Samantha Brinn Merel

We recently sat down with Sam Brinn. She went to Hillel when the kindergarten was in the room where Morah Leah  

Ackner's class is now. She loves to run and write and even has her own blog.  To read the interview in its entirety, see below. Enjoy!

Hi, thanks for taking the time to chat with me. To start, what grades were you in  
when you attended Hillel Academy? 
Kindergarten through 7th-grade. 

Share a favorite memory or two with our readers. Endless games of hopscotch on the faded hopscotch boards on the playground.

 Ok, I had my share of those as well. What organizations are you currently involved in? Young Israel of White Plains.

 How do you earn a living? Trusts & estates attorney at Sidley Austin LLP in Manhattan.

 How did Hillel Academy prepare you for the future? I was lucky enough to have Deborah Ozoroski twice during elementary school. Her class, more than any other, taught me how to express myself in words, and how to appreciate and understand good writing. I am currently both a lawyer and a writer, and I think a lot of that can be attributed to her and the way that she taught.

 Share some info about your family. My husband's name is David. We recently moved to White Plains, NY after eight years in Manhattan. My parents have been back in Pittsburgh for about five years after a tenure in North Florida. Both of my sisters are living in Cleveland, OH with their families.

 About your husband; we were leafing through a tech magazine and saw his name. What's he up to? He is founder and CEO of Thinkbright, which is a VoIP company that provides phone service to small and medium sized businesses. He started the company about 10 years ago. He is also founder and CEO of Koupah, which provides a point of sale (POS) solution for retail businesses that combines POS and social, and that allows retailers to build relationships with their customers and connect to customers on a deeper level than existing POS systems allow.

 Buccos or Steelers? Steelers, no doubt, but I'm a Pittsburgh girl through and through, so really, both.

 What do you do in your free time? I am a runner, a romance novel aficionado, and a pretty serious TV watcher. If it's on TV, David and I probably watch it. I am also a writer. I started a blog almost three years ago where I write three or four times a week (, and my essays have also been published in the Times of Israel, and in an anthology of essays on female friendship called "The HerStories Project: Women Explore the Joy, Pain and Power of Female Friendship."

Did you have a favorite teacher? Who was it and why?Deborah Ozoroski, by far. More than any other pre-high school teacher, and maybe more than any teacher I have ever had, she prepared me to do what I do now. She taught me to love reading and words, and taught me to write and to love to write, and to appreciate the way that words can be used to tell the stories of our lives.

 Can you offer some advice for our young writers? My very best advice for young writers is to just write. Write all the time. Write as much as you possibly can. Write the story that has been percolating in your head, a journal entry about your day, your thoughts on an issue close to your heart, or whatever else strikes your fancy. The most important thing is to put words on a page and to do it every day. The more you write, the easier it is to write, and the better you get at it. A blank page is the hardest thing there is, but as soon as you wrestle out those first few words, more words will come. I can promise you that.

 What's your favorite distance to race, 5k, 10k, half marathon, or marathon? I love the half-marathon. I have run the Pittsburgh half twice, and it is my most favorite race.

This year's Awards Night and Action is at Dave and Busters. Will we see you at the ski ball area or Who Wants To Be A Millionaire game table? Who Wants To Be A Millionaire for sure. I love trivia.

Tell us the secret behind your interesting schach? Twist ties. Utterly simplistic, but the very best way to keep the schach from blowing off with the wind.

 Who is the most interesting person in your contacts? My professor from the very first Wills & Trusts class I took during my second year of law school; he is fascinating, and the reason that I do what I do.