Our Staff

 

Tamara Ohayon, Executive Director

Tamara Lena Ohayon grew up in Los Angeles, CA. She spent many summers as a camper and staff person at Camp JCA Shalom in Malibu, and started attending college in southern California before transferring to the University of Kentucky in 2002. Tamara received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Art Studio with an emphasis on Ceramics, Fiber Arts, and Digital Media. In 2005, Tamara was hired as a Staff Associate for JFB and has since transformed her role multiple times, evolving and growing with the job. Tamara was promoted from Communications Director to Director of Marketing, Outreach, and Engagement and then to Assistant Director in 2014. In 2017, she completed her final year as director of the Federation's Jewish day camp, Camp Shalom. As a mother with a young child, Tamara feels blessed to continue working in this nurturing Jewish community where programs like Federation's PJ Library, the congregations' Kids Shabbat services, and so many other family and youth programs, can enrich their life in Lexington. Contact Tamara >>

 


 

Daniel Baker, Director of Marketing, Outreach, and Engagement

Daniel Baker was born in Paterson, NJ and moved to southern Kentucky with his family in 2006. He decided to call Lexington home after receiving his Bachelor of Arts in Communication from the University of Kentucky (UK) in 2011. Daniel is a Certified Volunteer Administrator (CVA) who loves to give his time back to the community, especially through his involvement in Alpha Phi Omega (APO), a national coed service fraternity. In APO, Daniel is currently an advisor to the chapter at UK and the Co-Founder and President Emeritus of the APO Bluegrass Alumni Association.
 

Daniel joined the JFB team in July 2016 after having assisted with a variety of Federation initiatives, including Yom Ha’Atzmaut festivities and coordinating Young Bluegrass Jews (YBJ) programming. His local involvement came shortly after a Taglit-Birthright Israel trip in 2012, where he fell in love with the Jewish community. Daniel has been active at Temple Adath Israel (TAI) through Generation TAI, the Temple’s chavurah for adults ages 20-40. His role with JFB includes working on Shalom Magazine and Shalom Events, managing JFB’s website and social media accounts, and assisting with YBJ outreach and programming. Contact Daniel >>

 


 

Paula Mertens, Director of Jewish Family Services

Paula Lopez Mertens was born in Tucson, AZ. She grew up in an Air Force family living overseas as well as numerous states. This upbringing introduced her to many different cultures and ways of living that she says formed one of her basic traits of being able to adapt to new situations quite easily.

She returned with her family to her parents’ home state of Kansas when her father retired from the Air Force and graduated from Kansas State University in 1981 with a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work. Paula has always been dedicated to helping others but her passion lies in assisting the elderly. Her 30-year career includes working in nursing homes in Kansas, Iowa and Florida in long-term and skilled care, physical rehabilitation and psychiatric care. She has also worked in home care as a Case Manager in Iowa, a Humana Care Manager, and Care Coordinator at Comfort Keepers in Lexington.
 

Paula, husband Eli, and twin sons Henri and Matthew moved to Lexington in 2000 and found a warm and welcoming home at Temple Adath Israel. Though she hasn’t been heavily involved in the community in recent years, she’s very excited about returning and serving in a much more active role.
 

Paula also helps her husband in their business with editing, writing, and distribution of TravelHost of the Bluegrass magazine. Eli is the love of her life as well as her sons, but in close second is their beloved dog, Lexi. An avid animal-lover, Paula also enjoys reading, attending concerts with music of all varieties and traveling.  Contact Paula >>

 


 

Jori Sussman, Director of PJ Library and Outreach

PJ Library and Shalom Baby have had an influence on Jori’s life since the birth of her first son in 2009. Since then she has volunteered, hosted events, and sat on the board of both organizations in San Diego. After her family’s recent move to Lexington, she is thrilled to join the PJ Library team and contribute to meaningful Jewish experiences for children in the Bluegrass.

Jori has a Bachelor of Science in Advertising and a Bachelor of Science in Education from the University of Florida – GO GATORS! She loves to travel and is currently working on visiting all 50 states across America with her family. In her few moments of spare time, she loves to snuggle up with her adorable beagle, T-Bone, and read books or complete a good crossword puzzle. Contact Jori >>

 

 


 

Rabbi Sharon Cohen, Director of Adult and Youth Education

Rabbi Sharon Cohen, originally from Miami, FL, has an extensive background in Jewish studies, having earned a Masters of Hebrew Letters from the University of Judaism (now American Jewish University) in Los Angeles, and a Masters of Rabbinic Literature with a concentration in Jewish Education, and Rabbinic Ordination at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. She joined the Lexington community as Rabbi at Ohavay Zion Synagogue (OZS), where she served for 9 years. She currently serves as a Pool Chaplain at St. Joseph Hospital and St. Joseph East. Rabbi Cohen’s proudest accomplishments are as a wife and mom of two. Contact Sharon >>
 

 

 

 


 

Kathie Kroot, Bookkeeper

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Carly Conatser, Shalom Editor-in-Chief

Carly is a writer and yogi who somewhat recently landed in Lexington and is excited to meet and serve the Jewish community of the Bluegrass. Much of her writing is published under her given name, Carly Sachs. She is the author of her own collection of poems, The Steam Sequence, as well as the editor of the poetry anthology, The Why and Later. Her short story Tender, was the recipient of the Stella Kupferberg Memorial Short Story Contest and was read on NPR’s Selected Shorts. She has written and edited for Yoga City NYC and studied at The New School, Kent State University, and The Drisha Institute. Around Lexington, you can find her teaching yoga at Sterling Hot Yoga Works, Solid Roots, and at local breweries through Balance & Brews. Contact Carly >>

 

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    Working for the Jewish Federation and our local community can be a rewarding experience. Please check back for seasonal, full or part time positions postings.

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