejoined in July 2019. He and his wife, Leona, have two children, Adam (Keng) and Shira (Daniel), and two granddaughters, Anna and Amanda.
Stewart worked in the software world for more than forty years, mostly leading teams that develop technical and marketing content. He was born in New York City, the son of refugees from Hitler’s Germany, and has lived most of his adult life in the Bay Area. Stewart has a BA in Journalism and Philosophy from Syracuse University, and an MA in English (Creative Writing) from SF State University. He is the author of three books of poetry and the editor of Ghosts of the Holocaust, an anthology of poetry by the second generation. Stewart has been active in several nonprofits including the American Jewish World Service, the East Bay College Fund (now Oakland Promise), and Compassion and Choices (an organization that helps the terminally ill make end-of-life decisions). He served as co-chair of the Board of Directors of Compassion and Choices of Northern California for four years, where he had several responsibilities including developing strategy and working on advocacy. He also served on the Board of Trustees of Temple Sinai in Oakland, where he has been a member for more than twenty-five years. He lives in Piedmont with his wife, Judy, and has two grown daughters, Orli and Maya. Stewart joined the board in 2021.
Heike joined the board in July 2020. Her professional background is in journalism, public relations, and fundraising. Currently a Program Officer at the German Historical Institute Washington’s Pacific Regional Office in Berkeley, she previously worked as Director of Development for Tehiyah Day School and for the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute in Berkeley. A German native, Heike received her M.A. in German literature from the Ruhr-University Bochum. She loves traveling, especially exploring big cities and dragging her husband and her daughter to art museums all over the world. Heike lives in Berkeley and has been a member at Temple Beth Abraham for nearly twenty years.
Dan is a corporate attorney who currently serves as General Counsel to an orthodontic technology company and consults with various other life science companies. He grew up in Southern California and attended UC Santa Barbara for undergrad and UCLA for law school. Dan’s pro bono activities include representing several refugees in asylum proceedings through the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, as well as advising the California Kindergarten Association. Dan and his wife, Gennie, live in Orinda with their daughters, Tilly and Cece, who are currently progressing through preschool at Temple Isaiah in Lafayette. Dan joined the board in 2021.
Jeff completed his medical education in Internal Medicine at the UC Davis Medical Center and served as Medical Director for the Healthcare Empowerment Alliance for People Living in Transitional Living Project in Sacramento County. He then transitioned to working as a physician at the Kaiser Oakland Medical Center, holding various leadership and administrative positions and serving as Associate Program Director for the Internal Medicine Residency Program. Being a lover of the outdoors with a passion to address climate change, he is now in the second phase of his career as CEO of California Clean Energy, which specializes in helping nonprofit organizations utilize solar energy without capital expense. He is a member at Temple Beth Abraham in Oakland, where he served on the board as Men’s Club president. Together with his wife, Jo, he is the proud parent of three teenagers. Jeff joined the JFCS East Bay board in July 2020.
Suzan Kotch, MSW
Suzan was born and raised in the East Bay, graduated from UC Davis, and went on to get her Masters in Social Welfare from UC Berkeley. She graduated from the Title IVE Public Child Welfare training program with a concentration in Child and Family Services. Suzan was a Child Welfare Worker in Alameda County for thirteen years and specializes in working with infants and young children in the foster care system. She is currently the Social Worker Director at East Bay Children’s Law Offices, a nonprofit that represents children in the foster and probate court systems. Suzan is a Camp Newman/Swig Alumni and taught Sunday School and Midrasha for more than thirteen years. She and her husband live in Oakland with their two young children. Suzan joined the board in 2019.
Rachel grew up in Berkeley participating in Congregation Beth El with her family. She has now been a family law attorney for almost ten years. During law school, she was extremely active with public interest student groups and clerked with several nonprofits and social justice organizations. She also worked part-time at an immigration law firm. Rachel maintains her social justice roots by volunteering at GLIDE serving meals several times a year; she has also served on the Public Interest and Social Justice Endowment Board at Santa Clara University, the OneJustice Strategy Council, and the Art Point board of directors. Currently living in San Francisco, Rachel remains deeply connected to the East Bay and joined the board in July 2020.
Eric is the Chief Investment Officer of Bailard, a Bay Area investment management firm. He grew up in the Los Angeles area, then moved to the Bay Area to attend UC Berkeley as a third-generation Golden Bear, graduating with a degree in economics. He has proudly been an Oakland resident for more than fifteen years. Eric has served on the Board of Directors of Temple Beth Abraham in Oakland and is currently on its Board of Trustees. Eric began volunteering on the JFCS East Bay Investment Committee in 2018 and joined the board in 2019.
Deena has been principal of her own company for twenty-five years, specializing in cross-cultural consulting for global organizations. She began her cross-cultural career teaching American and foreign students at San Diego State University and has subsequently has worked with individuals and organizations from around the world in both the public and private sectors. For many years, Deena has been involved with social justice issues in the East Bay Jewish community, including at Temple Sinai. In the 1990s, she was a volunteer in the JFCS East Bay resettlement program for Soviet émigrés and she is currently involved with JFCS East Bay’s resettlement of Middle Eastern refugees. Deena is the co-author a textbook entitled Multicultural Law Enforcement: Strategies for Peacekeeping in a Diverse Society. Deena and her husband, Michael, are fortunate that their daughters and much of their extended family live in the Bay Area. She joined the board in 2016.
Olga Reznick, Ph.D., MPH
Olga grew up in West and East Oakland and currently lives in Albany. She earned her undergraduate degree in Psychology and Human Biology at Stanford, received a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from UCLA, and worked for ten years as a licensed psychologist in community mental health, in student health, and at Kaiser. She developed a strong interest in prevention and went on to earn an MPH in Public Health Epidemiology from UC Berkeley. She then did academic research at UCSF in the School of Medicine, Center for AIDS Prevention Studies, and continued at UCSF as an Emeritus Professor until 2013. Olga also served on the Board of Directors of Uncommon Law, a Berkeley-based nonprofit providing legal counsel to prisoners scheduled for parole hearings. She joined the JFCS East Bay board in 2019.
Rabbi Peretz Wolf-Prusan
Peretz came to the Bay Area to teach printmaking at UAHC Camp Swig and to study at the San Francisco Art Institute. After a decade of creating Ketubot, printmaking, and working in informal education, he traveled to Jerusalem in 1985 to learn at the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion. From 1990 to 2010, Peretz served Congregation Emanu-El, San Francisco, as rabbi and senior educator. In 2002, he was awarded the Covenant Award as an Exceptional Jewish Educator who has had a significant impact on others, in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the transmission of Jewish knowledge, values, and identity. In 2004, he became a Fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute. From 2010 to 2020, Peretz was the Rabbi-in-Residence at KehillahSF, and served on the leadership team and teaching faculty of Lehrhaus Judaica. He is now an independent teacher and printmaker. Peretz and his wife, Becki (a second generation native of the East Bay), live in Berkeley. He joined the board in 2019.
Rochelle Zak, MD
Shelley is an associate professor and physician at the UCSF Sleep Disorders Center. She has spent many years volunteering for JFCS East Bay, particularly through the Holocaust Survivor Services Advisory Committee. She started the East Bay Tikkun Olam Chessed Day, a day of volunteering in the East Bay supported by East Bay Jewish organizations and is a member of Shalom Bayit East Bay Ambassadors. She previously served on the boards of Berkeley-Oakland Midrasha and the Young Israel of New Rochelle in New York. She is a graduate of Harvard College and the UCLA School of Medicine and the proud parent with her husband, Ari, of twins who graduated from Jewish Community High School. She is delighted and honored to be continuing the family tradition of communal work in the Bay Area. Shelley lives in Oakland and joined the board in 2016.