Santa Barbara Hillel is thrilled to welcome three excellent new staff members who will join our team in June. Jen Stone will serve as the Director of Student Life, Ben Kern as the IACT Coordinator for Israel Engagement, and Hannah Phelps as the Engagement Associate. Each brings unique skills and new excitement to their positions. Their bios are here:
Jen Stone is thrilled to be joining Santa Barbara Hillel as the Director
of Student Life. Jen grew up in Peabody, Massachusetts, right outside Boston all the way over on the East Coast! She attended Lesley University where she earned her Bachelor of Science in Expressive Arts Therapy, and then spent a wonderful, and warm, two years down in Tallahassee, Florida where she earned her Masters of Science in Higher Education Administration. For the past few years Jen has been working in a variety of settings within higher education and student affairs, including campus programming, residence life and housing, as well as Jewish student life. She has decided to take her passion for Judaism, college students, Israel, and warm weather; bundle it all together and turn it into a career!
Jen enjoys traveling, (she has been to 17 countries and keeps that list growing) all things Harry Potter, kickboxing, reading on the beach, creating and experimenting with new art techniques, trying out new recipes she finds from tasty videos and the Great British Baking Show, jamming out to the Maccabeats on repeat in her car, re-watching all 7 seasons of Gilmore Girls, and tries to get to NYC at least once a year to see a Broadway show! With her love of Judaism and the collegiate student experience, Jennifer hopes to continue to bring passion, creativity, innovation and fun into the Santa Barbara Hillel community on this new adventure on the West Coast!
Ben Kern is excited to be joining the Santa Barbara Hillel staff as the IACT Birthright & Israel Engagement Coordinator! Born and raised in northern New Jersey, Ben is a recent graduate of Rutgers University (go Scarlet Knights!) where he studied Business Management and Jewish Studies. Ben grew up going to URJ Eisner Camp, and later worked there for a summer. He credits camp with inspiring him and demonstrating the value of Jewish community.
At Rutgers, Ben was Israel co-Chair of the Hillel Student Board and an Intern for the David Project. He was a recipient of the “Bridge Builder Award” at the 2016 “Chancellor’s Student Leadership Gala” for initiating collaborative programming between Rutgers Hillel and a diverse array of other student organizations. Ben was a member of the Marching Scarlet Knights Drumline. He is also an amateur ukulele player, avid follower of Israeli politics, and travel enthusiast. Ben is thrilled to be moving out west to join the Santa Barbara Hillel family! He is especially looking forward to traveling to Israel with students and helping them find their personal connection to Israel and Jewish life.
Hannah Phelps is excited to start her first year with Santa Barbara Hillel as the Engagement Associate! A southern California native, Hannah grew up in San Diego before attending Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo to pursue a Psychology degree. Throughout her time as a Mustang, she was a part of the percussion ensemble, Orientation Team, and passionately involved in Jewish life. As a facilitator of Cal Poly’s Week of Welcome Orientation Team, Hannah trained students to lead and transition incoming freshmen to the campus. Within SLO’s Jewish community, she served on several student boards and found a home within Hillel. Her most meaningful times in college were spent working to help grow SLO’s small but mighty Jewish community!
Currently, Hannah is finishing up her role as a Psychological Research Assistant, working to perfect her latte art as a barista in a local coffee shop, and enjoying the rest of her senior year in SLO before moving to Santa Barbara. Staying true to her Californian roots, you can always find Hannah enjoying the sun and the outdoors! In her spare time, she’ll be at the beach, hiking, and exploring local thrift stores (and recruiting anyone to join along the way). Hannah is excited to join the Santa Barbara Hillel family and get students just as pumped about Hillel as she is!