Introducing the 2022-2023 YAD Executive Committee

Introducing the 2022-2023 YAD Executive Committee

Jul 27, 2022

JEWISHcolorado is Proud to introduce the New YAD Executive Committee

It’s our pleasure to introduce the new Young Adult Division Executive Committee! From YAD Shabbat to Network & Nosh, from the Ambassador Program to YAD Volunteers, these engaged and highly enthusiastic community members are thrilled to serve as leaders within YAD and throughout the greater JEWISHcolorado community. You might see some of them out and about in RiNo or on the mountain this Winter! Or, catch them at coffee or any of our YAD events this year. Looking to connect? Email for more info:

adam laarsen yad executive committee

Adam Laarsen

Adam has been in Denver since 1992 and has remained in the great state of Colorado ever since. He is currently the YAD Chair for JEWISHcolorado as well as being involved in several other committees within the JEWISHcolorado framework. When he’s not volunteering, he’s running a CPA firm which he started in 2020, or going to concerts and enjoying all sorts of nerdy things. If the music is fast and heavy, he’s in. If it’s anything involving Star Wars, Lord of the Rings or comics, you can also count on him to be interested. He’s excited for the opportunity to continue to serve the greater Colorado Jewish community.

Shaina Abrams-Kornblum

Shaina is originally from St. Louis and moved to Denver from Boston in the summer of 2021. She works for Hillel International as the Associate Director of the Springboard Fellowship, mentoring early career professionals in the Jewish non-profit world. Shaina has spent the majority of her career working with college students at Syracuse University, Penn State University, Stony Brook University, and Northeastern University as a student affairs professional.

shaina abrams-kornblum yad executive committee

Shaina also previously served as the Associate Director for House Programs at Moishe House where she oversaw House operations in the western part of North America. She has an M.S. in Higher Education and Student Affairs from Penn State University and prides herself on her work with young adults and inspiring others to engage their peers. Shaina volunteers regularly in and around Denver, and started getting involved with the Jewish community in Denver right when she moved here by attending YAD events. When she’s not giving her all to YAD, she enjoys traveling, going to comedy shows, performing improv, working in her garden, tackling home projects, and anything else that will take her outdoors.

mordy jacobson yad executive committee

Mordy Jacobson

Originally from New Jersey, Mordy moved to Denver to be closer to his family, after several years in Israel working to inspire and engage Jewish youth. He’s currently in his final year at MSU, where he’s pursuing a combined BA-MPAcc degree with an eye towards a career in public accounting. When he is not studying for the CPA exams or enjoying a scoop of mint chocolate chip, you can find Mordy daydreaming about his next international adventure, tuning his guitar, or reading Curious George to his niece. A strong believer that there’s room for everyone, Mordy is passionate about helping everyone to find their role and their place in our Jewish community.

Nikki Kitain

Nikki is thrilled to serve as the newest YAD Family Engagement Chair! A San Diego native, Nikki lived in Boston, Los Angeles, and Tel Aviv before making the move to Denver in 2020 with her husband and dog. They welcomed their son Miles in 2021 and she is so excited for the opportunity her role at YAD gives her to meet and connect with other families across the Denver/Boulder area. When she’s not at her day job (Head of Brand Marketing of Nurture&), you can find Nikki hosting shabbat dinner with her family or exploring her gorgeous new home state.

nikki kitain yad executive committee
sarah knaster yad executive committee

Sarah Knaster

Sarah moved back to Colorado 6 years ago after graduating from school in San Diego and currently works as a visual designer for a tech company. Outside of work, she loves hiking with her husband and dog, Garbanzo, going to arts festivals, and searching for the best iced Chai Latte. Sarah is a first generation American born to Israeli parents and has a passion for sharing her love of Israel and Jewish culture with others and is excited to share that with the YAD community this year!

Marisa Porter

Marisa is originally from Pittsburgh, but she’s thrilled to have traded the Alleghenies for the Rockies. A Denverite for the past five years, she currently runs a marketing consultancy, helping brands and companies develop and execute their strategies to reach their full potential. Currently, she is helping our furry dog and cat friends get the best nutrition possible at Champion Pet Food. Marisa’s been an active member of Jewish community wherever she’s lived, and she’s participated in numerous leadership development programs, including National Young Leadership Cabinet and the Ben Gurion Society. Here in Denver, she’s helped grow the Cabinet community, plan Elevate and allocation grants. As a member of the YAD Executive Committee, Marisa is looking forward to bridging the gap between Cabinet and JEWISHcolorado. When she’s not volunteering, Marisa loves going to concerts, skiing, and traveling around the world.

marisa porter yad executive committee
samantha raizen walsh yad executive committee

Samantha (Sam) Raizen Walsh

is the Director of Development at Denver Jewish Day School, which she was thrilled to join in 2019. She previously worked at the JCC Denver, Kavod Senior Life, and Judaism Your Way. A native of Denver & alumni of the school, after graduating with a BA from Brandeis University, Sam spent a few years in London and NYC and learned that for-profit media & advertising was not the career for her. Sam returned to Denver in 2010 and began her career in the Jewish non-profit world, and has dedicated her time and energy to strengthening the Denver Jewish community.

Carly Schlafer

Carly is honored to have served as the YAD Executive Committee chair for the past two years and excited to take the role of emeritus YAD chair. Over the past several years, she’s sat on numerous JEWISHcolorado boards and committees, including the Tribe Engagement Network (TEN) and the Israel Engagement Committee. Professionally, Carly has dedicated her career to advancing causes about which she is passionate. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Environmental Policy and Management at the University of Denver. Carly and her husband Brad have lived in Denver for six years and have a 3-year-old son.

carly schlafer yad executive committee
rachel silvestain yad executive committee

Rachel Silvestain

Rachel is originally from Denver and still loves exploring the city. She loves everything that Denver has to offer including: hanging at parks with friends, hiking, walks around the city and trying out all the new restaurants and bars around town. Rachel loves being active in the Jewish community, having been a YAD ambassador in years past and helping to plan Jewbilee Bash each year. She is looking forward to taking her past ambassador experiences and helping the new ambassadors thrive in the coming years. During the work week Rachel is an accountant for Xcel Energy and works from home while keeping her cat Twix company.


Jessica Strouse

A fourth generation Denver native, Jessica Strouse is an avid skier, cyclist, and hiker. She truly loves living her best life in this amazing state! As such, she hasn’t drifted far from home, having received her undergraduate degree at the University of Denver and her M.B.A. from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Professionally, Jess works in brand management at Danone North America, where she manages Silk, the plant-based beverage brand. Women’s rights, empowerment, and community are all passion points for Jess. She is the Past-President of Danone’s women’s resource group, LIFT (Leading and Inspiring Female Talent) and is also active in a consumer goods industry group that is dedicated to the professional advancement of women. Jess currently lives near Sloan’s Lake with her two favorite beings – her boyfriend Daniel and her sweet pup Olive. Fun fact: Jess has a life goal to collect more stamps in each progressive passport – she’s currently at 25 countries and counting!

jessica strouse yad executive committee