OUR TEAM

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ELIHU “HUGH” BAVER

BOARD CHAIRMAN


2014 Founder of the Massachusetts based NPO Sosua75 Inc., Elihu “Hugh” Baver unexpectedly discovered the little known Jewish Holocaust origins and historical significance of the Dominican North Coast while on a 2010 baseball trip to the Boston Red Sox Dominican baseball Academy. The author and subject of numerous regional and international articles on the Evian/Sosua/Dominican Republic connection, Hugh has been featured in Yankee Magazine, The Boston Globe, New Hampshire Magazine, The Boston Jewish Advocate, Jewish Journal, MSU Alumni Magazine, the Detroit Jewish News & many other publications
A former top performing Corporate Sales Management executive covering metro Boston and the New England Region for COMPAQ/HP and IBM, in 2009 Hugh was sponsored by IBM to attend a continuing education class at Harvard Business School where he earned an advanced learning certificate in IT & Finance. A distinguished BIG TEN alumnus, Hugh pursued both his B.A. & M.A. Degrees at Michigan State University where as a freshman he made the Spartan baseball team as a walk-on pitcher and competed for 4 seasons including the 1979 “Triple Crown” BIG TEN Championship year. Following his college playing days, Hugh pitched briefly on the professional baseball level with the Oakland A’s.
A noted subject matter expert attempting to raise awareness of both these little known Evian Conference & subsequent Sosua DR settlement Holocaust connected stories, Hugh has presented on these topics at New England area synagogues (Temple Beth Jacob in Old Orchard Beach, ME, Congregation Kehillath Israel in Brookline, MA, & at the Vilna Shul on Beacon Hill in Boston) and Universities including UMass Amherst, the Yeshiva in NYC, and his alma mater Michigan State. Raised in a Conservative Jewish household in Buffalo, NY and metro Detroit, Hugh is the proud father of 4 adult children and 2 grandchildren and has resided on the New England Seacoast for many years.

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LARRY RUTTMAN

BOARD MEMBER / AUTHOR


Larry Ruttman was born in Boston, and has lived all his life in Brookline, Massachusetts. After graduating from UMass Amherst in 1952, he served as a US Air Force officer in the Korean War. A 1958 Boston College Law School graduate, Larry has practiced law for 59 years, now performing mostly pro bono work. Beginning his formal writing career 17 years ago, Larry’s first book, Voices of Brookline (2005) was a national finalist for an Award of Merit from the American Association of State and Local History (AASLH). His second book, American Jews and America’s Game: Voices of a Growing Legacy in Baseball (University of Nebraska Press, 2013), was chosen as the #1 baseball book in America for 2013, among many submitted, by Sports Collectors Digest. Both books are ‘biographical cultural histories’ based on many in-depth interviews, a genre which he originated.
Today, Larry continues working toward goals, the latest being a book tentatively titled, Voices of Virtuosi: Musicians Reveal Their Musical Minds, which seeks to uncover the sources of musical composition and excellence by inquiring into the psyches of its Masters. In 2013, Larry had the honor of being elected a Fellow into the legendary Massachusetts Historical Society, founded in 1791, and again in 2016 by the collection of his papers on the writing of his books by the New England Historical Genealogical Society (NEHGS) as combined with the American Jewish Historical Society (AJHS), to be collated, indexed, digitized, and published for the use of historians, academics, and others in person or on the Worldwide Web. Married for 54 years to his wife Lois (Raverby) Ruttman, Larry’s main interests are writing, photography, reading, current events, baseball, music, family, friends, and giving; not necessarily in that order.

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RABBI ANCEL SALAMON

BOARD MEMBER / JEWISH CULTURE, HISTORY, & PRACTICES


Born in Romania, Rabbi Salamon emigrated to Canada in 1963 & then came to the USA in 1989 where he led the Chevra Kadisha in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. During his tenure there as Assistant Rabbi he performed more than 2000 TAHARAS and funerals. Having attained the highest degree of Rabbinical Ordination as Yoreh Yoreh, Yadin Yadin, Rabbi Salamon is a Member of the Faculty of Mesifta Wolkowisk Rabbinical Academy in Woodmere, NY. A distinguished member of the Sheriffs Council, Ancel is also a Military and Police Certified Chaplain. Currently serving as President of the Jewish Chaplains of the Dominican Republic, Rabbi Salamon is recognized as a Rabbi in Israel & is extensively connected to the wider Jewish community in the US, Canada, & the Dominican Republic. Well known for his compassionate and inspirational leadership, Rabbi Salamon also performs wedding ceremonies, Bar & Bat Mitzvot, Brit Milah, and baby namings. Residing in Sosua with his wife of many years, he is highly committed to keeping this area’s Jewish heritage alive and will serve as the Dominican focal point for strategic execution of this project.

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DR. DENNIS LAFFER

BOARD MEMBER / HISTORIAN


Dr Dennis Laffer is one of the founding members of the Florida Holocaust Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida. Although he has read extensively about the Holocaust over the years, in 1999, he became intrigued over a brief mention of the Evian Conference incorporated in the core museum exhibit. When he finally committed himself that year to enter the computer age Dr. Laffer purchased a home desktop PC and decided to research the conference: why was it held; what was the role of Roosevelt; and of the Jews; who attended and what was said by the delegates and other representatives; how was it reported in the press; how effective or ineffective was the meeting and how was it regarded in the hindsight of history.
It became his hobby and an all consuming interest that led to two published articles in a multi-authored text, including Dr. Laffer’s 2011 comprehensive 411 page Master’s Degree graduate thesis and dissertation on the topic “Jewish Trail of Tears, Evian Conference of July 1938” and a presentation at a Holocaust conference in Vienna. Dr. Laffer has now extended his research for a Ph.D further into the immigration question, focusing on the Wagner-Rogers Bill and the Hennings Bill, reaching similar conclusions. The issue, however, is multi-factorial and was highly influenced by the actions and inaction’s of leading Jews of the time and the Jewish community as a whole. Dr. Laffer’s professional credentials include graduating from Michigan State University, earning his Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology from 1968 to 1972, as a member of the second graduating class from Lyman Briggs college.
A member of the MSU Honors college, Laffer graduated with high honors Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Eta Sigma, and Phi Kappa Phi. He then went on to medical school for his doctorate at the University of Michigan, class of 1976, followed by an internship and residency at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak with a specialty in Gastroenterology.
He has come to agree with the viewpoint proposed by Professor David Wyman and others that President Franklin D. Roosevelt did little to aid Jewish refugees during the critical pre-war and intra-war periods and that this international gathering was primarily a publicity ploy designed to deflect any changes in American immigration policies.

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TODD SALOVEY

BOARD MEMBER / ART & THEATER


Todd Salovey is a theatre director, writer, and producer. He is on the faculty in the Department of Theatre and Dance at the University of California, San Diego, and is in his 25th season as San Diego REPertory Theatre’s Associate Artistic Director. As the Founding Artistic Director of the REP’s Lipinsky Family San Diego Jewish Arts Festival, he has commissioned and developed numerous new pieces of music, theatre, and dance that have been premiered in San Diego and gone on to be performed throughout the world. The Festival, one of the largest of its kind in the U.S., has presented and premiered work from12 different countries in 7 languages. Mr. Salovey directed the original workshop production of A Weekend with Pablo Picasso at The REP and its world premiere at the Alley Theatre in Houston.He also directed subsequent productions at Los Angeles Theatre Center, Center Arts Rep, Denver Center Theatre Company, San Jose Stage, and Arizona Theatre Company.
Mr. Salovey has directed and produced many acclaimed REP shows including A Hammer, A Bell and A Song to Sing and The Blessing of a Broken Heart (winner of Edgerton New American Play) which he also adapted. Other productions include the world premiere of Yehuda Hyman’s The Mad Dancers (Kennedy Center new American Play Award), the English premiere of In the Time of the Butterflies with original music by Michael Roth, Hamlet starring Tony winner Jefferson Mays, King Lear, Uncle Vanya and Death of a Salesman starring Michael Genovese, Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, The Illusion, The Dybbuk, The Imaginary Invalid, Three Hotels, and A Christmas Carol. He is in his 24th year on the acting faculty at the University of California, San Diego, where he has directed Six Characters in Search of an Author and Stage Door. He also teaches communications for the MBA program of the Rady School of Management at U.C.S.D. He Has served on the Board of Directors of the San Diego Soille Hebrew Day School, and Torah High School of San Diego, and has been the Chair/President of both boards.

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Giorgio Piracci

BOARD MEMBER / Permaculture & Organic Farming


Giorgio Piracci is an Italian biologist specializing in Ecology. Possessing Masters Degrees in Natural Resources Conservation from the University of Bologna and International Cooperation for Development of Rural Areas from the University of Padua, (both in Italy), Giorgio is also an Oregon State University certified Permaculture Designer and practitioner. A member of the Permaculture Institute of North America, after a trip to Brazil in 2004 he fell in love with the Amazon rain forest. Since 2005, he has worked for multiple organizations focusing on several projects promoting the conservation and development of the indigenous Peruvian Yanesha rain forest population. Currently the Executive Director of the Non-Profit association 7Elements Peru, in 2011 Giorgio moved to the Dominican Republic where he works as an independent consultant for the design, planning and development of sustainable rural projects.
Giorgio’s expertise focuses on the sustainable management of natural resources with a particular focus on “eco-tourism” as an alternative economic source for local development and sustainable integrated agriculture. In the last few years, Giorgio has focused his energies working in the Service Learning industry discovering this kind of activity is the best option to engage students and develop young minds to create a new generation of global citizens with new perspectives about environmental management, the world economy, and social justice. Giorgio believes that Permaculture is the tool to achieve a sustainable society and to create healthy communities, reducing our ecological footprint and empowering people to embrace food production and energy storage; seeing our role on this planet through a different mindset. A strong proponent of “producing your own food is the biggest revolution” Giorgio loves to teach people how to create beautiful, sustainable landscapes around their livelihoods able to sustain life, food production, reduce energy consumption, and provide an equitable economic outcome.
Living with his wife of many years and young daughter, Giorgio resides in Cabarete, the city adjacent to Sosua, on the North Coast of the Dominican Republic.

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Ayaguana Ayiti

BOARD MEMBER / Taino Indian Indigenous Culture


Ayaguana is a Taino Indian from the island of Ayitï/Kiskeya whose life and career has been dedicated to raising awareness of indigenous peoples and their heritage in the Caribbean. Having studied ancient traditions with Taino elders of diverse islands, best known to others as “Aya”, has presented critically acclaimed work and extensive academic research at multiple academic research forums, conferences, and language symposiums. Aya also has worked in collaboration with the Washington DC based Fondo del Sol Latino Multicultural Visual Arts Center, the second oldest Latino multicultural museum in the US. Following Aya’s passion and competencies, Aya has investigated Taino and Caribbean ancient culture for the development of University level cultural programs and studies.
With a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from Rochester Institute of Technology and dual interdisciplinary undergraduate majors in Social Sciences and Political Science from Michigan State University, Ayaguana also facilitates workshops on Taino language, ancestral music, rituals, and practices. A musician, artist, and practitioner of the ancient martial art and ritual combat dance of Capoeira Angola, Aya’s continuing work focuses on conducting ongoing investigations of the Taino roots and peoples of the island today. Through these ancestral teachings and traditions. Ayaguana seeks to connect the Sosua75 project vision with the ancient Taino Indian heritage of the island.
Tracing Aya’s own family roots to the Dominican North Coast city of La Isabela, the landing place of Christopher Columbus in the New World in 1492, Aya currently resides in the Dominican capital city of Santo Domingo.

 

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SKYE STEVENSON

ADVISORY BOARD MEMBER


Skye Stephenson is a global educator and writer. She received a doctorate in International Relations and Latin American Studies from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and was one of the first students at Wellesley College to graduate with a Latin American Studies major. She lived more than a decade in Latin America, and has helped to develop educational programs in many of the countries of the region – including the Dominican Republic. Skye currently makes her home in southern New Hampshire, working at Keene State College as Director of their Global Education Office. In recent years, she has served as U.S. representative for the indigenous pluriversity of Ecuador. In her free time, Skye enjoys writing and spiritual activities. She is the author a full-length book about South American culture, a novel, two poetry books, numerous academic articles as well as a monthly newspaper column in the Monadnock region.

Hernani Isaac Del Giudice

BOARD MEMBER / TECHNOLOGY RESOURCES


Hernani Isaac Del Giudice, born in the Dominican Republic, is an experienced IT solutions specialist with expertise in sales, marketing and project management. Fluent in both Spanish and English, Hernani’s knowledge base encompasses Apple/PC hardware and software, web software development, business strategy, and non-profit community development.
As a founding member of the non-profit Fundacion SLD, Hernani is helping a team, together with CabareteNetwork, to develop free educational internet service to the various neighborhoods in Cabarete. In the past, he also proposed educational solutions to the Dominican Government and other Dominican North Coast communities.
Hernani recently moved to Boston after growing up in Santo Domingo and residing in Cabarete on the Dominican North Coast for 11 years. While watching a PBS history special in the U.S. on the “American Jewish Journey”, Hernani was inspired to investigate his family’s emigration from Calabria, Italy to the Dominican Republic in the late 1800’s. Upon extensive on-line investigation, his focus turned to his paternal grandmother, and he learned that she had emigrated from the island of Curaçao, and that her ancestors (the de Marchena family), were one of the first 12 Jewish families who had colonized the island. These families established the first synagogue on the island, “The Mikve Israel-Emanuel Synagogue”, which was also the first synagogue established in the New World.
Celebrating his newly discovered Jewish roots and his first Hanukkah last December, Hernani is eager to learn more and educate people about the role of Judaism in Dominican history. With 11 years of living and working in Cabarete and 10 years DJing and organizing the music for the North Coast watersports events “Masters of The Ocean” and “Pauhana Family Surf Contest”, Hernani Isaac brings a wealth of established relationships and resources to the future success of the Sosua75 project.

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MEIRA FERSTER

INTERN


Meira Ferster is a sophomore studying neuroscience at the University of New Hampshire in Durham. Her interest in becoming an intern for Sosua75 stems from the history of her own family who had escaped Europe during WWII to the Dominican Republic. In addition to still having family there, maintaining her Jewish faith is very important to her. An accomplished musician in the piano, alto saxophone , and guitar, who performed at Carnegie Hall, one of Meira’s other interests include figure skating where she was a member of the UNH synchro skating team. Some of her other accomplishments include placing fourth in the Empire State Games, and performing under famous musician Wynton Marsalis. Coming to NH from Great Neck, NY, Meira’s future aspirations include doing research to find a cure for Diabetes and Neuroscience.

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MARY HILLIARD

INTERN


Mary Hilliard is a sophomore at the University of Notre Dame in the Mendoza College of Business with a second major in English. Upon completion of a “Europe at War” course detailing European history between 1900-1945, Mary learned about the Evian Conference in the context of the destruction of European Jewry. Although only mentioned in a short sentence in the span of 50 pages, Mary was intrigued by this event due to the general lack of knowledge about this Conference and its immense repercussions. As a result, she applied for and received an Undergraduate Research Opportunity Grant from Notre Dame’s Institute for Scholarship in Liberal Arts to conduct archival research at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. and College Park, Maryland. Through her research, Mary drew parallels between the attempts to ameliorate the refugee crisis in the 1930s and actions taken to address the Syrian refugee crisis and others taking place today in contemporary times. Originally from Kansas City, Mary is a member of the Sorin Scholar undergraduate research Honors program, a manager for the lacrosse team, and a Student Government Senator for her dorm at Notre Dame.

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