Connections | Staff Newsletter of the American Committee

Staff Newsletter of the American Committee

Winter 2017

Vera and Chaim Weizmann Honor Society Luncheons

Regional Event Regional Event

The Vera and Chaim Weizmann Honor Society Initiative continued its coast-to-coast tour with several recent luncheons. In early December, the New York Tri-State Region held its Honor Society event, featuring Prof. Brian Berkowitz, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. Later in the month, the Florida Region hosted Honor Society events in Aventura and Boca Raton. In late January and early February, luncheons took place in the Bay Area, Southern California, and Phoenix. At each gathering, American Committee CEO Marshall Levin spoke about the Weizmann Institute’s latest achievements, while Stacy Sulman, Vice President of Family Philanthropy and Legal Affairs, Center for Personalized Philanthropy (CPP), discussed ways to create a legacy at the Institute. Guests included current Honor Society members, as well as loyal donors who have made annual gifts over many years. Attendees were inspired by the Institute’s remarkable progress, and each event resulted in new and enhanced planned gifts. These programs owe their success to the strong partnership between CPP and regional staff.

Caption: (L-R) Bay Area Regional Board Co-Chair Dr. Gladys Monroy, Jessica Vapnek, Pearl Vapnek, and Marshall Levin at the Bay Area Honor Society luncheon.

Protecting Our Water

Regional Event Regional Event

In the next 10 years, close to half of the world’s population could face serious health and economic problems due to lack of water. In order to meet our soaring demand and dwindling resources, Prof. Brian Berkowitz, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, has devoted his career to developing smarter ways of using our water supply. On a recent trip to the United States, Prof. Berkowitz discussed his work and provided an excellent overview of the problems associated with climate change. At the American Committee’s National Office in New York, he spoke to more than 40 guests at the Vera and Chaim Weizmann Honor Society luncheon. He then traveled to Florida for luncheons at the offices of BNY Mellon and Northern Trust, as well as an evening of canapés and conversation at the home of Illana and Samy Dwek. Guests were excited to learn about Prof. Berkowitz’s breakthroughs, including an environmentally friendly method of removing pollutants from water.

Caption: Boca Raton event hosts Samy and Illana Dwek with Prof. Brian Berkowitz (center).

Stem Cell Innovator Visits San Diego

Regional EventRegional Event

On a recent trip to San Diego, world-renowned scientist Dr. Jacob Hanna, Department of Molecular Genetics, spoke about his pioneering stem cell research. Almost 50 guests gathered at Palacio Del Mar Golf Club for the event, chaired by Jaye Galicot. Reina and David Shteremberg, along with their children, Alex and Ilana, also served as hosts. Dr. Hanna began with an overview of the different types of stem cells, including embryonic, adult, and induced pluripotent (iPS). He noted that it has been over 10 years since scientists discovered that it was possible to “reprogram” adult stem cells so that they return to an embryonic stem cell-like state. In his research, Dr. Hanna has found ways to create these iPS cells more efficiently and to keep them in an embryonic-like state. His findings could pave the way to medical applications such as the ability to grow organs on demand or to replace damaged neurons. While Dr. Hanna could have established his lab at a number of institutions, he chose the Weizmann Institute because it offered him the funding, infrastructure, and freedom to pursue cutting-edge research from the start. He spoke about the openness, collaborative spirit, and international atmosphere on campus—an environment in which he thrives. After his presentation, Dr. Hanna engaged in a dynamic conversation with attendees.

Caption: (L-R) Marco Velazco, Gilbert Macias, Jaye Galicot, Reina Shteremberg, David Shteremberg, Andy Weissman, Dr. Jacob Hanna, Michal Hamui, Alex Cohen, Orly Cohen, Ilana Gold, and Yossi Gold.

Accolades & Milestones

Accolades and Milestones Accolades and Milestones

The past few months have seen celebrations and new additions to the American Committee family. Read on to find out what’s new in the professional and personal lives of your colleagues.

  • Working with Ellen Hofstatter, the National Office’s Holiday Party Planning Committee—Rachel Sievers, Caitlin Mintz, Eugene Gorelik, Miriam Gutwein, Donald Horne, and Sandra Mizrahi—organized a fun and memorable staff get-together on December 20. Held at Promenade Bar & Grill, the party featured a smorgasbord of food, as well as ACWIS-themed games—a great way to come together as a team.
  • And the winners are… Pincy Jacob (winner of the National Office’s holiday “desk game”), Diane Bobal (winner of the ACWIS Super Bowl pool), Michele Willner (winner of the ACWIS Oscars pool), and Sandra Mizrahi (winner of both the Oscars and Super Bowl pools). Congrats!
  • We recently welcomed three new staff members to the American Committee family. Raina Himmelman joined the Marketing Communications & Public Affairs Department as Marketing Coordinator on December 5th; Suelynn Woods started as the New York Tri-State Region’s Program Assistant on January 17th; and Sheryl Adelman Kimmel joined the Midwest Region team as Development Associate on February 6th.
  • Rachel Sievers’s daughter, Mira, celebrated her 2nd birthday on January 16th.
  • Rebecca Serber’s son, Miles, turned one on February 5th.
  • Mark Feldman’s daughter, Dara Pohl Feldman, landed the lead in her school’s (Connecticut College’s) production of the play, “The Cradle Will Rock.” Dara will star in five performances in March. Despite the fact that she is playing a “lady of the evening,” Mark and his wife, Rhonda, are very proud of her achievement.
  • In February, Jennifer Manning participated in the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), one of the world’s oldest scientific organizations. Held in Boston, the meeting featured presentations by scientific leaders from around the globe, including the Weizmann Institute’s Dr. Eran Elinav and Prof. Rotem Sorek.
  • Mark Kotler and his wife, Dale, will celebrate their twin girls, Lauren and Jordana, becoming B’not Mitzvah on March 18th.

Happy Birthday to…

  • Florence Marcisak, December 14
  • Stacy Sulman, December 23
  • Bonnie Diamond, January 5
  • Matthew Roberts, January 10
  • Donald Horne, January 14
  • Kate Schmier, February 1
  • Mark Kotler, February 3
  • April Champion, February 6
  • Richard Enslein, February 7
  • Susan Kerker, February 11
  • Esther Moscovici, February 22
  • Mark Feldman, February 24
  • Stephanie Horsley, March 4
  • Amy Wagner, March 7
  • Jennifer Manning, March 10
  • Susan Palmiro, March 11
  • Marshall Levin, March 15
  • Marco Davila, March 20
  • Rachel Sievers, March 25
  • Stuart Chizzik, March 30

Congratulations to the following staff members on reaching an anniversary at the American Committee:

  • Lisa Cohen, December 4, 16 years
  • Mark Kotler, January 2, 3 years
  • Daphna Ruby, January 3, 22 years
  • Kate Schmier, January 5, 2 years
  • Susie Kerker, February 7, 17 years
  • Nilda Concepcion, February 1, 9 years
  • Rachel Rivera, February 1, 9 years
  • Marshall Levin, February 11, 9 years
  • Elaine Yaniv, February 17, 7 years
  • Richard Enslein, February 19, 9 years
  • Rebecca Serber , February 26, 10 years
  • Esther Moscovici, March 14, 16 years
  • Stacy Sulman, March 17, 9 years

Captions: (Top) Oscars and Super Bowl pool winner Sandra Mizrahi.
(Bottom) Rachel Sievers’s daughter, Mira, at her Sesame Street-themed birthday party.

Meet Your Colleague: Janis Rabin

Staff Spotlight Staff Spotlight

For almost three decades, Janis Rabin has graced the American Committee with her spirit, smarts, and Southern charm. As National Vice President and Executive Director of the American Committee’s Southern California Region, Janis is not only an outstanding advocate for Weizmann science in Los Angeles, but an inspiration to her colleagues across the country. Connections spoke to Janis about her “Big Easy” childhood, her journey from volunteer to professional fundraiser, and her life both inside and outside the office.

Connections: Your voice is very recognizable to your colleagues. Tell us a bit about your Southern roots.

Janis Rabin: OK, here we go! I was born and raised in New Orleans. My mother’s father came from Poland and he opened up a dry goods store in Bogalusa, Louisiana. On my father’s side, my grandfather was a peddler from Russia and he sold ladies garments, which became our family business in New Orleans. I grew up helping out in the store. I’d go to work with my father and by lunchtime, I’d get fired! We’d have lunch, come back to the store, and then I’d get fired again. The next day, we’d start all over. So, that’s my background in selling. I think it’s probably genetic.

C: How did you get your start in fundraising?

JR: After I got married and had my two children, we moved to Jackson, Mississippi. There was only one synagogue with about 125 families, and I became very active in the Jewish community. I was on the national young women’s leadership cabinet of the United Jewish Appeal, and they are responsible for my fundraising training. The first time I went to Israel was with a UJA women’s mission in 1981. It was a life-changing experience. To me, Israel represented the future—the country of my children and grandchildren. I began traveling to Israel once or twice a year. I would also travel throughout the South and speak on behalf of the UJA.

C: How did your volunteer work eventually lead you to the American Committee?

JR: In 1989, my friend introduced me to Edie Slotkin, who worked for the American Committee’s Michigan Region at the time. I was going to be in New York, so Edie arranged for me to meet Bernie Samers, who was then Executive Vice President of the American Committee. I met Bernie and he basically offered me a job on the spot! Initially, I worked three days a week fundraising in the South. Then, after about a year or so, they asked me if I would be interested in interviewing for the job in California.

C: That must have been a big change. How did you feel about moving to the West Coast?

JR: At the time, my daughter, Amy, was going to be a senior in high school and my son, Lee, was going to be a sophomore, so there was no way I was moving. But I decided to go out for the interview. [Former National Chair] Bram Goldsmith and [President’s Circle member] Mickey Weiss grilled me left and right. At some point, they said, “Why should we hire you?” I said, “Well, my gut feeling is that you aren’t going to hire me and you’ll probably hire a man. But this is why you should hire me: In six months, you won’t remember the men you interviewed, but you will remember me.” They ended up offering me the number-two position, but the timing just wasn’t right for me. A year later, the guy they hired didn’t work out and someone said, “What is Janis doing now?” My daughter was going to college and my son was willing to come with me, so we picked up and moved across the country. And here I am 25 years later.

C: What has kept you at the American Committee all these years?

JR: When I speak to groups before I introduce a Weizmann scientist, I often say that I am a very selfish person because I get to hang out with some of the brightest, most innovative people in the world. I also get to make a difference. We all want to make the world a better place and this is my way of doing it. That feeling has been with me since day one.

C: What would you say is the secret of your success as a fundraiser?

JR: It’s all about building relationships. I don’t make it so much about business, but what’s important to the donor. Here in Los Angeles, people trust me. If donors ask me if we can do something and we can’t do it, I tell them. I think it’s about carrying yourself with integrity and honesty, and then people will put their trust in you.

C: Can you describe some of your proudest accomplishments during your time here?

JR: I’m proud of the gifts from the Goldsmith and Shapell families. The Shapells gave a million-dollar first-time gift, then they gave us $4 million, and then $10 million. And now we’re working with the next generation—with their kids. But my proudest moment is called, “Right here, right now.” You know the saying, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow’s a mystery, and today is a gift. That is why we call it the present”? That’s the way I feel. If you’re looking backwards, you’re looking the wrong way.

C: Tell us about your life outside the American Committee.

JR: I’m very close with my family. My husband, Stan Alfred, is a retired dermatologist. My friend Edie, the same person who introduced me to Weizmann, also introduced me to Stan! Stan is from Flint, Michigan, and he moved to California to be with me 23 years ago. I have six grandchildren and he has nine, so together, we have 15 grandchildren who live in Utah, North Carolina, and Michigan. My mother still lives in New Orleans; we just celebrated her 90th birthday. So, between visiting her and seeing the grandkids, that’s really what we do. It’s a good thing I’m a high-energy person! I really believe we make our own happiness in life. I tell my children and grandchildren that if something can be repaired with money, it’s not important. Family, friends, and making a difference—that’s what’s important.

Caption: Janis Rabin with her husband, Stan Alfred, at “The Physics of Baseball,” an American Committee program at Dodgers Stadium.

Click here for more photos.

ACWISgreen: Stewardship for the Environment – and Donors


Topic: Saving Resources, Reducing Trash

Weizmann research on protecting the environment, climate change, reducing toxins, and the like is some of our most popular. Shouldn’t our actions at work reflect those values? One simple – but very visible – way to show that we practice what we preach is to use “real” dishes and flatware instead of disposable.

Our offices are our homes away from home, which means that we’re eating and drinking at work – which means we’re using kitchenware. How many plastic utensils do you throw away each day? Styrofoam bowls? Paper plates and cups?

Here are a few small changes that could have an outsized impact.

- Bring your own. Instead of using a paper cup every time you need a sip of water, keep a water bottle on hand. They’re convenient, easy to refill, and may also help you drink more water – after all, you need at least eight glasses (64 oz) each day! Have your own stylish mug for coffee, tea, oatmeal, soup, etc. How about bringing in a knife, fork, and spoon? Think of the plastic you’ll save!

- Don’t trash it; wash it. In the National Office, the dishwasher is run every evening, no matter what. It rarely has more than a few items in it, so let’s fill it up! It’s as easy to put a ceramic plate in the dishwasher as throw a paper one away. And for offices without a dishwasher – the minute or two you spend washing your own mug or spoon is a small investment that has tremendous environmental payout. (And thank you to all those who unload the dishwasher every morning!)

- Think before you buy. ACWISgreen knows that some of us will continue to use disposable kitchen goods – but being thoughtful about those items can still cut down on waste. While cost is always an issue, it is often not much more expensive to buy items made from recycled materials or that are readily biodegradable. For example, corn is now widely used to create disposable, yet harmless, cups. And please, for your children’s children’s (and so on) sake, avoid Styrofoam at all costs!

- Impress visitors. Outfit your suite with a set of dishes and flatware and you not only reduce waste, you improve the office atmosphere. Tasteful place settings don’t have to be expensive. Plus, when you hold a meeting or event, seemingly small gestures – serving coffee in ACWIS or Weizmann mugs, offering glasses of water from a pitcher, setting out plates and flatware for a gathering with donors and prospects – signal that the visitors are valued, that we are a quality organization, and that ACWIS, like the Weizmann Institute, cares about the environment.

What’s your small green change? Tell us at! Put “ACWISgreen” in the subject line.

New Initiative to Boost Annual Giving

Scientists of Tomorrow Scientists of Tomorrow

This fiscal year, the American Committee has prioritized new strategies and outreach efforts in the area of annual giving. The primary goals are: to increase the number of annual donors to 10,000; to create more engagement opportunities for lower and mid-level donors; to retain and upgrade mid-level donors; and to identify those with potential for major gifts.

To spearhead this initiative, Mark Kotler assumed the role of Director of Annual Giving, in addition to his regional fundraising responsibilities. Mark now leads the Annual Giving Task Force, which includes three members of the national senior staff (Mark Feldman, Jeff Sussman, and Stacy Sulman) and two regional executive directors (Andy Weissman and Elaine Yaniv).

With the Task Force’s guidance, the American Committee has already taken several steps to achieve its goals. A welcome packet was created for all new donors—whether they have made gifts online, through a direct solicitation, by attending an event, or via direct mail. Thanks to the assistance of Program Coordinator Marco Davila, more than 600 new donors have received the packets since January 2017.

In addition, donors of all giving levels were invited to join a special conference call with Marshall Levin on February 28. Marshall spoke on the topic of “Science at the Leading Edge: Latest Breakthroughs from the Weizmann Institute of Science.” He began with an overview of the Weizmann Institute and its reputation as a relatively small institution with “an outsized impact” on the world. He then discussed Profs. Michal Schwartz and Ido Amit’s game-changing research on the aging brain, as well as the work of Institute’s Nancy and Stephen Grand Israel National Center for Personalized Medicine. Through these and other initiatives, he explained, the Institute seeks to improve the lives of every person on the planet. The call successfully engaged close to 100 donors across the country, including individuals from states such as Texas where the American Committee does not have a local executive director. A recording of the call is available on our website.

A third approach is to create regional programs to include the American Committee’s loyal annual donors. In June, a New York Tri-State Region event will serve as a pilot. All loyal donors, as well as select lapsed donors and prospects, will be invited to attend. Marshall Levin will present the Institute’s latest advancements. Based on the success of this event, other regions may implement similar programming.

Each of these activities serves to deepen donors’ sense of connection to the American Committee and to the Weizmann Institute. The Annual Giving Task Force looks forward to updating the staff on the progress of these and other programs in the coming months.

Caption: (L-R) Mark Kotler, Marshall Levin, and Marco Davila after the inaugural CEO conference call. Marco holds the postcard invitation designed by the Marketing Communications Department for the event.

IM News

IM News IM News

The IM department offers three tips for iPhone and iPad users.

Tip #1: How to Clear iPhone Notifications

  • Swipe down from the top of your screen to locate the Notification Center.
  • Press the “x” on the upper right-hand corner of your screen, which will give you the option to clear all notifications.

Tip #2: How to Close All Safari Tabs in iOS 10

  • First, launch Safari on your device.
  • Tap and hold the tab button on the lower right corner of your screen. This will give you the option to close all open tabs at once. Tap “Close Tabs.”
  • Alternatively, you can also close all tabs while you are in the “tab view” interface. Simply tap and hold “Done” on the lower right corner. You will then have the option to close all open tabs.

Tip #3: How to Back Up Your Device with iCloud

  • Connect your device to a Wi-Fi network and to a power source.
  • Tap the Settings icon, then scroll down and tap iCloud.
  • Scroll down, tap Backup, and make sure that iCloud Backup is turned on.
  • Tap “Back Up Now.” Remain connected to your Wi-Fi network until the process completes.
  • Going forward, iCloud Backup should run when your phone is locked, connected to Wi-Fi, and plugged in. You should periodically check to make sure it is running. Below “Back Up Now,” your device will show “Last Backup” with the time and date that the process was last completed.

Staff Speaks:

What is your favorite winter comfort food and why?

My favorite winter comfort food has to be chili, hands down. I like mine spicy, just thick enough, with lots of meat. My mom passed on her recipe to me, as she makes the best chili in our family, so I have strong feelings of nostalgia when I make my own. Lastly, I love my crockpot, which is how I make this dish. Overall, chili is just a win-win situation for the winter and for me. #yummy
Suelynn Woods
Program Assistant, New York Tri-State Region

During the cold winter months, there is nothing that I enjoy more than a steaming bowl of Vietnamese Pho (pronounced “fa”). For those of you who don’t know what Pho is, it is a bowl of heaven replete with a delicious beef broth, rice vermicelli noodles, bean sprouts, Thai basil, and meat. My choice of meat is rare rib eye served on a plate, which is then immersed in the broth to cook a little bit. It is a one-meal dish that chases the winter blues away (if you consider 60 degrees in California winter, though it does get down to the 40s at night). The challenge is using both chopsticks and a spoon to get every last drop and morsel.
Andy Weissman
Executive Director, Leadership Giving

My favorite winter comfort food is grilled cheese and tomato soup. It’s what my siblings and I used to eat on snow days growing up, so it always feels very nostalgic having it. Also, on a cold day, there’s nothing better to warm you up!
Caitlin Mintz
Donor Relations Associate

My favorite winter comfort food is matzo ball soup. It’s the perfect thing to eat when it’s cold outside and it's packed with magical immune-boosting properties for flu season. I also love that it instantly evokes the comfort of my family and home no matter where I am when I eat it.
Raina Himmelman
Marketing Coordinator