The Leichtag Foundation’s Board of Directors comprises leaders in the San Diego County community. Each member brings a unique perspective and expertise to the Board and has enjoyed a professional and personal connection to the Leichtag family.
- James S. Farley, Esquire, President and CEO
- Bernard Reiter, Esquire, Chairman
- Emily Einhorn, Vice Chair
- Robert Brunst, M.D., Ph.D., CFO and Treasurer
- Dr. Jeffrey R. Solomon, Vice Chair
Leichtag Foundation Staff
- Jenny Camhi, Director of The Hive at Leichtag Commons
- Jordan Daniels, Communications Associate
- Sona Desai, Director of Food Systems Development
- Laura Diede, Office and Accounting Assistant
- Sharyn Goodson, Vice President, Philanthropy
- Janine Hewitt, Accountant
- Paige Milgrom-Hills, Hive Program Associate
- Daron “Farmer D” Joffe, Director of Agricultural Innovation and Development
- Jessica Kort, Senior Manager of Philanthropy and Communications
- Eileen Linden, Executive Assistant
- Cassandra Mori, Administrative Assistant, Human Resources and Operations
- Ari Novy, Chief Scientist
- Vanessa Oshiro, Human Resources and Operations Manager
- Michelle Poliner, Events Assistant
- Mitchell Price, Program Associate
- Leilani Rasmussen, Vice President, Finance and Operations
- Anthony Romanowski, Facilities Manager
- Makana Rowan, Hive Events Manager
- Charlene Seidle, Executive Vice President
- Brachie Sprung, Director of Jerusalem Partnership
- Jennifer York, Community Agriculture Program and Design Manager
Leichtag Commons Staff
- Mil Krecu, Leichtag Commons Assistant Operations Manager
- Rudy Macias, Maintenance Crew Member
- Lorenzo Meza, Maintenance Crew Member
- Dempsey Sawyer, Director of Engineering
- Dan Walsh, Security Manager
Coastal Roots Farm Staff
Past Board Members and Staff of Blessed Memory
- Naomi Friedman Rabkin, z”l, Director of Programs
- Murray Galinson, z”l, Vice Chairman
- Sheldon S. Scharlin, CPA, J.D., z”l, Chair, Audit Committee
James S. Farley, Esquire, President and Chief Executive Officer
Jim is the Foundation’s President and CEO, a position he has held since 2007 when the Foundation became independent. Prior to that appointment, Jim served as General Counsel of the Foundation from 1995 – 2007 when he was practicing as an attorney.
Jim’s professional background and diverse community leadership experience catalyzed the Foundation’s purchase of Leichtag Commons. He is a mentor and takes particular pride in being a champion of young leaders. He is a frequent presenter about the power of place in community engagement and in developing new models of social change.
A longtime San Diegan whose community activism dates back to his youth, Jim draws upon many years of volunteer leadership experience in the nonprofit sector. Currently, Jim serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Jewish Funders Network, an international organization dedicated to Jewish philanthropy and social enterprise. In past years, he served as President of the Board of Seacrest Village Retirement Communities and the Quail Botanical Garden Foundation doing business as San Diego Botanic Garden and as a member of The San Diego Foundation’s Board of Governors.
Jim is a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles. He earned a law degree from California Western School of Law and a Master’s in Taxation from New York University. He practiced law for 33 years. He and his wife live in Carlsbad, California. They have two married children and five grandchildren. Jim is a passionate horticulturalist, an avid reader, and a lover of music.
In Houston, Mr. Reiter was an attorney and businessman for over 35 years. He initially was Patent Counsel for the Manned Spacecraft Center of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and thereafter a partner in the law firm of Hyer, Reiter, Matthews, and Eichenroght until 1993. The practice of the firm was primarily in intellectual property law and dealt with the acquisition of employer/employee inventions, improvements, innovations and the protection and sale and licensing of those rights to others. The firm also engaged in federal patent litigation and licensing throughout the country.
In 1995, Mr. Reiter acquired an ownership interest in the American Transcriber Corporation of Texas. Ultimately, he became the principal owner and Chairman of the Board. The company, which was engaged in medical transcription for hospitals, expanded to offices throughout Texas, Florida and New England. In 1999, Mr. Reiter sold the company and moved to California. After moving to North County San Diego, he became active in the community. He served on the Board of Directors for Seacrest Village Retirement Communities and later as Chairman of the Community Advisory Board for Scripps Memorial Hospital, Encinitas.
Mr. Reiter graduated with a Bachelors degree in engineering from Ohio State and a Juris Doctorate in law from Georgetown University Law School in Washington D.C. Currently, he resides in Rancho Mirage, California. He has three daughters and three grandchildren.
Robert F. Brunst, M.D., Ph.D., has served on the Leichtag Foundation Board since its inception in 1991. As Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer, he oversees the Foundation’s financial operations and accounting processes.
Dr. Brunst practices adult medicine in Encinitas and is affiliated with Scripps Memorial Hospital’s Encinitas and La Jolla facilities. He has been Assistant Professor in the Department of Community Medicine at the University of California San Diego’s School of Medicine since 1986 and is the Medical Director of InnerVision Wellness Imaging in Carlsbad, California. Dr. Brunst has authored a number of publications; most recently on the subject of anti-aging.
Dr. Brunst earned his Ph.D. in biochemistry and his M.D. at the University of Southern California. Over the years, Dr. Brunst was a physician at La Costa Resort and Spa from 1979 to 1992 and Chief of Staff at Scripps Memorial Hospital, Encinitas from 1992 to 1994. He also was Founder and Medical Director of Hospice of the North Coast in Carlsbad, California and Medical Director of Tri-City Hospice in Oceanside, California. In addition, he has served as Community Advisory Board Chairman of Scripps Memorial Hospital, Encinitas, and as a member of the Scripps Foundation Board.
Dr. Brunst’s professional and personal relationship with the Leichtag family dates back more than three decades, when Lee and Toni Leichtag engaged Dr. Brunst as their family physician. Throughout the years, he served them and members of their immediate family.
Robert Brunst was born in Amsterdam, Holland. He and his wife have one son. They reside in Olivenhain, California.
Emily is a businesswoman with involvement in numerous ventures. Since 1993, she has been Chairperson of the Board of Summit Properties which is one of the top ten owners and developers of industrial real estate in Portland, Oregon.
Emily is co-owner of Chella Textiles, a world leader in the design, development, and sales of luxury performance textiles for the hospitality industry and for residential use. The company has developed world-wide distribution through showrooms and representatives.
Since 1993, Emily has owned and managed the Silverado Apartments, a senior apartment complex in Solana Beach, California. She is also part owner of Turf Paradise, the 300 acre Phoenix horse racetrack which operates nine months per year. Emily also is an investor in Huya Biosciences where she served on the business advisory board. Huya identifies and licenses promising Chinese pharmaceuticals for commercialization in Western markets. She has invested in dozens of other private businesses and real estate related ventures.
In 1982, Emily graduated from Harvard College receiving her BA in Economics. She worked at MA/ACOM Linkabit, the predecessor company to Qualcomm. She received her CPA in 1987 having worked at KPMG Peat Marwick in both the auditing and private business consulting areas. From 1987 to 1990, Emily worked at Grubb and Ellis, a national real estate brokerage firm where she specialized in apartment and industrial investment properties.
Emily is extremely active and involved in the Jewish philanthropic community of San Diego. She is a Wexner Fellow graduate and is the past Chair of the Board of the Jewish Community Foundation of San Diego. Since joining the board fifteen years ago, the Foundation has grown from $25 million in assets to over $260 million. She has served as chair of finance, human resources, and audit, and as a member of the strategic planning group, among other functions. She also was the founder of the Jewish Day School Scholarship fund helping all five of the Jewish Day Schools in San Diego. Emily is also on the Board of 2-1-1 San Diego and has previously served on the boards of Soille Hebrew Day School and Congregation Beth El.
Emily is married to Dan Einhorn, a physician specializing in Endocrinology. They have two children, Max, and Estee.
Dr. Jeffrey R. Solomon is the President of the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies, a group of foundations operating in Canada, Israel and the United States. Among the foundations’ innovative launches are Birthright Israel and Reboot, two initiatives aimed at connecting young, assimilated Jews to their tradition, The Gift of New York, a powerful response to September 11, helping to heal families of victims through the power of culture, and Project Involvement, an educational reform program serving some 265,000 Israeli elementary school students.
He previously served as the Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of UJA-Federation of New York. Other past positions include executive positions at Altro Health & Rehabilitation Services, Miami Jewish Home and Hospital for the Aged and Jewish Family and Children’s Services in Miami. Dr. Solomon also served with the City, State and Federal Governments. An author of over 100 publications in both professional journals and outlets such as The Financial Times and Wall Street Journal, he served as an adjunct associate professor at New York University. He sits on numerous nonprofit and foundation boards including the FJC, a community foundation in New York, the Jim Joseph Foundation in San Francisco, and the Leichtag Foundation in San Diego, where he serves as Vice Chair. He also served on the Board of the Council on Foundations, where he chaired the Committee on Ethics and Practice and sat on its Executive Committee. He is a founding trustee of the World Faiths Development Dialogue and has received a number of honors from professional associations and universities.
His widely acclaimed book, The Art of Giving: Where the Soul Meets a Business Plan, co-authored with Charles Bronfman, was published by Wiley/Jossey-Bass in October, 2009. It has been awarded the Axiom Gold Medal in philanthropy and has been translated and published in South Korea. They completed a sequel, The Art of Doing Good: Where Passion Meets Action, also published by Wiley/Jossey-Bass (September, 2012), which explores the principles and practices of nonprofit social enterprise, extracting the lessons from the journeys of eighteen social entrepreneurs.
Jenny Camhi, Director of The Hive at Leichtag Commons
Jenny is the Foundation’s Director of The Hive at Leichtag Commons where she is responsible for facilitating connections between the Hive members and the Farm, recruiting and on boarding new Hive and Hot Desk members, and managing the Professional Development program offered to Hive members.
Prior to joining Leichtag, Jenny worked for Jewish Family Service of San Diego as the North County Outreach Social Worker where she worked to reduce the barriers to accessing both local Jewish life and community resources.
Jenny holds a M.S.W. from San Diego State University and a B.A. in Human Development from Connecticut College. She started her social work career at the Community Resource Center in Encinitas where she provided individual, couples and group therapy for community members as well as residents of the agency’s domestic violence shelter. She is a proud Encinitas resident where she lives with her husband and two children.
Jordan Daniels, Communications Associate
Jordan is the Leichtag Foundation’s Communications Associate where he is responsible for continuously designing and adapting social media, websites, emails and other communications tools to grow Leichtag Foundations network, provide effective communications through ongoing data analysis and utilizing those crafted communications to help advocate for social impact within the San Diego community.
Prior to joining the Leichtag Foundation’s staff, Jordan worked as a social media strategist for several nonprofits in Long Beach and obtained his Bachelor’s in Journalism & Public Relations from California State University, Long Beach. Jordan is also a freelance photographer and writer for social commentary and fashion. His work has been published in notable publications such as Los Angeles Magazine and Wear Your Voice Magazine.
Sona Desai, Director of Food Systems Development
Sona is the Director of Food Systems Development where she provides thought leadership, research, capacity building, technical assistance, and food and farm-based consulting services to advance the Leichtag Foundation and Leichtag Commons food system strategy. Formerly, Sona served as the Associate Director of Coastal Roots Farm.
Prior to joining the Leichtag Foundation, Sona worked for over 20 years to advance local food systems in Vermont and the Northeast. Most recently, Sona was the Food Hub Manager at the Intervale Center in Burlington, Vermont. She also served on the Board of Directors for the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont. Sona is recognized nationally as a leader in food hub and community food systems development.
Laura Diede, Office and Accounting Assistant
Laura Diede is the Foundation’s Office and Accounting Assistant where she is responsible for helping with office operations and helps with accounting functions for the Foundation and Coastal Roots Farm..
Prior to joining the Foundation, Laura worked for Athena San Diego as Program Assistant, as a Community Manager for 10 different HOA’s, a General Manager at an architectural survey company and as a manager of the Farmington Woods Pro Shop.
She has lived in Virginia, California, Costa Rica, New Jersey, Connecticut and Colorado. Her home is now in Encinitas where she and her husband and high school sweetheart moved to be close to their first mutual grandchild. Her passion has always been non-profit work and being a part of the Leichtag Foundation is a dream come true.
Sharyn Goodson, Vice President, Philanthropy
Sharyn Goodson is the Foundation’s Vice President of Philanthropy, where she manages Foundation grantmaking and its philanthropic consulting practice, leads funder partnerships, and develops giving opportunities for community members.
In April 2010, Sharyn was hired as the Leichtag Foundation’s first Program Officer. Beginning in 2012, Sharyn also began to manage the Jewish Community Foundation of San Diego’s philanthropy programs and served as the lead contact for major family funds and foundations. Her most recent role at the Jewish Community Foundation was as its Vice President of Philanthropy.
Previously, Sharyn was Director of Grants of Jewish Family Service of San Diego and Program Director of the Aspen Community Foundation in Aspen, CO. Sharyn also held professional positions at Jewish Family and Children’s Service in Pittsburgh.
Janine Hewitt, Accountant
Janine is the Foundation’s Accountant where she records financial information and performs accounting functions for the Foundation.
Prior to joining Leichtag Foundation, Janine spent eleven years as the controller for Seven Hills Resorts Corporation, a golf resort which included a restaurant/bar and a forty-unit senior apartment complex overlooking the golf course. Janine holds a B.S. in Accounting as well as a M.S. in Accounting/Managerial Finance.
Janine is originally from New York but loves the San Diego Coast. When not working, she enjoys spending time with her two sons, loves being outdoors and has a passion for organizing and leading fun social events which promote getting people together to try new things, make new friends and have lots of fun!
Paige Milgrom-Hills, Hive Program Associate
Paige Milgrom-Hills is the Program Associate for The Hive at Leichtag Commons where she is responsible for managing the day-to-day functions of the Hive’s event and co-working space.
Before joining the Leichtag Foundation, Paige worked for San Diego First Church of the Nazarene in Point Loma. In this role, she managed church programming, schedules, and communication, as well as planned events, and oversaw volunteers. She currently still volunteers as a leader in the college group and enjoys giving back to the place that taught her so much.
Paige received her B.A. in International Studies from Point Loma Nazarene University where she further cultivated her love for travel. She and her husband attempt to go abroad at least once a year and are always open to destination recommendations.
Daron “Farmer D” Joffe, Director of Agricultural Innovation and Development
Daron is the Foundation’s Director of Agricultural Innovation and Development, where he manages the strategic planning, community engagement and operations of the 67.5 acre Leichtag Commons property. He is the Founding Director of Coastal Roots Farm, develops new tenant and business relationship, and maintains Farmer D Consulting as a Leichtag Foundation Initiative.
Daron is the author of the acclaimed book Citizen Farmers: The Biodynamic Way to Grow Healthy Food, Build Thriving Communities and Give Back to the Earth. He is the founder of Farmer D Organics and Farmer D Consulting and has spent the past 20 years designing and building biodynamic farms and gardens all over the country.
From 2003-2005, Daron was a Joshua Venture Group Fellow for his project Gan Chaim which provided innovative programming for Jewish Community Centers, camps and schools through the creation of hands-on educational therapeutic gardening experiences.
Early in his career, Daron was selected as Biodynamic Rookie Farmer of the Year; shortly thereafter, Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles selected him in the top 20 under 40, and Georgia Trend in the top 40 under 40. He was awarded the Pillars of EARTH Award from Earth University for Entrepreneurial Spirit. Whole Foods has partnered with him to develop the Farmer D Organics Signature Biodynamic Blend Organic Compost available at Whole Foods and other places.
Jessica Kort, Senior Manager of Philanthropy and Communications
Jessica is Leichtag Foundation’s Senior Manager of Philanthropy and Communications, responsible for developing giving opportunities for community members, overseeing a new giving circle initiative, building the Foundation’s philanthropic consulting practice and looking at ways that the Foundation can increase its impact and leverage across funding areas.
Jessica most recently served as Managing Director of Foothold Foundation, an initiative dedicated to supporting collaborative efforts in San Diego’s social sector. Prior to that, she served as Communications Officer at the Jewish Community Foundation of San Diego and Program Coordinator at Temple Emanu-El of San Diego.
Jessica currently serves as a steering committee member of the San Diego Chapter of Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy. She is a former advisory board member of Young Nonprofit Professionals Network San Diego and was a 2012 San Diego Leadership Alliance Institute Fellow. Jessica received a B.A. in International Studies from UC San Diego, a M.A. in International Conflict Studies from King’s College London, and a M.B.A. from the University of San Diego.
Eileen Linden, Executive Assistant
Eileen is the Foundation’s Executive Assistant where she helps handle the smooth operations at Leichtag Commons as it grows.
Prior to joining Leichtag Foundation, Eileen worked in hotel management, accounting and human resources departments.
Eileen holds an Associates in Hotel/Restaurant Management from Johnson & Wales College in Providence, Rhode Island. Eileen currently resides in North County and enjoys living in this beautiful community with her husband and two children.
Cassandra Mori, Administrative Assistant, Human Resources and Operations
Cassandra is Leichtag Foundation’s Human Resources and Data Entry Administrator where she is responsible for supporting the organization’s human resource and data management efforts, including recruiting and onboarding, performance management, benefits administration, and all data application implementations and maintenance.
Prior to joining Leichtag Foundation, Cassandra worked as a field marketing specialist and team manager where she created and managed Hansen’s Natural Soda’s San Diego program and traveled the U.S. with another major company in the beverage industry. Cassandra is a member of Alpha Phi Omega, a service-based fraternity whose cardinal principals are leadership, friendship, and service. She has a passion for volunteering and helping others.
Cassandra moved to San Diego from San Jose and has been enjoying the slower pace and extra warm days San Diego has to offer. In her spare time, she enjoys constantly learning new things, especially when it comes to health, fitness, cleaning, and beauty; eating good food; dancing; and attending concerts and sports games.
Ari Novy, Ph.D, Chief Scientist
As Chief Scientist for the Leichtag Foundation, Dr. Ari Novy is responsible for advancing and disseminating scientific knowledge at Leichtag Foundation and Leichtag Commons. He is also responsible for establishing a strategic scientific R&D and outreach roadmap for the Foundation and Commons, as well as conduct original scientific research with strategic partners.
Dr. Novy is a plant biologist with a wide range of expertise in plant science and education. Before joining the Leichtag Foundation, Dr. Novy was Executive Director of the United States Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C., where he was responsible for all activities and strategic planning at the Nation’s botanical garden, including welcoming over 1.2 million visitors per year.
Dr. Novy completed his B.A. at New York University and his Ph.D. at Rutgers University. Dr. Novy holds an appointment as a research collaborator at the Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Botany Department. He is the founding co-chair of the Food and Agriculture Professional Section of the American Public Gardens Association.
Vanessa Oshiro, Human Resources and Operations Manager
Vanessa is the Foundation’s Human Resources and Operations Manager where she oversees administrative processes from concept to evaluation, analyzes strengths and limitations of grantees and prospects, monitors performance of active grants and prepares funding analyses that capture the program rationale and expected measurable outcomes, and prepares and participates in the assessment and evaluation of the effectiveness of program strategies.
Prior to joining Leichtag Foundation, Vanessa served as Grants Manager at The San Diego Foundation responsible for managing donor-advised grant making for the organization. In this role, she also worked with donors to align their philanthropic goals with community needs.
Vanessa holds a B.A. in Economics from the University of California, Irvine and a Master’s in Nonprofit Leadership and Management from University of San Diego. She is also an active member of Emerging Practitioners of Philanthropy (EPIP), serving on the steering committee for the San Diego Chapter.
Michelle Poliner, Events Assistant
Michelle joined the Foundation as the Events Assistant, where she is responsible for the execution of the various community events that take place at Leichtag Commons. Before joining the Leichtag Foundation, she was the Marketing & Events Director for Golden Coast Mead, a conscious alcoholic beverage company that aims to transform the beekeeping industry for the benefit of the bees and the earth.
Michelle grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio and holds a B.S. in Organizational Communication from Ohio University. In 2015, she got rid of most of her possessions and moved with her partner to California in their tiny house on wheels. She currently serves on the board of Slow Food Urban San Diego, an organization dedicated to the betterment of the local food system, where she leads the production of the annual event, the Good Food Community Fair.
In her free time, she enjoys reading, gardening, seeing live music and spending time with her dog, Maui.
Mitchell Price, Program Associate
Mitchell is the Foundation’s Program Associate where he splits his time between the Philanthropy Department and Murray Galinson San Diego-Israel Initiative (MGSDII). The goal of the MGSDII is to strategically promote, support and catalyze discourse and interaction on the modern state of Israel through scholarship, engagement and collaboration. He is responsible for program management and implementing all logistical details associated with outreach and events for the MGSDII. His role within the Philanthropy Department allows him to exercise creativity in event planning, grant processing, donor stewardship, and database management.
Prior to joining Leichtag Foundation, and before managing earlier stages of the San Diego-Israel Initiative at the University of California, San Diego, Mitchell worked at the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties as a Development Associate. In this role he identified and devised strategies for cultivation of prospective donors, oversaw donor recognition, planned donor and membership events, and managed annual giving campaigns.
Mitchell holds a B.A. in Political Science from Point Loma Nazarene University. He is actively involved in his church, San Diego First Church of the Nazarene, volunteering his free time to mentoring high school students. He enjoys going to concerts and experiencing new cultures, nearing his goal of traveling to 30 different countries before he turns 30 years old.
Leilani Rasmussen, Vice President, Finance and Operations
Leilani is the Foundation’s Vice President of Finance and Operations, where she oversees financial management and analysis including human resources and risk management. Leilani also supervises operations at Leichtag Commons.
Prior to joining the Leichtag Foundation, she spent nine years at the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation, a place-based, community building operating foundation.
Leilani holds a B.A. in Business Administration, graduating with Magna Cum Laude, from National University. Leilani served as Treasurer of the Mana de San Diego Board. She enjoys spending time with her family, volunteering for local community youth sports organizations, and is actively involved in her church.
Anthony Romanowski, Facilities Manager
Anthony Romanowski is the Leichtag Foundation’s Facilities Manager where he is responsible for management and maintenance of Leichtag Commons. In this role, he is accountable for all aspects of services in relation to structures and premises including project management and overseeing all repair and maintenance for day-to-day operations. Anthony will manage a team for the landscaping and horticultural elements upkeep, safety, security, and equipment installations.
Prior to joining Leichtag Foundation he worked for numerous defense contractors for the U.S., developing and manufacturing ceramic components for aerospace, industrial and military applications. He also aided in building machinery for the creation of net-formed products.
Anthony has a degree in Architectural Design and Mechanical Engineering technologies, and has a background in Material Sciences of ceramic/glass component development.
In his free time, Anthony likes to spend time with his wife, two grown children and granddaughter. His hobbies include visits to small towns in America, photography and woodworking. Anthony is also an avid Detroit Tigers and Red Wing fan.
Makana Rowan, Hive Events Manager
Makana is the Foundation’s Hive Events Manager where he is responsible for event logistics and assisting to create and organize events held at the Leichtag Commons.
Prior to his current role at Leichtag Foundation, Makana spent the last 2 years as the Hive Animator, where he was responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the Hive.
Makana’s background is in creative writing. He is a published song writer who has had songs on a number one album. He has also written treatments for many music videos and has published several essays.
Charlene Seidle, Executive Vice President
Charlene is the Foundation’s Executive Vice President of the Leichtag Foundation, a private independent foundation which works to honor the legacy of Lee and Toni Leichtag through igniting and inspiring vibrant Jewish life, advancing self-sufficiency and stimulating social entrepreneurship in coastal North San Diego County and Jerusalem.
Charlene won the 2013 JJ Greenberg Memorial Award, an international prize given to one outstanding philanthropic professional under the age of 40 each year.
Charlene is a frequent speaker, presenter and writer about topics pertaining to philanthropy, Jewish community trends and social change. She is on the board of the Jewish Funders Network, formerly served on the board of San Diego Grantmakers and has served on many committees and councils. Charlene spent 18 years working for the Jewish Community Foundation of San Diego in increasingly responsible positions including serving as President and CEO of the organization.
Brachie Sprung, Director of the International Office of Jerusalem Partnerships
Brachie Sprung is the Director of the International Office of Jerusalem Partnerships, a new initiative spearheaded by the Jerusalem Mayor’s office and the Leichtag Foundation. In this capacity Brachie serves as a point of contact to help expand the city’s reach and impact globally, connecting between the city of Jerusalem, the Mayor’s office, the Jerusalem Municipality, organizations around the world that are working to promote Jerusalem, and the international community. The Office serves as a platform to advance important philanthropic projects for the City of Jerusalem.
Prior to assuming this role, Brachie served as Mayor Nir Barkat’s Senior Advisor for International Affairs from 2013 through 2016. Before joining the Mayor’s team, Brachie was the Associate Director of Business Development at PresenTense Israel.
Brachie is married to Ari and they live in New York City with their three children.
Jennifer York, Community Agriculture Program and Design Manager
Jennifer York is the Foundation’s Community Agriculture Program and Design Manager where she is responsible for producing client facing farm programs and design presentations as well as serving in a thought leadership role on behalf of Leichtag Foundation through its recent acquisition of Farmer D Consulting.
Jennifer most recently served as the Natural Product Development Manager and Wellness Designer for Viridian. In this role, she designed lifestyle wellness programs, natural skin care products, and herbal farms for sustainable communities and resorts. Previously, she was the RN Manager for Prime Wellness Center in Solana Beach, where she worked with a team of naturopathic doctors to help patients reach their wellness goals through custom, cutting-edge natural treatments.
Jennifer holds a B.S. in Herbal Sciences from Bastyr University in WA, a M.S. in Regenerative Studies from Cal Poly Pomona, and a M.S. in Nursing Education from United States University. She is passionate about designing communities, farms, and gardens that support the health and well-being of people and the environment.
Leichtag Commons Staff
Mil Krecu, Leichtag Commons Assistant Operations Manager
Mil is the Leichtag Commons Assistant Operations Manager where he helps keep everything running.
Prior to joining Leichtag Foundation, he worked as an advisor to small farms in the area and on many different construction projects.
Mil’s accomplishments include being one of the original organizers and managers at Tierra Miguel Foundation Farm in Pauma Valley. He has consulted and taught classes at numerous farms, gardens and schools on organic, sustainable and biodynamic food production. Mil is also a retired building inspector for Los Angeles Power and Water. This experience lead to his passion for designing, building and researching practical and interesting structures and power resources.
Rudy Macias, Maintenance Crew Member
Rudy Macias is on the maintenance crew where he performs general maintenance repairs, carpentry, painting, plumbing, and landscaping. Prior to joining Leichtag Foundation, he worked at a estate ranch as a landscaper.
Lorenzo Meza, Maintenance Crew Member
Lorenzo is a Maintenance Crew Member where he performs general maintenance, carpentry, plumbing, and landscaping.
Prior to joining Leichtag Foundation, he worked at nursery planting and maintaining the nursery.
Lorenzo is a proud father. He loves to go to the park and play basketball.
Dempsey Sawyer, Director of Engineering
Dempsey is the Director of Engineering where he oversees the overall development, rebuilding and construction on the property of Leichtag Commons.
Prior to joining Leichtag Commons, Dempsey worked at the former Paul Ecke Ranch on the same location developing a plan to incorporate renewable energy.
Dempsey holds a B.S. in Geology and a Minor in Crystallography from Texas University.
Dan Walsh, Security Manager
Dan is the Security Manager where he runs the overall security programs and day-to-day operations for the security and safety of the Foundation.
Prior to joining Leichtag Foundation, Dan was a reserve police officer for the City of Carlsbad and a Security Director for multiple organizations.
Dan holds a B.A. in Criminal Justice from the Union Institute and five associates degrees in Investigative Security, Fire Technology, Law Enforcement, Industrustrial /Residential Security, and Retail Security from Palomar College. Dan was once a powerlifting champion, but now enjoys his life as a family man.
Coastal Roots Farm Staff
Past Board Members and Staff of Blessed Memory
We are so deeply saddened and heartbroken by the passing on March 5 of our beloved colleague, our Director of Programs, Naomi Friedman Rabkin, z”l. Naomi began her tenure with the Foundation in early 2012 shortly after moving to San Diego from Atlanta. She quickly transitioned to a staff role and served as our Director of Programs until her passing. Naomi’s impact spans every element of the Leichtag Foundation work, from Encinitas to Jerusalem and back again. She was the creative architect of our programs, played a critical role in grantmaking and philanthropic strategy, was integral to the design and development of Leichtag Commons and provided important counsel and direction as a senior leader of the Foundation. Naomi was an exemplary manager. She championed and supported her team, and her devotion to making a difference in the community inspired everyone around her to devote themselves as well.
We are processing this devastating news as a team as we try our best to live up to Naomi’s strong example, and we join her friends feeling her loss around the world. We will not let her down. We continue our work in her name and for her name. Our sincere condolences to Naomi’s husband Michael Rabkin, her daughters Jolene and Talia, her mother Marcia Friedman and her brother Daniel Friedman. They are all already part of the Leichtag community, and we hope to hold them closer and tighter in the days, months and years ahead. May Naomi’s memory be for a blessing and may we all be comforted in our tremendous grief among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.
As the Foundation’s Director of Programs, Naomi developed new programs to stimulate Jewish life and community at the Leichtag Commons and in the region. She also helped to support Jewish North County residents, organized events at Leichtag Commons, oversaw the Hive and coordinated ongoing community engagement, research and conversation.
Prior to joining Leichtag Foundation, Naomi worked to build Jewish community through experiential education in a number of positions including at Spark: Partnership for Service, Jewish Funds for Justice and Project Otzma. Her other professional experiences included Teach for America, The Service Learning 2000 Center and The Wexner Heritage Foundation. She was the first Executive Director of Limmud Atlanta + Southeast and founded the Jewish Food Alliance, a volunteer run organization which organized people around community supported agriculture, workshops and an annual community wide Sukkot festival. Naomi also launched Pachie’s Place, a parenting program at Jewish Family Service of San Diego.
Naomi held a Master’s in Education from Stanford University where she focused her thesis on the intersections between Jewish Values of Social Action and Service Learning Education.
Mr. Scharlin’s professional and personal relationship with the Leichtags dated back to 1970. He served Lee Leichtag as a financial advisor for many years. Mr. Scharlin was instrumental in facilitating the sale of MD Pharmaceuticals, Inc. in 1991 as well as the establishment of the Leichtag Family Foundation later that year.
Mr. Scharlin earned his undergraduate degree from New York City College in 1951 followed by his Juris Doctorate from Brooklyn Law School. He worked in the accounting profession for more than five decades. Early in his career, he worked for mid-sized accounting firms.
After moving to the San Diego area in 1970, Mr. Scharlin opened an accounting partnership that evolved into the Sheldon S. Scharlin C.P.A. sole proprietorship. He served companies and individuals in diverse fields, including businesses, partnerships and trusts. Throughout the years, he also was actively involved with and served on the boards of faith-based organizations.