Zak Williams

Introduction Community & Mental Well Being
Zak Williams is a passionate global mental health advocate, entrepreneur, father, professional speaker, and son of beloved actor and comedian, Robin Williams. He focuses his time, expertise, and resources on sharing his personal journey from pain to purpose in order to support initiatives and campaigns seeking to remove the stigma and address the challenges and discrimination associated with mental health and related issues. Zak is CEO and co-founder of anxiety relief neurotransmitter nutrition company PYM and is an investor in technology and consumer packaged goods companies. Zak is a U.S. trustee of United for Global Mental Health and board member of mental health awareness and advocacy non-profit, Bring Change 2 Mind, founded by Glenn Close. He is an advisor for Inseparable, a national organization innovating pragmatic mental health policy and a board member for Yerba Buena Center of the Arts, where he focuses on guiding the organizations’ strategy and business development initiatives. In 2020, Zak was proud to be key note speaker at a reception at the United Nations General Assembly where he announced the launch the #SpeakYourMind campaign, a global mental health movement intended to amplify the needs of underserved communities, too often unseen and unheard. Currently, Zak is the co-executive producer with Lemonada Media of the podcast series, “Call For Help”, examining the promise and perils of the new 988 Hotline. Zak earned an MBA from Columbia Business School and a BA in Linguistics from New York University.

Kevin Hines

Kevin Hines is a multi-award-winning filmmaker, bestselling author as well as an award-winning global suicide prevention and mental health advocate. Two years after he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at age 19, he attempted to take his own life by jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge. He is now one of only 36 people who’ve survived that 220-foot jump. Though that fall would break his body, it did not break his spirit. Since that fateful day, Kevin has dedicated his life to spreading a message of hope and openly discussing mental health, oftentimes becoming a bridge between people who have made similar attempts and their parents, siblings, children, spouses and friends. Kevin released a memoir, “Cracked, Not Broken: Surviving and Thriving After A Suicide Attempt,” in 2013 that went on to become a bestseller and produced the 2018 multi-award-winning documentary Suicide: The Ripple Effect. In 2016, Mental Health America awarded him its highest honor, the Clifford W. Beers Award, for his efforts to improve the lives of, and attitudes toward, people with mental illnesses. He was also awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the National Council for Behavioral Health in partnership with Eli Lilly, and he was named a Voice Awards Fellow and Award Winner by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has awarded him more than 30 military excellence medals as a civilian.

Brian Cuban

Brian Cuban is an attorney, author and mental health awareness and recovery advocate. He is the author of the best-selling book, The Addicted Lawyer, Tales of The Bar, Booze Blow & Redemption. He has also delved into fiction with his debut, Pittsburgh set thriller, The Ambulance Chaser. He has spoken at conferences, non-profit events, colleges and universities across the United States and in Canada. He also writes extensively on these subjects. His columns have appeared on CNN.comFoxnews.comThe Huffington PostThe New York Times, and in online and print newspapers around the world.

Michael Sweetney

Community and Responsibility
Michael sweetney was born in 1982 in Washington DC. He played his high school basketball at oxon hill High school located in oxon hill Maryland. Michael went on to play at Georgetown university in Washington DC where was an all American and Naismith player of their year finalist. In. 2003 Michael went to get drafted #9 to the New York knicks in the famous draft class such as Lebron James, Dwayne wade and Carmelo Anthony. He played 4 years in the NBA, 2 with the Knicks and 2 with Chicago bulls. Soon after Michael traveled the world to play in China, Uruguay, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela. Michael now spends his time being a mental health advocate, coaching at Yeshiva university and mentoring youth.

Elisheva Liss, LMFT

Elisheva Liss is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice. She wrote a book titled: Find Your Horizon of Healthy Thinking, and creates digital courses, including: sacred not secret: a religious family’s guide to healthy holy sexuality education, modesty education fails and fixes, an intro to homeschooling, and one on how to get the most out of your therapy. She is active on twitter and Instagram, and her courses, blog, and free video content can be found on her site: Elishevaliss.com

Rabbi Saul Haimoff, PsyD

Stress and Anxiety
Rabbi Dr. Saul Haimoff is a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice, with a specialty in treating children, adolescents and young adults with anxiety and behavioral disorders. He received his PsyD from Long Island University and rabbinic ordination from Yeshiva University. .He has many years of experience in education and programming in the Jewish community. He currently serves as the Program Director and Associate Rabbi of the Jewish Center of Atlantic Beach and previously served as the Head Rabbi of The Brandeis School in Lawrence, NY. Additionally, he is the co-author of the Handbook of Torah and Mental Health, which catalogs over 50 Jewish sources that are related to mental health treatments, diagnoses and theories, and are supported by peer-reviewed studies. He has given lectures, workshops and trainings to clinicians, schools, parents and the general community on various topics related to religion and mental health.

Rabbi Menachem Penner

Rabbi Menachem Penner is the Max and Marion Grill Dean of Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary at Yeshiva University where he has the privilege to inspire and train the rabbis of tomorrow. Rabbi Penner served as the spiritual leader of the Young Israel of Holliswood in Queens for 20 years. He continues to teach, focusing on Tanach, Tefillah and Machshavah, in communities worldwide. Rabbi Penner is also a valued resource for many in the Jewish community navigating personal and family challenges. He received his semicha from RIETS and is proud to serve the institution from which he received his formative education.

Gedalia Penner-Robinson

Gedalia Penner-Robinson has worked for many years in LGBTQ+ advocacy within the frum Jewish world, working with organizations like JQY, Eshel and Keshet. Most recently, his 18Forty podcast with his father, Rabbi Menachem Penner, highlighting their ongoing relationship, made a splash in the Jewish world and spurred much conversation around LGBTQ+ acceptance in the frum community. He is a musician by trade, and has served as musical director of Y-Studs A Cappella and resident at Hadar’s Rising Song Institute with Joey Weisenberg. He is currently in his 3rd year of Cantorial School at The Jewish Theological Seminary, and lives in Riverdale with his husband, Caleb, and his dog, Booker.

Dvorah Levy, LCSW

Dvorah Levy is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker specializing in individual, couples and family therapy. She maintains a private practice in Cedarhurst and Brooklyn, NY. Dvorah has over 25 years of experience working as a psychotherapist. She is a graduate of Wurzweiler School of Social Work and received post graduate training in Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy (EFT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and Gestalt Therapy. Among her areas of expertise are marriage therapy, dating coaching and working with parenting issues, anxiety, depression, trauma and grief/loss. In addition to being a prominent relationship therapist, Dvorah has presented at National conferences and to general audiences speaking on the topics of marriage, dating and parenting.

Lisa Septimus

Lisa Septimus is a graduate of Nishmat’s first U.S. Yoatzot Halacha cohort and has worked as Yoetzet since 2013. She has fielded thousands of questions related to Taharat HaMishpacha with sensitivity, knowledge, relatability, and warmth. In the past, she also served as the Yoetzet Halacha for Great Neck, and Interim Yoetzet Halacha of Manhattan. She holds a masters in Bible from Yeshiva University’s Bernard Revel Graduate School and is a graduate of Stern College’s Graduate Program for Advanced Talmudic Studies, where she subsequently served as the program’s shoelet u’meishiva. She teaches Judaic Studies at North Shore Hebrew Academy High School in Great Neck, NY, where she also serves as Director of Student Life. In her active role as rebbetzin at the Young Israel of North Woodmere (NY) she is integrally involved with adult education and youth programming. She has taught at The Jewish Center in Manhattan, Riverdale Jewish Center, Drisha, Yeshiva University’s Summer Learning Program, and served as scholar in residence in numerous synagogues. She and her husband, Rabbi Yehuda Septimus, are the parents of four children.

Joshua Rivedal

Joshua Rivedal is the creator and founder of Changing Minds: A Mental Health Based Curriculum and The i’Mpossible Project. He is trained in community counseling from the Southern California Counseling Center; human capital management from NYU; suicide prevention modalities QPR, ASIST; and the teacher’s edition of emotional intelligence from Yale University’s Center for Emotional Intelligence. He has delivered over 450 speaking events on suicide prevention and mental health across the U.S., Canada, the U.K., and Australia. His original coursework on suicide prevention is taught in Washington State to various professions. He wrote, developed, and performs the one-man play, Kicking My Blue Genes in The Butt, which has toured extensively throughout the world paired with suicide prevention education. His memoir The Gospel According to Josh: A 28-Year Gentile Bar Mitzvah is on The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s recommended reading list. His second book, The i’Mpossible Project: Volume 1—Reengaging with Life, Creating a New You, debuted #1 in its category on Amazon in January 2016. There are currently five books in the i’Mpossible Project series. He is a co-author of three peer-reviewed journal papers, one on the trajectory of the survivor of suicide loss, another on the art of living with chronic illness, the third on surviving trauma. Joshua is also a standup comic and cook, holds a certificate in food nutrition, has a black belt in Taekwondo, and lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Reggie Walker

Security & Safeguarding From Abuse

Grew up a military brat. Had the blessing of living in situations where I was a minority, part of the majority population, situations I had money, and situations where we were so poor we had to get food from the church. All of these different circumstances aided in creating a very unique perspective in taking on the world.

From the age of 4 to 12 I experienced getting molested by a family friend. Growing up, as well as my experiences In the sports realm, I experienced physical, mental, and emotional abuse as well. These unfortunate events had a profound impact on my mental well-being.

To combat the effects of my trauma I funneled all my feelings and emotions into sports. Sports became a saving grace in dealing with a mind filled with toxicity from the trauma I experienced. Sports became an environment in which I excelled l, leading me to be a top high school football player, a college football starter, and eventual NFL athlete and team captain of 7 years.

In retirement, my journey of healing has led me to two stays at a treatment facility where led me to create the “Game Within The Game”, a college-accredited course built to help athletes find the answers to how to find themselves, their purpose, and a plan during and after their careers. Using all the knowledge from my experiences, strategies that have helped me as well as others succeed in high-stress, high-stakes environments, as well as knowledge from therapy, I put the ”Game Within The Game” together as an answer to questions I have known all athletes to have in dealing with life and leading a good, successful, productive life during and after their athletic careers.

I have also become a mental, physical, and sexual abuse survivor advocate, Tedx speaker, public speaker, consultant, connector, entrepreneur, and problem solver for individuals and businesses. With my unique perspective from my varied experiences I have found myself to be of value in many different environments as a problem solver and leader.

Dr. Yitzchak Schechter

Coping With Crisis and Community
Dr. Yitzchak Schechter is a clinical psychologist and recognized leader in behavioral health care and research of the Orthodox Jewish Community. He is Chief Clinical Officer, and founder of ACHIEVE Behavioral Health.  ACHIEVE is one of the largest and most innovative serving the Orthodox Jewish (OJ) community, providing a wide array of services throughout the Orthodox and Hasidic Jewish communities of Rockland and Orange counties NY with multiple branches and over 50 school locations. ACHIEVE is one of the first designees as a Federally Certified Behavioral Health Center providing and creating the next generation of behavioral health care.

Dr. Schechter leads a collaboration between Yeshiva University’s Ferkauf Graduate School and ACHIEVE to create a Mental Health Counseling Program for the Hasidic Jewish population and train future counselors of the community.

Dr. Schechter is also the founder and Director of the Institute for Applied Research and Community Collaboration (ARCC), a center for action research and collaboration about the health, behavioral health and social issues of the Orthodox Jewish community. His pioneering research in many topics from dating, marriage, divorce, medical decision making, community health, is used widely in clinical, communal and religious practice. He teaches and lectures internationally on a wide range of communal, psychological and religious topics. 

Rabbi Yehuda Sarna


Rabbi Yehuda Sarna is the Chief Rabbi of the Jewish Council of the Emirates, a position to which he was appointed in 2019. In this role, he leads the community in religious and spiritual matters, and represents them to government and organizational officials. Rabbi Sarna serves as the University Chaplain and Executive Director at the Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life at New York University (NYU). He is a senior fellow at the Of Many Institute for Multifaith Leadership at NYU, where he designs educational experiences and curricula to train the next generation in interfaith action. Rabbi Sarna has been recognized for his outward-looking and innovative approach. He was awarded the Richard M. Joel Exemplar of Excellence from Hillel International in 2008 and was the honoree at the Orthodox Union/Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus Awards Dinner. In 2009, he was listed as one of the 36 Under 36 changemakers by The New York Jewish Week. Rabbi Sarna is married to Dr. Michelle Waldman Sarna, a psychologist, and they have six children.

Jordana Moses

Food - Panel Discussion

Jordana Moses resides in Forest Hills with her husband, Zalman. She obtained her license in social work three years ago. Jordana now uses her lived experience with an eating disorder to help others as a therapist at an outpatient program for eating disorders in NYC.

William Hornby

Food - Panel Discussion
William Hornby is at the forefront of raising awareness for men with eating disorders with his advocacy on social media. He speaks publicly on advocacy, mental health, and eating disorder recovery. He travels around the world both in person and virtually giving workshops and presentations on “The Power of Becoming the Advocate You Needed”. He is the recipient of the William Donald Schaefer Helping People Award for 2021. He is a member of the Eating Disorder Coalition’s Young Adult Council and the National Alliance for Eating Disorders’ Collaborative. He has also worked with the National Eating Disorder Association and Project HEAL. He graduated from Temple University in 2022 with a BBA in Business Management and BFA in Musical Theater. He is also a singer-songwriter with music about recovery and mental health, including “Clay”, touted as a body neutral anthem. He is an exceptional pumpkin carver and theater performer as well.

Jenna Zelka

Food - Panel Discussion
Jenna Zelka has been teaching at Yeshiva high schools for the past nine years. She is currently finishing her MSW at Fordham University. She lives in West Hempstead with her husband, Aaron, and two year old daughter, Samara.

Eli Chaikin

Death and Grief - Panel Discussion

Eli Chaikin and his wife Michèle’s first child Max passed away in 1996 at the tender age of 14 months from a rare genetic disorder.
Their loss pushed them into activism and volunteering for NTSAD (National Tay Sachs and Allied Diseases), Dor Yeshorim, as well as lecturing on the importance of pre-marital genetic testing.
Their yearly Yahrzeit Farbrengen on Simchas Torah in memory of Max, brings the entire community of North Woodmere together at their home and stresses the importance of turning tragedy into positive commemoration.

They currently have two healthy children aged 22 and 24 k”ah.

Avremie Gourarie

Death and Grief - Panel Discussion
Avremi Gourarie is a South African born musician, who’s been living in the US with his wife Dini since 1994.

They lived in the crosshairs of mental disease as their daughter, Yocheved, for the better part of ten years, battled Anorexia and depression. Sadly, after she survived two attempts of ending her life, Yocheved’s life came to an end in December, 2020 at the age of 24. Due to the story being widely reported on, Avremi, not by his choosing, took on a public role of activist/mentor/adviser.

He continues to be an address for those seeking answers for the often unanswerable. As he continues to do this work, it is his hope that while the stigma of mental disease and suicide must be combated, the ultimate answers will be found in prevention/healthy living, resilience, a solution to the addiction of our day – social media – and a back to basics approach to the social and family dynamic. While not considering himself an expert, he is a strong proponent of plant medicine access, having anecdotally seen the wonders this modality has accomplished for those that suffer.

Amy Wilkowski

Death and Grief - Panel Discussion

Amy Wilkowski is a 32 year resident of North Woodmere, and married to her husband, Fred, for over 34 years. Originally from Paramus NJ, Amy raised 3 children (Michael, Lauren, and David) in the Five Towns. She has her MBA from Indiana University and her BA majoring in Economics and Math & Computer Minors from Rutgers College, New Brunswick NJ.

She is currently working as a CPA for a family in a Wealth-Management position. On her ‘off’ time, she likes to exercise – her knew loves are swimming and playing pickleball.