Our staff powers our mission and vision. Learn more about the people behind the Jewish Federation of Greater Des Moines and contact us if you’d like to be connected with one of our staff members.
A native of Buffalo, New York, Jeff attended Brandeis University, and was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. Jeff’s wife, Robin, a native of Opelousas, Louisiana is a graduate of Boston University Law School. They have two daughters, Leah and Abby.
Prior to working as the Jewish Federation's Executive Director, he served as the rabbi at Beth Israel Congregation in Jackson, MS. Previously he served as the Director of Jewish Learning, Engagement and Outreach at the David Posnack Jewish Community Center in Davie, Florida, the rabbi of Temple Solel in Hollywood, Florida and the rabbi of the Northshore Jewish Congregation in the New Orleans suburb Mandeville, Louisiana.
Jeff has always believed in community collaboration and partnerships to strengthen the Jewish community as a whole, which drives his passion to assuming the position of Executive Director here at the Federation.
Mark has served as community relations director since 1996. A native of Brooklyn, Mark was raised amidst the splendid diversity of ethnicities in New York City, an education that he thoroughly enjoyed. His formal education culminated in a Ph.D. in Music Education/Music History from Michigan State University. During his graduate studies, Mark was active at the MSU Hillel and a member of the Lansing Jewish Federation’s Public Affairs Committee.
After teaching at the college level for a number of years, Mark returned to East Lansing to serve seven years as executive director of the MSU Hillel. It was from that similar position that Mark transitioned into community relations work for the Jewish Federation of Greater Des Moines. Mark and his wife Jody have three grown children.
Sophie grew up in Des Moines and moved to Washington, DC for college in 1995. In November 2012, she moved back to Des Moines with her husband Matt, daughter Hailey, and son Lester. Formerly a Family Care Coordinator at Early Stages with DC Public Schools, Sophie supported families of children ages 0-5 from time of referral through the child’s placement into special education.
Sophie received a MEd in School Counseling from George Mason University and a BA in Elementary Education from American University. Sophie taught elementary school in Montgomery County, Maryland and Fairfax County, Virginia for 9 years. Sophie’s primary goal is to support and foster children’s growth and inquiry into Judaism.
Jody is the Director of Jewish Family Services and Outreach. She works closely with seniors in our community, arranging luncheons and other social activities, as well as visiting in-home to provide support. She also works with volunteers to provide transportation and support to Jewish seniors and oversees the Tzedukah funds to help those in need. Jody is also involved in community groups focusing on food insecurity and aging issues. Prior to joining the Federation, Jody was a program manager at the Iowa Department of Human Services.
Anissa is the Director of Gan Shalom Preschool. Prior to joining the Jewish Federation of Greater Des Moines in 2014, Anissa was the Education Coordinator at Mercy Child Development Center. She is a Doula and taught Childbirth Education at Mercy Medical Center. Anissa taught Pre-Kindergarten in Germany, Massachusetts, Colorado and Des Moines, Iowa over the past 30 years.
Anissa attended the University of Maryland, the Institute of American Indian Art and earned her Associates Degree in Early Childhood Education with DMACC. She earned her National Administrator Credential for early childhood programs. Currently, Anissa is the Secretary for the Mid-Iowa Chapter Leadership Iowa Association for the Education of Young Children. She enjoys being a life-long learner and sharing that passion with others.
Sandi is the Director of the Iowa Jewish Historical Society and has been with the Society since 2008. Sandi holds an MA in History and an MBA from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA and a BA in History from Lenoir-Rhyne College in NC. She is the Past President of the Iowa and Nebraska Museum Associations and served as an officer and on the national Council of the American Association for State and Local History. Sandi is responsible for the management, development, promotion, and funding of the IJHS.
Sarah is the Curator and Manager of Collections at the Iowa Jewish Historical Society and has worked at IJHS since 2011. Sarah earned her MA in Museum Studies from Johns Hopkins University and her BA in Anthropology with a Minor in History from Iowa State University. Sarah main focus is on the development, management, and care of the IJHS collections, and the development of exhibits.
Kyle is a recent graduate of Drake University with a BSBA in Data Analytics. He provides IT support for the Jewish Federation. He is also the Coordinator for the Student to Student program as well as an assistant to Drake Hillel.
Henry works in the Accounting department and really loves the friendly atmosphere and the rich Jewish history of the Jewish Federation of Greater Des Moines. He enjoys cooking, reading, and going to social activities such as concerts. One thing most people don’t know about Henry is that he used to play the banjo!
Giovanna is the Judaics Specialist and works with Gan Shalom, Beit Sefer Shalom and Engman Camp Shalom children to bring Jewish education to their daily lives. When she isn’t in a classroom with students, or outside with campers, she serves as the managing editor for The Jewish Press. She is responsible for creating content, working with others for content and layout of the Jewish Press. Zavell is a graduate from Drake University with a BA in Journalism and Mass Communication and a BA in English. She is a native of Skokie, Illinois but admits Des Moines has captured her, and is her second favorite city, after Chicago.