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Board of Directors

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Konstantin Kraz  was born in Leningrad, USSR (now St. Petersburg) and moved to the United States when he was 7 years old. Growing up in Northern California, he was a founding member of the Silicon Valley chapter of Hillel, where he got his start in community leadership through chairing and executing numerous events and volunteer programs.

Konstantin became involved with the San Francisco 79ers (now RJeneration SF) in 2003, taking an active role on the steering committee and co-leading a delegation of peers on a heritage trip to the former Soviet Union the following year. Shortly after moving to New York in 2005, he helped found, and is now the president of, RJeneration.

Along with his role in RJeneration, Konstantin is also a member of the Council of Young Jewish Presidents, an initiative bringing together young leaders of Jewish organizations in the New York area. He has also worked actively with Dor Chadash, and in 2011 was named one of the Jewish Week's "36 under 36" in recognition for his leadership in the Russian-speaking Jewish community.

Professionally, Konstantin has spent many years as an engineer and project manager with technology start-ups in New York and the Silicon Valley. He also moonlights as a pyrotechnician (yes, you really can get paid for playing with fire), and is a licensed private pilot.

 

 
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Lenny Gusel founded RJeneration (previously called 79ers) in San Francisco in 2001 and brought it to his hometown NYC in 2004. Lenny emigrated with his family from Moscow to Washington Heights in 1981 at the age of nine. After successfully acculturating and almost fully assimilating into American life and culture, at the age of 30 Lenny realized a deep-seated personal need to understand, develop and integrate his Jewish and Russian identities into his life. After talking to several other ex-Soviet Jewish childhood émigrés, Lenny realized that his personal journey was common and shared with a large community of others in their 20's and 30's with a similar background and immigration experience. 

From this realization grew a resolution to bring this population together into community, both locally and globally, to facilitate a common journey from identity confusion and fracture, to personal as well as communal development and ultimately to productive integration into the fabric of Jewish life around us, in ways that were authentic and meaningful to each individual. For ten years now Lenny has been a passionate advocate for the development of this community and the individuals that comprise it. 

 
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Irina Feygina travelled the refugee route just before the fall of the Soviet Union from Moscow to New York, and has been living here ever since (in fact, she thinks NYC is a country). She feels most comfortable woven into the city’s mosaic of cultures, languages, colors, and smells – that’s what growing up on a Queens block with people from 51 cultures and 21 languages will do to you. She’ll take fluidity and change over certainty and stability any day.

Over the past several years Irina has organized a variety of arts and educational events, conversations, museum visits, talks, hands-on DIY workshops, and explorations with RJen. As board member Irina is charged with generating outrageous and occasionally realizable ideas, working with arts and letters, spirituality, and environmental programming, and keeping it meshugeneh.

Irina is a social and conservation psychologist, and devotes her time to understanding and ameliorating people’s impact on the natural environment. She enjoys delving into the human experience, and getting as far away from it as possible into leafy, watery, deserty, and snowy expanses. She loves to teach, and to travel the world.

 
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Jenny Kapelyan came to New York from Minsk (now in Belarus) in 1979, along the well-traveled Brooklyn-New Jersey-Manhattan route familiar to so many Soviet immigrants.

Jenny became involved with the Russian-Jewish community as a way to reconnect with her “Russian-Jewish” side.  Having grown up in a part of New Jersey where there were no other Russian-Jewish families, her only connection came by way of family visits to Brooklyn.  Getting involved with RJeneration helped her to tap into all parts of her identity - the Russian, Jewish and American.

A founding member of the board and RJeneration Treasurer, she also serves as the organization’s Chief Voice of Reason. In addition, she sits on the board of UJA-Federation’s Young Russian Leadership division and volunteers and is on the board of other professional organizations in the transportation industry. An accomplished civil engineer, Jenny is an expert in tough-love gardening, family photo archiving and towel cake construction.

 
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Lisa Klig is originally from Kiev, Ukraine and immigrated to the US in 1992. After growing up in suburban New Jersey, she moved to NYC to pursue her Bachelor’s degree. During her college years, she had the good fortune of meeting a group of like-minded Russian-speaking Jewish immigrants, who have had a dramatic influence on her life. Lisa began exploring her Russian Jewish identity by participating in a number of different fellowships with organizations such as EZRA USA, Livnot U’lehibanot, and COJECO. She was involved in a number of community projects, and created the now annual camping weekend retreat for young Russian Jewish families – Mishpucha Camping. Around the same time, RJeneration was looking for a Program Coordinator, and she gladly took on the task of energizing the participant base and bringing in fresh faces through innovative programming. Having proven herself a capable project manager, marketing and development consultant, Lisa was hired as Program Director at COJECO, the central coordinating body of the Russian Jewish community in NY, and now serves on the Board of RJeneration.

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Misha Gorn was born in Tomsk, Siberia and moved to the United States with his family in 1992 . His first involvement in Jewish life began after his Taglit Birthright trip with Columbia University Hillel in 2001. Michael became a madrich with the Chicago based group Shorashim in 2003 and later joined Ezra Olami as a madrich as well. After completing the Dor Chadash Leadership Development Institute conducted by JCH of Bensonhurst in 2009, Misha became even more passionate about the importance of participating in Jewish community life. He started volunteering with Limmud FSU in 2009, and eventually joined their PR committee. In 2011, he joined the Russian Leadership Division board at UJA Federation of NY and in 2012 he joined the Commission of Jewish Peoplehood taskforce. As a board member of RJeneration, Misha is involved with fundraising, PR and managing the technical side of things. In his professional life, Misha works in IT as a system administrator.