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Gary Lesser Selected for Zin Fellows Leadership Development Program Through American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

West Palm Beach Local Will Become a “Next Generation Leader” Committed to Furthering David Ben-Gurion’s Vision for the Negev.

West Palm Beach, FL, December 22, 2011 --( West Palm Beach, Florida resident Gary Lesser has been selected to participate in the Zin Fellows Leadership Development Program of American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (AABGU).

This exclusive innovative program is designed to create a community of “next generation leaders” committed to furthering David Ben-Gurion’s vision for Israel’s Negev region. Zin Fellows will receive in-depth immersion into issues relevant to the Negev and its development.

“Our goal is to provide unique insight into the challenges that lie ahead for this vast desert region,” explains Doron Krakow, executive vice president of AABGU. “Zin Fellows will gain a unique appreciation for both the obstacles and opportunities that lay before us. Utilizing the University’s extraordinary resources, the program will imbue each fellow with a passion for the Negev and, we expect, a determination to play a part in its development.”

“David Ben-Gurion believed that the future of Israel lies in the Negev. This two-year program will show the fellows why,” adds Krakow.

The program leaders are Dr. Paula Kabalo of the Ben-Gurion Research Institute for the Study of Israel and Zionism and Prof. Isaac (Sakis) Meir of BGU’s Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research. Several other distinguished BGU faculty and guests will also contribute to the program, which will take place in both the U.S. and Israel. Topics will encompass the Negev as a crossroads of history and ecology; religion and technology; desert research and sustainable development as well as indigenous populations in transition.

To be considered, applicants had to be nominated by AABGU supporters and friends. Gary Lesser was selected as a result of his involvement in numerous local organizations. He is an executive board member of the Meyer Jewish Academy and Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County, and serves on the Board of the Florida Atlantic University Foundation. He is also a peer-elected member of the Florida Bar Board of Governors and has been Chair of the Professionalism Committee and the Medical Legal Committee of the Palm Beach County Bar Association, and has also been a member of the Bar’s Foundation, as well as active with the Florida Justice Association. Lesser, who is Managing Partner of Lesser, Lesser, Landy & Smith, PLLC, is one of 19 fellows in the inaugural class.

"I have a great love for Israel and have become more involved with BGU in the past year,” Lesser says. “I look forward to increasing my knowledge about the University’s role in Negev development and its research initiatives.”

The Zin Fellows Leadership Development Program is being generously supported by co-chairs Wayne Woodman and Lisa Scheller of Allentown, Pennsylvania, Zin fellows and philanthropists themselves, as well as other donors from across the country. Woodman is vice president at GKM Advisers, LLC and an investment management consultant. He is also a vice president on AABGU’s national board.

Lisa Scheller is president of her family's manufacturing business, Silberline Mfg. Co., headquartered in Tamaqua, Pennsylvania. She was recently elected to the office of Lehigh County Commissioner where she lives. Lisa and Wayne have six children.

“While monetary donations are critical for the growth and development of the University, my wife Lisa and I conceived the Zin Fellows program to cultivate a younger, future donor base,” Woodman explains. “This innovative, self-sustaining program will also create a highly knowledgeable group of ‘Negev Ambassadors’ who will truly understand and effectively communicate the importance of the region for the future of Israel.”

The name Zin is derived from the biblical Wilderness of Zin. The Desert of Zin is a geographic area mentioned in the Torah as a place where the Israelites wandered and Moses drew water from a rock. David Ben-Gurion chose to live near and be buried on the edge of a cliff overlooking the vast Zin Canyon. BGU’s Sede Boqer Campus, home to the program’s lead faculty, also overlooks the canyon.

About American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev:
American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev plays a vital role in sustaining David Ben-Gurion's vision, creating a world-class institution of education and research in the Israeli desert, nurturing the Negev community and sharing the University's expertise locally and around the globe. With some 20,000 students on campuses in Beer-Sheva, Sede Boqer and Eilat in Israel’s southern desert, BGU is a university with a conscience, where the highest academic standards are integrated with community involvement, committed to sustainable development of the Negev. For more information, please visit

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Jon Kaye
Bonnie Kaye
Kaye Communications, Inc.
561-392-5166 x 102

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