Michael Jaffe, Managing Director, is an attorney and was president of an American Stock Exchange listed company that provided substantial economic resources for Israel’s private sector. A former member of the UJA Young Leadership Cabinet, Michael was a long time lay leader and has served as executive director of major gifts for UJA-Federation in New York. He has also been president of the Jerusalem Foundation and served as a faculty member at New York University. A successful fundraising consultant to a wide range of nonprofits, Michael has a deep understanding of the nonprofit community.
Specialties include: Feasibility Studies, Annual Campaign Improvement, Capital and Endowment Campaign Management, Solicitor Training, Strategic Plan Facilitation, Board Development, Executive Coaching, and Executive Search
David A. Mersky
Founder & Managing Director
David A. Mersky has led planning, fundraising and executive search endeavors for 45 years. He:
- served as national director of development for the then Union of American Hebrew Congregations.
- led corporate finance for Ampal-American Israel Corporation which raised hundreds of millions of dollars of investment capital for Israel’s private sector.
- was vice-president of resource development of Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston.
- and taught in Brandeis University’s Hornstein Program in Jewish Professional Leadership for a quarter century.
In addition to his current work, David serves on the Board of Daily Table.
He is also the co-author of Successful Synagogue Fundraising Today: Overcoming the Fear of Asking for Money and How You Can Engage New Board Members.
Specialties include: Organization and development assessments, feasibility studies, annual campaign improvement, capital and endowment campaign management, strategic plan facilitation, and conference/webinar training, board development, and professional staff development and training.
William S. Bernstein
Bill has spent his career in the management and development of nonprofit organizations. He has served in leadership roles of several Jewish Federations including Boston, Baltimore, South Palm Beach County, and Los Angeles. Additionally, he has worked in major universities, think tanks, and private foundations.
Bill assists families in clarifying their philanthropic mission and vision. He has created multi-generational governance structures and evaluated grantees for family foundations. He has lectured at the UCLA School of Social Work on board and leadership development as well as lead seminars on major gift cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship.
Specialties include: Executive Coaching, Planning Annual and Capital Campaigns, Feasibility Studies, and Board/Leadership Development.
Howard E. Charish
Howard E. Charish is an experienced Jewish communal professional. He previously served as CEO of three large city federations: Greater MetroWest New Jersey, Philadelphia, and Northern New Jersey, where he led annual, capital, and endowment campaigns that raised hundreds of millions of dollars. In addition, he was a faculty member in the Wexner Graduate Fellows Program for more than two decades and taught in the Sherman/Kaplan Seminar for Emerging Professionals at Brandeis University. Howard currently serves on the board of directors of Jewish Services for the Developmentally Disabled and Congregation Ohr Torah and is a member of the NJ-Israel Commission. He is also a past president of the World Conference of Jewish Communal Service.
Specialties include: Feasibility Studies, Annual Campaign Improvement, Capital and Endowment Campaign Management, Strategic Plan Facilitation, community mobilization, crisis response including crisis communication, grant writing, and government relations (local/state/federal).
Lori Fainblatt Fodale
Lori Fainblatt Fodale, Associate, joined Mersky Jaffe & Associates in 2006 and works primarily in the Campaign Management and Executive Search services. She is an experienced fundraising executive with a broad understanding of campaign management, volunteer leadership, development and marketing. Lori’s experience includes a decade at State of Israel Bonds – running events in the New York City Commerce & Industry Division, as Director of the Long Island Campaign and directing the campaigns in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Just prior to joining MJA she was a senior development associate at the American Committee for Shenkar College of Engineering, Design and Art in Israel. Lori began her career in advertising at Lois, Pitts, Gershon, Pon/GGK in New York City and is a graduate of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
Specialties include: Capital campaign management, executive search, donor research and interim placement.
Rachel Glazer, Controller, has been working with Mersky, Jaffe & Associates for 10 years. Throughout her career, she has worked at various non-profit organizations in different capacities including: Make-A-Wish Foundation, Starlight Children’s Foundation, Shriners Hospital for Children and the Ellie Fund. Rachel and her family founded the Fifth Night charity, a Hanukkah gift giving celebration. She is currently a volunteer Newton Wellesley Hospital where, she provides tours of the hospital to first grade classes.
Associate & Creative Director
Abigail Harmon, Associate and Creative Director, has been working with Mersky, Jaffe & Associates for more than eighteen years. She has aided a variety of clients to strengthen endowment/capital campaigns and annual funds, conduct feasibility studies, develop sound strategic plans. She supervises all marketing, copywriting, and design both for the firm and its clients. She also writes the the MJA blog – Resources (you can subscribe to the weekly newsletter by clicking here).
A graduate of the Boston University School of Management, she has worked as Director of Development and Special Programs for Boston Film & Video Foundation and as a Copywriter for BBDO Worldwide in New York, and Hill, Holliday in Boston. In addition, she has previously served as a board member and/or committee member for the Brattle Film Foundation, Needham Education Foundation and Community Rowing, Inc. She currently serves as a Trustee and chair of the Development Committee at Temple Beth Shalom in Needham.
She is the coauthor of Successful Synagogue Fundraising Today: Overcoming the Fear of Asking for Money and How You Can Engage New Board Members, the author of hundreds of articles, and conducts regular webinars for the firm.
Specialties include: Feasibility Studies, Annual Campaign Improvement, Solicitor Training, Capital and Endowment Campaign Management, Strategic Plan Facilitation, Board Development and Governance, Donor Research and Executive Search.
Rob Hirsch’s professional career has been devoted to strengthening synagogues nationwide. Rob has helped organizations utilize software to manage campaigns as well as consulted on a variety of fundraising projects. He has provided guidance on operations, financial decisions, and board governance while considering both professional and lay perspectives.
Rob co-founded and led Chaverware, the premier synagogue software platform since 1993. Under Rob’s leadership, Chaverware acquired other competitors and grew to be the dominant offering in its market. In 2017, Chaverware was acquired by Togetherwork. Rob led its Shulware division in its acquisitions of ShulCloud and Congregation Connect. Rob continues as a consultant to Togetherwork.
Rob applies his unique understanding of nonprofits in his volunteer work. He currently serves as Vice President Finance and Operations of the National Ramah Commission, Conservative Judaism’s international camping movement. He is the past president of Camp Ramah in the Berkshires and Shelter Rock Jewish Center in Roslyn, NY, and a former board member of the Schechter School of Long Island.
Specialties include: Systems management, fundraising, navigating mergers, and data analysis.
Avi Olitzky is a proven visionary leader. He has made significant contributions to the nonprofit and religious sectors. Avi served as a congregational senior rabbi in Minneapolis for more than 13 years. Through the years he has also become a social entrepreneur, founded and led many nonprofits, as well as advised for-profit companies. He has demonstrated exceptional leadership, adaptability, and commitment to social causes. In addition, Avi co-authored New Membership & Financial Alternatives for the American Synagogue (Jewish Lights).
Avi’s expertise is in providing innovative approaches to strategy and engagement. He makes a difference in service to municipal Human Rights Commissions and hospital Institutional Review Boards (IRBs). His diverse accomplishments showcase his dedication to creating positive change in the world.
Specialties include: strategic planning, executive search, alternative revenue modelling, facilitation, relationship building, information technology, and innovation.
Kerry Olitzky is a futurist who deeply understands population trends in synagogue membership and new options for successful financial resource development. He is a bold innovator and creative fundraiser who led Big Tent Judaism and created its many outreach programs and strategies.
An experienced educator, Kerry directed the school of education at Hebrew Union College and was vice president at the Wexner Heritage Foundation. Kerry is an author who has written more than 70 books and hundreds of articles that have helped shape communal responses to various issues. Kerry also served as a congregational rabbi.
He can help your synagogue financially prepare for its future or guide your start-up so that it can thrive to meet the needs of current and future generations.
Specialties include: Building a Synagogue’s financial strength, nonprofit start-up guidance, fundraising/annual fund development, strategic planning, executive coaching.
Larry Sternberg, Associate, is a research and planning consultant, educator, and mentor. He previously served as Executive Director of Brandeis Hillel and, for 20 years, as a member of the faculty of Brandeis University’s Hornstein Program in Jewish Professional Leadership. As a faculty member at Brandeis, Larry taught courses in the Hornstein Program in Jewish advocacy and leadership; he also served as Director of the Nathan Perlmutter Institute for Jewish Advocacy and as Associate Director of the Maurice and Marilyn Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies. Larry has served as a consultant to Jewish organizations in North America, Europe and Israel, working with professional and volunteer leadership, and providing planning and evaluation tools to agencies. He was principal investigator of The National Jewish Community Public Affairs Survey, the largest public affairs survey ever conducted among donors to Jewish Federations in the United States and was the lead researcher surveying Reform and Conservative synagogues for the Faith Communities Today project, a survey of over 14,000 religious congregations in the United States.
Specialties include: Organization research and planning, data collection and analysis, organizational development, and creating processes for organizational adaptation and change.
Mindy Frankel Peckler
Fundraising consultant Mindy Frankel Peckler has significant experience in management and information technology in the areas of social justice and higher education. At Mersky, Jaffe & Associates, she coordinates the firm’s research, feasibility/campaign readiness studies and development audits, which are conducted for clients throughout the nation.
Specialties include: feasibility study analytics
Amy L. Sales
Amy L. Sales is a social psychologist. She has spent decades studying the American Jewish community. Her research and publications cover an array of Jewish institutions. She has studied communal agencies and synagogues. Her work also encompasses educational institutions, retreat centers, and women’s organizations. She has researched family foundations, leadership development programs, fundraising and development processes.
Dr. Sales converts organization data into usable information for future visioning and planning. Her particular focus is on programming, organization development, and fundraising.
She recently retired from the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies Brandeis University. She had served as associate director and senior research scientist. She also was a professor in the Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program.
Amy now serves on the board of the Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies. She is also a member of the Va’ad, the leadership team of The Berkshire Minyan.
Specialties include: Organization assessment, planning, and development, program evaluations, strategic planning, and leadership and board development.
Rachel M. Woda
Rachel M. Woda, Associate, has broad experience in campaign management, leadership development, event planning, financial and human resource development. For the last 20 years, Rachel has worked with a wide variety of non-profit organizations at the local, regional and national level including the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, and the Union for Reform Judaism. She currently serves on the Board of Trustees and Chairs the Youth and Leadership Development Committees of Temple Beth-El (in Providence, Rhode Island) as well as serving as a Board member of Jewish Family Services in Providence, Rhode Island.
Specialties include: Leadership development, board and governance training and strategies, and education curriculum development