RONDA SPINAK (Co-Founder & Artistic Director)
created and produces JWT’s At-Homes Salon Theatre Series. To date, she has curated thirteen original Jewish themed salon shows for JWT. Educated at Stanford University, she also holds degrees from UCLA ( MBA) and USC (Masters in Professional Writing). She has written for the Emmy Award-winning children’s show, Rugrats, authored the critically acclaimed nonfiction book ProBodX: Proper Body Exercise (HarperCollins, publisher), and written many plays, including: Stories From the Fringe, and festival-winner Oscar Wilde’s Wife, a favorite at the Ashland New Play Festival and Dayton’s FuturFest. Spinak taught creative writing, served as a grant reviewer for the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, and speaks to Jewish groups about the history of Jewish women and their salons. Spinak is currently producing the documentary film about women in the rabbinate entitled, On the Fringe. Spinak feels blessed to be working with the many talented and inspiring women who are giving so generously to Jewish Women’s Theatre.
JANIS C. NELSON (Board Chair)
has worked in numerous capacities in the entertainment industry for 35 years. Currently she is an entertainment attorney representing major motion picture studios, independent motion picture production companies, talent agencies, producers, writers, directors and actors. She began her career at the Repertory Theatre of Lincoln Center in New York City and she is a graduate of Barnard College and the UCLA School of Law.
EVE BRANDSTEIN (Director)
one of Hollywood’s most prodigious workers, has made contributions to nearly every facet of the entertainment industry. She has been a major studio executive, a producer, a director, writer/creator, casting director, talent manager and author. Brandstein was casting executive for Norman Lear’s production companies. Some of her credits for casting over two decades include, “Diff’rent Strokes”, “One Day At A Time”, “Facts of Life”, and “Who’s The Boss”. She is producing and directing two documentaries – “The Girl In the Room”, stories from women in the comedy world and “Maybe You’ll Find Something There”, a Second Generation Holocaust Survivor’s journey back to her family’s life in the Carpathian Mountains. She also is producing “Poetry In Motion LA monthly” at Beyond Baroque and the Beat Era poetry theater show, “Waiting For Jack”. Eve is a poet, journalist, artist and licensed psychotherapist.
received her BA from Amherst College and her MBA from Harvard Business School. Following business school, Gross worked as a Director of Marketing Research and as a marketing consultant for companies such as CitySearch, The Huntington Library & Botanical Gardens, and McKinsey & Co. She has served the community as Chairman of the Board of Brandeis-Bardin. Presently she is on the Executive Committee and Board of Directors of American Jewish University, and is a member of the Board of Directors of Valley Beth Shalom where she is co-chair of the Strategic Planning Committee. She also volunteers at numerous organizations, including SOVA Food Bank and Van Nuys High School.
LYNNE HIMELSTEIN (Director, Story Archive of Women Rabbis)
has dedicated herself to the Jewish community, assuming leadership positions on the national boards of both United Jewish Communities and America Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). In great demand as a speaker on Jewish philanthropy, she has traveled around both the United States and Israel, inspiring people to give to Jewish organizations. Lynne was born and raised in Los Angeles, but for the past 18 years, she and her husband have lived in Indianapolis where they raised their two children. She has recently returned to Los Angeles.
GAIL ISRAEL (Youth Programming)
has a MFA in Writing For Children and Young Adults from Hamline University and is currently working on her second novel for young adults, “Hannah Lost”. Her poems have been recognized for distinction by Writer’s Digest. Gail has volunteered extensively in academic institutions. Among her many accomplishments, she established and chaired the Community Service Committee at Windward School, where she served as VP of Community Service for four years. Through the Israel Family Foundation, Gail has supported the work of numerous Jewish and local non-profits including The Jewish Foundation for the Righteous, Camp United in Harmony and Reprise Theater Company. Gail grew up on Long Island and currently lives in Los Angeles where she and her husband, Bob, have raised their two wonderful children, Jesse and Rachel.
SUZANNA KAPLAN (Literary Manager)
was born in Mexico City, to an American mother and Mexican father. She performed in some of Mexico’s famous Vaudeville stages, as well as acted in commercials and films, and on the stage. Kaplan moved to the US where she started a translation service and language school, doing well enough to sell it and travel for a year. In Israel she married and had a baby. She also worked for a production company writing and producing film strips and museum guides used for fundraising all over the world. Back in the US, Kaplan read scripts for her husband, a producer of TV and feature films. She also worked in freelance in Hispanic advertising. Kaplan’s writing credits include: a novel, five feature length scripts, and several television treatments, in addition to a produced one-hour drama for Hispanic TV (Telemundo) and a small segment for a TV show on Fox network. She is working on her second novel and spends time delighting in her husband and three children.
RABBI LYNNE KERN (Director, Story Archive of Women Rabbis)
is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who has written for the Kansas City Star, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times. For eight years, she also co-owned and acted as Creative Director at a national advertising agency. Ordained from the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in 2001, she has served as a congregational rabbi for five and a half years, as well as founding Timbrels Through Torah: A Women’s Institute of Jewish Learning. She is a co-writer of the documentary theater piece, Stories From the Fringe, about women rabbis, which is currently playing in theaters around the country. She is also the co-producer of a documentary-in-the-making, On the Fringe, about how women rabbis are transforming Judaism. Out of these two projects was born The Story Archive of Women Rabbis, of which Rabbi Kern is one of the creators. This will be the first all-video archive collecting and preserving the stories of women who are rabbis. Rabbi Kern acts as a scholar-in-residence and consults on programming for synagogues worldwide. She has been published in newspapers, magazines and anthologies, including The Women’s Haftarah Commentary, and is currently working on a spiritual memoir.
BARBARA KOLETSKY (Culinary Arts)
is an experienced party planner specializing in charitable organizations as well as corporate and private events. She is a fundraiser for UCLA Food Closet for Children and Children of the Night. As a co-owner of Crown Car Wash Los Angeles and owner of RSVP Party Planning, she was responsible for all aspects of the businesses. Barbara was born in New York and moved to California in the late sixties to do marketing and promotions for Polygram Records in Los Angeles and San Francisco.
SHARON LANDAU (Outreach)
is a women’s health consultant with 18 years of public health and non-profit leadership experience. As Director of a non-profit that advanced contraceptive access in pharmacies, Sharon designed, launched and evaluated innovative pregnancy prevention strategies, programs and policies at the local, state, national levels. She has also worked in Strategic Planning for Kaiser Permanente and served as a clinic manager for Planned Parenthood Los Angeles. She holds a Masters in Public Health from UCLA and degrees in Women’s Studies and Psychology from UC Santa Cruz. She cares deeply about issues impacting women’s lives and is an alumni fellow of both the California Women’s Foundation- Women’s Policy Institute and the Center for Collaborative Planning – Women’s Health Leadership program. Sharon has no theater experience but prides herself on being a great audience member and has a passion for stories of all kinds, especially those honoring women’s voices. A native of Israel, she lives with her husband, 3 young kids and dog in Los Angeles.
SUSAN LANDESMANN (Graphic Design)
Award-winning designer Susan Landesmann founded her graphic design company in June, 2007, and her roster includes such clients as UCLA, Human Rights Watch, UCLA Medicine magazine, Santa Monica Orthopaedic Hospital and the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego. Her extensive experience includes creating graphic identity systems and designing print materials such as brochures, posters, catalogs, annual reports, and websites. From 2004-2007, she worked as Principal Designer for UCLA Marketing and Communications, where she was key in the redesigning of UCLA Magazine (the launch issue of which was awarded the “best entire issue” prize by the Society of Publication Design). In 1997, she worked as an associate designer at Kimberly Baer Design Associates. She completed her degree in graphic design at Parsons School of Design, New York in 1996. She has worked in the design and production departments of the Guggenheim Museum and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. She received her B.A. in Art History from Simmons College, Boston in 1991.
PATRICIA LINDEN (Treasurer)
is the Director of Financial Management at the RAND Corporation, a non-profit policy research organization based in Santa Monica. She brings 30 years of financial management experience to her role on the JWT Board and she holds an MBA from UCLA. Prior to RAND she worked in public accounting for nine years with a specialty in entertainment and non-profits and worked in the film production and sports entertainment industry for six years prior to joining RAND in 1984.
LISA ROSENBAUM (Dramaturge & Producer)
is a writer and the executive producer of the Genesis Arts Council of the Santa Monica Synagogue, a professional theater group for modern and original works. She enjoys being a former president of her synagogue and even more, a former lawyer. Her debut novel, A Day of Small Beginnings (Little, Brown & Co. 2006), was set in contemporary Poland, and is a multi-generational story of a secular American Jewish family. It was a “Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers” selection. The novel she is now writing is a modern retelling of the Akeda, the binding of Isaac, which takes place in the Santa Clarita Valley, near the ruins of the St. Frances Dam. Rosenbaum lives in Pacific Palisades with her husband, Walt Lipsman, and their two daughters, Ariana and Maya.
RUTH RUBINSTEIN (Outreach)
holds a PhD in Clinical Psychology and is a Licensed Marriage and Family Counselor. For the past 40 years she has resided and has a private practice in the Malibu area. Dr. Rubinstein has been intensely involved in the Jewish community. She is an original founder, 31 years ago, with seven other families, of the Malibu Jewish Center and Synagogue. Over the past 40 years, Dr. Rubinstein has served in leadership positions on many non-profit Board of Directors and for profit Board of Directors including the Malibu Jewish Center and Synagogue and the Malibu Chamber of Commerce, to name a few.
ARLENE SARNER (Dramaturge)
is an award winning writer/producer and has written for every major movie studio including: Universal, Fox, Columbia, Paramount, Disney, Warner Brothers, Tri-Star and Orion as well as TV networks, ABC, CBS, CBC and VHI. Her film work includes Academy Award nominated ‘ Peggy Sue Got Married’ and ‘Blue Sky,’ starring Jessica Lange in her Academy Award winning role. Recently, Arlene collaborated with director Agnieszka Holland on, “July Walking Home.” Arlene and her husband and co-writer Jerry Leichtling, turned “Peggy Sue Got Married” into a stage musical and mounted a successful production in London’s West End. A U.S. production is currently in the works. Currently, Arlene is writing a stage musical based on the life of 1930’s Hollywood lyricist Al Dubin.
SANDY SAVETTE (Underwriter)
is a retired family and child therapist. For over 20 years she worked with at-risk families dealing with abuse, neglect and cultural difference in child rearing. She developed her love of theatre in Toronto and frequent family visits to New York.
GAIL SOLO (Secretary)
is a civil rights lawyer who has devoted 36 years to fighting for workplace justice. She has been recognized as a Southern California Superlawyer and one of the top women lawyers in Southern California. She has extensive experience as a board member, and Personnel Chair, for numerous non-profits. She has volunteered extensively in public education, the Jewish community, and civil rights and women’s empowerment causes. She was honored by Temple Isaiah with the Hineini Award (“I am here and present to help”). She is the proud single mom of two amazing daughters who live the commandment of tikkun olam.
MARILEE TOLWIN (Real Estate)
has worked as a registered nurse in the areas of mental health and substance abuse for over 28 years. Her dedication and expertise tapped her to assume many positions of leadership, including a Directorship of a hospital. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of Tolwin Psychiatric Medical Group, as well as volunteers for various Jewish organizations. She is now pursuing her life-long passion in the arts as a painter. Marilee lives in the Pacific Palisades with her husband and son, who attends LMU.
ELISA WAYNE (Outreach)
served as President of the Women’s Conference, campaign chair, vice president of Organizations Assembly and board member of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles; creator of a young leadership program and board member for the Los Angeles Jewish Home; co- chair of the School of Jewish Communal Service Advisory Board and mentor at Hebrew Union College; Lion of Judah Endowment Fund; and alumni member of the National Young Leadership Cabinet. She has received several awards and honors for her leadership in the Los Angeles Jewish community and is recognized as an effective fundraiser and creative talent. Elisa works as a Senior Attorney with the Social Security Administration, Office of Disability Adjudication and Review and is an active member of the California State Bar. She sits on the Los Angeles Jewish Home subsidiary board of the Gerontology Education and Research Organization (GERO) affiliated with the Boren School of Gerontology at UCLA. Elisa is a writer and comedienne who appears at numerous comedy venues including the Hollywood Improv, Second City, Flappers and the Comedy Union. She is an ardent supporter of theater and dance, and a long time subscriber to the Ahmanson Theater, UCLA-Reprise, the Hollywood Bowl and Disney Hall. A graduate of the University of Michigan with a B.A. in Psychology and a J.D. from Southwestern University, Elisa is a wife and mother of two daughters. She enjoys golfing, blogging, spinning and snow skiing.