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Meet Your YAD Ambassadors

Meet Your YAD Ambassadors! 

ADAM LAARSEN

Adam Laarsen is a CPA in Centennial, Colorado for Mitchell, Kulick and Company and has been practicing accounting since 2008. Originally hailing from New Mexico he has hung his hat in Chile and New Jersey but has called Colorado home since 1992. Adam supports all Colorado sports but especially the Broncos, the Rockies and the Colorado State Rams. He is quite the reader and reads everything from economics to comics to theoretical astrophysics. In his free time he can be found at various breweries, the golf course, or eating tacos. He enjoys going to concerts ranging from symphony to metal to folk and attends a ton of shows in any given year. This is his first foray into volunteering within the Jewish community but he’s been spotted at various events in previous years. His karaoke game is very strong and love of Star Wars knows no limits.


ALEX REBER

Alex was born and raised in Chery Hill, NJ. Traveling out to Colorado with his parents for winter ski vacations growing up, he knew Colorado would some day be home. Having to pick a destination for college was an easy choice and University of Denver was the perfect fit. Alex has been a full time Realtor in the Denver area since 2014. When he is not driving around showing homes (listening to Phish) on the weekends, Alex can be found running City Park, playing golf, skiing and throwing a tennis ball repeatedly for his black lab Dylan.

 


ANDREW & JACKEE WOODMAN

We are Andrew and Jackee! We are recently married and excited to be making Denver our home. We are both from Los Angeles, and have been in Denver for almost a decade.

Jackee:
In 2011 Andrew convinced me to move out to Colorado with him when he finished school, and I haven’t looked back since! I’m the marketing manager at the JCC Denver, and have worked there ever since I moved here. I really enjoy being outside, traveling, and volunteering as an EMT with Highland Rescue. Don’t be fooled though, I also enjoy Trader Joe’s “2 Buck Chuck”, watching trash TV (any Teen Mom fans out there?), and am a sucker for catchy pop music. Also – I’m terrified of heights! My goal for 2018 is to meet new friends and try a new thing every month that puts me a little outside of my comfort zone.

Andrew:
I moved to Boulder in 2008 to attend the University of Colorado, and studied economics to try and make sense of the financial crisis we saw unfolding in front of us. After CU-Boulder I moved to Denver and now work in personal finance, helping families manage their money to meet certain goals and help them sleep at night. I love live music, snowboarding, traveling, eating food from all over the world, and am a long time Simpsons fan. Being part of our Jewish community makes me feel at home and I am very excited to meet new friends through YAD!


DEANNA PICKMAN

My name is Deanna Pickman. I am originally from Los Angeles, CA and moved to Colorado in 2010. I’ve lived in Grand Junction until 2015 when I moved to Denver. I am a financial advisor with Edward Jones.
Of course, I love hiking, skiing, camping, exploring, but my main love is tango dancing. I’ve been dancing for over six years now. I also enjoy learning about personal protection and firearms and shoot competitively.

 


INBAR LEV

Inbar was born in Kentucky, lived in Israel, and spent most of her life in Michigan. She moved to Denver in August 2017, after falling in love with the city the summer before! Inbar recently graduated from the University of Michigan (go Blue!) where she studied cognitive science, psychology, and business. She loves to travel, snowboard, relax with friends, go on any type of adventure, and learn new things. Being part of a strong and new community is very important to her- and can’t wait to meet you all!


JOSHUA TRAGER

I have lived in Colorado since 2005 to be closer to family as well as the multitude of outdoor activities. I enjoy spending time creating memories with friends both new and old through fun and diverse activities. Some of my favorite experiences include playing ultimate frisbee, going to live concerts, trying out new foods and breweries. Travel is also a passion of mine to learn about how other cultures live around the world (Some destinations have included New Zealand, China, Brazil, Czech Republic, Argentina, and 25 of the United States). I can’t wait to meet you and share in the collective joy of new experiences.


Laura Hammerman & Jason Berlinberg

Hey everyone! Our names are Laura and Jason – we both grew up in the Denver metro area and are now living near Cheesman Park. In our free time, we love exploring outside with our dog, hiking, traveling, playing tennis, going to movies, and trying new restaurants with friends. For work, Jason is a data analyst at DaVita and Laura is an account executive at Marketo. We are so excited to be working as YAD ambassadors to welcome others into the local Jewish community and have lots of fun! We are excited to share our connection to Denver and Judaism with old and new friends alike:)


LEIGH ACKERMAN

Leigh Ackerman was born in New York and originally made his way to Colorado over 20 years ago. He has been back this time since August of 2012 and has no plans of leaving anytime soon. Leigh likes helping people, which serves him well as he works with people who suffer from different aliments. Music is his passion and sports is his second passion, especially with his home town teams. His friends and family are important to him and he is always there for the people that matter in a heartbeat. It is his connection to family that made him apply to be an ambassador. Leigh loves to give back to the community which is why he is excited about being an ambassador.


MARISSA TABAK

Marissa is a Wisconsin native whose heart was stolen by the West when she left home to start college in Seattle. After attending the Telluride Bluegrass Festival during a summer break, she knew she wanted to spend more time in Colorado. Marissa returned to Milwaukee for her Master’s in Social Work, but continued to travel to Colorado to visit friends and hear jamgrass bands whenever she could. She finally established roots in Denver in 2009. Marissa has a passion for helping others. She licenses foster homes and advocates for children in the foster care system. She is dedicated to strengthening the lives of children and their families. In her spare time, Marissa can be found at a rally or volunteering in the community, playing in the mountains, trying out a new recipe, or enjoying a concert with friends.


MAYLA BOGUSLAV

Mayla Boguslav moved to Denver in 2016 from New York City. She grew up in Massachusetts and moved to NYC for undergrad studying mathematics, premedical, and Jewish philosophy. Now in Denver, Mayla is a PhD student at Anschutz Medical Campus in Computational Biology focusing on natural language processing. When Mayla is not doing research, she is hiking, biking, skiing, walking, or Israeli dancing. She also loves hosting Shabbat meals and is a part of multiple Jewish communities here in Denver, including Kohelet, HEA, Minyan Masorti, the Chabad of Stapleton, and the Jewish Experience. Mayla hopes to explore more and meet new people through Jewish Colorado and YAD.


MELISSA ASARCH

Melissa grew up in Boca Raton, FL, went to NYU and stayed in NYC for almost 12 years. In 2017, she made the best decision of her life…moving to Colorado! YAD ambassadors and members were so warm and embracing, which made the transition a breeze! She knew she wanted to be the welcoming face for new (and old) Coloradans looking to connect with other young, awesome Jews! Melissa teaches a method of movement therapy for pain, flexibility, and balance called Gyrotonic (Google it!) In addition to meeting new people, she loves film, theatre, coffee, board games, novels, and FOOD!!


MICHAEL KASPIN

Michael Kaspin has lived in Denver Colorado most of his life. He moved to Denver from Russia when he was 6 years old and never left. He even stayed in Colorado through all of his schooling. When he is not practicing Physical Therapy, he enjoys an active lifestyle playing wide range of sports such as basketball, football, and softball. During the summer you will likely find him by the pool with a book or on a golf course. During the winter time he is likely on a mountain snowboarding. Spending time with family and friends are most important to him. With the spare time he has, Michael loves giving back to the community with volunteering and teaching teens how to play sports. If there is any activity that involves food, he will definitely participate in it.


NICOLE PORTERFIELD

Nicole Porterfield relocated to Denver in 2016 and is employed at KPMG under their Information Protection sector. Her passion and side hustle is event planning and promoting the local business community. A native Texan, Nicole enjoys Colorado’s breath taking views and pleasant climate. Passions include: finding the best restaurants in Denver (cheap eats and the fancy stuff), live music, writing, traveling, and cheering on her favorite sports teams. #GSG

 

 


NIKKI COHN

I moved to Denver in December of 2006 after living in New York City for about 8 years. I grew up in Omaha, NE and attended CU – Boulder, which is one of the reasons I ended up back in Colorado. I love the mountains, but more so for hiking rather than skiing. I’m an interior designer, which I find to be a great creative outlet. I love cooking, working out, reading, laughing, traveling, checking out new restaurants, going to concerts (all the normal stuff!) and spending time with my husband, Joe, and my dog, Emmie.

 

 


NIR NAGAR

I grew up on a Moshav not far from Tel Aviv. Most of my adult life was spent in the Tel-Aviv area and hiking up the trails of Northern of Israel. I moved to Boulder Colorado in late 2008 and recently moved to Denver. My family is very important to me and I stay connected however I can (thank goodness for WhatsApp). I am the oldest of four siblings and have 75+ cousins. If you’d seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding, replace Greek with Israeli and that’s basically my family. Although all my family is still back in Israel, my love for the mountains made Colorado my home. I have a deep love for history. You can find vintage collectibles/toys/literature around my house- I’m always on the next special thing on eBay. I am a computer nerd, and acting as the Director of IT for Jewish Colorado. In my free time, I enjoy working with my hands/building stuff, Hiking, skiing and visiting the theater.


RACHEL MEYER

Rachel Meyer was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio where she was actively involved in the Jewish Federation of Cleveland. She went to The University of Denver for her undergrad in Psychology, John Carroll University (in Cleveland) where she got a master’s degree in Counseling, and lived in Philadelphia, PA getting her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology at Temple University. In 2014, Rachel made her way back to Denver (for the 3rd time) to make Colorado her permanent home. She is a School Psychologist for a public online school and teaches graduate classes at CU Denver. She loves to be outside, hang out with friends, travel, and spend time with her dog, Lily, who often travels with her when she heads back to Cleveland to visit family and friends.


SARA FRUITHANDLER

In South Florida born and raised, on the beach is where she spent most of her days, chilling out, fruit handling, eating deli all cool and schmoozing with Jews outside of school.
Sara slowly made her way up the coast and across the map, first stopping in Gainesville, FL (Go Gators!) to obtain a degree in Health Education then up to Philadelphia, PA to follow her calling with a degree in Nursing. Sara made the move to Denver in 2015 to pursue the best of both worlds: sunshine & changing seasons, working as a Pediatric Cardiology Nurse at Children’s Hospital Colorado. When she’s not saving lives or playing tricks on unsuspecting patients, you will most likely find Sara enjoying some fresh mountain air via skiing, hiking, trail running, biking or yoga-ing. She enjoys traveling, learning about other cultures, conversations about Science, appreciating Autumn leaves, Latin dancing and trying new cuisines. When identifying favorite foods, Sara will often name half sour pickles, Turkey Reubens, homemade ice cream, cannoli and sushi among her top cravings.


SARA ZESSAR

Sara grew up in Iowa, attended college and graduate school in St. Louis, and moved to Colorado 10 years ago. She previously was a high school counselor and is now an independent college consultant who helps high school students with the college search and admissions process.

When she’s not working, Sara enjoys taking advantage of Colorado’s beautiful landscape by hiking, snowshoeing, and skiing; checking out new restaurants and museum exhibits; and seeing concerts, plays, and movies. She is an avid reader and NPR listener and loves to travel.

Sara has met several of her closest friends through Denver’s Jewish community, and she is eager to welcome others into the community and to help them get connected.


YONI BUCKMAN

Yoni grew up in Michigan and attended the University of Maryland, where he founded an eco-friendly home cleaning company. After college, Yoni moved into a DC-area Moishe House and worked in the education department of a local synagogue. When he wasn’t facilitating holiday programs at work, Yoni volunteered in federal prisons leading services and visiting with Jewish inmates. Looking for a new city to call home, Yoni heard the call of Denver and moved here in October. He currently works at BMH-BJ as the Director of Communications & Engagement. Yoni is loving life with his newly adopted puppy, Stevie, and spends most of his time exploring dog parks and seeking out indestructible chew toys. When he finds a free moment, Yoni enjoys experimenting in the kitchen, practicing restorative yoga, and rekindling his love of charcoal drawing.