PAS Staff are Here for You
From the receptionist who answers your call and greets you at the door to the educators who plan events, our dedicated and capable staff welcome you to a rich array of classes, social events, and innovative explorations of all facets of Judaism.
Valerie RussoExecutive Director
Valerie Russo is the Executive Director of Park Avenue Synagogue. She joins us after a decades-long successful career in the non-profit sector and in government, and she brings to PAS her proven leadership and her operational and administrative excellence. Valerie, her husband Marc Freud, and their two teenage children live on the Upper East Side. They are longtime members of Temple Israel just a few blocks away and are looking forward to also becoming part of the PAS community.
Geet EngelDirector of Finance
Geet joined Park Avenue Synagogue as Director of Finance in March, 2015. She has extensive management experience in accounting and financial management positions with a specialization in working with private Jewish Day schools. She has an expertise in accounting procedures and financial statements, payroll and financial forecasting.
Zawnia DehaneyDirector of Human Resources
Zawnia Dehaney started working at Park Avenue Synagogue as Director of Human Resources in 2019. Prior to joining the synagogue, Zawnia was the Human Resources Operations Manager at START Treatment & Recovery Centers in Brooklyn. At START, Zawnia was a trusted ally among leadership and general staff across seven locations in the NYC metropolitan area for all HR-related matters.
Lesley Alpert-SchuldenfreiDirector of Communications
Lesley Alpert-Schuldenfrei is thrilled to join Park Avenue Synagogue as Director of Communications. She is a marketing and communications professional with more than 25 years of experience creating strong brands, building audiences and constituents, and establishing communications strategies in a variety of nonprofit organizations. Lesley has worked in a wide range of industries from Broadway and the circus arts to live music and visual arts.
Jason SantosFacilities Director
Jason Santos started working with Park Avenue Synagogue in 2010, spending his first two years at PAS as a contractor. During that time, he shined as a leader and was promoted to a managerial position in 2012, later becoming Facilities Director in 2018. As Facilities Director, Jason manages three buildings for PAS – 50 E 87th Street, 9 E 89th Street, and the Eli M. Black Lifelong Learning Center at 11 E 89th Street — as well as five clergy and staff apartments.
Oscar AcevedoDirector of Audio Visual and Production
Oscar Acevedo joined Park Avenue Synagogue as the Director of Audio Visual and Production in July 2021. He has a long history of music production and audio engineering experience having ventured into the field at age 13. As a teenager, he started doing live audio for family events, weddings, b’nei mitzvahs, baby showers, and parties.
Rabbi Bradley SolmsenDirector of Congregational Education
Rabbi Bradley Solmsen is a senior Jewish educational leader with significant experience engaging youth and the staff who work with our young people, as well as creating innovative programming. Immediately before he joined the Park Avenue Synagogue community as our Director of Congregational Education, Bradley served as the Executive Director of Surprise Lake Camp in Cold Spring, New York.
Rabbi Lori KoffmanDirector of Content and Innovation
Rabbi Lori Koffman joined Park Avenue Synagogue in June of 2021 as Director of Content and Innovation. Prior to this, she was the Director of Engagement and Innovation for USCJ, where she developed educational, social, and issue-based programs with an emphasis on building connection and community among members.
Mara BernsteinDirector of Synagogue Programming and Adult Education
Mara joined the Park Avenue Synagogue team in June 2018 as Director of Synagogue Programming and Adult Education. She has a background in event planning and program management, having worked at several New York City nonprofit organizations and cultural institutions, including Fraunces Tavern Museum, the Museum at Eldridge Street, and the Jewish Theological Seminary.
Melissa Silverman CohaviDirector of the Congregational School
Melissa Silverman Cohavi has been working in the field of Jewish education for the past 25 years. She holds a master’s in Jewish education from Hebrew Union College, a master’s in social work from Yeshiva University, and a B.A. in Judaic studies from the University of Michigan. Melissa is very connected to Israel, having lived there for several years, and she believes that a Jewish education should include building a connection to and a knowledge about Israel.
Pamela B. SchwartzDirector of Penn Family Early Childhood Center
Pamela B. Schwartz joined PAS as Director of the Penn Family Early Childhood Center in July, 2014. As Director, her mission is to move the PFECC from strength to strength by incorporating best practices in early childhood education. Before coming to PAS, Pamela was the learning specialist in the early childhood division of the Abraham Joshua Heschel School for seven years.
Jamie DiamondDirector of Young Family Education/Director of Camp Keshet
Jamie returned to PAS as the Director of Young Family Education and the Director of Camp Keshet in July 2016. In 2011–14 she was an Assistant Director of the Congregational School, focusing on the learners in grades K–2 and helping to develop the school's experiential education program.
David EnlowMusic Director
David Enlow is a “commanding” organist (The New Yorker), teacher, and conductor based in New York. He serves as Assistant Conductor and Repetiteur to the Clarion Choir and has appeared in almost all of New York’s major concert halls as an accompanist at the piano with choruses and solo singers, as well as in performances of chamber music. He is also organist of the Clarion Music Society and appears with various groups at the organ, harpsichord, and fortepiano. David has worked for PAS since 2012, and became Music Director in 2020.