Executive Director

Michael Garlin

847.498.4100, ext. 121

Michael Garlin was the Executive Director from 2014-2020 and has recently returned to this role in December of 2021.

Michael was originally from Morton Grove, moved to Plantation, Florida as a child and back to the Chicago area in the early 90’s. Michael graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Science in Urban Recreation, received his Master Degree from Nova University in Human Services and received his CPCC as a life coach in 2008 from the Coaches Training Institute.

Michael’s career has been in the Jewish Community of Chicago. Over the past 30 years, Michael has worked for the JCC’s of Chicago, Jewish Council for Youth Services, Temple Jeremiah, AIPAC and recently The ARK. Michael is a member of NAASE (North American Association of Synagogue Administrators) and a member and past president of CASA (Chicago Association of Synagogue Administrators).

Michael’s hobbies include comedic writing, radio personality, author and an avid Chicago Sports Fan. 

Michael resides in Northbrook with his wife Mindy. Michael and Mindy have two children, Marisa, a recent graduate of Michigan State University and Bradley along with his wife Gemma, who all reside in Chicago.

Director of Jewish Life and Learning

Leann Blue
847.498.4100, ext. 144

Leann Blue is a graduate of both Emory University (Bachelor of Arts degree majoring in religion) and the Benjamin S. Hornstein Program in Jewish Communal Service of Brandeis University (Master of Arts in Jewish Communal Service).

After graduation, Leann put in 3 years with the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism as Regional Youth Director of Seaboard Region and then Hagalil Region. It was at International USY Convention in 1988, that Leann was leading a delegation of teens from New Jersey to Chicago, when she met the CHUSY Region Fieldworker, Michael Blue, and the rest is history.

Upon moving to the Chicago area in 1989, Leann worked as Youth Director for North Suburban Synagogue Beth El in Highland Park for six years. In 1995, Leann joined the staff of Congregation Beth Shalom as Youth Director, leading the chapter during many award winning years.

In 2001, while still Youth Director, Leann began focusing on Adult Education and family programming, and in 2002, she took on her current role of Director of Jewish Life and Learning at Congregation Beth Shalom. Some of the programs she has developed are the CBS Shabbaton, Lamazel!, Megillah Mania, Making Sukkot Simple, Ideas Cafe and CBS University.

A native of Mobile, Alabama, Leann now calls Chicago home with her husband, Michael, and three sons, Adam, Marc and Paul.

Director of Communications

Deanne Friedman
847.498.4100, ext. 148

Deanne began working for Congregation Beth Shalom in 2011 as the Programming and Communications Assistant. In her role in communications, she managed the website as well as prepared the weekly e-newsletters, The Shalom Byte and The Shabbat Byte. She also helped in many other areas of CBS communications. In Deanne’s other role with programming, she assisted Leann, the Director of Jewish Life and Learning, in all areas of coordinating classes and programs for CBS University and Adult Education. On March 1, 2017, Deanne began in her role as CBS Communications Manager. 

In her current role as the CBS Director of Communications, she is responsible for all areas of communication, social media, the Congregation Beth Shalom website and bulletin and much more.

Deanne has a Master’s of Science in Public Service Management from DePaul University. She sits on the Board of Directors of Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute where she was once employed and where her children have all attended overnight camp.

She and her husband Jeff, an attorney, love to travel with and without their three daughters. Deanne also loves to read, shop, laugh with her family and friends and play with her dog!


Lauri Holmes
847.498.4100, ext. 122

Lauri Holmes joined Congregation Beth Shalom in September, 2023 as the Controller, handling all things financial.

Lauri found her niche working in non-profits more than 18 years ago and spent ten years working in various financial positions at Congregation Or Shalom in Vernon Hills before joining the staff at CBS. 

Lauri was born in Evanston. She currently lives in Wilmette with her husband and two youngest children, Mason (16) and Evan (14). She also has two older daughters and two wonderful grandchildren. In her “free” time, you can find her at a hockey rink or on the football field with her boys. She also enjoys working on the restoration of her 1896 Victorian home and hosting friends and family for dinner. 

Director of Youth & Family Engagement

Michael Schneider
847.498.4100, ext. 125

Michael joined the staff of Congregation Beth Shalom as the Director of Youth & Family Engagement just before Sukkot 5783 (2022).

Michael has worked in Jewish education and programming for more than 15 years. Before joining CBS, he was the Membership and Financial Administrator at Congregation Beth Am (Buffalo Grove), where he also taught Hebrew School and led the junior youth group. Prior to that, he was the Director of Youth Engagement and Associate Executive Director at Makom Solel Lakeside (Highland Park). Before entering into synagogue administration full-time, Michael worked in supply chain at Walgreens headquarters.

His education includes a Master’s degree in Jewish Studies, graduate coursework in Elementary Education, and an undergraduate degree in Criminal Justice. Michael also completed the Certificate in Jewish Leadership program through Spertus Institute. He is certified in Youth Mental Health First Aid, Hebrew Through Movement, and Yoga Yeladim.  The summer of 2023, Michael was on staff as a Judaic Specialist at Ramah Day Camp.

As a Jewish youth professional, Michael enjoys bringing children of all ages together for exciting events, creating community, and offering an inclusive safe space for kids to feel at home.

He lives nearby with his two young children, supportive wife, and a rescue dog. When not hanging out in the Gloss Youth Lounge at CBS, he enjoys spending time with family, watching soccer, and exercising.  Next time you’re at CBS, don’t forget to stop by the Gloss to say hi and play a quick game of foosball!

Director of Education

Stacy Ybarra
847.498.4100, ext. 115

Stacy Ybarra was born in Highland Park but at the age of five moved to Tucson, Arizona where she spent her childhood.  Stacy graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor in Social Work and a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish with a Latin American Emphasis.  She received her Master in Social Work from Boston University where in addition to individual, family and group clinical work her degree focused on management, program development and community organizing.  Her social work career began with working for Early Head Start and then moving into work with teen parents and at-risk teens.

Stacy’s Mom is an educator and began working in the Jewish community when Stacy was nine.  Stacy grew up helping her Mom and began teaching in the Jewish Community at age 15.  Since then, Stacy has taught in synagogues and Jewish camps in three states in Reform, Conservative and Chabad communities.  Stacy has taught every grade from Mommy & Me through adult education; there is not a grade she has missed.  Stacy has been on a curriculum committee and served on a synagogue board.  She has also been a Religious School Director for a Conservative synagogue in Arizona.

Stacy moved to Deerfield in September of 2016 where she currently lives with her two sons.  When she is not working she is volunteering at DHS, cooking, reading or wandering through farmers markets and art fairs.

Office Manager

Maria Catezone
847.498.4100, ext. 126

Maria has been with CBS since September, 2001.  She manages the office as well as catering, holiday Kiddushim and the kitchen. Additional responsibilities include overseeing donation opportunities (memorial plaques, leaves, bricks), various High Holiday duties, ordering office supplies and paper goods, and day to day happenings at the synagogue.

Maria lives in Glenview. She enjoys playing with her dog, Bailey, going to dinner, the movies, travelling and spending time with her family and friends.

Administrative Assistant

Mara Bernstein
847.498.4100, ext. 110

Mara recently started at Beth Shalom as an administrative assistant and is loving meeting all the CBS members!

Mara grew up in Skokie and attended Niles North High School. Mara then attended The University of Kansas and then graduated from Northeastern Illinois University with a Bachelor of Arts in Recreational Studies.

Mara spent over 25 years working at JCC Chicago beginning her career at Camp Chi, where all three of her children attended, as well. She went on to become the Day Camp Director at the Mayer Kaplan JCC Day Camp as well as Apachi Village.

Mara lives in Deerfield with her husband Richard, whom she married a year ago combining their five children and their dog, Kody. Mara has three children, Lev who is graduating from the University of Alabama, Lily who attends Columbia College Chicago and Eli who will be a senior at Highland Park High School and Richard’s two children, Emma who will graduate from the University of Arizona and Lily (yes two Lily’s!) who also attends the University of Arizona. To say there is never a dull moment, might be an understatement.

Religious School Assistant

David Harris

David joined our teaching staff in 2022 as a 4th grade, 6th grade, and CBS High teacher and began his role as Religious School Assistant in September, 2023. Born and raised in Chicago, he has been an active member of the Jewish community his entire life. Since 1975 he has worked as a B’nai Mitzvah tutor, religious school, Hebrew, and Jewish music teacher for several Chicago area congregations. His love of Jewish music, both liturgical and “modern”, and years of singing in Jewish choirs led him to a position of Cantorial soloist and music specialist at Congregation Am Echod in Lindenhurst for several years. His experience also includes working as a tech support specialist at Solomon Schechter Day School and the Board of Jewish Education in Northbrook.

In 1975, David participated in the Ma’ayan (Wellsprings), a five month intensive Judaic studies program through the Union for Reform Judaism. He studied toward his business management degree and took music theory and performance classes at Northeastern Illinois University, and took classes at Spertus College to further his knowledge of Judaism.

David lives in Mundelein with his wife, Michele and their dog, Molly. They enjoy spending time with their two children and three grandchildren who live in the Chicago area, their daughter and two grandchildren in California, and their son in New Mexico. 

B'nai Mitzvah & Kiddush Coordinator

Randi Simon
847.498.4100, ext. 123

Membership & Programming Assistant

Audrey Taxer
847.498.4100, ext. 145

Audrey supports Leann Blue and Michael Garlin in her role as CBS Membership & Programming Assistant.


Audrey was born in Chicago, and grew up in West Rodgers Park. Audrey lives in Buffalo Grove and is the mother to two children, Ron and Gabby. She loves spending her free time cruising, reading, and spending time with family and friends. Audrey is a big Cubs fan

Assistant to the Clergy

Lisa Weisner
847.498.4100, ext. 129

Lisa is new to Congregation Beth Shalom and supports Rabbi Melman, Cantor Stoehr and Rabbi Chapman.

Lisa was born in New York, grew up in West Bloomfield, MI, and attended college in California before moving to Illinois 30 years ago. She earned a double major in History and Communications from the University of California, San Diego.  Lisa lives in Northbrook and is the mother to twin sons that are grown and have flown. She loves spending her free time seeing theatre, watching movies, reading, traveling, and being outdoors.

B'nai Mitzvah Tutor

Susan Stoehr
847.498.4100, ext. 135

Susan grew up in Las Vegas, Nevada attending Congregation Beth Sholom with her family. While working towards receiving her undergraduate degree at UCLA Susan was a senior staff member at Camp Alonim in California and attended Brandeis Bardin Institute for adult Jewish learning where she was inspired by Dennis Prager and Rabbi Joseph Telushkin. She went on to gain her Masters in Jewish Education from the University of Judaism. Her love of the Hebrew language has found her teaching students, adolescents and adults, privately and in class settings for CBS as well as in the Chicago area.

Susan is a vibrant and cherished teacher to our Bnai Mitzvah students as well as our adult learners of all levels.

Head of Maintenance

Edgar Chavez
847.498.4100, ext. 117