Bob Kaplan, Founding Director

Rabbi Bob Kaplan is currently the founding Director of  The Center for Community Leadership,  a division of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York (JCRC-NY), the central coordinating and resource body for 62 major Jewish organizations in the metropolitan New York area.  Mr. Kaplan is involved in a variety of issues including conflict resolution, coalition building, interracial/inter-religious relationships, combating hate crimes, and community building. He has served on the Board of Habitat for Humanity- NY and Health Plus and currently serves on the Boards of the Lutheran Medical Center and the Lutheran Family Health Care Centers as well as the Board of the Center of Ethnic and Community Media at the City University of New York. Amongst the leadership initiatives he has founded are; YouthBridge-NY, the We Are All Brooklyn, and Queens, We Are the Bronx, Community Connections, and Haitian Leaders Fellowships.

Karen Lander, Managing Director, LMSW

Karen received her Bachelor’s of Psychology from Binghamton University in 2007 and her Master’s of Social Work from Wurtzweiller School of Social Work in 2009. Prior to joining JCRC-NY, Karen worked in an adult day program with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities offering them a comprehensive range of services to help them achieve the fullest quality of life. Karen joined JCRC-NY as a social work intern in 2008. She served as a community organizer for several NORCs (Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities), helping to launch numerous programs that continue to help older adults access community resources and lead a better quality of life. In 2011, Karen joined YouthBridge-NY as its Program Director, and she has been here ever since. She finds working with teens empowering and rewarding. Her mission is to make the world a better place and, through the efforts and dedication of its young leaders, she is fulfilling her dream at YouthBridge-NY. Karen was awarded the 36 Under 36 Award by the Jewish Week in 2017. Karen currently lives in Astoria, NY. She loves to cook and play video games.

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Rebecca Abrams, Program Coordinator

Rebecca received her Bachelor's degree in Public Policy from the University of Chicago in 2016.  She spent her college years actively involved in Jewish life, Greek life, and Political Advocacy on her campus, where she cultivated a passion for community work and youth engagement. Rebecca has worked for a variety of not for profit organizations over the past several years, serving as the Community Mobilizations Intern for Food Bank For New York City, the Israel Engagement Intern for UChicago Hillel and the JUF, and the Head of CIT Leadership and Programming at Ramah Nyack. During her free time, Rebecca can be found singing, cooking, and drinking all kinds of coffee. Rebecca believes that New York's diversity is one of its greatest strengths. She is incredibly excited to work with YouthBridge to empower teen leaders in the city she loves.