Board of Trustees
Norman Cohen has a passion for developing leaders and has served as an Executive Coach and speaker for The John Maxwell Company. Norman is the CEO of Leadership Builder, LLC a training organization dedicated to helping people become better leaders. He has over 40 years of experience in the home building industry. For over 25 years, he has served on the board of the National Association of Home Builders. Previously, has served on the board of Temple Emanu-El in Atlanta, Georgia, Vistage International, and as a managing member of Camelot Signature Development, LLC.
Mark Lazarus is president and CEO of R & L Healthcare Advisors, a consulting firm with a track record of success helping managed care providers implement and improve their performance. Prior to that, he served as the president and CEO of Sarasota Palms Hospital and as the CEO for Nu-Med Northwestern Institute in Fort Washington, PA, and Nu-Med Hampton Hospital in Willingboro, NJ. Mark holds a master’s degree in healthcare administration and has served on numerous nonprofit boards, including United Way Suncoast, Federation of American Healthcare Systems and as past president of YANA Foundation.
Gordon Metsky’s lengthy career in the world of finance is a true asset to the Aviva community. As an MBA graduate of Fairleigh Dickenson University as served in both the private and public finance sector. Most recently, Gordon led a team at Large Business & International Division of the Internal Revenue Services conducting large-scale investigations into energy, shipping, and commodity companies. His personal background as both an accountant and controller provide him a unique perspective for the team.
Merril Jay Forgotson is a graduate of Boston University Law School and also holds an MBA. He is a former general counsel for Barclays American and former chief credit officer for People’s United Bank. He has also served as CEO of Cornerstone Bank, CEO of BNC Financial Group and as dean of the School of Business Administration at the University of Bridgeport. Jay has extensive experience working with nonprofits, having twice served as chair for the Anti-Defamation League of Connecticut, as well as being a trustee for numerous others. He is actively involved in Temple Emanu-El and the Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee.
Bob Israeloff is the founder and former CEO of Israeloff, Trattner & Co, CPAs, PC, one of New York’s leading professional service firms. Named one of the 125 most influential CPAs in the history of the U.S., he is a past chairman of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and past president of the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants. Bob has served on numerous nonprofit boards at the local and national levels, including as former president of HIAS, Inc., and treasurer for both the Perlman Music Program/Suncoast and Sarasota County Arts Council.
Ron Paler, a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee alum, has been in the healthcare industry for over 40 years. Ron began his career as a purchasing agent and would later become president and Chief Operating Officer for one of the largest long-term care purchasing groups in the U.S. A natural entrepreneur, he developed a physical, occupational, speech and respiratory therapy company that expanded into four states. In 2002, he created another company to help provide medications to individuals who needed assistance reducing the cost of their medications. His company Orthomed LLC., provided services and consulting to orthopedic hospitals, institutional pharmacies, sports clinics and a major hospital group in Wisconsin. He recently sold two of these companies to free up his time to enjoy Florida living. Ron has served on the board of the Wisconsin Hospital Purchasing Association, Beth El Ner Tamid in Milwaukee, and a number of condominium boards.
Professor Jerry Lazar has quickly become a leading expert on medical ethics both in Sarasota and across the country. As a professor of ethics, Jerry has served as a teacher for some of the greatest minds in medicine including classes at Michigan State University, University of Detroit Mercy and the Southern Illinois University of Medicine. His unique approach to medical ethics combines medical law, human behavior and psychology to create the best possible patient environments for the communities he serves.
Henry Mason is a New York native and holds an M.B.A. in International Marketing and Finance from Columbia University. Henry is the founder of Precision Plastic Ind. Inc., a specialty packaging manufacturing company based on a Patent I obtained for film packaging. In 2001, Henry purchased Sanders Laboratories, Inc., an Environmental Test Laboratory with labs in Nokomis and Fort Myers FL. After thirty successful years, Henry sold Precision Plastic Ind. Inc., in 2002. He continues to serve as president of Sanders Laboratories, Inc. Henry and his wife Ellen have called the Sarasota community home since 1998.
Dr. Seth I. Rosenberg is an internationally recognized otologist/neurotologist and surgeon at the Silverstein Institute in Sarasota. A native of Poughkeepsie, NY, he graduated cum laude from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and received his M.D. from State University of New York Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse. He is a member of the prestigious Triological Society, having received its Mosher Award for his thesis, “The Natural History of Acoustic Neuromas” and was one of the youngest members ever invited to join the exclusive American Otological Society. Dr. Rosenberg also currently serves as vice president and education director for the Ear Research Foundation.
Kenneth Stock is a past president of the Aviva Jewish Housing Foundation Operating Board and has served on that board since 2000. He was vice president and chief financial officer with Liberty House Department Stores in California, Washington, Oregon, Arizona, and Texas. He was the controller of F and R Lazarus and owned a chain of retail stores. Ken has served on the boards of Jewish Federation, Jewish Family and Children’s Services, and All Faiths Food Bank. Ken is a Business Administration graduate of Rutgers University and is a veteran of the US Army.
Susan Benson-Steenbarger is an active community supporter and has lent her knowledge and provided services to a vast host of organizations in Sarasota, such as Harvest House, the SaraMana Chapter of ORT, Temple Emanu-El, Sarasota Orchestra and Temple Beth Sholom. She is also an active sponsor for the Great Dane Rescue of Southwest Florida. Susan currently serves on the board of the Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee and the Aviva Jewish Housing Foundation. She has served on multiple boards such as American Heart Association, A.M.C. Cancer Research, Myasthenia Gravis Foundation, and Women’s Resource Center, among many others.
Isabel Anchin Becker, a member of the National Council of Jewish Women, served as the president of the Westchester Women’s Council of Realtors in Westchester County, New York before relocating to Sarasota, Florida. She has a passion for the arts and is currently involved in multiple organizations offering her leadership and support to the Fine Arts Society of Sarasota, the Sarasota Ballet, Art Center Sarasota, Venice Art Center, and the Art and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County. Isabel currently leads art classes for residents at Anchin Assisted Living, Benderson Skilled Nursing and Kobernick Independent Living.
Sheila Birnbaum has served as an advocate, educator and change agent in the healthcare field. At Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in Hamilton, New Jersey, she established a patient-centered culture of service throughout the hospital. While there, she also initiated, developed and implemented the Arts & Healing program, the Service Recovery program, and several employee programs that led to dramatic improvements in employee satisfaction. The programs Sheila developed have won numerous industry awards. Sheila’s columns on health and patient advocacy have been published by several journals in New Jersey.
Deborah Breslof is no stranger to the inner workings of non-profit organizations. Before relocating to Sarasota, Deborah was an active member of the Pittsburg United Way and the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburg while also serving on the board of the Jewish Association on Aging. In addition to her extensive non-profit work, Deborah is an expert in financial planning and wealth management currently serving as a Senior Vice President and Senior Banking Advisor with PNC.