Halie Soifer, Executive Director
Halie Soifer is a seasoned congressional aide, Obama administration alum, and foreign policy expert, currently serving as Executive Director of the Jewish Democratic Council of America. For more than sixteen years, Soifer served in various national security roles supporting Democrats in the U.S. Senate, House, and executive branch. Most recently, from January 2017 until May 2018, Soifer served as National Security Advisor to Senator Kamala Harris (CA), where she advised the Senator on matters related to foreign policy, defense, veterans, and cybersecurity. Previously, Soifer served as foreign policy advisor for three members of Congress – Sens. Ted Kaufman and Chris Coons (both DE), and Rep. Robert Wexler (FL) – including serving as senior foreign policy advisor and Senate Foreign Relations Africa Subcommittee staff director during her four years working for Sen. Coons. Soifer also served in the Obama administration for two years as Senior Policy Advisor for U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, and in the Bush Administration, where she served as a civil servant in the State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs. Soifer has a long record working on issues of importance to the Jewish community and of concern to Jewish voters. During President Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, Soifer served as the campaign’s Florida Jewish Vote Director, where she led a successful statewide effort to organize the Jewish community in support of Obama during the general election. In her positions on Capitol Hill and at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, Soifer served as a liaison to the Jewish community and organizations, and worked extensively on national security issues, including those related to Israel. Soifer 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 Associate
Shir is a graduate of the University of Southern California with degrees in International Relations and Political Economy originally from Phoenix, Arizona. At USC, Shir was an active participant in campus life and politics as a researcher for the USC Security and Political Economy Lab, President of Trojans for Israel, member of Gamma Phi Beta and Phi Beta Kappa, and teaching assistant in political communications. Shir also completed a portion of her studies at Kings College London in their War Studies department.
Samuel J. Crystal, Communications and Digital Director
Samuel’s professional career has centered around political advocacy in the global Jewish community. Samuel started working at JDCA in 2018 as an Associate while receiving his Masters in Public Policy from the University of Maryland. Prior to his time at JDCA, Samuel was the director of political affairs at the Consulate General of Israel to New England. As political director he helped develop and implement diplomatic strategy; organized political delegations; and organized public events between Israeli diplomats and governors, members of Congress, and local politicians. Samuel also spoke to Jewish communities throughout New England on Israeli democracy, the U.S. – Israel partnership, and Israeli security.
From 2015-2016, Samuel lived in Jerusalem working as an Israel Government Fellow. While in this fellowship program 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 briefed Israeli diplomats and Foreign Ministry officials on congressional legislation, the Iran nuclear deal negotiations, and the 2014 midterms. Samuel received his B.A. from the University of Mary Washington, and his Master’s in Public Policy from the University of Maryland. He has served on the Advisory Council for Repair the World: Baltimore, was named a High Achieving Millennial by the SparkVision Millennial Research Project, and was described as a “Jewish leader of tomorrow” by The Associated, Jewish Federation of Baltimore.
Ben Kanter, Outreach Assistant
Ben is a Maryland native with a degree in Political Science from the College of Charleston. Since graduating Ben has focused his career on political research, activism, and advocacy. During the summer of 2019, Ben attended a certificate program at Stanford University to pursue his academic interests in political psychology. Ben is also a member of the political science honors society Pi Sigma Alpha. Prior to joining JDCA, Ben worked as an organizer for Former Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s presidential primary run in Iowa and Nevada.
Brett Kleiman, Communications and Outreach Assistant
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. Last summer, Brett was a legislative intern 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.
Jake Meisel, Outreach Assistant
Jake is a native of Newton, Massachusetts and a rising senior at the University of Maryland, where he is pursuing a joint Master in Public Policy and Bachelor of Arts in Government and Politics. Jake recently served as president of the UMD College Democrats, where he worked to create a strong foundation for UMD Dems to organize students and play a meaningful role in the 2020 election. Jake’s dedication to politics is driven by Jewish values such as compassion and human dignity and in his free time, Jake enjoys learning Jewish moral and ritual teachings.
Stephanie Mendelsohn, Political and Policy Assistant
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 anti-Semitic attacks, Stephanie was inspired to get involved with JDCA and ensure that Jewish voters will be heard this November.
Jennifer Miller, Development and Communications Associate
Jennifer is a Baltimore native and a graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park, where she received her B.A. in Government and Politics and Spanish. Throughout her undergraduate years, Jennifer remained heavily involved in campus life as a Student Government Association Legislator, President of Terps for Israel, and Diversity and Inclusion Chair of her sorority, Sigma Delta Tau. She is also a member of the political science honors society, Pi Sigma Alpha.
As an undergraduate, Jennifer interned twice on Capitol Hill, once for then-Minority Whip Steny Hoyer and again for Congressman Josh Gottheimer. Jennifer also interned at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and at the Council on Foreign Relations, prior to joining JDCA. As the Development and Communications Associate, Jennifer supports every aspect of JDCA’s development operations. She also assists with the organization’s communications, social media, and digital messaging.
Carly Pildis, Director of Grassroots Organizing
Carly Pildis has dedicated her career to fighting for justice and equality. She was named one the 2019 Forward 50, Forward’s annual list of influential American Jews. She is an organizer, advocate, and writer. She currently serves as a Contributing Editor for Tablet magazine. Past work includes Zioness, RESULTS, Obama for America 2012, Jubilee USA Network and American Jewish World Service. Carly served as Director of Jewish Outreach for Obama for America DC before being promoted to Operation Vote Director, overseeing DC constituency outreach for Jewish Americans, LGBTQ Americans, African Americans, Muslim Americans, and Women. She mobilized over 51,000 phone calls into Virginia as well as organizing Jewish Days of Action, Obama Shabbats, and a joint African American Jewish American Seder. At RESULTS, she created and managed the REAL Change Youth Organizing and Advocacy Fellowship. The Fellowship produced 171 events with over 4,000 attendees, 209 media hits, and 1661 lobby meetings. Additionally, she managed RESULTS candidate engagement projects during the 2016 and 2018 elections.
Carly serves as a board member for the JCRC of Greater Washington and the Inter Jewish Muslim Alliance (IJMA). She has been featured in Forward, Refinery 29, Washington Jewish Weekly, Tablet Magazine, the Washington Post, Politico, CNN, and the Jerusalem Post. She was spoken at the ADL Never Again is Now Summit and National Leadership Summit, The Israel Forum at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan, Z3, The Jewish Council for Public Affairs Conference, The Israeli Embassy, and AIPAC.
Steven R. Sheffey, 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 Outreach 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.