Our Team

The team leading ELEM/ Youth in Distress in Israel is small, but mighty. Together, we have combined years of experience in the fields of fundraising, nonprofit, event planning, grant writing, community engagement, and marketing.

Liora Attias (she/her/hers) – Director of Operations


Liora joined the ELEM family right after graduating from New Jersey City University, where she was a psychology major. Liora first came on board as an Administrative Assistant, and her passion and years of commitment to ELEM allowed her to climb the ranks quickly, and become the Director of Operations. Additionally, she has a certificate in the field of event planning from NYIAD which is a great asset to the organization. ELEM’s mission statement is incredibly close to Liora’s heart, as she herself was a homeless youth when she was a teenager.

Alana Cooper (she/her/hers) – Director of Development 


Alana Beth Cooper is happy to join ELEM/Youth in Distress as the Director of Development. A graduate of Union College and the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, Alana is a seasoned development professional. Prior to joining the staff at ELEM, Ms. Cooper served as the inaugural Director of Alumni Relations at the American Friends of the Hebrew University, Associate Regional Director of the ADL, and the Director of Goucher College Hillel.  While she grew up in outside of Charlotte, NC Alana now lives in Lower Manhattan with her husband, Todd Matras, and their rescue dog Carolina. 

Chen Drachman (she/her/hers) – Manager of Communications


Chen is an Israeli-American actress, writer and producer. She became a permanent resident through an application of excellence in the field of production. Her scripts have been finalists/official selection in festivals around the world. Her writing was also featured on websites such as AfterEllen. As a production consultant she helped produce theater, films and a variety of events of different scales. She was part of a 3-person team producing the yearly gala of the Iranian American Jewish Federation of New York, at the Alice Tully Hall, for three years. She also consults different conventions around the country and is a certified translator with the NY court system. 

Vanessa Knutsen (she/her/hers) – Development Officer


Vanessa Knutsen is an Israeli-American filmmaker based in Los Angeles. Her films have screened at festivals in the US and abroad, winning numerous awards and honors. Vanessa is the recipient of various grants and has participated in conferences and film panels. Most recently, Vanessa directed her debut feature film, Only Humans, which screened at several festivals and is currently streaming on Amazon Prime. Originally from Israel, Vanessa moved to the US upon completing her military service in the IDF. She has a BA from Yale University and an MFA from UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television.

Vanessa is thrilled to join ELEM and to focus her efforts on supporting and enhancing philanthropy and giving.

Scott Harkey (he/him/his) – Development Officer


Scott Harkey is a philanthropy professional with expertise in the areas of fundraising, development, marketing, and grassroots campaigns. His diverse background includes work within alumni chapters, capital campaigns, pediatric hospitals, academic healthcare systems, and nationally ranked medical schools. Scott completed his Masters in Nonprofit Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania and is excited to join the fundraising team at ELEM.

Miriam Wazeter (she/her/hers) – Grants and Research Analyst


Miriam Wazeter is a committed philanthropy professional primarily in the field of Jewish Philanthropy. Born in Shanghai, China, Miriam’s background as a “Shanghai Jew, and having lived three years in a D.P. camp, has forged her commitment to helping the displaced and homeless. Prior to joining ELEM, Ms. Wazeter served as Director of Foundation Relations at the American Friends of Hebrew University and she then transitioned to part-time Research Manager. Her previous experiences include Hadassah and the Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. Ms. Wazeter also served as Director of Research at Pace University and had the pleasure of serving as Manager of Research at the Ms. Foundation for Women.  Miriam completed her B.S.W. at Concordia University, Montreal, Canada and is thrilled to join the fundraising team at ELEM.