Jason Benkendorf has served as the Executive Director of American University Hillel since 2011. Under his leadership, Hillel has dramatically increased student involvement and launched a wide range of initiatives to engage, educate, and empower Jewish students. In addition to his work at AU, he is past Chair of the Hillel International Directors Cabinet and served on the Hillel International Board of Directors. Jason was honored with Hillel International's Richard M. Joel Exemplar of Excellence Award in 2019. He previously founded and led the mid-Atlantic region of The Curriculum Initiative (TCI), an organization that facilitated inclusive Jewish programming at independent high schools. A passion for public service brought Jason to DC, and he received his BA in political science from the AU School of Public Affairs. He subsequently completed an MBA at Johns Hopkins University with a concentration in organization development.
Naomi Fainchtein joined the AU Hillel team in the summer of 2021 after several years spent working in student affairs at the University of Texas, Northeastern University, and Berklee College of Music. Earlier in her career, Naomi served as a program coordinator with United Synagogue Youth (USY) and a production associate with ABC News. She attended Northwestern University and received her master's degree in higher education leadership and policy from the University of Texas. As Assistant Director, Naomi leads Hillel's program and engagement team. She loves supporting students at various points on their Jewish journeys and mentoring emerging student leaders! When not on campus, you'll find Naomi spending time with her husband and their son, Matan.
Director of Engagement
We are excited to welcome Amy Hersch as our new Director of Engagement! Amy comes to us from the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC), where she served on the development team. She previously worked at two Hillels including that of her undergraduate alma mater, Elon University.
Amy received her master's degree in project and program management
from Brandeis University. She is passionate about building Jewish
community, social justice, and supporting student initiatives. Amy loves
baking and taking long walks with her husband and their puppy, Moira.
Springboard Ezra Fellow
Binyamin Novetsky joined the AU Hillel team in the summer of 2022 as our Springboard Ezra Fellow, focusing on student engagement and initiatives that foster fun and meaningful Jewish learning. Binyamin graduated from Johns Hopkins University, where he sat on the Hillel student board and the editorial board of the campus newspaper. A native of Teaneck, New Jersey, he is an alumnus of the Bronfman Youth Fellowship and previously interned with the Jewish Federations of North America. Binyamin is delighted to be part of the AU community and to work with our incredible students!
Missy Goldstein Gleisser
Marketing and Development Manager
Missy Goldstein Gleisser joined AU Hillel in 2021 as our Marketing and Development Manager. In this role, she spearheads grassroots campaigns and tells the stories of our incredible students. Missy previously worked as a Fellow at the Institute of Southern Jewish Life and in the young adult division of the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati. She is a graduate of the University of Florida and received her master's degree in Jewish nonprofit management and Jewish education from Hebrew Union College. Missy lives in Pennsylvania with her husband (the Senior Jewish Educator at Penn State Hillel), baby AJ, and pup Gertie.