Building a Foundation for Exceptional Member Experiences at the JCC: Staff Helps Bring Facilities to the Next Level | Shalom Austin

Building a Foundation for Exceptional Member Experiences at the JCC: Staff Helps Bring Facilities to the Next Level

JCC, Staff/Volunteer Spotlight, The Jewish Outlook

Feb 24, 2022

Photos Credit: Dave Hawks

By Allison Teegardin

The Dell Jewish Community Campus opened in 2000 to all residents of the greater Austin area regardless of religion. Described by many as the heart of the Austin Jewish community, it is also well regarded as a place for the entire community to build friendships, improve physical fitness and overall wellness and attend family-friendly programs and events. Now, more than 20 years after opening, the facility is expanding its services and member experience team.

After more than $25 million in donations were raised as a result of the Generations capital campaign, the Shalom Austin Jewish Community Center is gearing up to open its newly-designed and expanded facilities to members. The project started with renovations of the Clifford Zeifman Family Early Childhood Program and most recently include the opening of the brand new Hurt Family Tennis Center and a transformative remodeling of the new soon to be opened Rochelle and Stanley Ferdman Family Aquatic Center.

A facility this expansive requires an equally skilled staff to oversee the facility and programming. As the JCC prepares to open its new state of the art facilities, the growing staff team of nine have come together to provide optimal experiences for members and the community to enjoy in the new spaces. Recently, several new team members have joined the JCC member experience team bringing with them an array of energy, enthusiasm, and experience. 

“We are so grateful for the tremendous support of our members, and we thank them for their patience as we build the new extraordinary facilities for them with a warm and welcoming team of professional and talented staff,” said Shalom Austin Chief Operating Officer Janet S. Elam. “We can’t wait for our members to get the first look at the completed project and we also look forward to welcoming new members from the community to join us.” 

The JCC’s new Senior Health and Wellness Director Mark Pattis is excited to introduce members to the new spaces. “This project has been in place for a while and we are thankful to our existing members for staying with us. We know that they will 100% love it. We are working hard to exceed the expectations for programming from baby to bubbie!”

Another new team member, JCC Member Experience Director Dana Makover joined the team to help foster engagement with members and be part of creating a welcoming and diverse environment. “We want to create an environment at the JCC where everyone feels welcome. Our community has been through a lot, but we are so resilient. It is the support of our community that has made it possible for us to offer all that we do,” said Makover.

Meet the Shalom Austin JCC Member Experience Team 

Janet S. Elam, Chief Operating Officer

Janet Elam Photo Credit: Dave Hawks

 Janet S. Elam has been the chief operating officer of Shalom Austin since January 2020. In her role as COO, Janet oversees membership and health and wellness as well as campus operations – facilities, hospitality, and security. She also staffs the Generations buildout.

Elam has more than four decades of experience in the Jewish Community Center movement. Prior to joining Shalom Austin, she spent nearly fifteen years at JCC Association of North America, most recently serving as chief experience officer and before that, as senior vice president for community consultation and executive leadership. Elam led the community consulting team that served 120 member JCCs and managed executive leadership programs.  

 Before joining JCC Association in 2005, Janet was the chief operating officer of the Jewish Community Association of Austin (now Shalom Austin) for nearly five years, and previously worked at the JCC in Cincinnati, Ohio, for 20 years. In Cincinnati, Elam served in a variety of capacities, including resident camp director and several programmatic and administrative roles, including director of youth, adult and family services, program director, assistant executive director, and executive director during her last five years.  

Elam has a degree in sociology from Brandeis University. She and her husband, Doron, have three adult children: Daniel, Rachel and Rebecca. 

Mark Pattis, Senior Health and Wellness Director

Mark Pattis Photo Credit: Dave Hawks

Mark Pattis joined Shalom Austin as the Senior Health and Wellness Director in 2021. In his role, Pattis supervises the fitness, aquatics, tennis, and sports and recreation programs at the JCC.  He has an instrumental role in the expansion of the Health and Wellness facilities and programs at the JCC. 

Pattis joins Shalom Austin from Orange County, California where he was most recently the Fitness Director at the Merage JCC. There, he oversaw personal training, group fitness, pilates, and Maccabi.   

Prior to California, Pattis worked at the JCC of Greater Pittsburgh as the Program Director of Sports and Recreation and the overnight camp, Emma Kaufmann.  

Pattis has a Master’s of Science degree in Organizational Leadership and Innovation from The Zelikow School of Jewish Nonprofit Management and a Bachelor of Applied Science in Physical Education Teacher Education from Indiana University Bloomington. 

Pattis and his wife Sarah were married in September 2021, and they are loving their new Austin lifestyle. 

Dana Makover, Member Experience Director

Dana Makover Photo Credit: Dave Hawks

Dana Makover joined Shalom Austin as the Member Experience Director in 2021. In her role, Makover plays a vital part in engaging with the community. She works in collaboration with other members of the member experience team to create a welcoming, diverse environment for new and existing members.  

Born in Houston and raised in Tel-Aviv, Makover grew up with strong ties to multiple, global Jewish communities. In 2004, she left Tel-Aviv and moved to New York City where she attended The City College of New York with a focus in English literature and music. In 2011 Makover moved to Austin and has been here ever since. 

Makover discovered the practice of Yoga when studying with a beloved voice teacher as a teenager. She completed her first teacher training in 2009 and has continued to teach and study Yoga as part of her personal journey and community offerings. She feels strongly about the connection between Yogic and Jewish practices and has led several Yoga retreats to Israel.  

Makover is fluent in Hebrew and conversational in Spanish. She and her husband, Marcos are raising twin boys and a rambunctious puppy dog in an interfaith household in South Austin. 

Robbin Tran, M.Sc. Exercise Physiology & Nutrition Fitness and Wellness Director

Robbin Tran Headshot Photo Credit: Dave Hawks

Robbin Tran joined Shalom Austin as the Fitness and Wellness Director in 2022. In her role, Tran will oversee the personal training and group exercise programs at the JCC.  

The Shalom Austin JCC is the third JCC Tran is proudly affiliated with. She graduated with a Master’s degree in Exercise Physiology and Nutrition from California State University, Long Beach. 

Tran has an extensive background working in a sports rehabilitation clinic, where she assisted in safely returning players to practice or competition. In this setting, she utilized skills gained from working with USC’s athletic sports nutrition team to optimize the recovery process.  

Tran has devoted the past 10 years to developing, practicing, and teaching others about the principles of exercise and nutrition. Her philosophy is based on the understanding that the body has an incredible potential to heal itself with a focus on prevention. She promotes the idea of making better choices earlier in life about how people manage stress, eat and exercise for an enjoyable, optimal way of living.  

James Russell, Director of Tennis

James Russell Headshot Photo Credit: Dave Hawks

James Russel joined Shalom Austin as the Director of Tennis in 2021. In his role, Russel will oversee the year-round tennis programming at Shalom Austin’s brand-new Hurt Family Tennis Center consisting of six lit tennis courts.  

Russel joins Shalom Austin from Barton Creek Resort & Spa where he was the head professional helping to build their program after the completion of a 10-court facility.  

Russel has been teaching full-time for eight years and has been a United States Professional Tennis Association certified professional for six years.  

He competed for three years at the Division I level at Eastern Washington University and Nicholls State with multiple wins over nationally-ranked teams. In juniors, Russel was ranked as high as 150th in the country. Russel specializes in fundamentals and technique for all levels having trained under world-renowned coaches across the country.  

Russel and his wife Megan moved from Seattle to Austin six years ago and they welcomed their first child Claire in September 2021. 

Heather Brands, Aquatics Director 

Heather Brands HeadshotPhoto Credit: Dave Hawks

Heather Brands joined Shalom Austin in 2016 as the aquatics manager and was recently promoted to aquatics director. She has over 18 years of experience in the Aquatics industry. 

In her role as aquatics director, Brands oversees the aquatics center including aquatics programming, pool operations, special events and department staff. She has been extremely involved in all aspects of planning for the brand-new Rochelle and Stanley Ferdman Family Aquatic Center which houses a lap pool, activity pool, and slides. 

Brands joined Shalom Austin from the City of Austin where she served as a recreation program specialist. There, she managed the daily operations of 17 south Austin outdoor swimming pools and more than 300 staff members.  

She has bachelor’s degrees in psychology and political science from The University of North Texas. She is a certified lifeguard instructor, lifeguard instructor trainer, and water safety instructor trainer by The American Red Cross. Brands is a Certified Park and Recreation Professional (CPRP) by the National Recreation and Park Association as well as a certified Pool Operator by the Pool & Hot Tub Alliance. 

Marcus Litz, Aquatics Assistant Director

Marcus Litz Headshot Photo Credit: Dave Hawks

Marcus Litz joined Shalom Austin in 2021. In his role as aquatics assistant director, Litz will oversee the swim lesson coordinator, swim team coach and lifeguards.  

Born in Round Rock, Litz grew up around water. He started lifeguarding at 15 and his enthusiasm for aquatics has grown ever since. He is passionate about general water safety, swim lessons, and creating a strong aquatic community with the opening of the brand-new Rochelle and Stanley Ferdman Family Aquatic Center. 

Litz has a background in aquatics management and most recently worked at Kalahari, America’s largest indoor waterpark. 

Miriam Mosher, Operations Manager

Miriam Mosher Headshot Photo Credit: Dave Hawks

Miriam Mosher joined Shalom Austin in 2017. In her role as operations manager, Mosher works closely with the member experience director to create a seamless member experience for everyone at the JCC. She also works with the IT department to help troubleshoot computer issues and set up systems for new users.    

Mosher joined Shalom Austin from BodyBusiness Fitness Club where she worked in membership. Miriam has bachelor’s degrees in history and geography from Texas State University – San Marcos. When she’s not working, Mosher enjoys hiking in the mountains, cross-stitching, and is an avid gamer.   

Angela Miranda, Executive Assistant

Angela Miranda Headshot Photo Credit: Dave Hawks

Angela Miranda joined Shalom Austin in August 2021. In her role as an executive assistant to the Chief Operating Officer, she works alongside Janet S. Elam, and supports the health and wellness department as well as other departments at Shalom Austin. She also provides support to the Generations building project.

Prior to coming to Shalom Austin, Miranda worked for the Texas Department of Family Protective Services for eight years and served as an administrative assistant for Child Protective Services.    

Miranda has a passion for photography and enjoys spending her time with family and crafting with her 10-year-old daughter, Olivia. 


Contact the Shalom Austin JCC member experience team at (512) 735-8214 or 

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