Executive & Artistic Director
A Cincinnati transplant with local roots, Marie was born and raised in Indianapolis by interfaith parents (Italian Catholic and Ashkenazi/Sephardi Jewish) with her younger brother and sister. Extroverted and extracurricularly-inclined, Marie participated in various Jewish programs while balancing other school & community-based clubs, performing arts, and sports activities. Marie attended Ohio Wesleyan University graduating with a dual degree BFA in Painting, BA in Psychology, and a minor in Music. Marie met her husband while at OWU and followed him to Cincinnati after graduation... and has been in love with Cincinnati ever since.
Professionally, Marie brings a proven track record of success in the arts and community engagement. She began her career at ArtWorks, building an expertise in cross-departmental organizational management, marketing & development, administration and programming. With her feet firmly planted in the Cincinnati arts and Jewish communities, Marie was looking for opportunities to bring these two worlds together. After connecting with local artists, mentors, and long-time friend and then ArtWorks colleague, Rachel Rothstein, who was also deeply interested in creating a platform for local Jewish artists to sell their wares (Rachel took a concept for a Jewish marketplace called Ish through ArtWorks' creative business development course!), ideas were exchanged, concepts were married, and ish Festival was born in 2016.
Marie has lent expertise and creativity across a variety of Cincinnati-based organizations and programs including serving on the founding cohort of BLINK, and has held leadership positions in other community organizations including the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati, Congregation Beth Adam, MUSE Cincinnati’s Women’s Choir, and the University of Cincinnati’s Alpha Tau Chapter of Kappa Alpha Theta.
Marie is Mom to two sons, a dog, two cats, and two snakes.
Zak Lempert Draznin
Director of Operations & Development
A Cincinnati native and community educator, Zak has spent his professional life in Jewish programming and development. He graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a BA in Judaic Studies, and is currently pursuing his Master's in Jewish Nonprofit Management. He has previously worked with the Jewish Women's Theatre in Los Angeles (now the Braid) and OneTable. Zak's passion for Jewish arts & culture stems from his time at summers at Camp Livingston, learning and teaching at Adath Israel Congregation, and leading services at Cincinnati Hillel. Zak lives in Cincinnati with his partner, his adorable Beagle, and a cabinet full of cookbooks to feed his love of entertaining.
Director of Creative Design & Impact
AlliJo is an educator, designer, and researcher with a decade of experience in educational programming and community engagement design. Drawing on all three roles, AlliJo collaborates with community stakeholders to cultivate vibrant spaces where one’s rich historical and cultural narrative can be fostered, preserved, and sustained through socially just, transformative paradigms and place-based pedagogies. With a decade of teaching and coaching experience, and over five years in collaborative program design, AlliJo is on a mission to create playful and vibrant spaces that enhance our joy of learning. She is a Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Cincinnati in Educational and Community-based Action Research, current Doctoral Fellow at Brandeis University’s The Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center and holds an M.A. in Educational Studies for Social Change from the University of Cincinnati. AlliJo brings an extensive background in serving a range of educational settings and needs; she has taught K-5 special education, preschool in a Reggio Emilia inspired setting, and teacher education. She is an instructor for DAAP, lead program designer and teacher for DeLet’s Master’s in Teaching at Hebrew Union College - LA and graduate researcher for the Mandel Teacher Educator Institute, a national professional development program for Jewish teachers and educators.
Arts & Cultural Manager (she/her)
Originally from Melbourne, Australia, Megan has worked in the Cincinnati non-profit world for almost ten years. She brings experience in program management, specializing in creative projects and community engagement, such as the BLINK Parade and Hero Design Company. With a Bachelor's Degree in Sociology from Earlham College and years of experience removing educational barriers for students experiencing homelessness, Megan brings a socially aware and equity-focused mindset to her work. When not at work, she enjoys walking in her East Walnut Hills neighborhood and hanging out with her cat, Banjo. Megan is thrilled to join the ish team and hopes to see you at the ish Festival!
Michael J. Freeman
Office & Communications Coordinator
With deep roots in Cincinnati, Michael has over 25 years of experience as a communications and marketing professional (the last 6 within the Jewish community). Starting his career working at two local TV stations, Michael is a 7-time regional Emmy Award winning writer-producer. He then transitioned to sales and customer service before his best and hardest role as a stay-at-home dad of his newborn twins. He reentered the workplace creating digital marketing before being led to his dream job with ish.