Meet the Team

Camp Kesem Columbia is proud to present our 2013-2014 Board! Keep up with us throughout the year as we plan for our best camp yet!





Columbia - Simba

Gloria “Simba” Chang

School/Year: CC ’14, Biology
If you could have one superpower…: Apparition! I’d save so much time not having to commute from place to place!
What’s your favorite part about camp? Empowerment. There’s something magical and truly special about having a time and place for everyone to share a safe space and have the chance to open up to a newfound second family about anything you want.

Columbia - Rabbit

Alex “Rabbit” Xu

School/Year: CC ’15, Neuroscience & Behavior
What’s your favorite animal? Meerkat! They’re always alert, respond quickly, work as a team, and are all about their friends and family!
What are you most looking forward to in 2014? This past summer was my first year at camp and I was blown away by the strength, spirit, and resilience of the kids I met. They’ve inspired me to be a better person and to work as hard as I can to help create another magical week of camp in 2014. I am excited to begin working with an amazingly talented board to make CKCU 2014 the most incredible camp yet!






Columbia - Spud

Sarah “Spud” Stano

School/Year: BC ’14, Biology
What’s your favorite animal? Polar bears because they are cute but also really strong and one of my favorite childhood memories includes polar bears at seaworld.
What are you most looking forward to in 2014? The campers and student volunteers that I have had the chance to meet have impacted me in ways that will last a lifetime. For the past two summers I have been fortunate enough to be a counselor and both summers I have been blown away by the strength and enthusiasm of the campers. I could not have asked for a better experience here at Columbia and I am excited to see Camp Kesem Columbia grow and serve an even larger population in New York City!

Columbia - Bolt

Jorge “Bolt” Ginory-Perez

School/Year: CC ’15

Coming soon!





Columbia - Nemo

Hannah “Nemo” Steinhardt

School/Year: BC ’15, Psychology & Educational Studies
If you could have one superpower… I would want to be able to fly!!! That way I would always be on time!
What’s your favorite part about camp? It’s really hard to choose one favorite part about camp but one of my many favorites is meeting the campers’ parents and families on the day that everyone gets dropped off and then seeing those families again at the end of the week and watching their faces light up as they are reunited with their camper. I have never had a truer joy than having parents and family members thank CKCU for our time and energy spent with their kids. Knowing that we are impacting not only the kids in the family but the family as a whole makes me so proud to say that I kesem.





Columbia - Zelda

Sophia “Zelda” Golec

School/Year: CC ’15, Biology & Anthropology
What’s your favorite animal? Pangolin!
What’s your favorite camp memory? At the end of our week at Camp Kesem, the campers and counselors come together for one more all-camp activity; the talent show. With ages ranging from seven to twenty, the acts were bound to vary, but every single performance was followed by thunderous applause. My favorite camp memory is that seemingly endless evening, with camper after camper putting themselves into the spotlight with complete confidence in the support of their peers. I am more than excited to be on the board this year to help make moments like this happen again, and I can’t wait for another year at camp!

Columbia - Bubble

Izumi “Bubble” Watanabe

School/Year: CC ’14, Biology (conc. Psychology)
What’s your favorite animal? Penguins! They’re simultaneously super stylish and adorable, and toboganing seems like the best mode of transportation ever.
What’s your favorite part about camp? Definitely the people, hands down. The counselors blew me away with their fun-loving spirits, enthusiasm, and immeasurable patience and kindness. The campers are unbelievably strong, compassionate, and wise beyond their years. It was incredible to watch them come out of their shells, connect with, and inspire each other. But beyond all this, the best part was seeing the kids just being able to be kids. Building cardboard time machines, cheering each other on at Talent Show, throwing water balloons at counselors – every kid deserves that.




Secretary / Make the Magic

Columbia - Otter

James “Otter” Zhang

School/Year: SEAS ’16, Chemical Engineering (Pre-Med)
If you could have one superpower…  Turnback time and relive memories!
Why do you kesem? This has been my first year with Camp Kesem and I was completely blown away by CK 2013! After CK 2013, I can truly say I know why I Kesem. I know through the memories I still hold on to, those snapshots of everyone smiling and working together, I know through talking to everyone at Camp, sharing each others stories and learning more about each other. I Kesem because I am now part of a huge family that I laugh together with, work with and spend time with. And with the help of everyone, this family will get even bigger. CK 2014 here we come!





Columbia - Skippy

Molly “Skippy” Doernberg

School/Year: BC ’16, Anthropology & Human Rights (Pre-Med)
What’s your favorite animal? Elephants!
Why do you kesem? It really became clear why I Kesem once I was able to spend time with the campers, learn their stories, and witness their incredible strength in the face of how many challenges they encounter at home. I Kesem because every kid deserves an opportunity to live in the moment, act silly, and forget about their worries and responsibilities at home. I Kesem because the magic that we make in the one short week of camp every year stays with the campers for the rest of their lives.




First-Year Coordinators (FYCs)

Columbia - Jackie Chan

Bruce “Jackie Chan” Lee

School/Year: SEAS ’15, Mechanical Engineering

Coming soon!

Columbia - Blossom

Karina “Blossom” Melendez

School/Year: CC ’16

Coming soon!

Columbia - Starbucks

Ritty “Starbucks” Zhai

School/Year: CC ’16, Economics (Pre-Med)
What’s your favorite animal? Otter :)
Why do you kesem? It’s my first year working with Camp Kesem, and I’ve already been blown away by the love and excitement that the counselors have towards the camp and all the campers. I can’t wait to get to know all of the campers and to help make the magic happen!

Columbia - Unicorn

Lindsey “Unicorn” Bell

School/Year: BC ’16, Behavioral Neuroscience (Pre-Med)
If you could have one superpower… Dimensional travel.
Why do you kesem? The best part about being a kid is not having to worry about anything besides which playground activity you want to dominate during recess. I am so excited to be a part of an organization gives kids the opportunity to just be kids, without the constant weight of the pressure and stress at home.

Columbia - Kirby

Michelle “Kirby” Lee

School/Year: SEAS ’16, Applied Math
What’s your secret talent? Guessing what time it is. I have great bio-rhythm, you see!
What’s your favorite camp memory? COLOR WARS. In 5th grade, when I was at camp, we were split up into four colors, field day style. We all gathered in one space, cheering and yelling to be the loudest team there. I still remember being on the yellow team and running down the bleachers to join the front line of cheer-leaders, losing some of my voice in the process! I didn’t even know everyone on my team, yet we were all united by one cause–to win!

Columbia - Pascal

Katie “Pascal” Kester

School/Year: CC ’17, Neuroscience and Behavior
What’s your favorite food? Ice Cream!
Why do you kesem? I kesem because I know how meaningful this experience is for the kids and their families. In the past, I’ve met kids who have participated in camps like Camp Kesem, and their happy memories at camp were a touchstone for them throughout the year. After all the planning, I’m excited to see how happy the kids are during camp, especially given all that they have gone through.

Columbia - Direwolf

Elliot “Direwolf” Xu

School/Year: CC ’17, Biology & Economics
What’s your favorite animal? Fennec Fox
Why do you kesem? Having gone to many sleep-away camps when I was younger, I kesem because I believe it is important for every child, regardless of their background or family situation, to be able to enjoy a carefree week ensconced in the safe haven of the “camp experience.”

Columbia - Little Red

Shelly “Little Red” Hafif

School/Year: BC ’17, Urban Studies & History
If you could have one superpower… Be in multiple places at once.
Why do you kesem? It’s my first year working with Camp Kesem, and I’m so excited to be involved! There’s nothing better than summer camp, and helping to make Camp Kesem possible is such a wonderful way to enjoy the camp experience. I also can’t wait to meet all of the amazing campers!