Rabbi Rachel Timoner
Rabbi Rachel Timoner is grateful and proud to serve as Senior Rabbi of Congregation Beth Elohim in Park Slope, Brooklyn. She is honored to stand with families at the moments of greatest joy and deepest sorrow in their lives, and she is delighted to be part of a flowering of creativity, community, learning, spirituality, and action at CBE.
Her initiatives in recent years include a weekly class designed to get to the heart and meaning of the prayer experience, a rabbinic conversation on antisemitism, a study series on systemic racism in America, a weekly class about peoplehood and nationalism, a sukkah about the refugee experience, a dialogue and study series on Israel, a revival of CBE’s youth group, and a Dismantling Racism Team which was part of the successful campaigns to Raise the Age of criminal responsibility and to win bail reform, speedy trial reform, and discovery reform in the State of New York. She helped to launch RAC-NY and Reform California, two statewide efforts to bring Reform Jewish values to bear on core issues of our times, such as immigration, affordable housing, and racial profiling. In November 2016, Rabbi Timoner, in cooperation with City Councilmember Brad Lander, opened CBE’s sanctuary to #GetOrganizedBK, so that thousands of Brooklyn neighbors could help to protect human rights and democracy. On any given Shabbat, you’ll find Rabbi Timoner speaking about our purpose as Jews and human beings, waking up to the spiritual aspect of our lives, the moral challenges of our times, and the ways we need each other.
From 2009 to 2015, Rabbi Timoner served as Associate Rabbi of Leo Baeck Temple in Los Angeles, where she was a teacher of Torah and helped to develop the Shabbat Morning Minyan, Community of Elders, Spirituality Workshop, and Community Organizing Leadership Team that took on public transportation and economic justice.
Previously, Rabbi Timoner raised funds to rebuild the San Francisco Women’s Building; worked to mitigate the harm of welfare reform in California; and founded two leadership programs and a peer hotline for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth.
Rabbi Timoner serves on the board of the New York Jewish Agenda, the Brooklyn Community Foundation, the New York Board of Rabbis, the UJA-Federation of New York, and the International Council of the New Israel Fund. She is a fellow in the Rabbinic Leadership Initiative of the Shalom Hartman Institute, a T’ruah chavera, and is a graduate of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality’s Clergy Leadership Program and the Jewish Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Training. She is the author of Breath of Life: God as Spirit in Judaism.
Click here to view Rabbi Timoner’s past High Holy Days sermons.
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Cantor Josh Breitzer
Cantor Josh Breitzer (he/him) has joyfully served Brooklyn’s Congregation Beth Elohim since receiving ordination from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 2011. He leads the community through prayer and song, teaches chanting and ritual skills to people of all ages, and helps turn special moments into sacred occasions. During his decade of innovative cantorial stewardship, CBE has become a beacon of dynamic, pluralistic ritual activity, attracting international attention and growing to over 1000 member units.
Named by The Forward in its “Soundtrack of Our Spirit” series as one of the best new Jewish music voices, Cantor Breitzer has sung at concert halls and synagogues across the country. He appears throughout the PBS documentary “The Four Sons And All Their Sons: A Passover Tale” and helped create the New York Festival of Song’s acclaimed cabaret “A Goyishe Christmas to You” in which he has performed every year since 2010. Among his most influential mentors were Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Yehudi Wyner, Cantor Lawrence Avery, and Dr. Jack Gottlieb, whose artistic legacy Cantor Breitzer continues to preserve and promote.
Cantor Breitzer proudly hails from mid-Michigan and spent formative summers at Interlochen Arts Camp, later earning voice degrees from the University of Michigan and the New England Conservatory. Committed to inspiring the next generation of Jewish music makers, he was the founding conductor of HaZamir Brooklyn, a chapter of HaZamir: The International Jewish Teen Choir, and has been on faculty at the URJ Kutz Camp and 6 Points Creative Arts Academy. He has presented classes at the North American Jewish Choral Festival and the Academy for Jewish Religion, and was recently invited to be a visiting lecturer at the Abraham Geiger Kolleg in Potsdam, Germany.
As a dedicated instructor at the HUC-JIR Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music, Cantor Breitzer advises and coaches students and teaches courses on integrative repertoire for Shabbat and Yom Kippur. An alumnus of the Clergy Leadership Program of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, he strives to model in all his work how one might weave traditional and contemporary liturgical settings into a holistic, compelling prayer experience. His former cantorial interns have gone on to serve prominent communities throughout the progressive Jewish world.
Having volunteered for the American Conference of Cantors in several capacities since his own HUC student years, Cantor Breitzer was elected to the ACC board in 2015 and to the officer team in 2016. From 2016-2019 he was Vice President for Professional Development, External Policy and Placement, and in 2022 he will complete a term as Vice President for Membership and External Partnerships.
Together with his wife Donna and their children Jonah and Gideon, Cantor Breitzer makes a home in Park Slope. He relishes the city’s multitude of mass transit systems, doing the New York Times Sunday Crossword, and crafting puns of varying quality for his extremely tolerant family and friends.
Last edited: October 2021
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Rabbi Matthew Green
Matt Green has been at CBE since the fall of 2015 when he started here as our Rabbinic Intern, and now serves as our Associate Rabbi. He serves as the director of Brooklyn Jews, CBE’s community of young Brooklynites looking for connection to Jewish culture, time, and ritual. Matt has also spent his time at CBE teaching b’nei mitzvah students and teaching the 9th grade community organizing class. He frequently leads Shabbat services and officiates lifecycle events.
A born and raised Michigander, Matt holds a B.A. in History from the University of Michigan. After college, he worked as a Berman Fellow at Michigan Hillel. He was ordained by the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York, where he was a Tisch Fellow. In 2015, Matt won the Be Wise entrepreneurship competition at HUC for his project, Grindr Shabbat, now a part of Brooklyn Jews.
Matt is a fan of smoked fish, Yiddish literature, and Michigan microbrews. He lives in Park Slope.
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Rabbi Stephanie Kolin
Prior to becoming Union Temple’s rabbi, Rabbi Kolin most recently served as a Rabbi of Central Synagogue in Manhattan. Before moving back to NYC, Rabbi Kolin was Co-Director of the Union for Reform Judaism’s Just Congregations, then the community organizing arm of the Reform Movement, and lead organizer and a founder of Reform CA (now RAC-CA), a statewide campaign of Reform congregations to work for a more just and compassionate California. Previously, she was Associate Rabbi at Temple Israel in Boston. Rabbi Kolin is an Auburn Seminary Senior Fellow, and has been named a “Game Changer” by the Los Angeles Jewish Journal, one of Newsweek’s “Rabbis to Watch,” and one of the Forward’s “America’s Influential Women Rabbis.” Rabbi Kolin has led successful campaigns for immigration, criminal justice, and affordable housing reform as part of interfaith coalitions and is a contributing author to the Reform Movement’s new book on social justice, Moral Resistance and Spiritual Authority: Our Jewish Obligation to Social Justice. She has served as an adjunct professor of the Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles and as faculty at the Wexner Foundation. Rabbi Kolin grew up in NYC and lives in Brooklyn with her wife, Jocelyn, and their two-year old daughter.
Eliza Scheffler is the Rabbinic Intern at CBE and Brooklyn Jews. Her soul is bi-coastal; she grew up in Larchmont, NY and then moved to San Francisco, CA after college. In between, Eliza attended Yale University, where she earned a B.A. in American studies. After college, she worked in charity evaluation with a focus on global health and development. Eliza is looking forward to her ordination as a Rabbi from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in May 2022. She loves climbing mountains, stocking shelves at the Park Slope Food Coop, and learning Torah from everyone she meets. She lives with her husband and son in Park Slope.
From the very start, Jordan has always loved the experience of communal singing and singing together. Jordan’s connection with Jewish music began in their temple’s junior choir once upon a time, and even led them to continue studying and singing in choirs through college, where Jordan learned how to run and conduct choral ensembles, leading a tight-knit group in song. Jordan has spent many years songleading at URJ summer camps, and was mostly recently the Head Songleader at Eisner Camp up in Great Barrington, MA. Throughout the years, they’ve gotten to deepen their understanding of music, human relationships, and Judaism through a variety of experiences. Jordan has gone from studying Arabic and Hebrew within a Global Politics degree to performing in theatrical performances and even writing an original musical. Back in high school, Jordan had the opportunity to go to the Kutz Camp and spend two summers learning deeply about songleading and our folk tradition from some incredible mentors. It was there that the guitar strumming, song writing, and group singing clicked together—Jordan needed to be a cantor. Lo and behold, 8 years later, they are here doing what they love. Jordan cannot be more excited to help facilitate beautiful music-making and prayerful experiences with you, right in their neighborhood in Brooklyn.
Rabbi Gerald I. Weider
Rabbi Gerald I. Weider was ordained in 1973 from the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati Ohio. He served two congregations before coming to Congregation Beth Elohim in Brooklyn. His first congregation was Temple Ohabei Shalom in Brookline, Massachusetts where he served as the Assistant Rabbi. His second pulpit was Washington Hebrew Congregation in Washington D.C. where he served as the Associate Rabbi.
For 28 years Rabbi Weider served as the Senior Rabbi at CBE. He joined Rabbi Eugene J. Sack in 1978, just as the Brownstone Revival movement hit Park Slope. Under his leadership, CBE grew to become the largest and most active Reform synagogues in Brooklyn.
Upon retirement from CBE in June 2006, Rabbi Weider assumed the position of Senior Rabbinic Consultant to the Rabbinic Cabinet of the Jewish Federations of North America. In this role Rabbi Weider worked on the national level with over 1,000 rabbis (Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox) who were members of the Rabbinic Cabinet. Rabbi Weider retired from this position in 2016.
Rabbi Weider and his wife Rosalie are parents of two sons, Avi and Alex Weider, and they are grandparents of triplets (two boys and a girl). Rabbi Weider and Rosalie continue to reside in Brooklyn, New York.
Rabbi Dr. Linda Henry Goodman
A native New Yorker, Rabbi Goodman came to Union Temple in 1992. She has long been a champion of women’s rights, outspokenly fighting to protect reproductive choice and health care access for women in New York State and throughout the country. She participates actively in the Reform Jewish Voice of New York State, and serves on the Clergy Advisory Board of Concerned Clergy for Choice in Albany. In 2012, she was installed as the first woman to serve as President of The New York Board of Rabbis. For many years she has studied at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, and in July of 2016 became a Senior Rabbinic Fellow of that Institute. She received rabbinic ordination from Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion, from which she also holds a Master of Arts in Hebrew Literature, a Doctor of Ministry, and an Honorary Doctor of Divinity degree. She has served as Assistant Rabbi of Temple Emanu-El of New York, as Hillel Director and Jewish Chaplain at Adelphi University, and on the Jewish Studies faculties of Molloy College and the New York Theological Seminary. A talented musician, she holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from Queens College and The Mannes College of Music (now renamed Mannes College the New School for Music after a move to The New School), earned an M.A. from Queens College, and taught at both schools as well as at SUNY Purchase. Music has always been a dominant source of her inspiration in life. She is married to Rabbi Stephen Wise Goodman, and they have an adult son, Philip.
Youth and Family
Rabbi Molly Kane
Rabbi Molly Kane is thrilled to be CBE’s new Director of Youth and Family Programs. Rabbi Kane most recently served for ten years as the Associate Rabbi-Educator at Brooklyn Heights Synagogue. Rabbi Kane focuses on the full arc of childhood and family experiences and education — from birth through the teen years — bringing an overarching and integrated vision to oversee our world-class directors of the Early Childhood Center, Yachad, and Afterschool/Camps.
After graduating from Brandeis University, Rabbi Kane worked for five years as an informal Jewish educator in the Youth Department of the Union for Reform Judaism. During that time she served in leadership positions at the URJ Eisner Camp, the URJ Kutz Camp, and the NFTY in Israel summer program. She then earned an M.A. in nonprofit management from The New School University, went on to rabbinical school, and was ordained by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 2011. During her time at HUC-JIR she served as the rabbinic intern at Congregation Kolot Chayeinu and completed a summer residency as a chaplain at the University of California Medical Center. In 2017, Rabbi Kane completed a certificate in Jewish Spiritual Direction from HUC-JIR.
Rabbi Kane has roots in Chicago, Illinois, and Westport, Connecticut, and has lived in Park Slope since 2004. She travels to Israel often and is proud to have walked the Israel National Trail (shvil yisrael) in 2018. She enjoys writing and performing stand-up comedy and comedic songs, exercising in Prospect Park, drawing and painting, cooking, and spending time with her family and friends.
Jaci Israel is Director of CBE’s Early Childhood Center and has enjoyed a long relationship with CBE where she began her preschool teaching career in 1986. Since then she has coordinated Pre-K programs for several nonprofit agencies and initiated the Project Reach Youth’s Universal Pre-K Program. She has also worked extensively with elementary age students with learning disabilities as a teacher at the Mary McDowell Center and as an Orton Gillingham tutor. Jaci has a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education and a Master’s degree in Special Education. Her proudest achievements by far are her son and daughter.
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Tehilah Eisenstadt previously served as Director of Education & Family Engagement at SAJ, a warm, vibrant, inclusive, social justice committed and creative community. Tehilah is excited to return to Brooklyn where she was Luria Academy’s Primary (preschool) Community Director. She works with multi-faith leaders on ongoing issues related to Jewish values, particularly surrounding the abducted school girls in Chibok Nigeria in 2014.
Tehilah is honored to work, pray and dream alongside colleagues and friends as a consultant at Cordoba House, a contemporary, pluralistic and spiritual American Muslim religious school. Tehilah co-created their curriculum and conducted teacher development in the first years there. Tehilah’s consulting, speaking, and writing largely focuses on Jewish education, early childhood education, parenting from a socio-emotional perspective, body-positive language, and social justice. Tehilah serves as a volunteer mikvah guide and educator for ImmerseNYC and is on the Board of Directors of the American Jewish League for Israel. Tehilah served as a curriculum consultant Netflix’s Charlie’s Colorforms City.
She received Master degrees in Jewish Education and in Midrash/Biblical Exegesis from the Jewish Theological Seminary, she has certification in Early Childhood Administration, is a graduate of HUC-JTS’s Leadership Institute, and a proud alumna of Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies. Tehilah’s BA is from Binghamton University, of which she spent one year at Bar Ilan University in Ramat Gan.
Tehilah, her hus-friend Simon, and their child Adin Geshem first fell in love with CBE through Debbie Brukman’s Tot Shabbat program and CBE’s food collection during Hurricane Sandy. Tehilah’s family visits CBE regularly as minyan members of Altshul and many other CBE holiday and community events. It is with great joy that Tehilah joins the CBE family as Director of Yachad and Family Education, eager to learn with and from you while sharing her love for a Judaism that calls us to wonder, inquire, listen, celebrate,
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Nick joins CBE after many years in the JCC world, most recently working with the JCC Association of North America as part of the organizing team for the JCC Maccabi Games. Before that, Nick was the Director of Camp, Enrichment, and Teen Engagement at the Shorefront YM-YWHA in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn. He also spent time at the Austin JCC as the Assistant Camp Director/Director of Teen Programs. Nick started his career as a Middle School Athletic Director and Afterschool Director at PS/IS 276 in Battery Park City, also working with Manhattan Youth Recreation and Resources and New Country Day Camp.
Nick is a NYC native who spent his middle school and high school years in Park Slope, and is a proud graduate of Brooklyn Technical High School. He has a B.A. in Philosophy from McGill University in Montreal, Canada, and currently lives in Crown Heights. Nick is very excited to have the opportunity to work in the neighborhood that he spent his formative years, and to build on the incredible legacy of CBE’s youth programming
Katie Browning has been with the ECC for the past three years as the Early Childhood Consultant, coaching teachers around curriculum development, supporting team partnerships and developing strategies to support students’ learning at the ECC. She has an extensive background in preschool education, as a classroom teacher and as a special educator. Katie began her teaching career at the Little Room program at the Brooklyn Heights Montessori School as a classroom teacher and after completing her master’s degree in Special Education, she joined the staff at Rivendell in 1996 as a Special Education Itinerant Teacher (SEIT). As a SEIT, she lent her special education expertise to classroom teachers and families while working to support my students in a variety of preschool settings, including the ECC. Katie’s work over the years has also included the provision of workshops to teachers and parents, carrying out educational evaluations, and private tutoring. Katie is married, with 20-year-old twins, and have lived in Brooklyn for 38 years. She is very excited to join CBE as part of the ECC team in her new role as Associate Director.
Haley is Yachad’s Teen Director and Microclass Coordinator. She moved to Brooklyn and joined the team at CBE in 2019 and is excited to begin her 3rd year with Yachad. She has her Masters of Education from the University of Mary Washington and before working at CBE was working as a Special Education Teacher in her home state of Virginia. Haley also has a deep connection to our summer camps! She grew up at URJ Kutz Camp and helps our CBE families connect with URJ Eisner, Crane Lake and 6 Points Camps. Haley is grateful to work with such a wonderful community of teenagers, families, colleagues and more!
Caitlyn Bradley is the Department Coordinator for the Early Childhood Center. She began working at CBE in 2008 as an extended day helper in the ECC. Caitlyn then moved to the CBE KIDS Afterschool Program where she worked as a counselor and an administrative assistant. She finally came full circle and started working in the ECC again in 2016. Caitlyn was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. She received a Bachelor of Arts from St. Francis College in 2013.
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Adva has been a Brooklynite for 8 years having moved here from Westborough, MA. She attended school at University of Hartford and has worked previously at Kane Street Synagogue under Rabbi Valerie Lieber. Adva is excited to join the Yachad team and help CBE families learn all about their Jewish heritage and community!
Tom Pnini is our ECC Admissions Coordinator and Art Studio Teacher. Tom runs our “Cardboard Studio”, a classroom that has been completely transformed into an interactive art studio for kids to explore their creative side without limits. Our preschool students work with Tom in the Cardboard Studio as part of their curriculum.
Outside of the ECC, Tom is a successful artist. He creates time-based works and large-scale installations. He has exhibited in museums and galleries in New York, Los Angeles, Milan, Toronto, Moscow, and Israel. He holds a Bachelor of Education degree from Hamidrasha College (2008) and an Master of Fine Arts from Parsons School of Design at the New School (2010).
Mark Flaxer joins us from South Florida, where he was an interim executive director at Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center. While there, he helped set them up for future success in their key areas of board development, financialstewardship, streamlined technology, and the challenges of the pandemic. His previous executive director roles were at Temple Beth Sholom in Miami Beach and Temple Emanu-el in Atlanta. Each of these synagogues has its unique size, budget, demographic, and challenges, which gave Mark the ex-perience of overseeing multiple facilities, varied programming, creative fundraising, small and large schools, clergy transitions, staff development, and security and weather crises. Before his career in synagogue management, Mark was in the for-profit worldin Atlanta for over 25 years. He was the vice president of sales for a large in-ternational company and subsequently owned several of his own businesses,including a sports-management company dedicated to developing lacrosse athletes, coaches and programs throughout the metro Atlanta area. (Fun fact: Mark is a certified youth lacrosse coach and referee!)Mark celebrates his 30th anniversary this year with his wife, Staci. They have two daughters, Abby and Janine.
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Prior to joining the staff at CBE, Karen spent five years as a Consulting Editor for TueNight, a website for women over 40, producing their weekly newsletter and live events, managing their social media accounts, moderating their Facebook group, and cultivating new writers. She spent the first part of her career working in the publishing industry as a literary agent.
Karen and her husband Michael moved to Park Slope in 1996. They have raised their son and daughter here — from the ECC years through B’nei Mitzvah and Chazakah — and feel incredibly lucky to be a part of this warm and loving community.
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Rabbi Jason Gitlin
Rabbi Jason Gitlin steps into a new CBE position that works to weave community members into small groups that can draw them toward one another and Jewish life. He most recently served for five years as Kane Street Synagogue’s Engagement Director.
Jason began his career as a news reporter, editor, and columnist, was a communications and interfaith affairs director at UJA-Federation of New York for several years, and then pursued the rabbinate. After ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary, he directed the Seminary’s ReFrame program for experiential Jewish education. He has an MA in Near Eastern Studies from New York University, a BA in journalism from the University of Colorado, a certificate from the Muehlstein Institute for Jewish Professional Leadership, and was a fellow at Yeshivat Hadar and the Conservative Yeshiva.
An avid city walker, amateur naturalist, and Pirkei Avot devotee, Rabbi Gitlin was also a founding member of Brooklyn Jews. He is thrilled to help make CBE be a place where everyone can find their way and their people.
Kimberly Lisi joined CBE in May 2021 with the merger of Union Temple, where she worked in the preschool and temple offices since 2011. Prior to that she spent 20+ years working for magazine publishers, including Time Inc, Conde Nast, and Rodale Press. Kimberly has a B.A. in English from the University of Pennsylvania and lives across the park in Lefferts Manor with her husband, daughter, mother, rabbit and two dogs.
Nate Jaffe joined the CBE team in August 2018. Before coming to CBE, he graduated from Goucher College with a B.A. in Theater and Communications/Media Studies.
Throughout his life, Nate has been heavily involved in Reform Judaism. He is a proud alum of URJ Eisner Camp, where he spent 14 consecutive summers as a camper and staff member, and of NFTY-Northeast. Nate is proud and grateful to continue his journey at CBE.
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Ben Kern (he/him) joined CBE in June 2021 as the Communications and Events Coordinator. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management and Jewish Studies from Rutgers University, the State University of New Jersey at New Brunswick.
Prior to joining CBE, Ben worked as the Israel Engagement Coordinator for Santa Barbara Hillel and as an Educator and Teen Program Coordinator at Stephen Wise Free Synagogue. He is a proud alum of the URJ’s Eisner Camp, NFTY-GER, and URJ Heller High. Originally from New Jersey, he now lives in Brooklyn with his dog, Bella. Ben is thrilled to be part of this warm and welcoming community at CBE!
Prior to joining CBE, Beth spent four years with Congregation Emanu-El on Manhattan’s Upper East Side as a receptionist, membership assistant, and communications assistant. Outside of temple life, Beth is a professional musician and teaching artist offering private lessons in voice and piano to young musicians throughout the city. As CBE’s B’nei Mitzvah Coordinator, she is delighted to work with our youth and families as they navigate the B’nei Mitzvah process and prepare for this meaningful Jewish milestone.
Beth graduated from the Hartt School of Music in 2016 with a B.M. each in Voice Performance and Music Education; in 2021 she earned an M.M. in Voice from The New School’s Mannes School of Music as well as a graduate minor in Creative Community Development. Along with her partner Steve and their many houseplants, Beth is a proud Brooklynite and thrilled to be a part of the CBE community.
Judy Rubin has been the Director of Finance at CBE since 2015. In this capacity she oversees CBE’s financial systems; including payroll, accounts receivable, and accounts payable. Judy comes to us from the 92nd Street Y, where she served as Controller . Prior to that Judy was an Audit Manager at the NYC Comptroller’s Office.
Originally from Brooklyn NY, Judy received a B.S. in accounting from Brooklyn College in 1985. She received her Certified Public Accounting License in 1990.
Judy currently lives with her husband and two daughters in Woodbury, NY.
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Felicia Santos joined the CBE team in 2018 and works as the Administrative Assistant for Finance & Membership. She was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. Felicia received a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration & Management from the New York Institute of Technology. Her constant show of commitment and hard work has gained her recognition by the staff as a “jack of all trades” and a dedicated team player.
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