Lani Santo, Chief Executive Officer

Lani is the CEO of Footsteps, which supports and affirms individuals and families who chose to leave ultra-Orthodox communities in their quest to lead self-determined lives. The successor to Footsteps’ founder, Lani has driven the organization’s growth from a 3-person start-up with a $400,000 budget in 2010 to an established 501c3 with 28 staff, a program center in Manhattan with satellite programs in Rockland and Brooklyn, remote services across North America, and a nearly $5 million annual operating budget.

Under her leadership, Footsteps’ profile has expanded to reach the pages of The New York Times and the screen of Netflix, which debuted One of Us, an award-winning documentary about three courageous Footsteps members. Along the way, Lani has espoused a leadership philosophy that centers members, including representatives at all levels of governance and decision-making. During her tenure at Footsteps, Lani has also focused on collaborations, including the development of three flagship partnerships with peer organizations: New York Legal Assistance Group, Madison Strategies Group, and Moishe House.

Prior to Footsteps, Lani served as a Senior Program Officer at American Jewish World Service, where she focused on immersive international service-learning experiences for young adults. Lani is an alumna of Avodah’s Jewish Service Corps and served on the Avodah board from 2004-2013. She is currently a Wexner Field Fellow, sits on the UpStart Advisory Council, and was named to The Jewish Week’s ’36 Under 36′ list in 2015. Lani graduated from Barnard College and holds an MPA in Public and Nonprofit Management from NYU’s Wagner School. Lani lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two children.

Gali Zaborowski, Special Assistant

Gali joins Footsteps after freelancing as a theater maker, project manager, and virtual events coordinator. Her work with ReThink Theatrical helped bring free, innovative theater to her local community in Middlesex County, NJ. With Looking Glass Creative, she supported national conferences for the National Endowment for the Arts, NASAA, and NACEDA. She graduated from Rutgers University with a BA in Psychology and Women’s and Gender Studies. In her free time you can find Gali trying out vegetarian restaurants, finding new sunset watching spots, and petting as many cats as possible.

Program Team 

Hoda ElMahdy, Senior Director of Programs

Since 2008, Hoda has been serving marginalized and underserved people through her work with local and international NGOs and nonprofits. Prior to joining Footsteps, she was the Acting Manager for the Education and Scholarships Department at Sawiris Foundation for Social Development, where she oversaw a portfolio of 30+ higher education and vocational scholarship programs. During her tenure at Sawiris Foundation, she managed programs that provided development services to individuals struggling with poverty, unemployment, and access to quality education. She led projects with partner organizations in the Middle East, Europe, and USA, including the World Bank Group, the Swiss Academy for Development, and UNICEF. In 2017 and 2018, Hoda was a Fulbright fellow with Penn State University’s College of Education. In 2016, Hoda graduated summa cum laude with a master’s degree in public policy from the American University in Cairo 2016. She received her undergraduate degree in Pharmaceutical Science from Cairo University in 2008.

Tobi Erner, Director of Clinical Services

Tobi Erner brings to her work over a decade of experience as a clinician and advocate for survivors of complex trauma from marginalized, low-income communities. Her primary expertise is in gender-based violence, interdisciplinary social work, and working with multicultural communities, and she has previously worked in forensic, medical, outpatient, Family Justice Center, and shelter settings. Most recently, she served as the Senior Social Worker at Brooklyn Legal Services, providing holistic social work services to undocumented families in immigration proceedings. Prior to that, she was the Senior Social Worker in the Domestic Violence Project at Queens Legal Services where she provided individual and group clinical services, developed programs and community partnerships, and advocated for legislative change to support survivors of gender-based violence in achieving safety, justice, and healing. Tobi’s clinical philosophy is strengths-based, client-driven, and systems and trauma-informed. She strives to build therapeutic relationships that honor individuals’ self-determination and resilience and empower people to harness their innate capacities for transformation and healing. Tobi served on the Steering Committee of the Mayor’s Domestic Violence Taskforce and was awarded the 2019 Advocate of New York City. Prior to her career as a social worker, she worked as an organizer and managed grassroots campaigns for progressive causes across the U.S. Tobi received her Masters of Social Work from Columbia University and her B.A. in Gender Studies from New York University.

Mattie Liskow, JD, MSW, Family Justice Program Manager

Mattie Liskow graduated cum laude from New York University School of Law, where she was a Vanderbilt Scholar, a Florence Allen Scholar, and a recipient of the Ann Petluck Memorial Prize for her clinical work with the Federal Defenders of New York. Mattie also holds an M.S.W. from New York University’s Silver School of Social Work. Prior to joining Footsteps, Mattie was a Senior Staff Attorney at The Bronx Defenders in the Family Defense Practice. There, Mattie defended parents in child abuse and neglect, termination of parental rights, and custody proceedings in Bronx Family Court. While in law school, Mattie interned with the Knox County Public Defender’s Office defending adolescents in juvenile delinquency proceedings. While earning her M.S.W., Mattie interned at New York State Psychiatric Institute providing individual and group therapy to adolescents experiencing depression, anxiety, and obsessive compulsive disorder. Mattie received her B.A. from Wesleyan University.

Julia Jerusalmi-Henig, LCSW, Senior Social Worker

Julia is passionate about fostering warm, open and affirming spaces for individuals and communities. Julia joined Footsteps in 2015, and as the Senior Social Worker, she works to support prospective and current Footsteps members. Julia conducts initial meetings, facilitates peer support groups, and promotes Footsteps members’ integration with, and contribution to, the wider Footsteps community. Julia earned her Master’s degree in Social Work from New York University’s Silver School of Social Work in 2015. She also holds a Bachelor’s degree in English and Women’s and Gender Studies from Brandeis University.

Sophie Kaufman, LMSW, Senior Social Worker

Sophie first joined Footsteps as a Social Work Intern, and has returned with great excitement to take on the role of Senior Social Worker. She approaches the therapeutic process as a collaboration that enables safety in the space and works to help individuals harness their own capacity for integration and joy. Sophie has training and experience working with survivors of trauma and deeply believes in therapy as a tool for healing. Before coming to Footsteps, she managed a portfolio of economic empowerment programs as well as a team of direct service workers at a New York City non-profit. Sophie holds a Master’s degree in Social Work from NYU’s Silver School.

Alexa Cavallo, LMSW, Rockland Social Worker

Alexa is a devoted social worker and advocate for all people. She received her Master’s degree from New York University Silver School of Social work with high honors, and has continuing education credits in Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Alexa has extensive clinical experience working with families and children, but is passionate about serving people from all communities and backgrounds. Her experience has entailed working alongside individuals in both one-on-one and group settings. Alexa is compassionate, understanding, and committed to supporting her clients, but above all else she has a skill for making her clients feel heard and encouraging them to develop their own voice and sense of agency.

Goldie Junik, LMSW, Social Worker

Goldie has been a Footsteps member since 2014 and she is so excited to bring her lived experience and professional training to the social work role at Footsteps. Since graduating from the New York University Silver School of Social work, she has been working in private practice. In her role as a psychotherapist, she provided weekly therapy to individuals struggling with anxiety, depression, and grief, utilizing a mixture of cognitive behavioral therapy, psychodynamic, and person-centered therapies. Most importantly, she approaches her practice with a trauma-focused lens, this allows her to show up with compassion and without judgment. She has experience working with clients of various backgrounds and mental health challenges and has provided individual and group psychotherapy. Goldie is trained in Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART) and is currently training in Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy.

Chana Prus, Peer Connector

Chana has been a Footsteps member since 2014. While working in the special education field, she completed a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Hunter College. In July 2017 she co-founded Moishe House-Footsteps, where she hosted 7+ community based events a month for two years. In the role of Peer Connector, Chana hopes to continue building community by welcoming new and current members, helping them navigate Footsteps, and connecting them to each other and staff.

Zoë Loewenberg, Social Work Intern

Zoë joins Footsteps as a Social Work intern from NYU. So far in her social work journey, she has interned as a psychotherapist at the National Institute of Psychotherapies in Manhattan. Zoë has a background in program management in public interest law, non-profit work, and comedy radio. She is passionate about work that supports the right to self-determination and facilitates human connection. She holds a bachelor’s degree in American Studies from Yale University.

Zack Metzger, Social Work Intern

Zack joins Footsteps during his second year of the Masters of Social Work program at New York University. With a clinical focus on recovery from religious trauma, Zack is passionate about helping members live full, self-directed lives and brings additional training and experience in substance use management. Zack also has a previous background in filmmaking and other artistic pursuits, and seeks to offer an open, creative space that allows members to connect with themselves and others more deeply.

Julie F. Kay, Senior Legal Strategist (Consultant)

Julie F. Kay is the Senior Legal Strategist for Footsteps, where she provides legal consultation and referrals with a particular focus on protecting the parenting rights of people leaving the ultra-Orthodox community. Julie’s additional experience in litigation and policy initiatives to advance gender equity and human rights includes serving as an attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights, at Legal Momentum (the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund), as a Senior Strategist for the Ms. Foundation for Women. Julie was the lead attorney who designed and litigated the landmark abortion rights case ABC v. Ireland before the European Court of Human Rights on behalf of the Irish Family Planning Association. Julie received a B.A. in Women’s Studies and Social Studies cum laude from Harvard University in 1990, and a J.D. cum laude with a focus on public interest law from Brooklyn Law School in 1995. She is writing a book with Kathryn Kolbert, Controlling Women: What We Must Do Now to Save Reproductive Freedom, which will be released by Hachette in July 2021.

Chavie Weisberger, Director of Community Engagement

Chavie has been a Footsteps member since 2012, and a long-time supporter of the OTD community. Chavie will play a key role in building a network of those who have already made the transition out of ultra-Orthodoxy and are looking to be connected with Footsteps. She will be working closely with peer mentors, nurturing Footsteps’ online presence, and assisting in implementing leadership development programs.

Sarah Otero, Community Engagement Coordinator

A Footsteps member since 2013, Sarah knows and understands firsthand the challenges that OTDers face when leaving ultra-Orthodox communities. Sarah initially joined the Footsteps development team from 2014 to 2017, while simultaneously completing a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Purchase College. She has since begun a PhD program in Clinical Psychology at Pace University, where she will study the short-term and long-term consequences of religious disaffiliation. She has now returned as a the Community Engagement Coordinator, and is looking forward to working with members to create spaces where members can build connection and community with one another.

Rayne Lunger, Community Engagement Coordinator

Rayne joined Footsteps in February 2022 as the Community Engagement Coordinator. In this position she will expand the family programming offered by Footsteps and further develop opportunities for member engagement with a focus on creating space for connection and healing. As a parent and a Footsteps member herself, Rayne understands the unique and varying needs of Footsteps members at different stages in the process of establishing self-determined lives after leaving insular, ultra-Orthodox communities. Rayne is passionate about building sustainable communities and is deeply committed to human rights causes. Rayne brings a decade of operational and administrative experience to this role, as well as many years of experience in grassroots activism and advocacy.

Naomi Moskowitz, Director of Economic Empowerment

Naomi joins Footsteps with 15 years of experience in managing community relationships for nonprofit organizations. As a Footsteps member herself since 2013, Naomi is passionate about using her professional expertise to contribute to the Economic Empowerment team by strengthening and expanding relationships with agencies and stakeholders in order to enable members to pursue educational opportunities, find employment, and develop their careers. Naomi is also devoted to social advocacy and standing up for those who are not able to stand up for themselves. She has spent the past 5 years speaking publicly about issues relating to the LGBTQ community and the OTD community, and has provided strategic planning for marketing, development, and community outreach to agencies serving those populations. Naomi resides on Long Island with her partner and their 4 children. She is committed to providing her children with opportunities that she wasn’t afforded, having been raised in the ultra-Orthodox community.

Dave Ruder, Volunteer Manager

Over the past decade and a half, Dave has built a wealth of experience strengthening and growing non-profits in New York City. Most recently, he coordinated a large number of volunteers and counseled organizers creating local public art events as Deputy Director of the Make Music Alliance and supported artists and their work as Manager of Gold Bolus Recordings. Dave holds degrees from Brooklyn College and Wesleyan University.

Yomaly Suero, Economic Empowerment Program Manager

Yomaly is a Human Resources professional with over 12 years of experience providing one-on-one career coaching, resume writing, employer engagement, and strategic recruitment expertise within a variety of businesses and organizations. She is passionate about helping people achieve their professional development goals and finding their path to financial independence. Prior to joining Footsteps, Yomaly was the Senior Career Coach for seven years at a workforce development non-profit organization called Madison Strategies Group. At Madison Strategies, she created the foundation for all career advisement procedures across all the non-profit’s programs, lead many career readiness training initiatives, and cultivated employer relationships that helped hundreds of New Yorkers land gainful employment. Before switching to the not-for-profit sector, Yomaly served as a staffing firm recruiter and in-house recruiter for 5 years at a variety of businesses. Yomaly has a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Human Resources Management from Pace University.

Ophir Gilad, Economic Empowerment Program Manager

Ophir joined Footsteps in August of 2021, bringing their experience with community organizing, youth work, and program management to the role of the Program Coordinator on the Economic Empowerment team. Prior to working at Footsteps, Ophir worked at OutFront Minnesota supporting youth, educators, and parents in creating safe school environments for LGBTQ+ youth. Ophir attended Macalester College and has degrees in Political Science and International Studies. They are excited to be working with Footsteps’ members to help them access resources and support to be able to thrive!

Shanie Kalikow, Economic Empowerment Program Associate – Avodah Corp Member

Shanie joins Footsteps as an Economic Empowerment Program Associate through the Avodah Jewish Service Corps. Shanie is thrilled to be returning east, having spent the last four years in sunny Southern California at Pitzer College where they graduated in May 2022 with a degree in Religious Studies and Politics. At Pitzer, Shanie served as the Direct Action and Community Organizing Program Assistant at the Pitzer Community Engagement Center; helped found the Pitzer Community Fridge Collective; and co-led the independent student-led Jewish group on campus, Nishmat. Shanie brings these and other experiences in community building/organizing and resource distribution to their work at Footsteps, and is excited to learn new tools and tactics relevant to Footsteppers’ experiences from the amazing staff and members of the organization. Beyond thinking about and attempting to create communities where more of us feel free, Shanie loves to sing, paint, swim, and notice the usually unnoticed.

Communications and Field Building

Yael Reisman, Director of Field and Movement Building

Yael joined Footsteps in May 2018 as the organization’s first ever Director of Field and Movement Building. In this position Yael will work to raise Footsteps’ visibility in order to mobilize the public around reform efforts and issues of concern to those leaving ultra-Orthodoxy. She will also develop strategies for Footsteps to broaden its reach so that all those who wish to access the organization understand what Footsteps is about and what it has to offer. Yael grew up in the Orthodox community herself, and her own personal experiences there inspired her lifelong commitment to advocating for those who are forging self-determined paths. Yael is a passionate nonprofit professional with proven achievement in management and public policy. With nearly 15 years of experience, Yael has worked with various progressive nonprofit organizations, taking care to honor each organization’s culture and vision. Yael holds a Bachelor’s degree from Yeshiva University and a Master’s degree in Public Administration from NYU’s Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service.

Rebecca Krevat, Communications and Field Building Manager

Rebecca joined Footsteps in December 2021 as the Communications and Field Building Manager. In this position Rebecca will be focused on using digital media to connect the Footsteps community more closely, continuing to uplift the services that Footsteps offers, and facilitating member storytelling to the general public. Rebecca has almost a decade of experience in both non-profit and corporate communications, previously working at various organizations focused on reproductive justice and ending campus sexual violence, and most recently as a Social Media Strategist at an advertising agency. Rebecca is thrilled to be at Footsteps where she can apply her professional knowledge to support members as they seek to live self-determined lives. Rebecca holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English literature and sociology from the University of Maryland.

Rachel Szachara, Communications and Field Building Coordinator

Rachel joined Footsteps in 2019 as Executive Assistant to the CEO and is excited to continue her work with Footsteps as Communications and Field Building Coordinator. Rachel graduated from Muhlenberg College with a degree in political science and minors in creative writing and gender studies. Through her time at Muhlenberg and Footsteps, she discovered a passion for using creative design and storytelling to work towards positive change. She is eager to work with the Communications and Field Building Team to create platforms to share the unique voices of the Footsteps community with the world.

Chani Getter, Scholar in Residence

Chani is a licensed social worker, an interfaith minister, and a leader in the fields of personal growth and spiritual development. Chani has reached individuals and professionals in North America and Europe through a series of workshops, panel discussions, support groups, teachings and motivational speaking. Chani is committed to being a part of Footsteps, and knows first-hand the complexity of leaving the black and white world behind. Chani joined Footsteps in 2013 and served as the Program Manager for Rockland. Chani was instrumental in launching Footsteps’ Family Justice Program in 2014 and directed that program until 2020. Later as the Senior Director of Organizational Development, Chani led Footsteps’ effort to create a culture of appreciation and well-being for staff and all that they serve. Now as the Scholar in Residence, Chani is providing training and mentoring to deepen cultural competency and improve quality of service for our organizational partners as well as others who work with those in existing insular communities. Chani has a private practice in Bergen County, NJ


Stephanie Oster, Senior Director of Development

Stephanie Oster brings 18 years of fundraising experience in international humanitarian aid, and social and health services to her role at Footsteps. Most recently, as the Senior Development Advisor at the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), she secured revenue from private sources for groundbreaking treatments to eliminate African sleeping sickness and to revolutionize antiretroviral treatments for infants and children with HIV. As the Director of Major Gifts at the New York Women’s Foundation, she developed a major giving program that provided millions of dollars in annual investments to advance the economic security of low-income and vulnerable women and their families in New York City. From 2004 to 2015, Stephanie worked at Doctors Without Borders, where she helped grow their US annual budget from $150 million to $300 million in order to fund programs for victims of gender-based violence, armed conflict, natural disasters, epidemics, and childhood malnutrition. Stephanie holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Women’s Studies from Hunter College.

Sofia Cabrales, Development Manager

Sofia comes from the world of theatre management in New York and Miami and spent nearly a decade with several theatre companies, including LDK Productions in New York City, the University of Miami’s Jerry Herman Ring Theatre, and the National Alliance of Musical Theatre Festival in New York. Her experience working with folks from diverse backgrounds and her creative and humanitarian spirit has allowed her to transition into the world of Footsteps seamlessly. Sofia holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre Management from the University of Miami. When she’s not at Footsteps or at the theatre, she can be found playing guitar, camping, and spending time with her dogs.

Tiffany Ellington, Development Operations Manager

Tiffany has interned, worked, and volunteered for NYC and Westchester County nonprofits for over 15 years. Prior to being Footsteps’ Development Operations Manager, Tiffany was Pro Bono Partnership’s Development Manager, Finance and Development Assistant, and Program Assistant. During her 9 years at Pro Bono Partnership, she supported the organization in multiple departments including special events, program, finance, fundraising, and database management. Tiffany is currently a board member for The Association of Development Officers and a Nonprofit Westchester’s Emerging Leader Program committee member. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Manhattanville College.


Jessica Markowitz, Senior Director of Finance, Data, and Administration

Jessica Markowitz joined Footsteps in March 2020 as its first Senior Director of Finance, Data, and Administration. Jessica has spent most of her professional career in nonprofit management. Prior to joining Footsteps, Jessica served for over 20 years as the Director of Finance and Administration at Pro Bono Partnership. Jessica is a graduate of Purchase College and holds a Master of Public Administration with a concentration in nonprofit management from Baruch College.

Jenevieve Goldman, Operations Manager

Jenevieve joined Footsteps in 2020, bringing her experience in education and international program management to her role of Operations Manager. Prior to working at Footsteps, she helped students on their study abroad journeys at AFS-USA. In her spare time, Jenevieve volunteers with the New York Chapter of CISV, an organization that supports peace education through international and local programs. She attended Muhlenberg College and has a degree in Cultural Anthropology, where she learned there is no wrong way to be human. She believes that everyone should have access to a world of possibilities and the knowledge that their choices are their own.

Obed Done, Operations Assistant

Obed is a native New Yorker who has spent his last few years learning to expand his horizons and learn more about the world. He has worked as a Case Planner at SCO Family of services, where he developed strength-based treatment plans to better assist at-risk youth and their needs. Obed is also a co-director of MOSAIC Faces of NY Summer camp program that is funded and supported through the NY Chapter of the CISV organization. Running this free peace camp allows him to give back to the community and help others thrive. His Bachelor’s in Psychology has prepared him to be more empathetic, understanding, and supportive wherever life takes him.