Halie Soifer, Chief Executive Officer
Halie Soifer is Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Jewish Democratic Council of America (JDCA). For nearly two decades, Halie served as a national security advisor to four members of Congress in the Senate and House, as a senior policy advisor in the Obama administration, as a campaign official, and as a foreign policy expert and civil servant. Prior to coming to JDCA in 2018, Halie served as National Security Advisor to then-Senator Kamala Harris (CA) and as foreign policy advisor for Sens. Ted Kaufman and Chris Coons (both DE), and Rep. Robert Wexler (FL). Soifer also served for more than two years in the Obama administration as Senior Policy Advisor to U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power. Additionally, she served in the Bush Administration as a civil servant in the State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs. During President Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, Halie served as the campaign’s Florida Jewish Vote Director. Halie received her master’s degree from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Middle East Studies and international economics, and her bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan Honors College. She is a native of East Lansing, Michigan.
Jonathan Allen, Outreach and Operations Manager
Jonathan is a proud graduate of the University of Maryland, where he served as Student Body President. In this capacity, Jonathan represented over 30,000 undergraduate students at the University to lawmakers, University administrators, and in the media. He advocated for the successful passage of Maryland state legislation including a bill reforming the University System of Maryland, and the introduction of a bill granting college athletes the right to collectively bargain. His work has been mentioned in the Washington Post, New York Times, Baltimore Sun, and ESPN.
Prior to joining JDCA, Jonathan interned for the House Foreign Affairs Committee, then-Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). On-campus, he served on Maryland Hillel’s Board of Directors, as President of Terps for Israel, and one of four students on AIPAC’s National Council. As Outreach and Operations Manager, Jonathan helps to grow JDCA’s grassroots movement and outreach to college campuses nationwide. Jonathan was born in South Florida and was raised in a Jewish Colombian family.
Shir Attias, Political and Policy Manager
Shir is a graduate of the University of Southern California with degrees in International Relations and Political Economy, originally from Phoenix, Arizona. Prior to joining JDCA, Shir worked for the Kamala Harris 2020 presidential primary campaign alongside the California political and field teams and as an intern for the House Foreign Affairs Committee. At USC, Shir was an active participant in campus life and politics as a researcher for the USC Security and Political Economy Lab, member of Phi Beta Kappa, Undergraduate Student Government, and teaching assistant in political communications. Shir also completed a portion of her studies at King’s College London War Studies department. Shir joined the JDCA team prior to the 2020 election cycle as a Political and Policy associate, tracking and managing JDCA’s 120+ endorsements, digital ads, and independent expenditures, and is thrilled to serve as JDCA Political and Policy Manager, heading JDCA’s policy advocacy, tracking, and research.
Samuel J. Crystal, Communications and Digital Director
Samuel’s career has centered around political advocacy and communications in the Jewish community. He received his Master’s in Public Policy from the University of Maryland with a specialization in Leadership and Management and was named a 'High Achieving Millennial' by the SparkVision Millennial Research Project. Samuel joined the JDCA team in 2017 and as served in multiple roles. As JDCA's Communications and Digital Director, he develops, executes and oversees JDCA's external messaging across all digital platforms. From 2015-2017, Samuel was the Director of Political Affairs at the Consulate General of Israel to New England, where he helped develop and implement diplomatic strategy between Israel and local and state governments in New England.
From 2015-2016, Samuel lived in Jerusalem working as an Israel Government Fellow, where he attended over 100 seminars, lectures, and field missions studying Israeli politics, security, and paths toward peace with the Palestinians. As the Congressional Affairs Fellow at Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he provided briefings for Israeli diplomats and Foreign Ministry officials. Samuel received his B.A. from the University of Mary Washington in 2014, and his Master’s in Public Policy from the University of Maryland in 2019. He previously served on the Advisory Council for Repair the World: Baltimore, and is passionate about criminal justice reform, combatting climate change, and support for Israel and the two-state solution.
Ben Kanter, Program and Outreach Associate
Brett Kleiman, Communications and Policy Associate
Brett is a native of Houston, Texas and recently graduated from Emory University, with a BA in Political Science and International Relations. At Emory, Brett served as president of the Young Democrats, where he worked day and night to elect Stacey Abrams in 2018. While at Emory, Brett was also intimately involved with Israel issues, where he helped establish a 1-credit class that discussed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and worked as a research intern for the Institute for the Study of Modern Israel, where he focused on Israeli cultural history and modern politics during his junior and senior years. In 2017, Brett interned for Houston City Council-member Amanda Edwards, where he learned about the importance of having passionate leaders at every level of government. In 2018, Brett was an intern for JDCA, where he helped produce research for our first full election cycle. In 2019, Brett was a legislative fellow for Congressman Lou Correa (D-CA), where he worked on Israel-related policy as well as contributed to research that led to the creation of multiple pieces of legislation. Brett’s passion for politics stems from his education at a Jewish day school which taught him that everyone deserves a chance at finding justice and meaning. In his free time, Brett enjoys watching sports and television, going on walks, politely disagreeing about politics with his friends, and reading any book he can find.
Sydney Rachael Levin-Epstein, Finance Director
Sydney Rachael Levin-Epstein is a philanthropist, strategic democratic operative, and community leader. During the 2020 Georgia Senate Runoff elections, Sydney led creative programming, financial performance, and digital engagement for a portfolio of national events for Senator Jon Ossoff, which helped secure a record-setting $117M raised in the runoff and earned the designation of best-funded Senate campaign in history. Previously, Sydney was the Deputy National Finance Director for Senator Ed Markey. Sydney secured $10M in funding during a highly-contested Senate primary – out-raising the opponent in every quarter in 2020 – through creative in-person and digital fundraising on national, regional, and local levels. She was rapidly promoted from Special Projects Manager and Finance Associate. In 2016, Sydney served the office of The Ninth President of Israel Shimon Peres and managed flagship media and event functions to promote establishment and launch of Peres Center for Peace & Innovation in Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel. Sydney received her bachelor’s degree in Political Science at The George Washington University and is a proud native of Western Massachusetts.
Stephanie Mendelsohn, Policy and Operations Associate
Stephanie is a Boca Raton, Florida native and graduate of the University of Central Florida, where she majored in Psychology with an emphasis on Industrial and Organizational Psychology. During her time at UCF, Stephanie was a member of Zeta Tau Alpha, a teaching assistant, and research assistant. She is currently pursuing her M.A.Ed. in Organizational Leadership and Learning from the George Washington University. After the rise in domestic and global antisemitic attacks, Stephanie was inspired to get involved with JDCA and ensured that Jewish voters were heard this November.
Robert J. Saferstein, Director of Programming and Strategy
Robert J. Saferstein is an interdisciplinary creative and entrepreneur. He harnesses media, design, and ritual, to craft experiences that impact and strengthen community, and develop multi-platform solutions that drive social good. For six years, Robert led efforts at Sh’ma Journal — a platform founded in 1970 to engage with matters critical to contemporary Judaism — to augment its content and digital presence, reimagine its visual identity, and cultivate strategic partnerships that would both deepen the journal’s impact, and broaden its reach. The culmination of these efforts was accomplished in 2015, when, as Market Development Director, Robert oversaw the journal’s strategic transformation into Sh’ma Now hosted by the Forward. A leader in the LGBTIQ+ Jewish world as an advocate for equity and equality, Robert was named to The Jewish Week’s “36 Under 36,” and is a multiple Natan Grant recipient for his series of experiential Shabbat dinners for Jewish LGBTIQ+ professionals, Friday Night Lights Events. In 2015, Robert founded Eighteen:22, a Schusterman Connection Point gathering in Salzburg, Austria, by convening a global network of over 70 Jewish LGBTIQ+ and ally visionaries working to advance positive change. In 2017, Robert partnered with JDC Entwine to develop and launch their first in a series of international experiences designed for LGBTIQ+ participants. Hailing from Akron, Ohio, Robert proudly worked across Northern Summit County on the Ohio Together Campaign in 2016. A graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, Robert is also an accomplished artist in the worlds of photography, film, music, and theatre — both on and off-Broadway.
Steven R. Sheffey, Senior Strategy and Policy Advisor
Steven R. Sheffey is President of Steven Richard Sheffey Consulting LLC, which specializes in public policy, communications, and government relations for businesses and not-for-profits. He writes and publishes the weekly Chicagoland Pro-Israel Political Update, which has thousands of subscribers in the U.S., Canada, Israel, and Denmark. His writing has appeared in publications such as The Huffington Post, The Jerusalem Post, The Times of Israel, The Hill, and The Daily Beast.
Steve is on the Tenth Congressional District Democrats (Illinois) leadership team, was slated as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention for Tom Harkin in 1992, Barack Obama in 2012, and Hillary Clinton in 2016, and advises and organizes events for candidates throughout the country. Steve currently serves on the Government Affairs Committee of the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago and on the Board of Directors of North Suburban Synagogue Beth El. He has served on the boards of many Jewish community organizations, both at the local and national level. Steve graduated from Northwestern University School of Law, where was a Notes and Comments editor on the Law Review. He received his B.A. in Economics from Northwestern University. He resides in suburban Chicago with his family.
Annabel Weinbach, Executive Assistant and Development Associate
Annabel is a Miami, Florida native and graduate of the University of Michigan, where she majored in Political Science and minored in Law, Justice, and Social Change. On campus, she served as a Central Student Government Representative and advocated for increased access to University Health Services and combatted anti-Israel activity. She was heavily involved in Hillel, where she sat on the Governing Board and led MitzVote, the Jewish civic engagement campaign on campus. She also represented her sorority, Sigma Delta Tau, on the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion task force for Fraternity and Sorority Life.
Prior to joining JDCA, Annabel interned on Capitol Hill in Rep. Donna Shalala’s office and worked as a field organizer for the Florida Democratic Party in 2018. She supported JDCA’s Florida and Michigan chapters as an Organizing Fellow before joining the team full-time as Executive Assistant & Outreach Associate.