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
BEc, MAdmin, FAICD, FAIM

Ian Allen holds degrees from Monash University. He spent over 30 years in personnel development, executive secretariat, marketing, customer policy and service and developed 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 led 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 investments to Victoria creating many hundreds of jobs. Ian commenced with Pratt Holdings more than twenty eight years ago and has been involved with a range of activities including the arts, philanthropy, corporate citizenship, investment projects, major corporate entertainment, family entertainment and events, recycling, cost reduction programs, property management, aviation and Government relations. He is an executive trustee of The Pratt Foundation and other related philanthropic entities. Currently he is a director of a wide range of philanthropic and commercial entities. Ian is also a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management.

With almost sixty 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 Boys. He has been actively involved in producing events in Australia, New Zealand and the USA. Ian has published articles about various aspects of rock-n-roll both in Australia and internationally. Ian has been a Director of many philanthropic, commercial and Victorian government organisations. He was awarded an Order of Australia in 1998 and again in 2020

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 Chief Executive Officer at the Australian Jewish Funders (AJF), a membership organisation of Jewish social investors. Tracie works closely with the AJF network, philanthropic foundations and a multitude of organisations throughout Australia, the US, Israel and Asia to promote strategic, effective philanthropy and support their journey towards impactful giving 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 and leadership, enabling change-makers to connect, think, create and lead.

Before joining the AJF in 2011, Tracie worked with a variety of Jewish organisations and was responsible for a myriad of projects including fundraising, marketing, major events and conferences. With a background in education, Tracie taught and held a number of leadership roles at Mount Scopus Memorial College and was education consultant for News Limited and the AFL. 

Tracie sits on the International Council at Moishe House and 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. Tracie 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.

Jodi Weinberg – Director of Operations and Finances

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.

Romy Flinkier – Projects and Communications Manager

Eager to explore culture, design, sustainability and the community, Romy is driven to be involved and make a positive impact on both the Jewish Community and wider society. Originally studying and working in Architecture, Romy is working out how to combine design with social impact, giving, community and culture. Romy joined the AJF team to both develop the teen program and take part in the programs and communications of the organisation. Being part of the AJF and LaunchPad team, Romy continues to gain skills in networking, philanthropy and social action. Known for her passion for food, flavours and coffee, Romy brings another element to the philanthropic and innovative team dynamic.

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. 

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.

Rebecca Adler  – LaunchPad Coordinator

Having grown up in Melbourne and graduated from Bialik College, Rebecca has always understood the importance of family, community and embracing all aspects of Jewish culture, especially the chaggim and their relevant and delicious foods. 

Upon finishing school, Rebecca completed a Bachelor of Business degree at Monash University, which provided her with skills and knowledge in the business sector. Rebecca is passionate about inclusion and enriching the disability sector. Wanting to not only change the lives of individuals with special needs, but to also shift society’s perspective on disability. 

Since joining the Australian Jewish Funders in 2019, as the LaunchPad Retreat Coordinator, her understanding of Jewish philanthropy has broadened, and she has been introduced to an amazing network of motivated people. Rebecca is eager to continue supporting this network, to be inspired, think big and continue making an impact in the Jewish community. 

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