Meet Our Team

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Executive Director – Zach Duitch

Zach is no stranger to Schechter. He spent a total of 15 summers at camp – 7 as a camper, 1 as an Oded, and 7 as summer staff ranging from counselor to the Assistant Summer Director. Zach has definitely kept busy since those lazy, hazy days of summer. He spent 17 years at the Stroum Jewish Community Center, beginning as a youth counselor in the after-school program and rising to the position of Director of Data Insights and Security Management. His leadership of the JCC’s summer day camp program increased attendance from 300 to over 1,200 campers annually. As Director of Programs and Services he engaged over 3,000 community members per year through innovative and creative programming and helped transform their dormant health and fitness program into a thriving business center.

Zach has been the Executive Director of CSS since December 2017. When asked what he loves most about camp, he enthusiastically responded, “Schechter is the most magical place on earth! Gaga, Shabbat, jumping off the high dive, double dare, endless shira (singing) sessions, Maccabiah (color wars), Yom Israel (Israel Day), the bullfrog croaking at night, the big dipper shining bright over the lake, toranut skits, degel (flag ceremony), friendships formed, and the counselors make this camp unique, special, and magical. I want every child to experience the MAGIC that I experienced at camp.”

When you see Zach at camp this summer, he will be joined by his wife, Jessica, and his two great kids (both CSS campers), Charley and Bayley. In addition to being a positive role model who loves working with today’s youth, he loves to play sports, work out, travel, eat sushi, spend time with his kids (hiking, swimming, biking, soccer, and art projects, to name a few), watch NETFLIX, and be a diehard Husky, Seahawks, M’s, Kraken, Sounders, and anything sports fan.

Senior Director of Operations – Jef Nobbe

Jef comes to camp with over 30 years of non-profit experience. While working on his BS in Math & Computer Education at Purdue University, he spent four summers working at the Flatrock River YMCA Camp in southern Indiana. He continued his studies at Purdue, receiving a Masters degree in Mental Health Counseling. Upon graduation, he moved to Seattle and worked directly with street-involved youth at YouthCare for five years before moving into fundraising and volunteer management. In 2001, he left YouthCare to become the Development Director of the Washington Poison Center, where he started the Mr. Yuk Fundraising Luncheon, increased federal funding to the center tenfold and worked diligently to increase public awareness of Mr. Yuk, the Poison Center services and the need for funding. In 2008, Jef was provided the opportunity to join the staff of Creative Activities/VSA Washington as their Associate Director. Creative Activities/VSA Washington provided art opportunities to people with disabilities across Washington State until it closed its doors due to the economic downturn.

Now part of the Camp Solomon Schechter team since 2011, Jef has seen, first hand, the transformative power of camp and how those experiences and memories positively impact campers and counselors alike years into the future. “I’ll never forget how it was okay to sing off key at the top of your lungs at a campfire with everyone merrily joining in simply because you were trying your best, or witnessing how engaged a camper would become when given some words of encouragement.“

Summer Camp Director – Manda Graizel

Manda is so pumped to join of the Schechter team as the Camp Director. She is originally from the New York City area (you’ll hear it when she says “coffee”) and spent the last decade making Los Angeles her home. She received her undergraduate degree from Clark University in 2006 and a master’s in education—with a focus in outdoor and experiential education—from The American Jewish University in 2011 (with an A+ in camping!). Manda has made her career in immersive experiences working for Hillel, BBYO, and the Diller Teen Fellows Program, in addition to spending many summers at both day and overnight camps including Teaneck Recreation Sports and Arts Day Camp, Camp Na-Sho-Pa, URJ Camp Newman-Swig, Camp Ramah Berkshires. Most recently, she founded and led the Silverlake Day Camp in her role as the Senior Director, Youth & Family Programs at the Silverlake Independent Jewish Community Center.  She is so excited to join and work with this awesome team to create the space for positive Jewish memories and identities for campers and staff, and she cannot wait to be a part of the Schechter magic.

Outside of camp you can find Manda being active—she loves running outdoors and training for her next race, hiking, stand up paddle boarding, practicing yoga and camping. She enjoys going to concerts, traveling, and continuing her search for the best cup of coffee in America. She’s also loves sports—ask her about hockey (go Rangers!) or women’s soccer (go Angel City!)—and she’s eager to become a fan of some PNW teams. She lives with her partner Tyler, cats Chewy and Sweeney, and an ever-growing collection of houseplants.

Favorite hobbies, books, and sports teams: I am a huge sports person (both playing and watching). If I am watching sports it is usually “football” (NWSL (Go Seattle Reign!) or the Primer League (where I root for Brentford). I am also a huge hockey fam (I am a diehard NY Rangers fan, but will root for the Kraken when they are not playing the Rangers. I also am really excited to be getting into the newly formed PWHL). I love running (training for a ½ marathon currently), stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking, hiking, camping, seeing live music, going to the theatre, traveling and houseplants.

Assistant Camp Director – Ruth Chaban-Kahn

RuthRuthie” Chaban-Kahn is so excited to be joining the Camp Solomon Schechter family as the Assistant Camp Director! Ruthie is originally from Toledo, Ohio and spent her summers in Zionsville, Indiana at URJ Camp GUCI (Goldman Union Camp Institute) as a camper for 5 years, 3 years on staff as a camp counselor, 2 years on leadership in 2017 as the Assistant Administrator and in 2018 as the Assistant Camp K’ton Day Camp Director. After graduating from Shawnee State University Ruthie moved to Memphis with her now husband Daniel where she worked as an Assistant Pre-school teacher for the Memphis JCC Early Childhood Center for 2 years. After being away from the camp community for four years Ruthie came back and worked for the YMCA of the Pines; Camp Matollionequay and all girls residential camp, as their Assistant/interim Camp Director. 

Outside of camp you can find Ruthie spending time with Daniel; exploring Seattle, finding fun coffee shops, finding great local places to eat, working in a pottery class and singing; always singing! 

Ruthie can’t wait to meet everyone, singing loud and proud, dancing around and spreading the Schechter Rauch!

Assistant Camp Director – Josh Kittay

Yo yo yo what’s up Camp Solomon Schechter! After being a camper for 9 years, going through the oded program, being on staff for 3 years and head staff for 3 as well, I am excited to announce I have accepted the position of Assistant Director of Program and Logistics.  These 16 years have been fun-filled and memorable and I can’t wait to continue coming to camp not only during the summer but also year round.

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Josh Kittay. I am a recent graduate of Washington State University with a degree in Animal Science. I grew up in the Seattle area both attending and working at Congregation Beth Shalom and Herzl Ner-Tamid. I began attending CSS as a rising second grader and have never stopped. When I am at camp my favorite activities include playing gaga and walking the trails to the bog and the river. In addition to this, my favorite moment at camp is Havdallah at the end of Shabbat. My other hobbies off of camp include playing tennis, throwing a baseball around or hanging out with friends.

I am ecstatic to begin this next chapter of my life helping to continue the great legacy and traditions of Schechter. I am even more excited to continue to create more memories year round with all of you!

Development Director – Leah Conley

Leah has been working in Jewish educational leadership and community building for more than two decades in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Portland. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Literature from UCLA and her Master of Arts degree in Divinity from the University of Chicago. She believes that when we build Jewish communities of connection and belonging, we create the sacred environment where our best selves can unfold.

Leah grew up in Los Angeles immersed in the Jewish community. She attended Jewish day school and is a lifelong synagogue member, but nothing has been stronger in shaping her Jewish identity than Jewish camp, both as a camper and a counselor. She is so grateful to have found her way back to camp and is excited to become a part of the magical place where Judaism and joy are one. She loves playing guitar, knitting, running, travel, adventures, and being at camp! She lives in Portland OR with her husband, Josh, and two children, Elliot and Amelia, who are also Schechter campers.

Development Associate – Sam Berry

While working on his degree at Humboldt State University, Sam spent his summers in the foothills of Sierra Nevada at Camp Tawonga where he worked for 7 years. He is originally from San Francisco and moved to the beautiful Pacific Northwest in 2018 and again found himself engaged in the Jewish Community working at Temple De Hirsch Sinai in Membership and Development.

In his free time Sam can be found playing dodge ball, picking up his guitar, cooking dinner with his friends, spending time with his cat, and, as of late, perfecting his chocolate chunk cookie recipe. Sam is incredibly excited to join the Schechter family and can’t wait to bring its mission to life year-round!

Coordinator of Retreats & Engagement – Herschel

Herschel (he/they), or “Hezza” to his camp friends, may be new to Schechter, but is a camp person through and through. Proudly born and raised in Southern California, he relocated to the PNW twice (once to teach mountain snow sports, and then for school) and now considers the entire West Coast home.

Their favorite Jewish memories revolve around intentional gathering, both around the dining room table and in the less formal spaces of youth groups and camp. Outside of the retreat world, you can find Herschel working out and weightlifting, kayaking, but most of all, always exploring: traveling new places and making his way through their (mostly food-based) bucket list. If you’ve got a trip planned, ask them for recommendations! A future self-built tiny house and tiny dog (corgi!) are also on the vision board.

He is excited to join the team and build Schechter’s reputation as the best place to host a Jewish event in the Pacific Northwest.

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Head Chef – Frank Marmo

Originally from San Diego, Frank attended the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco in the mid-80’s and has worked in the San Francisco Bay area, Los Angeles, Washington, Idaho, and Montana. With experience in a wide range of concepts from small scratch kitchens, fine dining, resorts, and large venues (including B.B. King’s Blues Club, Wolfgang Puck’s California Pizza Café, Il Fornio at Levi’s Plaza, and 49 Degrees North Ski Resort). Chef Frank brings over 40 years of hospitality experience to camp.

Building a new food & beverage program from the ground up is the goal. We will be re-crafting menus to include vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, and other dietary choices to accommodate campers more sophisticated and health conscience diets. We will, of course, be keeping the camp favorites . . . after all, what is camp without grilled cheese and tomato soup day?!?

We are also turning the clock back a bit and making more items in-house. We’ve started a small baking program, making our own challah, cupcakes, and birthday cakes for campers, as well as some other scratch dessert choices. When we make the food here, we know what goes into it, and we control the quality and variety of our menus.

Frank and his wife, Susan, moved to Lacey WA from the Spokane area in 2019 with their menagerie of pets: Punkin’ Pie, Muffin, Fluffy, Moose, and Abbey.

Marketing and Communications Manager – Gabriel Laemmle

After nearly a decade spent working in independent film distribution and non-profit administration, Gabriel is excited to join Camp Solomon Schechter as its next Marketing and Communications Manager! Gabriel grew up at Camp Alonim in Southern California before relocating to Seattle to attend the University of Washington. If he’s not at the office or at camp, you can find Gabriel backpacking, skiing, or otherwise enjoying the outdoors with his wife Emily and their two dogs – Pico and Finn.

Ready for the Next Step?