USC Hillel Professional Staff

Dave Cohn

Allen & Ruth Ziegler Executive Director

CEO Jewish Alumni Association

(213) 973-1203

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

Operations Director

(213) 973-1205

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.

Miriam Hoffman

Rabbinic Intern

(213) 973-1199

Miriam received her Bachelor of Arts in Family Studies and Human Development from the University of Arizona on 2017. While at UofA, she was involved in all aspects of Jewish life on campus. She was on the intern board at Chabad and at Hillel, she was an intern, president of two clubs, and was a student representative on the board of directors her senior year. Being involved in Jewish life at UofA is what lead Miriam to become a rabbi! 


Since graduating college, Miriam was an Avodah Social Justice Corps Member in New York, spent a year in Israel for rabbinical school, and lead a small reform congregation in Temecula for the past two years. She is so excited to “go back to college” and join USC Hillel as the rabbinic fellow for the year. Fight on!

Sophie Strauss 

Engagement Associate

IACT Birthright Coordinator

(213) 973-1199

Sophie was born and raised in Princeton, NJ. She graduated from Ithaca College, majoring in Anthropology. She enjoys meeting people and learning from other cultures. Sophie spent a year in Hawaii and Australia studying indigenous communities. Sophie also loves Israel and aspires to learn Hebrew! During college, she spent summers in Modi’in, Israel leading trail rides for individuals with special needs and caring for the horses. After college Sophie did a Masa internship for a year in Israel working in Tel Aviv with refugee communities from Eritrea, Ethiopia and the Philippines. After living in Israel, Sophie spent two years as a Springboard Ezra fellow at University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Her favorite holiday is Purim, especially when celebrated in Israel. Sophie is always game for spicy food or mango sticky rice. Whether over a coffee or her homemade shakshuka, Sophie can’t wait to meet you!

Rachael Cohen

Assistant Director

(213) 973-1204

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.

Jordyn Walker

Assistant Director of Advancement

(213) 973-1202

A Colorado native, Jordyn has a diverse professional background in volunteer recruitment and management, marketing, and development. Before joining the USC Hillel team in early 2017, Jordyn worked for the Girl Scouts of Colorado, The Broadmoor World Arena, and served as the Regional Coordinator for Rock the Earth, an environmental advocacy organization who partners with the music industry.


Jordyn graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University at Buffalo in 2014. She loves discovering new beaches, exploring tide pools, and hiking with her mutt, Arlo. Fight on!

Leenie Baker 

Wellness Director

(213) 973-1201

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.

Emma Dorn

Engagement Associate

Springboard Ezra Fellow

(213) 973-1199

Emma Dorn earned her Bachelor's in Psychology and Social Behavior from the University of California, Irvine in 2020. She is a Southern California native with a love for the SoCal sunshine. During her time at UCI, she served as UCI Hillel's Jewish Life Coordinator and Hillel President. She fell in love with Jewish learning and texts after her second trip to Israel, where she attended the Shalom Hartman Institute's winter conference. She loves language learning, and is currently working on Spanish, Japanese, Russian, American Sign Language, and Hebrew. Emma is very excited to be a part of the Trojan family and USC Hillel! #fighton 

Barak Ziv-El

Israel Fellow

(213) 973-1199

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.