Rabbi Renee Bauer


Director of Chaplaincy and Outreach

As Jewish Social Service’s director of chaplaincy and outreach, Rabbi Bauer provides the Jewish Social Services community with a Jewish spiritual presence and coordinates outreach and training for the Refugee Resettlement Program. Rabbi Bauer earned a B.A. in history and Judaic Studies from Brown University in 1996 and was ordained as a rabbi by Reconstructionist Rabbinic College in 2005. She served as executive director of the Interfaith Coalition for Worker Justice of South Central Wisconsin for 9 years before coming to Jewish Social Services in 2016.  She also served as rabbi Congregation Mayim Rabim in Minneapolis from 2004-2011. Rabbi Bauer did her original chaplaincy training at the Bay Area Jewish Healing Center, an organization with which she continues to receive consultation and training.

Paul Borowsky


Volunteer Coordinator

Paul Borowsky began as the volunteer engagement coordinator in 2016. Paul was the director of the West Madison Senior Center where he recruited over 100 volunteers. He has also done extensive outreach with Second Harvest Food Bank and the FreshMobile. Paul has his Master of Education and Master of Social Work degrees from the University of Illinois-Urbana, and a Master of Cultural Anthropology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Benjamyn Deneen


Benjamyn grew up in Evansville, WI. Before joining the JSS team, he worked for the International Organization for Migration and was part of Operation Allies Welcome and Operation Allies Refuge at Fort McCoy. He also worked for the Wisconsin Army National Guard and as a self-employed blacksmith and metal worker. He attended UW-Stout for Art Education and is a creative person at heart. He enjoys making sculptures and furniture, drawing, architectural and mechanical design, and being outdoors in the remote wilderness.

Mohammad Din Hijizada


Mohammad Din Hajizada was born in 1997 and raised in the Kabul province of Afghanistan. He received his bachelor’s degree in English Language at Kabul University of Afghanistan in 2018. He worked at Ataraud Institute in Afghanistan for seven years, serving as a manager, senior advisor, and CEO. He also worked for MEP (Mission Essential Personal) as a linguist. In addition to receiving His university degree, he took part in financial management, financial crises, and management trainings held by the USAID (U.S. Agency for International Development) in Afghanistan in 2015. He has trained finance and branch managers in developing their finance and management skills to achieve their organizations’ goals. He has full knowledge of English, Pashto, Dari, and a little bit of Arabic, and is fully familiar with the management skills and training employees in the same field.

Maya Garbuz, MSSW, CISW


Case Manager

Maya Garbuz holds a Bachelor of Education from Lobachevsky University in Russia and Master of Social Work from UW-Madison. For the last 10 years Maya worked as a Lead Case Manager at Bridges for Families, providing services to families with children with disabilities.

Maya began working as a case manager for JSS in November 2016. She provides services to seniors supporting them in applying for benefits and housing, assisting with referrals to community agencies, and advocating with landlords, various benefit programs and utility companies.

Maya also holds certification in Sleep Consultations for children, adolescents and adults that she received a few years ago and she enjoys giving presentations on developing healthy sleep habits for people of all ages.

Gilbertine (“Gigi”) Harerimana


Case Aide

Gilbertine (“Gigi”) Harerimana is a Burundian native who is fluent in Kirundi, French, and Swahili. In 2005, she received her technical diploma in management from a school in Bujumbara. For six years, she lived in The Dzaleka Refugee Camp in Malawi, where she worked as a child minder for The Resettlement Support Center Africa. She also worked with various ministries as a reconciliation facilitator.

When Gilbertine moved to Madison in 2018, she worked as a Special Education Assistant for The Madison Metropolitan School District. She is currently a student at Madison College, where she studies Early Childhood Education. In her free time, she enjoys music and dance. She lives with her husband and three children, two boys and one girl. She is very excited to join the JSS team and we are equally excited to welcome her!

Christina Kantor


Program Assistant

Christina has a background in public and community health. After working as a full-time domestic engineer for several years, she is delighted to be working as a program assistant at JSS of Madison. She enjoys knitting, spending time with family and her cats, and she loves homegrown tomatoes.

Jim Mackman


Development Associate

Jim brings over 20 years of experience working in the nonprofit social services sector to his role at JSS. He was formerly a psychiatric case manager at SOAR Case Management Services and Tellurian UCAN Inc., a clinical specialist on the Dane County Jail Mental Health Team for Journey Mental Health, and a treatment specialist at Oakhill Correctional Institution. Jim has also served as a behavioral health group facilitator for multiple programs. Immediately before coming to JSS in 2015, Jim was a regional manager at ATTIC Correctional Services. He is very passionate about the work of JSS and is constantly moved by the beautiful things that the organization does to help improve the lives of people in our community.

One of Jim’s many hobbies is gardening. He created and maintains the beautiful garden in front of the Max Weinstein Jewish Community Center because he wants everyone who visits the building to be greeted by the comforting beauty of the plants.

Gretchen Patrisio


Preferred Communities/Refugee Resettlement Case Manager

Gretchen joined JSS in March 2019 as a case manager for the new Preferred Communities Program, expanding refugee support services within JSS. She has worked in social services with diverse populations in Madison for over 13 years. She earned her B.S. in Human Services from Edgewood College. Gretchen has a passion for working with refugees, immigrants and serving the community. She enjoys running, yoga, and travel. She strives to be a self-care guru and believes that laughter is the best medicine.

Ari Pollack


Resettlement Community Outreach Coordinator

Ari Pollack grew up in Madison and is a proud alumnus of Gan HaYeled Preschool. Some time after Gan, he graduated from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts with a degree in Drama. Ari has worked in housing and company management for several theatre companies, including American Players Theatre in Spring Green and the American Shakespeare Center in Staunton, VA. He is excited to bring his experience and expertise to JSS and help find homes for new Madisonians. 

Becca Schwartz


Resettlement Director

Becca joined JSS in early 2017 to head up the new Refugee Resettlement Program and considers herself very fortunate to have the opportunity to help newcomers establish themselves and become a part of the community in Madison. She is a Middleton native who spent over a decade working in various parts of East and West Africa. She earned a B.S. in Industrial Engineering from the University of Iowa and an M.B.A. from Drexel University, before joining the Peace Corps where she started working in small business development. Since then she has worked in leadership positions in both social enterprise and non-profit. Becca has lived in Senegal, Uganda, Ghana and Nigeria and has a working knowledge of French and Wolof. She now lives with her family in Madison and enjoys rediscovering her hometown.

Chris Shanahan


Interim Executive Director

Chris started with JSS as an independent accounting contractor in July of 2015, through her accounting firm, Computer Services, that is focused on a not-for-profit client base. After working and becoming familiar with the programs and services offered by JSS, she wanted to be more involved with the mission and delivery of those services to the clients of JSS. Therefore, in January of 2018, she came on board as the Finance and Human Resource Director, and then in April of 2019 she became the official Associate Director. Chris is committed to the JSS mission, programs, and development of programs.

Chris graduated with degrees from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville. In addition to her work with JSS, other interests include baking, or anything food, floral arranging, and being a fantastic grandma!

Stephanie Taylor


Refugee Resettlement Case Manager

Stephanie joined JSS in the fall of 2021, after spending time volunteering at Fort McCoy with the Afghan Refugees who had come to Wisconsin.   This experience made her realize that working with refugees was incredibly important to her, and she wanted to get back to her Social Work roots after spending time as a Lactation Consultant and raising her young children.  Stephanie earned her B.A. in Women and Gender Studies at Washington University in St. Louis and her Master’s in Social Work at University of Chicago.  She also has her M.B.A. from Babson College.  Stephanie has worked in a variety of non-profits where she has spent time in programming, development, and direct service.  She is very excited to be on the JSS Resettlement team!

Stephanie spends her time parenting her three children, playing soccer, cross-country skiing, running, doing yoga, drinking coffee and eating Madison Sourdough croissants.  She also has taken up Zumba in the past couple of years and is very interested in finding new dance classes around town! 

Sam Van Akkeren


Resettlement Programs Case Manager

Sam has a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies and History from UW – Milwaukee and a Master of Social Work degree from UW – Madison. He first joined JSS as an intern in 2018 where he worked to develop the agency’s strategic plan and aided in immigration related advocacy efforts. After graduating he was excited to rejoin the team to lead the development of a mentorship program and community-based mental health and psychosocial support groups for newcomers. Sam is thrilled to continue to work with the refugee community, having past experience volunteering as a refugee mentor and English language tutor in Wisconsin and as an English teacher at Eleonas Refugee Camp in Greece. In his free time, he enjoys hiking, watching movies, and slowly working on his goal to cook one meal from every country.