Board of Directors

Charles K. Ribakoff (Board President; Questrom ’71) is the founder and Chairman of MHQ, the largest upfitter of public safety and municipal vehicles in the US. He also owns a small chain of automobile dealerships and leasing businesses. Charles has been active in the philanthropic community for many years. He is a member of the President’s Council at Mass General, and a member of the Advisory Committee for the Massachusetts General Hospital for Children since its inception. Charles is also Vice President of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, which operates in 70 countries around the world. His portfolios at JDC have included JDC-Israel, Children at Risk, Care for the Elderly, Job Training in Minority Communities, Resource Development, and Young Leadership Development. He has traveled to Israel with a group of JDC young leaders every year since 2010. Charles and his wife Patty have co-chaired the CJP annual campaign. He has been Chair of CJP’s Israel and Overseas Committee, and a member of the CJP board. He is a founder of the Agahazo Shalom Youth Village outside Kigali, Rwanda for orphans on the Rwandan genocide. Charles was graduated from the University of Virginia in 1969 and earned an MBA at Boston University School of Management in 1972. He and Patty live in Back Bay.

Eli Florence (Board Vice President) is the President and CEO of Kaydon Group, LLC, and Florence Electric, LLC, a building technology company based in Canton, MA. He is the nephew of Lenny Florence, z”l, (Questrom ’54, HON ’01), in whose honor Boston University Hillel’s building is proudly named. Eli has carried on Lenny’s philanthropic legacy and currently serves on the Board of the YMCA Old Colony Chapter and the advisory boards of the Cardinal Cushing Centers and the Southeastern Regional Vocational School District. He earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Northeastern University. Eli and his wife Donna have two children and two grandchildren.

Debbie Kurzweil
Debbie Kurzweil (Board Vice President; Chair, Governance Committee; Parent of Questrom ’19) has dedicated herself to Jewish causes and education.  She is the Immediate Past President of the Davis Academy, a current Board Member of The Weber School, and a Trustee of the Jewish Women’s Fund of Atlanta.  She has also been a Board Member of the Amit Program and the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta.  A Wexner Heritage Graduate, she also received the Woman of Achievement Award from the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta.  She is a graduate of the University of Texas Honors Program and Duke Law School.  She lives in Atlanta Georgia with her husband, David.  They have two children, a Junior at the Questrom School of Business at Boston University and a Freshman in the Honors College at the College of Charleston.

hoffDavid Hoffman (Board Treasurer; Chair, Finance; Questrom ’76, ’80) led the Global Energy practice for Oliver Wyman, where he specialized in the areas of strategic planning, customer/market segmentation, and organization transformation. After a 30-year rewarding career consulting with clients worldwide, David retired and is now pursuing his diverse passions including studying diplomacy and contributing his time and expertise to fostering the perpetuation and growth of the Jewish community. David grew up attending Jewish Day School. Later he consulted with Boston area Day Schools to help develop their strategic plans focusing on growth. David received his BS and MBA from Boston University where he was an active member of the BU Hillel. David and his wife of 30 years enjoy traveling and spending time with their two grown children and daughter-in-law who live and work in New York City.

Kim Kaplan-Gross (Board Secretary) is a partner in Choate Hall & Stewart’s Private Equity Group and a member of the Firm’s Executive Committee. She has over 20 years of experience representing domestic and international private equity and venture capital firm sponsors in fund formation, firm establishment (including team spin-outs), management company and general partner structuring and governance matters, regulatory matters, and creation and operation of separate account and special purpose investment programs. In fundraising, she advises fund sponsors on legal structuring matters, guides them in market positioning and setting proposed terms and conditions, and leads their investor negotiations. Additionally, she advises institutional investors in their investments in private equity funds, as well as in their acquisitions and dispositions of portfolios of private investment fund and operating company interests.

Kim has served as a member of the Investment Committee at Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Boston and of the Governance Committee of the Jewish Community Endowment Pool (JCEP) of the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston. JCEP is a highly diversified pool of investment capital with exposure to less liquid investments, often including hedge funds, private equity funds, real estate funds, and other complex, illiquid assets.

Deborah Ball (Parent of CAS ’22) is an attorney living in New York City. The Law Offices of Deborah S. Ball is a practice concentrating on elder law issues, matters affecting the developmentally disabled, trust and estate planning options, including will preparation, and estate administration. As a former Assistant District Attorney, Ms. Ball investigated home repair schemes against the elderly community. Ms. Ball has been appointed as guardian, guardian ad litem, court evaluator, and attorney for the alleged incapacitated person, as well as representing clients in guardian proceedings involving elderly and disabled individuals.

Ms. Ball is a co-vice chair of the elder abuse committee and now on the executive board for the New York State Bar Association Elder Law Section where she serves on the Guardianship Committee, the Mental Health Law Committee; the Committee on Special Needs Planning. Ms. Ball is also a member of the Attorney’s Council of the New York Chapter of Hadassah and has served as the co-chair for the Working Mother’s Committee of the Women’s Bar Association from 2000 -2001. Currently, Ms. Ball serves as a board member of the Brandeis Association of Lawyers.

Ms. Ball regularly presents lectures on issues affecting the elderly and disabled and their families to various organizations and associations. She has been a participant in a panel discussion on elder abuse, hosted by the Kings County District Attorney’s Office. Ms. Ball is on legal referral lists for the Department of the Aging, SelfHelp Community Services, UJA-Federation, and the Alzheimer’s Association, where she is a frequent lecturer. Ms. Ball has co-chaired and presented a CLE program for the New State Bar Association on “pooled trusts” for disabled persons.

Ms. Ball is a graduate of Brooklyn Law School, where she was a member of the Moot Court Honor Society. She received her Bachelor’s Degree as well as a Master’s Degree in History from the State University of New York at Albany.

Jarret Berg (CAS ’07) is a New York attorney with a passion for protecting and advancing civil and political rights. As the Executive Director of the New York Democratic Lawyers Council (@NYDLC), Berg works to raise awareness about fundamental voting rights and trains attorneys and others to monitor elections and advocate for pro-voter legislative reforms. Prior, Berg served as Legislative Counsel to a member of the NYS legislature. Apart from his passion for modernizing elections and eliminating barriers to political participation. Berg closely follows developments in U.S. foreign policy, international law, and human rights. Berg holds an LL.M. from the University of Cambridge, a J.D. with high honors from New England Law | Boston, and a B.A. in Political Science from Boston University.

Mark Blotner (Questrom ’90) is the owner of Kinross Real Estate, a Boston-based real estate investment and development company ( Mark has developed and acquired over $100 million worth of property in the greater Boston area. Additionally, Mark has been a successful seed investor to such companies as Syratech Corporation (founded by Leonard Florence), TripAdvisor, and HWS Baseball IV LLC. Mark graduated from Tufts University in 1987 and earned an MBA from Boston University in 1990. Mark actively donates his time and resources to numerous charities and organizations, which include Congregation Mishkan Tefila, Brookline MA (former board member); The JCC of Greater Boston (former board member); The Oak Square YMCA (current board member); Tufts Hillel; The Rashi School; Gann Academy and Dana Farber. Mark’s wife, Cindy, is a lawyer and graduated from BU in 1990. Their children have gone to Tufts University, Brandeis University, BB&N, Gann Academy, and The Rashi School.

Lisa Breslau (Parent of CAS ’24) began her career in broadcast journalism in Washington, DC before turning to the world of hi-tech. She spent most of her professional years developing media programming and products, and marketing them to consumer audiences for companies such as Microsoft and @Home Network [later Excite@Home].

Lisa has served on numerous nonprofit boards, locally and nationally. While she was President of the Shalom School Board of Trustees in Sacramento, California, Lisa oversaw the development of a new campus for the school, as well as new practices for ensuring the day school’s healthy future. As a result of this work, Lisa was invited to serve on the international board of RAVSAK, the Jewish community day school network. Currently, Lisa is Secretary for the national board of Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom and member of Hillel of Davis & Sacramento’s Board of Directors.

Lisa has actively led fundraising campaigns for non-profits in the Greater Sacramento Area, such as Sutter Health, American Cancer Society and St Francis High School. She and her husband were founding members of Social Venture Partners, San Francisco Bay Area. Lisa is a graduate of Duke University, where she earned her BA degree in International Relations and Spanish. Their daughters attend Boston University and Northeastern University, respectively.

Ari Dach (CAS ’06, Questrom ’06) has been a member of the BU Hillel Board of Directors for the past eight years. He was President of the Hillel Student Board his senior year and especially enjoyed outreach and engagement of fellow students. He is originally from Florida and has worked on Wall Street for the past 13 years, most recently as a distressed bond analyst at Deutsche Bank.



Solomon Eisenberg, ScD (Senior Associate Dean, ENG; Parent of CAS ’13, CAS ’06) is Professor and Chair of Biomedical Engineering at Boston University. He also serves as Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs in the College of Engineering, a position he has held since 1998. He earned his SB, SM, and ScD degrees in Electrical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He came to Boston University as an Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering in 1983 and was jointly appointed in Electrical and Computer Engineering in 1985. He was a Visiting Associate Professor in the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Science and Technology in 1997. He was the recipient of an NSF Presidential Young Investigator Award 1987-1993, and a 1990 Metcalf Award for Excellence in Teaching, one of Boston University’s highest teaching awards. His research is directed towards understanding the functional role played by electrically mediated interactions in connective tissues and membranes, and computational modeling of electric field distributions produced during electrical defibrillation and transcranial magnetic stimulation.

AEAbby Elmore (Co-Chair, Programming Committee; CAS ’86), Abby Elmore is an educator and mom living in Brookline, Massachusetts. She has a bachelor’s degree in history from Boston University and a master’s degree in higher education administration from Indiana University and has worked at many local colleges including Boston University and Harvard University. She currently does consulting work at local colleges. She has a passion for developing relationships with students to help them reach their best potential. Abby helped develop a number of non-profit organizations and worked at Facing History and Ourselves, Inc. She serves on the boards of Boston University Hillel and the Connect Africa Foundation, as well as the regional planning committee for the One Love Foundation. She was actively involved in Hillel as a student at Boston University and is passionate about helping create the next generation of Jewish life on campus. Her two children, Elijah and Odessa, are in college.

Bob Frisch (Parent of CAS ’21, GRS ’21) is Managing Partner of The Strategic Offsites Group, a Boston-based boutique consulting firm specializing in the design and facilitation of strategy discussions for Senior Management Teams and Boards. He is the author of the best-selling books “Who’s In the Room” (Wiley) and “Simple Sabotage” (HarperOne). Bob serves on the Audit Committee of Maimonides School, the Finance Committee of Young Israel of Brookline, and the New England Regional Board of Israel Bonds. Both of Bob’s parents attended BU, and his son Adam is working towards a Master’s degree in Archeology.


Yoni Gontownik (CAS ’09) is a founding member of GIC’s infrastructure investment team in New York.  Prior to joining GIC, Yoni was with Partners Group’s infrastructure team and began his career at LS Power.  GIC is the sovereign wealth fund of Singapore and manages well over $100bn of assets. Yoni looks after a number of portfolio companies on behalf of GIC, including the electric utilities in Pittsburgh and Dallas.  He graduated magna cum laude from Boston University’s College of Arts and Sciences in 2009 and served as BU Hillel’s student VP of Outreach.  Yoni lives in Manhattan with his wife and daughter.

hillReverend Robert Hill (Dean, Marsh Chapel; Parent of Wheelock ’07)’s religious leadership at Boston University, across all of the 17 schools and colleges and the larger community, is rooted and grounded in the historic pulpit of Marsh Chapel, whose Sunday service is broadcast on NPR each Sunday morning at 11am (WBUR 90.9FM), with a listenership of 75,000, and another 25,000 listenings by podcast.  As Dean of the Chapel, he preaches most Sundays, leads the Marsh staff (40 full and part-time persons in the areas of ministry, music, and hospitality), gives oversight to all University religious life (7 University Chaplains, 26 religious life groups, and several campus ministers), provides prayers for various all University events (Commencement, Matriculation, other), meets with the Deans’ Council and University Leadership Group, and guides pastoral care for the community, through the chaplains’ offices.  In recent years some BUSTH students have chosen to do their field work at Marsh (so, 5 in 2007, 3 in 2008, 7 in 2009, 1 in 2010, and similar number since then).  Marsh Chapel hosts 16 weekly worship services, one of which is the BUSTH led Wednesday 11:15am service.  About 2,500 people a week, during the school year, are present for worship, study or service in the chapel building.  His wife Jan is a musician and teacher, whose children’s choir sings regularly in Boston, most notably once a year in early May on the steps of Trinity Church, Copley Square. Bob and Jan are joggers and spend summers on a lake in upstate New York.  They have three grown children and six grandchildren.

Daniel Kool (COM ’23, CAS ’23) is a sophomore pursuing a dual degree in Journalism and American Studies from Boston University’s College of Communication and College of Arts and Sciences. Originally from St. Paul, Minnesota, he has maintained an active connection to BU Hillel since arriving on campus in 2019. Aside from serving on BU Hillel’s Board of Directors, Daniel leads inclusion programming at New England Yachad, heads the City News department at The Daily Free Press, and covers local news for The Boston Globe’s Newton Metro section. Daniel is passionate about community building and camping – leading summertime canoeing trips along the Canadian border.


Nicole (Paster) Putzel (CBS ’91, COM ’93) BU Hillel Director’s Council Chair, is a classically trained chef, cookbook author, gardener and social media influencer who inspires others to grow and prepare organic, real food. Nicole develops healthy recipes and teaches cooking for Putzel Kitchen in Chicago’s North Shore. She also serves on both the Jewish United Fund Women’s Board and City of Highland Park Zoning Board of Appeals. Nicole holds a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from Boston University. As a wife and a mother, she believes a dinner table that is surrounded by loved ones and filled with fresh, flavorful dishes is where the magic happens.

sidneySidney Pertnoy (Board President Emeritus; Hillel International Board Member) is Hillel International’s past Chair of the Board of Directors. He instituted change at the University of Miami Hillel, working in partnership with the SIC, the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, and the University of Miami Administration. A long-time civic and Jewish leader, Sidney currently serves as Vice President for the Greater Miami Jewish Federation. He is a Trustee on the Board of the Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami and past Chair of the hospital’s Audit Committee. Sidney served as past president of Friends of the March of the Living and as a past Chairman of the Board of the Center for the Advancement of Jewish Education and President of Bet Shira Congregation.  A graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and the California Western School of Law, Sidney is a former Assistant Attorney General for the State of Florida and was most recently in private practice, specializing in commercial litigation and Family Law and Real Estate. He currently manages his family’s real estate holdings. Sidney and his wife, Nadine, have three children; Jenny (Brett), Michael (Fanny), and Jeffrey (Kimme), and three grandchildren, Sylvie, Blake, and Cory.

pliskinDan Pliskin (Chair, Development Committee; Parent of Wheelock ’21) is a consultant specializing in corporate governance and executive compensation with Aon and its affiliates Radford, McLagan, and Hewitt.  He provides advice on a wide range of matters for clients ranging from Fortune 100 companies to emerging growth companies and private and family-owned organizations. His previous work experience includes service with two AmLaw 100 law firms, a publicly-traded technology company, a publicly-traded REIT, and an investment management firm.  Mr. Pliskin’s Jewish community involvement has focused predominantly on Jewish youth and Jewish identity-building through his service as board chair, development or other committee chair or board member of several Jewish camps, including URJ Camps Harlam and GUCI, Camp Ramah in the Poconos, Ramah Day Camp (Philadelphia) and JCC Baltimore Day Camp.  In these roles, he has sought to enable campers to experience Judaism as joyful and meaningful, and to empower college-age staff (a key audience) to be excellent Jewish role models. His involvement is guided by the missions of these camps to engage their entire communities in immersive, experiential Jewish living and learning. Mr. Pliskin completed the Young Leadership program of The Associated in Baltimore and served on the Board of Directors of the Baltimore JCC.  He holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Tufts University and a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School.  He lives in Philadelphia, is a distance runner, and has two daughters, one of whom is SED ’21.


Jonathan Risch (Parent of CAS’25) is CEO of Arxcis, the leading national provider of Engineering and Inspection Services to the home building industry.  Based in Houston, Texas and serving clients across the United States Arxcis helps builders from design through construction to build a better home, more quickly and cost effectively and with lower risk.  Jonathan has an MS in Management from the Sloan School at M.I.T. and is a graduate of Dartmouth College where he majored in Government.  Jonathan is Past President of the Shlenker School, a Jewish Preschool and Elementary Day School in Houston.  He is a current Board Member and Treasurer of Jewish Family Services, Houston.  Jonathan has three children:  Jake, Class of 2025 at CAS at BU; Rebecca, Class of 2025 at Dartmouth; and Madelyn who is a sophomore in high school.  

Jay Schulman (Questrom’83, Parent of Questrom’23) is a founding member and Chief Financial Officer of JRK Property Holdings, which was formed in 1991, and currently owns and manages $7 billion worth of apartments and hotels.  During his tenure at JRK, Jay has overseen and directed numerous areas including the accounting, treasury, financial operations and asset management of the company.  Prior to joining JRK, Jay served as the Director of Asset Management at Executive Life Insurance Company, a Real Estate Associate with the Shidler Group, and a CPA with Touche Ross.  Jay earned a B.S. in Business Administration from Boston University in 1983 and an M.B.A. from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1988.

doug searsDouglas Sears (Chief of Staff to President Brown) serves as Vice President and Chief of Staff to the President at Boston University. The Vice President and Chief of Staff supervises the staff and operations of the Office of the President, oversees preparations for presidential events, and represents the President at meetings, as needed. The Vice President and Chief of Staff to the President also leads projects and initiatives at the direction of the President. Douglas Sears also serves as Vice President, Director of Military Education (ROTC), and is a professor in the School of Education.


Jim Shane‘s (Board President Emeritus; Parent of Questrom ’97) work at Brandeis Hillel led him to the Hillel International Board where, for 15 years, he has served as Director, Member of the Executive Committee, Past Treasurer, and Co-Chair of the Global Task Force. Jim’s major passion is Global Hillel. He sits on two International advisory committees to the Jewish Agency for Israel, Partnership2Gether, and Schilichim. He also serves on the Boards of Hillel at Brandeis, Northeastern University, and Boston University. He participates on the Board of Hillel’s of Israel. Jim has been involved with Martha’s Vineyard Community Services and he served for five years as Chair of the Possible Dreams Auction to raise over $3.2 million for needed social services on the Island. Jim is on the Board of A Better City, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving all aspects of life in Boston. Jim grew up in Newton, MA, and attended Colby College in Waterville, ME with a degree in Business Administration. He has been a serial entrepreneur and recently concentrated on real estate-related activities. Jim is working hard to become fluent in modern spoken Hebrew.

Mitchell D. Silber (Parent of COM’24) was named the Executive Director of the Community Security Initiative in January 2020. A new position created as part of UJA and JCRC-NY’s $4 million plan to help secure local Jewish institutions in the New York region. 

Prior to that, Mitchell spent more than two years working directly for Ronald S. Lauder conducing security and threat assessment of diaspora Jewish communities all throughout Europe. And from 2005-2012, he served as Director of Intelligence Analysis at the New York City Police Department where he was the principal advisor to the Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence on counterterrorism policy and analysis.  

Mitchell has presented on behalf of the NYPD to the White House, the National Security Council, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the National Counter Terrorism Center, and has testified before the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. He also co-authored the 2007 NYPD report “Radicalization in the West: The Homegrown Threat,” and is the author of The Al Qaeda Factor: Plots Against the West, published in 2012 by the University of Pennsylvania Press.

He received his B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and earned his M.A. in International Relations from Columbia University. 

Jennifer Steber (Co-Chair, Programming) moved back to Boston after living in Montreal for 16 years.  Graduate of Brandeis University where she earned a BA degree in Art History.  Worked at the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis, then the Jewish Museum in San Francisco.  While living in Birmingham Alabama she worked for the International Arts Festival then moved to Montreal.   Jennifer started as a volunteer at the Museum of Fine Arts and most recently was very active with Temple Emanu El Bath Sholom as Co-Chair of the Education Committee and a Member of the Board.  Jennifer and her husband, Martin live with their son Paul, 17 in the Back Bay, while their other two daughters attend school at Taft in Connecticut and St. Andrews in Scotland.  Jennifer and her family love to travel, ski and enjoy the arts and culture.

Rabbi Mona Strick (Parent of COM ’21) is originally from Brooklyn, N.Y. A graduate of The Yeshiva of Flatbush, she completed her B.A. in Near East Studies at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, MA. Mona spent over 25 years in executive management positions in the travel industry and online advertising, building sales teams and driving business development. Seeking meaning in a new path, Mona studied at Hebrew College completing an M.A. in Jewish Studies, and received Rabbinic ordination in June ‘19. Over the last two years, Mona served as Rabbi in both Reform and Conservative congregations and is currently teaching adults through Open Circle while completing an extended unit of pastoral care education at Hebrew Senior Life. Mona lives in Brookline with her partner, Mark Housman (Questrom MBA ‘75). Together they share a family of five children and nine grandchildren. Mona is committed to inspiring a love of the Torah, spiritual exploration, and participation in joyful, contemplative prayer.

Sara Weinberg is a sophomore from Los Angeles studying Media Science at Boston University’s College of Communications and minoring in Public Health at the Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. She has been involved as a student leader in the BU Jewish Leadership Team through the Social Justice Fellowship and the communications internship program where she managed BU Hillel’s Facebook page. Outside of BU, Sara works as a summer camp counselor, and she will be interning with Cedars Sinai Medical Center’s Community Outreach and Engagement Program in the Cancer Research Department. She is interested in health communications and working with communities to develop health prevention and promotion programs. 

wayneWayne Zuckerman (CAS ’79, Parent of COM ’17, Questrom ’15) is one of the founders of Sterling Properties where he handles day to day of construction, and rental management of properties in the Tri-State region. Wayne has been a long-term leader on the BU Hillel Board. Wayne has four children, a recent graduate of Questrom, a rising senior in the School of Public Relation, and 2 children at home. He lives in Livingston, NJ with his wife Deborah.