Board of Directors Biography
Jim August worked in the adverting agency business for 55 years, including the last 20 as President of Stone August, Inc., and then served for eight years as the principal of August & Associates, LLC, a marketing and communications consultancy. His agency and his consultancy did work for a number of Jewish organizations (both for-profit and communal), as well as a wide variety of regional and national clients.
Jim’s community service background includes several decades and a variety of positions held with The Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit. He received the Federation’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and is a life member of its Board of Governors. He has been president of what was then called Detroit Men’s ORT, The Michigan Jewish Conference, The National Foundation for Jewish Culture, and Vice President of JTA. He was a founder and first President of The Jewish Ensemble Theater (the longest continuously performing professional Jewish theater in North America), and recently served a second term as its President.
Jim and his wife Doris (who worked for ORT many years ago) have three sons, three daughters-in-law and six grandchildren.
A resident of Florham Park, NJ, Saul Berkowitz joined the National Board of Directors of ORT America in 2016. He is a Certified Public Accountant, and he recently retired as a partner at a national CPA firm where he practiced for over 40 years. A graduate of Syracuse University, Saul and his wife Suzanne have two children (and one grandchild), both of whom work for non-profit organizations.
For more than 20 years, Saul has been a member of the Accountants, Attorneys and Financial Services Chapter of ORT in New York City, and has been the Chapter Leader for the past seven years. He is an active member of the New Jersey Society of CPAs, and has been recognized by several charities for his active participation. He is also a Vice President of Temple B’nai Abraham in Livingston, NJ, where he has been a board member and officer for more than 20 years. In addition, he serves as a board member of the Jewish Community Housing Corporation of Metropolitan NJ.
Sid Besmertnik is married (42 years) to Laurie Besmertnik: Father of Bonnie, Todd & Sara Besmertnik.
He retired in March 2018 as Global Director of Safety, Regulatory Affairs and & Quality Control for the Novecare Business Unit of Solvay, a Belgium based, multi–national Chemical Company. Sid had been with Solvay and their predecessor companies for 36 years. Sid is a 1976 graduate of Cooper Union, where he received his Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering. He holds a Master of Science in Chemical Engineering from the University of Massachusetts). Sid has dedicated his retirement to his volunteer work in the areas of education and disabilities.
Sid’s ORT experience includes: ORT America National Board Member and Chair of Planned Giving (2010-2015); (Men’s) American ORT – National Executive Board Member (2006); National Chair, Next Generation Committee (Young Leadership) (2006-2007).
In Atlanta, Sid currently serves as Regional President of the Atlanta Region for 2018-2019, and previously served as Atlanta Region Vice President from 2006-2017; Sid has been Board Member of the Atlanta Chapter from 2005 to the present, and served as Chair of ORT Atlanta-Lipson Exchange Program (2005-2011).
Mr. de Gunzburg is the Founder and Managing Partner of Gunzburg & Co. LLC, which owns Ceres Infrastructure Asset Management LLC, managing the leading private debt fund in the U.S. dedicated to financing large core infrastructure assets long term. Mr. de Gunzburg is also the founder and Managing Partner of Findercod, established in 2003. Findercod is the third financial advisory services company that Mr. de Gunzburg helped to create. Located in the UK, Belgium, and France, Findercod provides corporate finance services, including long-term alternative financing solutions – or “DAFS” – to corporates, private equity and asset management areas.
In 2002, Mr. de Gunzburg was involved in the creation of a second investment banking start-up: Stephens Financial Group (SFG). SFG was set up to be the large capitalizations New York mergers and acquisitions arm of the Stephens Group, which belongs to the Stephens family from Little Rock, AK—one of America’s most successful investing, operating, banking and political families (providing financial support to Walmart, President Bill Clinton, and General Wesley Clark, etc.). While at SFG, Mr. de Gunzburg worked as a Vice President in the M&A advisory practice, serving clients in the industrial, aerospace, homeland security and life sciences areas..
From 1998 to 2002, Mr. de Gunzburg was part of the Banking Group of Lazard Frères & Co. LLC in New York. While at Lazard, Mr. de Gunzburg was, in 2001, a Senior Associate dedicated exclusively to and worked in duo for Ambassador Felix Rohatyn, while participating in the creation of Rohatyn Associates, where clients included Comcast, HSBC, Suez, Sodexho, LVMH, Publicis, Fiat, Fimalac, United Technologies and Pfizer. Prior to this assignment, Mr. de Gunzburg was, in 2000, an Associate in the Industrial and Retail Group at Lazard. From 1998 to 2000, Mr. de Gunzburg was an Analyst in the Lazard Life Sciences Group, working for Kenneth Jacobs, currently worldwide Chairman of Lazard.
Prior to joining Lazard, Mr. de Gunzburg worked at Rothschild & Cie. in Paris in 1997 as an Analyst in the Mergers and Acquisitions department advising clients in the industrial, financial, real-estate and technology sectors. In 1995 and 1996, he worked at Société Générale as an analyst in the Credit department both in Madrid and in Hong Kong. In 1994 Mr. de Gunzburg worked at Sanofi Beauté in Barcelona; and prior to that, in 1993, worked at Republic New York Corporation (Republic National Bank and Safra Bank) in the Mergers and Acquisitions department in New York.
A French and Belgian national, Mr. de Gunzburg received a MSc. in financial engineering from E.S.L.S.C.A., and a BA with honors from the Institut Supérieur de Gestion in Paris. Mr. de Gunzburg is fluent in French, English and Spanish, with notions of German, Japanese and Russian.
Mr. de Gunzburg is a Young Leader and member of the Board of Directors of the French-American Foundation in France, the founder and President of the de Gunzburg Myeloma Research Foundation in the USA, a Member of the Executive Committee and Treasurer of FFRMG (French Foundation for the Research on Myeloma and Gammopathy) in France, a member of the Board of Trustees (BoT) of World ORT (the world’s oldest and largest NGO dedicated to education) and Chairman of ORT-IC (International Cooperation) in Switzerland and the UK, President of Union ORT in France and a member of the Board of Directors of ORT France, Member of the Board of ORT America, Member of the board of directors of ORT Belgium, a Vice President and member of the General Committee of The Travellers in France, and Co-Founder, shareholder and ex CEO of IRO (a med-tech company developing a machine combining diagnostic and cure) in France. Mr. de Gunzburg is also the President of AQDE (Association Quartier Dauphine Environnement) and member of the Board of Directors of COBB (Coordination pour la Sauvegarde du Bois de Boulogne et de ses Abords) both to protect and preserve the 16th district of Paris, the Bois de Boulogne and its surroundings.
Shelly Dreifuss of Highland Park, IL, has been supporting ORT since 1982. A Chicago native, Ms. Dreifuss has served on the Chicago Region Board for the past 14 years. Shelly was honored to be the 2018 recipient of the ORT America President’s Award. She is a Past President of the Metropolitan Chicago Region, where she served as Executive Vice President, Young Leadership Coordinator, and Co-Chair of Lunch with A View. She participated in three ORT missions: The 2006 mission to Israel, the 2008 mission to Cuba to see the ORT program, and the 2014 Mission to Israel and Bulgaria, which she led. She served as Chair of the Board of Trustees of Chicago ORT Technical Institute.
Eva Lynn Gans is a Computer Consultant whose past corporate clients include the IBM T.J. Watson Labs and TEDA (Technology Evaluation & Development Associates). Her Jewish community involvement on the national scene included being a member of the JFNA Board of Trustees, the Fair Share Committee, ONAD Committee, and By-Laws Committee. Eva also served on the Women’s Division National Board of State of Israel Bonds. In Bergen County, NJ, she served as Chairman of Bergen County State of Israel Bonds Women’s Division and as Women’s Division President of the UJC of Bergen County. For UJA Federation of Bergen County and North Hudson, Eva was the first woman to serve as Campaign Chairman, increasing the campaign in two years from $6.9 million to $8.35 million after many years of decreasing campaigns. She also served as Federation President, followed by a three-year term as the first woman president of the UJA of Northern New Jersey Endowment Foundation. During her tenure the Endowment Foundation increased assets under management from approximately $36 million to $62.9 million and saw the growth of LOJE from 28 women to 68 women.
Eva was the first woman President of her synagogue, the Jewish Center of Teaneck. Under her guidance, the synagogue membership voted to change from Conservative to Orthodox and thus reverse the trend of decreasing membership to enjoy a steady consistent increase in membership.
Eva has received awards from Boys Town Jerusalem, UJC Women’s Division, Israel Bonds, Northeastern NJ Region of Women's American ORT, and she was the first woman to receive the Shofar Award from the Bergen Council of the Jewish Committee on Scouting. Eva lives in Fort Lee with her husband Leo. She is a “frequent flyer” with 33 trips to Israel, plus numerous cross-country trips to visit her five grandchildren in California.
Suze Goldman has been a committed member of the Western Massachusetts community since moving to Longmeadow with her husband Dr. Marc Goldman, a gastroenterologist, in 1978. The couple have 3 adult daughters and 2 grandchildren. Immediate Past President of Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts she also served as secretary and Major Gifts Chair. Currently she serves on the Board of Directors of Sinai Temple, Board Member and Secretary of the Springfield JCC and the Board of Directors of Interfaith Homes in Longmeadow. Suze is a former Hadassah vice president, member of the Board of Directors of JFS and one of the founders and President of the Hatikvah Holocaust Education and Resource Center.
Professionally, Suze maintains a private psychotherapy practice working with adolescents, adults, couples and families. In addition, she has been an adjunct Professor of Psychology at Elms College teaching many students for whom higher education is a first experience for their families. Suze has been actively involved in collaborative interfaith programming linking Elms College and the Jewish community through film and other educational modalities.
Suze and Marc were participants in the World ORT Missions to Russia in 2016 and Ukraine in 2018.
From a very young age, Debbie Kanter was aware of her family’s commitment to ORT, although it took her many years to connect with ORT as an adult. In the interim, with a B.S. in Speech from Northwestern University, she taught and supervised programs for deaf children, and negotiated teacher contracts for South Suburban Chicago. Her next stop was Cleveland, where she founded and supervised the first Total Communication program (using sign language) in the Cleveland suburbs while earning her M.Ed. in Special Education Supervision.
Debbie has had an eventful history with ORT, working as Chapter President in Des Moines and serving on the Midwest District Board in Chicago. Through ORT, she became active in the Jewish Federation of Greater Des Moines, where she served on the Women’s Division Cabinet and as local Program Chair of the “Anne Frank in the World” exhibit from Amsterdam. She then turned her attention to the Des Moines Jewish Community Relations Commission.
A prolific writer, Debbie penned articles for ORT, Federation, and other local publications, which led to authorship of a series of op-ed articles on Soviet Jewry for the Des Moines Register.
After relocating to Miami, Debbie served as School Board Chair of the local Solomon Schechter Day School during and in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew, and subsequently became president of her congregation.
A move north to Boca Raton and environs rekindled her interest in writing—newsletters, speeches for local politicians, proposals for policies, and strategies for organizational implementation.
ORT recaptured Debbie’s imagination. Still passionate about writing, she wrote and gave a speech to the ORT America Florida Region Leadership Cabinet (now Board) about the history of ORT and its impact on the Jewish world. She deeply believes that education in its highest contemporary applications will help individuals gain career skills and personal dignity, and result in Jewish communities’ ability to survive and flourish. In our quest to fundraise for our ORT schools and programs, it became evident that public awareness of our mission and our cutting edge quality are inextricably linked to the funds we are able to raise.
Husband Larry continues to be the love of her life. Their two children are each married and live in the greater Washington D.C. area. Their family is blessed with two grandchildren. And at 93, Great Grandma Shirley Sokolsky has overseen the fun, still stays focused and in the loop, and is grateful that ORT continues to command our attention and commitment.
From a young age, Jon has been exposed to ORT work through his dedicated parents. In 2008, he began volunteering for ORT, serving on the national marketing committee; currently Jon serves on the board of both New York City Next Gen and national Next Gen. The Senior Manager of Life Sciences at Truveris, a healthcare technology firm based in New York City, Jon focuses on building transparency throughout the prescription drug industry. He manages Truveris relationships with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies and develops new products to fit the needs of their ever-changing market. Earlier, as a consultant at Interbrand, an Omnicom Company, Jon helped shape the vision and strategy for Fortune 500 companies and their flagship brands. He holds a BA from Emory University and an MBA in healthcare and entrepreneurial management from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
Joan Levin, of Jacksonville, Florida has a long history of involvement in Jewish philanthropy. Joan has served on several committees and is an honorary board member of the Board of Directors of the Jacksonville Jewish Federation, is a past member of the Board of Directors and Program and Services Committee of Jewish Family and Children’s Services, a past member of the Board of Directors and Program Chair of Jacksonville Jewish Foundation and has been a member of the Board of Directors and Executive Committee of Jacksonville Jewish Center since 1970. She served on the UIA Board of Directors and currently serves on several Jewish Agency committees.
Joan is the recipient of many awards, including the Etz Chaim Tree of Life Award (JNF), the Woman in Power Award (NCJW), The Lion of Judah award (Israel Bonds), the Kipnis-Wilson/Friedland Lion of Judah award (UJC National Women’s Philanthropy) and the Joe P. Safer Community Services Award (Jacksonville Jewish Federation).
Joan is a graduate of the University of Florida (English and Chemistry Major). She is married to Ronnie Levin and has three married children and eight grandchildren.
Jon Levine is the President of The Image Group, a top 40 promotional products distributor in the country with offices in Toledo, OH, Richmond, VA, Cleveland, OH and Ann Arbor, MI. Jon is responsible for strategic direction as well as acquisitions. Prior to joining The Image Group, Jon was an Executive in the Steel Distribution industry holding positions with O’Neal Steel of Birmingham, AL and Wabash-Lagrange Steel of Toledo, OH.
Jon serves as the Current Chair of the JSS SO, a $12 million supporting organization for Jewish Seniors in Greater Toledo. He is also the current member of the Toledo Museum of Art Development Committee, and has served as the Past President of the Jewish Federation of Greater Toledo, the Past President of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of NW Ohio, and was a Past Board Member of the United Way of Greater Toledo, as well as a Past Board Member of Mercy Health System ($4 billion revenue hospital chain).
Jon graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Accounting in 1980. Jon has been married for thirty five years to Arleen Levine and they have two adult sons.
Leandro Margulis is the VP & GM of Developer Relations at TomTom, the leading independent location technology specialist, shaping mobility with highly accurate maps, navigation software, real-time traffic information and services. In this role, Leandro sits at the intersection of product and business, leading TomTom's Developer Relations organization: a global, multidisciplinary 25-person team including sales, marketing, product marketing and developer relations, with team members in the U.S., Poland and the Netherlands.
Prior to joining TomTom, Leandro served as the VP of Strategic Partnerships & Alliances at Cint, where he was responsible for developing a new business unit around data collaboration and supply with “non-traditional” partners such as publishers, app developers and Data Management Platforms (DMPs) for data distribution of self-declared, deterministic, first party data. Leandro also founded Searchnwork, a recruiting and confidential job search platform, as well as TrazeTag, inventing a visual durable radio-frequency identification (RFID) tag for tracking high value assets outdoors in harsh environments.
Additional leadership roles Leandro has previously held include Senior Consultant at Deloitte, Managing Director at Impulsa Business Accelerator, Director of Global Strategic Partnerships at Quixey, and Senior Director of Product Management and Business Strategy at a stealth travel and leisure startup.
Leandro holds an MBA from the Yale School of Management and an Industrial and Systems Engineering degree from Florida International University (FIU), where he graduated Summa Cum Laude. He is an ORT Argentina Alum and has been involved with ORT America for over 20 years.
Michael is the President and General Counsel for Alex N Sill Company, LLC, the nation’s leading public adjusting company and property loss consultant.
He has been involved with ORT on a local basis for 30 years including former President of Cleveland Men’s ORT. Michael also serves on the local board of the ADL, and is an officer of Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple. Michael is married to Shari Sill Perlmuter, and they have two grown children, Lexi and Brittany.
Bio coming soon.
Barbara Siegel joined ORT in 1972. She served in several capacities until she became President of the North Woodmere-Hewlett Chapter of the South Nassau Long Island Region. She has served as Vice President of the newly formed chapter of Nassau Singles ORT.
Barbara was a teacher for 34 years in the New York City School System. In addition, she ran her own Defensive Driving business. Barbara is a graduate of Long Island University, and has accumulated additional courses in Human Resources towards a Master’s Degree at the New School for Social Research.
When she and her husband Jerry moved to Cascades in Boynton Beach, Florida it was another perfect fit. She quickly joined ORT and served as its first Membership Chair and in that capacity Cascades had phenomenal growth and is still growing strong. She then became president of Cascades for two very successful years.
Barbara went on to become Executive Vice President of the North Palm Beach County Region and from 2005 through 2007, she served as President of the Region. Currently she is on the ORT America Florida Regional Board and serves as Annual Campaign Co-Chair, Major Gifts Co-Chair and Area Development Advisor, and previously served as president of the ORT America Cascades chapter. She was the Florida Region Chair for the 2011 Mission to Israel, and the National Chair for the ORT America Annual Meeting 2016.
Barbara is a mother of three, as well as a stepmother of three more, and has ten lovely grandchildren to enjoy. Her love of fundraising and her unique ideas are well known. Her high level of energy enables her to enjoy Jewish studies, literature, the theater, mahjong and golf.
Barbara lives her favorite quote, which is: “Life is not a dress rehearsal!”
Jose Pepe Sigal was born in 1950 in Mexico City. He moved to Dallas (TX) in 1983 and then moved on to Los Angeles (CA) in 1989. He is married to Rita Sigal and has two children and three grandchildren. In Mexico, he had various occupations in banking, textiles, and insurance, and in the United States he ran a family-owned real estate company with an emphasis on commercial properties. He has been on the Board of Directors of Atlantida Insurance Company, Grand Bank, Multibanco Mercantil de Mexico, Founders National Bank, ORT-Los Angeles, Columbian Country Club, Club deGolf Bellavista, and Brentwood Country Club. He has also been on the Board of Governors for Cedar Sinai.
Dr. Louanne Smolin is an urban educator with diverse experiences in arts research and teacher education. Her areas of expertise include curriculum reform through multimedia and arts integration. She has extensive knowledge in curriculum reform and serves as a researcher on large-scale program evaluations. Dr. Smolin has published journal articles and book chapters related to collaborative program evaluation, multimedia, and teacher professional development, and has also been a recipient of the Best Practice Award for the Innovative Use of Technology, American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.
Andrea (Andi) Wolfe has been involved with ORT since 1973. In the early days she did anything she could to help ORT’s schools. Andi served as Michigan Region Financial Secretary, and a few years later she became Co-President of the Michigan Region.
Ms. Wolfe’s passion for education and tikkun olam has driven her to become involved in many philanthropic activities. She serves on the board of Hebrew Free Loan, is a transgenerational member of the Jewish Women’s Foundation, and is a life member of Hadassah, National Council of Jewish Women, and Adat Shalom Sisterhood. She has been involved in Israel Bonds for over 35 years; she founded a women’s group for the Jewish Hospice & Chaplaincy Network in Michigan; and she is a national board member of American Technion Society.
Ms. Wolfe lives in Bloomfield Hills (MI) with her husband Lawrence (Larry). They have two children, Jeremy and Ericka (Mathew Thacker), and five grandchildren.
Lawrence A. Wolfe was born in Ontario, Canada and moved to Detroit with his family in 1952. He earned a Bachelor of Art’s degree from Wayne State University in 1969 and his Juris Doctor Degree from the Detroit College of Law in 1972.
Mr. Wolfe practiced law for seven years specializing in corporate and labor law. In 1979 he joined Production Tool Supply Company, an international distributor of industrial tools, supplies and machinery. He became President/CEO in 2003.
Mr. Wolfe has long been very involved in philanthropy in the Detroit area as well as internationally. He is the immediate past president of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit and immediate past Chair of the State of Israel Bonds for Metropolitan Detroit. Mr. Wolfe is currently a board member of Jewish Fund, Jewish Hospice & Chaplaincy Network (Bloomfield/Detroit), Yeshiva Beth Yehuda Partners in Torah, American Friends of Rambam Hospital, the Shabbat Project and the Michigan Israel Business Accelerator; He is a Board of Trustees member of World ORT, Kids Kicking Cancer and the Detroit Zoological Society as well as past president of Adat Shalom Synagogue and the Jewish community center of metro Detroit.
Awards received include the Sam Rich Memorial New Leadership Award (Israel Bonds 1988), the Susan Alterman New Leadership Award (Metropolitan Detroit Jewish Community Center 1995), the ORT Visionary Award (ORT America 2001) and two awards from Yeshiva Ben Yehuda (Golden Torah Award 2010 and Guardian Award 2016).
Mr. Wolfe lives in Bloomfield Hills (MI) with his wife Andrea (Andi). They have two children, Jeremy and Ericka (Mathew Thacker), and five grandchildren.
A steadfast proponent of ORT’s mission, Mr. Wolfe notes, “Education is a cornerstone for improving all aspects of one’s life. ORT is a significant collaborator and facilitator in achieving improved educational process, cutting edge teaching materials and methods of learning. I am honored to be a small part of this most worthwhile organization and endeavor to improve quality of life through education.”
Lewis Zipkin of Cleveland, OH is a second-generation ORT member and donor; his parents were members of American ORT (WAO) long before the two organizations merged into ORT America in 2007.
Active at the local and national levels of the organization, Mr. Zipkin has served in various capacities. He was vice president of WAO’s Cleveland Chapter, as well as vice-president and member of the national board. He was also chair of the Finance, Budget and Investment, Planned Giving and Real Estate Committees. Presently he serves as a member of the Advisory Committee for the Cleveland Region, assists ORT America with its real estate holdings, and is co-chair of the Nominating Committee.
He is the founder and principal of the law firm Zipkin Whiting, which focuses on employment discrimination and class action litigation. He has received awards as an extensive real-estate owner in the Cleveland area and holds real estate in other states.
Mr. Zipkin and his partner Dawn split their time between Cleveland and a home in Siesta Key, Florida. In Cleveland, he has been involved in United Way, the Cleveland Clinic Cancer Care Association and the City Club of Cleveland. He was an initial trustee of Ohio’s Second Special Improvement District, where he served as president and a member of the board, and he currently serves as the District’s vice president.
Mr. Zipkin’s daughter is a professor at North East Ohio Med School and his son-in-law is a physician in private practice. He has four grandchildren.