2019 Sisisky Fellows Named
Five years ago Susan and Mark Sisisky created the Susan and Mark Sisisky JDC Global Enrichment Fund.
In a highly competitive process, carefully screened young adult Jewish leaders are chosen to travel internationally to learn the important work of the American Joint Distribution Committee around the world. Each fellow has returned home to Richmond with a unique perspective inspired to do more.
The Sisisky Fellows selection committee recently met to choose the 2019 fellows. These fellows will choose service experiences, including education events and programs and leadership development opportunities, and will return to Richmond to share their new found knowledge and experiences with our community.
This year’s Fellows will experience Ukraine’s truly unique and historic Jewish communities. This year’s fellows are: Amanda Braun, Zach Brenner, Rebecca Kohn, Alison Litvin, Rachel Peters, Ashley Rosenberg, Alexandria Vornholt.
Amanda Braun, originally from Princeton, N.J., is the development and engagement associate with the Jewish Community Federation of Richmond.
Since graduating from Wellesley College in 2012, she has been involved in several progressive political campaigns across the country from Rep. Joe Kennedy’s first Congressional race to Sec. Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential run. When not on the campaign trail, she also been in a variety of nonprofit and public service roles, including serving as a White House Intern during the Obama Administration.
She now lives in Richmond with her wife, Elizabeth, where they love trying new restaurants and exploring exhibits at the VMFA.
Zach Brenner was born in Norfolk and raised there alongside a younger brother and sister before heading to college at Vanderbilt University. After graduating, he spent 6 months in Buenos Aires, Argentina exploring a new country before returning to Norfolk to work at Sentara Vascular Specialists for two years. Deciding to change careers, Zach moved to Richmond where his brother was living and ventured into real estate. He completed a graduate certificate at VCU and worked at Thalhimer in commercial property management for over four years. In August 2017, he moved over to SL Nusbaum and took on a new challenge in brokerage. In addition to his hobbies of soccer, tennis, and traveling, he currently serves the Jewish community of Richmond as a board member, YAD campaign director, and on the young leadership cabinet.
Rebecca Kohn is a Virginia licensed attorney currently working with Hunton Andrews Kurth, LLP in their Business Intake and Conflicts department. Rebecca moved from Upstate New York to Richmond in 2013 to attend University of Richmond School of Law. She quickly fell in love with Richmond and realized there was nowhere else she wanted to lay down roots. Before law school, Rebecca attended State University of New York – Binghamton University, where she received a bachelor’s in Philosophy, Politics, and Law.
Rebecca is on the Network JCFR committee and a graduate of the JCFR young leadership program – Community Leadership Institute.
Outside of her involvement with the Richmond Jewish community Rebecca’s time is mostly spent volunteering as a foster home for dogs through the animal rescue MOMS VA and playing sports with Stonewall Sports – Richmond, a nonprofit sports league for LGBTQIA+ individuals and allies focused on growing an inclusive community and supporting local non-profit organizations.
Alison Litvin, comic enthusiast and crafter extraordinaire, has had a passion for exploring the world for as long as she can remember.
Born in Brussels, Belgium, Alison was raised by a young couple whose love for travel equaled their love for each other. The new family of three backpacked across Europe, with little Alison tucked neatly in her stroller. Fast forward 20 years later, and Alison is grown and ready to embark on her own adventure, halfway around the world, and entirely on her own.
Excited at the prospect of college and “becoming an adult,” Alison attended the University of Mary Washington for two years studying Education. It was what she thought she wanted since the 4th grade; to become an elementary school teacher and inspire her own classroom of students to change the world.
But after two years, something wasn’t right; the school, the classes, the whole experience in itself. Inspired by her parents’ suggestion of returning to her roots, Alison started the new fall semester at Tel Aviv University’s International Program. Two years later, she would graduate with a B.A. in Liberal Arts, and all sorts of new experiences.
Ready to start a new journey in Richmond, Alison joined Congregation Or Atid and their religious school, sharing her perspective and experiences to inspire her students to embrace their heritage and explore their roots.
Two more years would pass, and Alison finds herself the education coordinator of the Helen and Sam Kornblau Religious School, leading students and families to explore their own unique Jewish Journeys. Her own journey being far from over, Alison is looking forward to seeing what comes next.
Rachel Peters was born and raised in Richmond. She has always had strong connections to the Jewish Community Center in Richmond as she enjoyed all her Center had to offer. From participating as a preschooler, volunteer, camper and camp counselor to teacher at the Weinstein JCC.
After participating in Birthright and extending her time to live in Israel during the summer of 2007, Rachel knew her purpose was working with children back in her own Jewish community. Rachel was inspired by her mother in believing the importance of the power of early childhood education.
Rachel devotes her career to inspiring and stimulating early learners and their families at the Weinstein JCC preschool for over 8 years. Rachel has spent her professional career building connections with her students and families. She believes in creating Jewish stewards of the world and encourages the parents of the students she teachers to understand these important Jewish values as well.
At the age of 11, Ashley Rosenberg decided she wanted to become a surgeon. Since that time, she has been dedicated to achieving that goal.
She was born and raised in Denver. Dr. Rosenberg attended the University of Arkansas, where she graduated Summa Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa with a major in Biochemistry and a minor in Spanish. She was heavily involved in organic chemistry research as an undergraduate.
Among her achievements, she was published and traveled throughout the country to conferences presenting her work toward developing Antascomicin B, a Parkinson’s disease treatment.
She was responsible for founding the University of Arkansas Hillel and served as its president.
Following her undergraduate studies, she attended the University of Arkansas College of Medicine and graduated with Honors in Research. She began her residency training in General Surgery at The Medical College of Virginia/Virginia Commonwealth University three years ago.
This year, she is VCU’s first Global Surgery Research Fellow. She has been living and working in Rwanda teaching and training those working on the ambulance.
Alexandria Vornholt, a Tucson, Arizona, local, moved to Richmond in 2016. She graduated from the University of Arizona with a Bachelors of Science in Molecular and Cellular Biology.
After working for the Girl Scouts part-time during her undergraduate years, she continued to pursue a career in youth programming after graduation. Currently, she serves as the program, events, and community partnerships manager for the Girl Scouts of the Commonwealth of Virginia, where she designs and coordinates program events for 11,000 girls and families in central Virginia.
With an emphasis on STEM and the outdoors, Alexandria is committed to providing exposure to non-traditional career fields, fostering relationships between girls and community mentors, and teaching skills that girls may not otherwise have the opportunity to explore.
After moving to Richmond, Alexandria quickly recognized the need to nurture and expand Jewish young adult program opportunities in the area.
In partnership with Congregation Beth Ahabah, Alexandria is heading up a robust Jewish Young Adult program with a focus on social connection, inter-congregation community building, and Jewish life and values for their 80+ members between ages 22 and 36. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with friends and family, exploring the Richmond restaurant scene, and writing music with her husband, Eric.
The Sisisky Fellows Committee is chaired by Clare Sisisky and includes committee members Michal Coffey, Adam Beifield, Zach Sisisky and Shoshanna Schechter.
Including this year’s seven new Sisisky Fellows, a total 26 individuals have now been selected.