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.

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.

Michael Rose, LCSW, LMFT, Licensed Clinical Therapist, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

After completing his Bachelors at Yeshiva University, Michael received his MSW at Wurzweiler School of Social Work during which he interned and worked at the Israel Aliyah Center in New York. He has always had a focus on the welfare and wellbeing of children. He worked 5 plus years as a pediatric Medical Social Worker. He has been working with children and adolescents for close to 20 years. Prior to beginning work at JFS he worked extensively with child protection and probation services. He is very familiar with Family and Juvenile courts. His focus is to improve the lives of families by teaching them methods towards providing a safer and healthier functioning home and school environment while empowering children to thrive and function in the most positive manner. His role as a therapist is to help children and families develop healthy coping skills in order to improve their ability to function and thrive.

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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