Staff

JDCA Leadership
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.
Steven R. Sheffey, Chief of Staff
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 the U.K. 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 Advisory Committee of Heart of a Nation, 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 locally and nationally. 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.
JDCA Staff
Jonathan Allen, Outreach Director
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 Director, Jonathan leads the growth of JDCA's grassroots movement include our 15 state chapters and college outreach programs. Jonathan was born in South Florida and was raised in a Jewish Colombian family. Get in touch with Jonathan and our Outreach team.
Shir Attias, Political and Policy Director
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 Director, heading JDCA’s policy advocacy, tracking, and research.
David Beer, Development Associate and Executive Assistant
David is an Atlanta, Georgia native and graduate of the University of Michigan where he majored in International Studies and German. Prior to joining JDCA, David worked on Capitol Hill for former Congressman Sander Levin and for now Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttiegieg’s presidential campaign. In college, he interned for Congressman Ted Deutch and Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, and on numerous state and local democratic races, including Jon Ossoff’s congressional campaign in 2017. After high school, David did a gap year in Israel and then studied abroad in Germany and Spain during college. Get in touch with David and our Development team.
Michael Berkowitz, Political and Policy Associate
Michael is a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis with a BA in political science. At Washington University Michael was heavily involved in Jewish life and progressive politics, leading WashU's J Street U chapter, volunteering for local electoral campaigns, and running the Orthodox minyan at WashU's Chabad. The summer before his senior year, Michael interned at Bluelight Strategies, a political consulting firm specializing in Jewish and Democratic politics. In his last year at WashU he served as the Midwest Vice President on the J Street U National Board, helping to lead the pro-Israel anti-Occupation student movement. Prior to joining JDCA, Michael worked as a field organizer for the Iowa Democratic Party in the 2020 general election.
Matthew Craig, Operations Manager and Executive Assistant
Matthew is a proud Kentucky native with a degree in Early Childhood Education from Boston University. Since graduating from college, Matthew has worked extensively across the country for Democratic Campaigns. Matthew is most proud of working on Tom Perriello's campaign for Governor, Bernie Sander's 2016 and 2020 presidential campaigns, and the successful 2018 ballot measure Prop 3, Promote the Vote in Michigan. His most recent work was with the Amy McGrath campaign where he managed field operations for the largest campaign in Kentucky's history. Matthew is incredibly grateful to have grown up as one of the only three Jewish people from his public high school (the other two being his siblings). He credits his parents with helping him form his strong Jewish values. Matthew loves spending his free time with his family but mainly with his Grandma Minnie and her twin sister Aunt Jackie! Get in touch with Matthew and our Operations team.
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 has 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, combating climate change, and support for Israel and the two-state solution.
Get in touch with Sam and our Communications team.
Ariel Frechtman, Development Director
Ariel is a New Jersey native, having graduated from Montclair State University with a degree in criminal justice and justice systems. She worked in management for specialty and big box companies before transitioning into Jewish communal work. As Young Leadership Director at the Jewish Federation of Jacksonville, she launched the community’s first young leadership campaign after traveling to Israel on JFNA’s Campaigners’ Mission. As Director of Community Engagement at the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, Ariel led a team of professionals enhancing Jewish life at all stages through community outreach and programs such as PJ Library and Birthright Israel, and worked with National Young Leadership Cabinet. She also curated the community’s inagural 40 Under 40 Mission to Israel, which took current and emerging leaders, both Jewish and non-Jewish, on a week-long journey to experience the overseas work of Federation, The Jewish Agency for Israel, and The Joint Distribution Committee’s work firsthand. Ariel was selected to participate in the inaugural cohort of Jewish Federations of North America’s Next Gen Fellowship, a 20-month comprehensive professional development program led by M2: The Institute for Experiential Jewish Education and the Center for Creative Leadership, funded by the Jim Joseph Foundation. After her work with Federation, Ariel joined Jewish National Fund-USA as a Campaign Executive, splitting her portfolio and time between DC and Atlanta. After successfully growing the young philanthropy campaigns in both regions, she was promoted to Associate Director of Atlanta where she worked with the organization’s largest affinity group, Woman for Israel, and grew Atlanta’s professional affinity divisions including lawyers, doctors, and real estate. Ariel previously served on the Young Leadership Board for Conexx, America’s Israel Business Connector, and was a mentor for Career Up Now which empowers emerging professionals to advance their careers while incorporating Jewish values into their lives through innovative networking and education opportunities with Jewish industry leaders. Ariel is a volunteer with ARC (Access Reproductive Care) Southeast and a member and former National Officer of Sigma Sigma Sigma National Sorority. Get in touch with Ariel and our Development team.
Ben Kanter, Outreach and Events Manager
Ben is a Maryland native with a degree in Political Science from the Honors College at the College of Charleston and is also a member of the political science honors society Pi Sigma Alpha and psychology honors society Psi Chi. While in college, Ben interned at both the Charleston County Public Defender’s Office and on Joe Cunningham’s historic 2018 Congressional victory in South Carolina’s 1st district. Since graduating, Ben has focused his career on political research, activism, and advocacy. During the summer of 2019, Ben was selected to attend the Summer Institute for Political Psychology at Stanford University, a month-long interdisciplinary training and certificate program with leading political psychology professors and experts from across the country. Prior to joining JDCA, Ben worked as an organizer for Former Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s presidential primary run in Iowa and Nevada.
Robert J. (Bobby) Saferstein, Director of Programming and Strategy
Bobby 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. Bobby currently serves as Director of Programming and Strategy at the Jewish Democratic Council of America (JDCA), after first joining as a member of JDCA’s Next Generation Leadership Council and Ohio Chapter Lead. Beginning with the 2020 general election to the Georgia runoffs to now, Bobby has developed and produced over 400 virtual and in-person programs to meet the strategic, political, policy, development, outreach, and volunteer engagement objectives of JDCA. Bobby previously led efforts as Market Development Director of Sh’ma Journal — a platform to engage with matters critical to contemporary Judaism — to augment its content and digital presence, reimagine its visual identity, and cultivate partnerships to deepen the journal’s impact and broaden its reach. The culmination of these efforts saw the journal’s strategic transformation into Sh’ma Now hosted by the Forward. Named to The New York Jewish Week’s “36 Under 36,” Bobby is a multiple Natan Grant recipient for his series of experiential Shabbat dinners for Jewish LGBTIQ+ professionals, Friday Night Lights Events. In 2015, Bobby founded Eighteen:22 — a global network of Jewish LGBTIQ+ and ally changemakers — as a Schusterman Connection Point in Salzburg, Austria, and partnered with JDC Entwine in 2017 to develop and launch their first in a series of international experiences designed for LGBTIQ+ participants. A graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, an ROI Community member, and an Hadar Institute Jewish Wisdom Fellow, Bobby is also an accomplished artist in the worlds of photography, film, music, and theatre. Get in touch with Bobby and our Programming team.
Benjamin Stanislawski, Communications Associate
Benjamin grew up in Chevy Chase, Maryland and is currently a graduate student in GW's Media and Strategic Communications MA Program. He graduated from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver with a degree in Political Science and a minor in Jewish Studies. He has previously worked with JDCA as a Communications Intern and Organizing Fellow. In addition, he has political experience interning with the Democratic Party of Virginia and Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s reelection campaign. While in university, Benjamin studied abroad in Spain, served as the President of his fraternity, Alpha Epsilon Pi, and was very involved with Hillel BC and Jewish life on campus. Prior to university, he did a gap year in Israel. Get in touch with Benjamin and our Communications team.
Annabel Weinbach, Development Manager
Annabel is a Miami, Florida native and a first year law student at the American University Washington College of Law. She is a 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 & Development Associate. Get in touch with Annabel and our Development team.

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