Clinical Staff

Laura Alter, MS-HRM

Laura Plastrik Alter works as a Vocational Counselor in the Disability Department. She assists individuals with a disability to find and maintain employment. Laura has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Management from the University of Texas at Austin and Master of Science in Human Resources Management from Houston Baptist University.  Prior to joining JFS, she held management positions in Human Resources with InterFirst Bank, Houston and The Methodist Hospital System.  Laura has several years experience as an Associate Teacher working with all levels of elementary age children, including those with a disability.  Laura is in the process of becoming certified as a job placement specialist by the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services.

Cathy Binstock, LMSW

Cathy Binstock, Licensed Social Worker, joined JFS as a Therapist. She holds a Masters Degree from the University of Houston and has practiced social work with adults, children and families beginning in 1984.  Cathy was the founder of the River Performing and Visual Arts Center, an affiliate of TUTS and co-founder of the Friendship Circle of Chabad Outreach Houston.  Cathy is the author of: "After Your Child’s Diagnosis:  A Practical Guide For Families Raising Children With Disabilities."

Mal Finger, LBSW

As a Licensed Geriatric Professional with over 20 years experience at JFS, Mal Finger brings a set of interpersonal skills to facilitate, encourage and enable the JFS Senior Adult clients he serves to successfully negotiate the perils of aging. Areas of specialization: Client assessments, case management, information and referral, and provides empathetic counseling and advocacy on behalf of his clients. In addition to these duties, Mr. Finger is the MIS Coordinator of the Information Technology Department of the agency.

Jacqueline Kudlaty, MSW

Case Manager with Senior Adult Department of JFS since 2008 and Primary liaison with the Care for Elders Intensive Case Management Program. Her experience includes an internship at the VA Medical Center where she worked with seniors and offered grief counseling through a Hospice Care Team.

Hope Lipnick, MA, LPC, CHTP

Jewish Denominational Chaplain at MD Anderson Cancer Center and Director of Jewish Chaplaincy at the Texas Medical Center. Licensed Professional Counselor, Licensed Psychological Associate, Certified Contemplative End of Life Practitioner, Certified Healing Touch Practitioner and Reiki Master. Masters degree in Psychology and Certificate from Masters in Jewish Studies Program. Year-long Clinical Pastoral Education Fellow at MD Anderson, followed by a second year of Advanced Residency in CPE at MDA as a Fellow.

Judy P. Magids, LCSW

Licensed Clinical Social Worker with 25 years of clinical experience as a psychotherapist. On the staff of JFS since 1987 in the Community Mental Health Consultation Program. Through JFS, she is a consultant to preschools, after-school programs and summer camp programs. Her advanced post graduate training focuses on young children (birth to six) and on families. She also provides individual therapy for adults with a particular focus on life transitions.

Leah Mueller, LBSW

As the Coordinator of the Senior Adult Services Department, she provides supervision and direction to the departmental staff. Serves as the agency's Legislative Issues Liaison. Licensed Geriatric Professional with 19 years of experience. Prior to joining the JFS staff in 200l, supervised the Chai Program at the Houston JCC. This is a transitional program for senior adults at the JCC catering to individuals 60+ who do not require adult day care services, but need a more structured and smaller program. Intergenerational programming has consistently played a role in her professional life since her student internship in 1987. Holds a Bachelor of Science of Social Work from the Ohio State University with concentration in gerontology. Areas of specialization: senior assessment, info & referral, case management. Works with Holocaust survivors to help them obtain appropriate benefits.

Toby Newman, LCSW

As Chief Program Officer, she provides supervision and direction to all clinical staff and program areas. Clinical Social Worker with 20 years experience. On JFS staff from 2000. Holds a Master of Social Work Degree from the University of Houston. A Diplomate in Clinical Social Work since 1993; a member of the Academy of Certified Social Workers since 1989; and a Certified Group Psychotherapist since 1994. A trained Disaster Mental Health volunteer for the American Red Cross and the agency liaison to the United Way Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster. Adjunct Professor in the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. Areas of specialization: physical illnesses, such as cancer, AIDS and Alzheimer's Disease, assistance and advice on filing disability claims, grief and bereavement.

Mira Rueveni, LPC, M Ed

Licensed Professional Counselor and Family Therapy Supervisor with 30 years of clinical experience in counseling and psychotherapy. On JFS staff since 1989 specializing in psychotherapy with individuals, children, couples and families. Currently coordinator of Project Shalom, a program for chronically mentally ill adults and a consultant for the agency's Community Mental Health Program for toddlers and preschool children in school settings. Graduate of Antioch College with post graduate clinical experience at The Eastern Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute in Philadelphia.

Ruth S. Sherman, LBSW

Licensed Social Worker with a concentration in gerontology. On the JFS staff in the Senior Adult Services Department since 1989. Areas of specialization: assessments for environmental services, case management, information and referral, supportive casework, counseling and advocacy on behalf of clients. Works with Holocaust survivors to help them obtain appropriate benefits.

Kara N. Smith, LCSW

After completing educational training at Baylor Psychiatry Clinic, Kara received her MSW from the University of Houston in 2009. She joined JFS in 2012 following 3 years with the Harris County Community Behavioral Health Program. Kara holds certificates in Mediation, Mental Health First Aid, and Meditation for Mental Health. Kara has specialized training in psychodynamic social work, spiritual social work, trauma therapies, and mind-body practices. Kara is passionate about promoting social justice, helping empower people to live according to their values, and believes that the dignity of all people should be honored and protected.

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