Meet the Friendship Circle Team

 

Rabbi Mordy Rudolph

Executive Director

Rabbi Mordy graduated high school at Yeshiva Schools of Pittsburgh, and studied in London, England, and Tzfat, Israel, before receiving his Rabbinic ordination from the Rabbinical College of America at Morristown. He initiated The Friendship Circle together with his wife Rivkee, in September 2006.

Rivkee Rudolph

Director

Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Rivkee Rudolph graduated from Yeshiva Schools, then studied at Seminary Chaya Mushka in Israel. She began her professional life as a pre-school teacher, first in Pittsburgh and then in New York. In 2006, Rivkee founded The Friendship Circle of Pittsburgh, where she has served as its Director ever since. She is singularly focused on and is largely responsible for Friendship Circles’s basic philosophy: all members are equally welcome and lines between abilities should be blurred as much as possible. Her commitment to executing this philosophy throughout the scores of programs and events FC sponsors has enabled the organization to become an integral part of both the Jewish and the general community in Pittsburgh. 

 

Sara Pelikan Cato

Director of Operations

Sara joined The Friendship Circle in 2018. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan and her Masters of Education in Early Intervention with a concentration in Special Education from the University of Pittsburgh. Sara is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. Her primary responsibilities include programming and administration support, mission engagement, staff development and overseeing daily operations. Sara enjoys being a part of The Friendship Circle family and elevating its mission within the Pittsburgh community.

 

Adina Waren

Program Director

Adina graduated high school at Yeshiva Schools and continued to study education at Beit Chana Teachers Seminary in Israel. She has much experience coordinating programs for summer camps and Hebrew schools before joining the Friendship Circle team in 2013.

 

 

Gila Zimbovsky

Office Manager

Gila joined The Friendship Circle of Pittsburgh in 2016 to continue her passion for social service. Before moving to Squirrel Hill in 2013, Gila worked in various communities in states such as Illinois, Florida, and New Jersey. Previously, she has worked for various organizations, including the University of Illinois Chabad Center for Jewish Life, The Friendship Circle of MetroWest New Jersey, and the Haifa Rape Crisis Center in Israel. Most recently, Gila has served the Pittsburgh Jewish Community through the Chabad of Fox Chapel. With The Friendship Circle of Pittsburgh, Gila is excited to be a part of our growing family and continue working to serve the local community.

 

Paige Eddy

Friends on the Town Coordinator

Paige recently moved to the great city of Pittsburgh from her hometown of Mount Laurel, NJ. In August of 2018, she graduated from Temple University with her Master’s Degree in Recreational Therapy. After interning for Baltimore City Recreation and Parks and co-leading a recreational group for Temple students with autism, she felt inspired to continue work in an inclusive community setting. Paige believes that people of all abilities should be brought together in their community through fun times and friendship.

 

Ann Grandinetti

Development and Community Engagement Coordinator

Ann was born and raised in the Pittsburgh area. She completed her undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Pittsburgh, and her master’s degree is in Public Administration and Non-Profit Management. Working at an organization like the Friendship Circle, which serves the community in such a vibrant way, is why she went to school for non-profit administration in the first place. She is ecstatic about this amazing opportunity!

 

Leighann Calamera

Grant Development and Communications Coordinator

Leighann grew up in the South Hills of Pittsburgh and graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a bachelor’s degree in English Writing. She worked as a paralegal and legal assistant for nine years before ultimately deciding to pursue a new worthwhile career. Leighann joined our team in 2018 and is thrilled to combine two passions of hers – writing and community service – in her grant writing and development position. She is thankful to be able to contribute in part to the incredible work FC does for the community and help support its mission of inclusion.

Emily Vogt

Adult Engagement Coordinator

Emily graduated from Goshen College in August 2017 with a degree in P-12 Education. She moved to Highland Park in September as part of the PULSE program, spending a year serving the city of Pittsburgh. Emily is so excited to serve at The Friendship Circle and to help further their mission of enriching the lives of all participants through mutually advantageous interactions.

 

Cara Paolicelli

Friendship Fellows Coordinator

Cara is placed at The Friendship Circle through an Americorps program called Pittsburgh Public Allies, which is sponsored by CORO Pittsburgh. She is from Chapel Hill, North Carolina and she graduated from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington in May of 2018 with a Bachelor’s degree in Recreation Therapy. Cara is very passionate about working with people of all abilities, and is motivated to work toward decreasing stigmas and advocating for inclusion in her community! Cara loves to eat sweets, shop at Tj Maxx, and hang out with her friends! She is planning on getting her Master’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh. She is looking forward to what is to come while she is the Office Assistant Coordinator at The Friendship Circle!

 

Drew Armstrong

Program and Members Support Associate

Drew joined the Friendship Circle team in January of 2020. He’s originally from Havertown, Pennsylvania which is a suburb of Philadelphia. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in the fall of 2019 with a Bachelor’s degree in Rehabilitation Science. Drew first came to the Friendship Circle as a member of the Program Staff and he’s so excited to be a part of the team!

 

Alyssa Marchitelli

Program Coordinator

Alyssa joined the Friendship Circle in the fall of 2019. She grew up in the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh, and then attended the University of Pittsburgh where she got her Masters in Applied Developmental Psychology. She has worked in a variety of settings with children and families, most recently working with toddlers in early childhood education. Alyssa is passionate about working with people of all ages and abilities, especially within the Pittsburgh community, and is excited to be a part of the Friendship Circle team!

 

Ayala Rosenthal

Teen Member Engagement and Partnerships Coordinator 

Ayala joined the Friendship Circle team in August of 2021. She grew up in Squirrel Hill and graduated from Yeshiva Girls High School in 2019. She is currently a student at Touro College, completing her Bachelor’s in Psychology. Ayala was a member at The Friendship Circle throughout her highschool years and was involved with leadership and advocacy within, and outside of, the organization. She is passionate about inclusion, mental health advocacy and empowering youth to take action and make change! Ayala is excited to be back as a staff member and continue to make close and meaningful friendships with our teen members and the greater FC community! 

 

Alexa Taylor

Friends at Home Specialist

Alexa joined the Friendship Circle team in September of 2020. She grew up in Middlebury, IN and moved to Pittsburgh in 2015 to obtain her Bachelor’s degree in Rehabilitation Science at the University of Pittsburgh. She is currently working on completing her Doctor of Occupational Therapy degree at the University of Pittsburgh. Alexa is passionate about inclusion and making sure people of all abilities have the opportunity to participate in meaningful activities and build lasting friendships. She started working with the Friendship Circle as a member of the Program Staff, and is excited to continue furthering the Friendship Circle’s mission in her role as the Friends at Home Specialist.

 

Megan Graybill

Program Specialist

Megan joined the Friendship Circle Team in November of 2020. She grew up in McAlisterville, PA but has lived in Pittsburgh for the past six years. Megan graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a Bachelor’s of Science in Rehabilitation Science in 2019, and is now continuing at Pitt to earn her Doctor of Occupational Therapy degree. Megan is passionate about friendship, creativity, and stepping outside the box to create new opportunities for people to participate in activities that they themselves are passionate about. She started at Friendship Circle as a program staff in 2019 and is excited to make lasting friendships and memories in her role as Program Specialist.

 

Grace Whited

Program Associate

Grace joined the Friendship Circle Team in September of 2021. She grew up in South Portland, ME and graduated from Vassar College with a degree in English and Psychology. She moved to Pittsburgh in August 2021 as part of the PULSE program, a year-long service opportunity, and was placed with The Friendship Circle. Grace is passionate about making education accessible for people of all abilities and creating spaces for people to tell their own stories. She is excited to be part of the Friendship Circle Team and can’t wait to make lasting friendships in the FC community!

 

Our Board of Directors

Professional Advisor

Dr. Laura Marshak

Chair

Alan Gordon

Vice-Chair

Aaron Morgenstern

Second Vice-Chair

Geri Cohen-Rect

Treasurer

David Khani

Vice-Treasurer

Joe Reschini

Secretary

Mollie Hanna Lang

Directors

Ruth Ann Crawford

Elyse Eichner

David Goldberg

Debbie Graver

Ina Gumberg

Kathy Klein

Natalie Moritz

Rachel Petrucelli

Andrew Rabin

Carol Tabas

Cindy Vayonis

Dr. Laura Voigt

 

 

 

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Recent blog posts

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