Board of Directors

Debbie Dadon – Chair

Debbie Dadon is a member of the second generation involved in the Besen Family Foundation which was founded 35 years ago. Raised in a philanthropic environment and holding the position of Executive Officer and Trustee of the Besen Family Foundation for the past 17 years, 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 role as Executive Officer of the Besen Family Foundation is 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.  A Founding Member of the AJF, Debbie has held the position of Chair since it was established in 2007.

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.

Belinda Bardas

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”.

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.

Romy Katz

Romy Katz is a mother of three young children who is motivated to make her children’s future a happy one, where they can be proud to be Jewish and living in a community that cares for one another. Romy is a teacher by profession and taught in a private school in Melbourne for many years. After this, she worked in Philanthropy and set up her family’s foundation and currently runs it. Romy is passionate about education, children and social change. In 2014 Romy started a business called Agents For Change where she runs workshops in schools with an aim to promote social change, empathy and philanthropy in the next generation. Romy also sits on the board for Kids In Philanthropy (KiP), AJF, Twelve and Thirteen and is an adviser to Next Step.

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, the Pratt Group Scholarship Fund and the Pratt Global Foundation. Currently he is a director of the Peter MacCallum Cancer Institute, Entertainment Assist, Carlton Football Community Foundation, The Collingwood Football Club Community Foundation, The Waislitz Foundation, the Global Poverty Project, Australian Jewish Funders, Youth Access Services and the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal.

Ian is also a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and 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.

Simone Szalmuk-Singer

Simone Szalmuk-Singer is passionate about developing Jewish communal leadership and is involved in many initiatives to train and mentor current and potential leaders, including teenagers and women. She is a director of Jewish Care Victoria and is co-founder and co-editor of Jewish Women Of Words, an online publication for emerging and established Jewish women writers.

As former President of JNF Victoria and Australian National Vice-President, Simone played a key role in restructuring JNF Australia striving for strict levels of governance and benchmark multi-generational reach. She has extensive experience in sourcing and developing high impact philanthropic projects in Israel. Simone worked for many years as a lawyer specialising in the employment law.

David Werdiger

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, including his family’s Jewish education grant scheme. He has founded and owns several technology businesses. David is also an active commentator, and is regularly published by Galus Australis and the Times of Israel. He also runs a commentary blog, a blog on communal issues, and a blog on philanthropy.

Eli Nossbaum (Alternate to David Werdiger)

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
Board Observer, The Observership Program

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

Since joining the Australian Jewish Funders in early 2011, Tracie together with the Board of Directors has transformed the organisation into an integral and visionary player in the philanthropic sector. Tracie works closely with members to promote strategic, effective philanthropy and support their journey towards impactful giving.

Over the past few years, Tracie has spearheaded AJF Innovation, aiming to raise awareness and support addressing the big issues facing the Australian Jewish community, with a major focus on Jewish life for young adults in their 20’s and 30’s and Jewish community building. She has been instrumental in bringing successful, innovative international programs to Australia, working together with foundations and organisations from around the world to catalyse change and strengthen Jewish life. Tracie also sits on the International Council for Moishe House, a global organisation that provides meaningful Jewish experiences to young adults in their 20’s.

Previously, Tracie worked with a variety of Jewish organisations and was responsible for a myriad of projects including fundraising, marketing, major events, conferences and taught at Mount Scopus Memorial College, Australia’s largest Jewish day school.

Meg Edelman – AJF Engagement Manager

Born and raised in New Zealand, Meg moved to Melbourne in 2007 with her family. Meg completed a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Melbourne 2015.

In 2016, Meg worked as Project Manager for Mamilla, a start up accelerator program that helps entrepreneurs grow their businesses through mentorship and workshops and included a five-day start up nation tour of Israel.

Meg currently works for the Australian Jewish Funders (AJF), a network of mindful funders who believe that greater impact can be achieved collectively. 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 have a greater impact on the Jewish community, wider Australian society and the world.

Stacey Dodge – Jewish Teen Giving Initiative Coordinator

Stacey has a background in Human Resources and after having children decided to change focus and went back to University to study Social Work. After working with women and child effected by family violence, Stacey decided to join Australian Jewish Funders as not only a member but an employee as well and currently oversees the Jewish Teen Giving Initiative, a year long program engaging and inspiring Jewish year nine students in philanthropy and leadership.

Stacey has three children and is a dog lover. She is also an active member of Bialik College Council and is very passionate about the sustainability and affordability of Jewish education.

Andrea Lipshutz – Jewish Teen Giving Initiative Program Officer

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 focussing on Jewish Studies and Drama and Performing Arts.

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.

Anthony Janovic – LaunchPad Community Manager

Anthony is a young Australian full-time student and full-time community manager. Taking a break from his studies in 2013, Anthony went to Israel for six months where a two-week day camp for socio-economically disadvantaged children imbued a sense of community responsibility within him.

Upon return to Melbourne, Anthony helped re-start Challah For Hunger Melbourne, and was the coordinator for 2 years. After planning a LaunchPad style retreat in 2015, Anthony was the LaunchPad Intern in 2016 and took over as community manager in 2017. He yearns to drive change in the Australian Jewish Community and is thrilled that his job is also his passion

Anthony is a keen traveller and has been to over 30 countries in 5 years, most recently studying in Denmark for 5 months.

Outside of the Jewish community, Anthony takes his studies very seriously and hopes to one day combine his profession with his community passion.

Shannyn Gelbart – Giving Circles Coordinator

Shannyn is a Jewish educator, singer, and songwriter. She has spent the last four years working within the Australasian Jewish community running educational programming and musical prayer services. Since attending the LaunchPad retreat in 2014, Shannyn has been involved with the AJF community, continually being inspired by the change-makers and innovators she has met. As the Giving Circles Program Manager, she is passionate about empowering individuals to make a big impact and making philanthropy accessible to everyone.

Contact AJF