Community Advisory Board

The FAU School of Social Work Community Advisory Board is an independent organization providing support and assistance to the School of Social Work at Florida Atlantic University (FAU). The purpose of the Board is to assist in developing, planning, and facilitating specific targeted activities that advance school goals. The objectives of the Advisory Board include, but are not limited to, the following:

Community Builder: Network within members’ own organizations and community in support of the School’s mission.

Resource Developer: Provide expert advice and consultation, idea generation, financial support and other investments in support of the School’s strategic priorities.

Advocate: Serve as an active advocate, with internal and external constituent groups, to assist the School in achieving strategic priorities and increasing national prominence. Act as an advocate for social and economic justice, human rights, and issues of diversity and cultural competence, both internally and externally.

Members of the Board will:

  1. 1. Affiliate with a highly ranked and well-respected School of Social Work.
  2. 2. Become integrally involved in matters of strategic importance to the School of Social Work.
  3. 3. Make a significant difference in the growth and development of the School.
  4. 4. Receive invitations to attend all conferences, colloquia, lectures, and ceremonies of the School.
  5. 5. Have recognition of service within School publications.


  1. The Board shall have a Chair and Vice-Chair who will each serve a two-year term. The Chair and Vice-Chair shall be elected during the last meeting of the spring semester and take office at the conclusion of that meeting. The School will provide secretarial support for minutes and related record keeping.

The Board will have four standing committees and when appropriate the Board Chair may appoint ad-hoc committees.

  1. Development and Community Engagement Committee
  2. Child Welfare Institute Committee
  3. Aging Academy Committee
  4. Curriculum Advisory Committee


  1. The Board shall consist of the Director of the School of Social Work, and individuals having diverse backgrounds and a wide range of professional expertise as business and community leaders who have a sincere interest in the School of Social Work.
  2. Process

    Membership on the FAU School of Social Work Community Advisory Board begins with a nomination by an existing Board member. The nomination form and the nominee’s resume are submitted to the Director for distribution to the Community Advisory Board. The Advisory Board will review the nomination form. Based on a review of the nominee’s qualifications, the Advisory Board will decide not to extend an invitation for membership or they will approve them based on the above process. Board will consist of a maximum of 30 members and each member will be asked to serve a three-year term. Terms can be renewed twice.

    The Director of the School of Social Work is a permanent member of the Board, but cannot be Chair of the Board.

Members of the Board will:

  1. Embrace the mission of the School and its community relationship goals.
  2. Be committed to working together in a collegial manner.
  3. Be willing to allocate the necessary time to attend meetings, special events and Board projects.
  4. Provide an annual contribution of support to the School.
  5. Attend Board meetings.
  6. Serve a three-year term (that can be renewed twice).


The Board will meet 2-4 times a year and committees will meet based on need.

Nicola A. Chandler, LCSW, MBA

Nicola Chandler Byam has over sixteen years of human service experience. She graduated from the University at Albany, State University of New York in 1999 and holds a Master's of Social Work (MSW). She is also a License Clinical Social Worker (LCSW).  She obtained a Graduate Certificate in Health Administration from FAU and holds a Master's in Business Administration (MBA) from Nova University.  In 2000, Mrs. Byam worked as a Victim Advocate Coordinator for Broward County Courthouse Probate Division.  As a court liaison, she provided assistance to the elderly, the developmentally disabled, and minors who were wards of the court and increased community awareness regarding their needs.  In her capacity as a Social Service Director for a skilled nursing facility, Mrs. Byam was responsible for the provision of medically related social services that helped residents to attain the highest level of physical, mental and psychosocial well-being. In her current position as the administrator of Tamarac Rehabilitation & Health Center, Mrs. Byam effectively manages the daily operations of this skilled nursing facility. She spends a tremendous amount of time with her staff to ensure that everyone remains motivated in their day-to-day activity. She is considered a leader who empowers her team and continues to drive success and development throughout her organization. Mrs. Byam was appointed Vice President of the Florida Health Care Association (FHCA), District XI in 2012. She is charged with executing FHCA's mission of advancing the quality of service, image, and professional development for its members and maintaining the highest level of standards for Florida 's long term care elders and individuals with disabilities. She is a strong advocate who believes in grassroots campaigning, community and organizational involvement and continuing education.

Phoenix Adams graduated from Florida Atlantic University with a Bachelors of Business Administration and a major in Human Resources. He has held various human resources positions for local corporations, and most recently held a position as manager of a corporate foundation before returning full time to the Masters of Social Work program at FAU. He is currently working as a Medical Case Manager at Broward House, a social service agency in Fort Lauderdale. Phoenix is currently in his last semester of his concentration year of the MSW program, and will graduate the program in May 2011. As the President of SOWSA, the School of Social Work Student Association, Phoenix actively supports the social work student body through social events and peer support initiatives, and works to have a positive impact on our local community by leading the organization's "Adopt an Agency" initiative and organizing Habitat for Humanity build events. After graduating, he will remain actively involved with the FAU social work community as President of the School of Social Work Alumni Society.

Karen S. Benrubi earned her Bachelor's degree from the University of Florida and her MSW from Barry University in 1992. Karen received her MSW training at Delray Medical Center. Karen later earned her LCSW while working as a Care Manager/MSW at Pinecrest Rehabilitation Hospital in Delray Beach, Florida. Throughout the past 20 years, Karen has worked in the South Palm Beach medical community as an LCSW. Her experience includes working as a private Care Manager and for the past 8 years she has been the Director of Social Services for the Parkinson's disease and Movement Disorder Center of Boca Raton. She is also a private consultant and provides outreach for patients, families, physicians and attorneys focusing on all aspects of elder care. Karen was raised in Hollywood, Florida and currently lives in Boca Raton, Florida with her husband Richard, a civil trial attorney, and their two children, Joshua (16) and Michael (14). She has served on the Board of Directors for the Adolph and Rose Levis Jewish Community Center, as the Chairman of the Financial Assistance Committee and as a member of the Adult Day Care Committee. Karen is a member of the NASW and is currently Present-Elect of the Spanish River Community High School Foundation.

Cindy Bergman is a native New Yorker with more than 28 years of development experience.  After 5 years working with the developmentally disabled community doing Art Therapy and running group homes throughout Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn she began her fundraising career at UJA-Federation of NY in Manhattan.  Upon relocating to Florida, Cindy spent 10 years at the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County working in many capacities ultimately becoming Vice President for Campaign.   From there she spent 9 years at Hillel Day School of Boca Raton as the Director of Institutional Advancement.  Now, with 7 years at the Adolph and Rose Levis Jewish Community Center, she is currently the Associate Executive Director with her primary focus on fundraising.  Cindy continues doing what she is most passionate about; “making meaningful connections between donors and their passions for the betterment of our community”.  She truly believes in our Community and in the capacity of many diverse organizations and institutions working side by side to provide compelling opportunities for physical, spiritual, educational, cultural and social enrichment and thereby making South Florida one of the most desirable and greatest places to live and grow.  Cindy lives in Boca Raton with her husband, Alan and has a 26 year old (step) son.

Lori Berman has been a life-long resident of Florida and is a graduate of Florida's public schools. She is a Magna Cum Laude graduate from Tufts University and attended the National Law Center at George Washington University. Economics. After law school, she practiced commercial litigation in Philadelphia and regulatory and real estate law in Washington, D.C. Lori returned to Florida in 1989, moving to Boca Raton, and practiced law as in-house counsel to a federal savings bank. She became actively involved in politics during Robert Wexler's first campaign for Congress and joined his team as a legislative aid during his first term. She returned to the University of Miami Law School and earned a LLM in Estate Planning, then joined the local law firm of Belson and Lewis to practice estate-planning law. Lori has a long record of community service. She has held many leadership positions within Jewish Federation, and has been involved in public and private educational support, raising funds and volunteering at Pine Crest School, Donna Klein Jewish Academy and Spanish River Community High School. Lori is a graduate of the Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce's Leadership Boca program, a former blogger for the Sun Sentinel, and a member of the Florida Bar Association, a director at South Tech Academy, and an active participant of B'nai Torah Congregation. Lori was elected to be the State Representative for District 86 in August 2010 and begin serving her term in November 2010.

Dr. Robert Colton graduated Summa cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania in 1974 with a BA in biochemistry. He graduated number 2 in his class from University of Miami School of Medicine in 1978. His residencies include Jackson Memorial Hospital; Internal Medicine and Neurology. He was also Chief Resident of Internal Medicine and completed a fellowship in Nephrology. He is board certified in Internal Medicine and Nephrology. He practiced internal medicine/nephrology in Boca Raton since 1984. Rob was Chief of Medicine @ Boca Raton Regional Hospital from 1991-1993. He conceptualized and co-founded MDVIP, the largest concierge medicine company in the United States and opened the first MDVIP practice in March of 2001. In September, Rob and his wife Dr. Andrea Colton will begin their newest endeavor as they open an extended hours, easy access, retail dermatology office.

Jill Deutch worked for three years at UJA Federation of Greater Washington (1990 - 1993) and for five years at the Jewish Community Federation of Cleveland (1993 - 1998). In 1998 Jill moved with her family to Boca Raton, Florida. She has been married to Ted Deutch for 19 years and has three children; Gabrielle, Serena and Cole. Since relocating to Florida she has been an active volunteer with the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County (where she currently serves as a Vice-President), with her children's schools and with other local Jewish organizations. Jill has an undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan and graduate degrees from Baltimore Hebrew University (MA in Jewish Studies) and University of Maryland (MSW in Community Organization). She also received a certificate in Jewish Communal Studies from the Baltimore Institute for Jewish Communal Service. In addition to the Wexner Fellowship, she was a recipient of the FEREP award. Jill completed the Boca Raton Wexner Heritage program in 2009, making her the first double Wexner recipient. Jill recently returned to the professional world three years ago and serves as the Director of Development for Hillel of Broward and Palm Beach.

Kokie Dinnan, MSW, LCSW is currently the Executive Director for Family Promise of South Palm Beach County, a position she has held for 7 years.  Kokie has over 28 years of family programing experience.  In addition, her background includes vast experience in working with special needs children.  Kokie is well-known and well-respected in the local community, and is a compelling and highly credible spokesperson for the work of Family Promise SPBC.  She has developed strong affiliations with Florida Atlantic University and several invaluable partnerships with other regional non-profits including The Lord’s Place, Adopt-a-Family, the Lewis Center, Boca Helping Hands, the Junior League of Boca Raton, The Delray Beach Initiative, and the Homeless Coalition of the Palm Beaches.

Marla Weiss Egers, Executive Vice President, Financial Resource Development has been working in the Jewish world for over twenty five years, having worked in New York at the United Jewish Appeal/United Jewish Communities and CLAL National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership. Since moving to South Florida in 2001, Marla has worked in the South Palm Beach County federation in several capacities including Director of Board Development and Special Projects, Vice President of the Women?s Division, Senior Vice President of Campaign and Community Development and most recently as Executive Vice President, Financial Resource Development where she oversees Annual Campaign, Foundation and Marketing. In 2008 Marla was awarded the Nobil Award for Professional Achievement at the JFSPBC. In her private life Marla has been involved with the Association of Jewish Communal Professionals, is a member of B?nai Torah and was involved in Multiple Myeloma Foundation. She is married to Stephen and is the mother of two sons, Teddy and Max.

Shawn Friedkin is CEO of Stand Among Friends (SAF), which he founded in 1997. Mr. Friedkin holds degrees in Finance and Marketing. He has worked in executive positions in Real Estate Development, Manufacturing, Tele-communications and Finance. Mr. Friedkin has been quoted in publications including "The New York Times", "" and "CBSMarketwatch." In 1992, Mr. Friedkin was involved in an auto accident that left him paralyzed from the chest down. His life experiences of dealing with a spinal cord injury led him to found SAF, which opened The Disability Center at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton in 2006. Mr. Friedkin is a frequent speaker on the topic of accessibility, hosts the disability TV show "Life Without Limits" and is the Past-Chairman of the City of Boca Raton Advisory Board for People with Disabilities. Mr. Friedkin was a founding member of END (End Neurological Disorders). He conducted high-level meetings at the White House and organized hearings before the US Senate on the topic of neurological research funding. He also served as an officer of the National Council for Spinal Cord Injury (NCSCI) from 1993 until 1999. Mr. Friedkin is a member of the United Spinal Association, the National Spinal Cord Injury Association, and the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD). In 2010, he received the Tiffany Outstanding Service Award for his dedication and service to the community.

Dr. John Graham is a Professor of Social Work and Director of the School. Prior to coming to FAU, he was at the University of Calgary where he had served as Murray Fraser Professor of Community Economic Development, and PhD Program Coordinator. Graham has held over $4 million in research funding, has published over 100 journal articles, 51 book chapters, and is completing his ninth book. He has published on international development (with a particular focus on Bedouin-Arab communities in the Middle East), social policy, social welfare history, spirituality and social work, multicultural social work, qualitative research, and homelessness. His current interests concentrate on employee well being, and subjective well being (happiness) in and out of the workplace. His writing was recently recognized among the top 50 most frequently cited for his discipline in the English speaking world, 2000-2009. A longstanding mentor to junior faculty and to graduate students, Graham has sat on over 100 graduate student committees at the masters and doctoral levels, and in 2014 received a teaching award for graduate student mentoring.

Dr. Wilma Greenfield, Professor Emerita received her MSW and DSW from the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Greenfield served as Chair and Director of the BSW program for 16 years.

Danielle Hartman joined JFS as President & CEO in March 2010. Previously she served as Vice President, Governance and Planning for the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County. Prior to joining the Federation, Danielle worked for seven years in the private sector as a Manager of Operations for GE Supply, a division of General Electric, where she participated in the Distribution and Sales Management Training Program. She received her Master?s in Non-profit Management from Florida Atlantic University and holds a B.S. in Marketing with a specialization in International Business from Drexel University in Philadelphia. Danielle currently sits on the National Board of Directors of the Association for Jewish Family and Children Services (AJFCA) as well as Florida Atlantic University School of Social Work Aging Academy Board of Advisors.

Kenneth Keechl, a partner at Kopelowitz, Ostrow, Ferguson, Weiselberg, Keechl, is a senior trial attorney with the firm's litigation department. In addition to practicing law, Mr. Keechl is the immediate past Mayor of Broward County. He also served on the Broward County Commission from 2006-2010. He has been practicing law for over 20 years and has a reputation as one of South Florida's finest commercial and land use trial attorneys. Prior to joining the firm, he was a partner with the prestigious Florida firm, Brinkley Morgan; helping build the firm's commercial litigation and land use litigation practices. He received both his BS and law degree, cum laude, from Florida State University where he served as Editor of the Law Review. He is AV-rated by Martindale Hubbell, which is the highest rating in both legal ability and ethics. He previously served on the Individual Rights and Responsibilities Committee of the Florida Bar, which focused on civil rights issues, including those facing minorities, the elderly, and the disabled. He also was a volunteer attorney for Broward Lawyers Care, representing pro bono clients who could not afford legal counsel.

Elyssa Kupferberg is a Director and Investment Representative for the Wealth and Investment Management division of Barclays. In this role she is responsible for implementing the Firm?s global wealth management programs and sophisticated investment alternatives on behalf of high net worth individuals, foundations, corporations and not-for-profit organizations.

Prior to joining Barclays in September 2013, Ms. Kupferberg worked at BNY Mellon for 14 years, serving as the senior sales director and senior vice president. In this role she was responsible for new business development in southeast Florida. Prior to joining BNY Mellon in 1999, Elyssa was Vice President and the South Palm Beach County Marketing Manager at Chase Manhattan Private Bank. Before that, she was a regional manager in the commercial/middle market lending division of Chase Manhattan Bank in New York.

Ms. Kupferberg earned dual degrees in 1985 from the University of Pennsylvania ? a BS in Economics from the Wharton School and a BA in Communications from the Annenberg School of Communications. She also earned a MBA in Banking and Finance from Hofstra University in 1991.

Elyssa is actively involved in the community. She is a professional advisory committee member of Boca Regional Hospital Foundation, ADL, and JAFCO. She serves as a board member of Florence Fuller, JARC, AJC, ICA, Greater Boca Raton Estate Planning Council, and the Federation of South Palm Beach County where she is also vice chair of the Foundation. Additionally she is the recipient of the 2010 ADL Community Service Award, the 2012 JCC Hanadiv President?s Award, the 2013 JFNA National Endowment Achievement Award, Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County, and the AJC 2013 Woman of Valor.

Elizabeth L. Lugo currently serves as the President/CEO of the Volen Center in Boca Raton. Ms. Lugo has served in this capacity for twelve years and has been with the Center for a total of sixteen years. During her tenure at the Volen Center, Ms. Lugo has served in a variety of positions including, but not limited to, Case Manager, Director of Managed Care and Vice President. She serves on the Executive Committees of several statewide senior advocacy organizations and has a special interest in advocacy and legislative activities. She is a member of the Florida Council on Aging, Florida Association of Aging Services Providers, National Council on Aging, Florida Association of Senior Centers, Palm Beach County Partnership for Aging and the Florida Adult Day Care Association. She is a member of the Leadership Boca Class of 2003. Ms. Lugo is a proud graduate of Florida Atlantic University and possesses a bachelor's degree in social work.

Stephen Mendelsohn graduated Colgate University in 1980 with a BA in Economics. He attended Hofstra University School of Law, and graduated in 1983 JD. He is a member of the New York and Florida Bars. Stephen is a shareholder in the Law Firm of Greenberg Traurig, PA in Boca Raton since 2003. His practice includes commercial litigation and corporate law. He is an active volunteer in the community and serves as Vice Chair Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County, Florida and Vice President of the B'nai Torah Congregation.

Amy Ross earned her BSW from FAU. As part of her BSW degree training, she worked at Bethesda Memorial Hospital as a Case Manager responsible for post-surgical patient advocacy and care. Amy has also served as a volunteer teacher at B'nai Israel Congregation and Whispering Pines Elementary School. She is an avid and active volunteer for the greater Boca Raton and South Florida philanthropic communities. She serves on the boards of the Adolph & Rose Levis Jewish Community Center, South Palm Beach County Jewish Federation, Florence Fuller Child Development Centers and Morgan & Friends Fight Cancer Charity Tournament.  She has also served as Co-Chair of the Adolph & Rose Levis JCC Annual Golf Tournament, the Go-Pink Challenge in support of the Boca Raton Regional Hospital, and the South Palm Beach County Federation Major Gifts Event.

Robin Rubin earned her MSW and BSW from FAU. She is also a graduate of the highly selective Wexner Heritage Foundation Leadership Program. She is an avid volunteer and very active and well respected in the greater Boca Raton philanthropic community. As part of her MSW degree training, she worked at the Lynn Cancer Institute of the Boca Raton Regional Hospital primarily in the multi-modality oncology center. Active in her effort to foster and support the local community, she serves as Vice President on the board of the Spanish River High School Foundation and the boards of the Adolph & Rose Levis Jewish Community Center, the South Palm Beach Jewish Federation, Hillel of Broward and Palm Beach and Family Promise of South Palm Beach. She also serves on Boca Raton Regional Hospital Foundation Board, the hospital's Go-Pink challenge committee and on the Women's Advisory Council for the Christine E. Lynn Women's Health & Wellness Institute. Ms. Rubin serves as Field Faculty for the School of Social Work.

Jan Savarick is president of Boca Raton Regional Hospital Foundation and has played an integral role in the success of the Foundation and the Hospital since she joined the organization in 2001. She oversees all fundraising activities, including capital, annual and planned giving campaigns, corporate giving, donor relations, community awareness, major gifts, special events, strategic planning and new program development. She is a key member of the Hospital administrative team, helping to determine the organization's policies and future direction. Jan has more than thirty years of marketing, advertising, fundraising, public relations, media relations, strategic planning, organizational development, operational excellence and P&L management experience. Her experience in motivational speaking, business management and operations has resulted in the design, implementation and execution of numerous and successful fundraising campaigns. In addition to her role at Boca Raton Regional Hospital, Jan has been extremely active in the community, and has played a significant role on a number of not-for-profit boards. She served as president of Donna Klein Jewish Academy and is active in Hillel, Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County, Levis Jewish Community Center, Jewish Education Committee, JAFCO and B'nai Israel Congregation. Prior to moving to Boca Raton in 1988, she served as executive vice president and chief operating officer of Imprint Products, Inc., Rockville Center, NY and director of marketing for Berkey Photo, Inc., New York, NY, a Fortune 500 company.

Allyson Tomchin earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from University of South Florida in 1992 and her Masters Degree in Social Work from Barry University in 1993. She is an LCSW, a Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator, a Qualified Parenting Coordinator and a business owner. She has worked in the public sector for ten years in various areas. She began her career as an outpatient counselor at Broward Addiction Recovery Center, BARC. At age 25 she has the opportunity to take a grant off of paper and into real life by creating Cool School a Gang Prevention program on South Beach. This was a joint venture with Barry University, Miami Dade County Public Schools, the State Attorney General’s Office and the Miami Beach Police Department. She along with her colleagues were able to make Cool School a 501 ©(3) and ran it successfully for several years. She remained at Fienberg Fisher Elementary School and ran the Full Service School offering and coordinating health, mental health, day care, case management, afterschool activities, and special needs testing for 900+ families. She has supervised both BSW and MSW students from Barry University, FIU and FSU. She took a brief sabbatical and worked in the roofing industry crafting her grant writing skills in the private sector by writing training manuals for innovative roofing products. Following that she opened Directive Energy and since 2003 she has served hundreds of individuals, groups and couples. She provides Solution Focus counseling services for individuals 12 and up. In addition to the counseling practice she works as a Parenting Coordinator in the field of high conflict divorce assisting with co-parenting efforts and drawing up Parenting Plans. She trains professionals on how to be Parenting Coordinators and is one of only two trainers approved by the Florida Supreme Court to do so. She is an avid public speaker, a contributor to South Florida Parenting Magazine, a past co-host of 3 Loud Women an internet talk show, a past Board member of NAWBO, The National Association of Women Business Owners, a past President of Sisterhood at Temple Solel , has served on the Florida Bar Grievance Committee and she is currently a proud Adjunct Professor of Social Work at FAU. She lives, works and plays with her family in Hollywood Florida.

Randi Winter graduated from Rutgers University with a BA in Psychology and a teaching license for elementary education. Randi and her husband David have 3 sons and 1 daughter, Lewis, Maxx, Gabriel and Lily. She moved to Boca Raton with her family 15 years ago.  Randi currently serves as the President of the Foundation Board of Spanish River High School and the past Vice-Chairperson and Secretary of the (CAAB) Community Academy Advisory Board.  She is the secretary of the Board of Trustees for JAFCO (Jewish Adoption and Foster Care Options) Respite Center for Children with Developmental Disabilities as well as the volunteer chairperson for the JAFCO DD Advisory Council and the co-chair for the center’s annual “In My Shoes” luncheon.  At Pine Crest Preparatory School she serves on the annual fund committee and is a board member of the Nadel Center for Early Childhood Learning Center at B’nai Israel.  She has been on the Chris Evert Charities gala committee for the past 7 years to help raise money for Chris Evert Charities.  Randi has served on the Boards of the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County, The Adolph and Rose Levis JCC, Donna Klein Jewish Academy PTO and was the Chairperson on the Betty and Marvin Zale Early Childhood Learning Center as well as a member of the Junior League of Boca Raton. Additionally, she is the recipient of the JCCA Young Leadership Award and along with her mother was the co- recipient of the mother and daughter of the year award by JAFCO. Her passion for helping children and families has driven her to the Master of Social Work Program at FAU where she currently pursuing her master’s degree.

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