Crimea 2000: Where Michael (at far left) and
Shai (at far right) first met, and "clicked".
Michael and Shai met nearly 25 years ago in Yalta, Crimea, where they co-produced a community-building conference that drew leaders and managers from across the former Soviet Union.
This was their very first collaboration — Shai on behalf of the National Conference on Soviet Jewry (since renamed NCSEJ) and Michael with the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh. Together with United Jewish Communities (since renamed JFNA) and the Russian Jewish Congress, they put together the first-ever Resource Development (Fundraising) training for professionals and lay leaders from across the Soviet successor states.
Sharing a passion and openness to challenges and opportunity, with experiences and talents that both overlap and complement each other in 2014 they decided to join forces. Their professional purpose is to identify institutions and enterprises whose vision and passion inspire them, and to unlock the potential to impact even more deeply and broadly.
Building on his 25 years in the international non-profit sector, Shai assists foreign IT, manufacturing and consumer firms with branding and market entry into the United States, and identifying opportunities for outsourcing, investment, and strategic partnerships. He also provides guidance and representation to government entities seeking to promote their economic, social and diplomatic goals.
Shai has led advocacy efforts involving numerous governments, intergovernmental and international organizations, and civil society. He has implemented accountability and best practices for non-profits, upgraded Board engagement, innovated leadership development and organized policy events across America, Europe, the former Soviet Union, South Asia, and the Middle East.
A partner with Gotham Government Relations and Communications, Shai is a regular guest on i24 News and has appeared on Al Jazeera, Shalom TV, TRT World, Israel Radio, and Argentina's C5N. His analysis appears in The Hill, Huffington Post, The Jerusalem Post, Times of Israel, and in 2010 was ranked number-eight on JTA's list of the "100 Most Influential Jewish Twitter Users."
Michael founded Impro, a marketing consulting practice providing multi-level "soup to nuts" services to non-profit and governmental clients in Europe and Israel, earning a reputation for promotion of performing arts initiatives.
As Moscow-Russia CEO for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), Michael cultivated and mentored community leaders and local donors, negotiated agreements with top officials, and established institutional infrastructure for a sustainable and autonomous system of welfare and cultural programs.
As Director of Donor Development for the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, Michael worked with business leaders to generate mission-driven philanthropy on an unprecedented scale, at home and globally. He later led strategic development for Carnegie Mellon University's iCarnegie subsidiary, launching international partnerships in STEM education, IT/workforce development and entrepreneurship to meet market demands. He worked closely with government, academic and industry leaders to assess and establish Innopolis, Russia's new technology city. Since August 2019, Michael is CEO of BEST Robotics, Inc., promoting STEM education across the United States.
In our work at home and "in the field", we've been privileged to know and work with countless dedicated professionals and experts. We're honored and humbled to have some of these talented individuals "on call" to share their advice, partnering, and support.