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 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.
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 Manager, 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.
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!
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, Outreach and Events Manager
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.
Benjamin Stanislawski, Communications Associate
Benjamin grew up in Chevy Chase, Maryland and recently graduated from the University of British Columbia 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 served as the President of his fraternity, Alpha Epsilon Pi, and was very involved with Hillel BC and Jewish life on campus.