Meet our Leadership:
Yonit Hoffman, PhD, Director
Dr. Yonit Hoffman has served as the Director of Holocaust Community Services (HCS) since 2014. She oversees all program development and service provision for nearly 2,000 Holocaust survivors, supervises clinical, care management and administrative staff, and provides direct services and support groups for survivors and their families. She has served as a key facilitator in establishing community partnerships to build resources and capacity to support survivors. Dr. Hoffman has conducted numerous national and community education and trainings for professionals, lay leaders and caregivers on person-centered, trauma-informed care and the special needs of aging Holocaust survivors. Dr. Hoffman received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Case Western Reserve University, and her prior clinical work centered on trauma, loss and under-served populations in Ohio, New York, New Jersey, and Illinois. Her clinical research included studies on resilience and identity in Holocaust survivors and their descendants, which she has presented and published both nationally and internationally. Dr. Hoffman is a second and third generation descendant of Holocaust survivors and victims.
Maya Gumirov, LPC, Russian Services Manager and Clinical Supervisor
Maya Gumirov has been with CJE since 2014 and provides clinical case management to Holocaust survivors. She oversees intake, referrals and other services such as psychological support, assessment, financial assistance, socialization, and oral history preservation. Maya also supervises a team of social workers and counselors who provide counseling, well-being classes, support groups, and socialization events for survivors. She also conducts community Holocaust commemorations and education and trainings for professionals and caregivers on the special needs of Holocaust survivors and trauma-informed care. Her current clinical work interests are studies on resilience and identity in Russian–speaking Holocaust survivor families. Maya’s past experience includes immigration, cultural adjustment, citizenship, trauma, loss, and refugee populations. With other volunteers, she has compiled stories of Holocaust survivors from the former Soviet Union into the Russian/English book Never Heard Never Forget that is included in the Teachers Trunk of the Illinois Holocaust Museum. A second edition of this book is in progress. Maya, who is fluent in Russian and English, received has an MA in Community Counseling from Argosy University. She also holds an MA in Journalism from Far East University in Russia. She is a second and third generation descendant of Holocaust survivors and victims and is a refugee from the Former Soviet Union. She became a US citizen in 1999 and is married and has three children and three grandchildren.
Nora Bergman, MSW, Program Manager
Nora Bergman joined CJE in 2018 as a Program Manager. In this position, she oversees HCS program operations, writes and reports on grants, manages the program budget, and supervises the HCS administrative team. Her other responsibilities within HCS including overseeing program operations, grant writing and reporting, managing the program budget, and supervising the administrative team. She also provides case management for English-speaking clients. Nora received her master’s degree in social work from the University of Chicago’s School of Social Services Administration.
Kseniia Asefa, LPC, Supervisor and Care Manager
Kseniia Asefa started working for CJE SeniorLife in October of 2016, providing person-centered trauma care for elderly Holocaust survivors. Currently Kseniia is a supervisor and care manager, providing clinical care management and mental health counseling to survivors in the community and in-home settings. Kseniia’s specialty is providing trauma-informed care to individuals and is experienced in working with diverse populations of varying ethnicities and socio-economic backgrounds. Ksenjia is a Licensed Professional Counselor and earned a Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. She is a member of the Illinois Counseling Organization. Her hobbies include traveling, reading, learning foreign languages.
Vera Rodriguez Mancera, Supervisor and Care Manager
Vera Rodriguez Mancera joined CJE’s HCS team in 2015 and is passionate about helping people who have been through trauma or have experienced great stress. She primarily works with Holocaust survivors, providing counseling, co-leading Russian support groups and wellness classes, supervising staff and contributing to professional development at CJE. Vera holds an MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Northeastern Illinois University and completed her career counseling internship at the University of Illinois at Chicago Office of Career Services. In her free time, Vera volunteers by supporting undocumented students and providing them with community resources. She is also a board member, immediate past president, and recipient of the 2020 Past President’s Award of Illinois Career Development Association.
Oleg Khaiet, Client Services and Data Coordinator
Oleg Khaiet joined CJE in 2017 and is the Client Services and Data Coordinator for HCS. He has many responsibilities within HCS, including comprehensive data tracking, consolidating, and reporting. He also coordinates HCS’ transportation program, responds to administrative requests from HCS Care Managers, and serves as a liaison between HCS and CJE’s Finance Department. In addition, he is responsible for answering the HCS main phone line, conducting intakes for prospective HCS clients, and routinely answering many calls and emails from current HCS clients, caregivers, and family members. Oleg received his master’s degree in finance from the Kharkiv National University of Economics in Ukraine and has extensive experience in financial, social, and managerial services.
Heather Klain, Reparations Coordinator and Administrative Coordinator
Heather Klain serves as Reparations Coordinator and Administrative Coordinator at Holocaust Community Services. She joined the HCS team full-time in 2016 after serving a year as an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer with us. Among many other responsibilities, Heather trains our HCS volunteers who serve in many roles, such as making Friendly Visits and Calls, to providing assistance at events and with office work. She has also screened and assisted over 250 Holocaust survivors and families to obtain reparations benefits and/or program services as needed and has become the program's resident expert in reparations and restitution benefits. After earning a bachelor's degree in psychology and sociology from Northern Illinois University, she narrowed her focus from genocide prevention work to Holocaust scholarship, education, and survivor services.
Daria Riveron, Program Support Specialist
Daria Riveron joined CJE SeniorLife in 2020 as a Program Support Specialist for Holocaust Community Services. In this position, she performs high-volume data entry using multiple computer programs; helps with event planning; completes translations for program and other materials; manages several ongoing administrative projects; and performs office tasks as needed. Daria worked with underserved, older adults in a healthcare setting for several years before joining CJE. Daria earned her bachelor's degree in history and German from Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia, and she is fluent in English and Russian.
Adam Yunis, Program Support Specialist and Assistant Reparations Coordinator
Adam Yunis works part-time as a program support Specialist and Assistant Reparations Coordinator for Holocaust Community Services. He has been with CJE since 2020, beginning as a volunteer working on reparations cases, and transitioning to the administrative staff. Adam works closely with HCS care managers to coordinate programs and aid to survivors. He has interned at the Illinois Holocaust Museum and has been involved in various Holocaust education projects since high school. Adam received his bachelor’s degree in International Studies and French from the University of Denver in 2017. He is currently pursuing his master’s degree in Public History from Loyola University.
Nneoma Albert-Benson, Critical Supports Coordinator
Nneoma Albert-Benson joined CJE in 2019 and works as the Critical Supports Coordinator for HCS. She is responsible for managing the Emergency Financial Assistance program, including working with HCS Care Managers to fulfill requests for clients and liaising with the CJE Finance Department and the providers/vendors who serve HCS clients. She also leads HCS efforts in community outreach and partnership development. Nneoma has over 10 years of multi-faceted experience in nonprofit leadership/organization. She is a Mandela Washington Fellow and a permanent NGO representative at the United Nations. She has a bachelor’s degree in law and is a Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Nigeria. She also earned a professional certification in Civic Leadership from Arizona State University. Since she started working at CJE, she has developed a passion for serving the elderly.
Care Management and Outreach Staff:
Alla Bondarenko, Care Manager
Alla Bondarenko primarily works with Russian-speaking Holocaust survivors and their families, helping them with daily living and personal care services and requests. Alla also co-leads two support groups for survivors. Alla’s great-grandparents and grandparents endured the horrors of war, including the Holocaust and evacuations. Some of them were killed or died and some survived. All of this gives Alla a better understanding of her clients. She loves to hear Survivors’ stories and learn from them about their experiences. Plus, she helps them with a Person-Centered Trauma-Informed approach to care, working heartfully and holistically. Alla was born in Kharkov, Ukraine and has a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. After moving to the US, she changed her career direction, working in the healthcare field in home health and hospice, as well as in social work. Alla’s hobbies include reading, photography, and making travel photobooks, singing, nature, and camping.
Natalya Bouinyi, Care Manager
Natalya Bouinyi is a Care Manager with HCS since 2019 and she provides care management to a large caseload of survivors and also leads a musical support group. Natalya was born in Uzbekistan and graduated from Leningrad Institute of Cinema Engineering with the master’s degree in electrical engineering. Before joining HCS, she worked as a case manager at Chicago Catholic Charities, helping Russian-speaking and other diverse communities obtain government-funded services and programs. Natalya’s professional interests are intensive case management, steering survivors to community resources, and continuing education through professional training. Natalya has both Israeli and American citizenship and her personal interests include music, theater, and cinema.
Anna Dominov, LCSW, Care Manager
Anna Dominov has been with CJE since 2016. She works with Holocaust survivors providing individual and group counseling and clinical case management. Prior to CJE, she worked as a domestic violence counselor and advocate, an Emergency Room crisis worker, and a foreclosure prevention counselor. Anna received her MSW in 2016 from the University of Illinois at Chicago Jane Addams School of Social Work. She also received a master’s degree in International Relations in Russia.
Anna Klein, Care Manager
Anna Klein works as an HCS Care Manager and manages a caseload of clients and co-leads the Russian Teatime support group for survivors. Anna is fluent in Russian, English, and Hebrew, and enjoys her daily conversations with our survivors and is happy to serve them, especially during these trying times. Anna has extensive experience in elder care. She was born in Ukraine and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in engineering before moving to Israel. In Israel, Anna found her passion for assisting older adults and completed her education in social work. She primarily worked with elderly emigres to Israel, helping them navigate the social services system. In the United States, Anna continued her social work, working as a case manager for a community care program for ten years. She is the daughter of Holocaust survivors, and reflects that, even though both of her parents are no longer alive, working at CJE allows her to continue in this wonderful and noble profession.
Svetlana Lukomski, Care Manager
Dr. Svetlana Lukomski specializes in treating social functioning difficulties. She provides counseling, therapy, and referrals to other HCS supportive social services and evaluates family development and the adequacy of elderly care. She utilizes psychodynamic, cognitive, and behavioral therapy approaches in Russian-speaking individual and family therapy sessions. Dr. Lukomski came to CJE in April 2020 to work with Holocaust survivors during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to CJE, Dr. Lukomski worked as a clinician at the JCFS in Chicago for more than 20 years, providing counseling services and case management. Dr. Lukomski has gained international experience and training in psychology. She worked as a school psychologist in Israel and served the same population as staff member of Jewish Family Services in Montreal, Canada. She has also provided consultation to public school staff regarding cultural education issues, collaborating with mental health professionals. She taught psychology to graduate students in Russia for 20 years. Dr. Lukomski earned her MA and PhD in psychology from the Leningrad State University in Russia and obtained various certificates and diplomas from studies at institutions in London, Tel-Aviv, Montreal, and Chicago.
Irina Polishchuk, Care Manager and Resource Specialist
Irina Polishchuk has been with CJE SeniorLife for 25 years, working first as a Resource Specialist providing extensive knowledge of public benefits, community resources and community outreach. She joined HCS part-time more than 6 years ago and provides care management and advocates for survivors’ needs. She also co-leads the longest-running Russian Teatime support group for survivors that has met for six years every two weeks (meeting virtually via ZOOM this past year). The group includes discussions of life in general, personal stories of survival and resilience, and supporting each other through difficult times. Hundreds of Russian-speaking older adults were helped by Irina throughout her professional career. As a daughter and granddaughter of Holocaust survivors and victims from Kiev, Ukraine, Irina always feels passionate about her work with survivors.
Leah Rosenberg, Community Health Educator and Care Manager
Leah Rosenberg, who has been with CJE since 2015, leads wellness classes and carries a large case management load of Holocaust survivors. She graduated from the University of Illinois in Chicago, with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and minors in history and philosophy. Throughout her career, she has worked in various pharmaceutical industries alongside her nonprofit work.
Ludmila Smotkina, Care Manager
Lyudmila Smotkina joined Holocaust Community Services in 2017. Prior to that, she was with HIAS Chicago for 19 years as a citizenship immigration worker with HIAS CHICAGO for 19 years. She has extensive experience working with Russian speaking immigrants and refugees as well as immigrant populations from around the world. Lyudmila, an avid advocate of refugee rights, she has helped hundreds of them to realize their American dream and become a US citizen. Lyudmila helped many of HCS’s current clients in her earlier position. In her role as HCS care manager, Lyudmila has one of the largest caseloads, serving clients with ages ranging from 79 to 100 years old. As a second-generation Holocaust survivor, Lyudmila is very attentive to survivors' needs and their stories. Lyudmila helps to collect and translate survivors’ stories that need to be told and remembered. Ludmila says, “The more I work with survivors, the more I am confident that we can make a difference in lives of Holocaust survivors.”
John Wickham, MSW, Care Manager
John Wickham has been with CJE since June 2019, where he provides Russian-speaking care management to survivors. He received his MSW at Boston College and fulfilled his internship at the Jewish Family Services of MetroWest Massachusetts, where he performed refugee resettlement work. During his last semester of his studies, he did a four-month practicum with the Jesuit Refugee Service in Rome. John, a native of Ridgefield, Connecticut, received his undergraduate degree BA in German Studies from Macalester College and, upon graduation, worked for several years in education, living in Moscow for two years.
Olesya Yakhina, Care Manager
Olesya Yakhina joined Holocaust Community Services in 2020 as a care manager. She supports Holocaust survivors through needs assessments, resources, referrals to community partners, and well-being checks. Through her previous experience as a case manager and supervisor at Community Care Unit at Illinois Department of Aging, she is better able to understand older adults’ needs in her new role as HCS care manager. and feels passionate about teaching and supporting her clients in these trying times. Olesya is training to become a support group leader and to work with survivors who deal with family loss and isolation. She is from Uzbekistan and graduated from Tashkent State University with an MA in Education. She is also a certified instructor of English as a Second Language. Olesya’s hobbies are reading, dancing Tango, and hiking.
Era Friedman, Outreach Support Specialist
Era Friedman is the Outreach Support Specialist for HCS, having joined the team in early 2020. Era runs the HCS Friendly Calling program, designed to reduce social isolation among survivors. The program matches volunteer Friendly Callers with survivors based on mutual interests, activities, hobbies, and survivors’ overall life stories. In addition to coordinating the program and training its volunteers, Era herself makes approximately 90 Friendly Calls to survivors on a biweekly basis. Era also co-leads a singing group for survivors and assists with a birthday card program. Era has completed courses at Oakton Community College in Psychology and Counseling and is bilingual in English and Russian.