DHIFI Board of Directors

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Meg Zucker

Meg Zucker is the Founder and President of Don’t Hide It Flaunt It (“DHIFI”).  Meg has a genetic condition called, “ectrodactyly” that she passed on to two of her three children.   A lawyer with over twenty years of experience in the field of anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism on Wall Street, Meg found her DHIFI calling in 2009 when her oldest son of three children was bullied on the playground in elementary school because of his difference.  Deciding to make “lemonade from lemons,” that experience created an opportunity for Meg to speak to students, teachers and other faculty at schools about the importance of unconditional acceptance of one another.  Fast forward, DHIFI is now a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that, among other things, partners with Scholastic Inc. to create “Flaunt It” related programming in schools.  Also, sharing DHIFI’s mission of empowerment and empathy, Meg has been both published and featured in national magazines (e.g., Parents) and newspapers and featured on television including Today (NBC) and The Learning Channel.  According to Meg: “What makes me, me is that besides the fact I happen to have one finger on each hand, one toe on each foot and shortened forearms, and two of my three children share my condition, I am also allergic to Kiwi.”


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Michael Kessel

Michael Kessel is an attorney with 20 years experience advising clients on all aspects of taxation, including not for profit and charitable issues. After leaving the practice of law, Michael joined an investment fund focused on real estate and lending. For the past 15 years, Michael has served as an adjunct professor at Rutgers University Business School.  According to Michael:  “What makes me, me is that I am a first generation immigrant and allergic to sulfites.”


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Beth Manes Lax

Beth is an attorney with over twenty years experience whose practice concentrates in Special Education Law, Special Needs Planning, Guardianships and Estate Planning.  Beth frequently speaks at community group meetings and corporate seminars on topics relating to education law and special needs advocacy. Beth is also the Immediate Past President of Planned Lifetime Assistance Network of New Jersey, Inc., an organization that provides lifetime advocacy for people with special needs.  In 2017, Beth was named a Super Lawyer for Education and Schools.  According to Beth: “What makes me, me is that I am painfully insecure and socially anxious. I live in constant fear of disappointing people, appearing less than competent, or failing in any perceivable way.”


Danielle Mirsky

Danielle Mirsky

Danielle is the Vice President of Marketing for Scholastic, Inc., the world’s largest publisher and distributor of children’s books and a leading provider of print and digital instructional materials for pre-K to grade 12. Danielle joined Scholastic in 1998 focusing on marketing and strategy across several lines of business. In 2007, Danielle left to start her own marketing firm, DM Direct Marketing, and worked with clients ranging from startup web companies to large corporations. Danielle returned to Scholastic in late 2011 to oversee the marketing, product development and digital initiatives for several educational product lines. Danielle is passionate about the work at Scholastic, where the company’s core mission is promoting literacy and academic achievement. Danielle lives in NJ with her husband, two sons, and her beagle.  According to Danielle: “What makes me, me is my kids have a pronounced stutter. As a mother, you feel their daily challenge to communicate. I reinforce to them that what we say is more important than how we say it. And they have taught me how to talk less and listen more.”


Jill van Dyk

Jill van Dyk

Jill van Dyk moved to Southern California from Houstom, TX in 1983 and established a successful career in marketing and advertising.  She began at Chiat Day Advertising and subsequently worked for two subsidiaries of Interpublic Group, before spending a number of years at boutique agencies including The Motta Company, where she was an account supervisor serving in high end real estate development. Jill also actively volunteers in a number of capacities for local schools in CA, as well as supporting her husband’s efforts in outreach to patients battling blood cancer. When time permits, she can be found attending bootcamp on the beach or hanging out at the Santa Monica Pier with her kids.  She lives in west Los Angeles, CA with her husband Nick, daughter Parker, son Carson and two cats Jasper and Bullwinkle. According to Jill: “What makes me, me is I am a mother who is a passionate advocate of my daughter, a young lady who was born with a genetic retinal disorder called cone dystrophy, which has resulted in her near blindness.”


John Zucker

John Zucker

John is an attorney in New Jersey focusing on Elder Law (guardianship, long-term care planning and special needs).  Prior to joining a law practice, John worked in public affairs and crisis communications at an international public relations firm in New York.  He has a background in public policy having spent several years working as a policy advisor on Capitol Hill and later for the Chairman of the Anti-Defamation League.  His public policy experience focused on advancing human rights and promoting tolerance and respect for people’s differences, domestically and internationally.  According to John: “My difference probably lies more in my role as husband and father of individuals who wear their physical differences on their sleeves and therefore will have very different life experiences than I had. Oh, and I was born with only three lower front teeth instead of four. So there’s that. ”


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Dr. Christina Bender

Christina has focused her career on Commercial Strategy in Oncology for the past 25 years, and currently serves as Global Oncology Exploratory Biomarker Lead at Bristol-Myers Squibb. She holds a Ph.D. in the Molecular Biology of Cancer, and she has enjoyed numerous technical and/or business roles in the Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical industries. All her positions have shared a theme related to the advancement of Precision Medicine (i.e., identifying genes linked to disease, or developing genetic tests for therapies that can be brought to global markets). She also volunteers in her local community, serving on the Board of the FC Berna youth soccer club.  According to Christina: What makes me, me is that I am a minority as a mother of 4 children, in the male-dominated scientific field of Biochemistry. I also have enjoyed the cultural diversity of living abroad in Europe with my family for several years on multi-national professional assignments, with close relatives in Greece, Cyprus and Germany.”


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Dr. Nelly Farnoody-Zahiri

Nelly is the Executive Director of the Global Education Institute and author, keynote speaker, and Licensed Clinical Psychologist specializing in working with Cross-Cultural Families. She is the founder of the International Center For Peace Learning and the producer and host of the family show MomTalk LA TV On-Line and at Andisheh TV.  According to Nelly: What makes me, me is that I am a first-generation immigrant from the Middle-East and was raised in an interfaith family…I am also a tireless advocate for women’s rights, children’s rights, and peace through social-emotional learning – which I put into practice every day with my own 3 kids as well as my work in the field.”


 

Ben Sacks

Ben Sacks has spent his career working at the intersection of technology, finance, and public policy. He is currently the Head of Growth for the airports team at Lyft, where he focuses on the company’s marketplace operations at airports across North America. Ben previously worked at Barclays and Booz Allen, where he developed financial models for city and federal agencies in various capacities, and in a prior life, worked on political campaigns across the country. He graduated from New York University and earned a master’s degree in economic policy from the London School of Economics. Originally from Rhode Island, he currently lives in San Francisco and in his free time, enjoys hiking, reading, and spending time with his fiancée. “What makes me, me is that I have a brother with severe autism, whose life and experiences have shaped my interest in helping others.”


Elizabeth “Liz” Svatek

Liz Svatek is the Founder of The Warrior Moms, an online community of Moms who are looking to laugh, learn and be inspired. She showcases Moms doing amazing things in their communities as well as Moms who have been in the trenches and have tips and advice. In addition, for the past 15 years, Liz has honed her skills in Marketing, Branding and Social Media working with celebrities like Ariana Grande, Paul Stanley from KISS and Chef Fabio Viviani. After 8 years on the board of the Junior League of Los Angeles, Liz is excited to join DHIFI. Liz’s son Landon was born with right arterial thrombosis and has had over 30 surgeries to continue to improve his right arm. Having a son who has his differences on the outside has caused Liz to be more vocal about her own differences. “What makes me, me is that I have an incredible son who has a lot of physical challenges, I have a passion to help and connect Moms, and it took in vitro to have my son, but only a few Mojitos to have my daughter!”