Board of Directors

Belinda Bardas – Co-Chair

Belinda is Head of Philanthropy and Trustee at Victor Smorgon Charitable Fund (VSCF). The VCSF provides strategic investment to a range of, for purpose organizations, in the Australian Jewish Community, broader Australian society and Israel. Supporting a broad range of areas, including education, the arts, institutional development, and medical research.

Belinda is Co-chair of the Australian Jewish Funders (AJF). The AJF is the network of Jewish funders inspiring effective philanthropy and supporting community, through strategic initiatives and collaboration.

 She is Non-Executive Director at Victor Smorgon Group, a family office that has a strong focus on retail, property, agri-business, equities, and philanthropy.  As a mentor in residence at Launchpad Retreats since 2015, Belinda has built deep and long-lasting relationships with committed Jewish communal leaders, change-makers, and activists. Launchpad, a platform for Jewish community Innovation in Australia unites incredible change-makers, giving them skills, networks, and opportunities to connect, think, create and lead together. It is there where the magic happens and 14 innovative programs stimulating Jewish life have been seeded.

Belinda graduated from Swinburne University with a Graduate Certificate in Social Impact (2018), a course for established and emerging leaders of social change. The course is a ‘pracademic’ program with a uniquely comprehensive curriculum based on systems thinking and social design principles.

Before her Career in Philanthropy, Belinda worked for numerous years as a Naturopath, health coach and wellbeing facilitator, is a member of the Australian Natural Therapies association and an NLP practitioner.

Beyond this Belinda worked as a Fashion Retail Professional, at an iconic Australian brand, specializing in women’s fashion. Honing her business acumen, in business development, entrepreneurial vision, brand strategy, marketing and communication skills, the ability to recognize future trends, and the capacity to make decisions under pressure.

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 and serves on the Schusterman Foundation Senior Fellows Advisory Board.

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 AM

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, TOM: Melbourne

Director, Highpoint Property Group

Director, Kingston Co

Board Malthouse Theatre

Justin Greenstein

Justin works in Financial Services, with a deep focus on risk management in the Digital and innovation space. More recently, Justin has co-founded a RegTech (Regulatory Technology) start-up which provides organisations with a digital tool to measure and monitor risk culture. Justin is very passionate about Jewish life and Jewish tradition and is excited about the opportunity to contribute to the future generation of Jews in Australia through the AJF. Justin lives in Melbourne and is married with two children (a three year old daughter and a one year old son). Justin loves travelling and being exposed to different cultures around the world. Justin joined AJF in 2019 as a Board Observer and is now a Director.

Nathan Cher

Nathan is a director of the Australian Jewish Funders. Nathan is the Victorian Chairperson of the ORAH Fund Allocation Committee.He has been on the Executive 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, and a Non-Executive Director of Pengana Capital Group, an ASX-listed funds management company.  His accounting and finance experience includes working for Chemical Bank, Chase Manhattan, and Price Waterhouse.

He is a Director of Education Heritage Foundation, the Treasurer of the Moriah College Foundation And is a Member of the Steering Committee of Mosaic United.He also Chairs 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 AM

Ian Allen (AM, 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.

Brad Smorgon

Brad is an experienced entrepreneur, strategist, portfolio manager, and innovator from Melbourne, Australia. He is passionate about supporting for-purpose organisations and social enterprises by building networks and applying corporate skills and knowledge. 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 Olcha is CEO at the Australian Jewish Funders (AJF), the network of Jewish donors inspiring effective philanthropy and strengthening community. Driven by Jewish values, the AJF aims to provide a space to enhance and nurture strategic philanthropy, explore philanthropic best practice and encourage innovation amongst like-minded funders, inspiring members to positively shape the Jewish community, wider Australian society and the world.

Tracie works closely with the AJF network, philanthropic foundations and a multitude of organisations throughout Australia, the US, Israel and Asia to spearhead initiatives that raise awareness and address the big issues facing the Jewish community, with a major focus on philanthropy, innovation in Jewish life and Jewish community building across the generations.

She is all about empowering community members 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 grassroots community engagement, enabling change-makers to connect, think, create and lead – stepping up to create positive impact for causes they care about through an annual retreat with over 450 alumni and the LaunchPad Hub – Australia’s only Jewish co-working space. Driven by a collaborative mindset LaunchPad Co-Labs have recently been established to bring together AJF members, the donors together with social activists, the LaunchPad network and communal partners, the Jewish not-for-profit organisations to address specific issues facing the Jewish community, eg Regeneration (Holocaust Remembrance and Education), Food Distribution and Inclusion.

Tracie sits on the International Council at Moishe House, an organisation inspiring Jewish homes for young adults in their 20’s. There are currently over 100 communities across 25 countries creating meaningful, welcoming Jewish communities for themselves and their peers. She is a Scholar with Our Common Destiny, a ground-breaking new initiative to strengthen global Jewry by linking Jewish communities all over the world to a shared set of ethics and values across religious and cultural identities. Our Common Destiny is a joint initiative of Genesis Philanthropy Group and the State of Israel, under the auspices of the President of Israel. Tracie also 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.

Romy Flinkier – Projects and Communications Manager

Originally from the west coast, Romy has made the move to Melbourne where she has continued to pursue her passions in multiple fields. Eager to explore culture, design, sustainability and the community, Romy is driven to be involved and make a positive impact on the Jewish Community and wider society. Originally studying and working in Architecture, she had the chance to build on skills and gain an insight into the corporate design world. Recently though, feeling the desire to venture in a new direction and work with like-minded people, Romy joined the AJF team to both develop the teen program and take part in the programs and communications of the organisation. This opportunity has developed her skills in networking, philanthropy and social action. The AJF team and co-working space has created an environment and pace of work that has been an exciting challenge for Romy who responds well to those working hard around her, motivated to create change and positive impact on the Jewish community.

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. 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. Natalie is a daily meditator, a weekly swimmer, and a monthly explorer of Victoria’s outback in her decked-out campervan, Skyler.

Tessa Zajac – Director of Philanthropy Programs | Next Gen

Tessa joins the AJF team with a background in international relations, community development and program management. Tessa is passionate about growing innovative programs centred around next generation engagement in philanthropy. 

 With Bachelor degrees in Arts (Global) and Science, majoring in International relations and Environmental Chemistry, and a Graduate Diploma in Psychology, Tessa brings a multidisciplinary approach to elevate social impact and unravel complex problems.

 Tessa previously held international roles at the Wiener Library for the Study of the Holocaust & Genocide in London, and at Centropa Budapest – a Jewish historical institute dedicated to preserving 20th century history in eastern Europe.

 Tessa is excited to apply her multidisciplinary training and cross-cultural experience to a role which encourages effective philanthropy and positive social change. 

Jodi Weinberg – Operations and Philanthropy Manager

Jodi joins the AJF team with over 10 years` experience in corporate finance, 6 years` experience in leadership roles in not-for-profits and 2 years` of running her own business.

Jodi completed her Chartered Accountancy qualification at Ernst and Young in South Africa. She is passionate about helping others and created a program to support those who were unsuccessful in the qualifying examinations.

Jodi moved to Melbourne in 2011 and continued her work in assurance at Moore Stephens (formerly Nexia).  Jodi was asked to join the Young AICC committee in 2012 where she headed and implemented the first Young AICC mentoring program. She ran the program for a further 4 years and positively impacted over 250 senior executives, young professionals and university students. She was also involved in organising, facilitating and interviewing high calibre speakers at YAICC events and was a participant of the YAICC leadership program. Jodi also served on the AUJS finance committee in 2018.

Jodi`s experience in corporate finance together with her involvement in community have brought her to this role and she is excited to use her skills and contribute to society.

Contact AJF