Professional Team

U.S. Office (Washington, D.C.)

Robin S. Levenston- Executive Director

Robin Levenston is the Executive Director of AJC’s Project Interchange. Robin previously served as Vice President for Israel and Global Philanthropy for The Jewish Agency for Israel. She has almost 25 years of Jewish communal experience, having held previous positions with The ASSOCIATED: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, BBYO International, United Jewish Communities (now known as JFNA) and the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County.

Robin has traveled extensively around the globe focusing on the rebirth of Jewish life in former Communist nations and connecting Diaspora Jewry to Israel to strengthen its future. She has focused on Israel-Diaspora programming which has created meaningful business and educational exchanges as well as invaluable personal relationships for those involved. Robin’s breadth of experience entails community planning, building and engagement; major gifts resource development; advocacy; programming; board and leadership development; management and communications and marketing.

Robin earned a Master’s Degree in Public Administration, a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science, a Minor Certificate in Judaic Studies and studied abroad at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Nisha R. Abkarian - Deputy Director, International Programs Director

Nisha has worked with Project Interchange since 2006, when she was brought in to develop PI’s fledgling international seminars program.  Nisha has extensive overseas experience and has worked in government and/or Jewish communal affairs for most of her career, which has included positions with the New York State Legislature, AJC’s Office of Governmental Affairs and US Embassies in Beijing, China and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

She earned a BA in Political Science and a Certificate in International Relations from the University of Rochester, and a Master’s Degree in International Relations from the London School of Economics.  While living overseas she managed a $1.2 million/year Employees Association, ran a successful small business, established two Community schools and led a fundraising campaign for a Chinese orphanage. She served as AJC liaison in China and assisted with several AJC Board Missions there.  Nisha speaks Chinese, reads French and some Hebrew.  She is a voracious reader, jazz enthusiast and the proud mother of four.

Myra Clark-Siegel - Director of Communications and Senior Strategic Counsel

Myra Clark-Siegel is a seasoned media consultant and communications professional, with nearly 20 years of experience in the Jewish, Israeli, and domestic American public affairs and media relations arenas. You’ve seen Myra’s expertise at work ranging from Israel’s 60th anniversary celebration, which drew more than 60,000 participants to the National Mall in Washington, DC, to coverage on a host of issues by every major national television network, cable outlet, and newspaper. In addition to her extensive work with media and grassroots outreach in the United States, Myra has worked with the media in Jerusalem, Israel and Asmara, Eritrea (in the Horn of Africa).

J Kendal Wolf - Director of Measurement and Evaluation

Kendal Wolf is a seasoned international relations professional, having most recently run a boutique consulting business for international organizations based in the Pacific Islands. He has broad experience in education and evaluation, working in settings as diverse as Senegal, France, and Fiji, as well as for the U.S. Government and in various other locations throughout the United States. A Pennsylvania-native, Kendal earned his B.A. from Tufts University and his Masters of Arts in International Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School. He is fluent in English and French, with varying proficiency in Spanish, Wolof, and Fijian.

Lili Kalish Gersch - Director of Alumni Engagement

Lili Kalish Gersch is the Director of Alumni Engagement for Project Interchange. She previously served as the director of literature and music programming at the Washington DC Jewish Community Center from 2008-2015, during which time she produced 15 arts festivals and hundreds of literary and music programs. She was previously the managing editor of the non-denominational Jewish education website Lili received a BA from the University of Michigan with a dual concentration in Social Sciences and Hebrew and Jewish Cultural Studies and an MA in Jewish education from Baltimore Hebrew University. A New Jersey native, she lives in Washington, DC with her husband and three sons.

Sharon Fried - Director of International Programs

Sharon Fried is the Director of International Programs for AJC Project Interchange. A native Philadelphian, Sharon brings extensive experience in community organization, planning and research, project management and development. Sharon organized socio-demographic studies of the Jewish communities in San Francisco and Rochester, New York. As Director of International Partnerships for the JCRC of Greater Boston, she facilitated financial and professional support in Haifa and Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine. Most recently Sharon served as Leadership Gifts Officer for the Jewish Home of San Francisco. Sharon holds a B.A. in Russian History from the University of Pennsylvania and a Masters in Social Work from the Wurzweiler School of Social Work of Yeshiva University.

Elanna Cahn - Assistant Director of U.S. Programs

Elanna joins Project Interchange from the National Jewish Democratic Council, where she served as Director of Operations, coordinating all events and programming for the organization, overseeing organizational fundraising efforts, organizing board activities, initiating a women’s leadership network and expanding the young leadership network. Elanna has extensive experience working on the fundraising and events planning staffs of former Senator Chris Dodd and several members of Congress. A Texas-native, Elanna earned a Bachelor of Arts in Middle Eastern History, and a Minor in Urban Sociology from Tulane University in New Orleans.

Emily Wesolowski - Assistant Director of International Programs

Emily Wesolowski is the Assistant Director, International Programs at Project Interchange (PI), planning and executing all of PI’s international seminars. She has been working at PI since July 2014. She graduated from the University of Rochester with B.A. degrees in International Relations and French. Emily has spent time living and working abroad, including working for a Member of the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium and studying French language in Paris, France. She is a native of Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Chris Townsend - Business and Resource Development Manager

Chris manages overall operations, budget and accounts management, and development  for Project Interchange.  Before joining PI in 2011, Chris worked as a legal assistant in a law firm.  In addition to managing office operations, he handled a wide variety of tasks, from interpreting for Spanish-speaking client,s to processing legal documents and conducting new client interviews.  From 2002 to 2004 he worked a national sales company, where he doubled international business volume. A DC area native, Chris studied Spanish at George Mason University.

Alana Kasindorf - Senior Associate

Alana Kasindorf is a Senior Program Associate at Project Interchange, where she focuses her efforts on planning and executing PI’s seminars in Israel for international participants. Prior to Project Interchange, Alana served as a Higher Education Fellow at a large public relations agency both in New York and D.C., as well as a National Leadership Consultant for her Greek organization, Sigma Delta Tau. A native of Connecticut, Alana graduated cum laude from the University of Rochester where she earned her bachelor’s degree in English. In addition, she minored in Legal Studies and Studio Art.

Zach Blaifeder - Senior Associate

Zach Blaifeder is the Senior Associate for U.S. Programs at Project Interchange, responsible for the organization and planning of seminars to Israel for U.S. based participants. Prior to his current role, Zach was the Operations Coordinator, where he handled day-to-day logistics for PI’s Washington office. Originally from Northern New Jersey, Zach joined the PI team in February 2016 after graduating from American University, where he double majored in Political Science and International Studies. Previously, Zach held internships at AJC’s National and Legislative Affairs Department, the United States House of Representatives, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and for a state senate campaign in Maryland. He also studied abroad in Santiago, Chile where he interned for the Fulbright Commission’s Chilean office. Zach is a proud New York Mets fan.

Claire Bailey - Senior Associate

Claire Bailey is the Senior Associate for Alumni Engagement with Project Interchange, working with AJC’s regional offices to track and highlight their engagement with Project Interchange alumni. Additionally, she assists the Director of Alumni Engagement with programming and research efforts. Claire has been with AJC since September 2015, serving as one of the Washington Regional Office interns for 10 months. Additionally, she served as Program Coordinator for Project interchange for 8 months, where she provided administrative assistance to the program teams and the alumni engagement department. Claire graduated from American University’s School of International Service with an International Relations degree focused on Identity, Race, Gender, and Culture. In addition, she minored in Spanish Language and Jewish Studies. She is a native of Wayland, Massachusetts.

Sarah Freedman - Program Coordinator

Sarah Freedman is the Program Coordinator for Project Interchange, working with the team to assist with pre and post seminar tasks, as well as providing support to the alumni engagement team. Sarah is originally from the DC-area and is excited to be returning after graduation magna cum laude from the University of Pittsburgh where she majored in Social Work. Sarah has previously held internships with the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, Hillel JUC, and the David Project.

Leah Spellberg - Operations Coordinator

Leah is the Operations Coordinator for Project Interchange, where she works with PI’s Executive Director, on financial matters for monies coming in and out of PI and ensuring the smooth running of the department. Originally from the Chicagoland area, Leah recently graduated from the University of Michigan with a bachelor degree in Economics and Hebrew and Jewish Cultural Studies. In addition to her studies she held a fellowship with the Nachshon Project, which included a semester long leadership development program while studying abroad at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem..

Israel Office ( AJC Jerusalem)

Olga Tripp - Director of Missions and Delegations, Project Interchange, Israel

Olga is director of missions and delegations at Project Interchange, Israel.  She previously worked as national director of the advanced training programs for senior management at HaMashbir, Israel’s largest department store chain, where she was responsible for cultivating professionalism and improving the marketing skills of all personnel working at HaMashbir. In the past, she served as coordinator and director of programs for the prestigious Israel Festival in Jerusalem. A third-generation Jerusalemite, Olga holds a B.A. in psychology and theater studies from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Yael Avnon - Senior Assistant Director, Missions and Delegations, Project Interchange, Israel

Yael is senior assistant director of missions and delegations at Project Interchange, Israel.  Prior to joining AJC Jerusalem, Yael worked as coordinator for teachers training in computer skills at the Ministry of Education, and as a content manager for the internet site of the Unit of Experimental Schools.  A third-generation Israeli, Yael was born on Kibbutz Merchavia in the Jerzreel Valley. She holds a B.A. in psychology from the University of Haifa.

Arnona Shiron - Assistant Director, Missions and Delegations, Project Interchange, Israel

Arnona is assistant director of missions and delegations at Project Interchange, Israel. Married to a professional diplomat – Arnona has served in various diplomatic positions in Israeli embassies in Bonn, Germany, Washington DC, U.S.A., Bern, Switzerland, and most recently in Vienna, Austria. In addition to her service at various Israeli embassies, Arnona was Director for Environmental Education at the Council for a Beautiful Israel – Jerusalem, and temporary Director for Ceremonies and Events at the Division of Public Relations and Development, at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.  A native of Tel Aviv, Arnona earned her B.A. in international relations and geography, and her M.A. in American studies from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

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