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Who's Who at JewishGen


Warren Blatt — Managing Director

Warren Blatt is JewishGen's Managing Director.  Previously, as JewishGen's Editor-in-Chief, he authored the JewishGen FAQ ("Frequently Asked Questions About Jewish Genealogy"), and dozens of JewishGen InfoFiles.  He is the author of Resources for Jewish Genealogy in the Boston Area (Boston: JGSGB, 1996), and co-author of Getting Started in Jewish Genealogy (Avotaynu, 1999), and other works.  He was the Chair of the 15th International Seminar on Jewish Genealogy in Boston in 1996.  In 2004, he was awarded the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) Lifetime Achievement Award in Jerusalem.

Warren is a graduate of Columbia University, and has studied at Harvard University and the Jewish Theological Seminary of America.  Professionally, he was a software engineer before assuming his current position.

Michael Tobias — Vice President, Programming

Michael Tobias, resident of Glasgow, Scotland, is a graduate of Glasgow University, where he obtained a BSc with Honours in Mathematics and Physics.  He then qualified as a Fellow of the Faculty of Actuaries in Scotland in 1986.  Michael started researching his family in 1994.  He quickly found ways to merge his interest in computers and databases with his new-found hobby.  Early in 1995 he co-founded REIPP (the pre-cursor to Jewish Records Indexing - Poland) and later that year began working on e-mail search engines for JewishGen.

In 1999 Michael was appointed Vice President, Programming for JewishGen.  He has developed most of the JewishGen online database systems, including: The JewishGen Family Finder; JewishGen's Family Tree of the Jewish People; The JewishGen ShtetlSeeker (now the JewishGen Gazetteer); The Jewish Records Indexing - Poland database, and all of the JewishGen Country-based Databases.  He also assisted Steve Morse in developing the Ellis Island passenger records systems.  Michael has contributed material to Landsmen and the Kielce-Radom SIG Journal.  He is married to Jane and has two daughters, Suzanne and Rebecca.

Avraham Groll — Senior Director of Business Operations

Avraham Groll is the Senior Director of Business Operations for JewishGen.  After studying in Israel at Yeshivat Ohr Yerushalayim, he received a BS from Ramapo College, and an MBA from Montclair State University.  He is currently pursuing an MA in Judaic Studies at Touro College.  He is married to Dina, and has three children, Chaim, Miriam and Shifra.


Phyllis Kramer — Vice President, Education

Phyllis Kramer is a practicing genealogist with primary interest in Eastern European Jewish research.  Phyllis has an MBA from Fordham University and a B.S. from Cornell.  Her work experience was technical and managerial, primarily for IBM, and included Systems Engineering, Product and Business Management and Consulting, where she designed and installed image processing systems.

Phyllis’s genealogical accomplishments since taking early retirement, include: compiling a family tree of 6,400 people and locating relatives all over the world; and creating and teaching multiple genealogy courses at Norwalk College, Savannah JCC, Palm Beach County Library, Palm Beach JGS and the NYC Museum of Jewish Heritage.

At JewishGen, Phyllis is the Vice President of Education, active in multiple areas, including: creator of the Education Program and teacher of on-line genealogy courses; developer of 12 KehilaLinks web pages for her ancestors’s shtetls; and creator of the online version of the 1891 Galician Business Directory.

In 2000, Phyllis created and managed the first ever Computer Education Lab at the International Jewish Genealogical Conference held in NYC.  Phyllis is married to Gary Gumbrecht, and lives in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida and New York City.  She finds genealogy to be challenging, stimulating, fascinating and absorbing.

Susana Leistner Bloch — Vice President, KehilaLinks

Susana Leistner Bloch, a Canadian, was born in Brazil, has lived in Israel, England and South Africa.  Susana also manages our International Desk.

On a personal level, she coordinates two regional research groups with over 1,100 members: Kolbuszowa Region Research Group and Suchostaw Region Research Group, producing two extensive websites of 280 KehilaLinks pages which serve as a memorial to the destroyed Jewish communities and as a current and future research tool.

Her published articles appear in several genealogical publications including The Galitzianer, East European Genealogist, Dorot, Roots-Key, and Chronicles.

Vivian Kahn — Vice President, SIG Affairs

Vivian Kahn is the liaison to JewishGen's Special Interest and Research Groups.  In this capacity, she provides information to SIG leaders on JewishGen policies and administrative procedures and provides input to JewishGen management on their interests and concerns.  Vivian is the Hungarian SIG Coordinator, moderates the H-SIG discussion list, and has been working with Mailing List Manager Dick Plotz on developing guidelines for JewishGen's discussion lists.

Since 1992, when she began investigating her Hungarian roots, Vivian has made presentations on family research to groups in the San Francisco Bay area and at IAJGS conferences.  When she isn't engrossed in family research, Vivian works as a land use planning consultant and teaches land use planning for University of California extension programs at Berkeley, Davis, and Los Angeles.  She was Deputy Director and Current Planning Manager for the City of Berkeley's Planning and Development Department and served as a member of the American Planning Association's national board from 1994 to 2002.

Vivian is a native of New York City and a graduate of the City College of New York.  She also studied at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and the Pratt Institute School of Architecture's Department of City and Regional Planning.

Nolan Altman — Vice-President, Data Acquisition

Mr. Altman, a NY CPA, is currently the president of NTA Consulting, a financial services consulting firm specializing in hedge fund and asset management firms.  Prior to that, he served 8 years as CFO for the hedge fund complex at Tiger Management and for 16 years before that, Financial Services audit partner at Seymour Schneidman & Associates (subsequently merged into Anchin, Block and Anchin, LLP).  He currently serves on a number of hedge fund and philanthropic Boards.

Mr. Altman was bit by the "genealogy bug" when he was inspired to write his family history in 1996 in memory of his mother.  As Coordinator for JewishGen’s Holocaust Database and the JOWBR projects, Mr. Altman works with volunteers from around the world helping to grow both databases for the benefit of family members and researchers.  He has also made presentations and conducted computer workshops at the IAJGS annual conferences in Washington, D.C., New York City and Chicago.  He continues to present his "How to Document and Research Your Family History" seminar to adult and continuing education classes as well as university Holocaust and European history classes.  Mr. Altman has had articles published in Avotaynu, Dorot, Stammbaum, Shemot and the FEEFHS Journal.  He is a Board member and Treasurer of the JGS of Long Island, where he coordinates their Yearbook Project and is also a member of the JGS of New York.


Richard Plotz — Mailing List Manager

Dick Plotz has been fascinated by genealogy since seeing a family tree at his grandmother's cousins' club in 1963 and meeting an actual third cousin.  He has expanded his own and his wife's family trees in all directions, and estimates that they now include about 20,000 names; he has met many of these cousins.  He particularly appreciates being able to tell people that his wife is related to Hedy Lamarr.

In real life he is a pathologist. This means that he sits at a microscope and looks at slides; it's been more than 20 years since he performed an autopsy.  Pathology and genealogy are related in that they both involve solving puzzles... and Dick's other consuming avocation is, what else? Solving puzzles.  He is active in the National Puzzlers' League, where he goes by the nom de plume "Geneal", and is the proud recipient of a trophy as best rookie from Will Shortz's crossword mini-competition held each year in Pleasantville.

Lance Ackerfeld — Manager, JewishGen Yizkor Book Project

Lance's first contact with JewishGen was in 1997, when he began by using the site to search for clues to his family’s past in Poland.  That year he responded to a request to find a friend in the Israeli phone book.  As a result of that email, he began assisting the JewishGen Yizkor Book Project as a Permissions Coordinator in finding landsmanshaftn in Israel, and explaining to them why it was important to place the translations of this precious material on the Internet.

With a background in computing – his day job being in software development and database programming – he has coordinated the Yizkor Book Project's web pages since 1999, managing a small but highly dedicated and talented team of HTML'ers.

In 2009, the opportunity arose to take on the position of Yizkor Book Project Manager, Lance saw this as a chance to assist with his gained experience and contacts in keeping this important project going forward.

Lance was born in Australia and now lives with his family in a kibbutz in the north of Israel.

Iris Folkson — Support

Iris Folkson is the Family Tree of the Jewish People (FTJP) project coordinator, Manager for all our mailing lists, and general technical support person for JewishGen projects.  Iris has worked with computers since 1981, starting with the Apple II and switching over to PC compatibles in 1992.  She is proficient in trouble shooting both hardware and software.  Iris is employed at a New York City law firm as a Controller and Manager of In-house Systems (MIS).  She found JewishGen in 1995 and volunteered to help out a bit and since that time has been involved with many aspects of JewishGen.

Gary Sandler — Networking & Systems Support

Gary Sandler has been a computer guy for over 30 years.  His interest in genealogy sprang from his curiosity about whether he was related to the actor Adam Sandler (so far, no).  He has been applying his obsessive compulsive behaviors to researching and documenting his Russian, Lithuanian and Polish roots for over nine years.  In 2006 and 2007, Sandler worked with Steve Morse to create the "Gold Form" for searching Ellis Island passenger records.

Founder & President Emerita

Susan King — Founder & President Emerita

Susan E. King is the founder of JewishGen, Inc., a corporation she formed to expand the JewishGen presence on the internet.  JewishGen was founded in 1985 as a message area on Fidonet bulletin boards and was enhanced on the internet as a mailing list and newsgroup with an award-winning web site.  In addition to her internet activity, Susan has also served as a President of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Houston.

With a B.A. in Communications (Radio/TV/Film) from Loyola University of the South in New Orleans, she has worked extensively in her field as President of a Marketing Communications Firm and as a Consultant in Computer Graphic Applications (Computer Graphics Support Group).  She has also had experience as manager of sales and marketing for an international travel management company and specialized in group and corporate travel programs.  In 1997 Susan was honored with the Director's Award by the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) for her unusual and outstanding contributions to the field of genealogy and family history and for her continuous and extraordinary efforts to promote good will and improve services.  This was followed in July 1998 by an award from the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) which stated in part, "without JewishGen the world of Jewish genealogy would not be where it is today".

Board of Governors

Karen Franklin — Co-Chair, Board of Governors

Karen S. Franklin is a guest curator at the Museum of Jewish Heritage.  She has served as a president of International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) and chair of the Council of American Jewish Museums.  A museum director for over 20 years, she has served on the board of the American Association of Museums (AAM) and is presently on the boards of International Council of Museums-US and ICOM's International Committee on Memorial Museums.  Mrs. Franklin is a Ger-SIG Coordinator and juror for the Obermayer Award.  She speaks frequently throughout the world about museums, looted art and genealogy.

Gary Mokotoff — Co-Chair, Board of Governors

Gary Mokotoff is an author, lecturer and leader of Jewish genealogy.  He has been recognized by three major genealogical groups for his achievements.  He is the first person to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS); recipient of the Grahame T. Smallwood Award of the Association of Professional Genealogists; and the Rabbi Malcolm H. Stern Humanitarian Award of the Federation of Genealogical Societies.  He is the author of a number of books including the award-winning Where Once We Walked, a gazetteer that provides information about 23,500 towns in Central and Eastern Europe where Jews lived before the Holocaust, How to Document Victims and Locate Survivors of the Holocaust, and Getting Started in Jewish Genealogy.  Mokotoff is also known for his application of computers to genealogy.  Among his accomplishments is co-authorship of the Daitch-Mokotoff soundex system; the JewishGen Family Finder, Family Tree of the Jewish People and the Consolidated Jewish Surname Index.  He has been on a number of Boards of Directors including the Federation of Genealogical Societies, JewishGen, Association of Professional Genealogists, Association of Jewish Book Publishers and Jewish Book Council.

Museum of Jewish Heritage

Dr. David G. Marwell — Director, Museum of Jewish Heritage

Dr. Marwell is the Director of the Museum of Jewish Heritage - A Living Memorial to the Holocaust.  Before becoming the Director in late 2000, Dr. Marwell was the Associate Director for Museum Programs at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.  Prior to his tenure at the USHMM, Dr. Marwell was the Executive Director of the JFK Assassination Records Review Board from 1994-1997 and Chief of Investigative Research at the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Special Investigations.

Dr. Marwell is a graduate of Brandeis University with a B.A. in English and of the State University of New York at Binghamton with a Ph.D. in Modern European History.  He is the editor of The Holdings of the Berlin Document Center: A Guide to the Collections (Berlin, 1994), as well as the author of Ernst Hanfstaengl – Der Fuhrer’s Klavierspieler in Die braune Elite II (Darmstadt, 1993).  He is the principal author of In the Matter of Josef Mengele – Justice Department Report (Washington, 1992).  Dr. Marwell is married to Judy and is the father of two sons.  He resides in Lower Manhattan and University Park, Maryland.

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