Business & Professional


These accountants know their numbers way better than Count Dracula, and they won’t suck your blood. Sandy Stadtler won for favorite accountant in San Francisco, Jerome Spector won in the South Bay/Peninsula, and Phil Winslow won in the East Bay.

Sandy Stadtler has been in the business for 35 years, and it’s probably because he knows that “being an accountant is not about the numbers.” It is, of course, about helping people, and “for better or for worse, one of the most important things to people is money,” he says. But the thing that really sets Stadtler apart? He graduated from the Jewish Theological Seminary and gets called “rabbi” at work.

Being an accountant is “not a matter of us trying to impose judgments,” says Jerome Spector of Spector & Associates in Palo Alto. Spector says that his firm works primarily with high-wealth individuals, helping them clarify their financial goals. They also tackle “that nasty word called budget,” and file some taxes while they’re at it.

Phillip Winslow in Walnut Creek formerly worked at the IRS, and now is a tax specialist ready to serve.

Steve Kliegman won second place in the East Bay.


San Francisco

Sandy Stadtler

Rothstein Kass

(415) 788-6666

East Bay

Phillip Winslow

Walnut Creek

(925) 932-1655

South Bay/Peninsula

Jerome Spector

Spector & Associates

Palo Alto

(650) 329-0450


East Bay

Steve Kliegman

Smith Grant & Kliegman


(510) 836-2727

Financial Services

George Burns used to do commercials for a California bank, his tag line being: “It’s a nice place to visit your money.” J. readers have voted for their favorite places to visit or at least invest their money, with winners reflecting a combo of financial behemoths and mom-and-pop shops.

The mom and pop are Elana Lieberman and Lorne Abramson, principals of ELM Advisors in Burlingame. Former brokers at Smith Barney, Lieberman and Abramson opened their own firm seven years ago. Today the married couple (and Jewish community activists) serves 100 client families, managing assets in excess of $200 million. “We’re not beholden to anyone but our clients,” says Abramson. “We pride ourselves on having a family boutique atmosphere.”

A bit higher on the Fortune 500 food chain is Smith Barney, whose Berkeley branch was named favorite in the East Bay. Manager John Delahaye says his office “looks like Berkeley,” with a diverse staff serving a diverse community. Advantages? “We are open architecture,” says Delahaye, “which means we don’t own any financial products. We try to find the best products across the whole financial sphere. That means a premiere full-service brokerage firm that doesn’t have an ax to grind.”

Charles Schwab’s win is a victory for the home team (the company is headquartered in S.F.). The firm has five branches and 3,000 employees in the city, but Schwab’s director of corporate public relations Sarah Bulgatz says size doesn’t matter when it comes to customer service. “Our purpose is to help people become financially fit,” she says. “Strategic and thoughtful investing are principles our financial consultants embrace: diversification, strategic asset allocations, periodic rebalancing, all the things important to managing risk.”


San Francisco

Charles Schwab

(866) 232-9890

East Bay

Smith Barney


(510) 644-4400



South Bay/Peninsula

ELM Advisors


(650) 607-3013

Insurance Agency

With insurance through Jaffe-Schlossberg, which was j. readers’ favorite insurance agency in the Bay Area, you don’t have to worry if your car bumps a tree. Dennis Jaffe and his partner, Norman Schlossberg, will be there! The personalized service they provide is what makes them special. “That’s why people like us,” Jaffe says.

The agency works with a diverse group of clients, both individuals and small businesses. Clients range from those that have been working with Jaffe for a long time, and the younger clients his son is bringing in. The agency provides property, casualty, health, life and group insurance.

AAA took second place for the Bay Area.


Bay Area


San Francisco

(415) 221-5340

Bay Area


Various locations

(800) 922-8228


J. readers have delivered most favorable verdicts for their favorite lawyers: Andrew Cohen in San Francisco, Bette Epstein in the East Bay, Anthony Lowenstein in the South Bay/Peninsula, and Michelle Lerman in Marin/Sonoma.

Andrew Cohen has been with San Francisco’s Janin, Morgan & Brenner for over 20 years, doing real estate and business transactional work. What makes him happy about his work? “The ability to get deals done and bring parties together,” he says.

In the East Bay, Bette Epstein at Reed Smith in Oakland focuses on trust and estate litigation, contested guardianships and conservatorships. In simpler terms, that means she has to be good with families, and she is. She is “challenged by the family dynamics” that often drives the litigation, and uses her background as a psychotherapist to assist her clients.

Anthony Lowenstein in Burlingame has been doing criminal and civil litigation for 13 years. His definition of success is simple: He feels he’s succeeded when he gets a result as good or better than what any other lawyer could provide. Lowenstein cares a lot about the Jewish community and offers a discount to j. subscribers.

Michelle Lerman in San Rafael wanted to be a lawyer since she was a little girl. After passing the bar exam, Lerman passed the California board’s specialist test in estate planning, which is her firm’s focus. Lerman hopes that people plan for the future when it is easiest, but she helps “families in the good times and in the difficult times.”

Neil Taxy in San Francisco and Craig Judson in the East Bay won second place in their communities.


San Francisco

Andrew Cohen

Janin, Morgan & Brenner

(415) 981-0670

East Bay

Bette Epstein

Reed Smith LLP


(510) 466-6845

South Bay/Peninsula

Anthony Lowenstein

Lowenstein Law Offices


(650) 579-6680


Michelle Lerman

Lerman Law Partners, LLP

San Rafael

(415) 454-0455


San Francisco

Neil Taxy

Leland, Parachini, Steinberg,

Matzger & Melnick, LLP

(415) 957-1800

East Bay

Craig Judson

Bold, Polisner, Maddow,

Nelson & Judson

Walnut Creek

(925) 933-7777

Money Manager

If your idea of money management is stashing receipts in a shoebox, Troy Evans and David Gould would like a word with you. As j. readers’ favorite money managers, they help clients meet short- and long-term financial goals.

Based in San Francisco, Evans launched his career 18 years ago, initially working in investment banking. For the past six years, he has specialized in what he calls comprehensive financial planning. “I want to know everything about a client’s financial situation,” he says, “to achieve goals one year from now or 100 years from now. My job is to handle everything going on in their life.”

In the East Bay, David Gould of Piedmont has won the category two years running. A long-time volunteer for the Jewish Community Federation of the Greater East Bay, Gould steers clients away from making common financial mistakes while empowering them to maximize their assets. “I try to get them to understand the basics,” he says. “It’s their money, their future, their security, and in the end their responsibility.”


San Francisco

Troy Evans

Ameriprise Financial

(415) 777-1717


East Bay

David Gould

Gould Financial Resources


(510) 547-4692

Mortgage Broker

Having trouble finding a mortgage in these difficult times? Not to worry. J. readers have recommended other people to do the worrying for you. These mortgage brokers/superheroes will come to your rescue: Bob Routt in the East Bay, Rachel Alexander in the South Bay/Peninsula and Allison Sofnas in San Francisco.

Bob Routt isn’t sure what distinguishes him from others, but he is sure about what he needs to do to help his clients. The biggest thing for him is to “listen to what they’re trying to accomplish,” and figure out whether they’re into risk or safe dealings. Only then does he show them the available products so they can make a choice.

Even though art is Allison Sofnas’ first love (she also won for favorite ketubah maker), she’s been taking care of her clients’ mortgages for 12 years. “My approach,” she says, “is one where I spend extra time with people who want it.” Sofnas likes to educate her clients about the different types of loan products and then help choose the best loan for them, instead of just quoting and calling it a day.

When a client comes to Rachel Alexander, she says, they find a “mortgage broker for life.” They won’t, essentially, have to think about their mortgage ever again. What, you say? Too good to be true? Nope. She’s continuously watching for dropping rates, and she’s the one to call her clients and tell them there’s a good opportunity to be had if they’re up to it.

Joel Spolin in the South Bay/Peninsula and Cory Reid in the East Bay are second-place winners in the collective hearts of j. readers.


San Francisco

Allison Sofnas

First Capital Group

(415) 440-5626 ext. 210

East Bay

Bob Routt

Union Trust Mortgage Service


(925) 820-5676

South Bay/Peninsula

Rachel Alexander

Pacific Guarantee Mortgage

Foster City

(650) 570-3838

East Bay

Cory Reid

Fountainhead Mortgage


(510) 547-4111

South Bay/Peninsula

Joel Spolin

Absolute Mortgage Banking

Mountain View

(650) 493-3600

Moving Company

Moving is a lot more fun, and more meaningful, with Delancy Street Moving & Trucking, our readers’ favorite moving company in the Bay Area. Delancy Moving does between 20 and 30 local jobs per day. They provide free estimates, perform full-service personal and commercial moves, and even do intrastate moves. But these are not the only things that make them special.

Delancy Street Moving is one of the training schools at the Delancy Street Foundation, a residential facility that aims to help former felons, substance-abusers and others to turn their lives around. Delancey Moving manager Greg Harper says that the foundation, unlike Harvard, takes “the bottom 2 percent.”

Ten years ago Harper came to Delancy without a GED. Now he’s a manager and has his bachelor’s degree in urban studies from SFSU. “We turn their lives around, and give them a second chance,” Harper says.


Bay Area

Delancy Street

Moving & Trucking

San Francisco

(415) 512-5110

Real Estate Agent

In the topsy-turvy world of Bay Area real estate, you need a good guide to get you through the process. No one keeps it real like these favored real estate agents: Katy Dinner in San Francisco, Dana Cohen in the East Bay and Susan Kolb in Marin/Sonoma.

Susan Kolb, who works out of Mill Valley, has been in the business for 31 years, and though she used to work primarily in luxury real estate, she’s now moving into the second generation, helping the children of those she helped before. “I’m more of a Realtor for life,” she says.

For Dana Cohen in Oakland, it’s important to keep up relationships even after the job is technically over. She’s been there, six months after a sale, with a gift for a newborn baby. “People have a lot of choices, and it’s really only your integrity and your follow-through and your attention to detail” that matters, Cohen says.

Katy Dinner says that she is continually updating and streamlining her business practices to ensure that her clients experience seamless, stress-free transactions. From cutting-edge technology to custom-tailored marketing plans, “my approach always puts you first,” Dinner says.

Second-place winners are Deborah Lopez in San Francisco and Larry Hertz in the East Bay.


San Francisco

Katy Dinner

(415) 863-5289

East Bay

Dana Cohen

The Grubb Company


(510) 339-0400 ext. 348


Susan Kolb

Pacific Union

Mill Valley

(415) 380-2111


San Francisco

Deborah Lopez

Paragon Real Estate Group

(415) 738-7084

East Bay

Larry Hertz

Security Pacific

Walnut Creek

(925) 974-7622

Travel Agency

Before you start flapping your wings or looking for fairy dust to help you get where you want to go, consider calling one of j. readers’ favorite travel agencies: Ladera Travel in the South Bay and Tamalpais Travel in Marin.

Combined, the staff members at Ladera Travel in Menlo Park have been to every continent, so they can help you get any where you please. Nancy Burger and her husband, Les, own the agency and travel every year. They also encourage their staff to travel and learn about all the destinations they serve.

Cynthia Prosterman and her staff at Tamalpais Travel in Corte Madera have been in the industry for 30 years or more, and can help people travel almost anywhere. They have the most expertise, though, in Hawaii, Mexico, Costa Rica, Europe, Egypt, Turkey and Israel. “We’re passionate about Israel,” Prosterman says.


South Bay/Peninsula

Ladera Travel

Menlo Park

(650) 854-3222


Tamalpais Travel

Corte Madera

(415) 924-5850