Tawonga’s Young Alumni Board
The Camp Tawonga Young Alumni Board (YAB), which launched in January 2016, is an opportunity for Tawonga alumni in their mid-twenties to mid-thirties to engage with and give back to Camp in a meaningful way. Through their board work, members advise Tawonga on issues related to alumni engagement, plan alumni events in the community, liaise with Tawonga’s Board of Directors and gain leadership skills.
This board launched Tawonga’s first Young Alumni Facebook Group to facilitate connection and engagement among our alumni community. Join the conversation!
Meet Our Members
Members of YAB are committed to pursuing excellence for Tawonga’s future, bringing a rich history of involvement in Tawonga’s programs. This talented group brings to the board a diverse professional background, including in the fields of law, PR, nonprofit management, tech and more. All Young Alumni Board Members are summer staff alumni, and the majority of them are also former campers.
Adam Alcabes has been part of the Camp Tawonga family since he was 10 years old, starting out as a camper for five years. He then was a counselor and worked in the kitchen as a staff member for four years. He has worked at numerous family camps and is thrilled to be part of YAB. He is a proud dad to Eli who will hopefully share his enthusiasm for the tall tall trees for many summers to come. Erinn and Adam Alcabes live in Los Angeles.
David Aptaker was a camper, CIT, and TSL participant with Camp Tawonga before working on staff for five summers. He graduated from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service with an MA in Security Studies, and has returned back to the Bay Area. Tawonga’s 2006 & 2007 Peacemakers Weekend programs, and David’s BA in Peace and Conflict Studies at UC Berkeley both fueled his passion for the Middle East, leading to multiple long-term stays in Israel, including a recent stint as a research assistant at Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies. He currently works for LiveRamp as an information security specialist. David loves chess, good food, and basketball. He’s also a strong Super Smash Brothers player (N64 of course).
Danielle was a camper for 11 years and on staff for 5 summers. She worked as a Counselor and SCIT Staff and spend her last two years as a Supervisor on the Unit Head team. Danielle attended Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA and most recently earned her Master’s in International Relations from the American College of the Mediterranean in Aix-en-Provence, France. Since returning to the U.S., Danielle is putting her international education to work at Naumann Vineyards, a local family winery at the base of the Santa Cruz Mountains in Cupertino. Outside of work, she loves spending time with family and friends, traveling, cooking and anything DIY. Danielle is very excited to be a part of the Young Alumni Board to give back to the next generation of Tawongans.
Miriam was a camper for seven summers and worked as a counselor in 2004, where she met her husband. Together they are parents to three future Tawongans: one in Kindergarten and two-year-old twins. With a background in speech-language pathology and behavior analysis, Miriam currently works as Assistant Director at Wellspring, a school for children with special needs. She joined the YAB in 2017, currently serves as the YAB Secretary, and is deeply grateful for the opportunity to reconnect with the Tawonga community.
Perry, a native of Oakland, CA, was first introduced to Camp Tawonga in 2000 as a Session IV camper. She has been a Tawongan ever since, spending 7 years as a camper and 5 years as a summer staff member in various roles, most recently as a supervisor. Perry is thrilled to be on the Young Alumni board and give back to Tawonga and the young alum community. Perry holds a Bachelor’s degree from UCLA and is currently a product marketing manager at Facebook.
“Everything I learned in life, I learned at Camp,” Well, that’s how Ben Gershen feels anyway. As a 13-year Tawonga veteran, Ben has held a number of jobs at Camp including Cornerstone Counselor, Dance Programmer and Program Director. As a Bay Area native who spent his summers in Yosemite and winters in Lake Tahoe, Ben finds himself facing new adventures in the Pacific Northwest. As the recent founder of Higher Ground Entertainment in Portland, OR, Ben is drawing upon his unique background to foster creative communities by providing entertainment for private & corporate events.
Chelsea is a San Francisco native and began attending Camp Tawonga at age 10. She participated in Camp’s SCWIT program and TSL Costa Rica, then went on to work on staff for three years in various roles. After graduating from UCLA in 2014, she stayed in sunny SoCal until January 2018, when she accepted a Product Marketing role Salesforce and moved back to her hometown of SF. She’s excited to be back in the Bay Area and to reconnect with the Tawonga community through the Young Alumni Board.
Rachael is a proud Tawonga camper alum, staff alum, and Legacy Society Member. She currently works for Bon Appétit Management Company, as the Bay Area Regional Manager of Marketing, Communications, and Engagement for the Food at Google program. She received her BA in Social Welfare from UC Berkeley and her MS in Food, Agriculture, and the Environment from Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition in 2012. Rachael actively volunteers with the Oakland chapter of BBYO, Inc. Her favorite camp meal is Unit BBQ on Shabbat, and her favorite camp activity is hanging by the river.
Lizzie Logan is a former Camp Tawonga camper, SIT and Drama specialist. She lives in New York, where she works on Netflix’s The Break With Michelle Wolf. Her favorite songbook song is “Weave Me The Sunshine.”
Daniella (or as the Tawonga community knows her: Dani or Dlo) was a Tawonga camper for nine years, worked on staff for three years, and was a part of both the Counselor in Training and Teen Service Learning programs. She is currently a Product Manager for Open Research Data Publishing at the University of California.
Noah was a Camp Tawonga camper for eight years and worked on staff for five years in a variety of roles. After five years as a Teacher and two as a Firefighter/EMT, he has found a new challenge as the Chief Taster for Coletta Gelato, a San Francisco based artisanal gelato company. Noah’s fondest memories of Camp Tawonga include time spent with campers and staff alike; under the stars, in front of a Camp Fire, in the Schvitz, and out in the backcountry.
Lucky to grow up in a family of Tawongans, Noah was both a longtime camper and counselor. Since graduating from college, Noah has explored Colorado and Wisconsin through various stints as an outdoor educator and technical writer. After time away from the Bay Area, and the central hub of Tawonga life, Noah knows the importance of building a community of Tawongans no matter where you live. He is excited to join the YAB and have the opportunity to help shape the Tawonga alumni community across the country and world.
Maggie Polachek joined the Tawonga family in 2000 as a Carmel camper and spent a total of 10 summers, including three as a counselor, at Camp. Maggie most recently served as Director of President’s Initiatives at the Center for American Progress, a large progressive think tank in Washington, DC and is starting her MBA at the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business in the Fall of 2018. Maggie completed her undergraduate degree at Wellesley College. She is excited to reconnect with Camp Tawonga!
Zach Stein first came to Tawonga after he graduated from college in 2011. His first summer was transformational, and he came back for the next three summers, finally making his way down the pyramid to unit head in 2014. Today, Zach resides in Oakland where he runs a startup building the future of fish/shrimp farming. In his spare time, Zach loves hiking and shouting at the TV during Warriors games.
Sophie is a Marin native who spent five summers at Tawonga as a camper, and two as a counselor. This is her second term on the Young Alumni Board. She is a proud UW-Madison alumna who enjoys attending Bay Area Badger events and eating cheese curds. She spent her first few years out of college working in the non profit space and recently made the switch to tech where she is a Recruiter at LinkedIn. In her spare time, Sophie loves exploring the food scene in SF, both cooking and trying new restaurants, as well as hiking and participating in LinkedIn for Good Events.
Elana (Feder) Woodward
Elana (Feder) Woodward was a camper at Camp Tawonga for 8 summers and a counselor for 3 ½. Elana is a mom to a 1 ½ year old baby girl (who will hopefully be a future Tawongan!) and is currently a Special Education teacher in the Berkeley Unified School District. Camp Tawonga was an integral part of Elana’s youth and her mother was also a camper at Tawonga. At a young age, Elana learned many of the camp songs and was excited to experience camp for herself. Tawonga helped Elana find her own identity as a Jew, understand her spiritual commitment to Judaism, and build and maintain lifelong friendships throughout her summers at camp. Elana is excited and honored to join YAB, and to continue to be a part of the Tawonga community.
Noah Zaves is a Jewish educator with a passion for logistics and operations. Over the last 14 years, Noah has run programming for schools, congregations, and youth groups across every denomination, often with a focus on activism and justice. He also ran operations for several national Jewish organizations, including the Union for Reform Judaism and Repair the World. Noah traces his success back to 7 years as a camper at Tawonga, followed by 10 summers on staff as counselor, programmer, Program Director and Jewish educator.
Noah graduated from the Hornstein Program at Brandeis University, with a Nonprofit MBA and a second Masters focusing on experiential Jewish education. His favorite research areas are Jewish identity and American Jewish culture, and he loves to lead interactive workshops on those topics for teens and adults. (See more at www.modernjudaism.org) He is a trained facilitator of the “Living the Legacy” curriculum from the Jewish Women’s Archive, and occasionally works as a Jewish songleader.”
Members of YAB may serve up to two two-year terms. New members to YAB will be determined by the board’s governance guidelines. Please reach Ashley Costello at 415.543.2267 or at [email protected] with any questions.