5778 Board of Directors Executive Committee
|President Elect||Fred Helms|
|Secretary||Julie Van Keer|
|VP Facilities||Neal Blauzvern|
|VP Fundraising||Davida Charney|
|VP Education||Chris Aguero|
|VP Religious Affairs||Sara Blatt|
|VP Membership||Brooke Hersh-Thompson|
|Immediate Past President||Caroline Legatt|
At Large Board Members:
|Abigail Ellen LaViolette|
|Bob “Rose” Rosenzweig|
Board Members by Virtue of their Position:
|Sisterhood Co-Presidents||Cindy Fudman|
|Brotherhood Co-Presidents||Ed Gordon|
|Past President’s Rep||Lawrence Maze|
Sara and her husband David feel privileged that they have belonged to CAA for almost 30 years. As a member, Sara has been able to have a spiritual, social and educational home here and even celebrate becoming a Bat Mitzvah, something she was unable to do when she was 13. She is grateful to have the responsibility of coordinating the large cadre of Torah readers in the CAA family for Shabbats and holidays. She has served on the Board as a general Board member, VP of Membership, and VP of Fundraising. She is very exited to undertake her new position as VP of Religious Affairs and knows that any success she has in this endeavor will be a result of our amazing Agudas Achim community.
Davida Charney is a professor of rhetoric and writing at The University of Texas at Austin. She has been an active member of CAA for over 20 years, including reading Torah, serving as gabbai and teaching adult education courses. She serves on the Board of Directors because she loves lively discussion and problem solving. She is excited about her current role as VP of Fundraising as she helps to spearhead the revitalization of our congregation’s annual Kosher Chili Cook-Off.
Originally from Chicago, Ari moved to Austin in 2012 and immediately got involved in CAA and JCC activities. After graduating with the 3rd J-LEAD class in 2013, he became a member of the Austin Jewish Academy board and won 2 consecutive ‘People’s Choice’ Award at the annual CAA Kosher Chili Cook-off. In 2015, he was lucky to have Rabbi Blumofe officiate his wedding to his wife, Julie, who is also a very active member of the community. Professionally, he is an entrepreneur and product manager, having worked at many local companies and startups. He hopes to bring many of these skills to the board & community and also introduce Israel-focused learning groups and sessions.
FRED HELMS: Fred has been a member of Agudas Achim since 1966, and has served on the Board of Directors in several capacities over the years. He is the chair of the synagogue’s cemetery committee and the Rosh of the men’s Chevra Kadisha. He and his wife were married at Agudas Achim. His children attended CAARS, and had their b’nai mitzvot here. Rabbi Blumofe officiated at the weddings of both of his daughters and his son’s funeral. Congregation Agudas Achim is a central part of his life and he is honored to serve as the President-Elect. Outside of the synagogue, he is a runner who practices just enough law so he can afford running gear.
One of the values Brooke holds most dear about our congregation is how we welcome any who wish to come and be part of our community. To honor that value, she is proud to serve on the CAA board and as a member of the inclusion committee and Co-VP of Membership. Her Jewish leadership chops were first honed as a leader in BBYO and later as an active member of UT Hillel and SDT. After college, she spent some time as a Jewish Community professional in Dallas at the Aaron Family JCC before returning to UT to pursue her PhD in child psychology. It was during this time as a graduate student that she began to attend CAA, feeling so thankful that the Agudas community had a warm and welcoming place for her to attend the various chagim as a nonmember. This experience left no doubt as to which congregation she would later join with her husband, Brian, and their two young daughters Evan and Ayla who both attend CAARS. She’s blessed to have built a life where she gets to be with her children, work part-time as a licensed psychologist in a small private practice, and give back to the spiritual home that has given her so much.
PEARL KAPLAN: Pearl has been a member of CAA since moving to Austin from El Paso in 2006. Having Shabbat dinner with her family–especially her grandchildren–is the highlight of her week. She is excited to be part of the CAA board and hopes to help with fundraising and social action.
Caroline is a mother of three young children and can frequently be found in our youth services on Saturday morning. She has been a member at CAA for eight years, since moving here from White Plains, New York. She is honored to be our immediate past president and continue to serve as board member. Before becoming an at-home mother, she was a pension actuary in New York. Nowadays when she’s not at CAA, or home with her children and husband, Michael, she is working as a professional organizer. She looks forward to watching our CAA community grow into its second century!
Jennifer and her husband Josh moved to Austin in 2010 to start a family and be closer to her in-laws, Carol and Jay Rubin. They now have two sons, Miles, 6, and Elias, 4. Jennifer’s professional background is in television, print, and online news, most notably as a producer at CNN where she worked for both Anderson Cooper and Wolf Blitzer. She loves using those skills to enhance CAA’s communication and marketing capabilities as the chair of the Website Committee. She also teaches a monthly parenting class at CAA called Chag in the Home and is on the Young Families Committee. Jennifer does a lot of work throughout the Austin Jewish community including managing the Jewish Austin Moms Facebook group, serving as a community ambassador for Shalom Austin, and volunteering on the JCC Early Childhood Program Parent Committee. Jennifer also co-chaired the 2018 Agudas Achim fundraiser, “Jewish Wit, Jewish Wisdom, Jewish Women.”
Julie Van Keer has been an Agudas member since 1999. She is the proud mom of two wonderful young adults. She has worked for over 25 years in high tech industry as a project manager and transitional improvement specialist. After several years as a Girl Scout Leader and Cubmaster/Committee Chair for local Jewish scouting groups, Julie now enjoys volunteer work using her organizational and communications skills. She is super excited to begin her 4th year of service as Secretary of the Agudas Achim Executive Board of Directors.
While Greg and his wife Sharon are both from San Antonio, they both graduated from U.T. Austin. They were married at CAA in San Antonio, and have been members of CAA Austin since 1981. Since joining the congregation, Greg has worked hard to successfully blend his work time at his family-owned business, A-Plus Energy Management and Air Conditioning with being able to serve his community. He has found his greatest pleasure serving the community youth and helping with the continued maintenance and planning of the congregation buildings and grounds. Throughout the years he has been both a Boy Scout Troop Leader and Cub Scout Pack Leader with the JCC organization for over 9 years. He was the Kadima advisor for 6 years and BBYO advisor for 3 years. His three children, Josh, Jackie, and Stephanie, have all been b’nai mitzvahed and confirmed at CAA Austin. It has been his pleasure to serve the congregation in the past and looks forward to serving in the upcoming years.