Our Board - New Israel Fund Australia

Our Board

Our board is a diverse and experienced group, tasked with driving the strategy and growth of NIF Australia. Some have served on Jewish community and other non-profit boards, worked for organisations we support in Israel, graduated from Jewish day schools and Zionist youth movements, and all bring unique perspectives which maximise our effectiveness and impact.

We also acknowledge the important role that Steven Glass z"l played as a founding board member, and later vice-president, of NIF Australia. Without his leadership, guidance and expertise we wouldn't have achieved the successes we have.

Meet our supporters →

Ilana Snyder (President)

Ilana is Emeritus Professor in the Faculty of Education, Monash University. She is a member of the Advisory Committee of the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilization, Monash University, and on the Board of the Australian Book Review.

Ilana Snyder

Ric Benjamin (Treasurer)

After 25 years in business Ric transitioned from the Corporate sector to the NFP sector in 2010. Since then he has held roles including: CEO of Foodbank Victoria (2010-13), Founder & CEO of GoodSystems and Government & Strategic Account Manager for Infoxchange. Other voluntary work Ric has done in the NFP sector includes 1998-2009 as a past president of Stand Up (previously called Jewish Aid Australia) and as a mentor to various NFP boards and executive officers who are looking to transition business models and/or improve mission outcomes. Ric holds an MBA (RMIT), BA and Dip Ed (Monash University).

Ric Benjamin

Melissa Castan

Melissa is an Associate Professor in the Law Faculty at Monash University and a Member of the Board of the Victorian Law Foundation. She publishes widely in issues of public law, legal education and human rights. She holds a PhD in Law (Monash) and is the National Editor of the Alternative Law Journal.

Melissa Castan

Elysheva Elsass

Elysheva currently works in strategic marketing at Creative Victoria. She was formerly at the Jewish Museum of Australia and completed the New Israel Fund’s inaugural Naomi Chazan Fellowship program in 2015. She holds a Bachelor of Design (Hons) from RMIT University and a Bachelor of Arts (Psychology) from Monash University.

Elysheva Elsass

Gideon Kowadlo

Gideon is passionate about building things that matter from algorithms to organisations for positive social impact. He has spent more than 20 years bringing emerging technologies to life in Australia and overseas, in areas from robotics to human motor control and from mobile to bio-inspired AI. He was a founding board member of Engineers Without Borders and was a madrich at Netzer. Gideon is CEO of Project AGI and a Director/Advisor of other deep-tech focussed startups. He holds a PhD in Robotics (Monash Uni).

Gideon Kowadlo

Karen Loblay AM

Karen is a businesswoman, founder and director of the Matana Foundation for Young People, Sapphire Paul Harris Fellow of Rotary International, Specialist Consultant for Chain Reaction Foundation, Catalyst member of The Ethics Centre and on the Leadership Council of the Documentary Australia Foundation.

Karen Loblay

Ralph Pliner

Ralph was a partner for over 20 years of international law firm Baker McKenzie in Sydney, before retiring in 2004. Since then he has taken up a number of board positions of public listed and private companies, including a large life insurance company, TAL Life, as well as not-for-profits including the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, where he served as chairman for four years, and the Board of Jewish Education in Sydney. Ralph was also a lecturer in law at Melbourne University Law School and prior to that a financial journalist at the weekly financial magazine, the Financial Mail, in Johannesburg.


Kate Rosenberg

Kate Rosenberg grew up in the Jewish community and at her youth movement, Habonim Dror. She lived in Krakow, Poland and, after completing a B.A. made Aliyah to Tel Aviv. She completed a degree in Museum Studies and an M.A. in NGO Management at Hebrew University. She co-founded Tov Lada'at, a scholarship and support program for African asylum seekers wishing to gain higher education in Israel, and Keren Baktana, a network of giving circles for young professionals in Israel. Kate has acted as a resource development consultant for the past six years, working with innovative and progressive non-profits in Israel such as the Umm el Fahem Gallery, the Workshop for Public Knowledge and Breaking the Silence.

Kate Rosenberg

Alisa Wicks

Alisa is a solicitor at Legal Aid NSW. She worked for several years in Tel Aviv at the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI). Alisa holds a Bachelor of Social Work and Bachelor of Laws from the University of New South Wales.