Executive Board

Executive Board

Laura Reiss
Founder and President
laura@samaritans365.org

Laura Reiss has been a successful artist for over 20 years. Her works are sold privately, through exhibitions, and corporate commissions. Throughout, while devoting herself to the creative, she has met the demands of operating a solely owned proprietorship.

In 2007, Laura conceived the program upon which Samaritans365 was founded. She created this community service project in response to her desire to give her three small children the opportunity to experience the joy that comes from giving to others and to understand that even small acts of generosity can make a big difference. As a community leader she has had success in: creating and developing the structure of the program; communicating with local organizations to provide speakers so the children can learn the ways in which one can serve their community and beyond; enrolling and organizing the children; managing the fundraising drives; collecting, sorting and delivering items at all events; developing relationships with local authorities, such as the police and Fire department, to become involved and lend their support; creating parent and school administration involvement; and so much more. Her passion to give back may have been fueled by her three small children however it has grown into a commitment for all children. Laura is an artist, community leader, wife, mother, daughter, yogi and friend. Laura has a BFA from the University of Arizona in 1991.

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Melissa H. Orlen
Vice President
melissa@samaritans365.org

Melissa is a senior executive with an entrepreneurial drive that has evolved throughout a multi-faceted career spanning various business experiences. Melissa currently serves as Executive Vice President and General Counsel of MovieTickets.com, Inc.

MovieTickets.com is the worldwide leader in advance movie ticketing with over 260 theater chains in its group, offering moviegoers a quick and convenient way to purchase tickets online, via mobile device, and at 877-789-MOVIE. The company currently enables remote ticketing for consumers across 22 countries/territories including the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Spain, Argentina, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and the Caribbean. Melissa oversees all legal aspects of operations and plays a significant role in developing and executing on strategies and initiatives to grow MovieTickets.com. She came to MovieTickets.com with extensive experience and expertise in the fields of mergers and acquisitions, financing, intellectual property, corporate, securities and entertainment law, helping to direct and shape the path of MovieTickets.com’s success. Prior to joining MovieTickets.com, Melissa was Associate General Counsel of Hollywood Media Corp. (Nasdaq: HOLL), a provider of Broadway ticketing, entertainment related data, news and other content to consumers and businesses covering the entertainment, Internet and media industries. Melissa began her legal career practicing corporate, securities and entertainment law with Greenberg Traurig, P.A. and Thelen Reid & Priest, LLP, representing public and private clients in a broad range of corporate, telecommunications, regulatory, entertainment and intellectual property matters, including, corporate and debt restructuring, public and private securities offerings, mergers and acquisitions, securities law compliance, corporate governance, and business and strategic planning. Melissa has had the opportunity to counsel a wide-range of clients, using her knowledge and experience to play a critical role for all business ventures in which she is involved.

Melissa holds a Bachelor of Arts from University of Pennsylvania, a Juris Doctorate from University of Pennsylvania Law School, and is a member of the Florida and New York Bar Associations. In addition to striving for a successful career, Melissa is passionate about her family. She is a devoted wife and mother, whose family is her source of inspiration, love and pride. She devotes herself, giving of time and energy, to love and support her husband and sons in all of their endeavors at work, school, sports and as part of their community. She is also an avid writer, and is currently working on a book, “Walking Through Life With Hope”. Melissa’s philosophy is to work hard and be thankful for the life you’ve been given, for the exploration and journey, for all who cross your path, for each moment (good and bad), for each and every person, knowing that everyone and everything has an impact, provides an opportunity for an action by you that allows you to evolve into all that you are, and learn every day about understanding, compassion, forgiveness, trust, love, support, kindness and truly giving of yourself in order attain the greatest heights of success and true happiness.

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Andrew Reiss
Vice President
andrew@samaritans365.org

Andrew Reiss earned his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia College of Arts and Sciences in 1991 and went on to earn his MD from the University of Virginia School of Medicine in 1998. He completed his residency training in Pediatrics at The Children’s Hospital in Denver, Colorado and is now a board certified pediatrician with Pediatric Associates in Boca Raton, FL.

In his work and personal life, he recognizes the importance of teaching and guiding children towards success. As part of the Samaritans, he has seen how contributing to our local community and participating in charitable events and organizations helps children achieve these goals. His commitment to the Samaritan365 Foundation is an extension of his professional passion and what he does every day.

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Sandy Taub Gerstein
Kindness Contributor
sandy@samaritans365.org

Sandy is a Native New Yorker who has lived in sunny South Florida with her husband, Rob, and two children, Emily, a student at the University of Miami and Matthew, a high school senior, since August, 2003.

Sandy holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology with a minor in Business Administration from Washington University in St. Louis, as well as a Master’s in Elementary Education from Hunter College of the City of New York.

After years of working at a Madison Avenue Ad Agency and then working in NYC Public Schools, Sandy was fortunate enough to take some time to focus on her family and embark on a career of volunteerism.

Growing up, Sandy was exposed to the merits of volunteering as her mom, Marion Taub, served as an Ort Chapter President and then the Long Island Regional President. Sandy began her dedication to charitable volunteering, in her sorority, Alpha Epsilon Phi, holding numerous board positions and then while living in Rye Brook, NY as she took charge of her synagogue’s gift shop and volunteered at its pre-school. With a kindergarten daughter and toddler son she also found herself a brownie leader and cookie-sale coordinator!

Once a Florida resident, Sandy dipped her toes into volunteering at her children’s school first by helping out in the classrooms and then in the PTA (Sunrise Park Elementary School). Her initial PTA gig was serving two years as VP of Ways & Means (fundraising) and then three-years as PTA President. After her stint in Elementary School PTA was finished and her children grew older Sandy continued to volunteer as well as embark on another journey, beginning a career as a professional organizer.

With a flexible schedule, Sandy continued to give of her time for her children’s schools by serving as Secretary of the Visual & Digital Arts (VAPA) Parent’s Association at the Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts, planning four consecutive fundraiser/silent auctions for VAPA, as well as serve as Dreyfoos’ inaugural PTSA Recording Secretary. Not to slight her son, she was an active parent at his school, chaperoning football games, competitions and serving as Secretary of the Atlantic HS War Eagle Marching Band. In addition to dedicating her time for her kids’ schools, Sandy has supported one of the Samaritans365 partner organizations, The Neshamah Institute, since its inception.

Sandy was first introduced to the Samaritans365 when her dear friend and the organization’s founder, Laura Reiss, joined the Sunrise Park PTA Board and started the first Samaritans Club. Sandy finds it an honor and a privilege to help spread the word and serve the South Florida Community and beyond by sharing Laura’s vision of making our world a kinder, gentler, pay-it-forward kinda’ place!

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Peter J Henn, J.D., AICP 
Kindness Contributor
phenn@fau.edu

PETER J. HENN is an Instructor at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) in the School of Urban & Regional Planning located in Boca Raton.  Prior to joining FAU, Peter was a land use attorney at Florida’s largest law firm and a real estate developer of hotels,

condominium towers and master-planned communities. Most recently, he was the Florida operating partner of several large real estate development projects for the largest global private-equity firm; and previously he was the President/CEO of a publicly-traded real estate development company. He has over 25 years of comprehensive experience in real estate development, law, and government relations in Florida and elsewhere. Peter received his J.D. from the University of Miami School of Law and his B.A. and M.A. in Economics from Florida Atlantic University.  More importantly, he has been married for 34 years and has three children and two grandchildren, including a daughter that teaches at Calusa Elementary School in Boca Raton.  Peter resides in Boca Raton and Deerfield Beach, Florida in the winter and Asheville, North Carolina in the summer. He is a former marathon runner and a certified hot yoga instructor.

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Summer Faerman
Kindness Contributor

Summer Faerman was born and raised in Miami Beach Florida, and graduated from the University of Florida with a triple major in Business, English and Religion, and a minor in Education.  She has dedicated her life to helping those in need.

Summer is the Director of the Tzedakah, Learning and Chesed (TLC) Program at B’nai Torah Congregation in Boca Raton, FL where she is involved with every branch of the Synagogue: Hebrew school, Early Childhood Center, Women’s League, Men’s Club, and staff.

Helping them connect to each other and to other non-profit organizations in the community and beyond is only part of her day. When her “work day” is over oddly it is in many ways when her day begins. In addition to shuttling her beautiful girls (Deborah, 14 and Shoshanna, 12) back and forth from numerous activities and spending time with her husband of 15 years, Larry who is the Associate Vice President and Dean of Students at Florida Atlantic University, she spends her time volunteering for a myriad of organizations and initiatives in the Jewish community as well as nonsectarian organizations particularly those involved with literacy, hunger, homelessness, and special needs.

Summer volunteers at Boca Helping Hands, American Association of Caregiving Youth, Hands on Tzedakah, HAC (Homeless Assistance Center), SOS Children’s Villages, Samaritan 365 Foundation, Palm Beach School for Autism, One Love One Community, The Milagro Center, Love Boca Outreach, The Caring Kitchen, The Wayne Barton Center, Alcoholics Anonymous, The Salvation Army, Family Promise, Habitat for Humanity, JARC, and several Title 1 elementary schools.

Not only does Summer utilize her professional skills to help those in need, she also applies her personal talents. One of her talents is cooking which began in college when she cooked for hundreds of students weekly at the University of Florida Hillel. Today, she continues to cook in mass for Love Outreach Boca, which supports the homeless of her community.

Helping comes naturally to Summer. Once Hurricane Irma hit and she knew her own family was safe, she ventured out to help those who didn’t have family close by. Summer knocked on every door at Century Village in Deerfield Beach and conducted wellness checks and gave out food and water.  For the next two months, she coordinated as many as 1,500 volunteers, 35 trucks, 11 boats and even found a few planes and helicopters, sending almost $1,650,000 of necessary supplies to Houston, the Florida Keys, Puerto Rico, and other islands.

One of Summer’s favorite initiatives was creating a fun, healthy and safe cooking program for youth caregivers. She taught children how to shop smart and cook in a safe and stress-free manner by using slow cookers. This program has helped hundreds of families where, sadly, the children come home from school every day and immediately take on the role of caregiver.

Summer likes to say she has the perfect career because it melds her personal philosophy with her professional life. She believes that you cannot move forward as a person unless you give back.

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