Voices of Hope Staff
- Kathy Fishman, Executive Director
- Robin Landau, Director of Programs and Development
- Kimberly Ballaro, Director of the Holocaust Education Resource and Outreach (HERO) Center
- Alan Lazowski, Founding Chair
- Peter Fishman, President
- Adele Jacobs, First Vice President
- Gayle Temkin, Vice President
- Sharone Kornman, Secretary
- Lois Berkowitz, Assistant Secretary
- Rona Gollob, Treasurer
Board of Directors
Stuart Abrams is a teacher of Genocide Studies, Psychology, History, and Human Rights Education at Avon High School. He has served as the advisor to the school’s Amnesty International chapter since 1998. Mr. Abrams was awarded the Joseph Korzenik Fellowship for excellence in Holocaust Education by the Greenberg Center at the University of Hartford in 1996. In 2000, Mr. Abrams was awarded the prestigious Museum Teacher Fellowship by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Mr. Abrams was selected as the Avon School District’s 2009-2010 Teacher of the Year. In 2011, Mr. Abrams received the Prudence Crandall Memorial Human and Civil Rights award given by the Connecticut Education Association. Also in 2011, the Polish government through the auspices of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum invited Mr. Abrams to spend a week in Poland working with Polish educators discussing the future of Holocaust and Genocide studies in both countries. In 2015, Mr. Abrams was selected as Co-Chair of the Steering Committee to help launch a new statewide organization, The Connecticut Human Rights Partnership. The mission of the CHRP is to develop, support, and publicize educational and co-curricular opportunities through a network of interested individuals and organizations with expertise, skills and proficiencies in the field of human rights. In May of 2016, Mr. Abrams was recognized by Voices of Hope as a recipient of the first annual Simon Konover award in Recognition for Excellence in Holocaust Teaching. In December of 2017, Mr. Abrams was honored to be elected to serve on the Board of Directors for Voices of Hope. Mr. Abrams resides in West Hartford, Connecticut with his wife of 46 years, Joan. They have two wonderful children, Lauren and Zachary, a terrific son-in-law Brian, and two adorable and delicious grandchildren, Nathan and Madeline.
Lois Berkowitz, Psy.D. is a licensed Clinical Psychologist working as Director of Psychological Services at the State of Connecticut Department of Children and Families since 2006. Prior to that time, she had her own practice primarily working with children and families in Avon, CT as well as part time work with children and adolescents in psychiatric hospitals and day treatment. She currently serves as Second Vice President and has been on the board of the Jewish Children’s Service Organization since 2002. In addition, she was a founding member of One by One, a group consisting of children of Holocaust survivors and children of the Third Reich. The mission of that group was to work with groups in conflict and, through dialogue, decrease the risk of conflict going from generation to generation. As part of One by One, Dr. Berkowitz participated in a panel discussion at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum about generational transmission of hate and trauma. The original dialogue group meeting was filmed and shown on an episode of Dateline on NBC. As a child of a survivor of the Shoah, Dr. Berkowitz devotes her time, both professionally and personally, on the need to address all forms of trauma including the abuse and neglect of children as well as the perpetration of any form of genocide upon a group of people. “In order to prevent the past from repeating itself, we must learn from it and act when we see it happening in our world today.”
Leon Chameides, M.D. was born in Poland, survived the war in hiding in a Ukrainian Greek-Catholic monastery, and came to the United States in 1949. He received a BA from Yeshiva College, a Hebrew Teacher’s Diploma from the Teacher’s Institute of Yeshiva University, and an MD from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Trained in pediatrics and pediatric cardiology at the University of Rochester, he came to Hartford Hospital in 1967 to set up a pediatric cardiology program. He was Director of Pediatric Cardiology (1967-1997) at Hartford Hospital and Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, Director of Pediatrics (1971-1980) at Hartford Hospital, and Clinical Professor (1968-present) at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. He has been active in the Jewish community as Vice President of the Bess and Paul Sigel Hebrew Academy, Chair of the Commission on Jewish Education, Chair of the Jewish Historical Society, President of Congregation Agudas Achim, and a member of the board of a number of other organizations. In addition to many professional articles, and a monograph on the History of the Department of Pediatrics at Hartford Hospital, he has authored three books (Strangers in Many Lands: The Story of a Jewish Family in Turbulent Times; On the Edge of the Abyss: A Polish Rabbi Speaks to his Community on the Eve of the Shoah; and A History of the Bess and Paul Sigel Hebrew Academy). Dr. Chameides and his wife, Jean are parents of three children and seven grandchildren.
Lisa Fishman; Lisa is a New Jersey native and daughter of a Holocaust survivor. She has been involved in Voices of Hope since its inception. Lisa is the past Women’s Philanthropy Chairman for the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford, past member of the National Women’s Philanthropy Board of Jewish Federations of North America. Lisa has served on the boards of Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford, Solomon Schechter Day School as well as past trustee for the Jewish Community Foundation. She had been the co-president of what was then called the Hebrew High School of New England and co-chair of The Howard J. Siegal Federation Development Institute of the JFGH. Lisa is currently the Vice Chair of The Jewish Leadership Academy.
In recognition of her community work Lisa received the Kipnis-Wilson/Friedland award in 2010, presented by Jewish Federations of North America for extraordinary philanthropy and volunteerism. She also received JFGH’s Bernard L. Gottlieb Young Leadership Award, and in 2003 the Next Generation Leadership Award of the Jewish Community Center Association. Lisa is also the 2010 recipient of the Solomon Schechter Day School’s Gerald and Paula Steinberg Community Service Award.
Peter Fishman I am the son of a Holocaust Survivor. My mother, Ruth “Tutti” Fishman, was fortunate to have several other family members survive through Westerbork and Terezin. My mother, her brother, both parents and paternal grandparents all survived through the same Holocaust experience because my grandfather was able to obtain and falsified Paraguayan passport. I have always known I was lucky and have always had an appreciation for the fact that I am here, alive and have a family that survived through one of the most horrific events in mankind’s existence.
I have been involved in the Greater Hartford community in many ways and places. I have been involved in Voices of Hope since its inception and currently serve as President. I have also served on the Watkinson School Board for many years, have been on the JCC board for over 16 years and serve as President from 2019 to 2021. I love Connecticut and have lived and worked here all my life. I like the seasons that New England offers and have enjoyed photography since the 6th grade. One of my passions in taking landscape photographs, especially sunrises and sunsets.
I work in the field of real estate development, property management and consulting. I like the work I do and am President of PKT Development and Vice President of H.B. Fishman and Co., Inc. I am married to Lisa Fishman and we have called Farmington our home since 1991 and before that West Hartford and Glastonbury. I grew up in West Hartford. We have two sons: Garrett Fishman, who is married to Chelsea Fishman, and Ari Fishman. I am lucky to have both of my sons working with me at PKT Development.
Holocaust and genocide education have become the most important philanthropic passion in my life. I feel that never forgetting and passing on the experiences of survivors may be the best way to make people understand the importance of being an upstander and not letting the mistakes of the past occur yet again.
Rona Gollob was born and raised in New York State but has lived in the Greater Hartford (CT) area essentially all her adult life. Rona has a B.S. and M. Eng. in Chemical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and worked in the Nuclear Industry for over 15 years. After her “retirement”, she became very involved in Jewish philanthropy and other civic organizations. She is co-chair of the Israel and Overseas Allocation Committee. She is also on the Federation Board. She has been a literacy volunteer in an inner- city school for the past 20 years and is currently co-chair of Children’s Reading Partners. She is a past president of Beth Hillel and currently is a member of The Emanuel Synagogue Board of Trustees. She loves to travel and this year she has been on 4 trips that were Jewish related.
Rona has two adult children, a son, Marc who lives in Las Vegas and a daughter, Sandra with her husband Aaron and their son, Felix, who lives in Maryland.
Anna Huttner is proud to sit on the Board of Voices of Hope. She worked as a Project Manager at JFACT and was the former Director of Education and Communications for Voices of Hope. Anna has a Masters Degree in Education and worked at Jewish Day schools in both Washington, D.C. and West Hartford, CT. Anna is the co-founder of the Pearl Society at the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford, sits on the Board of Directors for JT Connect and is an active participant on several community committees. She is thankful to currently have time at home with her family and volunteer at her children’s school.
Jeff Israel is a native of Connecticut and grew up in Hartford where he attended local schools. He majored in television at Grahm Junior College in Boston, Massachusetts and majored in Communications and Theater at Western Kentucky University. Jeff worked in the television industry for over forty years. He started his television career at WTIC TV channel 3 in Hartford as a film editor and projectionist. He then worked for a short time at KDKA TV in Pittsburgh as an editor on Evening Magazine. He moved back to the Hartford area and worked for WFSB TV, formally WTIC TV3 as a news photographer. In 1979 he joined a small group of pioneers in Bristol, Connecticut and helped launch the ESP Network, now known as ESPN. Traveling the world Jeff covered every major sporting event as a photographer. While at ESPN Jeff covered major sports stories for SportsCenter, and other ESPN branded shows. Jeff is the recipient of five Emmys for his work on event coverage and studio shows. Before retiring from ESPN he came off the road to serve in Studio Operation and Engineering. Jeff lives in Bristol, CT with his wife Pat. He has two sons, Jonathan and Matt. Jeff is a member of the Temple Sinai Board of Directors and is a former president. He also serves on the Board of Voices of Hope, an organization whose mission is to foster a culture of courage and social action against hatred, bigotry, intolerance and indifference. Both of Jeff’s parents are survivors of the holocaust and he is active in telling his family’s holocaust story. In conjunction with the Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies Jeff is a docent at the Museum of Jewish Civilization. Jeff is a member of the Bristol Interfaith Coalition. He also serves on the Mayor’s Diversity Counsel in Bristol, CT.
Adele R. Jacobs, is a daughter of Fred and Regina Jacobs, two survivors of Auschwitz and Bergen Belsen Concentration Camps. She has her BA from Smith College and her JD from Benjamin N. Cardozo Law School, and is licensed to practice law in Connecticut and New York State and Federal Courts. She is in private practice as a trial attorney in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and lives with her husband, Michael Liebowitz and twin sons, Jake and Stephen, in Fairfield. Adele is currently the Vice President of Voices of Hope, and she has proudly been the Chairperson for the State of Connecticut Holocaust Commemorations on three separate occasions, and has been the keynote speaker about the Shoah in multiple venues. In addition, she has chaired the Greater Bridgeport Federation Holocaust Commemorations and served on the committee, as well as serving on the Town of Fairfield Holocaust Commemoration Committee. She has recently completed her third trip to Poland, and is passionate and outspoken about the Shoah, and the importance of remembrance.
Neil Kochen recently retired from a 35-year career in the financial services industry. After graduate school, Neil moved to the greater Hartford area and over time has worked at Aetna Life and Casualty and Alpha Equity Management, and most recently at MassMutual Trust Company. Over his career Neil has served as Portfolio Manager, Head of Strategy and Policy, Chief Asset/Liability Strategist, Chief Risk Officer, Chief Financial Officer, and most recently as Chief Investment Officer. Throughout his career, Neil has been an active member of the Greater Hartford Jewish Community. He has served on the boards of the Solomon Schechter Day School, Beth El Temple of West Hartford, Greater Hartford Jewish Federation, and The Harold Grinspoon Foundation Investment Committee.
Neil is the son of a Holocaust Survivor. His father was born in Antwerp, Belgium in 1931 and fled with his immediate family in July 1940. He was able to spend the war years on London, finally emigrating to Canada in 1946.
Neil is happily married to Sharon Kochen, also an active contributor to the Hartford Jewish community, and they have 4 adult children, all SSDS graduates.
Sharone Kornman, VOH Secretary, is the daughter of two survivors from the Galitzia region of Poland. Her mother, Irene Frisch, survived the Drohobycz Ghetto and was later hidden by the family’s nanny, Frania Sobkowa. Her father, Eugene Frisch, fled to Russia alone and survived a Russian work camp and other dangers he did not care to recount. Sharone grew up in NJ, and later earned a BA from the University of Pennsylvania and a JD from George Washington University. She has practiced law in Hartford for close to 30 years. She is married to Paul Kornman and they have three children: Jacob, Isabel (Izzy) and Joseph (Joey). Sharone has been an active member of the Hartford Holocaust Commemoration Committee since 1990 and is a founding member of VOH. She also is active in The Emanuel Synagogue in West Hartford, where she formerly served on the board and executive committee and now serves on the Adult Education Committee. Roughly 5 years ago, Sharone traveled with her mother and other family members to Drohobycz to see her mother’s childhood home, her nanny’s apartment, and other sites – a trip she recounted in her VOH Second Generation Speak-Up.
Jonah Lazowski was born and raised in Hartford Connecticut and is the grandson of 2 Holocaust survivors, Rabbi Philip and Ruth Lazowski. He attended Solomon Schecter Day school in West Hartford, continuing to Kingswood Oxford for high school and graduated in 2016 from Emerson College in Boston with a BA in Film Production and a Minor in Entrepreneurial Studies.
Holocaust education, the preservation of it history, civil rights, and fighting hate are causes that are incredibly important to Jonah. He currently serves on the Next Generation Board of the United State Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Next Generation Board of the Jewish Partisan Education Foundation, the NextGen Advisory Board for the Anti-Defamation League, and the Advisory Board of The Boys & Girls Club of Greater Hartford.
Jonah started his company, A Lot Media, 4 years ago. They specialize in advertising in parking facilities all over the country. After partnering with the 5 largest parking operators and real estate companies they now have access to over 1/3rd of all parking facilities in the United States.
Jake Liebowitz is the grandchild of two holocaust survivors, Fred and Regina Jacobs of West Hartford, CT, both survivors of Auschwitz and Bergen Belsen Concentration Camps. He received his BA from New York University in 2015, is an Aerospace Underwriter for AIG in New York City, Licensed Real Estate Agent for Corcoran Group in New York City and a Private Pilot. An active young professional in the Jewish community, Jake has been involved with BBYO Inc. as a March of the Living Participant, Community Engagement Fellow and Chapter Advisor. He was also invited to and attended BBYO’s Alumni International Leadership Institute in Israel. He continues to be actively involved in the Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity. In his undergraduate years he served as the Philanthropy Chair for his chapter and proudly serves as the Chapter Advisor for the Yale University chapter. As part of his involvement with Alpha Epsilon Pi, he and 120 other top pro-Israel student leaders where invited to the Israeli Embassy in Washington D.C. for an Israel Campus Mobilization Day for high level briefings. He was equipped with information, strategies and resources to effectively communicate about the Israeli and Hammas conflicts. In addition, he participated in the inaugural class of the Michael A. Leven Leadership Institute and continues to serve as a mentor in this program. Jake has also traveled to Israel with the Jewish National Fund to participate in a week of community service, giving back to under-supported communities.
With his grandparents having since passed on, Jake continues to cherish his relationship he once had with them and their influence, to explore his Jewish identity and build on his advocacy skills. He is committed to promoting and educating about anti-semitism and the Holocaust.
Joseph Olzacki has worked with Voices of Hope for many years beginning with The Identity Project, in which students of color from Bloomfield Public Schools were challenged to see lessons learned from the Holocaust and world genocides and their relation to current events. He was awarded the 2012 University of Hartford Humanitarian of the Year Award, the 2010 Rotary International Paul Harris Fellow, the 2010 Connecticut Movers and Shakers from the Hartford Courant and Connecticut Jewish Ledger and the 2008 Educator of the Year from The Hartford Symphony Orchestra.
Dr. Olzacki was asked to visit the Republic of Rwanda to assist in training the next generation of teachers. His Excellency President Paul Kagame and University of Hartford President Walter Harrison created the Rwandan Teacher Education Program, (RTEP). Beginning in 2014 the RTEP educated over 5000 Rwandan educators in English Language Learning, Education Methods, and Peace Initiatives.
Dr. Olzacki played an integral role in getting the mandate for Holocaust and Genocide education passed by reaching out to legislators and the community. Dr. Olzacki was honored by Voices of Hope in 2018 with the Simon Konover Recognition for Excellence in Holocaust teaching. He is currently the superintendent of Connecticut Region 14 schools.
Eliane Sandler, is the daughter of Holocaust survivors. Eliane has been involved in Holocaust education and commemoration since the early 1980s, organizing the first Yom Hashoah Commemoration in Greenwich CT and serving as a docent at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, an ADL Echoes and Reflections facilitator, and a member of the Board of Voices of Hope. Eliane is a special education and reading specialist who has worked with low income, special needs, and emotionally disturbed students in Connecticut and New York states. Eliane has also served as the Coordinator at the Den for Grieving Kids, offering young adult bereavement support and currently teaches Adult ESL with Literacy Volunteers of Greater Hartford and as a tutor for adult asylum seekers. Eliane was born in Europe, after the war, to parents who lost their entire families, and lived in pioneer-era Israel until moving to America at age 9.
Colleen Simon; Colleen is a middle school teacher at heart and taught seventh and eighth grade for 16 years at a Catholic parochial school in Stratford. She is currently the middle school humanities teacher at Solomon Schechter Day School in West Hartford, CT. She has presented on the pedagogy of Holocaust Education for the National Conference of Catholic Educators and the Connecticut Council for the Social Studies. Colleen is a United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Teacher Fellow and a member of the planning committee for the Holocaust and Genocide Educators Workshop held annually at the Maurice Greenberg Center. She is the proud recipient of the Simon Konover Recognition for Excellence in Holocaust Teaching. Colleen is currently a PhD candidate in Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Gratz College, and she has traveled to Israel, Poland and Rwanda to further her study and understanding of genocides. Colleen married her prom date in 1984, and they are parents to three young adult daughters and were proud to welcome their first son-in-law in 2015.
Marge Swaye; Marge was a reading specialist and Special Education teacher for the last 35 years in Wethersfield and most recently also volunteered with the Federation reading partners program and with the Freedom School’s Children Defense Fund in Hartford for children who are most at risk. Both of Marge’s parents survived the Holocaust and when they moved here 5 years ago, they become involved with Voices of Hope. Marge is always willing and available to help volunteer with any of our programs and attends our programs regularly. Last year Marge participated in our 4th Speak Up Showcase and she and her mother recently spoke together at the Museum of Jewish Civilization to students from Venture Academy in Meriden, CT.
Gayle Weiner Temkin; Gayle, a native of New York, earned her degree in Industrial Psychology from Queens College. She later received her MSW in Community Organization at Yeshiva University’s Wurzweiler School of Social Work. Gayle moved to Connecticut when she married her husband Steven.
Gayle’s father, Abby Weiner z”l, was a Holocaust survivor who had spoken at numerous schools, colleges, and other venues about his experiences. In 2002 Gayle and her parents went back to the 4 concentration camps where her father had been held as a young boy.
Gayle is actively involved in the Greater Hartford Jewish Community. She serves as a Vice President of Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Hartford. She spearheaded community collaboration as a core member of the Executive Committee for the Aim Chai Endowment Campaign and the Day School Transformation Fund. At Schechter, Gayle Chairs the Development Committee, is co-chair for the Annual Ner Tamid Gala and served on the Parent Association. In 2015 Gayle and her family were honored as recipients of the Ner Tamid award. Gayle is the incoming President at the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Hartford, Chairwoman of the Board and immediate past President of the JCC. Gayle also serves on the Board of Jewish Family Services and Beth El Temple, and is involved in the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford where she is a Community Trustee, past co-chair of the Presidents Council, and a Lion of Judah. In 2014, Gayle along with seven other community leaders came together to “save” The Crown Market, the only kosher supermarket in the area.
Gayle is passionate about providing improved treatments and ultimately finding the cure for Glycogen Storage Disease (GSD). Her daughter Alyssa has GSD type 1a, a Jewish genetic disease. She is Trustee and Founder of the Global Center For Glycogen Storage Disease. In 2006, Gayle and Steve created Alyssa’s Angel Fund in order to provide GSD patients and their families with financial assistance if necessary, in order to get the medical care they need.
In 2014 Gayle was selected as one of 20 Wexner Heritage Fellows from New England.
Melissa Torrente, M.S. is a Connecticut middle school educator who has been active in Holocaust education for many years. She is a member of the University of Hartford Holocaust Educator conference and serves on the selection committee for the University of Hartford Holocaust Educator Awards. Mrs. Torrente is the recipient of the Simon Konover Recognition for Excellence in Holocaust Teaching and the 2018 Funds For Teachers fellow, she will be traveling to Europe in order to help her students better understand the Holocaust, World War II and the refugee crisis of today.