Lay & Professional Leadership
Our greatest priority and pride lies in fostering trusting and creative partnerships among our professional team and lay leaders. Only by working together in close collaboration will we respond vigorously and wisely to the shared challenges and opportunities before us. We aspire to exemplify this “secret sauce” found within the culture of the greater Baltimore Jewish community. Please meet our professional team as of July 1, 2021, the board of Na’aleh, and the many volunteers serving on our councils, committees, and task forces.
Debs Weinberg, Chair
In her second year as Chair of the Na’aleh Board, Debs sees herself as a community builder. She is the immediate past Board Chair of the Associated: The Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, having led the Board when the Covid pandemic pummeled our community. Reflecting on the challenges of the times, Debs says “it was a strong reminder that one does not lead alone. There is nothing more important than the lay-professional relationship and surrounding yourself with people who bring diverse qualities to the table. The community is stronger for it.”
Her perspective about the value of the lay-pro relationship has been honed from decades of successful service as both a lay-leader and a professional in the Jewish community. In addition to serving as Board Chair of the Associated, Debs has also served in several other Associated roles, including Campaign Chair, Community and Planning Chair, and co- Chair of the Anti-Semitism Task Force. Debra was also the international Chair of the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute (HBI), which explores fresh ways of thinking about Judaism and gender worldwide and currently sits on the national Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) Board.
Professionally, Debs served from 2005-2015 as Executive Director of ACHARAI: The Shoshana S. Cardin Leadership Development Institute, where she focused on top volunteer leadership, and from 1995-2005 as the Director of The Darrell Friedman Institute for Professional Development (DFI), which cultivated and trained professionals for work in the Jewish community.
After Graduating from Drew University, she earned an M.A. in Modern Jewish History from the Baltimore Hebrew University and an M.S.W. from the University of Maryland School of Social Work and a certificate in Jewish Communal Service from the Baltimore Institute for Jewish Communal Service (BIJCS). A lifelong learner, Debra earned a certificate in “Women, Leadership and Change” through the Johns Hopkins University and participated in the first class of the Weinberg Fellows Program: Leadership Training for Executive Directors of Non-Profit agencies in 2001. She is also a certified leadership coach, a graduate of the Georgetown University Leadership Coaching certificate program, and a certified facilitator.
Debs is happily married to Joe Weinberg, her high school sweetheart, and they have successfully raised three children, Jenna, Daniella, and Ben to be “upstanders.” A lover of yoga, nature, and traveling, the pandemic helped her to focus more on her passions and creativity. Her greatest pleasure is watching her grandchildren grow.
Fred Heyman, Vice Chair
Fred is Vice Chair of the Board and member of the Na’aleh Executive Committee. He is the immediate past Chair of the ACHARAI Advisory Council. Fred’s involvement with Jewish leadership and philanthropy began many years ago as the initial Chair of The Associated’s Connections Committee. Since that time, he has been a sustained and committed volunteer serving as Co-Chair (with his wife Tammy) of the Blum Seminar, Super Sunday (again with Tammy), and as Board Chair of Johns Hopkins Hillel and Capital Camps and Retreat Center. Fred is currently a board member of the JCC, where he Co-Chairs the Camp Committee and its DEIJ task force, a proud member of Cohort V of the ACHARAI Fellows Program (AFP), and a graduate of the Baltimore Jewish Council’s leadership development program.
Fred is a past recipient of the Harry S. Greenstein Young Leadership Award and the Exemplar of Excellence for Thoughtful and Strategic Leadership Award from Hillel International. He is an attorney and partner at Bennett & Heyman. P.A, and he and Tammy are the proud parents of sons Adam and Ethan.
Ned Himmelrich, Treasurer
Ned is in his second year serving as Na’aleh Treasurer and Chair of the Finance Committee. His involvement in volunteer leadership in the greater Baltimore Jewish Community spans decades. He has previously been the President of The Center for Jewish Education, a founder and Chair of ACHARAI: The Shoshana S. Cardin Jewish Leadership Institute, on the Board of the Darrell D. Friedman Institute (DFI) for Professional Development, and head of the teen commission that led to the creation of 4Front, among other board and committees in the Baltimore Jewish community. In the broader community, Ned has been involved in leadership of the Red Cross Holocaust and War Victims Tracing Center, Maryland State Bar Association Intellectual Property Committee, and Baltimore City Bar Library.
Ned is an attorney and Chair of the Technology and Intellectual Property group at Gordon Feinblatt.
Leah Berry received her MSW from University of Maryland and Masters in Jewish Communal Service from Baltimore Hebrew University. While in graduate school, she was a participant in the Darrell Friedman Institute (DFI) for Professional Development and a FEREP Scholar. She began her career at The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore in 2005, where she developed teen leadership programs, Baltimore City School volunteerism partnerships, community building projects, and board development programs, and was the lead professional for the Jewish Women’s Giving Foundation. In 2013, Leah joined American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and has served in a variety of professional roles, leading her to her current position as Mid-Atlantic Deputy Regional Director. Leah is passionate about bringing her professional expertise to the board room. Leah serves as the President of the Women’s Institute of Torah (WIT), is on the board of Maalot Baltimore /Women’s Institute of Torah College and Seminary, and is a board member of Sister to Sister, a national support network for Jewish divorced women with children at home.
Leah is originally from Detroit and has been in Baltimore since 2001. She is married to Natan, and together they have three daughters, Dassi, Eliana, and Shira.
Randi Buergenthal has held several volunteer leadership positions in our community. She is the past Chair of the Board of the JCC of Greater Baltimore, a past President of Beth Israel Congregation, and a past President of the American Marketing Association, Baltimore Chapter. She serves on the Board of The Associated and is Chair of ACCELERATE, a new Na’aleh intensive fellowship for emerging leaders. She is also a graduate of the Wexner Foundation Heritage Program and Class V of the ACHARAI Fellows Program.
Professionally, Randi has always worked in the creative arena, whether as vice president of an advertising agency, owner of a boutique and art studio, or in her current role as an interior designer.
Randi holds a BA from the University of Maryland. She and her husband John are proud parents of two adult daughters, a very large dog and an adorable puppy who is now in charge.
A Baltimore native with a passion for affecting positive change and recognized for her loyalty and fair-mindedness, Chavi Abramson has fast established herself as an up-and-coming talented young leader in our community. Devoted to the educational field for nearly 15 years, Chavi – or “Mrs. A” – demonstrated a unique and sensitive understanding of her students, nurturing hundreds of children in her classrooms at Yeshivat Rambam and Ohr Chadash Academy. Her reputation for her commitment to the needs of others and fostering a community of equal opportunity precedes her. Chavi spearheaded the successful launch of the Baltimore Chessed League for young girls, creating a platform for them to live meaningful and impactful lives. In 2016, Chavi was the recipient of Suburban Orthodox Congregation’s prestigious Tzorchei Tzibbur Award, recognizing her outstanding contributions to the synagogue’s membership experience.
She matriculated from the University of Baltimore with a Masters in Negotiations and Conflict Management. Chavi is married to Moishe, and they have 3 wonderful and mischievous kids.
Katie is a native of Baltimore, Maryland. She earned her master’s degree in Secondary Education from Johns Hopkins University and has spent over twenty years helping to lead educational nonprofit organizations focusing on underserved populations in Baltimore City. Prior to her nonprofit experience, she taught emotionally challenged middle and high school students before a career change lead her to the tech industry. There she worked for Advertising.com, a subsidiary of AOL, leading a team that brought new products to market. Currently, Katie is President of the ALH Foundation, a private foundation that primarily supports Jewish organizations and institutions that focus on engagement, education, leadership and identity.
Katie is an active volunteer in the Baltimore community. She has held numerous senior volunteer leadership positions with The ASSOCIATED: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, including serving on the Board of Governors and as Chair of the Israel and Overseas Committee. Katie currently serves on the Board of Na’aleh: The Hub for Leadership Learning and is a Trustee of Har Sinai-Oheb Shalom Congregation. She was a member of JFNA’s National Young Leadership Cabinet, is a graduate of ACHARAI: Shoshana S. Cardin Leadership Development Institute and a Wexner Heritage Alumna.
She is married to Alex and the proud mother of Charlie and Daisy.
Melissa has served in numerous leadership roles in the Jewish community since moving to Baltimore in 1997. She has focused especially on strategic planning, and efforts to enhance leadership in the local Jewish community. Melissa chaired the Associated’s Center for Community Engagement and Leadership, was a founding member of the Jewish Women’s Giving Initiative, co-lead the Associated’s Strategic Framing effort, and co-chaired the task force that led to the establishment of Na’alah. She is the immediate past Chair of Na’aleh’s Strategic Alignment Committee and currently serves on its Governance Committee. Melissa is married to Jonathan Cordish and has three sons, Samuel, Asher, and Benjamin.
Emily Gaines Demsky
Emily is an artist whose work focuses on perspective, gratitude, light and wonder. She is the creator of f/LIGHT DECK, a tangible tool designed to help curious people shift their perspective and in doing so, shift their lives.
She has served in a variety of volunteer roles in the Baltimore community, and currently sits on The Baltimore County Commission on Arts and Sciences. Emily is also the immediate past Chair of the DFI Advisory Council.
Emily has a professional background in arts administration, strategic planning, development, and nonprofit management.
Since her ordination in 2012, Jessy has worked as a communal Rabbi in Baltimore, a city that she cares about deeply and in which she hopes to have roots in for a long time. She was the Founder/Director of Charm City Tribe, a community initiative to engage young adults in Jewish culture and tradition that want to connect in creative and meaningful ways. In 2016, Jessy was named one of the Forward’s “Most Inspiring Rabbis,” and she currently is Senior Director of Jewish Education for Repair the World.
Jessy grew up outside of Washington D.C. assuming that everyone went to lobby on Capitol Hill with their youth groups. She has a B.A. in History and Jewish Studies from the University of Maryland, College Park, an M.A. in Hebrew Letters and Jewish Education, and Rabbinic Ordination form Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles. Jessy lives a few miles north of Baltimore with her husband Mark and their 11 year old fur baby, Kofi. She loves live music, nature, ritual, craft beer, street art, and cooking.
Jordan (Jody) Harburger Chairs the Na’aleh Communications and Outreach Committee and is the immediate past co-Chair of the Marketing Committee. He is retired after 47 years as a Jewish Community professional executive in Jewish Federations, Israel Bonds, American Jewish Committee, JCC, and Jewish Foundation for Group Homes. He also had an early career as Jewish Camp Director and Regional Youth Director. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Jewish Communal Service by Hebrew Union College after 25 years in the profession.
As a lay/volunteer leader, Jody is currently active in several committees at Chizuk Amuno Congregation, including Chair of the Stuhlman Center for Adult Education, and member of the Social Justice Advocacy Committee and the Afghan Refugee Welcome Circle. He also currently serves Jews United for Justice as a Leadership Council member, Good People Fund as a Board member, JPride Baltimore as a member of the Grants Committee, and The Associated as a Legacy Committee member. Jody is an immediate past member of the DFI Advisory Council.
He is the father of 3 and grandfather of 5, as well as just celebrating 50 years of marriage to Sheila Harburger, MSW. Jody studies Mishna and Modern Hebrew Literature as part of life-long learning, which started with BA in Hebrew Literature from UCLA and a Certificate and Honorary Doctorate in Jewish Communal Service from Hebrew Union College.
Jonah is CEO of the JCC in York, PA, having previously spent 21 years directing Jewish camp and retreat center organizations. Originally from Pittsburgh, Jonah earned degrees in Journalism, Jewish Studies, and Hebrew from the University of Wisconsin and Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He is a graduate of Leadership York’s Non-Profit Leadership Academy and Executive Connections, the Wexner Foundation’s Field Fellowship, Georgetown University’s Institute for Transformational Leadership, and JCC Association of North America’s Executive Director Leadership Program.
As a Board member of Na’aleh, Jonah is past Co-Chair of its Strategic Alignment Committee. He also serves on the Board of the Jewish Community Foundation of Central Pennsylvania. Jonah is married to Jennifer Noparstak and has three children, Ari, Ezra, and Lea.
With over 20 years of experience working in and for the Jewish community, David Golaner has relied on the core values of amenability, curiosity, and humility to guide his work. David is currently the Director of Planned Giving at the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), working to sustain and enhance Jewish life around the world for centuries to come. He is no stranger to the Baltimore Jewish community, after working nine years in The Associated system as the Centennial Campaign Director and as Executive Director of the Edward A. Myerberg Center. He also was Director of Alumni Relations at The Park School.
David also serves on the Board of Beth Tfiloh Congregation and on several committees at Beth El Congregation. He is a former Board member of the Darrell Friedman Institute (DFI) for Professional Development and the Supportive Community Network of Northwest Baltimore. In addition to a Bachelors Degree in Orchestral Conducting from Franklin & Marshall College, David has engaged in post-graduate study in Nonprofit Management at The American University and Gerontology at John’s Hopkins University. David and his wife Terry (whom he met at an Associated event!) live in Stevenson with their three daughters.
Joanne is the immediate past Chair of the Na’aleh Governance Committee. She is on the Board of the Associated Jewish Federation of Baltimore, the Baltimore Jewish Council, and The Baltimore Museum of Art. Joanne serves on the National Council for the Sam Fox School of Art and Design at Washington University in St. Louis, several museum Contemporary Art Accessions Committees, locally and nationally, and various advisory committees, i.e. JFNA Health and Long Term Care, and the COVID Advisory Team of the American Psychoanalytic Association. She is a past president of the Darrell Friedman Institute (DFI) for Professional Development, Friends of Modern Art, and the Baltimore Society for Psychoanalytic Studies, and was a member of Young Leadership Cabinet, the National Women’s Philanthropy Board, the ACHARAI Fellows Program and President’s Circle.
Joanne has a special interest in creativity, governance and leadership development within work and community organizations, as well as the complex relationship between the intrapsychic and the interpersonal within groups. She is currently writing about character development and intergenerational relations within the Book of Genesis.
Daniel (Dan) Hirschhorn
Dan Hirschhorn is Chairman and President of American Trading and Production Corporation (Atapco). Atapco develops, acquires and manages commercial and residential real estate and holds a portfolio comprised primarily of public and private equity. Within the greater Baltimore Jewish Community, Dan is a Governor of The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore, a member of the Investment Management Committee of the Associated Jewish Charities, a Director of Sinai Hospital, Co-Chair of the 2022 LifeBridge Health Magic of Life Gala, and a former Board member of Hillel of Greater Baltimore. He also is a past President of the Board of ACHARAI: The Shoshana S. Cardin Jewish Leadership Institute, and until recently, served as a member of the ACHARAI Advisory Council.
In the broader community, Dan formerly served as Capital Campaign Co-Chair for Everyman Theatre and as a Trustee of Connecticut College and Sheppard Pratt Investment, Inc. A Park School alumnus, Dan has served his alma mater as President of the Board, and is currently a member of the Finance Committee, Campaign Steering Committee, and Committee on Trustees. He is also a member of the Washington, D.C./Baltimore YPO Gold Chapter of Young Presidents’ Organization and currently serves as President of the David and Barbara B. Hirschhorn Foundation.
Dan earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics, Magna Cum Laude, from Connecticut College and an M.B.A. from the University of Virginia. He and his wife Gina, a senior vice president at Bank of America, live in Roland Park and have twin college age sons.
Linda A. Hurwitz
Linda has inspired people to get involved in Jewish causes in Baltimore and around the country for decades with her warmth, experience, and energy. An exceptional leader and fundraiser, Linda is a past National Campaign Chair of The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) and a former President and past Chair of National Women’s Philanthropy (NWP). She also serves as JFNA’s National Trainer and has spoken in over 120 Federations in North America.
Long active in The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, Linda is a past Chair of the Board and served as the 2009 Campaign Chair along with every conceivable campaign position. Last year, Linda served as co-chair of The Associated’s Financial Resource Development and was the inaugural co-chair of the Board of Na’aleh: The Hub for Leadership Learning. She also is a past President of the Board of Trustees of the Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community Day School.
As a perpetual learner, Linda is a graduate of the ACHARAI Fellows Program (AFP). She has received many awards including the E.B. Hirsh Lifetime Achievement Award and the Israel Bonds Maryland Women’s Division award.
She holds an AB from Duke University and an MS from The Johns Hopkins University. Linda and Steven have been married for over 40 years, are the proud parents of Lauren, Michael and Andrew, and are grandparents to 4.
Corinne is a California native who now enjoys living in Baltimore with her daughter. Corinne’s professional interests center on higher education and leadership development. She currently works at Johns Hopkins University at the Center for Social Concern. Prior to JHU, she served as Maryland Hillel’s Engagement Associate, as the Graduate Coordinator for the Maryland LEAD Program, and the Coordinator for Leadership Development at University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). Corinne feels deeply connected to the Baltimore Jewish community that began with her involvement with The Associated’s Young Leadership Council and continues to hold several leadership roles in the community.
Pam proudly served as the inaugural co-chair of the first Na’aleh Board. Prior to this, Pam had held various positions across many different Jewish agencies throughout Baltimore. She served as the Chair of ACHARAI: The Shoshana S. Cardin Leadership Institute, President of UMBC Hillel, President of the Sinai Hospital Auxiliary, Board Secretary of Chizuk Amuno Congregation, Corresponding Secretary of National Council of Jewish Women Baltimore Secion, and on various committees for The Associated, Krieger Schechter Day School and Chizuk Amuno Congregation, among others. Although her job as a dental hygienist fills her days, she enjoys strengthening Jewish leadership for the future, elevating fundraising efforts to sustain organizations, and bringing the community together, consistent with her core values as she dedicates her time to the community. A proud Baltimorean, Pam’s work with Na’aleh is her way of making sure that the Baltimore Jewish community always has exceptional leadership that enables it to remain a vibrant, passionate and strong community.
Pam has been married to Jeffrey for 43 years and is proud to have 3 sons,3 daughters in law and nine grandchildren.
Fran has served in a variety of leadership roles in the Baltimore Jewish community. This is her first year on the Na’aleh Board after serving last year on Na’aleh’s Strategic Alignment Committee, now its Program Committee. She is the immediate past Vice Chair of the ACHARAI Advisory Council, a co-facilitator of the Synagogue Presidents Circle, and a proud ACHARAI Fellows Program (AFP) Cohort V alumna. Fran currently chairs one of the Associated’s Caring and Community Relations managing councils and also serves on the Community Planning and Allocations (CP&A) lead team. She is a co-chair of the Beth Tfiloh Spotlight 2022, a former Beth Tfiloh Congregation Board chair, and a longtime former trustee of the Beth Tfiloh school Board.
Fran earned her M.B.A. and B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business and is a retired KPMG Consulting partner.
Berry has been a volunteer in the Baltimore community for over 50 years. She currently serves as a member of the Na’aleh Governance Committee and is a past Chair of the Darrell Friedman Institute (DFI) for Professional Development at Na’aleh. Prior to a multi-dimensional career, she retired as the Executive Director of The Jewish Center for Business Development. Berry is a docent at the Baltimore Museum of Art and an active member of the Baltimore Women’s Giving Circle. A member of Har Sinai – Oheb Shalom Congregation, she is a former president of Har Sinai Sisterhood.
Berry finds time spent with family, especially her 4 teenage grandchildren, most rewarding.
As Executive Director of The Leadership, an organization dedicated to strengthening civic leadership in Baltimore, David feels extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to pursue his professional passion: creating transformational leadership learning experiences for individuals and groups. Having joined The Leadership in 2013, he is excited by The Leadership community’s potential to continue to contribute to Baltimore’s growth and vitality. Spending his career in the field of leadership development, David has served in strategic management, teaching, and program design roles at Harvard Business School, UMBC, Johns Hopkins, MICA, and T. Rowe Price.
Lee is the Executive Director of Har Sinai – Oheb Shalom Congregation and is the immediate past Executive Director of Chizuk Amuno Congregation and Schools. Previously, Lee was president and CEO of the National Human Services Assembly, the national network of many of the nation’s largest human service providers. Prior to that, Lee was President and CEO of the Association of Jewish Family & Children’s Agencies, a network of over 125 human service providers in the U.S. and Canada. He has served in various leadership roles in the community, locally for The Associated, Jewish Community Services, Jewish Family Services, the Center for Jewish Education, the Institute for Islamic, Christian and Jewish Studies, and Chizuk Amuno Congregation, nationally for the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance and 501C Trust, and internationally for Yahel, a service-learning program in Israel.
Lee earned a B.A. and M.A. in English from the University of Virginia, and a J.D. from the Marshall-Wythe School of Law at the College of William and Mary.
Jewish education has been the focus of Shlomo’s volunteer activities. He is chair of the Talmudical Academy Board of Education and a member of its Executive Board. In the late 1990’s, he and his wife Mindy participated in the founding of the Women’s Institute of Torah Seminary and College, which he now serves as Chairman. He is a past President of the Bais Yaakov School and has served on its Board of Directors and Board of Education for over thirty years.
Ilene has extensive volunteer and professional experience in the Baltimore Jewish community. She served as Vice President of Education for the Women’s Department of the Associated, President of the Board of Jewish Education, Vice-President of the Darrell Friedman Institute (DFI) for Professional Development, and President of the Pearlstone Conference and Retreat Center.
As a professional, she was the Director of Machon L’Morim Bereshit, the founding Director of the Early Childhood Department at Center for the Advancement of Jewish Education (CAJE), and Director of the Pauline Mash School for Early Childhood Education. Ilene was also the founding Director of Beth El @ Federal Hill, the only Jewish early childhood program in downtown Baltimore.
She commissioned and is co-author on the first national study on early childhood Jewish education entitled Untapped Potential: The Status of Jewish Early Childhood Education in America (2002). Additionally, Ilene is the author on numerous other publications including Early Childhood Jewish Education “If not now, When?” (2008) and a co-author of “Early Childhood Jewish Education” in The International Handbook of Jewish Education.
Ilene has a MA in Speech Pathology and a MS in Applied Behavioral Science. Ilene and her husband Bert are grandparents to four beautiful grandchildren.
Louise has more than 45 years of community service on national and international boards of 501c3 organizations in the Jewish and secular communities of local, national and international organizations whose missions focus on leadership learning, community health, marketing and public relations, and higher education. She is a past President of ACHARAI: The Shoshana S. Cardin Leadership Institute, a past President and current Marketing Committee member of Har Sinai Congregation (now Har Sinai-Oheb Shalom Congregation [HSOSC]), and the immediate past Chair of the Na’aleh Marketing Committee. With a particular commitment to womens’ organizations and women’s leadership earning, Louise is Vice President of Strategic Planning for the National Council of Jewish Women-AZ Section, past international President of Phi Sigma Sigma sorority, past President of the National Panhellenic Conference, and a committee member in Scottsdale’s Jewish Women’s Leadership Institute.
A seasoned health care marketing and market research executive, Louise founded Apical Research Team in 2005, a custom healthcare market research and consulting organization. Apical’s four senior colleagues served the pharmaceutical industry through nearly 20 years of disruptive healthcare industry change, until her recent retirement.
Louise holds a B.A. from U.C.L.A. and an M.B.A. from Loyola University (MD), Executive Graduate Programs in Management. She and her husband David are rabid Ravens fans and golfers. They are frequent commuters to Baltimore from Scottsdale, where they spend the majority of their time.
Dr. Bill Robinson
Prior to being named Executive Director of Na’aleh, Dr. Bill Robinson was the Dean of the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education of The Jewish Theological Seminary, where he created the Leadership Commons, which cultivated educational leadership and offered practical wisdom to support Jewish communities throughout North America. During his previous seven-year tenure as Chief Strategy Officer at The Jewish Education Project, Bill was integral to the transformation of the 100-year-old organization (formerly known as the Board of Jewish Education) into its current, vibrant form. In 2011, The Jewish Education Project became the first legacy organization to be named to the Slingshot list of top 50 innovative Jewish nonprofits in North America. Bill received an interdisciplinary PhD in Social Theory from Rutgers University. He is the proud father of Jessica Shaye and Juliette Eliana, and the adoring husband of Tia Zlotnikoff.
Director of Talent Development
Cindy started working with the Darrell D. Friedman Institute (DFI) in 1998, (with Debs Weinberg, when it was called the Baltimore Institute for Jewish Communal Service) recruiting and training graduate students preparing them to enter the field of Jewish communal service through internships and seminars. As executive director, beginning in 2007, she led DFI’s transformation into its current scope of service providing continuing education and leadership training to current Jewish communal professionals enabling them succeed in their jobs and advance in their careers. In its new iteration as part of Na’aleh: The Hub for Leadership Learning, Cindy continues to develop talent, inspiring people to take ownership of their leadership learning and professional growth, and thus deepen the culture of learning in their organizations as they strengthen the greater Baltimore community.
Cindy has a dual master’s degree in Jewish Studies from the Jewish Theological Seminary and in Social Work from Columbia University. Cindy participated in the Jewish Coaching Academy with Deborah Grayson Riegel, participated in facilitation modality training with Rae Ringel, and holds a training certificate from the American Society for Training and Development.
Prior to moving to Baltimore in 1996, she was awarded a FEREP for grad school to work in a Federation, which she did as a Campaign Associate in Connecticut at the Hartford Jewish Federation. Positions followed at the Hartford JCC in Senior Adult Programming, and as Executive Director of the Connecticut Valley Region of United Synagogue for Conservative Judaism.
She has volunteered in several capacities in the community, including the Krieger Schechter Day School board, the University of Maryland Hillel board, Hadassah, and Beth Israel Congregation.
In her spare time, Cindy enjoys her place in the “sandwich” spending time with her children and twin grandchildren and being with her parents. She slips in reading and traveling and making “honey-do” lists for her newly retired Rabbi husband!
Director of Leadership Innovation
Andrea joined Na’aleh earlier this year as Director of Leadership Innovation . She previously was the Accelerator Program Lead at itrek, an organization that introduces tomorrow’s leaders in business, law, policy and STEM to Israel, helping them experience Israel firsthand through peer-led, week-long treks. She spent almost three years prior at The Jewish Education Project as the Director of Generation Now, a fellowship for veteran educators intended to transform the field of Jewish teen engagement/education into one driven by a new outcomes-oriented practice.
Over the last two decades, Andrea has helped shape multiple professional education and training programs for (emerging and veteran) Jewish communal professionals, Jewish educators, and Rabbinical students. Since August 2017, Andrea has been a licensed Israeli tour guide and has enjoyed showing tourists/students the complexity and richness of Israeli society. She also has been an active participant/volunteer in numerous Jewish communities in New York, Baltimore, and Jerusalem, including Limmud, Hazon, and Kehillat Zion.
Andrea earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Vermont. Additionally, as a student in the Baltimore Institute for Jewish Communal Service (the precursor to the Darrell D. Friedman Institute), she earned a Master of Arts degree in Jewish Studies from Baltimore Hebrew University and a Master of Policy Sciences from the University of Maryland. Andrea also earned certificates in Israel Education from George Washington University and in Training and Organizational Development from New York University’s School of Continuing Professional Studies.
In her free time, Andrea enjoys traveling, exploring new cultures, learning new languages, and indulging her passion for outdoor sports including snow skiing, biking and hiking. A Baltimore native, Andrea is looking forward to spending more quality time with her parents, extended family, and local friends.
Program Manager and Facilitator
Rachel is a Baltimore native and graduate of the Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community Day School. Following her graduation from UMBC in 2002, she served as a JCSC fellow at Houston Hillel, and then in a youth engagement role at the St. Louis JCC. After returning to Baltimore in 2011, she served as the Assistant Director of Goucher College Hillel. Most recently Rachel was the Family Engagement Specialist at the Mack’s Center for Jewish education where she worked closely with young families. Prior to taking on the role of Program Manager and Facilitator at Na’aleh, Rachel served on our Strategic Alignment Committee, and as Program Chair for DFI as well as a member of the DFI Advisory Council.
Rachel is excited to take her engagement and management skills to Na’aleh and engage with Jewish professionals in the community. She lives in Pikesville with her husband, Rabbi Daniel Plotkin, two sons, Ari and Joshua, and their crazy dog, Shushan.
Elayna joined the Na’aleh professional team in early 2022 as Operations Manager. She graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences, with concentrations in political science, history, and Jewish studies. While at Pitt, Elayna cultivated a desire to work in the Jewish community, serving as a student leader at Hillel Jewish University Center and as the Community Relations Council Fellow at the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh. She also spent time living and working in Ashdod, Israel as a participant on the Masa Israel Journey Community Involvement program.
Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Elayna moved to Maryland five years ago to pursue a career in Jewish communal work. She is an avid dog lover and spent years as a dog walker and dog sitter. She also loves collecting books, nail polish, and shoes. Her favorite hobby is baking, and her chocolate chip cookies and hamantaschen have been shipped to friends and family nationwide.
Aviva is an experienced writer, designer, and creator. Driven by her passion for clean, effectively communicated design, she takes pride in providing the best internal marketing support possible for her team. As the Na’aleh Communications Associate, she is responsible for managing all external communications for Na’aleh with the goals of establishing and growing recognition of the leadership development Na’aleh provides to both professionals and lay leaders in the greater Baltimore community.
Aviva first began working with DFI as the social media manager in 2016 and has been a vital participant of the leadership journey that conceptualized Na’aleh: The Hub for Leadership Learning.
She holds a Master’s in Integrated Design from University of Baltimore and was the 2018 Seminar Award winner.