Canadian Friends of the Jaffa Institute Board Members
A lawyer by training, Jill Mayer is an award winning, experienced producer of strategic business conferences and professional development programs for legal, financial and other professionals. After a career of working in-house, in law firms and as Director of Continuing Professional Development for the Ontario Bar Association, Jill struck out on her own in 2019, as a consultant. Her goal was to spend more time volunteering with Jewish and Israeli causes.
At the end of 2019, Jill was one of three volunteers in a pilot program through the World Zionist Organization in Israel. She worked with students at Kfar Silver near Ashkelon for two months tutoring English and met with Israelis in all walks of life. During this time, she was able to visit the Jaffa Institute to witness first hand the excellent work being done on the ground and to meet with the dedicated staff. Jill joined the Canadian Friends of the Jaffa Institute board three years ago and in her new role as Chair, she will have the opportunity to expand Canadian support for key programs that CFJI undertakes in Israel.
In addition to being Chair of the CFJI board, Jill is a member of the Board of Governors of Beth Sholom Synagogue in Toronto. She is also a member of the Legal Task Force for the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA). Indeed, throughout her career, Jill has applied her professional development skills to the Jewish community.
As testimony to this ongoing commitment, she recently completed a contract as Conference Producer for Liberation75. This is the world’s largest virtual event for Holocaust Survivors, Descendants, Educators and Friends. Its goal is to fight hate, discrimination and antisemitism. She also took part in the International Jewish Lawyers’ conference on “Legal Confrontation with Antisemitism”, which was held in Tel Aviv. In addition, she co-chaired CIJA’s legal conference on Combating Online Hate in 2020. In all, Jill brings many gifts to her role as Chair of the CFJI board.
NATIONAL EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Pam Albert is the National Executive Director of the Canadian Friends of the Jaffa Institute. She works as an independent consultant in both the charity and for-profit world. She is involved in leadership and advisory roles for numerous charities, bringing her considerable experience to both newly developing and long-standing charitable organizations. Canadian Friends of The Jaffa Institute is a more recent and key focus for her. In the not-for-profit field, Pam’s many consulting engagements have included work in Development and Community Engagement at JNF and she has also served as VP of Community Engagement at the Mt. Sinai Hospital Foundation.
She is currently on the board of ARZA Canada. Before forming her consulting practice, Pam was the Founding Director of One Family Fund Canada, where she spent 15 years successfully building an organization to support victims of terror in Israel. Through her extensive involvement in this and other organizations, she has engaged thousands of individuals from Canada and around the world with Israel. To help foster this engagement, she has honed her skills at planning and delivering out-of-the-box travel/experiences in Israel.
Steven Smith brings more than 10 years of financial advisory experience to the board of the CFJI. He has worked with several Jewish and Israeli not-for-profit organizations both professionally and on a volunteer basis. Professionally, Steven is a Senior Manager with a leading Canadian firm providing tax, estate, and succession planning advisory services to entrepreneurs in the Canadian mid-market.
Steven holds a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA, CA) designation and is working toward the Trust and Estate Practitioners (TEP) designation, with an expected completion date in 2022. In his spare time, Steven enjoys playing sports and video games with his three young children.
PHOTOGRAPHY AND ARTISTIC OVERSIGHT
Meredith Holbrook helps with many important tasks for CFJI such as photography and artistic oversight. She is a freelance photojournalist currently based in Toronto. Over the last decade, Meredith has primarily spent her time photographing Israel and the Palestinian Territories.
She has, for example, captured in photographs many important aspects of the work of the Jaffa Institute in Israel. Her ongoing commitment to and fascination with the region is something that has shaped her role with the CFJI’s board. Meredith photographs of our CFJI’s events in Canada provide an important record of our various activities. Her work can be found on CNN, National Geographic, the Jerusalem Post, Haaretz and Ynet.
Jessica Gavin is a partner in the marketing consultancy firm Gavin Hoss, bringing over twenty years of experience in the toy industry, including senior management roles in marketing, licensing and product development. During this time, Jessica has led multiple major product launches, including several award-winning games and toys. She is a board member of Women in Toys, a leading industry organization. Jessica also coaches young professionals to help them find meaning and impact in their careers. Her guiding philosophy is to put people first and great results will follow. Jessica holds a Political Science & Economics degree from York University, a Masters Certificate in Marketing from Cornell University and a Professional Coaching certificate with the Adler Graduate School.
Barrie Wilson, PhD, is Professor Emeritus, Religious Studies, York University. An investigative historian, he specializes in early Christianity from a Jewish perspective. He has taught courses on the Bible, the Christian Scriptures, the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Gnostic gospels. A high point of his teaching career was taking 29 students from York University to historical and archeological sites in Israel for 2 weeks. His books include: How Jesus Became Christian (2008); The Lost Gospel (2014); Paul vs James (2018) and Searching for the Messiah (2020). He has appeared in several documentaries as an on-camera expert including episodes of The Naked Archeologist with Simcha Jacobovici. A member of Beth-Tzedec Congregation (Toronto), Barrie has taught in the Melton School Program for Hebrew University, spent time on Kibbutz Akiva and participated as a volunteer with Sar-El. He is married to Linda Reeser and has 11 grandchildren in Toronto, Miami and Ottawa.
REPRESENTATIVE OF THE JAFFA INSTITUTE IN ISRAEL
Mitch Chupak has been the International Director of Development at The Jaffa Institute in Israel since 1997. As such, he brings his vast experience and dedication to the CFJI Board.
His expertise in Development and Fundraising and his knowledge of the day-to-day work of the Jaffa Institute in Israel are invaluable assets. He also represents the model of integrity and the high standards of practice of The Jaffa Institute in Israel.