Hillel Colorado Professional Staff Members
Daniel W. Bennett
Daniel has been statewide director of Hillel of Colorado since 2016. He arrived in Colorado in 1979 (planning to stay for a just a little while!) after completing graduate studies at The Ohio State University, and has lived in Colorado ever since – leading, convening, and guiding Jewish communal organizations to achieve their highest goals. Daniel’s first 18 years as a Jewish communal professional in Denver were spent as Jewish Studies Director at the Denver Jewish Day School, and then as director of education at Denver’s two largest synagogues – Temples Sinai and Emanuel – where he spearheaded the development of youth, family, and adult education programs while publishing, lecturing, and leading students and families with passion. In June 2009, Daniel completed a 12‐year position as President and CEO of the Colorado Agency for Jewish Education (CAJE);
Daniel has led numerous Israel group trips for students and adults, and was honored to serve Oak Tree Foundation in Denver for nearly a decade as philanthropic advisor. Then, in Daniel’s final engagement as founder of Sea Change Consulting, Inc., a firm he formed in 2009 to work with local and national nonprofits, he convened Hillel of Colorado stakeholders to inform the strategic and business plans he wrote for Hillel of Colorado in 2015; soon thereafter, Hillel engaged Daniel to lead its turnaround.
Daniel and his wife, Devorah have two thirty‐something sons, a daughter‐in‐law, and a spirited Golden‐Sheltie named Sawyer.
Mariah’s Hillel experience – first as a student at Emerson College Hillel in Boston, MA, and later when she was growing up in Boulder and her family attended events at CU Boulder Hillel – was one of keys to her spiritual journey. Later, as a young adult, Mariah lived on Kibbutz Beit Hashita in Israel, and has returned many times to travel and visit friends and family.
Mariah brings her extensive business, marketing and entrepreneurial experience to Hillel, having worked in management and leadership in businesses and nonprofits in Boulder, Fort Collins, and Ouray, CO. She most recently owned a boutique near the CSU campus that offered health and healing services, handcrafted jewelry, Judaica, and holistic health education; her shop was open to all, but geared especially to college-age young adults seeking a welcoming and empowered spiritual life. Mariah’s business background and her strong belief that happiness is a huge part of health – and that “we all need a place to be uplifted...to inspire our spirit” – will serve Hillel students well.
Mariah’s family has deep roots in both the Denver and Boulder Jewish Communites. She, her husband and two daughters love being part of the Fort Collins community where Mariah looks forward to connecting CSU Hillel students with community mentors and nonprofit networks in Northern Colorado.
Simi grew up in Boulder attending Bonai Shalom Synagogue, and later graduated from CU Boulder with a degree in Psychology. His connection to the Jewish community didn’t end with graduation: his first job after college was for three years as the Youth Director at Congregation Har HaShem in Boulder.
Simi’s grasp of leadership development, informal education, and Jewish programming led him to work in Jewish summer camps, where Jewish identities are often formed and enhanced – first as a Head Counselor and Unit Head at Wilshire Boulevard Temple Camp in Malibu, CA, and later as Assistant Director at Temple Emanuel’s Maurice B. Shwayder Camp above Idaho Springs, CO.
Simi is based in Denver, but spends as much time as possible in the Colorado mountains volunteering with the National Center for the Disabled in Winter Park, Co. He is also an avid skier. Simi plans to bring his excitement for the outdoors to programming at DU Hillel, and stresses his love of informal education and relationship-building as keys to success. Simi has staffed a summer Birthright Israel trip, and lived in Tel Aviv for a year teaching English, leading recreational activities for children and adults with special needs, and writing grants for a nonprofit. He is excited to bring the full range of his passion and skills to work with college-age young adults at Hillel.
As a third generation Denverite, Sami Hazan continues a family tradition of involvement with the Jewish community. She is thrilled to be part of the Hillel of Colorado team and enjoys working with committed and talented professionals who strive to ensure a strong and enriching Jewish environment for students. When she is not at Hillel, Sami can be found working part time in the BMH‐BJ Gift Shop, spending time with family and friends. Cooking Shabbat and holiday dinner for dozens (on a slow week), mentoring students and sharing anecdotes and modern midrashim – or taking on another home project or two.
Sami’s own passion for Jewish life began when she was a child in the Denver Jewish community, where her mother – through the example she set at her synagogue and at home – instilled in Sami a lifelong love of Jewish values and commitment to Jewish Peoplehood. Sami later staffed the Denver Israel Study Tour, and with her husband, Professor Robert Hazan, has proudly raised two children – one of whom went on to be a student leader and intern at the CSU Hillel in Ft. Collins.