ALEPH Staff

 

 

SooJi Min-Maranda, Executive Director 

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SooJi Min-Maranda believes in the power of personal stories. Whether providing direct services, advocating for policy change, or fundraising for nonprofit organizations, Ms. Min-Maranda begins with personal narratives that illustrate the need for programs, policies, and resources that raise the voices of those underserved and underrepresented in mainstream society. A seasoned nonprofit executive with 15 years of experience, Min-Maranda brings a for-profit mindset to the nonprofit arena. She advocates for strategic partnerships and efficient, effective resource allocation.

She currently serves as Chair of the Board of Directors of the Michigan Organization on Adolescent Sexual Health. She served on Governor Quinn’s Illinois Human Services Commission from 2010-2012 and is a member of the Selah Leadership Program's National Executive Cohort 9. She was a 2010 Chicago Community Trust Fellow and a 2010 Chicago Foundation for Women Impact Awardee.

Previously, Min was the executive director of Temple Beth Emeth, a reform synagogue in Ann Arbor, MI, the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health (ICAH), a nonprofit policy and advocacy organization that focuses on adolescent sexual health and parenting and Korean American Community Services, a comprehensive social service agency in Chicago. The Asian Health Coalition of Illinois presented her with its Outstanding Community Health Advocate Award in 2008. She is a 2007 Illinois Women’s Institute for Leadership Delegate and a 2006 Leadership Greater Chicago Fellow. A graduate of Barnard College, Min holds master’s degrees from Northwestern University and The University of Chicago.

 

R. Marcia Prager, Dean and Director of ALEPH Ordination Program

Rabbi Marcia Prager, MFA, MHL, D.Min.h.c., is the founding Dean of the ALEPH Ordination Program. She serves as Director of the AOP Rabbinic Program where she also teaches Jewish spiritual practice and the Jewish Lifecycle Training sequence of courses and practica. She co-directs and teaches in the prize-winning Davvenen’ Leadership Training Institute, and serves as rabbi of the P’nai Or Jewish Renewal Congregation of Philadelphia, PA. She is a graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and also received personal smicha from Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi z”l. She is the author of The Path of Blessing, a contemporary hasidic text exploring the Jewish practice of blessing, published by Bell Tower and later by Jewish Lights, and has created the P’nai Or Siddurim for Shabbat and other innovative compilations of prayer and liturgy. In 2010, she was selected by the Jewish Daily Forward as one of the Top Fifty American Female Rabbis.

 

Ming Shem Lu, Ordination Program Administrator:

Ming (which means “shem”) was drawn to Jewish Renewal after reading about Reb Zalman in “The Jew in the Lotus.” Brought up in Hong Kong, he was introduced to the Jewish world at an early age, when he visited Israel with a youth orchestra. He eventually chose to focus his graduate work on Hannah Arendt and the relevance of her philosophy to contemporary politics. As creative director of a California museum, he worked to promote “fusion cultures” that were both traditional and forward-looking. The book he co-translated, the autobiography of the Chinese philosopher Mou Zongsan, was published in 2014. Ming lives in Philadelphia with his partner Greg.

 

Lynda Simons, Manager of Finance

Lynda believes that one of the greatest blessings in life is to love what you do, and for her it’s accounting – the precision of her work and the knowledge that it’s making a difference makes her happy.  After beginning college expecting to become an engineer, she spent many years in different industries as a full charge bookkeeper, freelance bookkeeper, CFO and business manager before finding her home in the non-profit finance world working with a variety of different religious, educational, historical and arts organizations.  She has helped to build several businesses from the ground up, including being an integral part of setting up systems and technology.  Her goal is always to ensure that all accounts reconcile and all accounting is compliant with the letter of the law.  Of course, the greatest gifts she’s been given are her two children, who are an accountant and an engineer! When she’s not engrossed in spreadsheets and accounting software, you’ll find her running trails, hiking up tall mountains, or riding her motorcycle into the sunset.

 

Stephanie Bello, Program and Event Coordinator

From a very young age, Stephanie knew that she wanted her future career to be one that helps others. As she grew older, that desire took the form of event planning and volunteer management in the nonprofit sector. Prior to ALEPH, Stephanie worked as an Event Support Specialist with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, organizing and overseeing galas, walks, and other fundraisers to raise money to find a cure for cystic fibrosis. Stephanie is also incredibly passionate about securing equitable educational opportunities for all, having spent time working with Repair the World, an organization which seeks to engage young Jews and their peers around volunteering in the areas of education and food justice. When not busy working, Stephanie can be found spending time with her loving fiancé, Aaron, and their cuddle bug of a puppy, Katonah.