The Foundation team carries out the Foundation’s grantmaking, manages the program of evaluation, and shares models of success and key learnings to improve the field of Jewish education.

Jim Joseph Foundation team, December 2022
  • Valerie Cadrett

    Accounting Manager

    Valerie Cadrett is the Accounting Manager at the Jim Joseph Foundation. Prior to becoming a Foundation employee in 2018, she worked for Interland, Jim Joseph’s real estate company based in Davis, CA for over 21 years. She assisted the CFO in setting up the Foundation in 2006 and has been an integral part of the Foundation’s accounting team since.
    Valerie has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration, Accounting and a minor in Psychology from CSU Sacramento. She and her husband Paul live in Elk Grove with their 2 children.

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  • David Carroll

    Chief Financial Officer

    David Carroll is the Chief Financial Officer of the Jim Joseph Foundation, where he manages the finance, tax, and accounting of the Foundation’s more than $1 billion in assets and also oversees the Foundation’s human resources and IT functions.

    David coordinates with RVK, the Foundation’s investment consultant, to manage the diversified investment portfolio of marketable securities, hedge funds, and private equity funds. He provides the Board of Directors and operations managers with reports, analysis, tools, and policies to govern the Foundation. He also works closely with the COO and the President & CEO on the Foundation’s strategic direction.

    David previously served for seven years as Chief Financial Officer and Senior VP of Finance and Administration at the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles. In addition to overseeing the financial management, accounting, and reporting for the organization, he served as a key advisor to top leadership on all strategic issues and oversaw the grants management, human resources, IT, and legal functions.

    He earned his master’s degree in Public Policy at UC Berkeley and his BS in Molecular Biology at MIT; he is also a CFA charterholder.

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  • Stacie Cherner

    Director of Learning and Evaluation

    Stacie Cherner is Director of Learning and Evaluation at the Jim Joseph Foundation, where she oversees the Foundation’s program of evaluation along with grants to help grow the field of Jewish education. Stacie has an extensive background in the non-profit world, including working on a wide variety of program evaluations with SRI International’s Center for Education and Human Services. Most recently, Stacie worked with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation facilitating the collaborative efforts of three grantees to improve the use of analytic data in school systems. She has also worked with Teach For America directing the implementation of national assessments of student achievement.

    Stacie holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from Duke University, an MA from The American University in Washington, D.C., and an MSW from the University of California at Berkeley. She and her husband live in Marin and are proud parents of two children.

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  • Barry Finestone

    President and CEO

    Barry Finestone is President and CEO of the Jim Joseph Foundation. The Foundation supports Jewish education for youth, teens, and young adults in the U.S., with more than $600 million granted in its first 15 years of operation.

    Prior to the Jim Joseph Foundation, Barry was Executive Director of the Lisa and John Pritzker Family Fund. He moved to the Bay Area in 2010 to become CEO of the JCC of San Francisco, where he oversaw dramatic growth and built it into the second largest JCC in the country. Earlier in his career he served as executive director of the two-campus Isaac M. Wise Temple, transforming its information technology systems and earning the Harris K. and Alice F. Weston Award for Outstanding Leadership.

    Barry’s first job out of college was at a residential summer camp director in Waupaca, Wisconsin for Young Judaea. Barry says he never would have hired himself for that job, but the experience was invaluable in helping him learn how to run and operate an entity. His philosophy in work is to have a vision, start going there, and then hire the best people you can and get out of the road!

    A Scottish native with 30 years of experience in the Jewish nonprofit world, Barry holds a degree in Community Education from Jordanhill College in Glasgow, Scotland. He and his wife, Ellen, have three children—Gabrielle, Ethan and Mia.

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  • Steven Green

    Senior Director, Grants Management and Compliance

    Steven Green is Senior Director, Grants Management and Compliance for the Jim Joseph Foundation and has been working for the Foundation since June 2011. Steven leads the administration of day-to-day grant-related operations including management of the Grants Management and Administration Team, incorporation of best practices in grantmaking, and adherence to the Foundation’s governance policies. He initiates and manages the implementation of a significant portfolio of grants rooted in Jewish education and focused in educator training, Israel education, young adult engagement, emergency relief and support, and leadership. Additionally, Steven provides strategic analysis and review of all budgets for the $200M+ in active grants of the Foundation and projected new and renewed investments.

    Steven previously served as the Southeast Regional Director for the Jewish National Fund based in Atlanta, GA. Prior to that, he worked as Director of Media and Public Affairs for the Consulate General of Israel to the Southeast. Steven currently serves on the leadership council of 3GSF, a Bay Area engagement program for grandchildren of Holocaust survivors based out of the San Francisco Holocaust Center. He has volunteered on several political campaigns and as a lay leader on the Board of Directors for Hillels of Georgia as well as the Jewish Community Relations Council and the Israel Professionals Council through the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta. Steven received his MBA with a focus in Nonprofit Management from Emory University as a Wexner Graduate Fellow/Davidson Scholar and holds additional degrees in Political Science and Jewish Studies. Steven and his wife, Alana, reside in San Francisco, CA with their son, Zev.

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  • Jenna Hanauer

    Program Officer

    Jenna joined the Foundation as a Program Officer in August 2022. Her work is primarily focused on the Foundation’s Exceptional Jewish Leaders and Educators strategic priority area which includes a wide range of outstanding grantee partners that work to train and develop dynamic, pioneering leaders and educators who are attuned to the needs of young people today.

    Prior to joining the Foundation, Jenna worked at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle where she served as Associate Director of Jewish Engagement. She oversaw an extensive portfolio of leadership development and engagement programs that supported hundreds of people on their Jewish journey plus stewarded the Israel & Overseas grantmaking process. Before relocating to the Pacific Northwest, Jenna lived and worked in a variety of international settings across multiple sectors and cities.

    Jenna received her Bachelor of Arts from University of Wisconsin - Madison (On Wisconsin!) and her Master's of Science in Social Work from Columbia University. She grew up in Los Angeles and is excited to be back in California with her husband, young son, and dog.

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  • Rachel Heiligman

    Senior Program Manager, Research and Development

    Rachel Heiligman joined the Jim Joseph Foundation in January 2023 as the Senior Program Manager of the Research and Development Initiative. She oversees a broad investment portfolio seeding transformative research, experimentation, and developments to catalyze new possibilities for Jewish identity, expression and community building with an increasingly diverse and divergent North American Jewish population.

    Rachel brings a cross-sector skill set to the Foundation built on management of public-sector resilience initiatives, entrepreneurial non-profit leadership, and community-organizing and advocacy. She has led major infrastructure projects including project managing a rails-to-trail urban greenway development and the redevelopment of post-industrial riverfront to a linear parkway – both in the city of New Orleans post-Katrina. Rachel also served as the first Executive Director of RIDE New Orleans, the first transportation equity non-profit think tank in New Orleans - a project that has resulted in increased transit access and connectivity across the region. Rachel is a turophile and helmed a multi-faceted artisanal cheese company and the creation and production of the country’s largest cheese festival.

    Rachel earned a Master of City Planning (MCP) degree from the School of Design at the University of Pennsylvania. She holds a BA from Whitter College where she studied Sociology and Spanish. She now lives with her husband and two children in New Orleans, Louisiana where she serves as Treasurer of the Board of Directors of the Alliance for Affordable Energy, whose mission is to safeguard Louisiana’s future by protecting consumers’ right to an equitable, affordable and environmentally responsible energy system.

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  • Mikelle Humble

    Operations Associate, Research and Development

    Mikelle Humble joined the Jim Joseph Foundation in September 2022 as a Research and Development Associate. In this role, Mikelle works closely with the Chief R&D Officer, supporting the Foundation’s R&D strategy to experiment and explore within Jewish education and expression and to evolve for the future of Jewish life.

    Before joining the Foundation, Mikelle supported the activation and success of clinical research trials and advanced public health efforts through the Louisiana State Office of Public Health.

    Mikelle is a graduate of Louisiana State University, where she studied History and Political Science. She has a passion for streamlining administrative systems and creative problem solving, loves podcasts and plants, and spends much of her free time exploring New Orleans with her French Bulldog, Bianca.

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  • Amanda Leal

    Operations Associate

    Amanda Leal is the Operations Associate at the Jim Joseph Foundation. Prior to working at the Foundation, she worked in operations in the semi-conductor industry, where she also focused on improving workplace culture.

    Amanda graduated with a Bachelors in Psychology as well as a minor in Justice Studies from San Jose State University. She lives with her roommates in the East Bay and during her free time enjoys eating Vietnamese food, going to concerts, reading, and traveling.

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  • Nicole Levy

    Senior Executive Assistant

    Nicole Levy is Senior Executive Assistant at the Jim Joseph Foundation, contributing to both the grants administration and program teams. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences with an Art History emphasis from San Diego State University. She has held several internships and volunteer positions in museums and art galleries in San Diego and San Francisco. She lives in San Francisco.

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  • Cynthia Megino

    Grants Manager
  • Josh Miller

    Chief Program Officer

    Josh Miller is Chief Program Officer of the Jim Joseph Foundation. In this role, Josh is responsible for the planning and development of the Foundation’s grantmaking strategies to ensure achievement of its mission. Josh also oversees the Foundation’s grantmaking team and manages a portfolio of special projects and major grants that have strategic implications for the Foundation.

    Prior to transitioning into the field of philanthropy in 2008, Josh spent fifteen years as an experiential educator, community builder, and social entrepreneur in a range of settings. Josh holds an M.B.A. from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and a B.A. from Brown University. He was the 2014 recipient of the JJ Greenberg Memorial Award for extraordinary leadership in Jewish philanthropy. As a volunteer, Josh is the immediate past Board Chair of the Berkeley Public Schools Fund and remains actively involved. When he isn’t working, Josh enjoys spending time with his wife and two sons cooking, hiking, trail running, and exploring the great outdoors.

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  • Dawne Bear Novicoff

    Chief Operating Officer

    Dawne Bear Novicoff is Chief Operating Officer of the Jim Joseph Foundation. In this role, Dawne is responsible for ensuring effective execution of the Foundation’s grantmaking and oversees the Foundation’s internal operations regarding grants management and administration, planning and staffing. She also manages a portfolio of grants that include initiatives in the area of Early Childhood Education; Israel Education; Jewish Service Learning and educator training within institutions of higher education.

    Prior to her position at the Foundation, Dawne worked for 10 years at the Jewish Community Federation in San Francisco as the Director of Israel & Overseas Planning and Programming.

    Dawne is a native of Des Moines, Iowa. She graduated from the double BA program at Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary with a focus on American Jewish History.

    Dawne resides in San Francisco with her husband and two children. She spends most of her free time as an active volunteer at Congregation Beth Sholom and attending youth soccer games.

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  • Jessamyn Waldman Rodriguez

    Managing Director, Research and Development Initiative

    Jessamyn Waldman Rodriguez is the Managing Director of the Research and Development Initiative at the Jim Joseph Foundation, where she is responsible for building a philanthropic strategy that uncovers and accelerates compelling approaches for engagement, education, and everyday meaning in an increasingly diverse and divergent Jewish community. She is working to design operational modes, meet visionary leaders, and create the infrastructure for growth.

    Before joining the Foundation in 2022, she served as the Managing Director of Daily Provisions, a restaurant brand from Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group. In this role, she oversaw strategy, growth, and operations, expanding from one fan-favorite location to four thriving businesses. Her work focused on people, real estate and building NYC’s most crave-able menu.

    Jessamyn is also the founder and served as the Chief Executive Officer of the award-winning Hot Bread Kitchen. Hot Bread is a social enterprise that is an incubator for start-up food businesses while also helping women achieve economic mobility by preparing them for work in the culinary sector. Under Jessamyn’s leadership, Hot Bread Kitchen trained over 250 women from 42 countries and fostered 172 growing food businesses, creating a nationally recognized brand whose products are sold across the country.

    Jessamyn and her work have been recognized with many distinguished awards, including a Global Citizen Award from the Clinton Foundation, Crain’s 40 Under 40, and InStyle Magazine’s list of 50 Badass Women. She is also the award-winning author of The Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook: Artisanal Baking from Around the World (Clarkson Potter, 2015).

    Jessamyn sits on boards for the James Beard Foundation, The Museum of Food and Drink (MOFAD), and the PS144 School Leadership Team. She holds a BA from University of British Columbia and an MPA from Columbia University.

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  • Aaron Saxe

    Senior Program Officer

    Aaron Saxe joined the Jim Joseph Foundation team in April, 2015. Currently a Senior Program Officer, his portfolio includes a wide range of grants reflecting the numerous age cohorts and educational settings the Foundation addresses.

    Aaron grew up in the Bay Area and has been an active member in the Jewish community both professionally and personally. Most recently, he worked at the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund in San Francisco as a Philanthropic Advisor, serving a number of roles in the Endowment, Development, and Marketing departments. He spent three years as Program Director at Camp Alonim, a residential Jewish camp in Simi Valley, CA. His other professional experience includes financial services at Russell Investments and brand management at The Clorox Company.

    Aaron received a B.A. in Business from the University of Puget Sound, where he played varsity baseball, and an M.B.A. from UCLA Anderson School of Management, where he met his wife Meredith. They now reside in Oakland with their sons, Levi and Oliver.

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  • Yonah Schiller

    Chief Research and Development Officer

    Yonah Schiller is the Chief Research and Development Officer at the Jim Joseph Foundation. Yonah oversees the Foundation’s R&D Strategy to stimulate and foster experimentation and exploration in Jewish education and expression. Our ability to sustain and thrive into the future as a Jewish community will depend upon our ability to be in step with, and anticipate, where we are going as part of a larger society and community. Through the R&D strategy at the Foundation, it will be critical to pursue new ideas and creative partnerships to best plan and envision for the future, today.

    Formerly, Yonah was the Executive Director at Tulane Hillel. Under his leadership, he oversaw a process for organizational re-imagining and change at Tulane. He scaled these efforts across the Hillel field by founding and serving as the Senior Project Advisor to the Organizational Design Lab (ODL); a national initiative utilizing Design Thinking methodology focused on organizational change and transformation for Hillels on 22 campuses across the United States and Canada.

    In 2017, Yonah was named one of the 50 most influential American Jews by Forward magazine for having “revolutionized Jewish outreach using a model that is being examined and replicated across the nation.” He received the Edgar M. Bronfman Award, a distinction presented to a current or former professional whose impact on the National Hillel movement is outstanding and lasting.

    Yonah has also served as Special Projects Consultant at the Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking at Tulane. He was an adjunct lecturer at Tulane in various areas; Ecumenical spirituality, Jewish Civilization and Mysticism. Schiller also has been a consultant to a number of local and national organizations and projects for leadership development, community building, strategy and organizational visioning, impact and change management.

    A Brown University graduate, he received his rabbinic degree in Israel and an MBA from Tulane University. Yonah is also a visual artist focused on abstract mixed media work.

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  • Rachel Shamash Schneider

    Program Officer

    Rachel joined the Foundation as a Program Officer in September 2019.

    She has worked across sectors in and out of the Jewish community as an entrepreneur, community builder, communications and development manager, and programming and operations director. A proud alumnus of Hillel, Birthright, and AJWS service-learning immersion, she’s experienced the lasting results of compelling Jewish learning programs. Rachel co-founded OnePercentSF, the first local giving circle of The One Percent Foundation, staffed local Jewish Teen Foundation conferences, and participated in and then co-led the San Francisco Jewish Community Federation’s Impact Grants Initiative (IGI), a two-year grantmaking program designed to engage Jewish young adults in transformative and innovative philanthropy. Rachel is passionate about Jewish education and elevating experiences that inspire all people to live connected, meaningful, and purpose-filled lives.

    Prior to joining the Foundation, Rachel was the Director of Operations for The Hivery, a community space and inspiration lab in Marin, CA with a mission to elevate the potential of women. Previously, she worked for several nonprofits, notably the JCC East Bay in Berkeley and Dalai Lama Fellows. Rachel started her career as an Analyst at TCC Group, a mission-driven consulting firm, and in 2010, co-founded Bluebelle Concierge, a home project management and relocation services firm for individuals, families and companies from Silicon Valley to San Francisco.

    Rachel received her MS in Organizational Leadership & Innovation at The Zelikow School of Jewish Nonprofit Management at Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles. She earned her BA in International Studies Political Science, with an emphasis on Communication, at the University of California, San Diego. Rachel was a Founding Board Member of Alliance for Girls, the largest regional alliance of girl-serving organizations and leaders in the country, mobilizing girls’ champions to advance equitable communities in which every girl thrives. She is a Bay Area native and lives in Marin with her family.

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  • Kari Simpson

    Human Resources Director

    Kari is the Director of Human Resources at the Jim Joseph Foundation. She brings more than a decade of experience in Human Resources ranging from compensation, workforce analysis, and recruiting—where she began her HR career—to wellness, performance management, and strategic planning in more recent roles. She also had a brief stint as a Visitor Assistant Officer (or “ranger” as she calls it) for the San Diego Zoo and had to stop more than one visitor from entering an animal enclosure (her favorite animals there? Okapis. Look them up—they’re precious). Prior to joining the Foundation, Kari ran a human capital consulting business specializing in non-profit and start up organizations.

    Kari earned her Bachelor of Organizational Behavior and Biology, and Master of Public Health. She is a Senior Certified Professional in Human Resources (SPHR), and a SHRM and NCHRA member. Kari is passionate about organizational function, culture, and impact that HR has across an organization to support its business goals and strategies. When not reading the latest industry publication, Kari spends time with her husband and two young children.

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  • DB Soiu

    Director of Information Technology

    DB started his career in technology 28 years ago, starting his own business in the S.F. Bay area. After consulting with Interland, a real estate company founded by Jim Joseph, he brought his experience and skills to a full-time permanent position 25 years ago.

    After 10 years with Interland, the formation of the Shimon Ben Joseph Foundation began due to the passing of the single entity owner, Jim Joseph.

    DB continued to work side by side with both Interland and established the infrastructure that has now become the Jim Joseph Foundation. He continues to keep up with current technologies, both in research and implementation responsible for every aspect of technology needs as the Director of IT.

    His focus is now wholly directed toward the Jim Joseph Foundation as Interland closed its operations.

    The vast amount of time spent with one company has provided him with a large scope of understanding the current needs and development of structure conducive to a non-profit Organization, and the challenge of maintaining current industry standards.

    He has brought industry standard Virtualization, O365, SharePoint and many other technologies that have enhanced operations for the continued benefit of the Foundation.

    His many years working reflect his passion and love for technology that continues to add to the success of the Jim Joseph Foundation.

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  • Sossena Walter

    Director of Finance and Accounting

    Sossena Walter, joined the Foundation in August, 2017 as its Director of Finance and Accounting. Previously, Sossena served as the Controller at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco. She has extensive accounting experience in non-profit organizations. Sossena received a BS in accounting from Golden Gate University and is a CPA. Originally from Ethiopia, Sossena has lived in the Bay Area for most of her life. In her free time, Sossena and her husband enjoy hiking and traveling.

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  • Danny Zhu

    Senior Accountant

    Danny Zhu is a senior accountant who prepares monthly, quarterly and annual financial package for management.

    Prior to joining the Jim Joseph Foundation, he spent four years at CPA firms preparing tax returns and performing Hud-Audits. He left public accounting and worked as treasury accountant at a hospital.

    He received a bachelor’s degree in accounting from San Francisco State University In 2011. He and his wife live in San Francisco with their daughter, Audrey.

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