Our Dedicated Team
Meet our Team of dedicated interfaith volunteers, based in Los Angeles, working together to improve the lives of children in the Middle East.
Shepha Schneirsohn Vainstein MA LMFT | President
Shepha co-founded re:Generation after a visit to educational communities in Israel and West Bank convinced her of the critical role that education plays in building interpersonal and intercultural bridges across divides of cynicism and despair. Ms. Vainstein received her Masters of Counseling Psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute. Before moving into private practice she trained and taught at the Valley Trauma Center in the San Fernando Valley from 1995 to 2000. She is a psychotherapist practicing in Los Angeles specializing in trauma recovery and personal empowerment. She is a facilitator of Nonviolent Communication and the Way of Council. A long time Waldorf parent and advocate, she continues to volunteer at her local public Waldorf-Method school, the Mariposa School of Global Education in Agoura Hills.
Noor-Malika Chishti | Vice President
Noor-Malika Chishti has been involved with interfaith for over 20 years. Her Sufi training, beginning in 1972 in The Inayati Order, introduced her to the diverse ways in which people approach spiritual practice and laid the foundation for her work since the Inayati Order has an interfaith approach to spiritual practice. Almost 20 years ago she converted to Islam when she began exploring the Islamic roots of Sufism. Noor-Malika is also a Founding member of The Southern California Muslim-Jewish Forum. She was a Founding member and is Vice Chair Emeritus of the Southern California Committee for the Parliament of World Religions (SCCPW). She has been a member of the West Los Angeles Cousins group for 14 years, where Jewish and Muslim women meet for dialog and service. At the 2009 Parliament of World Religions held in Melbourne, Australia, Noor-Malika presented in three workshops: “Listening with a Heart of Mercy,” “Listening to the Other: Building a House of Prayer for Christians, Jews, and Muslims,” and “Spiritual Intimacy: Taking Interfaith Engagement to the Next Level.” Noor-Malika also was on a panel and workshop at the “Globalization for the Common Good” conference held in 2010 at California Lutheran University, also on the theme of spiritual intimacy in interfaith engagement. In 2008 Noor-Malika Founded Musallah Tauhid, Sufi-Muslims sharing sacred space with a Jewish and a Christian congregation. Her professional background was in the non-profit sector before she retired.
Imam Jihad Turk | Board Member
Jihad Turk serves as Dean of Bayan Claremont, an Islamic graduate college designed to educate Muslim scholars and religious leaders. He is also a founding Board Member of Claremont Lincoln University, a multireligious graduate school. Jihad has served as the Director of Religious Affairs at the Islamic Center of Southern California, the oldest and largest mosque in the Los Angeles area. Jihad actively engages in interfaith dialogue with Jewish and Christian communities and serves on the boards of several interfaith peace organizations. He was featured in a documentary about the Abrahamic faiths,“Traveling with Jihad”. With the Reverend Dr. Gwynne Guibord, Jihad founded and co‐chairs the Christian‐Muslim Consultative Group comprised of major Christian and Muslim denominations and organizations intent on intercultural understanding and attaining common goals. Additionally, he was featured in the Los Angeles Times, and in films and documentaries on Islam and has appeared on CNN and the History Channel representing Islam. His current interests also include identity formation in the American-Muslim community, interfaith relations, Islamic reform movements, and community leadership and development with a focus on youth.
Mark Zucker | Board Member
Until 2011, Mark Zucker was the president of Sony Pictures Releasing International. Releases during his tenure as international distribution chief have generated over $12 billion at the box-office, including the most successful films in company history. He led Sony to its biggest year at the international box-office in 2009 with $2.1 billion in ticket sales. Mark has been in the motion picture industry for 35 years and was honored as “International Distributor of the Year” at Cinema Expo 2003 and again at CineAsia 2008.
Barrie Segall, M.S.W. | Board Member
Barrie Segall M.S.W., has had a 30 year career working as an Executive in Jewish Community Centers in Minneapolis, Scarsdale, N.Y., Atlanta and Los Angeles. For the last 15, he has been a management consultant for nonprofit organizations, and has assisted over 500 nonprofits in the Los Angeles Area. During that time he has consulted at UMMA Clinic ( a Muslim health clinic) and with NewGround, a Muslim-Jewish Partnership for Change. He is currently on their Board as well as reGeneration, an American interfaith community.
Holly Sacks | Board Member
Holly Sacks received her BA in anthropology from UC Berkeley in 1970. She completed a four year program of theological education through the University of the South School of Theology in 2001. After a career as a senior marketing and strategy executive in multinational high tech companies, she completed the Certificate in Mindfulness Facilitation (CMF) certification program at UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center in
Deborah Leshon | Board Member
Deborah worked in Jerusalem in the late 1970s heading up the Respiratory Therapy Department at Shaare Zedek Hospital. She worked with both Jewish and Arab professionals and patients and saw the urgent need for coexistence, peace, and communication. After returning to the United States she worked as a financial planner and served on the executive boards of the Valley Alliance Jewish Federation and Heschel West Day School. Her involvement with reGeneration fulfills her life passion of building the foundation for peace in the Middle East.
Itaf Awad | Middle East Liaison
ITAF AWAD (MA Political Science from Haifa University) has led numerous women’s empowerment workshops in Israel and the West Bank. In addition to fulfilling the role of reGeneration’s Middle East liaison, Itaf is a staff member of Creativity for Peace in New Mexico and is one of the founders of the Maagal Hakshava NGO promoting the Way of Council as taught by California’s Ojai Foundation. Itaf has facilitated the Way of Council with the Sulha Peace Project, Beyond Words, Academy of Central European Schools, and many other organizations in Israel, Palestine and Europe. She also has studied Nonviolent Communication, Compassionate Listening and the trauma recovery modality, Capacitar. Itaf is currently leading Council trainings at Ein Bustan, the Jewish/Arab kindergarten in Hilf co-sponsored by reGeneration.
Itaf served for 26 years as the city manager and advisor for women’s affairs at the Local Council of her native village, Dabburyiah, located in the north of the Galilee near Nazareth. In 2002 Itaf Awad received the prestigious Prime Minister’s Award “Nashim portzot Derech”, Women Leading the Way, in recognition for her political and social contributions made on behalf of women in her region. In 2004 Itaf was awarded a scholarship to participate in the first class of Jewish and Arab municipal officials for a Master’s Degree in Local Government Administration at the University of Haifa. This was the first program of its kind in Israel where Jewish and Arab local authority employees were brought together for study purposes, with the ultimate aim of implementing projects that will bring their municipalities to work together for common goals. Itaf is fluent in Arabic, Hebrew, and English.
Karen Gierlach | Project Coordinator
Karen was educated in Waldorf schools in Germany and England, graduated from London University, and trained as a Waldorf teacher at Emerson College, England. Before retiring, she worked for many years as a language teacher and an administrator in several Waldorf Schools in the United States. In recent years she has led biography workshops and helped organize conferences. She has worked as the SF coordinator for reGeneration since October of 2009 and recently traveled to the Middle East to speak about Waldorf education.
Sue Cohen | Local Children’s Programs Consultant
Sue worked as a Jewish educator for thirty years directing and developing programs for teens in Jewish communities in Florida, New Mexico and California. She created and implemented many award- winning informal educational programs, emphasizing activities that cultivated the creative, social, and moral potential of youth, and their interface with their world. She received her B.A. in Social Psychology from University of Florida. At New Mexico State University she also studied Non-Profit Management and served as Coordinator for the Southern New Mexico Very Special Arts Program. A watercolor artist and printmaker, Sue lives in Southern California with her engineer husband, Harold, and her two daughters, Katie and Stephanie.
Bismillah Andrea Shields, PhD. | Rotarian Liaison
Dr. Shields’ primary professional roles have been as a college professor, a clinical and forensic psychologist, a business consultant and a life and executive coach. All of these professions involve facilitating change and growth, understanding and transformation in individuals, groups and communities. A published author and poet, her publications and presentations cover a wide range of topics that pertain to improving the quality of individual and community life through personal change, healing, conflict resolution and service. She has specifically presented at Peace and Conflict Resolution Symposiums and Conferences as well as at conferences addressing workplace conflict issues.
A twenty-four year Rotarian, Rotarian Shields is a past president, has served at district, zone and international levels. She has been to India and Mexico on National Immunization Days and volunteered on numerous other international as well as community projects. Thus Dr. Shields integrates real life experience with theoretical perspectives to enable her audiences to apply her presentation to their lives.
Rhonda Zucker | Print Graphic Designer
Rhonda, a native New Yorker has lived in Los Angeles for 22 years with her husband Mark and 2 children, Shane & Jenna. She has been a graphic designer for the past twenty years and has made many local businesses look like a million with her company “Help Me Rhonda.” She has long believed that education is the door to freedom, offering a chance at a brighter future. That is why she is so happy to be part of the team at reGeneration.