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

Debbie Dadon is a member of the second generation involved in the Besen Family Foundation which was founded 39 years ago.

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. A particular interest of Debbie’s has been that of intergenerational philanthropy and a significant part of Debbie’s leadership 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. Her 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 optimising effective and strategic philanthropy within the Jewish community. A Founding Member of the AJF, Debbie held the position of Chair from its establishment in 2007 until 2017.

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 Cher is co-founder and director of a number of companies (listed and unlisted) in the areas of InfoTech and Property.  Nathan pursues industry niches where improvement in customer-service through leveraged-technology & systems translates directly into increased shareholder value.  He is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.  Nathan has been on the Executive of the Mizrachi Organisation in Melbourne for 10+ years, and together with his wife Camit supports a wide range of charities and causes.

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.

Sam Lipski

Sam Lipski AM, BA and LLD (Hon), is the CEO of The Pratt Foundation, the philanthropic trust for the Pratt family and Visy, which funds charities in Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Israel. With a background in journalism, editing and publishing in Australia and internationally, he has also served on many community and cultural boards. A former President of the State Library of Victoria (2000-2006), a Member of Council at Swinburne University of Technology (1995-2005) and a Trustee of the Refugee Foundation of Australia, his other roles have included Chair of the Advisory Board of Monash University’s Centre for Jewish Civilisation, Chair of the Advisory Board of Melbourne University’s Centre for Advanced Journalism, and board member of the Schizophrenia Research Institute.

Ian Allen OAM (Alternate to Sam Lipski)

Ian Allen (OAM, BEc, MAdmin, FAICD, FAIM) holds a Bachelor of Economics and Master of Administration from Monash University. He 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 20 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, Carlton Football Community Foundation, Youth Access Services, Entertainment Assist, Global Poverty Project, Child Wise, 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 more than fifty 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 MacCallum Cancer Foundation 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 strategy and portfolio manager who is passionate about supporting charities and social enterprises. Brad started his career as a management consultant with Bain & Company. From 2013-2016, Brad gained international experience with Philips in Amsterdam as Senior Manager, Group Strategy. Brad supported the not-for-profit Philips Foundation by leading the Foundation’s collaboration with Ashoka (the world’s largest network of social entrepreneurs) and providing strategic support for the International Committee of the Red Cross. Brad has previously represented the Jack & Robert Smorgon Families Foundation in Israel and in Melbourne. Brad holds degrees in Commerce and Law from the University of Melbourne. He lives in Melbourne with his wife Rachel and son Oscar.

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.

Natalie works in enhancing strategic and impactful philanthropy and community building, specialising in next gen engagement. She manages multiple programs around leadership, social entrepreneurship, teen giving, and giving circles. In 2014, she co-created LaunchPad – A Platform for Jewish Community Innovation and has spearheaded the opening of The LaunchPad Hub. She considers her greatest success as having built and engaged multiple networks of change-makers spanning different cities, countries and continents. Natalie is a ‘connector’, by nature.

Natalie previously worked creating socially responsible and sustainability-focused communications at a start up in New York City. While over in the US, Natalie also completed an 8 month Certificate in Social Impact Strategy at the University of Pennsylvania, and is a social impact measurement enthusiast. Yes, that’s a thing.

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.

Andrea Lipshutz – Jewish Teen Giving Initiative Program Manager

Andrea has always had a strong passion for Jewish education. Growing up in the vibrant Melbourne Jewish community has enabled her to take on many opportunities. From 2014-2016, she was a passionate leader in Hineni Youth and Welfare, taking on numerous roles and tasks and immersing herself in every way possible, including being a member of the federal executive. This experience inspired her further to educate and instil a passion for Jewish values in the youth of our community. Since coming back from her gap year with Hineni in 2013, she has also been undertaking a Bachelor of Arts/Education.

In 2016, Andrea began working as the Program Officer for The Jewish Teen Giving Initiative. This program combines her love of Judaism with her passion for changing the world and philanthropy as well as working with teens. She is honoured to be a part of a big change in our community and in fostering the future change-makers. She loves watching her teens grow and develop with the program to truly make an impact on the 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. 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.

Ariel Golvan – Jewish Teen Giving Initiative Program Facilitator

Ariel is currently beginning his 4th year of Mechanical Engineering and Science (majoring in physiology). Ariel is interested in sustainability, ethical decision making, and promoting an active and healthy lifestyle.

Ariel has worked extensively in the youth movement world, holding positions as state and national president of Hineni Youth and Welfare. Ariel is currently undertaking the AUJS Susan Wakil Fellowship with the hope to work with like-minded individuals to organise and implement a successful project with impact and longevity.

Isabella Smorgon – AJF Intern

Isabella graduated from Mount Scopus in 2017 and is currently on her gap year, planning to study Occupational Therapy next year. Isabella is passionate about making a difference in the Jewish and broader community. She spends a large amount of her time in the swimming pool, training and competing.

Isabella has joined the AJF team as an intern with her passions lying in the NextStep network, and engaging pre-teens in giving.

Contact AJF