JTS Board of Trustees Elects Three New Members

Press Contact: Eve Glasberg
Office: (212) 678-8089
Email: evglasberg@jtsa.edu

June 28, 2011, New York, NY

The Board of Trustees of The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) has elected three new members: Mimi Alperin, Susan Isaacs, and Michael J. Leffell.

“We will be enriched by the collective insight and experience that our new members bring to the board,” said Abby Joseph Cohen, chair of JTS’s Board of Trustees. “As JTS approaches its 125th anniversary, we look forward to the contributions they will make in helping us identify innovative ways to educate the next generation of clergy, scholars, teachers, and lay leadership.”

“JTS is honored by the addition of these members to its board. We know that their dedication will make them important and active partners in our community, especially as we move forward into the next academic year,” said Professor Arnold M. Eisen, chancellor of JTS.

Mimi Alperin is a founder, member, and the first president of Congregation Or Zarua in New York, and a vice president of the Jewish Community Relations Council. She is a member of the new advisory board of Context, the Institute for Jewish Learning at JTS. She was the immediate past chair of the Board of Governors of the American Jewish Committee. At the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies, she served on the Commission of Jewish Identity and Renewal and was the former chair of the Adult Learning Committee. Ms. Alperin is a former board member of the 92nd Street Y, where she chaired the Nursery School Committee and the Jewish Education Committee. She is also a former board member of Women in Need, an organization serving homeless women and children, and a former chair of the board of Hillels of New York. She served on the boards of the International League for Human Rights and the Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights. She chaired the campaign for Jewish studies at Wellesley College, which established a chair in Jewish Studies, and she is the recipient of an honorary degree from Hebrew College. Ms. Alperin earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Wellesley College.

Susan Isaacs is an award-winning novelist, journalist, essayist, and screenwriter. She is currently working on her 13th novel, Goldberg Variations, which will be published by Scribner in 2012. Since 1978, when she published her first novel, Compromising Positions (she also wrote the screenplay for the 1985 movie, starring Susan Sarandon and Raul Julia), she has written mysteries, espionage novels, and social satires. All of her novels have been New York Times best sellers and have been translated into 30 languages. Two of them are currently under development for the screen. Ms. Isaacs has also written nonfiction books, along with numerous articles for the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, and Newsday. She is a recipient of the Writers for Writers Award, the Marymount Manhattan Writing Center Award, and the John Steinbeck Award. She serves as the chairman of the board of the literary organization Poets & Writers, and is a past president of Mystery Writers of America. She is also a member of the National Book Critics Circle, the Creative Coalition, PEN, and the American Society of Journalists and Authors, among other organizations. She sits on the boards of the Queens College Foundation and the North Shore Child and Family Guidance Association and on the advisory board of the Nassau County Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Ms. Isaacs has been a member of Temple Beth Israel in Port Washington, New York, for 40 years. She was educated at Queens College.

Michael J. Leffell is the founder of Portage Advisors, LLC, a privately held company focused on alternative asset investments and consulting. Until his retirement in December 2009, Mr. Leffell was the deputy executive managing member of Davidson Kempner Capital Management, an event-driven, multi-strategy hedge fund. Mr. Leffell co-ran the firm’s Distressed Securities strategy for 20 years. With his guidance, the firm evolved from having $20 million under management and six employees to a $12 billion firm with more than 150 employees in both New York and London. In 1999, Mr. and Mrs. Leffell established the Lisa and Michael Leffell Foundation dedicated to Jewish education, strengthening the State of Israel, social service, and medical research. Mr. Leffell is president of the Board of Trustees of the Solomon Schechter School of Westchester, a trustee of Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, UJA Federation of New York, Commentary Magazine, and the Gruss Life Monument Funds, Inc. He is also a Wexner Heritage Fellow. He received his JD from Columbia Law School, where he was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar, and his undergraduate degree from Clark University.

Visit JTS at www.jtsa.edu