USC Hillel Professional Staff
Allen & Ruth Ziegler Executive Director
CEO Jewish Alumni Association
Dave Cohn began his service as Executive Director of USC Hillel in the summer of 2019. Prior to returning to USC, Dave oversaw a period of growth and transformation in engagement as Director of Emory Hillel, retooling its Campus Engagement Internship and achieving recognized excellence in breadth and depth of student engagement from Hillel International.
A Chicago native, the inspiration for Dave’s dedication to Jewish communal work grew from his many years as a camper and staff member at Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute (OSRUI), a Jewish summer camp in Wisconsin. Prior his time at Emory, he worked in development and strategic projects for Hillel at UCLA and spent years as a music educator in public school and synagogue settings.
Dave completed his MPA at USC and is a proud member of the Trojan Family. He also holds degrees in Jewish Nonprofit Management from HUC-JIR and in music from the University of Illinois. He’s married to Sarah Ruben, an early childhood educator, and they are proud parents to their daughter, Selah. When not at Hillel, Dave can be found adventuring in the outdoors, cruising the farmer’s market for some fresh produce, and traveling the world with his family.
Liora Petel is the Operations Director at USC Hillel. Originally from Detroit, Liora has lived all over the US devoting herself to working in the nonprofit Jewish sector. Liora has worked at the American Jewish University’s Elderhostel program, at the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta in Special Events and the most amazing five years at the New Orleans Jewish Community Center, wearing many different hats. Liora received her BA in Business from the American Jewish University and her MBA from the University of New Orleans with a concentration in Human Resources. Management.
Liora and her husband Eli have three children, and she actively volunteers for her children’s school, sports teams and their synagogue. She is a diehard lover of chocolate, travel and adventure and always has a wild and crazy story to tell.
Olivia Einbund, LMFT
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Olivia received her Bachelor’s in Psychology from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and Master’s in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University, Los Angeles. From attending Jewish elementary school, middle school, and high school to becoming president of her Jewish sorority, Olivia’s involvement in Jewish life has been constant. Olivia joins the USC Hillel team Airport Marina Counseling Service, where she worked with adults, children and families, and facilitated therapy groups including “Navigating Your 20’s” and “10 Steps to Self Esteem.” Olivia believes in providing a warm and compassionate environment, working collaboratively with students to appropriately address their mental health needs. Outside of Hillel, Olivia has a private practice in which she specializes in working with young adults. Olivia spends her free time at the beach, doing hot yoga, or dog-sitting her brother’s goldendoodle. She is passionate about mental health and her favorite place to spend a self-care day in L.A. is Wi Spa.
Rachael joined USC Hillel’s team as Assistant Director in 2021 and continues her work in the Hillel family. She previously served as the Springboard Innovation Fellow at the University of Miami Hillel where she focused on creating alternative holiday experiences, mentoring student leadership, and reimagining the Shabbat experience.
A proud Trojan alumna, Rachael received her Masters in Public Administration from USC. She also holds a Master of Arts in Jewish Nonprofit Management from HUC-JIR and a degree in Strategic and Corporate Communication from Chapman University. During her graduate studies, she worked with the development team at Camp Ramah in California and the programming team at American Jewish Committee Los Angeles. Growing up, she spent her summers at Camp Alonim and believes strongly in the magic of summer camp and immersive Jewish experiences.
A Southern California native, Rachael is grateful to work in the community that raised her and make Los Angeles a safe and welcoming environment for Jewish students and young professionals. Rachael spends her free time exploring hiking trails, trying new vegan restaurants, and playing her ukulele.
Assistant Director for Advancement
Ben Cutter has been working in, for, and with the Jewish Community for the past 20+ years, and is thrilled to be joining the USC Hillel team. A native Angeleno and a life-long Trojans fan, Ben has previously worked at the Karsh Family Social Service Center, Valley Beth Shalom Synagogue, Shalom Hartman Institute of North America, Center for Jewish History, the Jewish Federation Valley Alliance, and the Brandeis-Bardin Institute.
Ben attended Vassar College, and is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he earned a Bachelor's Degree in English Literature. He is married to Rabbi Sari Laufer (a native New Yorker) and is the proud dad to Jacob and Orli. In his spare time, he loves cooking, spending quality time with his family and friends, and rooting for his eclectic group of sports teams: the Lakers, St. Louis Cardinals, NY Giants, and of course, the USC Trojans. Fight On!
Rachel Nebel, AMFT
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Rachel earned her Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy from the University of Southern California and a Bachelor’s in Child Development with a double minor in Psychology and Sales from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. Rachel was fortunate enough to grow up immersed in her Jewish community, involved in her temple and the Hebrew school there, participating in USY, and more. On her college campus, Rachel served on the board of many Jewish organizations, even serving as the President of Cal Poly Chabad for one year. Rachel has experience working in school-based settings and outpatient mental health facilities. Rachel’s goal is to support her clients in growing a healthy and trusting relationship with themselves. Outside of Hillel, Rachel has a private practice specializing in working with teens and young adults with OCD and anxiety. Rachel loves spending time with her family, friends, and dog, going on adventures, and attending concerts. Rachel is extremely passionate about mental health and her favorite self-care activity is to watch sunsets at the beach.
An Atlanta native, Leenie went to University of Pittsburgh for her B.A., where she triple majored in Theatre Arts, Political Science, and English Fiction Writing and minored in Chinese Language and Literature. She moved to Los Angeles after graduation, where she enjoyed a wide array of artistic and education-based professional opportunities before moving fully into the Jewish communal space.
Prior to joining the USC Hillel team in 2021, she worked as the Director of Community Outreach at an arts-based Jewish sleep-away camp called Havaya Arts, and then the Director of Curriculum and Operations for a Jewish cooking and education company called Culinary Academy.
She loves making and watching theater, cooking vegan food, music, and playing DnD.
My name is Barak Ziv-El I was Born and raised in Tel Aviv.
I've just finished my studies in the Interdisciplinary center in Herzeliya and I have I BA in government and LL.B in law.
During my time in IDC I took part in interesting programs - I was a counselor in IDC's international school and I was a coordinator in the "Street law" program.
I'm my free time I love watching movies (and talking about them...), hanging with my friends, watching Hapoel Tel Aviv soccer club games or travel.
Springboard Innovation Fellow
Originally from Natick, MA, Sarah Winn graduated from Syracuse University with a B.F.A. in Art Photography. She was fortunate to grow up heavily immersed in her Jewish community, attending Jewish Day Schools Pre-K to 12th grade, participating in her regional USY, and spending 13 summers at Jewish overnight camp. The college campus afforded Sarah the ability to stay connected and involved in Jewish life, as she served with spirit on the Hillel Board and in multiple committee positions. Being connected to Hillel and Jewish life on her campus, she found a vehicle to present a Jewish identity in most of her curriculum work. Judaism gave Sarah a presence and purpose, while also giving her a connection to the past, the present, and the future. Sarah loves to spend time with people who want to create, inspire, educate, while positively engaging in experiences that build and strengthen community. In her free time, Sarah loves to photograph, cook, CrossFit, and travel.
IACT Coordinator for Israel Engagement
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Liat is thrilled to be working on the USC campus so close to her home and immersed in the Jewish community that means so much to her. Liat graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara and is so excited to be part of yet another vibrant, proud, Hillel family that she grew to love so much in SB. Liat grew up in a large Jewish household in the heart of LA, constantly surrounded by family and ruckus that instilled in her a strong connection to her Judaism and to the Land of Israel. Liat is very excited to be sharing this passion by bringing as many students to Israel as possible!
During her time in undergrad, Liat pursued research into antisemitism in progressive spaces and constantly connected her Jewish identity to her academic work in an effort to bring awareness and reduce stigma to this phenomenon on her campus. After experiencing several professional development opportunities that focus on antisemitism and the modern Jewish experience, Liat is looking forward to learning even more among her new peers at USC and sharing all things Israel as we get ready for Birthright together!
You can usually find Liat at home with her three tuxedo kittens (Opal, Leon, and Nico) and loves to spend time with family and friends, enjoying the city, thrifting/antiquing on the weekends, and is always driving along to good music.
Jerry Kudan is the rabbinic intern at USC Hillel. He holds a Master of Arts degree in Hebrew Letters from Hebrew Union College (en route to his upcoming rabbinic ordination), a Master of Education degree from Prescott College, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Skidmore College. He recently completed a chaplaincy internship at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, providing counsel, support, and prayer for hospital patients. Additionally, he is in his fifth year of leading a small congregation in Glendale, California.
Jerry and his wife Abigail moved from the mountains of Colorado several years ago for him to attend rabbinic school. Although they miss living in nature up at 8,000 ft, they appreciate all the opportunities Los Angeles has provided. Jerry is currently writing a book of personal prayers for healing, breakthrough, and connection with God that come from Tanakh, the Hebrew Bible.