Meet Our Staff

About UConn Hillel

Gary Jones

Interim Executive Director

“I am motivated by non-profit organizations that make a difference in the lives of the under-served and that improve daily living at the community level. Although the themes of social justice and respect for differences have concerned me since childhood, my enthusiasm goes beyond the issues of bigotry, prejudice and hate. It embraces quality of life issues in the areas of healthcare for the elderly and infirm, safety for children when they are in school as well as educational programs for people of all backgrounds, nationalities, beliefs, and religion.

“A new generation is quickly moving into the mainstream of our society—the millennial. They are our future and I believe that we all have a responsibility to create a society where their ideas and creativity have voice and where they can look forward to a prosperous future".

Jacqui Schulefand

Director of Engagement & Programs

Although Jacqui has experience in the business world, she comes to us after 16 years of teaching experience at Ezra Academy, a Jewish Day School in the New Haven area. She has held a number of roles in the school such as a Hebrew and Judaic Studies teacher, leader of the Girl's Rosh Chodesh Group and Track coach. She has also been a Bar and Bat Mitzvah tutor for many years. Jacqui and her husband Dean have two daughters, one who lives in Connecticut and the other in Tel Aviv. Jacqui likes to spend every chance she gets in Israel and has volunteered in the IDF for the past 5 summers.

Jacqui is grateful to work with university aged students as they take on leadership roles in the campus Jewish Community hopefully strengthening their ties to the larger Jewish communities once they graduate.

Mark Block

Director of Development

Mark has accumulated more than thirty years of professional and volunteer experience in Jewish communal affairs; in executive leadership positions, marketing communications and development.

Before joining UConn Hillel, he served over a decade with distinction and professional skill as the executive director of Congregation Rodeph Sholom, Bridgeport, CT, where he was honored with the congregation’s highest accolade, the Shem Tov (Good Name) Award and the synagogue’s Distinguished Alumnus Award among others. Additionally, Mark serves on the Board of Governors of the North American Association of Synagogue Executives (NAASE), is a Fellow in Synagogue Administration and a certified fundraising professional through the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP).

Prior to his synagogue career, Mark worked for nearly twenty years in Marketing Communications for Union Carbide Corporation and was recognized with numerous Community Service Awards, Corporate Chairman’s Awards and Marketing Communications recognition. He is most proud of his work spearheading the company’s National Environmental Achievement Award entry where UCC was recognized for presenting the first eco-friendly, recyclable binder for corporate, campus and personal use.

Working with an extremely dedicated group of volunteers, professionals and students to advance the Hillel mission, Mark is confident we’ll grow UConn Hillel together financially in ways that will ensure students for years to come will have a safe space to gather and socialize, explore their Judaism and create lasting memories and friendships'

Mark lives in Trumbull, CT with his wife, Ann. Their daughter, Emily is the Associate Director of Jewish Student Life of Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida. She is a former assistant director of UConn Hillel and UConn graduate.

Tom Barkan

Jewish Agency Israel Fellow

Tom hails from beautiful Kibbutz Merchavia, which is located in the northern part of

Israel where he was born and raised. After serving three years of combat duty in the

IDF's special paratroopers bomb squad, he became a security officer working on

maritime vessels. Tom has a Bachelor's degree in Communication from the

Yezreel Valley College, and he is currently writing his thesis on the subject of

branding terror organizations, in order to receive his Masters from the University of


Tom is very passionate about everything fitness related, especially powerlifting and

sports nutrition. He is a hardcore Bruce Springsteen fan, yet considers AC/DC as the

best band of all time. This is his first time coming to the United States, and he is very

excited to be working with Jewish-American, Israeli and non-Jewish students on what

he believes is his own personal calling, or in Hebrew – his own "Shlichut".

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Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford
cilcle logo with flame and United Jewish
Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford
Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven
UJA Greenwich
Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford

Also supported by the Storrs-Mansfield United Jewish Communities


UConn Hillel

Trachten-Zachs Hillel House

54 N. Eagleville Road

Storrs, CT 06268

Phone: 860-429-9007

Fax: 860-429-2344




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