Our Staff

Federation's professional staff boasts a long list of credentials, but what distinguishes the group is its commitment to making an impact where impact is needed in support of Jews and Jewish communities at home, in Israel, and around the world.

Barry Abels, Executive Director

Barry holds a master’s degree in Adult Education, Human Resource Development & Leadership and has over 38 years of experience in management, training and organization leadership.  He brings a wealth of experience working as the Executive Director of the Jewish Federation & Charles Schusterman JCC and the Executive Director of the Jewish Community Council of Corpus Christi, Texas as well as working as a consultant with many other non-profit organizations and small businesses. He and his wife Jackie have two sons. His hobbies include golf, fencing, and Civil War reenactments.


Elaine Cohen, LMSW, Jewish Family Service Director

Laney has been serving the Jewish community as the Director of Jewish Family Service since 2011. Before that, Laney was the Program Director for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Columbia. Laney received her Masters in Social Work in 2003. She is the mother, chauffer, and chief costume hot gluer to Hayden and Jacob. Laney and her husband, Keven, are members of Tree of Life Congregation, where she became a Bat Mitzvah, was confirmed, and married.


Cheryl Glantz Nail, Community Relations Director

Cheryl has worked in the Columbia Jewish Community since 2011. Prior to becoming a Jewish Professional, Cheryl earned her B.A. in English and her M.ED. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Florida, spending ten years in education, both in the classroom and as a curriculum developer. Cheryl and her husband are happy to call Columbia home and are thankful to be raising their son in such a loving, closeknit Jewish community.