Chief Executive Officer
Since 2018, Halie has led the Jewish Democratic Council of America (JDCA) as its first employee and Executive Director, and – for more than two years – as its Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Prior to joining JDCA, Halie served for nearly two decades as a national security advisor to four members of Congress, as a senior policy advisor in the Obama administration, and as a foreign policy expert and civil servant. Most recently, Halie was National Security Advisor to then-Senator Kamala Harris (CA), and – prior to that – foreign policy advisor for Sens. Chris Coons and Ted Kaufman (both DE), and Rep. Robert Wexler (FL). Halie 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 was 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 her bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan Honors College. She now lives in Maryland and is a native of East Lansing, Michigan.
Samuel J. Crystal, Chief of Staff and Communications Director
Samuel’s career has focused on political advocacy and communications in the global-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 shortly after the organization was founded in 2017 and he has served in multiple roles. As JDCA's Communications and Spokesperson, he develops, executes and oversees JDCA's external messaging across all digital platforms, and expands JDCA's public profile. 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.
Mil Dranoff, Development Director
Mil Dranoff is the Development Director for the Jewish Democratic Council of America (JDCA). Prior to joining the organization, she was Director of Development for the National Council of Jewish Women's New York Section, and before that she was on Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice’s development team for 6 years. As an alumna of Avodah: The Jewish Service Corps, Mil is deeply passionate about creating systemic social change. She holds a Master's Degree in Public Administration with a concentration in Nonprofit Management from the Rutgers School of Public Affairs and Administration, and a Bachelor’s degree from Washington University in St. Louis in Political Science and Jewish, Islamic, and Near Eastern Languages and Cultures. She lives in northern New Jersey with her husband Mark and hedgehog Garbanzo. Get in touch with Mil and our Development team.
Robert J. (Bobby) Saferstein, Senior Director of Programming and Public Engagement
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.
Michael Berkowitz, Political and Policy Director
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, Director of Operations and Scheduling
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 Sanders' 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. Previously, Matthew served as JDCA's Operations Manager and Executive Assistant. 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.
Eve Levenson, Director of Outreach, Partnerships, and Youth Voter Engagement
Eve Levenson started her advocacy in Los Angeles through her Jewish community at a young age, working on issues of equity within her school, homelessness in the city, and the global issue of genocide and mass-atrocities prevention, with organizations such as Jewish World Watch and the Jewish Center For Justice. She first got involved in electoral politics during the 2018 cycle and simultaneously started organizing in the gun violence prevention space. Upon moving to DC in 2018 she founded the DC chapter of March For Our Lives (MFOL) and joined their staff in January 2019 as the Mid-Atlantic Regional Director. Subsequently, she spent two years leading MFOL's policy and advocacy work as their Federal Affairs and then Policy & Government Affairs Manager, where she trained hundreds of advocates on how to lobby for life-saving legislation and led over a dozen lobby days in person and virtually. During the 2020 cycle, she worked with the Biden-Harris campaign's coalition department on youth and progressive engagement, helping to coordinate an operation that made 5 million calls into swing states. She then worked with then Speaker Nancy Pelosi's political team for two years on group engagement, social media, and digital organizing. Eve joined JDCA in 2022 as a member of the New Leaders Council and joined the staff in 2023 as JDCA's first Director of Outreach, Partnerships, and Youth Voter Engagement. Eve graduated in 2022 from George Washington University with a B.A. in Political Science and minors in Peace Studies and Women/Gender/Sexuality Studies. She is continuing her studies at GW’s Trachtenberg working towards a Master's in Public Administration (M.P.A.). Get in touch with Eve and our Outreach team.
Ben Kanter, Director of Special Projects
Benny Stanislawski, Press Secretary and Digital Director
Benny grew up in Chevy Chase, Maryland and is currently pursuing his Master's in Legislative Affairs at the George Washington University's Graduate School of Political Management. 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 served as JDCA's Communications and Digital Manager, Communications Associate, Organizing Fellow, and Communications Intern. 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, Benny 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 with the Labour Zionist youth movement, Habonim Dror. Get in touch with Benny.
Brett Bauer, Development Manager
Brett is an Illinois native with a BA in Political Science from the University of Colorado Boulder, where he was deeply involved with the local Chabad chapter. He has previously worked with Democratic fundraising and campaigns and has additional political experience through a Capitol Hill internship with a Democratic member of Congress. He is an Honorary Board Member for the Lauri S. Bauer Foundation for Sudden Loss. He studied abroad in Florence, Italy, and served as Rush Chairman and Scribe of Boulder's chapter of Alpha Epsilon Pi. Brett now lives in DC with his partner and Service Dog, Harlow. Get in touch with Brett and our Development team.
Naomi Jaffe, Political and Policy Manager
Naomi grew up in McLean, Virginia and graduated from Cornell University with a degree in Government. She has previously worked with JDCA as a Political and Policy Intern. Prior to joining JDCA, Naomi interned at Brady, a gun violence prevention nonprofit organization, and worked as a research assistant for the Cornell Legal Information Institute. At Cornell, Naomi was a 3-year captain of the Varsity Division 1 Women’s Soccer team, a member of an all-female acapella singing group named “The Callbaxx”, and involved in community service with a local elementary school as a member of the Red Key Athlete Honor Society. In the summer of 2017, Naomi captained the Junior Women’s Soccer team for Maccabi USA at the Maccabiah Games in Israel and won a gold medal. Naomi was also a long-time camper and counselor at 6 Points Sports Academy, a URJ summer camp.
Jacob Spiegel, Communications Manager