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OUR PROFESSIONALS

At Ben-Gurion University Canada (BGU Canada), we are guided by the principles of Community, Integrity and a deep desire to support and contribute to the Negev region of Israel. It is through collaborative work conducted by a passionate complement of lay-leaders and staff, that we have been able to quadruple our annual revenue over the last decade.
BGU Canada has four offices across the country that oversee five regions. They are: Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg and Vancouver.

Learn more about our people, both lay leaders and staff, below.

Our Team

National

Andrea Freedman
Chief Executive Officer

Bio:

Andrea Freedman is the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Ben-Gurion University Canada (BGU Canada).

With extensive experience in the fields of philanthropy and management, and a passion for Israel and the Negev, Andrea is well positioned to lead our fundraising efforts to new heights. For the past ten years, she has served as President and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Ottawa and the Ottawa Jewish Community Foundation. She has a proven track record of success in cultivating meaningful relationships with donors, securing transformational gifts, strategy development and significantly increasing giving.

Andrea has extensive experience in the not-for-profit sector, having held senior positions at Mount Sinai Hospital Foundation in Toronto, Jewish Federations of Canada-UIA, UJA Federation of Greater Toronto and Federation CJA in Montreal over the course of her career. She is a proven leader and has close ties to the Jewish community across the country.

Andrea Freedman

Chief Executive Officer

Sam Cordes
Chief Operating Officer, Ben-Gurion University Canada
Tel: 416-665-8054 ext. 23
[email protected]

Bio:

Sam joined Ben-Gurion University Canada in 2016 as the Director of Finance. As a seasoned entrepreneur, this was a major change in his career path. His experience in developing business start-ups and managing multiple operations was instrumental when it came time to updating our infrastructure and financial systems to accommodate our current growth.

When Sam is not working, he is very busy with his family of five children and four grandchildren. He is also a world traveler, avid cook and hiker/canoeist.

Sam Cordes

Chief Operating Officer

Galit Solomon
National Director, Marketing & Communications
Tel: 416-207-0864
Email: [email protected]

Bio:

Galit began her career as an award-winning journalist and news anchor in Toronto. In 2013, following 13 years in broadcast news, Galit began working in communications and marketing, as the Manager of Media Relations and Spokesperson for Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation. She has since help a number of different roles including the Director of Operations and PR at On Q Communications, a Toronto-based boutique PR firm. Galit received her Bachelor of Arts degree from York University. She also studied at the prestigious Poynter Institute for Journalism.

Galit is an avid traveler and proud mom to her 9 year old son, Tyler.

Galit Solomon

National Director,
Marketing & Communications 

Regional

Shimmy Wenner
VP Management & Philanthropy, Toronto
Ben-Gurion University CANADA
Phone: 416-665-8054 ext 22
[email protected]

Bio:

Shimmy has had a successful career defined by leadership in the Jewish community, and a passion for Israel and the Jewish people. After graduating in 1994 with a degree in Actuarial Science from the University of Toronto, Shimmy began his work in community at B’nai Brith Canada.  Soon after, he assumed the role of Director, Camp Moshava, a Jewish overnight camp in Ontario. In 2002, Shimmy joined the Campaign team at United Jewish Appeal of Greater Toronto (UJA) where he worked for the next 17 years in various roles of progressive responsibility. Most recently at UJA, Shimmy served as the Senior Director of Campaign Operations, Transformation and Analytics, where he helped the organization reach historical fundraising growth. During his time at UJA, Shimmy developed a reputation of professionalism and integrity, establishing deep relationships with Campaign and divisional chairs, and with donors throughout the community.  Shimmy was pivotal in leading the operations of one of North America’s largest annual campaigns.

 In three short years at Ben Gurion University Canada, Shimmy as Executive Director, has reshaped the Toronto headquarters and rebuilt its foundation.  Even with covid lockdowns and restrictions, Shimmy was able to grow the donor database, establish a responsive and engaged Board of Directors, present exciting donor driven events and fundraise some of the largest gifts the Toronto office has ever seen. Looking to the future Shimmy has big plans, presenting the Toronto office’s first ever gala in the fall as he continues to drive impact and excellence with his boundless energy, expertise and experience. 

Shimmy has been married to his wife Ayala for close to 27 years. Shimmy also has two children, Elyanna, who will attending Queen’s University for her Masters program in OT starting in September and Ami, who is going into his 4th year Business School at Metropolitan Toronto University (formerly Ryerson).  Shimmy also has his cute multi-shih named Marty. 

Shimmy Wenner

VP Management &
Philanthropy,
Toronto

Simon Bensimon
Executive Director, Montreal & Ottawa
514-937-8927 ext 103
[email protected]

 

Bio: 

Simon Bensimon, holds a Master’s in Public Policy and Public Administration (MPPPA) from Concordia University (1993) and a BA from McGill University (1985). Simon has been a professional in the field of community building and philanthropy since 1985, he has held a number of management positions within and outside the Jewish community. Simon is passionate about Israel, its relationship with the diaspora and its many contributions to the world. Some of his past professional experiences have been as: Director of the Israel & Overseas Department of Federation CJA; Director of the Bronfman Israel Experience Centre & March of the Living; Executive Director of Hillel Montreal; Principal Director of Development at Concordia University and Executive Director of the Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In May 2017, he was named Executive Director of the Montreal and Ottawa Chapters of BGU Canada.

Simon is married to Laurence Rubio and they have three children, Ella, Julia and Ilan (and one cat).

Simon Bensimon

Executive Director, 
Montreal & Ottawa

David Berson
Executive Director, British Columbia & Alberta Region
604-266-2680
[email protected]

Bio:

With more than 25 years of progressive experience working with social services in the non-profit sector as field worker, manager, director and fund development consultant, David Berson, Executive Director – Vancouver Region, brings a wide range of skills to his role. David has served in his current role for 7 years. He holds Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees in Social Work from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Haifa University, all in Israel. David lives in Vancouver with his Partner Mary. He is also a father to three boys, Yaniv, Matan and Noam, and one adorable fur-baby, Tashi.

David Berson

Executive Director,
B.C. & Alberta

Rhona Veisfeld Modugno
Executive Assistant to Mark Mendelson and Simon Bensimon
Tel: 514-937-8927 ext. 101
Email: [email protected]

Rhona Veisfeld is a native Montrealer. She brings over 25 years of experience working within the Montreal Jewish community. She served as Administrative Assistant at Federation CJA where she worked for the Director of the ProMontreal Department for many years. She also worked as Administrative Associate at the Cummings Centre where she worked for the Foundation Director for 8 years. Rhona joined Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in February 2021 where she currently serves as the Executive Assistant to both CEO, Mark Mendelson and Montreal Executive Director, Simon Bensimon.

For eight years, Rhona called Vancouver, B.C. home. She returned back to Montreal in 2020.

Rhona is married to Montreal native Andre Modugno. Her passion for working within the Montreal Jewish community comes from her father, Issies Veisfeld, Z’’L, who was known and loved for his long-standing contribution to the same community for as long as she can remember.

Rhona Veisfeld

Executive Assistant

Michelle Zaslavsky
Events/Experiences Coordinator and Administrator
Tel: 416-665-8054 ext. 20
Email: [email protected]

Michelle Zaslavsky was born in Beer-Sheva and immigrated to Toronto, where she acquired her Bachelor of Design degree from OCAD University. Michelle worked in public service, wearing multiple hats from community outreach, event planning and communications before ultimately joining Ben-Gurion University Canada in its mission to support Ben-Gurion University’s vital research in the Negev as an Events/Experiences Coordinator and Administrator.

Michelle enjoys playing tennis and exploring the City of Toronto’s parks.

Michelle Zaslavsky

Events/Experiences Coordinator 
and Administrator
Toronto
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