This month marked our 11th issue of 36 Under 36, which got us thinking, what are past 36ers up to? We tracked down six former 36ers to see what’s new.
Jourdan Urbach – 2011
Jourdan Urbach began his career as a startup executive, using his experience as a professional violinist to create Children Helping Children and work with Concerts for a Cure. As he grew older and went on to study at Yale University, Urbach started the International Coalition of College Philanthropists during his freshman year and received the National Jefferson Award by the time he graduated.
But since then, Urbach has changed his course. He co-founded MassLab, and then moved on to McKinsey & Co, where he helped build their internal venture capital group. Six months ago, after leaving McKinsey, Urbach started Brandt & Co in order to provide a “McKinsey level” of advisory service to founders or investors who are taking their first steps in the startup world.
Their primary role is to kick off the detailed due diligence process that helps investors understand whether a particular early stage opportunity is right for their portfolio.
When starting Brandt & Co, he expected to be building a small, but useful consultancy with only a few people, and did not expect that in half a year they would grow to become a team of eight people, serving a large number of individuals in the professional investment world. Although the growth of his new company takes him by surprise, Urbach is very grateful for it.
The mission at Brandt & Co is to have a more efficient allocation of capital in early stage markets, and that the company hopes that by providing better due diligence for investors, they will direct their investments towards worthwhile startups, increasing the efficiency of this market and the overall quality of the companies that are given the fuel to mature and succeed.
The most important limiting factor to overcome, Urbach said, was “finding and hiring the absolute best people in their given field and not trying to become an expert on my own. In learning to trust and delegate I have opened myself up to a world of knowledge I would not have had if I attempted to go at this alone.”
Come Fly With Me: Jourdan has now obtained a pilot’s license and enjoys flying to Maine. Although he still enjoys kayaking, he said flying is much faster.
Michael Littenberg-Brown – 2013
In 2009, Michael Littenberg-Brown helped start and run the Young Leadership of Save A Child’s Heart (SACH), and although Littenberg-Brown is no longer volunteering with them, he has used the experience he’s gained to guide his professional and volunteering life today.
Littenberg-Brown now works as the Vice President of the Friends of United Hatzalah, overseeing their international growth—the United States branch in Jersey City, NJ, is called United Rescue. His work is particularly gratifying as it provides individuals with a connection to Israel. “It lets people unfamiliar with Israel benefit from the work and life-saving that the company does—I am especially proud of the ability to share the work and gift of Israel and help anyone who needs help, regardless of who they are,” Littenberg-Brown explained.
His experience with SACH helped gear him towards helping nonprofit organizations and prompted him to go back to graduate school to get a masters in Nonprofit Leadership. “When it comes to saving lives,” differences don’t matter” Littenberg-Brown said, which is a lesson he follows every day. Currently, Littenberg-Brown spends time as both the President of the Council of Young Jewish Presidents (CYJP) and as a board member of the B’nai Jeshurun Synagogue. At B’nai Jeshurun, he has organized a Refugee Seder, in which Middle Eastern refugees cook food from their homeland for synagogue members. This experience gave attendees a chance to learn about people they wouldn’t have met otherwise, something Littenberg-Brown thinks is important for young Jewish communities.
Littenberg-Brown believes that a lot of existing organizations do not make room in leadership positions for young people, and is confronting this with helping to run the CYJP as its president. He is providing the human capital, helping to ready the younger generations from the Jewish communities for leadership positions.
Leadership is really hard, Littenberg-Brown said, “we all have to work on it every day and be very self-aware and critical of our own leadership.” Through the many roles he’s taken, Littenberg-Brown has learned a lot about what it means to be a leader, and feels that one of his greatest successes has been helping others prepare for leadership roles.
Oh, Baby! He and his now wife, Andrea, have an 8-week old son!
Melissa Jane Kronfeld – 2013
“The thing that truly shapes me is my lifelong commitment to social impact and volunteerism,” explained Melissa Jane Kronfeld.
That lifelong commitment began way before her previous 36er bio in 2013 and has led her to her current positions as the founder of Passion for a Purpose (PFAP) and Director of Marketing at Charidy.com, both dedicated to helping impact the world in a positive way. With PFAP, Kronfeld works on fundraising, branding awareness, building organizations and helping family offices develop a set of values and morals. “As long as you’re working towards making the world a better place for someone other than yourself, we will help you figure that out,” she said. Kronfeld is the one who puts social impact warriors in a position to thrive.
One of her career goals has been to inspire others to continue the incredible work she’s been doing as part of PFAP and Charidy. Being able to know that she has impacted hundreds of thousands of lives around the world makes Kronfeld feel fulfilled. That, and completing her Ph.D. this past year have been her greatest accomplishments.
Kronfeld said that dealing with her father’s passing over the last few years has been the hardest thing she has ever done. Not only was her best friend gone, but she is now responsible for things she was never responsible for before. Dealing with the loss of a parent is a constant process, but every day Kronfeld feels more successful because of it.
Inked: In 2013, MJ only had two tattoos (“Blessed be G-d” and “The People of Israel live”). Now she has 14, including a couple of Jewish stars, the entire Shema prayer, one that says “Tikkun Olam” (Repairing the World) and “Motek” (Sweet) and some dedicated to her father and her uncle who have passed.
Rebecca Fischer – 2014
After having her second child, Rebecca Fischer took a break from her work as a lawyer to focus on family. But the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012 hit close to home and she decided to return to the professional world, becoming a board member of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence (NYAGV) in 2014, and eventually the organization’s executive director in 2017. The transition from practicing law to running a non-profit went smoothly because “once you reach a certain point in your career where you show you are able to learn information quickly and acquire new skills successfully, you can do anything as long as you work hard on it,” Fischer explained.
Educating high school students is a large focus for NYAGV, especially those in communities that are disproportionately impacted by gun violence. Fischer is proud of this initiative and said that her program has become all the more relevant and critical because of the young people who have stepped up and turned the anti-gun violence issue into a youth-led movement. Their ReACTION Program specifically empowers and trains kids to become advocates and leaders on gun violence prevention issues by providing them with platforms to do so.
On a state level, Fischer is working with NYAGV to enact the Extreme Risk Protection Order. This initiative would allow families and law enforcement to petition a court to temporarily suspend a person’s access to firearms if there is documented evidence that an individual is threatening harm to themselves or others.
Fischer is constantly learning from her job and feels most successful when someone else raises a point she hasn’t thought of— it propels her forward. Although Fischer was trained as an attorney and focuses on law and policy, she now considers herself a generalist; “I have to be good at many different things, some that I’ve done before this job and many that I have never done before this job.” While Fischer’s on-the-job learning has proved to be beneficial, it is her passion for the cause that is invaluable.
Take Action: June is gun violence awareness month in New York, which was created to promote greater awareness about gun violence and gun safety.
Yosefa Schoor – 2015
Now a third-year medical student at Einstein Medical School, Yosefa Schoor still feels deeply connected to the organization she co-founded in 2013. The program, Together Educating All Children in Hospitals (TEACH), helps enhance children’s pediatric experiences by giving them a chance to participate in hands-on science workshops during their stay. Although Schoor is not as involved in the program as she once was—her main role now is that of a medical student—she still resides as co-director. The program has grown tremendously since its inception, which she credits to the board and team of incredible individuals who have joined TEACH; it has served over two thousand children in 30 different hospitals internationally and has had over 1,000 volunteers.
TEACH is still an education-based program that focuses on science-based modules for the children, who span from 2-15 years old. Some branches have even begun teaching children about their diseases, giving them a deeper understanding and feeling of control over their situations.
In her past 36er bio, Schoor mentioned that she hoped TEACH could expand to Israel, and this year, that dream became a reality. In 2015, Schoor connected with medical students from Bar Ilan who were interested in bringing TEACH to Israeli hospitals, and she gladly accepted. “I had been in Israel for their first module—we went together and they did an excellent job right away. It was a superb success,” Schoor said. TEACH has even able to bridge the gap, connecting Hebrew-speaking volunteers and Arabic-speaking patients.
Starting TEACH was challenging, Schoor explained and took much more time and effort than she anticipated. But thanks to her amazing team, it has been able to grow into the international non-profit that it is today. If Schoor could give her younger self some advice, she’d say to “believe in people, because it will be them who make it incredible.”
Amazing Auntie: Schoor was an aunt by age four, and now has 16 nieces and nephews!
Cheri Srour – 2017
When Cheri Srour was 18, she was diagnosed with an autoimmune neurological disorder and has since been confined to a wheelchair. But that didn’t stop Srour. After much work, she graduated from Brooklyn College and started a nonprofit called Because I Can to spread her message. She wants people to try their hardest and never give up, a lesson she has learned herself over the years.
Since 2017, Srour said her message has definitely grown. This year, Srour has been focusing on her physical health and has found a rehabilitation facility with an innovative approach. “I’ve strengthened my muscles and learned to walk again, become more independent, among many other things,” she explained. “Sometimes I watch videos and I truly cannot understand the things I’m doing, the only explanation is HaShem.”
Srour’s determination is evident to everyone around her, she even participated in the Disney Marathon for the third year in a row this past February. She had her brother-in-law push her wheelchair until the last half mile, where they switched places and she walked him over the finish line—a huge accomplishment that she is incredibly proud of. Srour said that personally, the most amazing thing to see was that they were no longer the only “power duo” participating, but seven other power duos took to the marathon this year. Srour has also continued to help with Sephardic Bikur Holim and has her own chesed initiative—For the Love of Dough—where she meeting with a group of girls each week and bakes challah for the widows and seniors of her community.
With everything she had accomplished, Srour still seems to live by her motto—“I may not be able to do the things you do, but what I can do may surprise you.”
Locks of Love: Srour has donated her hair three times. She thanks G-d that He has given her “good” hair that grows quickly and that she can help those who are less fortunate. “As much as I love my long locks, I know someone out there needs it more than me,” she said.