Meet Our Team

“What makes a difference to our residents is the great culture at Selfhelp. This is due to the staff loyalty and longevity of its employees” Austin Hirsch, Board President

Sheila Bogen
Executive Director,2016

Sheila joined the Selfhelp Home in October of 2016 with close to thirty years of experience managing and running senior communities. She describes herself as having a lifelong passion for providing excellence for all seniors entrusted into her care.  Most recently, she served as Administrator/Chief Operating Officer of Montgomery Place in Hyde Park. A native of London, England, Sheila’s family ran a 5-star luxury resort on the English coast. That might be why she says that hospitality is “in her blood.” She is married with four adult children and resides in Peterson Park.

“The Selfhelp Home embodies our rich Jewish traditions while creating a safe, caring and warm living environment for our seniors”

Marvin Rubin
Director of Administrative Services, 20 years

Marvin oversees the accounting office that is responsible for the budget, accounting, human resources, donations and much more. Born in Argentina and raised in Chicago, he lives with his wife in Buffalo Grove and has two adult children. Marvin’s pride and joy are his four grandchildren.

“It feels good to know that I work for an organization that cares”

Nerma Gayosa-Lamier, R.N., BSN
Director of Nursing, 23 years

Nerma has been with Selfhelp for twenty-three years and is responsible for making Selfhelp a 5-star-rated home. Her dedicated, long-standing team is a testament to her work, providing the highest quality of skilled nursing care to residents. The Selfhelp Home has been named U.S. News & World Report Best Nursing Home for several years and maintains the highest ratings with Medicare.  Nerma has a bachelors degree in both business administration and nursing.  She chose to pursue her life career in nursing because of her passion in making a difference in others.

“Every challenge is an opportunity for learning. It’s the overall culture and caring that sets us apart. That is what makes us different”

Lara Liberman, LSW
Administrator of Healthcare, 9 years

Lara describes herself as an advocate for the residents and assists families through the journey of these aging years. She constantly looks for opportunities to bring meaning to the lives of the residents and their families. Lara’s experience dates back twenty years to her work with Holocaust survivors in Brooklyn, NY. She grew up in London and graduated from Yeshiva University School of Social Work in 2002. She has two teenage girls and lives in West Rogers Park.

“Not only is it a privilege to provide care and support to such honorable people but it gives me the opportunity to learn from them; age brings a perspective like nothing else”

Ray Cobarde, R.N., BSN
Assisted Living Nurse Manager, 3 years

From a young age, Ray always knew he wanted to be a nurse. He joined Selfhelp with eight years of nursing experience, specializing in seniors. Ray evaluates residents before they move in, and oversees the aides who assist residents daily. He sees residents for wellness checks and is available when they or their families have concerns or questions. Ray grew up in the Philippines and went to Carroll College Nursing School in Wisconsin. He is married and has a one-and-a-half year-old son.

“Our goal in Assisted Living is to help residents in areas they need help, but we know independence is important to older adults. We don’t want to do for them what they can safely do for themselves”

Alfredo Gonzalez Reyes
Building Engineer, 23 years

As a twenty-three year employee, just about every square foot of Selfhelp has Alfredo’s name on it. From building the Sukkah to renovating apartments, Alfredo has worked his way up and now oversees the Engineering Department. His work includes the recently renovated movie theater, sanctuary and media room and countless other repair projects we can’t see.

“I enjoy being part of the everyday work that goes into making this home a great place to live for our residents”

Sofia Metovic, CDM, CFPP
Dietary Manager, 27 years

Sofia began at Selfhelp twenty-seven years ago as an entry-level dietary aid. Her strong work ethic and dedication to Selfhelp drove her to the top. Today, she oversees our dining program, including 40 employees and 700 meals per day. Sofie and her team take great pride in preparing flavorful and traditional homemade kosher meals.

“This is a home away from home for me. I feel that I am a part of something where I can make a difference”

Fern Shaffer
Program Director, 25 years

Fern has been organizing activities for residents at Selfhelp for the past twenty-five years. She is responsible for bringing in over 100 live classical music concerts a year, making Selfhelp a venue for some of the most renowned local musicians. Bookclubs, lectures and tai chi are other ways she makes sure residents have interesting programs. Fern is also an internationally recognized artist.

“This home embraces an atmosphere for lifelong learning; I’m looking for the highest caliber of cultural programming for our residents”

Carmen Boss
Activities Director Skilled Nursing, 17 years

The best part about Carmen’s job is experiencing life through the residents. Carmen’s positive energy meets residents on whatever level they are on. She’s passionate about discovering new programs that enhance the life of the residents. Her winning attitude and dedication creates an inviting and warm atmosphere wherever she goes. Carmen is a certified Dementia Care Unit Manager and a Certified Activity Director.

“Over the years the residents have helped me grow as a person, I have learned so much about life through them”


Esther Azulay
Administrative Assistant,10 years

Esther is the Administrative Assistant to the Executive Director and also provides support to the Home and residents on many fronts. From making appointments to problem-solving, there is no task that Esther cannot handle.

“I leave here every day feeling that I have done a mitzvah”

Efrat Dallal Stein
Director of Marketing & Public Affairs, 4 years

Efrat joined The Selfhelp Home in October 2012, after spending thirteen years in government managing marketing and media affairs for the City of Chicago. She is passionate about telling the story of Selfhelp to the outside world and oversees the marketing and community outreach. Efrat has twenty years of experience in marketing and holds a BA in Communications from the University of Illinois in Chicago. She lives in West Rogers Park and has a nine-year-old daughter.

“I love what I’m doing here. The greatest joy for me is forming friendships with the residents. The feeling of community is very present”

Jeryl Levin
Director of Development, 1 year

Jeryl joined Selfhelp with extensive fundraising experience in the Jewish community, social justice, the arts and public health. She cut her teeth in philanthropy during her twelve years with the American Jewish Committee, running two programs dealing with inter-religious and inter-ethnic affairs. Prior to joining Selfhelp, Jeryl ran the Chicago region for New Israel Fund for six years. Other experience includes VP of Major Gifts at American Heart Association, Chief Development Officer at Link Unlimited and Executive Director of Alumni Relations at Columbia College Chicago, where she received her BA in Writing/English. Jeryl is married with two children.

“Fundraising is a passion for me, especially when the mission is as compelling as Selfhelp’s and the good work we do so worthy of donor support”


Jonathan Schwartz
Director of Jewish Life, 2017

Jonathan joined the Selfhelp Home in 2017. His role is to enrich and grow Jewish learning and engagement at the Home. Jonathan has a background in Jewish communal service, having served as the Assistant Director of the Chicago Chapter of the American Jewish Committee (AJC). Previously, he practiced law in Chicago and earned his J.D. at DePaul College of Law. Jonathan and his wife Dafna live in Skokie with their 10 year old daughter who attends Chicago Jewish Day School.


Benna Kessler, LSW
Director of Social Services, 2017

A native of North Carolina, Benna has lived in Chicago for the past 10 years, since moving here to attend the University of Chicago as an undergraduate. She received her MSW at the University of Michigan School of Social Work, where she focused on aging and participated in a geriatric scholarship program. She has worked as a program aide at a day center for adults with dementia, and in several skilled nursing and long-term care facilities as a social worker. She is fluent in Yiddish, loves to travel, and has spent time living in France as a volunteer farmer. She is thrilled to join the Selfhelp Home team.