President & CEO
President and CEO of Conexx: America Israel Business Connector, Shai brings extensive Israeli and American business experience. Shai began his business career in the foreign currency department of Bank Hapoalim in 1979. In 1981, he and his wife, Judy Birnbrey Robkin, opened Israel’s very first combination bookstore/coffee shop, Sefer ve-Sefel (Book and Cup), in downtown Jerusalem, which continues to operate today under new ownership. Shai and Judy returned to Atlanta in 1984 to care for ailing parents, taking the proceeds from the sale of their Israeli business to purchase a small library supplies company from its retiring owner. Vernon Library Supplies, Inc. grew, focusing on the manufacture and sale of general library supply products and specialized library technology applications. In April 2011, Shai sold the technology division to One Equity Partners, the merchant banking arm of JP Morgan Chase, that rolled it up with British and Swiss companies to form Bibliotheca, a global library technology company.
A native of Atlanta, Shai and Judy moved to Israel in 1976. Shai served in the standing army of the Israel Defense Force (IDF) in 1978-79 and continued to serve as a reservist until his return to Atlanta in 1984. While living in Israel, he was a founding member and president for two years of Moreshet Avraham, a Masorti (Conservative) synagogue in Jerusalem. He served as commissioner of the Israel Softball League and was instrumental in getting softball included as a recognized sport in the Maccabiah Games, the Jewish Olympics held every four years in Israel. Shai and Judy remain members of their Jerusalem synagogue and are also members of two Atlanta synagogues – Congregations Beth Shalom and Beth Tefillah. Shai is a member of the national executive board of the Friends of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies located on Kibbutz Keturah, home base of Arava Power, Israel’s largest photovoltaic solar energy company. He has served on the boards of both the Greenfield Hebrew Academy and The Weber School.
In 1990, Shai formed a musical ensemble called PAZ (Gold in Hebrew) which continues to this day to perform popular Israeli music for community organizations in Atlanta and throughout the South. His passion for Israeli music led to him to become host in 2006-7 of Boker Tov Atlanta (Good Morning Atlanta), a Sunday morning Jewish radio show on AM1160.
Shai earned his BA degree in Economics with a focus on international trade from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He earned an MBA from Georgia State University with an emphasis in marketing.