MEET THE TEAM:
Board & Professional Staff
David Ellenhorn is currently serving as the Vice Chair of the Board. He is a partner at Ogden Murphy Wallace, specializing in corporate and real estate law. David has served on the board of the Jewish Day School of Metropolitan Seattle and was a long-time board member and officer of the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle. He is a proud graduate of the Georgetown University Law Center and the University of Washington.
Eli Genauer is serving as the Chair of the Board. He is a Seattle native and has served as the longtime President of Eilat Management Company, which provides property and asset management for privately held commercial retail property in the Puget Sound Area. Eli has served the Jewish community in many capacities including service on the boards of the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, the Kline Galland Center, and the Seattle Hebrew Academy. Eli served as a Vice President of the Orthodox Union and as a member of the Jewish Funders Network Board of Trustees through 2022.
Greg Roer is serving as Treasurer and is the Chair of the Finance/Audit Committee. A Seattle native, Greg is a Principal at Sweeney Conrad. Greg provides tax services to complicated high net worth individuals, closely held entities, trusts, and family offices. He also has extensive expertise in international taxation. Greg is also the Director of Seattle Campus of Golden Gate University Graduate School of Taxation. He is the past president of Seattle Hebrew Academy, and one of the Founders and Board Members of Minyan Ohr Chadash. He is a great-nephew of Sam Israel.
Louis Treiger is serving as the Secretary of the Board and is the Vice Chair of the Grants Committee and the Endowment Investment Committee and Chair of the Israel Sub-Committee. He is a Seattle native who, after graduating from Yeshiva University and Harvard Law School, has practiced law in the Seattle area for over 35 years. Louis has served on the boards of Jewish Federation, Greater Seattle area AIPAC, Seattle Hebrew Academy, Northwest Yeshiva High School, Minyan Ohr Chadash and other nonprofit organizations. Louis is a Wexner Fellow, graduating with the first Seattle cohort in 1997.
Victor Alhadeff is a Seattle native and a retired serial entrepreneur having founded several companies. He is a former President of the Seattle Hebrew Academy and Board member of Northwest Yeshiva High School. Victor is a graduate of the University of Washington and served as an officer in the U.S. Army. He is currently a member at large of the Board.
Eli J. Almo Is a Seattle native and President and CEO of Era Living, which owns and operates independent and assisted care retirement communities. Eli and his wife Rebecca established the Aljoya Professorship, an endowment to promote gerontological research at the University of Washington School of Nursing.
Jack is a Senior Vice President of Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management. His team develops customized wealth management solutions for ultra-high net worth families, private foundations and endowments, and privately controlled companies. His team manages investment portfolios totaling over $2.6 Billion on behalf of its clients. Originally from Seattle, Jack graduated from Yeshiva University with Honors. He is deeply passionate about community service and is past chair of Kline Galland Center, and a member of the Investment Committees of Virginia Mason and the Jewish Federation. Jack and his wife Adina have three children and live in Mercer Island.
David Azose is the immediate past Chair of the Board. David is CEO of Azose Commercial Properties and has been involved in the real estate industry since 1977, having worked in all aspects of commercial real estate. He is a member of the Greater Seattle area Association of Commercial Realtors and the Rental Housing Association. He has held leadership positions on the Commercial Brokers Association Board, the Seafair Board, the Washington Commercial Association of Realtors, the Executive Board of the Washington Association of Realtors, the Mercer Island Planning Commission and the local Campfire Board. David graduated from the University of Washington with a Bachelor of Arts in Natural Sciences and Education.
Dana Behar is Chair of the Endowment/Investment Committee. He is a Seattle native and a founder of Discovery Bay Investments which specializes in private equity investing, consulting, and real estate brokerage. Dana is also a Director of First Federal, where he serves on their loan and audit committees. Dana serves on the boards of Forterra, Capitol Hill Housing, the Seattle Sephardic Network, and Lid I-5. He is the great-nephew of Sam Israel and joined the Samis board in 2012. He is a great-nephew of Sam Israel.
Jerome Cohen is the Chair of the Experiential Education Sub-Committee and Chair of the Trusteeship and Governance Committee. He is also a past Chair of the Board. He is a Seattle native and business and real estate attorney with Holmquist and Gardiner, PLLC. Jerry is a board member and secretary of the Washington Higher Education Facilities Authority, and a member of the South Seattle College President’s Council. He previously served as president of the Jewish Day School.
Barry Ernstoff is an attorney in private practice who practiced in Seattle and now does so in Israel since he made Aliyah in 1985. He was president of the Seattle Hebrew Academy and Secretary of the Seattle Jewish Federation. In Israel he is active in the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel, and in his synagogue leadership.
Maria Erlitz is currently the Chair of the Day School Education Sub-Committee. She has worked in every facet of organizational development from strategic planning to facilitation and executive coaching. For the past 30 years she has been deeply involved in helping day schools grow and thrive, as Board President and then Head of School of the Jewish Day School of Metropolitan Seattle, and with PEJE.
Rabbi Benjamin Hassan
Rabbi Benjamin Hassan is the Rabbinic Trustee. Rabbi Benjamin Hassan has been the spiritual leader of Sephardic Bikur Holim since February 2014. He grew up in Manchester, England. He has a bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of Salford. Rabbi Hassan has rabbinic ordination from Rabbi Zalman Nechemia Goldberg, Rabbi Shlomo Riskin and Yeshivat Hamivtar.
Between 2009 and 2013 Rabbi Hassan taught Judaics in Leibler Yavneh College and was the Rabbi of Sassoon Yehuda Sephardic Synagogue in Melbourne, Australia. In August 2013, Rabbi Hassan moved with his family to become the Scholar in Residence of Sephardic Bikur Holim Congregation. In February 2014, he accepted the position of Senior Rabbi of the synagogue. Rabbi Hassan and his wife Rubissa Sharona have four daughters Cohava, Gabi, Ruti and Tova.
He serves as a Dayan on the Seattle Beit Din for conversions and divorces. He is also a member of the Vaad of Seattle. In his free time, Rabbi Hassan enjoys running and hiking.
Al Maimon is a Seattle native who has spent his professional career in operations research and management science and information systems design and implementation at Boeing. Now retired, he is a student of Sephardic Jewry and is active in many Jewish community affairs including president of the Seattle Sephardic Network and Sephardic Adventure Camp, and was previously involved with the Federation, Jewish Family Services, Seattle Hebrew Academy (he was a graduate of the first class, and his children and grandchildren have followed), and Sephardic Bikur Holim. He is the past Chair of the Grants Committee. He is a past Board Chair.
Bea Nahon, originally from Portland, graduated from the University of Washington, where she met her husband, Bruce. Their daughters attended the Jewish Day School of Metropolitan Seattle, and shortly after their eldest enrolled, Bea joined the board as its treasurer for several years. She is a CPA and a principal at Sweeney Conrad P.S. in Kirkland, with concentrations in tax and accounting for real estate, high net worth, closely held businesses and other complex business and personal financial matters. She is active in the CPA profession, where she served as President of the Washington Society of CPAs, and a board member of the American Institute of CPAs. Her current and past board service also includes Hillel Foundation at UW, Jewish Federation, Herzl-Ner Tamid, City of Kirkland and Hopelink. She credits her teen years of local and regional leadership experiences in BBYO as the catalyst for a lifetime of volunteerism.
Judy Neuman is the Chair of the Grants Committee. She is the former CEO of the Stroum Jewish Community Center after working 3 decades as a leader in the consumer marketplace. Her dedicated lay leadership included roles at the Federation, JFS, JDS and Herzl Ner Tamid. Judy is a Wexner Fellow from the first Seattle cohort in 1997.
Ernie Sherman is a Seattle native and owner of Pacific Plumbing Supply Co which has branches in Washington and Alaska. Ernie splits his time between Hawaii, Seattle, and Camano Island.
Samis Foundation Lifetime Trustees
Victor Alhadeff, Eli Almo, Jerome O. Cohen, Barry Ernstoff, David Friedenberg z”l, Eli Genauer, Rabbi William H. Greenberg z”l, Eddie Hasson, Mike Israel z”l, Al Maimon, Morris Piha z”l, Lucy Pruzan, Martin Selig, Ernie Sherman, Dr. Alex Sytman, Irwin Treiger z”l
Eddie Hasson is Sam Israel’s nephew and the longest serving trustee, serving Samis since the mid 1970s. Eddie was the Foundation’s first president and served for 20 years. Eddie is an Emeritus Board Member. He is a Seattle native and nephew of Sam Israel. He is a CPA and retired partner of the accounting firm Hasson Laible & Co.
Rabbi Ron-Ami Meyers is an Emeritus Board Member and the immediate past Rabbinic Trustee. He has a degree in Political Science from the University of Winnipeg and Semicha from Rav Yaakov Moshe Poupko z“l, Rav Avraham Kopschitz z“l and Rabbi Yitzchak Kolitz z“l, late Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem. Rabbi Meyers served as the spiritual leader of Congregation Ezra Bessaroth in Seattle from 2011-2018, and also taught at Seattle Hebrew Academy and Northwest Yeshiva High School. A pioneer in online Jewish education, Rabbi Meyers launched the Talmud learning platform www.talmid-chaver.com. He made Aliyah with his family in 2018 and is now the second Samis trustee based in Israel.
Lucy Pruzan is the only female lifetime board member selected by Sami Israel z”l and has served on the Board since 1994. She is an Emeritus Board Member. Lucy was born and raised in Uruguay and has lived in Seattle for more than 60 years. She is a retired nurse who, along with her husband, Herb, invests in real estate and emerging companies in the Pacific Northwest. Lucy served as president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, among her many other volunteer activities.
Alex Sytman is a graduate of Garfield High School, class of 1956, and the University of Washington Medical School, class of 1963. He was married to Leatrice (Lucy) Israel Sytman, a niece of Sam Israel, who died in 2019. They lived in New York, Fort Lewis, and Los Angeles before returning to Seattle in 1970. Alex was Sam Israel’s doctor during the last months of his life. Alex is serving on the Emeritus Board.
Rachel Grunbaum is the Samis Israel Consultant. She has been representing various foundations and private philanthropies in Israel since 2009, primarily in the areas of grant proposal evaluation, project measurement, implementation of efficient grants management, and supervision. Rachel graduated Summa Cum Laude, Dean’s List, and Phi Beta Kappa from Barnard College, Columbia University, and first in class at Tel Aviv University, Faculty of Management. Rachel has been working with Samis since 2019.
Adam Hasson has been working in commercial real estate at Samis Land Co. for over 20 years. Since 2013 as the Director of Real Estate, he has been responsible for asset management of a diverse portfolio including residential and commercial properties, timber and agricultural land. As many of Samis’ holding are in the Pioneer Square Historic District or designated Landmarks by the City of Seattle, he is involved in historic preservation and is on the board of The Alliance for Pioneer Square and the Pioneer Square BIA. Adam is a great-nephew of Sam Israel.
Connie Kanter is the Chief Executive Officer of Samis Foundation as of March 2019. She served as a Samis Board Member from 2010 to 2019, as Grants Committee vice-chair, and on the Finance and Audit, and Planning Committees. Prior stepping into her role as Samis CEO, she was the CFO/Sr. VP, Finance and Business Affairs at Seattle University. She spent most of her career in finance at high technology manufacturing companies and is a business leader recognized for her skills in financial management and strategic planning. Connie received her undergraduate degree with honors from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and her MBA from Booth School at the University of Chicago. She is a Certified Public Accountant. Connie has served in a variety of leadership positions in the Jewish community including the boards of Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, Kline Galland Center, and Seattle Hebrew Academy. She was a member of the UJC Young Leadership Cabinet and Wexner Heritage Program.
Ariel Lapson is the Program Officer for Experiential Jewish Education at the Samis Foundation. In addition to her portfolio of grants, Ariel manages the Foundation’s print and digital marketing and communications. She was most recently the Israel and World Jewry Program Manager at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle where she spearheaded an Israel education and engagement initiative. Before moving to Seattle in January 2018, she served as a City Director for BBYO in Indianapolis, IN and Assistant Director of Israel Education at the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago. Ariel lived and worked in Israel for six years, managing marketing and operations efforts in the Israeli high tech and diamond industries. She has a Bachelor in Business Administration with a double major in Jewish Studies from Emory University, a Master’s in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and is currently pursuing a Master’s in Israel Education from the George Washington University. Ariel is a recipient of the Schusterman Israel Scholars award and a JFNA NextGen Fellow.
Linda McClure began working at Samis in 2009 and currently serves as Administrative Assistant to the Grants Department. She assists with operations and tasks large and small, including beneficiary correspondence, processing grants and the day to day running of the Foundation. Prior to Samis, she worked at a small Seattle law firm and local non-profit in administrative roles. Linda earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Law and Justice from Central Washington University.
Melissa Rivkin is the Director of Day School Strategy for the Samis Foundation. She brings over 20 years of experience working in Seattle Jewish education and philanthropy. Prior to joining the Foundation, Melissa served as the Director of Institutional Advancement at Northwest Yeshiva High School, where she led the school to unprecedented levels of fundraising success. She also spent years tirelessly fundraising on behalf of the Seattle Hebrew Academy, and over a decade as a professional educator. Her extensive international experience includes teaching roles at the American International Schools in Israel and Switzerland. Melissa was also the Founding Head of School of the American School of English in Seattle’s University District. Melissa currently serves as a Board Member for the Rivkin Center, and on the Advisory Board for the Stroum Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Washington. She earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree in History from Barnard College in New York City and is pursuing a Masters Degree in Jewish Studies at the Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership in Chicago, Illinois.
Stella Safte provides support to Chief Executive Officer Connie Kanter and the Board as the Foundation’s Executive Assistant. Stella is an accomplished administrative professional with over 20 years of experience supporting CEOs and other top executives throughout her career. She works closely with many of the Samis staff and helps organize Samis Board meetings and events. A Long Island native, Stella attended Nassau Community College in Garden City, New York. After a visit to Seattle in 2017, the city and its people left a lasting impression on both Stella and her husband. They decided to make the move from New York and relocated to Seattle in July 2019.
As the Chief Financial Officer of the Samis Foundation and Samis Land Co, Linda Sullivan oversees the accounting, finance, and human resource roles. She is a member of The Foundation’s leadership team, coordinates the Finance and Audit committee, supports the Endowment Investment and Grants committees, and works closely with staff and service providers to establish, administer, and monitor financial reporting & planning, internal controls, treasury, insurance, grants administration, and information systems.
She is a Certified Public Accountant with over 30 years of experience. Her background includes private foundations, real estate, software implementation, loan underwriting and public accounting. She has a Bachelor of Business Administration Degrees in Accounting and Finance from Texas A & M University.