Alumni Spotlight

May 2017

Fred Shapiro, Class of 1953

Looking back at my time in Queens College is always gratifying. Queens in the period 1949 to 1953 was a small college, about 3,000 students. Faculty members were frequently friends as well as teachers. Standards were high. In addition to your courses, four comprehensive tests were given. You had to pass those as well to graduate. Student activities provided another dimension to your college experience.

If I were to summarize briefly what my QC education provided to me as a boy who had grown up in an orthodox Jewish community, it was an excellent education that also conveyed the Jewish concern to serve the community. In addition to classes, community activities such as serving as class President, Student Council,  the SAO Board , the various teams and clubs all presented an opportunity to  add to life on campus.  At the same time, it enabled you to learn that more can be accomplished by working together as a  team rather than as an individual. This was true on the soccer field,in Student Council, or working on the newspapers or other publications including your senior yearbook.

As I look back at my professional career in manufacturing and as a management consultant, I credit the values as well as the education I received at QC for my success. Inherent to that was the desire to serve my industry by participating in industry associations and then offering my time without compensation for Federal programs designed to assist firms overseas in strategic planning and compliance with environmental concerns. And that too was based on what I learned at QC – surround yourself with people who can bring their specialties to the projects, to provide the knowledge needed to help others achieve their goals. Something you, on your own, would be limited to accomplish.

Since moving to Leisure World in 2003, I have served as Religious Chair and President of the Jewish Residents of Leisure World, am a Board member of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Washington DC, and currently President of the Center for Lifelong Learning of LW. It was only lately, that I learned of the QC  Latin motto – “We learn to serve.” Very true in my case.


February 2017

Beth Moses, Class of 1973

After graduating early from high school, Beth began her time at Queens College in the spring of 1970, with plans to transfer to a different school the following semester. However, after making many friends and loving her classes, she decided to stay, and eventually met her husband at Queens College. They married the summer after graduation.
After graduating from the Fordham School of Social Work, she began her career in social service research and program planning in addressing issues of poverty, child welfare, aging, criminal justice, and addiction.
Today, Beth is involved with the Board of the Queens College Hillel, and sees Hillel as an important vehicle to enable Jewish students to be able to identify and address anti-Semitism, stand up for being Jewish, and work bridging the gaps with other religious groups.

December 2016

Bill Aronoff, Class of 1974
Carol (Weinstein) Aronoff, Class of 1976

Bill and Carol Aronoff met at a Queens College Hillel event in 1971. Carol was a freshman and Bill was a sophomore. Bill was a chemistry major, served as the Queens College Hillel President from 1973-1974, and made it his priority that Hillel felt like home for the Jewish community on campus. Carol was a history major and considered herself as "minoring in Hillel” because of her involvement with Jewish life on campus. During their time at Queens College, Carol and Bill remained best friends, but soon after graduating their relationship blossomed into much more. They married in December of 1979.

Following their Jewishly active college careers, Carol and Bill became and remained involved in their local Jewish community. Carol is the current sisterhood president at the Young Israel of Lawrenceville, NJ, has worked at the JCC Princeton Mercer Bucks and the Abrams Hebrew Academy in Yardley, PA, helping to organize Young Israel’s participation in Jewish Heritage Night with Trenton Thunder, a New York Yankees-affiliated minor league baseball team. Bill and Carol have both previously served on the boards of the Young Israel of Lawrenceville. Bill also served on the board of the JCC Princeton Mercer Bucks, the Jewish Federation of Princeton Mercer Bucks, and he runs his own laboratory equipment company.

Carol and Bill currently reside in New Jersey and have two sons and a daughter-in-law. They enjoy going on cruises, attending science fiction and mystery conventions, and are involved with the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Registry. They are thankful Queens College Hillel brought them together and are still in touch with many friends they met throughout their time on campus.  Their wish is that Queens College Hillel remains a place where Jewish students can meet and have a safe community, and are excited to see the leadership students bring to the broader Jewish population.

September 2016

Andrew Scharf, Class of 2012

As a successful entrepreneur, Andrew Scharf has started and invested in many businesses across a variety of industries. His passion for business blossomed when he stepped foot on the Queens College (QC) campus, where he launched his first successful venture. He was immediately recognized by his professors and fellow peers for his strong business acumen. Andrew, a natural multi-tasker, proficiently managed his workload as an accounting major while simultaneously developing a large private business. As a result of his business growth, he was featured on the cover of the Queens College school newspaper.

Andrew has always balanced his business pursuits, his academic studies, his social life and his strong sense of community service. Andrew has been heavily involved with the QC Hillel as well as a number of other organizations. He has participated in many Hillel fundraising campaigns and has attended countless Hillel events. QC Hillel has helped him maintain a strong Jewish identity as well as a love for the State of Israel and the Jewish people. He shares his strong connection to the QC Hillel with his wife, Jenna Scharf (class of 2012), whom he met for the very first time at a Hillel Friday night prayer service.

As an upper classman, Andrew was selected to represent Queens College as an Ambassador of the school. Among his responsibilities, he led tours to prospective students and their parents. One of the great selling points to these prospective students was when Andrew was able to introduce them to the warm atmosphere at the QC Hillel and the thriving Jewish life on campus.

Andrew feels blessed for having experienced so much business success at such a young age. He was acknowledged in a Bloomberg write up for having rapidly increased his company’s sales in record time but he still feels that his greatest accomplishment is having had the opportunity to give back to his community by creating numerous employment opportunities for others.

Andrew is proud to have recently become a member of the Queens College Hillel Maccabee Club and is an active supporter of the Young Israel of Forest Hills, Ohel, Republican Jewish Coalition, Friends of the IDF and many other philanthropic causes.

June 2016

Alan Van Capelle, CUNY Class of  1997

Alan received his B.S. degree in public policy from the City University of New York, the honors program before the Macaulay Honors College was established. He took the vast majority of his classes at Queens College.

Originally from Commack, Long Island, Alan moved to Bellrose, Queens to live with his grandmother and attend college. As a student, Alan managed to work full-time and be an active member of the Queens College campus community. He was the Vice President of the Student Association, served on the Academic Senate, sat on the Student Union board of directors, and was an active member of Queens College Hillel. It was at Hillel that Alan learned to daven (pray). Queens College “was a place I rediscovered Judaism, and Hillel was a huge part of it.” He helped organize a memorial service for assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, and was also part of the student Hillel delegation that greeted Elie Weisel when he came to campus.

After graduating, Alan spent time in the labor movement, dedicated eight years to running the Empire State Pride Agenda, was a Deputy Controller in New York for two years. He was a primary architect of the fight to win marriage equality for same sex couples in New York State, and is a nationally recognized civil rights leader. He also oversaw the merger that created Bend the Arc - the country’s largest Jewish social justice organization focusing on domestic issues. While at Bend the Arc, he was invited by Dr. Martin Luther King’s family to represent the American Jewish community at the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington.

In 2015 he became CEO of the Educational Alliance, which serves over 50,000 New Yorkers. “I care about three things: Issues about equality, issues about justice, and New York. When the three come together in the same place, I’m a happy guy.” Today, Alan lives with his partner and two children on the Lower East Side.


 March 2016

Daniel Tavakoli, Class of  2008

Daniel received his B.B.A. in corporate finance from Queens College, his M.B.A. from the University of Rochester Simon Business School, and his J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center.

As a student at Queens College, Daniel was an active member of Hillel and helped re-establish the Queens College chapter of the Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity. Off campus, Daniel was a firefighter and EMT at the Great Neck Vigilant Fire Company. Daniel's experiences with Hillel highlighted the importance of this organization in keeping the Jewish spark alive across the diverse Jewish student body at Queens College. It is because of his overwhelmingly positive experiences as a student that Daniel decided to join the Board of Directors of the Queens College Hillel as a UJA Observership Fellow.

He is currently a corporate associate at Kirkland & Ellis LLP, an international law firm, where he works on public and private mergers and acquisitions. Daniel is also on the New York Young Leadership Council for AIPAC and actively involved in the Chabad Young Professionals of the Upper East Side. Daniel is also a UJA Shapiro Family Fellow for the Class of 2016-2017.


December 2015

Joan Friedman Loren and Allan Loren, Class of 1960


Joan and Allan met each other at the end of their sophomore year and both graduated Queens College in 1960. They got married a week after graduating and have been married for 55 years! Joan was an education major and taught for five years in the Washington, D.C. area. After receiving her MBA from Temple University, Joan devoted her work to diverse nonprofits, including the JCC Manhattan where she ran the Ulpan program, and the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ where she was involved with special projects for the Jewish Community Foundation.

As a math major, Allan was one of the people hired to set up the first computer for the National Institutes of Health at a time when the computer field was in its infancy and “computer science” didn’t exist as a course of study at Queens College. Since then, Allan has dedicated his career to the management of technology, which provided opportunities to live in many places in the United States including Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Chicago, Silicon Valley in California, New Jersey, and New York City, where they currently reside.

Today, Allan is a member of the Queens College Foundation and coaches CEO’s.  Joan sits on the board of directors for Queens College Hillel and Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), working to move children from foster care to safe, permanent homes.  She is also a member of the Network Commission’s ACE Committee of UJA-Federation.  Both Joan and Allan have joined the Queens College Jewish Legacy Society. They are the proud parents of three sons, and have eight grandchildren!



September 2015

Jackie Shapiro, Class of 2012

It took some time for me to develop a connection to Queens College. I came to the school as a transfer student and like many commuters, I wanted to spend as little time on campus as possible.  I graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in Psychology and minored in Student Services and Counseling. During my time on campus, I was an active participant in the Peer Counseling program and served as a social-personality psychology Research Assistant for two years, focusing primarily on adult attachment and relationships. I never set foot in Hillel.

After I graduated, I attended Columbia University's School of Social Work, where I was exposed to the Jewish nonprofit world through an internship at UJA-Federation of New York.  It was there where I became interested in pursuing a career in the field upon my graduation, and also met Uri Cohen, Queens College Hillel's Executive Director, who came to speak about the great work being done on campus and in the local community. I was immediately drawn in, and for the first time, I realized what a missed opportunity it was!

When I got word Queens College Hillel was looking to add fundraising staff, I knew it was my calling.  Now with great pride, I sit in the role of the Associate Director of Development, to ensure Queens College Hillel continues making a positive impact on campus and in the Jewish community at large. Not only am I able to advance Queens College Hillel, but it is also one of the ways I am able to give back to the Jewish community.


 June 2015

Muriel Goldberg, Class of 1956

"It seems like I have always had some connection to Queens College, through the Alumni Association, my sorority friends, and my first trip to Europe with other alumni.

My connection was, however, not through Jewish life. My studies were all important - I was a French major and an English minor. I graduated Phi Beta Kappa and passed my French exam with distinction. My career never included French but I can order a meal in a French restaurant.

My life at Queens as a child of immigrant parents made me realize the importance of providing this wonderful education and Jewish life for the young people going forward.

It has been a privilege to serve on the Board of QC Hillel and continue to see this Hillel further blossom. That is why I am making a legacy commitment."

Muriel has served on the Queens College Hillel Board of Directors since 2005, and served as President from 2009-2012, and is assuming the Presidency again for 2015-16. She and her late husband Bernie have been very involved with Queens College since their days on campus, and that commitment continues to this day. Muriel is one of the founding members of the Queens College Jewish Legacy Society, having made a legacy commitment to Queens College Hillel.



March 2015

Keith Peckman, Class of 2000

Keith graduated Queens College in December of 2000 with a major in Physical Education. During his first two of years of school he participated as manager of the Men's Basketball team, and was a member of the campus theatre group during the off-season, all while commuting every day from his parents’ home in Long Beach, NY. His introduction to Jewish life on campus came early on when he had a large gap of time between classes and made his way to QC Hillel in the Student Union Building. He became an active member, serving as Intramural Sports chairperson and then as VP of Social Events. Hillel became such a second home that it was not uncommon to pull back a table cover and find Keith catching a nap. He participated in evening talent shows, joining Tizmoret (Hillel's Jewish a cappella group), organized basketball fundraisers and was one of the leads in a Hillel-funded musical. His most fond memories are of time spent with his fellow QC students in Israel during one of the very first Birthright trips, and of all the great times he spent with his two best friends, with whom he remains close to this day.

After graduation, Keith’s fond association with Jewish campus life inspired him to pursue a JCSC (Jewish Campus Services Corp.) fellowship through Hillel at Duke University, where for eighteen months he organized programs to engage Jewish students on and off campus. He returned home to a job as physical education and health teacher in Park Slope, Brooklyn. It was while living in Park Slope that he met his wife Rebecca on JDate! They now reside in Highland Park with their three young children.

In February of 2007 Keith accepted an offer for a regional sales job with Cingular Wireless, which later became AT&T. There, he progressed into Enterprise Accounts then Business Development and later into a specialist for Mobility Applications and Advanced Solutions. Keith leveraged his expertise to gain his current role supporting mobile solutions for the software company CA Technologies.

Keith and Rebecca remain committed Jews to this day, regularly participating in their local Jewish community.



December 2014

Steve Schwager, Class of 1970

Steve graduated Queens College in September 1970. He majored in Accounting and was active in campus life serving as a member and subsequently President of Alpha Phi Omega, the National Service Fraternity. In those days, Queens was strictly a commuter school with both large day and evening enrollments.

While Steve was not particularly active in Jewish Life on campus, he did find his future wife, Linda at Queens. Linda, in fact, was a member of Hillel. Today’s massive Student Union Building did not exist and Hillel was located off campus in an old house. The Schwagers have three sons and seven grandchildren.

Steve later became a Certified Public Accountant in New York and New Jersey and his work career took him to a series of jobs in New York State and New York City Government. He served as the Chief Auditor of the City of New York and the Chief School Business Official of the Board of Education. In 1989 he made a career change and became the CFO of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. After two years he was promoted to the position of COO and in 2002 he became the Executive Vice President and CEO. The Joint is the overseas arm of the American Jewish community and operates in over 70 countries across the globe providing Relief, Rescue and Renewal of Jewish Life. During Steve’s tenure the Joint’s activities expanded rapidly and today it serves over 200,000 Jewish elderly and 30,000 Jewish children at risk. The joint was the best job in the Jewish World. As Steve puts it, “There was always lots to do. It was big enough to keep me busy all the time and small enough that I could reach out and change a single person’s life.”

Steve retired from the Joint in 2013 and was appointed by President Obama to be one of 10 advisors on the President of the United States Global Development Council. “Now I am using my expertise to make the world a better place.”

Steve joined the Queens College Hillel Board in 2014.


September 2014

Robin "Sippy" Laster, Class of 2010

Sippy graduated QC in January 2010; majored in Sociology and minored in BALA. She was heavily involved in Jewish life on campus, particularly with Israel activism. After spending some timed educating herself about such activism in high school and with a year and a half of study in Israel, She really wanted to give back to the community by serving as a leader on campus in Israel programming through Hillel.

"When I first started QC in January 2007, there were 2 Israel organizations on campus, ZOA and Yavneh Olami. There was a small group of a few very passionate people on the boards of both organizations. We thought that if these two organizations were to combine their efforts they could maximize their potential.
In collaboration with the Student Union and the Hillel we formed one centralized Israel organization; ISA - Israel Students Association. By creating one centralized Israel organization, we felt we could better use our resources to educate students on campus about Israel. We held weekly meetings with 10-15 active organizers in attendance, and held some great programs aimed at informing students about Israeli current events, culture, life, history, politics, etc. It’s very exciting for me to see the ISA is still going strong."
Sippy works at JP Morgan in Compliance Training, and has been in this role for about 7 months following two and a half years there in Executive Recruiting. "The work is challenging and exciting and I feel blessed to have such great colleagues and mentors. I’ve kept in touch with a few professors over the years, and that has been very helpful. Network network network! The most valuable thing you can do is forge relationships in your college and professional life, and keep them up. You never know when your professors’ second connection on LinkedIn will connect you to the person who hires you for that dream job."


The Alumni Spotlight is an opportunity for alumni to reconnect and share their QC experiences. Want to be featured in the next Spotlight? Contact Uri.

© 2018 Queens College Hillel