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, the board of Na’aleh, and the many volunteers serving on our councils, committees, and task forces.
Linda A. Hurwitz, Co-Chair
Linda Hurwitz has served nationally and locally in almost every campaign position including National Campaign Chair of JFNA, The Associated and Beth Tfiloh. She has also served as Chair of the Board of The Associated, National Women’s Philanthropy and Beth Tfiloh Day School. In essence, Linda loves to give, loves to learn and loves to love.
Pamela Platt, Co-Chair
Pamela (Pam) Platt proudly serves as the inaugural Co-Chair of Baltimore’s new agency, Na’aleh: The Hub for Leadership Learning. Prior to this, Pam has held various positions across many different Jewish agencies throughout Baltimore. She served as the President of ACHARAI: The Shoshana S. Cardin Leadership Institute, President of UMBC Hillel, President of the Sinai Hospital Auxiliary, Secretary of the Board of Chizuk Amuno Congregation, Corresponding Secretary of National Council of Jewish Women, and served on a variety of committees for the Associated, Krieger Schechter Day School and Chizuk Amuno Congregation, among others. Strengthening Jewish leadership for the future, elevating fundraising efforts to sustain organizations, and bringing the community together are core to Pam’s values as she dedicates her time to the community. As 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.
Debs Weinberg, Vice Chair
Debra Silberman Weinberg, or “Debs,” sees herself as a community builder. She has successfully been able to serve as a lay-leader and a professional in the Jewish community. Debs served as the Chair of the Board of the Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore when Covid 19 hit our community. 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.
Hillel Tendler, Treasurer
Hillel Tendler is an attorney specializing in corporate and securities law. For over 30 years, Hillel has been involved with Jewish education in Baltimore and has held volunteer lay leadership positions with local schools, synagogues, LifeBridge Health, and Sinai Hospital. He has served on a number of Associated committees and task forces and was a member of the founding Board of Trustees of ACHARAI: The Shoshana S. Cardin Jewish Leadership Institute.
Melissa has served in numerous leadership roles in the Jewish community since moving to Baltimore in 1997. Most recently, she was the co-chair of the task force responsible for establishing the Center for Leadership, now known as Na’aleh and now co-chairs its Strategic Alignment Committee. Melissa co-chaired the Associated’s Strategic Framing process, an effort to restructure the organization’s decision-making and goal-setting processes as it approached its centennial year. Melissa is currently working on a Master’s in Social Work at University of Maryland, Baltimore. She also holds a J.D. from UCLA School of Law. Melissa is a graduate of the Wexner Heritage and ACHARAI Fellows Program and lives in Baltimore City.
Emily Gaines Demsky
Chaim is a Baltimore native and loves being part of our large Jewish community. He has greatly benefited from the Associated throughout his life and is proud that through Na’aleh, he can help impact the community in a positive way. Chaim has been working in finance for the last 10 years and loves his Baltimore sports teams.
Alyson Friedman, Marketing Committee Chair
As a community activist for over 20 years, Alyson has held several leadership positions throughout the Associated system including Women’s Campaign Chair, CHANA President, Jewish Women’s Giving Foundation Chair, and National Women’s Philanthropy Board Member, to name a few. Alyson is looking forward to her role engaging a diverse array of leaders community-wide to learn, grow and thrive together under the new Na’aleh umbrella.
Liz Minkin Friedman, Marketing Committee Chair
Liz Minkin-Friedman lives in Baltimore with her partner and three children. She is deeply committed to the Baltimore Jewish Community having served both as a Jewish Communal Professional and lay leader for over 25 years. With a Masters in Social Work and a Masters in Jewish Studies, along with a Certificate in Jewish Communal Service, she has built her career doing grassroots organizing, counseling, coaching, fundraising, leading, and building community and relationships. Passions and expertise include working with and advocating for the following target populations: women and girls, LBTQA community, Israel, the environment & earth based Judaism, leaders & professionals working in the Jewish community, and Jewish Day School education. She served as past Chair of DFI, was a member of Class V of ACHARAI Fellows Program, and was the co-chair of the task force responsible for establishing the Center for Leadership, now known as Na’aleh.
Jonah is CEO of the JCC in York, PA, previously spending 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 current participant in Leadership York’s Non-Profit Leadership Academy and a graduate of the Wexner Foundation’s Field Fellowship, Georgetown University’s Institute for Transformational Leadership, and JCC Association of North America’s Executive Director Leadership Program. Jonah is a Board member of My New Summer, providing assistance to aspiring Jewish camp leaders through professional development opportunities. He is married to Jennifer Noparstak and has three children, Ari, Ezra, and Lea.
Joanne Gold is Vice Chair of the Board of DFI, on the Board of The Contemporary Museum, The Park School of Baltimore, President of the Baltimore Society for Psychoanalytic Studies, and a 2016-2017 ACHARAI Fellow. Joanne has a special interest in governance and leadership development within work and community organizations, creativity, as well as the complex relationship between the intrapsychic and interpersonal within groups. She is currently writing about character development and intergenerational relations within the Book of Genesis.
Amy Gross has worked in philanthropy for 15 years, currently as the Executive Director of the France-Merrick Foundation and formerly as Program Director at the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation. Prior to these roles, Amy trained and worked as a Jewish communal service professional, serving as the Director of Community Initiatives at The ASSOCIATED, and the Director of Community Relations and Director of Leadership Development at the Jewish Federation of Rhode Island. Amy has a masters in social work and a certificate in Jewish Communal Service from the University of Michigan, is a graduate of both the GBC Leadership program and Leadership Maryland, and has served on the boards of the Pearlstone Center, Maryland Philanthropy Network and Art with a Heart.
Maryland State Senator Shelly Hettleman was appointed to represent District 11 on February 3, 2020, after having first been elected in 2014 to represent her District in the House of Delegates. During her tenure in the House, she served on the Appropriations Committee where she served as Vice Chair of the Education and Economic Development Subcommittee and the Personnel Oversight Subcommittee. She was the lead sponsor of a number of bills that have become law on a variety of important issues: helping college students seek transparency in their student loan debt, expanding tax credit availability for loan debt to graduate students, protecting older adults from abuse, requiring for-profit educational institutions to be more transparent and accountable, broadening the access and availability of contraceptives, and creating a statewide standard for the preservation and testing of rape kits, to name a few.
As the current vice chair of ACHARAI, Fred Heyman is so proud to be a board member and part of the evolution of Na’aleh: The Hub for Leadership Learning.” With wonderful lay and professional leaders, the sky is the limit as to what we can bring to the Baltimore Jewish community.
Ned Himmelrich is President of ACHARAI: The Shoshana S. Cardin Jewish Leadership Institute, a part of Na’aleh and is on the Na’aleh Executive Committee. His involvement began in 2006 when he was among the people to help form ACHARAI. He has previously been the President of The Center for Jewish Education, on the Board of the Darrell Friedman Institute, and head of the teen commission that led to the creation of 4Front, among other board and committees in the Baltimore Jewish community. He 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. He is married to Eileen Diener, a reading specialist, and father of Abby, Molly and Drew
Corinne Janet is a California-native who now enjoys living in Baltimore with her two year-old daughter. Corinne’s professional interests center on higher education and leadership development. She previously served as Maryland Hillel’s Engagement Associate. Following her time at Hillel, she received her M.Ed. in Student Affairs from University of Maryland where she worked as the Graduate Coordinator for the Maryland LEAD Program. Corinne also served as the Coordinator for Leadership Development at University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). Corinne feels deeply connected to the Baltimore Jewish community, especially through her involvement with The Associated’s Young Leadership Council and JVC’s Mitzvah Day Committee.
Stephen Knable is a lifelong Baltimorean, who has spent his entire professional career working in the government relations field. A graduate of the George Washington University, Johns Hopkins University, and University of Maryland School of Law, Stephen has spent the last decade working for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, most recently as the Mid-Atlantic Regional Political Director.
Ellen has served as past president of ACHARAI and as past chair of AIPAC Baltimore Leadership Council, Congregation Shomrei Emunah Sisterhood, and NCSY Atlantic Seaboard. She also was founder and coordinator of The Twain Shall Meet: A Program for Jewish Interaction and was a board member of the Shoshana S. Cardin Jewish High School. “Hinei Ma tov U Manaayim Shevet Achim Gam Yachad, How good and how pleasant it is that brothers dwell together.” Psalm 133
Diana Morris is an independent consultant for philanthropic and nonprofit organizations, focusing on strategic planning, organizational development, and executive searches. She was the founding director of the Open Society Institute-Baltimore and Open Places Initiative and a member of the senior management team of U.S. Programs of the Open Society Foundations (1997-2019). Previously, she served as the first executive director of the Blaustein Philanthropic Group (1991-97) and as a program officer at the Ford Foundation (1982-91), launching its global refugee and migrants rights program and subsequently addressing social justice issues in Eastern and Southern Africa. A member of the NY State Bar, Diana current serves on the boards of Health Care for the Homeless in Maryland and the Salt Bay Chamberfest in Maine.
As Executive Director of The Leadership, an organization dedicated to strengthening civic leadership in Baltimore, David Sachs 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.
Berry currently serves as the chair of the Darrell Friedman Institute 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. Currently, she 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.
Lee Sherman is currently Executive Director of Chizuk Amuno Congregation & 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 & 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, nationally for the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance and 501C Trust, and internationally for Yahel, a service-learning program in Israel.
Karen Singer proudly serves on the Board of Na’aleh, the Board of Governors of The Associated and is currently the Chair of the Engagement and Transition Committee of The Associated. Karen is the immediate past Chair of Jewish Volunteer Connection, a graduate of the ACHARAI Fellows program and a past participant of Chapter Two. When not volunteering, Karen practices law and supports her clients to achieve their commercial real estate and business needs. Karen loves doing anything with her family as COVID permits.
Shlomo Spetner’s volunteer work has been focused on Jewish education. At the present time, he is the chair of the Talmudical Academy board of education. In the late ‘90s, he participated in the founding of the Women’s Institute of Torah Seminary and College and now serves as its chairman. Shlomo 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 Vogelstein has extensive professional and volunteer experience in Jewish education. She served as President of the Board of Jewish Education and the Pearlstone Retreat Center. Ilene’s primary focus is in early childhood Jewish education. She is the author of several publications including Untapped Potential: The Status of Jewish Early Childhood Education in America (2002), 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.
Louise has more than 45 years of community service on national and international boards of 501c3 organizations in the Jewish and secular communities. She is the immediate past president of ACHARAI: The Shoshana S. Cardin Leadership Institute and is a past president of Har Sinai Congregation, the oldest continuously Reform congregation in America. Currently, Louise is on the Board of Na’aleh, the Hub for Leadership Learning, is VP of Strategic Planning for the National Council of Jewish Women-AZ Section, and is Vice Chair of C.A.R.E.- Cancer Awareness through Research and Education, an organization that raises seed funding for innovative cancer research at Mayo Clinic of AZ and the HonorHealth Research Institute.
Chavi Abramson, Observer
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. Chavi matriculated from the University of Baltimore with a Masters in Negotiations and Conflict Management.
Estee Fader, Observer
Estee Fader is an active member of The Associated’s Young Leadership Council (YLC) Class of 2021. She is shadowing the Na’aleh Board as part of her second year in YLC, and she hopes to become an official member of the Board thereafter.
Dr. Bill Robinson
Executive Director, Na’aleh
Prior to becoming the 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.
Executive Director, ACHARAI
Beth Gansky is the Executive Director of ACHARAI: Shoshana S. Cardin Jewish Leadership Institute. Before becoming Executive Director in June 2015, Beth had been serving as a leadership coach for both the ACHARAI Fellows Program and Presidents’ Circle. She holds a Leadership Coaching Certification from Georgetown University, a Master of Arts degree in Higher Education Administration from Columbia University, and a B.A. from Binghamton University. Beth is an experienced facilitator and a member of the faculty team of ACCELERATE, a year-long national program for high potential Hillel professionals who aspire to become directors.
Beth helps people bring their best selves to their professional and personal lives. Over the last twenty years, Beth has trained, consulted and coached both volunteer and professional leaders for local and national organizations. In 2012, she launched The Gansky Group, LLC, a consulting practice that specializes in coaching and training, particularly with non-profit organizations. Beth was with Hillel of Greater Baltimore for fourteen years until 2009, as the Executive Director for the last five. She led the decentralization of that regional operation to four self-sustaining Hillel campus foundations and played a significant role in the opening of The Smokler Center at Johns Hopkins University. Beth is also a board member at Camp Ramah in the Poconos where she is chairing strategic planning process. She is a past board member at Beth Israel Congregation, University of Maryland Hillel, and Beth Tfiloh Congregation and is a facilitator for the Darrell D. Friedman Institute for Professional Development.
Outside of her professional life, Beth finds great fulfillment as a traveler, cook, reader, theatre patron, and mother.
Executive Director, DFI
Cindy started working with the Darrell D. Friedman Institute (DFI_ in 1998, recruiting and training graduate students to prepare them to enter the field of Jewish communal service. In 2007, she led DFI’s transformation into it’s current scope of service providing continuing education and leadership training to current Jewish Communal professionals serving at all levels and in diverse Jewish agencies, organizations, and synagogues in order to help them succeed in their jobs and advance in their careers.
Cindy has a dual Master’s degree in Jewish Studies from the Jewish Theological Seminary and in Social Work from Columbia University. Prior to moving to Baltimore in 1996, she was awarded a FEREP for grad school and worked as a Campaign Associate in Connecticut at the Hartford Jewish Federation, followed by positions 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 a number of capacities in the community, including the University of Maryland Hillel Board, Hadassah, and Beth Israel Congregation. Cindy participated in the Jewish Coaching Academy and holds a training certificate from the American Society for Training and Development.
Naami is the Program Director for ACHARAI: The Shoshana S. Cardin Jewish Leadership Institute, a division of Na’aleh: The Hub for Leadership Learning. Naami received her Bachelor’s degree in psychology, a Master’s degree in Leadership studies and most recently became certified as a Leadership Coach through Georgetown University.
Naami’s passion for Jewish communal work was inspired by her parent’s involvement in her hometown Jewish community of Los Angeles. She has worked for nonprofit organizations in California, New York and Israel. In New York, Naami and her husband built a Jewish community at SUNY Albany engaging over 1,000 Jewish college students in meaningful Jewish experiences. In Israel she planned and led multiple Israel activism trips. After more than a decade of nonprofit work, Naami set her roots in Baltimore with her husband Yanky and three daughters. She began working at ACHARAI as program director. In this role, Naami has been involved in the development of three ACHARAI Fellows Program cohorts and oversees the alumni program of over 165 ACHARAI alumni. Naami is most looking forward to furthering the goals of Na’aleh through leadership coaching and creating more learning opportunities and experiences for the lay leaders in the Baltimore Jewish community.
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 Brand Manager, her goals include establishing and growing recognition of the leadership development Na’aleh provides to both professionals and lay leaders in the greater Baltimore community. She is also responsible for the programmatic development of the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice curriculum and curating content for the related online resource toolkit.
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.
Shirley’s work experience is in the railroad transportation industry with CSX Railroad; in the healthcare industry with Detroit Osteopathic Hospital and Sinai Hospital; and in the not-profits sector with the Visiting Nurse Association and the American Massage Therapist Association. She is a Maryland State licensed massage therapist and served on the Board of the American Massage Therapy Association, chairing the Outreach Committee and hosting multiple events in various locations in Maryland and Virginia.
For relaxation, she enjoys doing crafts, especially making porcelain dolls and knitting. Her education includes the secretarial sciences and computer sciences, and she is proficient in a number of software packages including Microsoft, Corel, PageMaker, and Interleaf. Recently, she added web design and multi-media software skills including Adobe PhotoShop, Illustrator, Flash, and Dreamweaver.
Strategy Alignment Committee & Marketing Committee
Strategy Alignment Committee
DFI & Marketing Committee
Daniel (Dan) Hirschorn
Strategy Alignment Committee
Strategy Alignment Committee
Jennifer Mendelsohn Millman
Roberta (Bobbi) Perlman
DFI & Strategy Alignment Committee
ACHARAI & Strategy Alignment Committee
Rabbi Dana Saroken
Strategy Alignment Committee
Erika Pardes Schon
ACHARAI & Strategy Alignment Committee
Rabbi Dena Shaffer
Strategy Alignment Committee