Five Jewish Baltimoreans To Watch
Professionals under 45 with fab careers
This year, in our March iNSIDER, we decided to take a look at five individuals, under the age of 45, who are pursuing interesting careers. They’re in all walks of life, from healthcare to technology. We even have a toy store owner.
Toy Store Owner
Shananigan’s Toy Shop
David Stelzer never really planned on owning a toy store; it just sort of happened. Having worked part-time at toy shops, Stelzer was game for a new challenge when Shananigan’s went on the market 6 1⁄2 years ago. It was at that time, that his family decided to purchase the Roland Park establishment.
Since then, this young man has been searching for the hottest toys, attending toy fairs and working seven days a week. In fact, he recently returned from the New York International Toy Fair where, among other things, he picked up toys that can be used with the iPAD.
But, despite an enormous growth in electronic toys, Stelzer is still a fan of tradition. “I like toys that let kids be more creative,” he says.
Some of his hottest sellers include domo figures and TokiDoki collectables, as well as the game Settlers of Catan.
Although he’s in charge of most purchases, his mother, he admits, is in charge of the jewelry.
But, even though he is busy, Stelzer still manages to find time for himself. In his free moments, he’ll sleep, eat or go out with friends — and, of course, play with toys. That is, he plays board games with his buddies.
When Sarah Friedman was young, she always thought she wanted to be a doctor. But, while at college — she attended the University of Pittsburgh — she realized that when it came to medicine, it was the nurse’s job she found more intriguing.
“Doctors are more in and out and don’t get to know the patients as well,” she says.
As a pediatric nurse for the past nine years, Friedman has learned that working with children takes a special kind of talent.
“Being a pediatric nurse is more than just understanding medicine. There’s a psychology behind it — an ability to understand different age children and talk to them to make them feel better and trust what you are doing,” she says.
For example, giving a shot to a teen is very different from giving a shot to a young child. For a teen you need to explain why and what you are doing. But, with a young child you’ll tell them how it will make them feel better.
Being a pediatric nurse is also about compassion, and about having a lot of patience at times. There have been times, she admits, that it has taken 45 minutes to get a child to take his or her medicine.
At times, her job can be difficult. It’s hard when she gets to know children, who she finds out later have passed away. But it’s really meaningful when she sees a former youngster return to say thanks.
The most rewarding part, she adds, is “when a kid smiles back at you, or a parent hugs you for saving a child’s life.”
Senior Director, Product Development Payments and Credits
In a typical month, Gil Haus may be working at his home base in Timonium, Md. Then again, he also might be found in San Jose, Calif., or San Francisco, or Scottsdale, Ariz., or even India or Singapore.
That’s because Haus is the senior director of product development for payments and credits at PayPal. In layman’s terms, it means he manages product development and technical programs for PayPal, the global e-commerce business that allows customers to make payments and transfer money through the Internet.
Overseeing a team of a little more than 320 people in five locations, Haus is responsible for updating the systems.
Having teams in different time zones, he often is on the phone on conference calls late in the evening or early morning.
Married to the former Susan Shapiro, who he met when they went to Franklin High School, Haus has two young children, ages 3 1⁄2 and 19 months. Trying to balance a hectic workload, travel and working off-hours with a family can be challenging.
“I try when I come home to drop everything to be with my family. I’ll put the kids to bed, have dinner and time with my wife. Then I’ll work or I’ll try to make calls in the early morning. I’d rather burn the midnight oil on Tuesday than on weekends,” he says.
Despite working with different cultures, Haus has learned that everyone functions with the same needs, but that one has to be cognizant of different cultures. What he’s discovered, is that “people love working for a large American company. They often have a sense of pride that we take for granted in United States. They’re excited about working for a huge global brand.”
The Institute of Human Virology, University of Maryland School of Medicine
It’s hard to believe that Shelly Maman only 29. After all, she’s already had quite a diverse career.
She served as a sergeant, computer programmer for the Intelligence Corps of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). She worked two years at a technology start-up country. Then she did an about-face, giving up technology for the study of medicine.
Today, this young Israeli is working on her Ph.D. and doing so in the lab of Dr. Robert C. Gallo, one of the foremost medical researchers of the era. It was Dr. Gallo who co-discovered HIV as the cause of AIDS in 1984.
In collaboration with Tel Aviv University (where Maman studied) and the Institute of Human Virology, Maman is working on research for neuroblastoma cancer. It’s a children’s cancer of the sympathetic nervous system that accounts for 15 percent of all childhood cancer deaths because it’s often found after it metastasizes.
Having found that normal lung tissues “harbor factors that specifically kill metastatic neuroblastoma cells,” Maman is working under the joint supervision of Professor Isaac P. Witz from Tel Aviv University and Professor Wuyuan Lu at the Institute of Human Virology at Maryland. They plan to isolate and characterize those factors to hopefully develop a therapeutic treatment in the future.
Working with Dr. Gallo, she admits, is a “dream come true. I learned of his discoveries while getting my bachelor’s degree. He’s charismatic, he’s funny and he asks lots of questions.”
Maman can point to a few differences between working in Israel and working in the United States. She admits that the research lab is somewhat more social in Israel. There, researchers will often socialize at work, taking many of their breaks together. Here, though, she admits everyone is “amazing and dedicated to their work.”
As for teaching those she comes into contact with about her native homeland, she admits she does get questions. The funniest, though, “Do you ride on camels?”
LifeTech Research, C2N Diagnostics, Tivorsan Pharmaceuticals
When Joel Braunstein was completing a health outcomes research and policy fellowship as a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, he wrote a business plan as an assignment in his last class. The plan focused on how people make health care decisions and what gets funded.
He realized at that time that people who drive the health care investment decisions — that is, purchase health care technologies and pharmaceuticals for example for investment funds — didn’t always have health care backgrounds. So, upon graduation, this physician and MBA graduate formed LifeTech Research, a consulting firm, with Ilena Fogelman. The company helps hedge fund managers, investment firms and other equity managers evaluate health care technologies and potential pharmaceuticals.
Since then, through LifeTech Research, he co-founded Tivorsan, a Brown University spin-out focused on a protein therapeutic for treating Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a fatal, genetic muscle disorder that affects 1 in 3,500 boys. He also co-founded C2N Diagnostics, out of Washington University School of Medicine. This cutting-edge biotechnology company is working on commercializing protein metabolism biomarkers to enable early diagnosis of and to measure treatment responses for new drugs targeting Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.
Today, Braunstein has built a network that includes academia and former FDA officials, to help provide infrastructure support for start-ups. They assist health care companies with regulatory strategy, licensing partnerships, future acquisitions and potential business development. “We have medical and science experience to understand the merits of technology,” he says.
Despite what seems like a hectic work schedule, including travel to St. Louis and Providence, R.I., Braunstein still manages to find time to spend with his four children, and to coach their basketball and soccer. He also saves times for his wife, Stephanie, who, he writes, “has been my lifesaver, incredibly patient, and understanding of the process.”