Board of Directors

Belinda Bardas – Co-Chair

Belinda Bardas has spent a life time enriched by family, business and community. First developing her skills within the family fashion retail business (15 yrs 1982-1997) learning from the ground up encompassing; sales design, product development and group management, and later in running her own business. Belinda then spent a further 11 years in the wellness industry after retraining as a naturopath, coach and wellbeing facilitator. Her background and experience has led her to work in diversified roles for 25 years in both sectors. Belinda is currently a Non-Executive Director and Trustee of the Victor Smorgon Family Group of companies whose focus is on retail, property, equities and philanthropy. Belinda’s general interests include holistic health and wellbeing, art and impact philanthropy. Belinda is passionate about creativity and innovation and starts with the premise “what if”.

Simone Szalmuk-Singer – Co-Chair

Simone is co-founder and co-editor of Jewish Women of Words, an online publication for Jewish women writers.

She is Co-Chair of the Australian Jewish Funders, a network inspiring effective philanthropy and strengthening community. Simone is also a director of Jewish Care Victoria, the largest Jewish services provider in Victoria offering aged care, disability services, financial counselling, recruitment services and transitional housing.

Simone is passionate about developing Jewish communal leadership and is a mentor in several leadership development programs in Australia. She brings practical insight to her current roles, constantly striving for maximum impact. She is a former President of JNF Victoria and Australian National Vice-President.

Simone is a Senior Fellow in the prestigious Schusterman Foundation Fellowship Program. She serves on the Jewish Funders Network’s 2018 International Conference Committee and is an evaluator for the 2018 Slingshot Guide.

For many years, Simone worked as a lawyer, specialising in employment law. She is a member of the Law Institute of Victoria, the Australian Institute of Company Directors and Women on Boards.

Debbie Dadon

Raised in a philanthropic environment and holding the position of Chief Executive Officer and Trustee of the Besen Family Foundation for 19 years before moving into her current role as Chair of the Besen Family Foundation, Debbie has developed an acute and insightful awareness of the issues and needs of local communities. Debbie’s philanthropic contribution has covered a broad spectrum of issues but her leadership has been particularly evident in the areas of intergenerational philanthropy and disability. A significant part of Debbie’s mentorship role in the Besen Family Foundation has been the sensitive task of guiding and nurturing the involvement of the third generation of the Besen family in philanthropy. Debbie’s commitment and contribution to the community is evidenced through her involvement in many organisations. The Australian Jewish Funders (AJF) is an organisation specifically aimed at inspiring effective philanthropy and strengthening community. A Founding Member of the AJF, Debbie held the position of Chair for 10 years. Tikkun Olam Makers (TOM) is a global movement of communities connecting makers, designers, developers and engineers with people with disabilities to develop technological solutions for everyday challenges. Debbie first witnessed TOM in action in Tel Aviv in 2015 and then brought TOM to Melbourne for the first time in 2016.

Current Positions

  • Chair, Besen Family Foundation
  • Director, Australian Jewish Funders
  • Director, Highpoint Property Group
  • Director, Kingston Co
  • Board, Malthouse Theatre
Danny Almagor

Daniel Almagor is CEO of Small Giants, a impact investment company he started with his wife Berry Liberman to effect social and environmental change through business, and Australia’s first B Corporation. He was the inaugural Social Entrepreneur in Residence at RMIT, the founder and former CEO of Engineers Without Borders Australia, and is currently Chairperson of Jewish Aid Australia, on the Board of Smiling Mind and on the wisdom council for Hub Australia. His contribution to the community has been acknowledged many times including as the Ernst & Young Social Entrepreneur of the Year, RMIT Alumnus of the Year, a Churchill Fellowship, and an Australian Leadership Award from ADC. He has degrees in Aerospace Engineering and Business Administration, a certificate IV in outdoor education and he did a half day beekeeping course a few years ago. He loves to read, talk about philosophy, garden, travel and jump on the trampoline with his kids.

Nathan Cher

Nathan is a director of the Australian Jewish Funders. Nathan is the Victorian Chairperson of the ORAH Fund Allocation Committee. Nathan has been on the Executive of community organisations and together with his wife Camit, supports a wide range of charities and causes. He is a Tech Entrepreneur & Investor who has been a founder and director of a number of companies (listed and unlisted) in the areas of Technology, Startup and Property.   He is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.  He has a number of prominent investments in Israel such as MONETA CAPITAL, OURCROWD & TIPRANKS.

Jeremy Dunkel

Jeremy Dunkel is a Director of Taurus Capital, a family office consultancy specialising in philanthropy.  His accounting and finance experience includes working for Chemical Bank, Chase Manhattan, and Price Waterhouse.

He is also a Director of Education Heritage Foundation, and the Moriah College Foundation, as well as the Chair of Y2i, an organisation that grants $5,000 vouchers to Year 10 students from NSW / ACT / QLD with at least one Jewish parent, to make participation in approved Israel-based educational programs, affordable.

Ian Allen OAM

Ian Allen (OAM, BEc, MAdmin, FAICD, FAIM) holds a Bachelor of Economics and Master of Administration from Monash University. He has spent over 30 years in personnel development, executive secretariat, marketing, customer policy and service, including the development of wide ranging customer policy initiatives that impacted on more than a million electricity customers throughout Victoria with significant policies introduced Australia wide.

In the early eighties Ian lead an international marketing strategy to attract energy intensive industries to Victoria. He was seconded to the Victorian government to deliver this strategy, which brought major investment to Victoria creating many hundreds of jobs.

More than 25 years ago Ian commenced with Pratt Holdings and has been involved with a range of activities including the performing arts, philanthropy, corporate citizenship, investment projects, major corporate entertainment, family entertainment and events, recycling, cost reduction, property management, aviation, publishing and Government relations.

He is a trustee of The Pratt Foundation, The Pratt Family Foundation, Visy Cares, Richard Pratt Fellowships in Prostate Cancer, Pratt Global Foundation and the Pratt Family Scholarship Fund. Currently he is a director of Collingwood Football Community Foundation, Victoria Park Foundation, Carlton Football Community Foundation, Blues Foundation, Angel Works Productions, Youth Access Services, Entertainment Assist, Global Citizen, Australian Jewish Funders and the Foundation for Rural Regional Renewal. Ian is also a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management.

With almost 60 years involvement in the entertainment industry as a performer, musical director, producer, promoter and importer of international artists, he has shared the stage with many acclaimed international and Australian artists.  Often using a nom-de-plume, Ian has published articles about various aspects of rock-n-roll both in Australia and internationally.

Ian has been a Director of the Victorian Rock Foundation, the Australian Contemporary Music Development Company (AUSMUSIC), the Australian Council for Children and Youth Organisations, Youth Junction, Meadow Heights Learning Shop, Lakeside Secondary College, Peter McCallum Cancer Centre, Peter MacCallum Cancer Foundation, Childwise and a Council member of Philanthropy Australia.

Eli Nossbaum

Eli Nossbaum is a Vice President in the Credit Suisse Private Banking Division in Melbourne where he works closely with high-net-worth individuals, families and not-for-profit organisations advising on investments across multiple asset classes both in Australia and globally. Prior to Credit Suisse, Eli spent 4 years as a Relationship Manager with Deutsche Bank Private Wealth Management. Eli holds a Master of Business Administration and a Master of Applied Finance from Monash University where he was awarded the Top Student Award for Corporate Finance. Eli is a member of Philanthropy Australia’s New Generation of Giving and is also a member of the Investment Committee of Jewish Care Victoria which includes responsibility for managing the organisation’s endowment and residential bond portfolios.

David Werdiger (Alternate to Eli Nossbaum)

David Werdiger is a founding director of AJF, a past director and current committee member of JewishCare, and active in a variety of other not-for-profits. He is founder and owner of three technology businesses, is a public speaker, author of a book on intergenerational wealth, and an advisor to business owners and families. David is married with five children.

Brad Smorgon

Brad is an experienced strategist, portfolio manager, and innovator from Melbourne, Australia. He is passionate about supporting for-purpose organizations and social enterprises by building networks and applying corporate skills and knowledge. Brad is currently Head of New Ventures at Unified Healthcare Group (UHG), a health technology business connecting businesses and healthcare providers to improve outcomes. He holds degrees in Commerce and Law from the University of Melbourne and lives in Melbourne with his wife Rachel and two sons, Oscar and Leo.

Team

Tracie Olcha – CEO

Tracie joined AJF in 2011 and since then, together with the Board of Directors, spearheaded initiatives that raise awareness and address the big issues facing the Australian Jewish community, with a major focus on innovation in Jewish life and Jewish community building across the generations. Tracie’s all about empowering and enabling people to create meaningful and relevant Jewish experiences for themselves and their peers and is the visionary behind LaunchPad – A Platform for Jewish Community Innovation. LaunchPad inspires Jewish change-makers, to connect, think, create and lead together with an alumni of some 350 change agents in Australia. In 2016 the LaunchPad model was adopted by South Africa and is continuing to successfully engage South African Jewry.

In her capacity at AJF, together with leadership at the Pratt Foundation and Jewish Funders Network (USA & Israel), Tracie has been a major driving force in developing annual gatherings in Asia that stimulate awareness and inter-generational dialogue about Jewish peoplehood and the developing relationship between Israel and Asia. The gatherings which have taken place in Hong Kong 2014 and 2017, Singapore 2015 and Shanghai 2016 bring together a network of Jewish funders, lay leaders and entrepreneurs from Australia, the US and Israel, and connects them with Jewish communities of like-minded peers living in Asia.

Utilising her unparalleled networks from around the world, Tracie dreams big and makes things happen. She sits on the International Council for Moishe House and co-founded Mamilla, a six-month program that aims to unlock and activate the power of Jewish entrepreneurs and connects them with the start up eco-system in Israel.

Previously, Tracie taught at Mount Scopus College in the Primary School, as well as Program Manager for two years for both the school’s Annual Appeal and Year 11 Conference. Other roles included Education Manager at WIZO Victoria where she was responsible for a myriad of projects including fundraising, marketing, major events and conferences. For 8 years ,Tracie was the education consultant for the Herald Sun, News Limited, she also worked with the AFL developing curriculum and facilitating workshops and seminars for teachers.

Natalie Rathner – Director of Philanthropic Programs

Natalie is passionate about growing social impact and philanthropy. She is the Director of Philanthropic Programs for the Australian Jewish Funders, focusing on next gen engagement, leadership, social entrepreneurship and teen giving. Natalie is currently completing her MBA, specialising in Social Impact, and has completed an 8-month Executive Program in Social Impact Strategy at the University of Pennsylvania. She is a committee member for Nexus Australia, a global community of exceptional young social entrepreneurs, philanthropists and impact investors committed to creating a better word. Natalie previously worked creating socially responsible and sustainability-focused communications at a start-up in New York City. She is a yogi, swimmer, and currently planning a ghost tour of Melbourne.

Hannah Sharp – Team Support Officer

Hannah, a Melbourne local, is currently undertaking a Bachelor of Law/International Studies at Deakin University. From 2014 –  2017, Hannah was a passionate leader in Habonim Dror Australia, undertaking numerous roles which immersed her in the youth of the Australian Jewish community. Her time in Habonim Dror, as well a variety of communal organisations, has ignited a passion for Jewish culture.

Hannah has joined the team at AJF after spending 7 months abroad in Europe, where she was studying Law and Politics whilst exploring and learning about the inherent importance of community. She is excited to return to the Melbourne Jewish community and be a part of the AJF team to help inspire innovation, change and have a greater impact on the Jewish community, wider Australian society and the world.

Romy Flinkier – Program Manager, Team Engagement

Originally from the West Coast, Romy has made the move to Melbourne and never looked back. Passionate about culture, design, coffee and the community, Romy is driven to be involved and make a positive change. Studying and working in Architecture, she had the chance to build on skills and gain an insight into the corporate world. Recently though, feeling the desire to change things up and work with like-minded people, Romy made the move to be inspired by the youth. Having grown up involved in Habonim Dror, she is excited to be working in an environment that relies on a similar structure of education and is driven by a group of young and motivated people. The Giving Initiative is a program that involves year 9s from all different schools and takes them on a journey to explore ways of sharing values and passions and bettering the world. The change in environment and pace of work will be an exciting challenge for Romy who is keen to get stuck in get the program rolling.

Natalie Herscu – Innovation Manager at LaunchPad

Digital marketing expert turned social entrepreneur, Natalie is passionate about curating spaces and experiences that supports her community to truly thrive.

Natalie attended the LaunchPad Retreat in 2015 and comes with a wealth of knowledge about start-ups, marketing and the digital landscape. Having recently returned from working in Tel Aviv’s tech hub, where she learnt all about start-ups, innovation, and where to eat the best hummus, Natalie has now taken on the position of LaunchPad’s Innovation Manager.
Her role involves facilitating LaunchPad’s new Hub, building relationships and driving engagement. She brings laughter, banter and good vibes, encouraging those around her to not take life too seriously. She is a strong believer in personal wellbeing, professional development and spontaneity, and with her positive outlook she is pumped to work with each LaunchPadder to create a tailored, wholesome space.

Outside of work, Natalie enjoys road tripping around Australia in her RV, has a phobia of cheese, and is a strong believer in the Mighty Demons winning this year’s Premiership.

Contact AJF