ABOUT

Our Team

Aaron Bloch

Director of Jewish Multicultural & Governmental Affairs

Aaron Bloch was born and raised in New York and has called New Orleans home since 2015. A graduate of Binghamton University in 2001 and New York Law School in 2005, Aaron practiced law in New York for seven years before moving to New Orleans to accept a position with the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) as an Education Pioneers Fellow.

During his time at OPSB he focused on school accountability, the unification of schools under Act 91, and the formation of a new school at the New Orleans juvenile detention center now known as the Travis Hill School. In 2017, he left OPSB to work on a New Orleans City Council campaign and has since worked on dozens of local campaigns and ballot initiatives as a strategist, manager, digital communications specialist, and field director.

Aaron first came to the Jewish Federation of New Orleans in 2017 as a Board Member of JNOLA, and most recently served as a co-chair of the board from 2019-2021. He is a member of the New Orleans Coalition and previously served as a member of the Friends of Travis Hill Advisory Board, formed to support New Orleans’ system-involved youth with mentorship and support as they leave New Orleans adult jail and juvenile detention facility and return to the community. He is admitted into the Louisiana Bar.

Charissa Brim

Chief Marketing Officer

Charissa Brim was born and raised in Denver, Colorado, and has since had the privilege of living all over the world. In 2017 she moved to New Orleans to support the rebrand of a local venue and fell madly in love with this vibrant and historic city. 

Charissa graduated from Biola University with a Bachelor in Communication Studies and holds a Masters in International Tourism and Hotel Management from Southern Cross University in Queensland, Australia. She began her career in event management, finding great joy in facilitating diverse opportunities for people to join together. From big picture ideas to meticulous details, Charissa is passionate about bringing a vision to life.

Her vast experience in communications and marketing has perfectly equipped her to engage and excite the Jewish community of New Orleans. Charissa believes in the power of community and joins the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans with great enthusiasm.

When she is not thinking through marketing strategy (and clever puns), you can find her dancing in a local Mardi Gras krewe.

Christine Crook

Financial Resource Development Assistant

Christine Crook is an accomplished costume designer and professor of theater, art, and design.  She has recently diverged from an established career in the arts to pursue a new path in fundraising and development for non-profit organizations. 

To continue her artistry, Christine maintains a studio practice and presents costume installations at exhibition and performance spaces. She has presented in New Orleans, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco, Berkeley, her hometown of Detroit, and in Berlin, Germany during a grant-funded studio residency in 2017. 

She is a proud member of The Front, a New Orleans art collective and creative non-profit in the Bywater Historic District, where she serves on fundraising and grant committees. Additionally, she volunteers as a freelance grant writer applying her experience in arts programming, community outreach, and cultural enrichment to drive positive change in her communities. Christine has a BA from UC Berkeley and an MFA in costume design from UC San Diego.

Jessie Dowsakul

Chief Program and Engagement Officer

Jessie Dowsakul is originally from wine country in Northern California but has called numerous places around the world home. Jessie has a strong background in educational leadership and community engagement and has worked at Jewish Community Day School and other private schools.

Jessie is thrilled to be working with Jewish Federation as she believes deeply in the power of community. She champions programs and events that bring people together, create meaningful connections, and nurture a sense of belonging. Whether it’s through cultural celebrations, educational seminars, or volunteer opportunities, Jessie’s goal is to create spaces where every individual feels valued, heard, and supported.

When not in the office, Jessie has two energetic young boys who keep her on her toes. They all enjoy riding bikes, exploring Audubon Park, and chasing waves at the nearby beaches.

Laura Folse

Administrative Coordinator

Laura Folse was born and raised in the Greater New Orleans area. She is an alumna of Thomas Jefferson High School in Gretna. Laura’s specialty is in outward facing roles; her previous job experience includes management in Restaurant and Hospitality, as well as working for the University of New Orleans Office of Alumni Affairs and Development and for the Plaquemines Parish Assessor’s office.

With her free time, Laura loves baking, being the cool aunt to her nieces, walking her dogs with her partner and seeing live music.

Robert French

Chief Executive Officer

Robert French comes to New Orleans from El Paso, Texas, where he served as the Executive Director of Jewish El Paso and The Jewish Community Foundation of El Paso from 2018-2023. Prior to joining the Federation and Foundation community, Robert served in various management and leadership roles at the Stephen S. Wise Temple in Los Angeles and as Executive Director at Temple Israel of the City of New York where his combined synagogue career spanned 29 years.

Robert led Jewish El Paso and The Jewish Community Foundation of El Paso since 2018, enriching and engaging the Jewish communities of El Paso and Las Cruces with his deep commitment to Jewish living, education, bridge-building, Israel and peoplehood. His impact has been felt through his continuous outreach to community members and community partners, and his focus on building endowments for long-term sustainability. He also oversaw the successful rebranding of Jewish El Paso. Robert worked as Executive Director of Temple Israel of the City of New York for 10 years where he was instrumental in reinvigorating this prominent Upper East Side congregation, creating a solid foundation for spiritual, financial and membership growth. He also developed programming that engaged thousands of unaffiliated young professionals and connected them with Jewish life in the city.

During his 19 years at Stephen S. Wise Temple in Los Angeles, Robert worked in education, administration, communications, directed and created innovative programming, and helped form synergies between the 20+ departments and multicampuses to create a unified, cohesive staff aligned with the Temple’s mission. 

Born and raised in London, England, Robert graduated from Manchester Metropolitan University, California State University Northridge and California Coast University in Business Administration. He values family, loves travel and enjoys learning about different cultures. An avid dog lover, he enjoys the outdoors with his pets Fidel and Gatsby. Robert is also a talented musician who loves to read, enjoys the cinema and swimming. An ardent supporter of the State of Israel, Robert was Co-Chair of New York’s StandWithUs Board for nine years and currently serves on the Board of Nirim, USA, helping disadvantaged youth in Israel. 

Robert is inspired in his work by his belief in the importance of relationships, his passion for Jewish life and imagining the Jewish future.   

Prentice Jones

Reception Manager

Prentice G. Jones was born and raised in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. He is a graduate of The University of Southern Mississippi. He moved to New Orleans in 1998 to work for State Farm as an auto claims adjuster.  He spent 22 years as a licensed claims adjuster working for State Farm, followed by Allstate.  Prentice began working at the Jewish Federation in 2020, and is currently the Reception Manager.

In his free time he enjoys reading, enjoying his dog and cat and is an avid gardener. 

Samuel Knightshade

Operations Supervisor

Samuel Knightshade is the Jewish Federation’s Operations Supervisor. With decades of experience in managing the maintenance needs of the Goldring-Woldenberg Jewish Community Campus, Sam specializes in securing, detailing, and ensuring the campus is kept afloat. He is a strong believer in teamwork and the power of positive and resourceful thinking. A 19-year veteran of the Jewish Federation, Sam enjoys hanging out with his family, spending time with his cat, Tabby, and cheering on the San Francisco 49er’s.

Lisa McCaffety-Scott

Chief Development Officer

Lisa McCaffety-Scott is originally from Texas. She is a graduate of Rice University (BA, 1993) where she studied classical music, as well premedical coursework at UT San Antonio. Before moving to New Orleans in 2009, she was Financial Director for the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University where she worked directly under Edward Djerejian, former U.S. Ambassador to both Syria and Israel.

She moved to New Orleans to be closer to family and became COO/CFO and then Acting Director of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art. Since that time, she has focused on capital fundraising in various high-profile institutions including the Audubon Nature Institute and The Idea Village. 

Lisa is a passionate volunteer in areas of advocacy and allyship for mental healthcare, anti-racism, women’s rights, and the LGBTQ community. In her free time, she helps develop community programming around workforce development for high school students, and promotes investment in marginalized communities. She loves animals, music, comedy, and cooking, and loves life with her musician husband and their felines Figgy, Mynx and Baguette. 

Lutrice McGee

Operations Supervisor

Lutrice McGee is the Jewish Federation’s Operations Supervisor. She helps oversee the operations team and supervises maintenance work at the Goldring-Woldenberg Jewish Community Campus. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, going to the movies and watching TV.

Sidney Payne

Director of Operations Management

Sidney Payne is the Director of Operations Management at the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans where Sidney manages the Maintenance staff in the areas of HVAC, plumbing, electrical, janitorial, and landscaping. Sidney has many years of experience managing budgets, safety inspections, construction projects, vendors  and equipment.

Sidney completed college coursework at Dillard University, Loyola University and Delta College where he received an associates degree in Architectural Design. Sidney has worked in casinos, financial institutions, and universities achieving employee of the year several times in his career in Financial Institutions.
 
Sidney enjoys helping others and volunteers with the American Cancer Society with its annual Relay for Life event.

John Powell

Operations Supervisor

John Powell was born and raised in New Orleans. John moved to Washington where he graduated high school. He then came back to New Orleans and started working construction, rebuilding houses after hurricane Katrina. He was a security officer for 10 plus years. He is now a member of the Operations Department at the Jewish Federation where he began working in 2022. When John is not busy with his kids or work and has some time to himself, he loves to work out, lifting weights, playing basketball, and taking his sports bike for a spin.

Kathryn Quaid

Executive Assistant to the CEO

Kathryn Quaid was born in Oklahoma and arrived in New Orleans in 2015. She began a theatre acting career as a teen and has continued to work in the profession throughout her life. She attended Southeastern Oklahoma State University and is a graduate of the University of Exeter. After her time in the UK, she lived in New York City for over a decade where she worked as a teaching artist, lead vocalist for a rock band, event production and hospitality management. Since moving to New Orleans she has worked in venue management, event direction, and local music festivals.

Kathryn uses her free time painting, writing and making music. 

Leslie Rubinstein

Bookkeeper

Leslie Rubinstein relocated to New Orleans from Upstate New York. After spending close to a decade in the staffing industry, Leslie co-founded and grew a recruitment firm dedicated to excellence in Midtown Manhattan (The Squires Personnel Network, Inc). For almost 2 decades, it was home to many long-term employees, some of whom still work in staffing today.

While raising 2 highly intelligent, fiercely independent children, Leslie found personal satisfaction working for a fledgling NYS Regents-approved private school (The Ridge School in Salt Point, NY). The Day Program serves high-functioning students on the autism spectrum where Leslie tutored these students in Math, Science, Social Studies, and Carpentry (in addition to helping them with life-skills, thus making a huge difference in their growth as young adolescents). 

Now, Leslie is excited to be part of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans as Bookkeeper and number-cruncher, consistently striving to be a valued contribution to the organization. Leslie is an avid chess player, Sudoku puzzle-solver, cyclist, animation video-editor, and history buff.

James Stewart

Community Security Director

James Stewart has over 35 years of experience in law enforcement – 21 of those in various positions within the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). As the Supervisory Resident Agent in Pensacola, Florida, Stewart supervised all criminal programs, including violent crime, public corruption, civil rights, health care fraud, and cyber-crime, and oversaw a Joint Terrorism Task Force to address counterterrorism and domestic terrorism investigations in the territory. In addition to his domestic portfolio, Stewart completed two tours overseas supporting counterterrorism investigations and activities in Islamabad, Pakistan.

Prior to joining the FBI in 1996, Stewart spent 13 years with the New Orleans Police Department, working a variety of assignments in patrol, narcotics, vice, intelligence, and homicide. Most recently, Stewart served as Chief of Police for the City of Hammond, where he oversaw improvements to Internal Affairs, expanded diversity training, and increased overall officer training as well as community engagement and outreach.

Sherri A. Tarr

Chief Operating Officer

Sherri Tarr joined the staff of the Jewish Federation in August 1999 as the Women’s Campaign Director. Throughout the years, she added the title of Young Leadership Director, then became the Assistant Campaign Director, the Campaign Director, the Development Director, the Assistant Executive Director and is now the Chief Operating Officer.

She is a past President of Gates of Prayer Sisterhood and of Congregation Gates of Prayer, and has served on numerous Gates of Prayer committees including the Choir, Nursery School and Worship and served on the Rabbinic Search Committee in 2017.

A native of Orlando, Sherri is a graduate of Emory University and the Georgia State University College of Law. She is married to Dr. Matthew Tarr, and is the mother of two children – Josh and Kayla.

Lillie Yalowitz

Program and Engagement Coordinator

Lillie Yalowitz was born in Chicago, Illinois but grew up in Nashville, Tennessee where her family still lives. She graduated from Tulane University with a degree in Jewish Studies and Communications. She holds a Certificate in Nonprofit and Strategic Management and previously work at Tulane in the Office of Advancement.

In her free time you can find Lillie spending time with her friends, working out or watching sports.