An initiative of
Are you a senior professional or volunteer board/committee member at a Jewish for-purpose organisation?
Are you looking to recharge your leadership skills to navigate through these times of uncertainty?
Are you looking to pivot and reimagine your organisational offerings?
2021 LAUNCHPAD LEADERSHIP COHORT
Click on the image below to read about each participant
LaunchPad Leadership is a 3 month online program that empowers leaders of Australian Jewish for-purpose organisations with skills and resources to lead their organisations through change. Blending Jewish values with technical skills and leadership theory with experiential learning, the program is designed to nurture and develop a cohort of empowered leaders.
Through various introspective and reflective processes, leaders will be supported to develop self-awareness, embrace vulnerability and build empathy to become more attuned to their effectiveness.
As the world rapidly shifts and changes, it is increasingly important for leaders to be equipped with contemporary modalities to lead through contemporary challenges. The program will provide a series of cutting-edge skills and tools that can be applied and refined to the leaders’ unique leadership contexts.
Leaders need peers and confidants; people who they trust and with whom they can speak freely and
authentically, as well as spaces that offer support and nurturance. This leadership journey is centred around the creation and curation of a cohort for its members to turn to and lean on.
We recognise the canon of Jewish text, thought and ritual as a source of inspiration for the soul and wisdom for leadership. Drawing on fundamental Jewish values and integrating Jewish sources, this unique experience will be focussed with a view to building Jewishly literate leaders in the community.
Through this platform, leaders will be able to actualise and implement their core learnings from the leadership journey and discover what is possible as they seek to engineer a more dynamic Jewish Australia. Leaders will be eligible to apply for Collaboration Grants to put their learnings into practice and facilitate cross-communal and inter-organisational partnerships, endeavours and projects.
Each leader has individualised needs to assist them lead their organisation through change. To enable specific skills required, participants will be provided with a leadership development grant to further develop skills they wish to strengthen.
Jewish community organisations are facing unprecedented challenges as
they navigate the new realities and uncertainty due to the COVID-19 crisis.
LaunchPad Leadership seeks to develop a culture of leadership development and connection in the Australian Jewish for-purpose sector by building a network of senior professional and lay leaders to collaborate, innovate and navigate complexity for the purpose of ensuring a thriving, vibrant and engaged Jewish community in Australia.
As the network of funders inspiring effective philanthropy and strengthening community, Australian Jewish Funders (AJF) has seen firsthand the urgency to support communal organisations pivot. It is evident that things are not simply going to return to the way they were before the outbreak of this pandemic, so it is up to the leaders of our community to pre-empt and prepare for this ‘new normal’ as it starts to arise.
Themes that will be explored include:
Communication and leadership presence;
Organisational strategy and culture;
To read reflections from previous leaders and the impact that the 3-month virtual immersive experience had on them, click here and you will find Big Impact: 5 Stories in 5 Weeks, where a new story is released each week.
Watch the LaunchPad Leadership 2020 highlights video
To view past LaunchPad Leadership participants, click here.
We are looking for senior professionals and lay leaders (including board and committee members) in a position of influence within Jewish organisations across Australia, of all ages and across the diverse Jewish landscape. Such individuals have a growth mindset and are open to learning and finding new ways to lead their organisations and communities.
To apply you must also:
Have the ability to commit to at least 90% of the program;
Have capacity to put your learning into practice by implementing new ideas within your leadership approach and organisation; and
Be open to cross-communal and inter-organisational partnerships, endeavours and projects for the benefit of the Australian Jewish community.
Applications have now closed.
For any enquiries, please contact Rebecca.
0421 733 691 or
Program will be delivered online using Zoom.
DURATION & TIME
2 hours / week online programming
(4 hours during first and last week of the program)
1 hour / week offline reflection
5 hours on a Sunday
Reading and preparation work
Session 1: Monday, April 19, 2021 10am - 12pm
Session 2: Tuesday, April 20, 2021 10am - 12pm
Session 3: Tuesday, April 27, 2021 10am - 12pm
Session 4: Tuesday, May 4, 2021 10am - 12pm
Session 5: Tuesday, May 11, 2021 10am - 12pm
Session 6: Tuesday, May 25, 2021 10am - 12pm
Session 7: Tuesday, June 1, 2021 10am - 12pm
Session 8: Sunday, June 6, 2021 9am - 2pm
Session 9: Tuesday, June 8, 2021 10am - 12pm
Session 10: Tuesday, June 15, 2021 10am - 12pm
Session 11: Tuesday, June 22, 2021 10am - 12pm
Session 12: Tuesday, July 13, 2021 10am - 12pm
Session 13: Tuesday, July 20, 2021 10am - 12pm
Session 14: Monday, July 26, 2021 10am - 12pm
Session 15: Tuesday, July 27, 2021 10am - 12pm
LaunchPad Leadership 2021 is proudly powered by:
Erdi Foundation, Graf Family, Phil and Sue Lewis Family, Debbie Dadon, Szalmuk-Singer Family, Marnie & Gary Perlstein Family Foundation and Belinda Bardas and Loti & Victor Smorgon Family Foundation.
LaunchPad has been made possible over the years by the unwavering support of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies and our program partner Shalom.
The cost of the program is $700 + GST per person and includes:
3 months of expert facilitation;
Guest speakers, masterclasses, Leadership Labs and virtual programming;
Personal / introspective analyses and goal setting;
Guided independent offline learnings between virtual sessions;
Access to a network of fellow leaders;
Access to “Collaboration Dave Grants”; and
Access to Leadership Development Grants.
Subsidies available and can be requested in the application form.
Belinda Bardas - Co-Chair, AJF
Belinda is Head of Philanthropy and Trustee at Victor Smorgon Charitable Fund (VSCF). The VCSF provides strategic investment to a range of, for purpose organizations, in the Australian Jewish Community, broader Australian society and Israel. Supporting a broad range of areas, including education, the arts, institutional development, and medical research. Belinda is Co-chair of the Australian Jewish Funders (AJF). She is Non-Executive Director at Victor Smorgon Group, a family office that has a strong focus on retail, property, agri-business, equities, and philanthropy. As a mentor in residence at Launchpad Retreats since 2015, Belinda has built deep and long-lasting relationships with committed Jewish communal leaders, change-makers, and activists. Launchpad, a platform for Jewish community Innovation in Australia unites incredible change-makers, giving them skills, networks, and opportunities to connect, think, create and lead together. It is there where the magic happens and 14 innovative programs stimulating Jewish life have been seeded.
Belinda graduated from Swinburne University with a Graduate Certificate in Social Impact (2018), a course for established and emerging leaders of social change. The course is a ‘pracademic’ program with a uniquely comprehensive curriculum based on systems thinking and social design principles. Before her Career in Philanthropy, Belinda worked for numerous years as a Naturopath, health coach and wellbeing facilitator, is a member of the Australian Natural Therapies association and an NLP practitioner. Beyond this Belinda worked as a Fashion Retail Professional, at an iconic Australian brand, specializing in women’s fashion. Honing her business acumen, in business development, entrepreneurial vision, brand strategy, marketing and communication skills, the ability to recognize future trends, and the capacity to make decisions under pressure.
Brandon Srot - Chief Facilitation Officer, LaunchPad
Brandon Srot dedicates his professional life to the development of human potential and connection. Leveraging over 15 years of senior leadership experience in the Jewish non-profit sector, his Sydney-based consultancy offers a suite of services in psychotherapy, leadership development and facilitation for clients and organisations across the globe. Brandon is passionate about working with people who are who are committed to the process of transformation and renewal, and when he is not delivering psychotherapy sessions in his office, he can often be found facilitating workshops, seminars and trainings for individuals and teams across multiple time zones.
He is a Senior Schusterman Fellow, a Nachum Goldmann Fellow and the recipient of Bnai Brith’s Jewish Changemaker Award for Jewish professionals. Brandon holds qualifications in counselling and human change and Gestalt therapy and has trained in embodied leadership, adaptive leadership and facilitation in the US, Israel and Australia. He is on faculty at the Masa Leadership and Impact Center in Israel, is the Chief Facilitation Officer of LaunchPad Australia and is a certified practitioner of The Leadership Circle ®. Brandon is also a board member of Mandelbaum House and is a proud member of the Australian Adaptive Leadership Institute community.
Debbie Dadon AM - Director, AJF
As Chief Executive Officer and Trustee of the Besen Family Foundation for 20 years before moving into her current role as Chair of the Besen Family Foundation, Debbie has developed an acute and insightful awareness of the issues and needs of local communities. Debbie’s philanthropic contribution has covered a broad spectrum of issues but her leadership has been particularly evident in the areas of intergenerational philanthropy and disability. A significant part of Debbie’s mentorship role in the Besen Family Foundation has been the sensitive task of guiding and nurturing the involvement of the third generation of the Besen family in philanthropy.
Debbie’s commitment and contribution to the community is evidenced through her involvement in many organisations. The Australian Jewish Funders (AJF) is an organisation specifically aimed at inspiring effective philanthropy and strengthening community. A Founding Member of the AJF, Debbie held the position of Chair for 10 years.
Tikkun Olam Makers (TOM) is a global movement of communities connecting makers, designers, developers and engineers with people with disabilities to develop technological solutions for everyday challenges. Debbie first witnessed TOM in action in Tel Aviv in 2015 and then brought TOM to Melbourne for the first time in 2016.
Chair, Besen Family Foundation
Director, Australian Jewish Funders
Director, Highpoint Property Group
Director, Kingston Co
Board Malthouse Theatre
Gary Perlstein - Board Director, United Israel Appeal NSW
Gary is first and foremost a family and community man. His focus is living by the ideals of Tikkun Olam. Gary has spent most of his adult life volunteering for the community with a special interest and love for Israel and a call to action for disenfranchised woman in Australia. Gary was a Co-Founder and CEO of Australia’s largest womenswear clothing retailer. The company was listed on the Australian Stock Exchange employing more than 6000 people across Australia, New Zealand, North America, Africa and Europe with revenues in excess of $800m. The business pioneered loyalty and database marketing in Australia with 9 million women on its data base and was at the forefront of digitization in the retail industry.
Gary is now focused on the later living sector aiming to address issues of loneliness and isolation through academic research founded on neuroscience and delivering operating programs in new and unique property developments. Gary has a particular interest in finding cures for neurodegenerative diseases and explores this through his role as an advisory board member for The Centre of Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine at the University of Technology, Sydney.
His other non-for-profit roles include Director of Thread Together an Australian organisation providing new clothing to vulnerable groups in the community. His work for Israel has been with the United Israel Appeal where Gary has been active for 30 years. He was Chairman of the Young Leadership Division in his twenties and now sits on the executive committee.
Justine Saidman - Director of PJ Library in Australia and New Zealand at Shalom
Justine Saidman is a passionate and dedicated Jewish educator and community engagement professional. Her love of books, reading and knowledge directly influences her work as Director of PJ Library in Australia and New Zealand where she works to help young families engage with Jewish community in a meaningful way.
Justine is committed to helping people transform their lives through Jewish knowledge packaged in a way that makes sense to them. She has a Certificate of Jewish Leadership from Spertus in Chicago and a Masters in Jewish Education from Hebrew University. She values big ideas, conversation and opportunities for growth and transformation. She is constantly looking for ways to expand her own Jewish horizons and influence the people around her to similarly expand theirs.
Kerry Gonski - Chair, The Australian Jewish Fertility Network
Born in Johannesburg (as one of seven siblings), Kerry emigrated to finish high school at Moriah College.
Inspired by her late grandmother’s devotion to helping those in need, Kerry has always valued giving back to her community, and helping those facing challenges. Kerry is motivated by leaders who have authentic passion, strategic vision and integrity, who nurture and value relationships, and do it all with a great sense of humour.
Kerry is a UNSW Commerce Marketing Graduate, with senior management experience in both Corporate (Unilever, Qantas) and Not-For-Profit sectors. After developing her Sales and Marketing skills at Unilever for six years, Kerry pursued a career in the NFP industry. Kerry has spent the past eight years working in Corporate Partnerships, Head of Fundraising and Donor Relations roles at Variety – the Children’s Charity and the Sydney Children’s Hospitals Foundation, where she is currently the Relationship Manager for the SCHF Capital Campaign.
Kerry is the Chair of the AJFN (Australian Jewish Fertility Network).
As a mum of two miracle babies, Kerry has been involved in the strategic growth of the AJFN since 2016 (chairing their Advisory Committee, registering it as a NFP, establishing the first Board, stepping up as Chair and leading its Strategic Planning process). She has a growth mindset, and is passionate about developing and finding new ways to lead the AJFN and strengthening the Jewish community in general.
Phil Lewis - Chairman, Five Squared Property Group
Phil has been at the forefront of Melbourne property development for over 40 years. An experienced, award-winning builder and property developer, Phil is a long time director of the Chain Group, one of Melbourne’s pre-eminent privately-owned property groups. In 2009, he established the Five Squared Property Group with two of his sons, Ashley and Brett.
With involvement in a long string of iconic and highly successful projects, Phil prides himself on being heavily involved in the entire design and construction process – from original concept plans right through to completion. Phil has a wealth of experience overseeing a multitude of property projects, including low, medium and high density construction on large-scale residential sites, residential land subdivisions, shopping centres, childcare facilities, aged care facilities, retirement villages and multi-lot industrial facilities.
Phil is a committed communal activist, currently holding a number of leadership roles. He is a Board member of the Jewish Holocaust Centre (JHC), Co-Chair of their Capital Campaign and member of the PCG (Project Control Group), overseeing the building of their new facility. Phil is also Chair of the PCG for the Spiritgrow redevelopment, sits on the JHC Risk and Financial Committee and the AJF Resource and Development Committee and mentors a number of communal leaders, offering guidance and support to maximise their impact.
Phil is married to Sue, a father of 5 and proud grandfather.
Rebecca is supportive, enthusiastic and extremely community focused. She loves to have fun, explore new opportunities and is empowered to encourage those around her to take a leap of faith and step forth with courage, the motto from Bialik College, where she attended school from kindergarten through to year 12.
In 2019 Rebecca completed a Bachelor of Business at Monash University. Aside from receiving a solid foundation of knowledge and skills within the business sector, Rebecca discovered her passion for innovation and leadership.
Rebecca first joined the Australian Jewish Funders team as the LaunchPad Retreat Coordinator. Through this role, her understanding of the Jewish community has broadened, as has her network of highly motivated and inspiring individuals. As the new LaunchPad Manager, Rebecca is ready to take on 2021 with a bang, starting with the re-opening of the LaunchPad Hub and LaunchPad Leadership 2021.
Rebecca has also been involved in the disability sector for many years and brings a wealth of knowledge, understanding and a commitment for a more inclusive society to the LaunchPad network. In her spare time, Rebecca loves exploring new walks around Victoria, believing walking isn’t only a lockdown trend. She also loves a soy latte, experiencing new restaurants and is always on the hunt for the best dumplings in town.
Rebecca is excited to see what incredible collaborations and transformations emerge in the Jewish for-purpose sector and cannot wait to begin this LaunchPad Leadership journey with you!
Rebecca Adler - Program Manager, LaunchPad Leadership
Simone Szalmuk-Singer - Co-Chair, AJF
Simone joined the AJF Board in 2016. Simone discovered the AJF when she attended LaunchPad 2015 as a participant. Surrounded by diverse Jewish changemakers, Simone was immediately inspired by AJF’s innovative lens on community and strategic approach to philanthropy.
Simone is motivated by a strong sense of service to Jewish community and holds a number of leadership positions. She is Co-Vice President of Jewish Care Victoria and a Director of the Erdi Foundation. She is Co-Founder and Co-Editor of Jewish Women of Words, an online publication for Jewish women writers. Simone was formerly President of JNF Victoria and Australian National Vice President. For many years, Simone worked as a lawyer specialising in employment law.
As she is passionate about developing Jewish communal leadership, Simone is a mentor in several leadership programs and is a Senior Fellow in the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies Fellowship program. Simone has completed leadership training programs in areas such as adaptive design and women’s leadership and has attended the Harvard Business School where she studied Governance for Nonprofit Excellence and Performance Measurement for Effective Nonprofit Organisations.
Simone draws constant inspiration to lead, innovate and collaborate from the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg who famously wrote, “Fight for things that you care about but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”
Tracie Olcha - CEO, AJF
Tracie Olcha is CEO at the Australian Jewish Funders (AJF), the network of Jewish donors inspiring effective philanthropy and strengthening community. Tracie works closely with the AJF network, philanthropic foundations and a multitude of organisations throughout Australia, the US, Israel and Asia to spearhead initiatives that raise awareness and address the big issues facing the Jewish community, with a major focus on philanthropy, innovation in Jewish life and Jewish community building across the generations. She is all about empowering community members to create meaningful and relevant Jewish experiences for themselves and their peers and is the visionary behind LaunchPad.
Tracie sits on the International Council at Moishe House, an organisation inspiring Jewish homes for young adults in their 20’s. There are currently over 100 communities across 25 countries creating meaningful, welcoming Jewish communities for themselves and their peers. She is a Scholar with Our Common Destiny, a ground-breaking new initiative to strengthen global Jewry by linking Jewish communities all over the world to a shared set of ethics and values across religious and cultural identities. Our Common Destiny is a joint initiative of Genesis Philanthropy Group and the State of Israel, under the auspices of the President of Israel. Tracie also co-founded Mamilla, a six-month program that aims to unlock and activate the power of Jewish entrepreneurs and connects them with the start up eco-system in Israel.
Opher Yom-Tov - Chief Design Officer, ANZ Banking Group
Opher spent almost a decade with the global innovation powerhouse IDEO, first in Silicon Valley and then leading their Shanghai start-up office. He has helped develop products, services and innovation capability for corporations such as Apple, Microsoft, Nike, GE, BP, McDonald’s, Procter and Gamble and Pfizer.
He then led the Customer Centred Design team at Westpac and their wealth arm BT Financial Group, charged with building Innovation and design thinking capability and creating new products, services and experiences for the group. Westpac Group have launched a number of award winning insurance, superannuation, online banking, investment and financial advice offerings through this approach that have collectively attracted billions of dollars under management.
After a 3 year adventure co-founding a technology startup, he joined ANZ as Chief Design Officer, the first such role of any bank worldwide.
Opher has 2 objectives:
1. Enable all of ANZ to apply Human Centred Design to build unique propositions and solve tough problems.
2. Build and lead a community of world class designers that create meaningful customer, staff and banker experiences.
Rachel Flitman - Senior Human Centered Design Consultant, Aurecon
Rachel is a human centred design consultant and community builder based in Melbourne. Raised in a Jewish secular humanist home with a strong post-Holocaust legacy, her personal and professional life has been founded on values of resilience, pluralistic expression and empathetic connection.
Adept at facilitating people-centric approaches to projects, Rachel works with global infrastructure and advisory firm Aurecon, driving creative engagement and design-led thinking to build understanding of complex problems, enable a deeper understanding of users and generate innovative outcomes.
Previously Rachel worked with Australian Red Cross to build resilience, delivering experiential disaster preparedness education programs and campaigns nationally. She has also worked as chief speech writer and public affairs advisor to the Israeli Ambassador in Australia and as Sydney Hillel Director. Through Hillel, Rachel co-founded ‘The Ideation Project’- a four-month incubation program for young Jewish innovators and ‘Tribe: Let My People Know’, a mobile app providing centralised and personalised connections between Jewish communal event hosts and attendees.
Rachel holds a Bachelor of International Relations, a Masters in Community Development/Emergency Management and a Certificate of Engagement with the International Association of Public Participation.
Jennifer Weinstock - Senior Vice President of Philanthropy at Combined Jewish Philanthropies
Jennifer Weinstock has been applying her expertise as a development professional for more than 25 years with an emphasis on relationship-building strategies between donors and organizations. She is currently the Senior Vice President of Philanthropy at Combined Jewish Philanthropies where she oversees more than $75M in philanthropic activity every year including a $50M annual campaign, endowment, planned giving and all supplementary giving. Previously Jennifer was the Associate Head of School for External Relations at Gann Academy for six years where she was responsible for all annual, capital and major gifts fundraising as well as strategy and communication with all external constituencies. Before coming to Gann, Jennifer spent six years at the Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education and more than a decade at WGBH, Boston’s public broadcasting station, as the senior Major Gifts officer, Director of Stewardship and Director of the Major Gifts Annual Fund. Jennifer was a member of the pilot class of the Wexner Field Fellowship, a national fellowship for mid-career Jewish professional leaders. Jennifer is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania where she was very active in Hillel and lives in Brookline, MA, with her husband Amiel and three teenage sons who all attend Jewish day school and Jewish overnight camp.
Elisheva Massel - Director of Strategic Partnerships at JDC
Elisheva Massel is the Director, Strategic Partnerships at JDC, the largest Jewish humanitarian organization, where she feels lucky to enact the value of global Jewish responsibility on a daily basis. While living in Sydney, Eli was active in Hineni, and led multiple international programs, including March of the Living, Taglit Birthright Israel and AUJS Leadership Development Program. Eli moved to the US in 2012 to pursue an MA in Jewish Professional Leadership and an MBA in Nonprofit Management at Brandeis University where she quickly learnt that if she was serious about a future in the nonprofit sector then she would need to learn how to fundraise. Today, Eli works on JDC's global fundraising team with New York based donors, and local and national funding organizations across the US. Eli received her BA/BSW with Honors from the University of New South Wales and an MA/MBA from Brandeis University as a Wexner Graduate Fellow/Davidson Scholar. Elisheva has worked at the Sydney Jewish Museum, AJC Boston, Birthright Israel Foundation and Hazon, and she currently resides in New York City.
Rae Ringel - Executive Coach and President of The Ringel Group
Rae Ringel is a certified executive coach and founding President of The Ringel Group. She is a faculty member at the Georgetown University Institute for Transformational Leadership and founding director of their certificate program in the Art of Facilitation and Design. She is also adjunct faculty at the University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business.
Rae is in high demand as an innovator in the areas of coaching, facilitation and training across sectors. She enables a growing list of executives in some of the most successful Fortune 500 companies, nonprofits and government agencies to become more effective managers and stronger communicators with a formidable leadership presence.
Rae offers deep experience in the areas of fundraising and board development. Prior to starting The Ringel Group, Rae was the Director of Professional and Volunteer Development at United Jewish Communities, a two-billion dollar annual enterprise that provides global humanitarian and development assistance. In this capacity, Rae devised an award-winning interactive web-based training program and myriad conferences in service of over 20,000 professionals and volunteers.
Rae is a Phi Beta Kappa Graduate of the University of Rochester. She received her Master’s Degree in Organizational Psychology from Columbia University, and earned her Leadership Coaching certification from Georgetown University. She was a Wexner Graduate Fellow and now holds a faculty position with the Wexner Foundation. Rae lives in Washington D.C. with her husband and four children.
Emily Nathan - Diversity and Inclusion practitioner
Emily is a diversity and inclusion practitioner with extensive experience in creating and implementing people, culture and engagement strategies. Emily has been at Bloomberg based in London for the last six years working across Europe, Middle East and Africa as well as leading initiatives across Asia Pacific and North America. Emily is committed to challenging organisations to think differently, ensuring the right programs are in place to inspire innovative and inclusive workplaces. Emily holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Masters of Human Resources and Industrial Relations from the University of Sydney. She is an avid sportswoman and has a passion for the theatre
OFFICE HOURS MENTORS
Assaf Ambar - Principal at Boston Consulting Group
Assaf is a management consultant and works as a Principal at Boston Consulting Group. He has experience in the Technology, Media and Digital Media and Telecommunications industries and supports large companies with their growth and innovation efforts.
Assaf has held various positions, mostly in media and technology companies such as Google. Assaf holds a B.A. in Business Administration, Marketing and Information Technologies, is a marathon runner, enjoys good food and wine and is passionate about technology innovations that help improve our lives. Assaf lives with his partner and two kids in Melbourne.