Construct | Biographies
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Biographies

Updated July 6, 2021

Executive Director: Jane Ralph

 

Jane comes to Construct from north central Vermont. She served as Executive Director of the Clarina Howard Nichols Center serving those affected by domestic and sexual violence -an organization similar to the Elizabeth Freeman Center. As affordable housing was a primary obstacle to safety, under Jane’s leadership Clarina expanded their response to that need. Jane has worked with housing and homelessness in Washington DC and Kansas City as well as Vermont. Jane’s educational background is in Music Education with a Bachelors degree from University of Wisconsin-River Falls and pastoral with a Master of Divinity from Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. Primary interests include building compassionate community through intersectional approaches to racial equity and social change. Jane and her partner, Ellen Maxon, are both originally from Wisconsin and, as such, as avid Green Bay Packer fans. They have four children and five grandchildren. They enjoy theater, music, books, good food and many seasonal New England/Berkshire outdoor activities.

Board of Directors

President: Elizabeth Rosenberg

Elizabeth recently retired as Director of a Municipal Library. During her tenure, she was also on a Library Cooperative Board, served as a National Trustee of the ALS Association for 7 years and as a Board Member of the Greater New York Chapter of the ALS Association for 15 years. Elizabeth was elected to both a local school board, serving for 6 years, and then a regional high school board for 6 years. She live in Southfield, MA and New York City with her husband Eugene.

 

Vice President: Rabbi Neil Hirsch

Rabbi Neil P.G. Hirsch joined the Hevreh community in July 2015. Originally from Houston, Texas, he came to the Northeast for college and stayed for the weather and the hiking. He attended Tufts University for his Bachelor’s degree and received his Master’s Degree and ordination from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, in New York City. Prior to his time at Hevreh, Rabbi Hirsch served Temple Shalom in Newton, MA. He is married to Rabbi Liz P.G. Hirsch, who is an assistant Director at the URJ Eisner Camp in Great Barrington.

 

Treasurer: Keith Seidman

In his role as Chief Financial Officer, Keith has led financial operations at companies across the spectrum from technology startups to Fortune 500 firms. Keith has more than 30 years of financial expertise at innovative, rapidly growing companies. Keith recently retired from Thinking Phone Networks, where he was responsible for financial guidance, strategy and oversight for the company. Before joining Thinking Phones, Keith held CFO positions at several Boston area technology companies including Kiva Systems and Acme Packet, where he was responsible for securing venture financing and leading its successful 2006 initial public offering. Prior to that, Keith served as EVP and CFO at Duracraft Corp. Keith began his career as a certified public accountant at Coopers & Lybrand. Keith and his wife Arleen recently retired and became residents of Great Barrington. Prior to relocating to the Berkshires, Keith and Arleen resided in Sharon, MA where Keith was involved in financial leadership positions at Temple Israel of Sharon. Keith is also an AARP Tax-Aide volunteer in Southern Berkshire County.

 

Secretary: Elaine Silberstein

Caring about housing for all precipitated Elaine Silberstein’s involvement with Construct. She has been a Member of the Board since 2012. Many of these years she has helped with planning MayFest and the Walk. Currently she is chair of the Development Committee. Elaine is also co-president of Jewish Women’s Foundation, as well as founder of ERL Design Associates. She is married to Ben and has resided in the Berkshires for since 2004.

Board

Michael Alper

After a long and rewarding professional career in Creative Services, traveling the world to design stores, packaging, advertising and promotional material, Michael decided to leave New York City and the corporate world to work on more personally creative and satisfying projects.  Moving to what had been a weekend home in upstate NY, he and his husband started Red House Design. He served as President of the local Chamber of Commerce and was a member of an ad hoc committee that successfully secured a regional hospital satellite as a local health clinic for the area. In 2012 he relocated to Great Barrington, having been visitors to the area over many years.  As an architectural designer, Michael believes deeply in the power of places to transform peoples’ lives for the better. He and his husband Bruce feel very fortunate in their business and personal lives here and are thankful to be in a position to give back to the community.

 

Hinda Bodinger

Hinda and her husband Bill moved to the Berkshires full-time in 2013.  In 2016, they started Berkshire Baby Box, a non-profit with the mission of helping all new families feel welcome and valued here, and connecting new families to resources and services, regardless of income or immigrant status.  In 2021,  having given out over 1,000 safe-sleep Boxes and their “baby shower in a box,” they found a new home for Berkshire Baby Box with the Community Health Program (CHP).
Hinda wants to devote her energy to combatting food and housing  insecurity in Berkshire County and hopes to make an impact in both of these areas.

 

Robert (Bob) Bogomolny

Bob graduated from Harvard College and Law School. He worked on law reform in Washington, DC and New York before teaching law at Southern Methodist University Law School in Dallas. Bob served as Dean of the Law School at Cleveland State University and then moved to the corporate world, where he was Senior Vice President and General Counsel of Searle, a multi-national pharmaceutical company. He then returned to academia, serving as President of the University of Baltimore for 14 years.

 

Peter Cherneff

Peter has been a Director of Construct since 2007. He also serves on the Board of several other nonprofit organizations. Peter is a recently retired attorney, having had a practice throughout the United States specializing in Commercial Real Estate including the construction and development of housing projects and commercial properties. He is a graduate of Columbia College and Columbia Law School and served in the U.S. Navy as a trial counsel and military judge. In past years, he has been a photographer and team member for a year-long anthropological study of a tribe of (former) headhunters in the Philippines and a taxicab driver in New York City. He lives in Sheffield with his wife, Hester Velmans, an author and award-winning translator.

 

Tony Chojnowski

Tony resides in Pittsfield but is known in Lenox as Tony Casablanca. His love is retail and is the owner of Casablanca (Lenox) and several new clothing and shoe stores in Great Barrington. Construct is delighted to have a merchant from Main St., Great Barrington on the board as well as representation from the Lenox area.

 

Betty Farbman

Betty comes to Construct from a long career as a University Research Administrator, working at public and private institutions of higher education, including the City University of New York, St. John’s University, and New York University. She has worked as a teacher and program leader in a school for profoundly developmentally disabled individuals in Waltham, MA and co-founded The Family Center (now the Parenting Journey) in Somerville MA. Betty has served on various nonprofit Boards  and is currently a Board officer of the League of Women Voters – Central Berkshire County Chapter.

 

She served as a regional chair and Board Member of the National Council of University Research Administrators  as well as serving on several NCURA committees,  conducting dozens of training sessions for her peers over the course of her tenure. Born in Brooklyn and raised in Queens, NY, Betty has lived in Washington State, California, New York City and Eastern Massachusetts. She has been part of the Berkshire community since 2012, living in Egremont with her husband, Jeff Nathan.

 

Jane Glaser

Jane comes to Construct through her friendship with several current Board Members. She is very community focused, having started the Jewish Women’s Foundation in Berkshire county, created and developed the VIM coupon book and been an effective fundraiser for various community organizations. Jane’s commitment to Construct is strong and her involvement is widespread, including chairing the 50th anniversary cookbook committee and organizing a virtual (and Covid-proof) Warm Up the Winter program.

 

Wanda Houston

Wanda Houston is a performer, band leader, music/choir director and teacher. She comes to the Berkshires from Chicago, IL via Los Angeles and New York City. She has worked in Film, Television and the Broadway Stage. She’s also performed and lived in Europe and Australia.

 

Wanda first worked in the corporate worlds of Property Development and Management. She managed office buildings and Commercial properties throughout LA. until her show business opportunities fully developed. Currently Wanda is the Minister of Music at First Baptist Church, in Pittsfield and Band Leader for The Wanda Houston Band, HBH Band and a private vocal teacher/coach.

 

I was first introduced to Construct through the local restaurant and silent auction fundraiser event done in the Spring. But it was with Debra Zecher and the Warm Up The Winter fundraisers that I got to know the heart and soul of Construct. Sharing the stage and performing with other singers is always a joy, but knowing that the money we raise would help families pay their heat and help them through the long New England winter was certainly a bonus. There are many charitable organizations out there, I know because I’ve done fundraiser for most of them, but one that covers the vital need for shelter and warmth, sits high on my list of importance. I can never thank you enough.

 

Laura Jordahl

Laura Jordahl has long been committed to reducing housing and food insecurity through her volunteer leadership and philanthropy. In her former community on the outskirts of Chicago, Laura became deeply involved in Housing Forward, the local nonprofit providing a comprehensive approach to ending housing instability. For nearly two decades Laura led a team of volunteers at one of Housing Forward’s local shelter sites, overseeing the nightly meals and bed setup for 25 homeless individuals once a month. She was also one of Housing Forward’s Short-Term Stability Services volunteers for several years, answering coordinated entry referrals, setting up appointments and meeting with clients in need of emergency assistance as it related to homelessness prevention. Now a full-time Great Barrington resident, Laura enjoyed a weekly volunteer engagement at Construct overseeing the front desk and interacting with staff on various projects prior to Covid. Professionally she has backgrounds in architecture/project management and early childhood education.

 

Barbara Manring

Barbara first joined the Construct board in 2003 after participating in the Walk and being inspired by the work of the organization. She has been involved with a number of committees over the years and co-chaired the first Mayfest. Her community focus has included serving on the boards of Berkshire South, RSYP, Great Barrington Rotary Club, Riverbrook Residences and as a tutor with the Literacy Network of South Berkshire. She is retired from her career as an English as a Second Language teacher in the Washington, D.C. area and with the British Council in Sri Lanka. Her overseas experience also included two years with the Peace Corps as a health educator in the West African country now called Burkina Faso. Barbara with her husband, Roger, has lived in Great Barrington since 2001.

 

Christa Montano

Christa Montano grew up in the Berkshires and recently moved back to Great Barrington full-time with her fiancé, Tyler and puppy Opie Bear. After attending New York University, she began working in marketing for food brands and CPG startups. She currently works remotely for an indoor urban farming company based out of Brooklyn, handling their marketing and PR. Becoming familiar with Construct, Inc. through her stepdad Mark Rosengren, she has volunteered in small ways over the years and is excited for the opportunity to now have a greater impact.

 

Elizabeth Rosenberg

Elizabeth recently retired as Director of a Municipal Library. During her tenure, she was also on a Library Cooperative Board, served as a National Trustee of the ALS Association for 7 years and as a Board Member of the Greater New York Chapter of the ALS Association for 15 years. Elizabeth was elected to both a local school board, serving for 6 years, and then a regional high school board for 6 years. She live in Southfield, MA and New York City with her husband Eugene.

 

Mark Rosengren

Mark lives in Great Barrington with his wife Caren and 3 children, Christa, Lukas and Liam, having moved here 20 years ago from Chicago. He is a Designer/Builder of custom homes. Mark became involved in Construct shortly after moving to the Berkshires by wanting to “give back,” and found that Construct was a good fit. He has volunteered countless hours on various building projects through the years, including Construct’s offices, the Men’s Transitional House, Jordon House and 314 State Rd. He also recruited volunteers and contractors, working alongside of them, in building the Women’s Transition House and Priscilla’s Room. Mark has helped with many Walks and co-chaired two Mayfests. He has served on the Board since 2008.

 

Deborah Ryan

Deborah Ryan moved to Great Barrington five years ago when she and her husband Bill retired here.  She spent most of her career involved in food and chocolate manufacturing on an international scale but was also involved in ranching in Wyoming and Montana. Deb enjoys the Berkshires community and is committed to promoting opportunities for others who live here to improve themselves through education.   Deb serves on the Berkshires Agricultural Ventures committee of Berkshire Grown, and CCAP, which provides scholarships and internships in the culinary and hospitality field.

 

Anne Schnesel

Anne has resided in the Berkshires since 1986. She was a principal owner in the Loring Gallery in Sheffield from 1992-2008 until her retirement. Anne became involved with Construct in 2000 along with her late husband Ernest She currently hold positions on the Board of The Jewish Federation of the Berkshires, the Executive Board of The Jewish Women’s Foundation, and the Fairview Hospital Gala Committee. She and Ernie worked together to see the fruition of Priscilla’s Room at Construct and were principal supporters of “The House That Ernie Built” Campaign, the Construct project that furthered Ernie’s vision of affordable housing and related help to this community.

 

Elaine Silberstein

As a member of The American Society of Interiors Designers, Elaine founded E.R.L. Design Associates in 1983. Through her interior design work, she became involved in the formation of the Woman’s Transition House for Construct. She has been on Construct’s Board since and is currently its Secretary. Elaine was also a founding member of The Jewish Women’s Foundation of the Berkshires and recently held the position of Co-President for 4 years.

 

Richard Slutsky

Richard is an Egremont resident with his wife, Alyson. Originally from Omaha, Nebraska, Richard graduated from Washington University in St. Louis and Emory University School of Law. He practiced general civil law in Kansas City for five years. For 12 years, he served consecutively as the Executive Director of the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Kansas City and later at the Jewish Community Foundation of Metrowest, New Jersey. For 20 years, Richard served as the Senior Vice President and Institutional Sales Director for the Philanthropic Solutions Group at U.S Trust and Merrill Lynch in New York City. Richard currently serves as the Chair of a national Jewish environmental organization, Hazon. Previously residing in Maplewood, NJ, Richard and Alyson retired full time to the Berkshires in 2019.

 

Barney Stein

As a local Realtor, Barney is particularly aware how hard it is for local working families to find decent housing. Supporting Construct allows him to channel his feelings of frustration and despair into action. Helping struggling neighbors and engaging with the daunting vision to ensure local working folks can live and thrive in the Southern Berkshires is compelling work.

 

Barney was interested in workforce housing and cohousing for years. Impressed by how vital and effective Construct is, Barney started on the real estate committee in 20??, and has been on the board since 20?? Also, he hosted Construct’s 2020 and 2021 Warm Up the Winter events.

 

Barney grew up in Manhattan (NYC) and Pompano Beach, FL., lived in Northern California for 14 years and Boston for eight. Previously a massage therapist and retreat chef / caterer, he has been a Realtor with Lance Vermeulen Real Estate since 2007. He moved to West Stockbridge in 2006, loves living and working in this community and is passionate about sharing the beautiful Berkshires with others.