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 Master's Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Florida and spent ten years in education, both in the classroom and as a curriculum developer. A freelance writer in her spare time, Cheryl has written for several websites, including Southern Poverty Law Center's Teaching Tolerance, InterfaithFamily.com, and Columbia SC Moms Blog. Cheryl and her husband, Allan, are happy to be raising their first child in this community.


Debby Mullen, Executive Assistant

Debby has a degree in accounting & business from Raritan College in New Jersey, her hometown. She enjoys working with the community and helping those around her. Debby is an original member of the team since moving to the new building eight years ago. She has two beautiful daughters, two fabulous grandchildren and a wonderful husband.