"My background is as a finance professional focused on clean energy investments, both public and private. My day job keeps me busy running a project development and finance company called Exergy Energy (www.ExergyEnergy.com) where we make, build, own and operate renewable energy projects for commercial, industrial, non-profit and municipal customers.
After a brief hiatus due to my relocation to CA and starting a new firm, I rejoined the Board in 2016 and am glad to return to the board of directors of the Straus Historical Society. As part of my responsibilities, I am a member of the Finance Committee that oversees our investments and makes recommendations on spending. I hope that my years of experience will prove useful to the financial health of the Society. I am a great-great-grandson of Isidor and Ida Straus and am very proud to be a part of a large and loving family seeking to make the world more verdant and equal for all."
Vice-Chairman of the Board
"I am the chairperson emeritus of Interbrand US. I formed Gerstman+Meyers in 1970, serving hundreds of international corporate clients through brand identity and package design, as well as creating Brand Wizard for brand and production resource management. I have won numerous design awards, hold design and utility patents, and frequently lecture on packaging and marketing issues. I have also co-authored three books published by Palgrave Macmillan.
I joined the Board in 2009 and have served as the vice-chair since 2011. I am a member of the Moises Lazarus Branch of the Straus Family. Working with Al Berr, we have created the Straus Scholarship Program which awarded its first scholarship in 2018 to a deserving graduate student who is preparing to work in the field of public service. I am also on the Finance Committee. Serving on the Board gives me the opportunity to discuss and promote the remarkable Straus family’s achievements, along with meeting friends and making family connections."
"I am a professor of English at Bergen Community College and have been teaching for more than 30 years. I hold a graduate degree in American Studies from the University of New Mexico, and I have given numerous presentations focused on teaching as well as on the history of baseball. I also teach summer courses at the Chautauqua Institution in southwestern New York.
I have been on the Board since 2009, have served as the secretary since 2010, and also I am on the Board Development Committee. I am a member of the Maas branch of the Straus family. Furthering this remarkable family’s legacy is very important to me and I do so to honor the memory of my father."
Lawrence A. Kahn
"I am a retired veterinarian, having practiced for over 40 years in Trumbull, Connecticut in a companion animal hospital which I co-owned. I received my degree from the New York State College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University in 1970. From 1980 to the present I have been very involved in my synagogue, Congregation Rodeph Sholom, filling most leadership positions except president. For five years I was the budget chair, overseeing an annual budget of $1.5 million.
I joined the board in 2005, was secretary from 2006 through 2009, have served as treasurer since 2010, and as a member of the Finance Committee. I am related to the Strauses through the Moises Lazarus branch of the family. I am extremely proud to be involved with an organization dedicated to people who, while being so successful in whatever field of endeavor they chose to pursue, were also concerned with the ‘repair of the world.'"
Members of the Board
"My career as an arts administrator has covered more than fifty years. I was general manager of a theater company that toured major cities in the country with productions of Broadway dramas and musicals. I also was general manager of the Joffrey Ballet when it performed at City Center in New York, and was general manager of a small opera company whose goal was to combine art and technology in the presentation of new work. I joined the New York State Council on the Arts as a temporary employee and, during my thirty-four year tenure, became performing arts director, deputy director, and, eventually, acting executive director. I retired from the Council in 2009, and now sit on several boards, most notably the Friends of Straus Park, a position which led to my membership on the Board of the Straus Historical Society.
I joined the SHS Board in 2004 and serve on the Scholarship Committee and the Finance Committee. Although I am not related to the family, I am honored to serve and to assist in disseminating the singular achievements of the remarkable Strauses."
Michael H. Buckner
"I am a seventh-generation resident of Talbot County, Georgia, where the Straus family first settled when they immigrated to the United States. I am a retired Postmaster of Junction City, Georgia and have owned and operated Fielders Grist Mill for the past 50 years. I am the executive director of Patsiliga Museum, Inc., the co-chair of the Historic Talbotton Foundation, and a member of the Columbus Museum History and Collection Committees.
I have been a member of the Board since 1999 and am passionately interested in the history of the Straus family, especially as it relates to the State of Georgia. I hope to assist the Society in its efforts to further disseminate the history of the family and am proud to serve on the board of directors."
"I currently live in Boulder, CO with my wife Amy and my 3 children, Maggie, Ryan and Ellie. I work at Google Cloud and am responsible for Sales in our Gaming business. I've held many global sales and sales leadership roles throughout my career that has included living in London for 3 years where Maggie and Ryan were born. In addition to working at Google, I act in advisory roles for CapitalG (an investment arm at Google) and other CEOs around the industry. I've also been an early investor in a few startup companies. I am a graduate of Emory University in Atlanta. My passions include snowboarding, international travel, distance running and board games. My father is Larry Kahn, current Treasurer of SHS, and I am related to the Strauses through Moises Lazarus branch of the family."
"I am the curator of the Herbert & Eileen Bernard Museum of Judaica at Temple Emanu-El where one of my duties aside from putting on rotating exhibitions is managing our collection of over 1,200 objects part of which is the Judge Irving Lehman collection. Lehman was the husband of Sissie Straus Lehman. In addition to our museum collection I also help to run our Temple archive dating back to 1845. Previously I have worked at the JTS Library, Skirball Museum in Los Angeles, Magnes Museum in Berkeley and several private collections in New York. I have an MA in Jewish Art from the Jewish Theological Seminary and a BA in the History of Art from the University of California, Santa Cruz.
I joined the Events and Planning Committee in early 2018 and joined the board officially in December 2018. It is an honor to be on the board. I am inspired by the family’s dedication to service and I look forward to being involved in future exhibitions and events. To me it is a perfect way to bridge my professional career as a curator with that of service to the broader community."
Paul A. Kurzman
"I am a professor of social work at the City University of New York and at Hunter College. I hold a BA in economics from Princeton University, MS in social work from Columbia University, and PhD in public administration from New York University. I have served as executive director of a nonprofit community organization, been a senior administrator in New York City’s Human Resources Administration, and program director of an interdisciplinary center at Columbia University. My main academic interest is in work, workers and work organizations in American society, and I have published a number of books on this subject.
I joined the board of directors in 1996 and have served as chair of the SHS Board in the past. I currently serve on the Finance Committee. As a great-grandson of Isidor and Ida Straus, it is a pleasure and privilege to be a part of the Straus Historical Society."
Elizabeth (Liza) Loop
"I am the founder of LO*OP Center, Inc., and a 30-year veteran of high tech non-formal learning environments. Co-author of “ComputerTown USA!: Bringing Computer Literacy to Your Community,” I've taught computing to children and adults, organized numerous events, written manuals and research reports for major corporations and universities and launched several businesses. During the past five years, I've been working on the History of Computing in Learning and Education Project which is developing an interactive online museum and features an independent web repository of material from the 1970s and 1980s. My career experience includes launching three small business enterprises, serving as the president of the Chamber of Commerce of Cotati, CA, and as chairwoman of the Special Interest Group on Personal Computing for the Association for Computing Machinery.
I have been a member of the SHS board of directors since 2010 and serve on the Board Development Committee and the Scholarship Committee. I am a great-granddaughter of Isidor and Ida Straus. It is my hope that I can bring to the board my commitment to new ways of learning and of service to the public."
"I am an integrated marketing consulting who specializes developing and executing innovative campaigns at the center of culture, entertainment, media and technology. Prior to consulting, I spent 10+ years in media working at Condé Nast and The Hollywood Reporter, where I led integrated marketing, events and creative services. I graduated from Colgate University with a degree in Physical Sciences (a cross between Physics, Chemistry and Math) and a minor in Sociology and Anthropology. I have also studied the Business and Marketing of Entertainment and Music at NYU and am currently getting a certificate in Entrepreneurship from Wharton.
I joined the board in January 2021 and serve on the Social Media Committee (Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter). I am a great-great grand daughter of Ida and Isidor Straus and my grandfather, Robert K. Straus founded the Straus Historical Society. I am honored to continue his work and continue to explore the family’s history and impact."
"I grew up in New York City and as a member of the Oscar Straus branch of the family that would make me the sixth generation living here. I went to Skidmore College in upstate New York and have worked in technology as an engineer for nearly 10 years including healthcare, internet software, and cryptocurrency.
I was invited to join the SHS board in 2024. My father, Oscar Straus III, was previously chairman of the board and my half-brother David Straus currently serves. SHS has been a part of my life and understanding of the Straus family since I was young and I'm proud to finally be a member and help make a difference in my family's name."
David A. Straus
"My background is as a finance professional, with a focus on commercial real estate. I have spent the last seven years working in the Banking industry as a Credit Analyst and loan officer, financing everything from small residential investment properties to multi-million dollar hotels and resorts all over North, Central and South America. In mid 2019, I decided it was time to change my career focus and have been searching for the right fit in the non-profit world. I have served on a number of Boards and Foundations over the years, and hope my experience will help to make the SHS even stronger.
In 2007, my family and I made the decision to pull our daughters out of school to home school them, bought a sail boat and took a 10-month sailing trip from our home in Maryland to the Dominican Republic and back with stops along the east coast, the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands. I was invited to join the Board in 2019 and currently am a member of the Finance Committee and Scholarship Committee. I am the great-great Grandson of Oscar Solomon Straus and Sarah Lavanburg Straus and the son of Oscar S. Straus III, former Chairman of the Straus Historical Society. I look forward to working with this fantastic Board and to continue its great work."
Richard K. Straus, Sr.
"I am a native of Columbus, GA having been born there in 1958 as the son of Jack B. and Cindy Straus. I am a proud graduate of Auburn University in Auburn, AL and The Medical College of Georgia School of Dentistry in Augusta, GA where I met my future wife, Julie Anne Blattner, of Cape Girardeau, MO. I returned to Columbus where I started my private practice in 1984 and practiced through mid-2016 at which time Julie and I relocated to her hometown in Missouri where I continue to practice and mentor young dentists throughout the Midwest as well. While in Columbus, we were blessed with five children and two grandchildren. We have been actively involved on the boards of numerous charitable, artistic, and historical organizations and in the life of our church.
I was pleased to have been nominated to serve on the Board of the Straus Historical Society in 2020 and look forward to being a contributing member of the Board during my term. I am particularly proud to represent the Moises Lazarus branch of the Straus family as his great, great, grandson and was thrilled to co-write an article on my grandfather, Abe Straus, for the Feb. ’19 newsletter. It is believed, through DNA evidence obtained in 2003, that Moises Lazarus was the grandchild or great grandchild of the original Lazarus who was born in 1715.
The importance of an historical and philanthropic organization like the Straus Historical Society cannot be overstated. The discovery, accumulation, preservation, and restoration of this history is a story that needs to be told to all generations and to anyone with ears to hear as the life lessons from the past history of this great family are a legacy worth emulating- not just for our family, but for the generations yet to come. While we should all take great pride in the accomplishments of our ancestors, we should not rest on the laurels of the past. It is incumbent on each one of us to do our duty to tell their story and to live our lives in such a way that we reflect their legacy on all whose lives we touch and hope that our life example further enhances that legacy. For that is our gift to them. "
"I first began working with the Straus family in 1990 when I was hired by Robert K. Straus of Santa Barbara, CA, a grandson of Isidor and Ida Straus, to get his family's papers out of R. H. Macy & Company following a leveraged buy-out. Once that was accomplished we had thousands of pages no one had seen in many, many years. I began organizing them, having the Old German on some translated, transcribing others, and slowly reconstructing the story of the Straus family's early history. The newsletter and address books were initiated in 1993. What began as an informal project has grown since into the 501(c)(3) nonprofit Straus Historical Society, for which I serve as the executive director. It is my very great pleasure to work at a job I love, exploring the rich history of an amazing family and with so many truly interesting people and projects."
Catherine McIlvaine Smith
"I am the assistant director of the Straus Historical Society and have been with the organization since 2010. My work with the Society consists of archiving new materials, creating and managing the website and social media accounts, and helping with research, communication, and fundraising. I have my Master’s Degree in History from Iona College, and am passionate about the incredible legacy of the Straus family. I am the proud recipient of the David A. and Mildred H. Morse Matching Trust Grant which allows me to continue my important work with the organization. It is my pleasure to be a part of the Straus Historical Society. I hope that my experience and skills help the Society to grow and to appeal to the next generation."
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