board of Trustees
Mark Schonwetter was born in Brzostek, Poland to farm owners, Israel & Sala Schonwetter. When Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, Mark was a 5 ½ year old boy living happily and comfortably with his younger sister, Zosia on the farm his parents owned. Until one day when the Gestapo came into their town and forced them to find someplace else to live. Israel, being the head of the Jewish community was regularly taken to the police station and questioned about the Jews and community. One night in the spring of 1942 he did not return home. That night changed their lives forever. Knowing that the Gestapo would be looking for them next, Sala, Mark and his younger sister escaped their hometown and walked 15 miles in the middle of the night to a ghetto where they thought they would be safer. After spending 3 months in the Dembica Ghetto, they escaped with the help from a Polish friend, Antonio Pilat. For the next three years, Sala, Mark & Zosia survived the Holocaust hiding in the attics, barns or in the ground below a pig stye of kind Polish people during the winters and in a forest during the warm weather months. During the fall of 1944 they were no longer "safe" to hide in the forest because the war was actively in that part of the country, and it was too dangerous with the artillery and fighting. They ended up joining other Polish people that were escaping the front lines and took on false identities to live as refugees for about 5 months until they were liberated by the Russian army in February 1945. After the war, Mark, along with his mother and sister, stayed in Poland and lived under the Communist Regime until 1957 at which time they had an opportunity to leave and emigrate to Israel.
Making a living in Israel was difficult, so after 4 years Mark reached out to his family in America and was sponsored to come to the United States. Not knowing a word of English and having only $5.00 in his pocket he boarded a ship and made his way across the ocean to start a new life for himself. With the help of family, he obtained work at a jewelry factory sweeping floors. Working hard he went to school to learn English and started to learn the trade of the company. Within 5 years he rose to become the factory manager and in 1971, Mark had the opportunity to purchase a wedding ring manufacturing company of his own.
Over the next 40 years Mark grew that manufacturing company, Lieberfarb, Inc. into a successful nationally branded wedding ring and bridal brand. Now in retirement, Mark has dedicated his time to speaking with students and adults about his life's journey.
Mark has always lived by the saying "Live every day with love not hatred and you will accomplish so much more in life." When you meet Mark even though he is small in stature his huge smile and love for life shines through. Married to his beautiful wife, Luba, for over 55 years and having 2 daughters, Ann and Isabella, he can say he has lived the American Dream!
Ann S. Arnold
Most recently Ann, along with her sister Isabella Fiske, created the foundation in honor of their father. She is also the CFO of H. Arnold Wood Turning, Inc. a premier supplier of wood products and the Chief Strategy Officer of BIG (Buyers Intelligence Group), which provides comprehensive, scalable, industry solutions that deliver dramatically improved performance to jewelry retailers and manufacturers.
After graduating from Lehigh and earning her CPA working at Deloitte, she ran Lieberfarb, a leading U.S. based designer and manufacturer of bridal jewelry, for over 20 years, where most recently served as CEO. As a 27 year industry veteran Ann then founded the Arnold Advisory Group.
She is proud of her accomplishments in and service to the jewelry industry. Some of these include: Past Chair of the Jewelers Board of Trade (JBT), Board Member and past Treasurer of the 24 Karat Club of New York, Former president of the National Board of Directors of the Women’s Jewelry Association and the WJA Foundation, Past Chair of the Manufacturers Jewelers and Suppliers of America (MJSA), Recipient of the distinguished WJA Award for Excellence in Manufacturing, and along with her father, Mark Schonwetter, she has won two Platinum Innovation Awards for Design.
Her board works continues outside the jewelry industry as well. She is the current Treasurer of the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation as well as a board member of Mr. T's Carting, a family owned and operated private waste management company and Day's Jewelers, a leading jewelry retailers in Maine and New Hampshire.
One of her greatest accomplishments has been publishing, Together-A Journey for Survival. In September of 2016, she was awarded with the Simon Wiesenthal Center's Heroes for Tolerance Award. She speaks to people of all ages all over the country, and has written a lesson plan to accompany the book, which is now being used in many schools.
Isabella S. Fiske
Isabella Fiske is a woman that wears many different hats depending on the time of day. A mother of two boys, Isabella finds a balance between her family, career and volunteer work.
Raised in the jewelry industry, Isabella Fiske’s family owned and operated Lieberfarb, Inc., a wedding and engagement ring manufacturer. After graduating college Isabella joined the business in the mid 1990’s, as Vice President of Marketing and Design. With Isabella’s assistance Lieberfarb was transformed from a simple wedding ring company into a nationally branded, full service bridal company. In 2002, she along with her sister, were honored with the Women’s Jewelry Association “Manufacturer of the Year” Award.
In 2016, Isabella started her own business, ISF Jewels. Leaving the manufacturing side of the industry she joined the retail sector by becoming a personal jeweler custom designing jewelry for her clients.
Most recently, in August of 2019, Isabella & Ann started the foundation in honor of their father, Mark Schonwetter. Being the daughters of a Holocaust survivor, they have made it their mission to promote awareness, kindness and respect through Holocaust education. Since 2015 she has been traveling to schools to speak with students about her father’s survival.
In September of 2021, Isabella was awarded with the Simon Wiesenthal Center's Heroes for Tolerance Award. In addition, Isabella's sits on various Boards consisting of Officer of her Synagogue, Co-chair of the Jewish Federation-Holocaust Council of Greater MetroWest of NJ and Woman's Philanthropy of Jewish Federation.
Holly Ash is a Commercial Credit Portfolio Management Team Leader at M&T Bank. She began her career at First Fidelity Bank in Newark, NJ and subsequently worked at Credit Lyonnais in the Financial Institutions department.
Holly then left the workforce to raise her two sons while completing her Master’s Degree in Economics at NYU, serving as President at three PTA units in the Plainview-Old Bethpage school district. In 2014, she returned to the workforce at Suffolk County National Bank which was subsequently merged with People’s United Bank. Holly has also served as an Executive Board member and Treasurer of her synagogue, Midway Jewish Center, in Syosset, NY.
She is thrilled to have an opportunity to promote Holocaust education and awareness through this wonderful foundation.
Michael Ash is a Group Director for an Equipment Finance company located in New York. He has been in the Equipment Finance industry with various institutions since 1991. Together with Holly, they have two sons.
Peggy spent 20 years as a financial services professional, focusing on Institutional Sales & Marketing, Project Development and Relationship Management at The Morgan Bank, Morgan Stanley and State Street Capital Markets.
Transitioning to volunteer work and event planning, Peggy served on the Board of her synagogue, as President of the Hebrew School Parents Organization and as Vice President of the PTA. She is a longstanding director of her co-op’s Board of Directors.
The child of a Holocaust survivor, Peggy is passionate about including Holocaust education in school curriculums nationwide. It is particularly important during this time when our country faces unprecedented political, philosophical and sociological divisions.
Peggy has a BA in Economics and French from Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA. She and her husband, Jim, reside in New York City where they raised their two, now adult, children.
Andrea Gershwin is a graduate of Emory University and earned her JD from Brooklyn Law School. Andrea began her career in the real estate group at Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker, before leaving to spend 12 years in higher education admissions. Andrea served as Assistant Director of Admissions at her alma mater Brooklyn Law School, Director of Admissions at NYU School of Law, and, after moving with her family to New Jersey, as College Counselor at Montclair Kimberly Academy. Through her efforts, Andrea helped thousands of students find the right schools and schools the right students.
Over the past few years, Andrea has devoted her time to raising her twin teenage sons and using her creative talents to produce personalized and monogrammed gifts for friends and family through her own company Originals by Andrea Lisa.
A granddaughter of Holocaust survivors and passionate about Holocaust education and remembrance, Andrea has volunteered with various Holocaust-focused organizations and is honored and thrilled to join the MSHEF Board of Trustees.
Andrea resides in Livingston, NJ with her husband and two sons.
Julie Kaplan is a graduate of Syracuse University and earned a Master’s Degree from Kean University. After college, she worked as a second grade teacher in West Caldwell for 6 years before retiring to start her family.
Julie currently serves and previously served on many boards and committees in her community, including as Co-Chair of Jewish Women’s Foundation of New Jersey, Vice President of Daughter’s of Israel, President of the Mt. Pleasant Elementary School PTA, Vice President of Livingston Neighbors Helping Neighbors and an active supporter of National Council of Jewish Women.
She resides in Livingston with her husband and three children and is excited to support Holocaust Education through the MSHE Foundation.
Andrew is Founder and Managing Partner of Center Street Capital Advisors, a national wealth management firm headquartered in Chatham, New Jersey. He has been providing wealth management services to individuals and institutions for more than 25 years.
Andrew has a BA in Economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He and his wife, Nancy, have two boys. They regularly support local community groups focused on healthcare and hunger, and are both active in their local Jewish Community Center, Temple B’Nai Jeshurun and Saint Barnabas Medical Center. Andrew and his family have traveled all over the world and are passionate about exploring new places together.
Additional Board of Trustee Members