In 2005, when he was Campus Rabbi at Northwestern University Hillel, Josh founded Ask Big Questions along with students Allie Gross and Lexie Komisar. In 2011, Ask Big Questions became a national initiative of Hillel, and Josh became its Educational Director, working with Sheila Katz to launch and scale the program. Since that time, he has guided the development of our educational theory, approach to training, educational resources, and overall strategy. He has served as Director since 2013. A leading thinker and writer in both the Jewish and higher education communities, Josh holds a PhD from Northwestern in Religious Studies, as well as ordination from YCT Rabbinical School, and a BA from Yale University in music (he played the tuba and conducted an orchestra). Josh is a Wexner Graduate Fellow and served as founding co-chair of the Wexner Fellowship Alumni Committee. He lives in Skokie, IL with his wife Natalie Blitt and sons Jonah, Micah and Toby.
Margie Cook is the Director of Training for Ask Big Questions based in our Chicago office. Margie comes to Ask Big Questions with more than 20 years experience in higher education, where she has pursued her passion for creating greater understanding and justice through roles across Student Affairs, Academic Affairs, and Employee Development and Training. Margie's career has been rooted in lessons of inter-cultural exchange and community empowerment learned during her service as a Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand.
Most recently she was the Associate Director of the Center for Student Diversity at the College of William & Mary, where she developed a Diversity Peer Education Program and a campus dialogue initiative. Previously, at Northern Illinois University, she was the inaugural Director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Resource Center, guiding its development from inception to its status as a nationally-recognized program. At NIU she pioneered the campus Ally Program, which was looked to as a model by colleges and universities nationwide. Also at NIU she put her Master’s Degree in instructional design to work in a groundbreaking initiative to support faculty in diversifying their course content and pedagogical approaches.
Margie is an Illinois native, an avid bird watcher and photographer, and a sometimes poet. As a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan, she is excited to be living and working near the friendly confines of Wrigley Field.
Michael Hahn is an intern at Ask Big Questions whose education and professional life have taken an unusual path. After sojourning as a guitarist in a rock band for a few years, he began his higher education experience at a community college where he was determined to study science. As his academic interests developed, and hopes of stardom abated, he shifted course to the humanities to discover new work. In 2016, he uprooted from his native Los Angeles and moved to Chicago for its culture and history.
In the spirit of wearing multiple hats, Michael also works as an architectural historian at the Graham Foundation in Chicago. He holds a master’s in history from Claremont Graduate University and bachelor’s from the University of California at Berkeley. In his spare time, he enjoys building community in Chicago’s eclectic Ukrainian Village neighborhood which he now calls home.
Sara Rostolder Mandell is the Director of Marketing & Communications for Ask Big Questions. Sara comes to Ask Big Questions after moving with her family from the Washington, DC-area to Madison, WI seeking a radical lifestyle change and is based in the Chicago office. Prior to joining the ABQ team, she was the Chief Communications Officer of the Washington DCJCC. With nearly 20 years of experience working in marketing and communications strategy for non-profits, Sara has helped organizations tailor their messages, brands, and public images to achieve the greatest impact. She has worked with DDB-Worldwide, Jewish Funds for Justice (now Bend the Arc), Jewish Council on Urban Affiars, The Hatcher Group, and the Embassy of Israel. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Journalism school, she is thrilled to be back in Madison surrounded by the energy of a university in a capital city (not to mention the abundance of independent coffee shops). She shares her life with her husband, two children, and an impossibly chatty black lab.
Camille Monk is the Office Administrator for Ask Big Questions and is a self-proclaimed fixer and service enthusiast. With over 10 years’ experience in client services and logistics, Camille is always up for a challenge and finding a way to get-the-job done. Originally from Wisconsin where she owned and operated The Etiquette & Protocol School of Wisconsin, she trained children and young adults from various backgrounds on social etiquette. Camille lives in Milwaukee with her husband and three-year old son and is based in our Chicago office. She enjoys singing, spending time with family and ministering to youth in her youth group.
Pablo Rangel, Ask Big Questions's Director of Assesment, is a data research analyst with a background in the social sciences, and work in various fields including construction, museum, education, and digital humanities. Pablo’s interests center on charting transformations in the human condition. He is currently pursuing a PhD in the Department of History at the University of Chicago. He holds a Masters Degree in Social Sciences from the University of Chicago as well as a MA and BA from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with emphases in History and Ethnic Studies and is based in our Chicago office.
Bethany Sharp is the Lead Designer for Ask Big Questions and has worked as a Graphic Designer with clients large and small. Bethany is a graduate of Boston University and has studied design in four countries. She has brought her communications skills and love of typography with her from Texas to Chicago and is jumping into non-profit work with both feet.
Outside of Ask Big Questions, Bethany is a singer, artist, and lover of languages with a sizeable perfectionist streak.
Whitney Waara is the Senior Director of Operations, based in our Chicago office. She joined Ask Big Questions in 2017, bringing extensive non-profit management experience including many years working in public media and community engagement. Whitney was a consultant to public radio and television stations for Public Media Company and spent a decade at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in Washington, D.C., most recently serving as Vice President of Operations. She also served as the Executive Director of Land Information Access Association, a Traverse City, Michigan-based nonprofit that works with municipalities and NGOs across Michigan to improve civic engagement and develop community plans that focus on maintaining strong cultural and natural resources to support resilient, sustainable communities. Her professional expertise includes strategic planning, grants, project and financial management, operations, and organizational development.
Whitney earned her MBA degree from Kent State University and has a BA in Economics from Kalamazoo College. She is a Certified Grants Management Specialist by the National Grants Management Association and has credentials as a facilitator, community planner, and chef. She and her husband are kept busy raising three athletic and fun-loving boys, two cats, and lots of kale and tomatoes.
Philanthropic Advisor and Consultant
Vice President for Academic Affairs, Clarke University
Rebecca Halpern Productions
Senior Vice President for Student Affairs - Yale University
Vice President for Social Entrepreneurship - Hillel International
Professor of English - Goucher College
Ellen Weiss has been Chief of Washington Bureau and Vice President of The E. W. Scripps Company since February 11, 2013. She oversees a multimedia national investigative team and in 2015 received her forth Peabody Award for the “Under the Radar” investigative series exposing problems when convicted military sex offenders return to civilian life. In 2014, she launched DecodeDC, a weekly podcast and multimedia blog aimed at explaining Washington’s people, culture, policies and politics.
Weiss joined Scripps from The Center for Public Integrity where she was Executive Editor. She served as Senior Vice President of News at National Public Radio until January 2011. At NPR, she oversaw global expansion of NPR News, the creation of award-winning programs and news coverage, the creation of an investigative unit, podcasts and the digital integration of the newsroom. In this role, Weiss led NPR's worldwide journalism operations, including 17 domestic and 17 foreign bureaus; more than 400 staff members and more than 40 hours of news programming weekly. Under her leadership, NPR experienced significant audience growth and numerous awards for journalistic excellence.
Weiss joined NPR News in 1982. For 12 years, she was Executive Producer of the daily NPR newsmagazine All Things Considered. From 2001 to 2006, she was Senior Editor of the National Desk, managing 80 reporters, editors and producers covering all national issues. Weiss edited many of NPR News' investigations including award-winning reports on abuses that led to changes in U.S. government detention center policies and reports on soldiers with PTSD that sparked Senate and Pentagon investigations.
Weiss is a graduate of Smith College with a B.A. in international relations. She and her family live in Washington, D.C.