Jason Benkendorf

Executive Director

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 serves 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.


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Naomi Fainchtein
Assistant Director

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 oversees Hillel's programming and engagement initiatives; she is particularly excited to work closely with our stellar student leaders!


Sarah Bernstein

Springboard Fellow

Sarah Bernstein is in her second year as Hillel's Springboard Fellow. 

She focuses on student engagement and social justice initiatives.  Sarah graduated from the University of Delaware where she served as a Resident Assistant, an alternative break leader, and President of the campus Planned Parenthood Generation Action chapter.  She was also deeply involved with Hillel, serving as an engagement intern her sophomore year.  A Massachusetts native, Sarah is excited to be in Washington and to be part of the AU community!




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.