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Keynote Speakers

East Coast Kallah

Bruce Levenson

Bruce Levenson

NBA team owner, business owner, philanthropist, BBYO alum

Bruce Levenson was born in Washington, DC, and grew up in Chevy Chase, Maryland. He was Aleph Godol of Brandeis AZA in 1966-67 and has been a long-time supporter of BBYO. Simon Atlas AZA is named for Bruce’s great grandfather. He and his wife, Karen, co-chaired the capital campaign for Congregation Har Shalom and are currently leading an effort to establish a School of Philanthropy at the University of Maryland. They have also led fund¬raising efforts on behalf of Birthright Israel, Jewish Federation, and Jewish Youth Philanthropy Institute. Bruce is a graduate of Washing¬ton University and American University Law School. In 1977, he co-founded UCG, a diversified portfolio of information companies. In addition to his work at UCG, Bruce is the lead owner of the Atlanta Hawks and a member of the NBA Board of Governors.


Dr. Rick Hodes

Rick Hodes

JDC Medical Director Ethiopia

Dr. Rick Hodes is the Medical Director in Ethiopia for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC). Initially arriving in the mid-1980s to help famine victims, he returned in 1985 to teach at Addis Ababa University Faculty of Medicine, and has worked for JDC since 1990. Since 1990, Dr. Hodes has overseen medical care for all immigrants from Ethiopia to Israel, managing medical clinics in Gondar and Addis Ababa, providing treatment, laboratory, immunization, nutritional support, family planning, and community health for tens of thousands of people. Dr. Hodes also participated in Operation Solomon, the historic airlift of over 14,000 Ethiopians to Israel in 36 hours. During more than 22 years with JDC, Dr. Hodes has also worked with refugees and victims of famine, war, and disease outbreaks in Ethiopia, Albania, Rwanda, Zaire (Congo), Tanzania, Albania, and Somalia. Dr. Hodes was inducted into the Medical Mission Hall of Fame in 2006, and the following year was selected as a “CNN Hero” in the “Championing Children” category. In 2008, the American College of Physicians awarded him the rare title of “Mastership,” in recognition of “exceedingly stellar career accomplishments.” He was ABC’s “Person of the Week” in 2010. He is the subject of the book This is a Soul, by Marilyn Berger, as well as the Sue Cohn Rockefeller documentary, Making the Crooked Straight, Sam Shnider’s documentary, Bewoket, and Melissa Donovan’s film Zemene (in progress).


Representative Chris Van Hollen

Representative Chris Van Hollen

Congressman Chris Van Hollen was elected to Congress in 2002 and quickly earned a reputation as an active, engaged, and effective member of the House of Representatives. He is a key member of the House Budget Committee, working to advance policies that support job creation and economic growth, reduce the deficit, and put America on a path to fiscal sustainability and broadly-shared prosperity. Throughout his career, he has been a champion of education, energy, the environment, health care, civil rights, and small business. The Washington Post described Congressman Van Hollen as a “bona fide budget expert” and Roll Call has noted that “Van Hollen gets near-universal respect from his colleagues for his intellectual firepower and combination of policy and political chops.”  Congressman Van Hollen is a tireless advocate for Maryland in Congress, and his leadership has helped secure vital federal investments in our community, including education, Chesapeake Bay restoration, transportation, the biosciences, and after school and anti-gang initiatives.  He is a leader in the fight for funding for education and affordable access to college. He has received the “Distinguished Service” award from the Committee for Education Funding and the “Excellence in Educational Advocacy Award” from the Maryland Executive Council for Educational Opportunities.


Rebecca Kantar

Rebecca Kantar

Founder and Chief Executive Officer of BrightCo

Rebecca Kantar is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of BrightCo, a startup that connects the world's top young talent with opportunities. BrightCo helps brands and investors understand a range of industries and subjects as perceived by the Millennial Generation. BrightCo offers access to a network of more than 400 young people worldwide.  Previously, Rebecca has served as the Chief Executive Officer of Minga, a nonprofit organization dedicated to combating the global child sex trade by harnessing the power of teens. Rebecca led Minga in raising $110,000 to educate and empower 10,000 youths. With Minga, Rebecca launched Stay 13, a campaign to involve the travel industry in helping to curb demand for sex with children in the U.S., preserving the American teenage experience.

For her leadership, Rebecca was awarded the TIME Magazine and Bentley University Tomorrow25 Award. Rebecca is a World Economic Forum Global Shaper, and sits on the Board of Directors for Run For America.

Rebecca is a thought leader on higher education reform. Rebecca spoke at StartUp Iceland, at Cisco Live, at the Dell Social Innovation Summer Institute, at the Nexus Global Youth Summit, at The United Nations 11th Annual Day of Youth, and at multiple TEDx Events.  Rebecca attended Harvard College and now lives in New York City and Los Angeles.

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