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2021-2022 Board of Directors Press Release

Updated: Feb 8, 2022

As we enter this week’s Shabbat and time of rest, Hillel at Virginia Tech’s staff and students would like to show our deepest appreciation to our Board of Directors.

All twenty-four of these individuals have developed deep-rooted relationships with our Hillel, it’s students, and their local Jewish communities. With their current and future support, combined with the support of those who formalized a Jewish Community at Virginia Tech in the early 1930s, Hillel at Virginia Tech has seen transformational growth and continues to be a beacon for Jewish life in Southwest Virginia.

From small Shabbat gatherings at the corner of Church Street, to organizing the very first Alternative Spring Break trip, and to the construction of the Malcolm Rosenberg Hillel Center, our Board of Directors’ guidance and leadership continues to help carve a path of success to best support our community with impactful experiences.

As we continue to pass the torch from generation to generation, we are thankful for these individuals. Our Board of Directors’ dedication to this organization will forever be an unbreakable foundation.


Rochelle (Low) Friedman

Rochelle has been Chair of Hillel at Virginia Tech Board of Directors since 2019, focusing on leading the Board in their support of the long-term strategic Vision of a self-sustaining organization which creates a home away from home for Jewish students at Virginia Tech. Rochelle graduated from Virginia Tech in 2009 with a B.S in Accounting and received her MBA from University of Maryland in 2012. As a VT undergrad, Rochelle was two time Chair of the student board and was the founder of the Jewish Student Union. Her day job is a Senior Program Manager for The Boeing Company, but most of all, she enjoys spending as much time as she can with her two daughters and husband.


Rick Beskin

Rick is president of Beskin and Associates, Inc. Since 1974, his commitment & dedication to his profession have been demonstrated in many ways. Over the years, Rick has served on industry boards, been involved in insurance education by achieving his CPCU and his CIC designations, and was instrumental in the establishment of The Insurance Center at Old Dominion University in Norfolk. Rick is a highly regarded practitioner among his peers. A past President of the Tidewater Chapter of the CPCU Society, he has also been Chairman of several Agent’s Advisory Councils, and past board member of

both the Professional Insurance Agents of VA-DC and the independent Insurance Agents of Virginia. Rick is a 1974 graduate of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) with a BS in Business Administration/Marketing. He continued his postgraduate studies at Old Dominion University.


Irv Blank

Irving is a former president of the Virginia State Bar who has been named to various boards and commissions of the Commonwealth by six different governors. He is a past president of the Virginia Law Foundation. At the Richmond Federation, he is a current board and JCRC Committee member and served as chair of its Jewish Community Relations Committee for 10 years. He received the William B. Thalhimer Sr. Young Leadership Award, and has been an active leader and volunteer with the Federation’s Annual Campaign. He also has served on the boards of many other local Jewish and non-Jewish organizations and currently serves on the board of the Virginia Holocaust Museum. In addition, he has served in leadership roles for a number of National Jewish organizations including the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council and National Council of AIPAC. He was part of the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Virginia-Israel Commission and the Virginia-Israel Partnership among his other volunteer services. Blank is a Partner at Blank & Marcus, LLC, Richmond.


Ben Chinsky

Ben Chinsky is a career Army Officer who joined the Board of Directors to expand student engagement with alumni and the Board of Directors. Ben graduated from Virginia Tech in 2008 with a degree in History and as a member of the Corp of Cadets. Ben has also completed a graduate degree in Global Security Studies at John Hopkins University. During Ben’s years at Virginia Tech, Ben served the Hillel community in a variety of leadership roles.


Sarah Dauer

Sarah Dauer graduated Virginia Tech in 2010 with a degree in Accounting in Information Systems, working as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in financial and operational audit/risk management roles throughout her career. Sarah resides in the area of Richmond, VA. She enjoys volunteering with local organizations and connecting with family and friends. Sarah is involved in the Richmond Pipeline initiative and looks forward to advancing the mission of Hillel at Virginia Tech.


Laura Disney

Laura Disney is a licensed clinical social worker located in Kentucky. Laura graduated from Virginia Tech in 2013 with a degree in Dairy Science, after which she obtained her Master’s degree in Social Work. During her time in undergrad, she held a plethora of Hillel leadership roles and helped to plan events such as FreshFest and Holocaust Remembrance Day. Laura met her husband, Jordan, at the Malcolm Rosenberg Hillel Center groundbreaking, and they now have a very active toddler. Laura loves spending time with her family and engaging with her community.


Bryan Drowos

Bryan Drowos is a Private Wealth Financial Advisor and Managing Director of Investments at Drowos Wealth Management Group of Wells Fargo Advisors. He earned a dual degree in Finance and Economics from the Pamplin College of Business at Virginia Tech and an MBA with a concentration in Financial Planning from the College of Business at FAU. Bryan maintains the Certified Financial Planner® and Certified Private Wealth Advisor® professional designations, has been a Wells Fargo Premier Advisor since 2012 and has been named to Forbes’ Best-in-State Wealth Advisor ranking in 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022. Bryan was born and raised in Wilmington, Delaware where his grandparents and parents were pillars of Congregation Beth Shalom. He has lived in South Florida since graduating from Virginia Tech, where he was Hillel President and one of the earliest participants on a Birthright Israel trip. Bryan and his wife, Joanna, live in Boca Raton with their children Lila and Jackson. They enjoy travel, theater, sports and spending time together as a family. Recently, as a response to the pandemic, the family traveled nearly 25,000 miles of the U.S. in an RV; touring dozens of National Parks, Monuments and natural wonders across 38 states and making memories to last a lifetime.


Howard Feiertag

Howard Feiertag, a well-known hospitality industry veteran, has been on the faculty at Virginia Tech’s Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management, in the Pamplin College of Business, since 1989. In 2019, the department was named after him. Feiertag is a Certified Meeting Professional (CMP), a Certified Hospitality Marketing Executive (CHME), and a Certified Hotel Administrator (CHA). A lifetime member of the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI), he has also been appointed to its International’s Hall of Fame. He is the co-author (with John Hogan) of his book Lessons from the Field: A Commonsense Approach to Effective Hotel Sales. His second book, published in 2019, is Hospitality Sales and Marketing: An Evolutionary Journey with Howard Feiertag.


Robbie Fried

Robert is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Chinese Language Institute (CLI) and Solstice Education. He developed CLI’s business plan as an undergraduate at Virginia Tech and launched the company in 2009 while studying abroad in Beijing. CLI has since hosted over 3,000 students in China from more than 45 countries and 200 universities. In 2013, CLI began developing faculty-led global programs in Africa, Europe, Asia, and the Americas. This effort evolved into Solstice Education. Robert graduated summa cum laude from Virginia Tech with a BA in Political Science and Communication and holds an MBA/MA joint master’s degree from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.


Rebekah (Becky) Fritz

Becky Fritz grew up in Lynchburg, VA and attended the University of Virginia (B.A. Women's Studies; Psychology) and the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill (Master of Public Health). Becky is married to Rob Solomon and they have four children: Sydney, Lauren, Raechel, and Virginia Tech alumnus, Noah. Becky moved to Blacksburg in 2002, where she has since worked at the Carilion Clinic in the Department of Surgery. Becky first became involved with Hillel at Virginia Tech through attending transformative programming such as Reading of the Names, seeing Elie Wiesel on campus and attending movie screenings/concerts. Her son became active with Hillel during his time at VT and engaged the entire family in Hillel programs and events. During her spare time, Becky likes to be active outdoors, travel with her family and read. She is excited to join the Board of Directors where she can use her strengths to help Hillel at Virginia Tech reach its goals.


Ed Gralla

Ed Gralla and Randye Schwartz-Gralla moved from the mountains of NY to Floyd County Virginia in 1980. In NY, they had been living and learning on a farm in search of simple life on the land. Their odyssey led them to an old dilapidated house and homestead that, as 30 year olds, they saw as heaven on earth. They developed their skills, and rebuilt their homestead. It was on that farm that they raised two amazing sons and saw them grow from home births into well adjusted young men. Now they continue to grow all their food, milk goats, raise chickens, butcher their own meat and work hard keeping the place going. Ed and Randye's two granddaughters live next door and they see them almost every day. Ed and Randye believe that giving back is an important part of living an actualized life, and Hillel allows them to be available for Jewish youth and be a model for who may seek an alternative path of sustainable living.


Shayna Horwitz

Shayna Horwitz is development and communications director for the Human Trafficking Legal Center. Prior to joining the Human Trafficking Legal Center, Horwitz worked as a media relations and marketing specialist for Meridian International Center, a diplomatic and global leadership institution that strengthens U.S. engagement with the world. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for Survivor Alliance and Hillel at Virginia Tech. Horwitz was previously associate director for development at Northwestern Hillel in Chicago. Prior to that role, she lived in Beijing, China, for two years working for Operation Smile and the Institute for the International Education for Students (IES Abroad). She received her bachelor’s degree in nonprofit management with a minor in international studies from Virginia Tech, and a master’s degree in global communication from Elliott School of International Affairs at The George Washington University.


Bruce Kaplan

Bruce grew up in the Boston area. Bruce was also a student at Virginia Tech from 1976-1982 receiving his BS in Aerospace Engineering. Bruce has been active in Hillel his entire time at Virginia Tech. Bruce met his future wife at a Hillel Sukkot bagel brunch, Phyllis Hirschman, who received her MS in Architecture. Bruce and Phyllis are proud parents of Danielle and Steven and grandparents of one (so far). Now retired from a 37 year career in Federal Service with the Navy & Federal Aviation Admin, Bruce has resided in Northern Virginia for 32 years.


Jay Lefkowitz

Jay Lefkowitz is a graduate from VT with a BS in Hospitality and Tourism Management. Additionally, he holds a Master’s degree in Hospitality Administration from UNLV. Jay began his Marriott career as a student at VT, completing a summer internship in Hilton Head, SC. Upon graduation, returned to Hilton Head as part of the Marriott Management Development Program. Since that time, Jay has held leadership positions in Front Office, Housekeeping, Human Resources and served in Executive Leadership positions at the property level for several full-service hotels. Jay changed disciplines in 2015, moving to Revenue Management where he specialized in managing revenue strategy for large convention hotels. Jay has also served on the leadership of his local synagogue, planning and organizing special events for the community. Jay is a native of Virginia Beach, VA and currently resides in Potomac, MD with his wife Natalie, son Matan and daughter Rina. Jay is also the Hillel at Virginia Tech representative to the Board of Directors for the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington.


Guy Levy

Guy (‘84) is the third in four generations of Hokies, all of whom have been active in the Jewish life/Hillel on campus. Guy Levy’s professional career has straddled the clinical practice of dentistry with the Levy Dental Group, discovery of technological innovations and business startup co-founder with SolSys Medical. Most importantly, Guy is married to Robin and they have two adult children, Claire ‘18 and Frankie. Guy and Robin have held leadership positions in a wide range of civic, religious, and charitable organizations.


Noam Neusner

Noam Neusner is an experienced communications strategist, speechwriter, journalist, and author. He is the founding principal of 30 Point Strategies, which focuses on producing powerful editorial and creative content. His clients have included leading executives from Deloitte LLP, PayPal, Goldman Sachs, Delta Airlines, Credit Suisse, Loews, Coca-Cola Co., Barbara Bush Foundation, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Enterprise Institute, Ernst & Young, the Federal Reserve Bank, The George Washington University, Texas A&M University, Merck KgA, BDO USA, LabCorp, and the Financial Services F