We are thrilled to announce the extraordinary humans that make up the 4th cohort of GatherDC’s Open Doors Fellowship.

GatherDC’s signature Open Doors Fellowship is an innovative initiative that brings together and trains self-proclaimed “people persons” to become go-to leaders, conveners, and facilitators of DC Jewish life.

Now in its fourth cohort, this 6-month fellowship teaches a group of 8-12 amazing young adults from across DC how to be exceptional relationship builders and create a more welcoming, inclusive local Jewish community. Fellows learn together at bi-monthly meetings, experience an immersive weekend long retreat, welcome DC newcomers to the city, and receive financial support to bring a unique capstone project to life – all while forming deep, lasting friendships with one another.

Say HI when you see these faces all around town, and use them as resources to help connect you to DC Jewish life.

Sign up to grab coffee with one of our fellows here!

Adam Ashkenazi

Adam grew up in Los Angeles, California and graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in Industrial Engineering. After graduating in June 2016, he moved to DC where he works at Capital One as a Business Analyst. In his spare time, he enjoys cooking, forcing his friends to play board games with him, and eating way too much fruit.

Harry Baumgarten

Harry is legislative counsel to a Democratic member of Congress. Prior to working on the Hill, Harry served as a voting rights attorney at a prominent DC-based non-profit. He holds a JD/MPP from Georgetown University and a BA in Middle East Studies from the George Washington University. In his free time, Harry enjoys hiking, traveling, reading, and yoga.

Blair Burnett

Blair has lived in Washington, DC since May 2016 working as a policy analyst for the Association of Community Cancer Centers, a healthcare nonprofit based out of Rockville, Maryland that works with cancer care providers across the country to ensure quality care for all patients. Blair was raised in North Carolina, and attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (or University of National Champions), so hometown pride, great food, and sweltering summers are a few of her favorite things. When she’s not working, you can find Blair eating and dancing her way around the District, attempting to attend every concert at the 9:30 Club, or buying plane tickets on a whim. Blair is excited to be an Open Doors Fellow and share the welcoming atmosphere that she found in this city when she moved here a little under two years ago.

Sarah Brennan

Sarah grew up in St. Petersburg, Florida and graduated from The University of Rhode Island with a degree in Communications in 2012. After graduating, she lived in Israel until 2016 where she got her M.A. in Government from the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya and worked as an Intelligence Analyst at Cycurtiy Ltd. She moved to DC in May 2016 and works at AIPAC on their Policy & Government Affairs team. In her spare time, she enjoys 305 fitness classes, horseback riding, and traveling.


Ben Cohen

Benjamin (Ben) moved to Washington, DC in June 2017 to pursue a career in Jewish community advocacy and public policy. He currently works for the National Coalition Supporting Eurasian Jewry, where he focuses on government relations, research, and translation. Ben originally hails from Southern New Jersey, but fled the East Coast to get his BA (and a short-lived tan) under the California sun at Pomona College. He studied international relations and Russian and Eastern European Studies, two subjects he put to use while completing a Fulbright research fellowship in Kyiv, Ukraine from 2016-2017. In DC, Ben is a member of the Anti-Defamation League’s 2017-2018 Glass Leadership Institute. In his spare time, Ben embraces his inner bubbe by cooking large amounts of food for his friends, and indulges his inner millennial by hiking, traveling, and exploring breweries, distilleries, and coffee shops. He speaks Russian and Ukrainian, but is especially excited to find a common language with anyone looking to contribute to the Jewish community in DC. For impromptu meetings, find him at Wawa on 19th Street. He’s there a lot.

Eli Feldman

Eli graduated with a degree in psychology in 2016 from Yale, where he spent most of his undergraduate hours working to improve student mental health on campus. In the near future, he plans to apply to Psychology graduate school to become a therapist. Eli currently works at The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), a non-partisan non-profit in DC. He is passionate about sports, music, coding, politics, free speech, Marvel movies, and tech. Eli hails from sunny Palo Alto, CA, and he now lives in Columbia Heights.

Danielle Kaplan

Danielle was born and raised in Northern Virginia. She graduated from Hofstra University with a degree in Television Production and Marketing. During college, Danielle was a Hillel broad member, founded the women’s intramural soccer club, and studied board in Israel. Returning to DC in 2011 she jumped into the Jewish young adult scene as a community board member to NOVATribe Series and Jnet. She is a marketing automation professional by day, Moishe House Northern Virginia (formally Arlington) resident by night. Outside of her Jewish involvement Danielle can be seen on the soccer field, walking a community members dog or at one of DC’s cultural events – especially the underground ones.

Lauren Katz

Lauren is a ​S​enior ​E​ngagement ​M​anager ​at Vox.com. She believes you miss 100% of the likes on the tweets you don’t send. When Lauren isn’t staring at a screen, ​she’s rowing on the Anacostia or biking around DC to discover the best spots for her gluten-free blog. A Northampton, MA, native obsessed with maple syrup, her favorite time of year is sugaring season. She’s ​traveled to 46 US states and ​loves to talk about road trips, national parks, and road trips through national parks.

Sam Magnes

Sam Magnes is a recent graduate of the University of Virginia, where she studied Economics and Public Policy, with a focus on International Affairs. She moved to the DC area this past fall where she has begun working in pro-Israel politics. As a Long Island native, Sam is still struggling with finding an adequate pizza place and bagel shop, but otherwise feeling right at home in DC! Her new city life involves visiting all of the DC museums, lots of yoga, and a goal to read 52 books in 2018! She loves getting into deep life discussions on almost any topic – so reach out if you feel like debating things like international politics or the best restaurants in DC. Sam is looking forward to deepening her involvement in the local Jewish community, and getting to know as many new people as possible!

Julia Ring

Julia is very excited to be an Open Doors Fellow! She has been living in DC since July 2016. Before that, she was just a hop, skip, and a jump away in College Park as a student at University of Maryland. She recently started working at an educational technology company called 2U. At the risk of sounding completely basic, some of her favorite activities are exploring DC (especially different restaurants), traveling, and reading. She also loves hosting Shabbat dinners and other events! Her dream job is either to be a talk show host or an SNL cast member (or both?! dream big.). She is very passionate about social justice, Maryland basketball, the oxford comma, and Diet Coke. She can’t wait to get coffee with you!

Ariel Simons

Ariel has been in the DC area for over five years, and works for a nonprofit organization supporting K-12 educators through professional development programming. She is passionate about connecting people, making a difference in her community, nerdy science facts, and finding good pizza. Her favorite activities include anything crafty, service projects, baking, exploring the outdoors, and long walks with her dog, Ladybug

Anna Smilow

Anna moved to DC from Connecticut in August 2017 after graduating from Yale with a degree in American Studies. In DC she works at a software company called Optoro, where she is part of a rotational program. Outside of work, Anna enjoys trying new recipes and restaurants, checking out museums and speaker events (RBG last week!), and attending comedy shows and plays. She is also on a mission to try every speakeasy in the city. Keep up with her food-related ventures at @foodyhadmelike. Anna is psyched to be an Open Doors Fellow and welcome more Jews to the local community!