Chairman: Allan A. Myer *
Chair Emeritus: Lennert J. Leader *
Chair Emerita: Arlene Bearman, Ph.D.
Chair Emeritus: Michael C. Gelman *
Treasurer: Harry Ploss *
Secretary: Ann F. Lewis *
Co-Founder: Margo Volftsun
Mary Hart Sugarman
* Executive Committee Members
Board of Directors: Biographies
Allan Myer was elected to The Israel Project’s Board of Directors in 2013 and currently serves as the Board’s Chairman. In 1997, Mr. Myer founded Mediaworks Corporate Communications, where he currently serves as President. The firm specializes in film making, strategic communications counsel, media skills training, crisis communications and multimedia presentations. In 1998, he became a Vice President of Technology Investors Management, Inc., a corporation focused on wealth management for 70 clients nationwide. In this capacity, Mr. Myer is a registered representative and associated with Burnham Asset Management, a Wall Street brokerage firm. During the past 21 years, his client list has included The Boeing Company, Microsoft, Rolls Royce Engines, NASA, the Department of Defense and many others. During this time, he has provided media skills training and executive coaching for more than 2,300 executives. For 17 years, Mr. Myer was Boeing’s principal outside public relations counsel. Previously, Mr. Myer has served as the speech writer to President Ronald Reagan from 1983 to 1985. Mr. Myer served in the U.S. Army for 25, rising from the rank of Private to Colonel before he retired. His service included command of artillery units in Vietnam, in the 82nd Airborne Division and the 1st French Armored Division. He also served in strategic planning assignments in the Pentagon and on the faculty of the National War College and the Command and General Staff College.
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ARLENE BEARMAN, Ph.D.
Arlene Bearman was first elected to The Israel Project’s Board of Directors in 2004 and served as the Board’s Chairman from 2007 to 2009. She is currently the Chair Emerita. A Ph.D. in economics, she led the Administrative Sciences Program at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) for almost 25 years, in addition to her duties as a professor. Dr. Bearman holds the title of retired Emeritus Director of Administrative Sciences at UMBC and was awarded the prestigious governor’s citation for her contributions to the state of Maryland. She is currently Chair of the Shoshana S. Cardin School, a Jewish day school in Baltimore, and serves as Vice President of the Herbert Bearman Foundation. Dr. Bearman is a member of the Baltimore Women’s Giving Circle, the Palm Beach Women’s Giving Circle and the Jewish Women’s Foundation of Baltimore, which is part of The Associated Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore. She has served on the boards of TurnAround, Inc. – an organization dedicated to helping victims of domestic violence and sexual assault and abuse – the Lansdowne Magnet School in Finance and Beth El Congregation. Her husband, Sheldon Bearman, M.D. also serves on The Israel Project board.
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SHELDON BEARMAN, M.D.
Sheldon Bearman has served on The Israel Project’s Board of Directors since 2004. A retired radiologist, Mr. Bearman serves as President and Treasurer of the Herbert Bearman Foundation, Inc. and works to fund projects that benefit the general community or enrich the lives of people in disadvantaged circumstances. During his career in medicine, Mr. Bearman served as President of the Medical Staff of Franklin Square Hospital in Baltimore, Chairman of the Department of Radiology at Northwest Hospital Center, President of the Baltimore County Medical Society and Treasurer of the Maryland Medical and Surgical Faculty. Trained in radiology at Johns Hopkins, he has faculty appointments at Johns Hopkins University, the University of Maryland and as a fellow at the American College of Radiology. He has served on the boards of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Beth El Congregation and MedChi, Maryland’s physicians’ association and state medical society. He also serves as Board Vice President of Jewish Family and Children’s Services in Palm Beach County and on the boards of Jewish Community Services in Baltimore, Hands Across the Americas and the South Florida Donors Forum. Until recently, he served on the Executive Board of the Miami City Ballet. He is married to Arlene Bearman, Ph.D., Chair Emerita of The Israel Project’s Board of Directors.
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The Honorable Shelley Berkley was elected to The Israel Project’s Board of Directors in 2013. Ms. Berkley proudly represented Las Vegas, Nevada in the United States Congress for seven terms—from 1999-2012. Prior to serving in Congress, Ms. Berkley practiced law for several years, including stints as the Deputy Director of the Nevada State Commerce Department, in-house counsel for Southwest Gas Corporation and as Vice President of Government and Legal Affairs for the Sands Hotel & Casino. She also served as the National Director for the American Hotel-Motel Association. In addition, Ms. Berkley has been very active in the Las Vegas Jewish Federation, AIPAC and other important pro-Israel activities. Throughout her tenure in Congress, Ms. Berkley was one of the most visible and vocal pro-Israel advocates in the entire Congress—sometimes in opposition to her own Party. In 2010, she supported the U.S.-Israel Iron Dome Missile Defense Support Act and in 2012, she urged the Democratic Party to add language to its platform that would acknowledge Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel.
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Mr. Dana was first elected to The Israel Project’s Board of Directors in 2009. In his private life, Mr. Dana is involved in the management of Myer Dana and Sons, a family-owned commercial real estate business founded in 1893. The firm currently owns and operates retail properties throughout New England. Mr. Dana has been active in numerous Jewish charities in the Boston area and is a past Board President of the Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Greater Boston. Currently he is a Board Member of the New England Chapter of the Anti-Defamation League. Together with his brother Myer, Mr. Dana serves as a Trustee of the Herman Dana Trust, a charitable fund dedicated to supporting Jewish organizations in the United States and Israel.
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MICHAEL C. GELMAN
Michael C. Gelman was the inaugural Chairman of The Israel Project’s Board of Directors. He served in the position from 2004 to 2007 and currently serves as the Chair Emeritus and on the Executive Committee. He is a founding partner of Gelman, Rosenberg & Freedman, an accounting firm based in Bethesda, MD. He is also the Chair of the Executive Committee of Jewish Federations of North America (formerly UJC). He has previously served as JFNA’s Treasurer. He was also Co-chair of the 2003 General Assembly in Jerusalem. Mr. Gelman served three terms as President of The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, two terms as the Federation’s Co-campaign Chair and one term as President of its Endowment Fund. He was a member of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council from 1995 to 2004, having been appointed to the position by President Clinton. He was also a member of the Council’s Executive Committee. Mr. Gelman was appointed by Maryland Governor Parris Glendening to the University System of Maryland’s Board of Regents, serving from 1996 to 2000. Mr. Gelman currently sits on the boards of several organizations, including the Jewish Agency for Israel, where he co-chairs the Audit Committee, Hillel, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the University of Maryland College Park Foundation, the American Jewish International Relations Institute and the Congressional Bank.
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LENNERT J. LEADER
Lennert J. Leader was first elected to The Israel Project’s Board of Directors in 2004 and served as Chairman from 2009 to 2014. Mr. Leader is one of America’s most successful high technology executives and an information technology pioneer. After serving nine years as AOL’s Senior Vice President, Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer, he was named President of AOL Ventures in 1998 and President of AOL Time Warner Ventures in 2000. Mr. Leader oversaw AOL and Time Warner’s corporate portfolio of investments during his tenure as CFO and helped manage the company’s growth from $20 million in revenues and 100 employees in 1989 to more than $2.5 billion in revenues and 9,500 employees in 1998. Mr. Leader led AOL’s active acquisition strategy and secured several billion dollars of equity and debt, equipment lease and real property financing. In 1992, he guided AOL’s initial public offering at a time when the company had a market value of only $65 million. Mr. Leader successfully increased AOL’s valuation to over $29 billion by the time he had become President in 1998. Before joining AOL, Mr. Leader was Vice President of Finance for Legent Corp., a publicly traded software and services company. Mr. Leader has also served as Chief Financial Officer of Morino Inc., a publicly traded systems software company. Under his leadership, the company became the leading independent systems software supplier and he oversaw its initial public offering in 1986. Prior to entering the information technology industry, Mr. Leader had a career in public accounting with Price Waterhouse, specializing in auditing and advising emerging high-growth technology-based companies. The Northern Virginia Technology Counsel named Mr. Leader the Chief Financial Officer of the Year in 1998 and he was awarded the prestigious Albert Einstein Technology Medal in 1999. In addition to previously serving on the boards of several publicly traded, privately owned and not-for-profit organizations, Mr. Leader is currently on the Boards of Directors of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, the Endowment for Middle East Truth, and is an advisor to Aish HaTorah. Mr. Leader is also a Trustee of The Leader Family Foundation and The Leader Family Charitable Trust.
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RANDALL “RANDY” LEVITT
Randall Levitt has served on The Israel Project’s Board of Directors since 2011. He is President of Nellis Corporation, a commercial real estate investment company based in Rockville, Maryland. Mr. Levitt also serves on the governing boards of Capital Bank, the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, and the United Jewish Endowment Fund of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington.
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ANN F. LEWIS
Ann Lewis was elected to The Israel Project’s Board of Directors in 2013. She served as Senior Advisor in the historic Hillary Clinton for President Campaign, where she oversaw outreach to women voters and was a member of the communications team. She served as Director of Communications and Counselor to then President Bill Clinton from 1997 to 2000 and was Director of Communications and Deputy Campaign Manager for the Clinton-Gore Re-Election Campaign in 1995 and 1996. As the National Chair of the DNC Women’s Vote Center from 2002 to 2004, she led the Democratic Party’s major initiative to reach, engage, and mobilize women voters. She was appointed by President Clinton as Co-Chair of the President’s Commission on the Celebration of Women in American History and she was appointed by the President and Senator Daschle to the Women’s Progress Commission, established by Congress to report on women’s historical sites. She chaired the U.S. Government Working Group for the Women 2000: Beijing Plus Five Special Session of the General Assembly. Lewis previously served as Vice President for Public Policy at the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. She has served as the National Director of Americans for Democratic Action, as the Political Director for the Democratic National Committee and as Chief of Staff to then Congresswoman Barbara Mikulski.
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Michael Lowenstein has served on The Israel Project’s Board of Directors since 2011. He is the Founder & Co-President of Kensico Capital Management based in Greenwich, Connecticut. He currently is a Trustee of Facing History and Ourselves and works with the Birthright Israel Leadership Council of Westchester. He was formally a part of the Byram Hills Education Foundation.
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Martin Peretz was first elected to The Israel Project’s Board of Directors in 2013. He is a widely regarded public intellectual, journalist and publisher. Editor-in-chief of The New Republic from 1974 until 2012, Mr. Peretz simultaneously served as an assistant professor at Harvard University. In 1993, Harvard inaugurated the Martin Peretz Chair in Yiddish Literature in his honor. Mr. Peretz is a member of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy’s Board of Advisors and was awarded the Jerusalem Medal in 1982. He also holds the Medal of Distinction of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism and the National Magazine Award for Outstanding Achievement in Essays and Criticisms of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Mr. Peretz was Co-Founder and Co-Chairman of the Board of TheStreet.com and served as Chairman of the Boards of the Digital Learning Group, an e-publisher of college textbooks, and Enews.com, a magazine subscription website. He has also served for several decades as a director of 11 mutual funds in the Dreyfus-Mellon Group.
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Harry Ploss has served on The Israel Project’s Board of Directors since 2008 and was first elected the Board’s Treasurer in 2009. Mr. Ploss had a long and successful career as a corporate actuary with leading insurance companies – including vice presidential positions with John Alden Life and American Bankers – before continuing his career as a full-time investor specializing in managed futures and hedge funds. As Chairman of the Southwest Jewish Congress, Mr. Ploss is dedicated to supporting Israel’s reputation, security and economy. He is the Co-founder of the Texas-Israel Chamber of Commerce, which promotes economic ties between Texas and Israel in nanotechnology, clean technology, security and medical technologies. He is an AIPAC Senate Club member and AIPAC Tomorrow donor. His philanthropic work in both the Dallas community and nationally is focused on Israel.
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Burt Sugarman is an entrepreneur and businessman whose career has spanned a wide variety of enterprises. In 1972 he made television history by breaking through the all-night TV barrier with his show “Burt Sugarman’s the Midnight Special” with Wolfman Jack. “The Midnight Special” was a ninety-minute live music program that aired at 1am following the Friday night edition of “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson on NBC. Before “Midnight Special” the networks would sign off at 1am and all you would see were color bars or an American Flag. The “Midnight Special” marked the first step into all night TV programming. The show aired for ten years on NBC. Sugarman had many successful television shows. His credits include thousands of episodes of his shows such as The Dating Game, The Newlywed Game, Gong Show, Celebrity Sweepstakes, Wizard of Odds, Whew, Johnny Mann’s “Stand Up and Cheer”, Henry Mancini Show, various other game shows and entertainment programs. Sugarman also did primetime TV specials for Chevrolet, Bell Telephone and other well known companies. He also produced the primetime series , “The Richard Pryor Show”, that aired on NBC. He produced the first televised, “Miss Black America Pageant.’ Sugarman in subsequent years expanded his businesses outside of Hollywood. He was the Chairman and CEO of Giant Cement, with 2 cement plants , one based South Caroline and the other in Pennsylvania. Giant also owned Golden State Newsprint, the only newsprint plant in California. It was made from one hundred percent recycled newspapers. His interests then led him to the fast food business and in the late 1980s he became the majority owner, Chairman and CEO of Rally’s and Checkers Hamburgers. Under his leadership Rally’s and Checkers Hamburgers grew from four restaurants to over nine hundred restaurants Today he and his wife primarily focus on philanthropy. Mr. Sugarman is married to Mary Hart, who for 29 years was the TV Anchor of “Entertainment Tonight.” They live in Los Angeles and have a son, AJ.
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Mary Hart Sugarman
Mary’s extraordinary and unprecedented run as co-host of Entertainment Tonight for thirty years made her as recognizable as many of the big stars she has interviewed. The program began in 1981 as a fledgling experiment made possible only by the advent of satellite broadcast technology. Today, media historians give credit to Mary for her role not only in building the show into a powerhouse, but for also helping to pioneer the genre as a whole. The best reviews came from viewers who would often stop her to say, “We have dinner with you every night.” Mary earned the trust not only of the audience at home but the celebrities she interviewed as well. Personalities would often tell her, “Now, I have arrived because Mary Hart has interviewed me.” Her list of subjects include nearly every major film, television and music star. They include celebrities and political figures such as George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Leonardo DiCaprio, Meryl Streep, Denzel Washington, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Sandra Bullock, Matthew McConaughey, Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra, the surviving Beatle members, Michael Jackson, Lady Diana, Kate Middleton and two Presidents named Bush and Obama. Mary was inducted into the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame in 1999 and has been honored by numerous organizations including the American Women in Radio and Television and the National Association of Broadcasters Education Foundation. She is listed in the Guinness World Record as the longest serving entertainment news host. She serves on the Board of Trustees for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and is an ambassador for Childhelp USA, an organization that combats child abuse across America. She is also a spokesperson for the Edith Sanford Breast Cancer Initiative. A native of South Dakota, Mary spent part of her childhood in Denmark, and speaks Danish and Swedish. Her broadcast career began in South Dakota in the 1970s. She moved to Los Angeles in 1979 and found work quickly on soap operas and commercials before landing the job as co-host of PM Magazine. That led to co-hosting Regis Philbin’s NBC talk show in 1981 that was cancelled after four months. Her next job was to report on show business news and that would make her fixture to stay in, American media. Mary and her husband, businessman Burt Sugarman live in Los Angeles and have a son AJ.
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Margo Volftsun was one of the three mothers who co-founded The Israel Project in 2002 and she frequently travels on behalf of the organization. Ms. Volftsun has played a pivotal role in TIP’s success. Although Ms. Volftsun pursued a successful career in the telecommunications after immigrating to the United States from Kiev, Ukraine in 1977, she currently works full-time as a philanthropist and volunteer in the Jewish communal world. In 2002, she co-founded the Jewish Youth Philanthropy Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based organization educating Jewish teens about organized philanthropy and civic engagement. Ms. Volftsun serves on the Board and Executive Committee of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, the Board of the Shalom Education Center (a Jewish educational institution aimed at the Soviet émigré community in Washington, D.C.) and the Board of NCSJ (advocates on behalf of Jews of Russia, Ukraine, the Baltic States and Eurasia). Ms. Volftsun is a graduate of Leadership Fairfax, the Heritage Program of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington and the Wexner Heritage Foundation’s Jewish Literacy Program for lay leadership.
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