Laurie Sprayregen, President
Laurie Sprayregen is President of Thanks To Scandinavia. Laurie is the daughter of Richard Netter, who along with Victor Borge, founded TTS in 1963. Laurie Sprayregen is a Vice President of the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services (JBFCS), the largest mental health agency in the New York area. Since 1980, Laurie has served in several capacities at JBFCS: Chairman of The Ittleson Center; a Co-Chair of JBFCS’s Development Committee; and since 2008, she has been the Chairman of JBFCS’s 15 community-based mental health clinics. Laurie is also the Co-Chairman of the Advisory Board of WFUV.org, a public radio station broadcasting from Fordham University.
Mrs. Sprayregen, a graduate of Cornell University, lives in New York City with her husband, Philip Sprayregen. Mr. Sprayregen is a managing principal with the firm Sprayregen Real Estate Advisors, commercial real estate advisory boutique. They have two children: Jim, a Buyer for the Ross Stores, and Dale, a senior at The George Washington University.
Kim Larson, Vice President
Kim Larson has dedicated her career to promoting healthy lifestyles through a variety of organizations from safer farm practices (Board Director, Rodale Institute) to school lunchrooms (Founding Board Member of the Coalition for Better School Food) to promoting more access for urban children to outdoor places (Special Advisor to Children and Nature Network). She also serves as Vice President of the Thanks to Scandinavia Foundation dedicated to educating visiting international journalists about conflict resolution across racial and ethnic divides.
A graduate of UC Berkeley with Honors in Urban Studies focusing on Urban Agriculture, she holds a master’s degree from the Elliot School of Public and International Affairs at George Washington University in Science, Technology and Public Policy.
An outdoor enthusiast, Kim has cycled across America, summited Mt. Kilimanjaro, hiked across England and led numerous cycling and hiking trips to Europe and Latin America.
She lives in DC with her husband Gary Knell and together they have 4 grown children.
Paul Koren, Treasurer
Mr. Koren is a retired partner of Goldstein Golub Kessler LLP, a large regional Certified Public Accounting firm and managing director of American Express Tax and Business Services. As the Senior Audit Partner at GGK , he managed the firm’s audit practice and provided audit services for a diverse clientele in both the public and private sectors. Mr. Koren developed the firm’s hedge fund practice which grew to become one of the largest in country. As an early leader in accounting for hedge funds he developed many of the methods employed in accounting and auditing such funds. At American Express he provided managerial and accounting consulting services to many of the company’s clients. Mr. Koren represented his firm before regulatory bodies, including the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, lectured extensively on accounting matters and participated in numerous industry-wide conferences. He has co-authored, with Advent Software, the book “Understanding Partnership Accounting. Previously he worked in-house as a divisional controller of Litton Industries.
Mr. Koren is one of the founders of Baruch College’s Executives on Campus program. EOC provides one on one mentoring to over 400 students at Baruch in addition to its other career oriented services. Among his other pro bono work, he is a former Board member and treasurer of the Young Adult Institute, a leading social service agency providing services to the developmentally disabled. YAI services include group homes, medical clinics, day care centers and special needs schools.
He is a Certified Public Accountant and has both a BBA and an MBA from Baruch College. His graduate paper was titled “Reporting to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission”.
Ralph M. Freydberg, Secretary
Ralph M. Freydberg was born and raised in New York City. His parents and Richard Netter enjoyed a warm friendship that began when Ralph was an adolescent. It was from Mr. Netter that Ralph learned of Thanks To Scandinavia, and Ralph has been a “modest contributor” in his own words, over the years.
Ralph went to Horace Mann, Perkiomen Prep, and the University of Virginia. Immediately after college, he joined the family business, which manufactured flexible packaging, and, in 1969, he entered the Financial Services industry and enjoyed a managerial career until his retirement in 2004.
Ralph has been married more than fifty years, and has two children and four grandchildren. He lives in Stamford and Morris, Connecticut, and is a long-time member of The Fairview Country Club in Greenwich.
Edward M. Berman
Edward M. Berman is a practicing attorney-at-law, whose firm is Singer Netter Dowd & Berman PLLC, located in White Plains, New York. He is admitted to practice in New York, and before the Tax Court of the United States, the United States Court of International Trade, the Supreme Court of the United States, and other courts. In addition to being a Director of Thanks To Scandinavia for more than thirty years, Mr. Berman has also been and remains active as an officer and General Counsel of The Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation, Inc. He also serves as a Member of the Board of Trustees of Temple Beth El in Stamford, Connecticut, and is otherwise active in other organizations.
James P. Colias
James P. Colias was personal manager for Victor Borge for twenty-five years. He came to that position from an academic career at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. It was on the very first day he began work with Victor Borge in 1976 that he was given a thorough introduction to Thanks To Scandinavia! Colias became a member of the Board of TTS in 2001, at the invitation of Richard Netter.
Presently working in the fields of Music and Arts Management and Promotion, James Colias serves on the boards of charitable foundations from San Francisco to Newport. Among other associations, he is Trustee of the Gunnar and Lorraine Johansen Charitable Trust, and President of the Ferruccio Busoni Foundation, Inc.
James Colias is dedicated to Victor Borge’s conviction that the heroic, selfless efforts in Scandinavia or elsewhere to protect and rescue the persecuted and endangered are shining examples of humanity and hope deserving of remembrance, recognition and reward now, as well as tomorrow.
Ronda Lubin is a principal and Chief Financial Officer at A. L. Stuart Financial Services, LLC, a multi-family office and investment management firm in Stamford, CT. She was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY and graduated from Brooklyn College with a BS in accounting. After earning her CPA certificate while at an accounting firm specializing in high net worth individuals, Ronda went on to pursue an MBA in finance from The Wharton School.
Ronda is married and lives in Westport, CT. She is the proud mother of three accomplished sons. The eldest is pursuing his PhD at MIT. Her twins recently graduated from college. One earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees at MIT and the other an undergraduate degree at Harvard. They are both currently working in New York City as software developers.
Rebecca Neuwirth is the Director of Strategic Engagement & Senior Development Officer at JDC (American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee), which is the largest Jewish humanitarian organization, and has created a platform for donors to learn about and get involved with JDC’s lifesaving work overseas through giving societies, impact networks, global symposia and travel. Previously, she served on the senior staff of AJC (American Jewish Committee), where she founded and directed ACCESS: AJC’s new generation program. Under her leadership, ACCESS was recognized as one of the most innovative Jewish projects in North America in the Slingshot guide. Also, Rebecca served as Executive Director of Thanks To Scandinavia from 2001 to 2012.
Rebecca serves on the Advisory Board of the Sandy Kahn Wasserman Jewish Studies Center at Baruch College; she previously served on the Board of High 5 Tickets to the Arts. She was a Convener for JCPA’s inaugural Resetting the Table project in 2014, and is founding the Chelsea Community Cafeteria. She enjoys writing, hiking and biking. Rebecca grew up in New York and graduated from Stuyvesant High School. She has a BA magna cum laude from Yale University and an MA from the Free University in Berlin. While in Germany, she translated a book on educational history by the father of modern systems theory, Niklas Luhmann. She is married and has three children.
Ellen Rachlin is a Managing Director and the Investment Director for Managed Solutions and Strategies at J.P. Morgan Private Bank. She is also a member of the Private Bank’s Global Investment Committee. Prior to joining JPM in 2012, Ellen worked for 10 years at Mariner Investment Group, LLC as the lead Portfolio Manager for their Fund of Funds products. In that role, Ellen oversaw the investment and risk management processes and also served on the firm’s Investment Committee. Previously, Ellen worked in a variety of different capacities at several Wall Street firms, including Citibank, where she traded fixed income arbitrage, and SG Warburg, where she managed fixed income sales into the Americas. She has written several chapters for financial textbooks edited by Frank J. Fabozzi on economics and investment management, as well as other articles for finance journals, including The Journal of Investing. She holds an A.B. economics degree from Cornell University, an M.B.A. in finance from the University of Chicago, and an M.A. in Creative Writing from Antioch University.
James has an extensive history and education in design and production. He received his education and B.A. Degree from University of Michigan and began his career working for Comstock Photography in New York City as an Art Director, working his way up to Design Director in the late 80s. From there, James took his knowledge and talents and spent over 10 years in advertising, first starting with Young & Rubicam in New York and then with The Bravo Group, the Latin American division of Y & R, as the Director of Studio Operations. In the mid 90’s James aligned himself with Ogilvy Worldwide a WWP company, as Partner, VP – Director of Print Operations.
In early 2000’s James decided to take a different career path and began his journey into the fitness industry. Since that time he has been a leading master fitness instructor and private trainer in the New York area for the past 15 years. James has an extensive background in cycling, martial arts, private training and yoga and in 2007, James founded THE STUDIO an indoor cycling, group fitness and private training gym in New York City bringing an integrated approach to fitness. James resides in Tribeca, New York, The French West Indies and Montauk, New York with his amazing wife Patricia, son Gunner, step daughter Devon and their Havenese pup Theodora.
Amir Shaviv is the Assistant Executive Vice-President for Special Operations of the Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), the Rescue and Relief Arm of the American Jewish community. Established in 1914, JDC now operates in some seventy countries, originating and managing humanitarian programs helping Jews and non-sectarian populations.
Shaviv is a twenty- seven year veteran of JDC, he participated in the planning and execution of major Rescue operations of JDC (Ethiopia, Yemen, Syria, Sarajevo, Kosovo). He traveled extensively visiting and working with Jewish communities across the JDC-world.
Formerly a newscaster for Israeli Television, Shaviv covered news and produced documentaries on a wide variety of issues. He was a war correspondent during the 1973 war in the Middle East. He graduated cum laude from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem (Political Science and International Relations).
Kelly Ramot, Executive Director
Kelly Ramot is the Executive Director of Thanks To Scandinavia, a position she has held since 2013. Prior to this, Kelly was with AJC for 12 years in a variety of roles, including the Associate Director of the AJC San Francisco office and the National Program Director of ACCESS, AJC’s new generation program, in AJC’s New York headquarters. Kelly has been committed to serving in the non-profit world for as long as she can remember, both personally and professionally. She is an active volunteer in a number of organizations, including West Side Soccer League and PS 87, and she recently completed a term as Co-chair of the Board of Trustees of The Brownstone School, an independent pre-school in New York City.
Kelly received an MSc from The New School in Nonprofit Management in 2010 and a BA from Colby College in in 1999. A native Texan, Kelly has traveled extensively around the world and lived in Israel for four years. She is married with three children and lives on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.