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Community Recognizes GHBIC Leaders

President: Penelope Nichols

Penelope NicholsPenelope Nichols is a life-long member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a member of The Greater Huntington Beach Interfaith Council since 2015. She and her family moved to Huntington Beach in 1997 and quickly fell in love with its beauty and strong sense of community. She has spent all of her 25 years as a stay-at-home mom in volunteer positions such as: Church Youth Group Director, Church Youth Camp Director, Relief Society Women’s Group President, PTA President, Millennial Choir and Orchestra Youth Choirs President/Coordinator, Foster Parent, Days of 47 Parade Committee (Utah), Jr. Miss Pageant Housing Co-Coordinator (Utah), GHBIC’s Community Service Day Coordinator, GHBIC’s Thanksgiving Service Coordinator, HBPD’s Homeless Task Force Volunteer Mentor, Robyne’s Nest Mentor, Point in Time Homeless Count Participant, and countless short-term volunteer positions in the community and her church. Her family says she is a “professional volunteer”.

She was raised in California’s South Bay area where she met and married her husband Scott in 1991. They have four adult children. She enjoys self-help books, family gatherings and meals, holding babies, working with and inspiring teenagers, missionary and church service, helping others, daily walks, and musical theater. She sings many of her conversations with her husband and children and wishes she could live IN a musical! Her conversational singing makes them nuts and her happy! Her favorite daily counsel to herself and family is, “Love God. Love others. Love yourself.”, “Choose to pre-love, not pre-judge.” and “Choose what leaves you free to chose again.”

Vice-President, Pat Goodman

Pat joined GHBIC over four years ago to represent the Self-Help Interfaith Program and as a result feels more connected to the rich faith traditions within our community. She likes to say that SHIP is a niche transitional housing program because it provides guidance and services to no more than 8 homeless, employable adults at any one time. Communities of faith and others provide volunteers and funding for SHIP.

Pat also joins with others through the network, Homeless United Huntington Beach, to advocate for affordable and permanent supportive housing in our community. Pat worships and participates in the Peace & Justice Ministry at Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Fountain Valley where her husband, Phil, is a deacon.

Pat took a winding path from a liberal arts degree to eventually land as an account. She is a retired CPA yet still uses her skills for other volunteer positions with such organizations as Straight Talk Clinic, Inc. Pat considers herself a life-long learner evidenced by her M.A. in Theology from Loyola Marymount University which she received at the ripe old age of 57 and views as a gift from God.

Treasurer, Emrah Erduran

Maha RagabEmrah Erduran is the Community Liaison of Pacifica Institute. He taught Math in Middle schools and High schools and worked as a school administrator. Currently, he is a small business owner. He has been living in Huntington Beach since 2012 with his wife and two kids. He dedicates to serve to the community by volunteering for several organizations. He has served the Silk Road Festival organizing committee, GHBIC’s Community Service Day, and 4th of July Parade committees. He is dedicated to interfaith and intercultural dialog. He organized several luncheons, seminars, talk series and forums. During the month of Ramadan, he has been organizing Iftar dinners with various faith groups. He is a member of Orange County Sherriff’s Department Interfaith Advisory Council and The United Nations Association of Orange County (UNA-OC).

Secretary, Maha Ragab

Maha RagabMaha Ragab was born in Cairo, Egypt. She graduated from a private French school in Heliopolis and finished her Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry. She moved to United States to join her husband Medhat and they lived in Illinois, Texas and California. Maha focused on raising her two children, Omar and Rhonda, and was heavily active in their School’s PTA (Parent Teacher Association) and after school activities. She also volunteered her time with various charities and her local Mosque. Maha is in the board of GHBIC (Greater Huntington Beach Interfaith Council) and OCICE (Orange County Interfaith Coalition for the Environment) and is an active member of STEP (Sisters Together Envisioning Peace).

Member at Large: Rabbi Stephen J. Einstein

Rabbi Stephen J. EinsteinStephen J. Einstein was born and reared in Southern California, and is a cum laude-Phi Beta Kappa graduate of UCLA. He was ordained at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, where he also earned his doctorate. Mentor to many rabbinical students, in recognition of his years of service, the College-Institute also awarded him an honorary doctorate.

Rabbi Einstein served congregations in Parsippany, New Jersey and Westminster, California, prior to founding Congregation B’nai Tzedek, Fountain Valley, California in 1976. He remained the synagogue’s rabbi until his retirement in 2012. He is now Founding Rabbi Emeritus.

Rabbi Einstein was Vice President of Member Services of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, having previously served for 12 years on the Conference’s Ethics Committee, 6 years as Chair. He is Past President of the Pacific Association of Reform Rabbis, the Orange County Board of Rabbis, and the Orange County Bureau of Jewish Education. He is currently on the Board of CSP (Community Scholar Program) and the Anti-Defamation League. He was the recipient of the American Jewish Committee’s Micah Award for Human Relations, and in 2014, Orange County Human Relations tendered him their Legacy Award.

He taught Orange County’s Community-wide Introduction to Judaism class from 1976 to 2017. He is co-editor of Introduction to Judaism: A Sourcebook, which was used in basic Judaism courses throughout North America for over three decades. He is also co-author of Every Person’s Guide to Judaism. For over two decades, he served as Co-chair of Reform Judaism’s Commission on Outreach, Membership, and Sacred Community. Dr. Einstein has taught at California State University, Fullerton in the Department of Comparative Religion.

Active in interfaith affairs, he is Past President (and current Board member) of the Greater Huntington Beach Interfaith Council, served on the Interfaith Advisory Committee of the Alzheimer’s Association, and is an active member of the Catholic-Jewish Dialogue. He is on the Board of CLUE (Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice) and is a volunteer Chaplain for the Fountain Valley Police Department. For three years, he served as Chair of the Governing Board of Fountain Valley Regional Hospital. A prior School Board Trustee, he was a member of the Personnel Commission of the Fountain Valley School District from 1990-2017. He now serves on the Board of the Fountain Valley Schools Foundation.. He represents the 72nd Assembly District on the Central Committee of the California Democratic Party. Rabbi Einstein is listed in Who’s Who in America.

Rabbi Einstein and his wife Robin reside in Fountain Valley and are the proud parents of four children and seven grandchildren.

Member at Large: Pattie Mercado

Pattie MercadoReverend Pattie Mercado joined the GHBIC when she was called to serve as the Spiritual Director at the Huntington Beach Center for Spiritual Living in February 2019. Pattie and her husband of 34 years have 2 adult children and share a strong commitment to serve their spiritual community together. For the past 20 years Patie has participated as a leader, collaborator, and participant with local and global organizations to bring forward a greater conversation and experience of individual value and collective unity.

Member at Large: Reverend James Pike

James Pike moved to Orange County with his wife and four kids in 2018, becoming pastor of Lutheran Church of the Resurrection in Huntington Beach. In addition to serving with the Greater Huntington Beach Interfaith Council, Pike volunteers with several non-profits. Pike also spent over a decade performing live comedy in Los Angeles and now teaches comedic improvisation at the Academy for the Performing Arts (APA) at Huntington Beach High School.

Past President, Marsha Rechsteiner

Marsha has been a member of the Greater Huntington Beach Interfaith Council since 2015. She served as Vice President 2016-2018 and President 2018-2020. She is active in the many events sponsored by the Council each year.

Marsha is a member of Sts. Simon and Jude Catholic Community. She has served there in numerous Leadership roles since 1990. Since 2016 she has chaired the annual Rise Against Hunger food packaging event, during GHBIC Community Service Day, hosted at Sts. Simon and Jude.

Marsha and her husband Brian (Retired Board of Trustee for the HB City School District for 24 years) were both very active, in the Huntington Beach School District, both Elementary and High School. Marsha still works as an Educational Consultant for Chancy and Bruce Educational Resources. Marsha and Brian have been married since 1973 and have 2 married children, Julie and Erik, as well as 2 granddaughters and 1 grandson.

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