Crimea 2000: Where Michael (at far left) and
Shai (at far right) first met, and "clicked".
Michael and Shai met nearly 15 years ago in Yalta, Crimea, where they co-produced a community-building conference that drew leaders and managers from across the former Soviet Union.
This was their very first collaboration — Shai on behalf of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry and Michael with the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh. Together with United Jewish Communities and the Russian Jewish Congress, they put together the first-ever Resource Development (Fundraising) training for professionals and lay leaders from across the Soviet successor states.
Sharing a passion and openness to challenges and opportunity, with experiences and talents that both overlap and complement each other in 2014 they decided to join forces. Their professional purpose is to identify institutions and enterprises whose vision and passion inspire them, and to unlock the potential to impact even more deeply and broadly.
Shai has served with numerous non-governmental organizations, including the World Jewish Congress, NCSEJ (formerly the National Conference on Soviet Jewry), American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), United Nations Watch, and the Anti-Defamation League; as Senior Fellow with the Institute on Religion and Public Policy; and as Treasurer of the UN-affiliated Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations (CoNGO).
Shai has led or coordinated advocacy efforts relating to numerous governments, intergovernmental and international organizations, and civil society worldwide. He has implemented accountability and best practices for several non-profits, upgraded Board engagement and hands-on leadership development, organizing policy events across America, Europe, the former Soviet Union, South Asia, and the Middle East.
Shai has appeared on Al Jazeera, Shalom TV, Israel Radio, and Argentina's C5N. He contributes regular columns in The Huffington Post and Times of Israel, and was ranked number-eight on JTA's list of the "100 Most Influential Jewish Twitter Users."
Michael founded Impro, a marketing consulting practice providing multi-level "soup to nuts" services to non-profit and governmental clients in Europe and Israel, earning a reputation for promotion of performing arts organizations and festivals.
As Moscow-Russia CEO for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), Michael cultivated and mentored community leaders and local donors, negotiated agreements with top officials, and established institutional infrastructure for a sustainable and autonomous system of welfare and cultural programs.
As Director of Donor Development for the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, Michael worked with business leaders to generate mission-driven philanthropy on an unprecedented scale, at home and globally. He later led strategic development for Carnegie Mellon University's iCarnegie subsidiary, launching international partnerships in STEM education, IT/workforce development and entrepreneurship to meet market demands. He worked closely with government, academic and industry leaders to assess and establish Innopolis, Russia's new technology city.
In our work at home and "in the field", we've been privileged to know and work with countless dedicated professionals and experts. We're honored and humbled to have some of these talented individuals "on call" to share their advice, partnering, and support.