Presenters, Facilitators and Coaches
Melissa Gerr is an award-winning content producer in audio, video and print. Led by a fine-tuned curiosity, there is no topic too grand, odd, small or obscure that won’t capture her interest. She is a producer and contributor for NPR affiliate station WYPR radio in Baltimore, MD. As a member of Beth Am Synagogue, she serves as chair of adult education and recently joined the staff at Towson University as an adjunct professor in the Department of Electronic Media and Film.
Ben has spent his career in technology startups and is the founder of Encircle, a wellness app that helps grievers get sustained support from their closest friends and family, long after the funeral is over. He’s drawn to unifying human experiences, whether it’s exploring mortality or how food gets to our plates. When Ben isn’t building Encircle, you can find him surfing, playing guitar, or planting food crops in his garden.
Irena Stein is a photographer, restaurateur, immigrant, sustainability advocate, and humanitarian whose spirit is deeply rooted in humanizing society. Irena came to America from Venezuela on a Fulbright Scholarship to Stanford University where she graduated with a Master’s in Cultural Anthropology. Since then she has merged her passion for art, food, community, and environmentalism into a seamless blend in a city that craved it–Baltimore, Maryland. These passions quickly came together when she officially entered the culinary world in 2002 and opened two cafés at Johns Hopkins University. The first one at the Space Telescope Science Institute, Café Azafrán, and the other in the Humanities building, Alkimia. Both locations have been pioneers in introducing sustainability and zero
waste at Hopkins. Azafrán has provided healthy and diverse cuisine to the brilliant minds of astronomers, astrophysicists, and spacecraft engineers for 15 years. Her cafés not only received recognition for their sustainability practices and delicious fresh food but also as the first establishment to bring the traditional Venezuelan arepa to Baltimore.
The overwhelming support in the city led her to pursue her dream of bringing a taste of Venezuela and her childhood outside of Hopkins and into the greater Baltimore community. This new restaurant endeavor, Alma Cocina Latina, made Irena the first to bring contemporary and imaginative Venezuelan cuisine to the United States. The restaurant became wildly popular, gaining attention from Baltimore Magazine (2016 Best Chef, 2017 Best Restaurant, 2018 Best Ambiance, Top 50 Best 2020), Baltimore Sun (Top 10 Restaurant 2015, Top 10 Dishes in 2016, Top 10 Restaurants 2017, and 2020 Marylander of the Year), and even a rare 3.5 stars by famed Washington Post food critic, Tom Sietsema. For over 7 years Alma has led the Baltimore food scene with innovative and transformative ideas not only with their cuisine, but in shaping how we view food in our society. Behind all of Irena’s concepts is her belief that food is the key to breaking social barriers, bridging communities, and ultimately the foundation of world peace.
In 2020, Irena made that passion for social change into a reality with her newest initiative, Alkimiah. Alkimiah was a community meals program in partnership with Mera Kitchen Collective that provided healthy, high-quality, and sustainable meals to communities for free during COVID difficult times, in partnership with Jose Andres’ World Central Kitchen. Alkimiah fed over 150,000 people, and has been recognized nationally by Bon Appétit, The New York Times, Baltimore Sun, United Nations Environmental Board, and more.
Since, Irena continues to create bridges with the community. Whether that is by mentoring young people aspiring to get into the restaurant industry, actively helping Venezuelan Pemón Indigenous communities lead programs of ecotourism, or implementing a rainforest to table program working directly with indigenous communities in the Amazon to support their micro economies, Irena continues to be a liaison between her home country of Venezuela and Baltimore.
Josh Kohn has been working in the arts for more than two decades, specializing in curating powerful performance experiences and meaningful community dialogue.
In the fall of 2021, he joined up with the nascent Center For Cultural Vibrancy (CCV) as their Associate Director. The organization works regionally, nationally and internationally with a focus on supporting cultural collaboration. At CCV, he is the guiding force behind the organization’s programs and projects.
From 2014-2021, he served as the Performance Director at Creative Alliance in Baltimore, Maryland. There, he focused on community-responsive programming, including the visioning, and launching of the nationally heralded series “Sidewalk Serenades” which brought over 400 performances to neighborhoods around the city of Baltimore and placed over $100,000 in the hands of Baltimore artists in response to the Covid-19 Pandemic. Annually, he produced over 130 concerts while at Creative Alliance.
Previously, he served as Program Officer, Jazz and Traditional Arts at Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation supporting the jazz and traditional arts ecosystems. He spent the first eleven years of his career with the National Council for the Traditional Arts where he programmed large scale festivals around the country and managed their artist touring program. In addition to concert and festival work, he has collaborated with American Routes, a weekly public radio program out of Tulane University, for three cultural exchange music tours in China, provided research and writing for “A Guide to The Crooked Road: Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail,” and has produced over a dozen music albums and radio programs. He is a former Fellow with the Devos Institute of Arts Management at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Josh lives with his family in Baltimore, Maryland.
Rabbi Ariana Katz
Rabbi Ariana Katz is the founding rabbi of Hinenu: The Baltimore Justice Shtiebl. She was the creator and host Kaddish, a podcast about death, mourning and identity, for which she was awarded a grant from the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford. Rabbi Ariana has taught learners ages 3-93 for over a decade, and is in training to become a soferet, scribe of sacred Jewish text.
Terri Lee Freeman
Terri Lee Freeman was appointed Executive Director of the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture in December 2020. The seventh director of the State’s largest museum devoted to African American history, Freeman is responsible for providing strategic leadership in furthering the museum’s mission as an educational and cultural institution. To that end, she has worked with staff and board to develop a five-year strategic plan that culminates in a planned renovation of The Lewis Museum’s permanent history exhibition, a growth in visitors, membership, funding support and community outreach. Freeman seeks to connect history to current events and expand the museum’s connection to the very rich and vibrant communities which make up the state of Maryland.
Prior to joining The Lewis Museum, Freeman served as President of the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee for six years. During her tenure Freeman broadened the Museum’s reputation as the new public square. She oversaw the Museum’s MLK50 commemoration, an international commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and designed and executed signature programming like “Unpacking Racism for Action,” a seven-month-long dialogue program delving into issues of implicit bias and structural racism.
Before the NCRM, Ms. Freeman served as President of the Greater Washington Community Foundation for 18 years. She distinguished herself for her community building and her ability to grow the Foundation’s reputation as an effective and strategic funder in the metropolitan DC region.
Her intense passion for the nonprofit sector and community was nurtured while serving as the founding executive director of the Freddie Mac Foundation; at the time, one of the five largest corporate foundations in the metropolitan Washington region.
Ms. Freeman currently serves on the boards of BoardSource, the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore, Visit Baltimore, the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance, and the University of Dayton, her alma mater. In 2020, she was identified as an Outstanding Alum by the University of Dayton. And in December 2020, the Memphis Magazine identified her as Memphian of the Year. A frequently sought-after speaker, Ms. Freeman lives by the saying that what is most important is what people say about you when you aren’t in the room.
Freeman received her bachelor’s degree in journalism/communication arts from the University of Dayton and her master’s degree in organizational communication management from Howard University.
Kerry Hawk Lessard
Kerry Hawk Lessard is an applied medical anthropologist working in the area of Urban American Indian Health. Her work has focused on the ways that trauma continues to negatively impact community health, and how we can build resilience and wellness by reaffirming our connections to Indigenous knowledge. Kerry currently serves as the Executive Director of Native American Lifelines. A lifelong Baltimorean, Kerry is a descendant of Shawnee, Assiniboine, and Irish people.
Rabbi Mike Uram
Rabbi Mike Uram is the Chief Vision and Education Officer for Pardes North America. Before that, he served as the Executive Director and Campus Rabbi at Penn Hillel for over 16 years. He is the author of the best-selling book, Next Generation Judaism: How College Students and Hillel Can Help Reinvent Jewish Organizations, which won a National Jewish Book Award in 2016. He is a sought-after speaker and consultant on the changing nature of the American Jewish community, Jewish innovation, cutting-edge engagement, and how legacy organizations can reinvent themselves in the age of millennials.
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.
Rabbi Rachel Sabath Beit-Halachmi, Ph.D
Rabbi Rachel Sabath Beit-Halachmi, Ph.D is Inaugural Senior Rabbi at Har Sinai-Oheb Shalom Congregation in Baltimore, Maryland. (HSOSC is the Newest and Oldest Reform Congregation in the country.) Previously, Rabbi Sabath served Ohavay Zion Synagogue, and Shirat HaYam Synagogue as their Rabbi. She has also served as Assistant Professor of Jewish Thought and Ethics at Hebrew Union College (HUC) and for over a decade as Vice President of the Shalom Hartman Institute. Ordained at HUC-JIR, Rabbi Sabath earned a Ph.D. at the Jewish Theological Seminary.
She is the co-author of two books: Striving Toward Virtue: A Contemporary Guide to Jewish Ethical Behavior, and Preparing Your Heart for the High Holydays. She is also at work on a collection of essays on Jewish Philosophy as well as a volume, co-edited with Rabbi Prof. Rachel Adler, on gender and ethics in Jewish thought.
Maya guides individuals and groups as they grapple with existential questions about their leadership identities and communication skills. She also facilitates offsites and retreats that deepen trust among the participants and accelerate planning and decision making.
Maya spent a decade in nonprofit leadership before establishing her coaching and training practice. From early in her career, she was already managing international teams with dozens of employees, moving along fast-paced projects while bridging cross-cultural communication gaps. Later, she focused on developing global strategic partnerships, liaised with board members, and trained top executives to present clearly and convincingly to a wide range of audiences.
Lindsey Davis uses lessons on human behavior and contextual awareness to help participants become critical thinkers and empowered communicators. She is a speech writer, event creative, audience strategist, and founder of PowerThrough[That, using experiential education to amplify human performance.
As an employee burnout and resilience specialist with 20+ years of experience, Faun helps organizations build a culture where their employees are pumped to go to work every day.
Known for her high-energy and dynamic programs, clients value her ability to quickly assess the nuances and priorities of their organization and then translate that insight into practical strategies that can be put into practice immediately.
With extensive experience coaching and training employees nationwide, and her in-the-trenches leadership at an independent school, Faun brings an exceptional understanding of personal dynamics and expertise in the critical skills needed to minimize burnout.
Faun’s clients, from Fortune 500 companies to non-profits, love her ability to immediately connect with workshop participants and deliver sessions that have a lasting impact on their teams. Faun also partners with Lisa Hills and Nanette Fridman under the Working Wonders platform to offer expanded training, coaching, and consulting to their clients and bring fresh strategies for solving everyday work challenges.
She has been quoted in The New York Times and Fast Company, featured in the AdvancingWellness Expert Interview Series, as well as numerous other media outlets. Faun holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Connecticut an M.A. in Counseling Psychology from Boston College.
Daniel is an experienced educator, whose approach to human and organizational growth is informed by values of openness, engagement, reflection, and empowering others. He has worked as a trainer, consultant, and educator with a wide array of clients from businesses to non-profit organizations, including working with teachers and youth-at-risk in both the US and Israel.
In his most recent role as Director of the Leadership Development Institute at CJP Boston, Daniel worked with synagogues, Jewish communal organizations, and universities to facilitate effective boards, enhance team effectiveness, and develop emerging leaders.
Previously, as the Director of Experiential Learning and Teaching at Brandeis University, he worked with faculty to help them incorporate active and reflective learning into their teaching. Prior to that, Daniel founded and directed MABAT, an Israeli non-profit dedicated to improving intercultural awareness among all Israeli citizens through experiential and diversity programming at Israeli colleges and universities. Daniel also served in the IDF, as a tour guide for the Society for Protection of Nature in Israel and as an Outward Bound instructor.
Daniel earned an MBA from the Heller School of Social Policy Management and an MA from the Hornstein Program in Jewish Professional Leadership at Brandeis University. He also earned an MS in Outdoor Education from the University of New Hampshire. He holds a BA from the University of Pennsylvania. He volunteers with numerous non-profit organizations both Jewish and non, locally, nationally and in Israel.
Marc B. Terrill
Marc Terrill is the President of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore. He has served in this capacity since 2003. In his professional leadership role, Marc directs the day-to-day management and operations as well as the long-range planning for the organization, with primary emphasis on the development and deployment of human and financial resources for the organization’s network of agencies. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and obtained his Masters in Social Work with a concentration in community organization from Yeshiva University.
Marc holds continuing education certificates in management and leadership from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania as well as Harvard University. In addition, Marc received an Honorary Doctorate from Baltimore Hebrew University in 2009. He is a graduate of the inaugural class of the Jewish Federations of North America’s Mandel Executive Development Program in 1997, a program designed to prepare those who were identified as the ‘next generation’ of Jewish non-profit executive leaders.
Marc proudly has served as the Chair of JPRO Network of North America (Professional Development Association for Jewish Communal Personnel) from 2012-2014. He currently serves on the Boards LifeBridge Health Systems, the Baltimore Community Foundation, JPRO Network and Sinai and Northwest Hospitals. He is married to Diana, a clinical psychologist, and they have three children – Maddie, and twins Eli and Samantha.
Marci Mayer Eisen, MSW, ACC
Marci is the Director of Millstone Leadership Initiatives and the staff person for JProStl, community-wide initiatives to connect, train, and inspire professionals and volunteer leaders. She previously worked at the JCRC coordinating interfaith volunteerism and spent the majority of her career at The J, where she was led a department and developed hundreds of family programs and community special events. A native of Philadelphia, Marci has a BS in Human Development from Penn State, MSW from Wurzweiler School of Social Work and Certificate in Leadership and Non-Profit Management from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Marci is an ICF certified leadership coach.
Marci often collaborates with colleagues throughout the St. Louis region and across the country and is a graduate of both Women in Leadership and Leadership St. Louis. With a deep commitment to social work education, Marci has supervised over 30 MSW students and presents on the subject of group dynamics, effective boards and teams, leadership coaching, and community building. She is a recipient of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis Fred A. Goldstein Professional Excellence Award, the National JCC Association Yakir Professional Award and the St. Louis Kollel Community Leadership Award.
Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin
Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin is a community rabbi who currently works at the intersection of faith and sustainability.
Ordained in 1988 from the Jewish Theological Seminary, Rabbi Cardin served that institution in several capacities, including Lecturer in Practical Rabbinics, Special Assistant to the Chancellor and Assistant Dean of the Rabbinical School.
Currently she is co-founder and director of the Maryland Campaign for Environmental Human Rights, an initiative that is working to place an amendment in the Maryland state constitution that would protect all Marylanders’ rights to a healthful environment.
For seven years she served as the Jewish educator of the JCC of Greater Baltimore.
When living in the New York metropolitan area (which she did for 25 years), she founded the Jewish Women’s Resource Center in New York City, in 1976 and in its Pregnancy Loss Peer Counseling program, now the Pregnancy Loss Support Program, in 1983.
She teaches courses on various aspects of Judaism at St. Mary’s Seminary’s Ecumenical Institute.
Rabbi Cardin has published several books including Tapestry of Jewish Time: a spiritual guide to holidays and lifecycle events and Tears of Sorrow, Seeds of Hope: a Jewish spiritual companion for infertility and pregnancy loss. She is currently working on a book about the Jewish imperative of Yishuv Ha’olam, the mitzvah of creating and sustaining a habitable world.
David Fox-Estrin is an experienced business and social change strategist passionate about building exemplary products, programs, and campaigns at the nexus of innovation and impact. His current professional adventure is with impala, a tech-for-good startup that helps nonprofits fundraise more effectively and funders give more impactfully by making social impact data accessible and actionable for all. David’s career has featured meaningful global work in impact finance, business strategy consulting, corporate philanthropy, and social entrepreneurship. He’s most proud of his efforts at the helm of Together We Remember, which mobilized thousands of students, educators, and leaders to counter division, disinformation, and violence in their communities and on social media between 2012-2022. In David’s bridge-building work, he strives to move audiences of all ages from inspiration to action across lines of difference, towards historical truth, effective allyship, and social cohesion. Beyond work, David is a husband, dog dad, meditator, outdoor adventurer, and salsa dancer.
Lee M. Hendler
For the past few decades, Lee has enjoyed leadership roles in a number of Jewish and communal organizations and been involved with her family’s charitable foundations. She is co-founder and president of the Jewish Grandparents Network, a national organization that engages, educates, and celebrates grandparents as an invaluable resource for Jewish life. She is also the founder and project director of Freedom’s Feast, a civics initiative that helps to raise the next generation of citizens through the celebration of our national holidays. A past president of her congregation, Chizuk Amuno and author of The Year Mom Got Religion: One Woman’s Mid-life Journey into Judaism, Lee is grateful to be “Gromzy” to six wonderful grandchildren. She loves the company of her adult children, their partners, and a very big, red dog named “Clifford.”
Ellen B. Kagen Waghelstein
Ellen is an Assistant Professor at Georgetown University and Director of the Georgetown Leadership Academy, a national learning and consultation effort on effective leadership and change management for professionals and civic activists. She has over 30 years of experience training, coaching and facilitating at the national, state and local levels and regularly works with such entities as the World Bank, Council of Chief State School Officers, National Council on Mental Wellbeing, The Harvard Berkman/Klein Center, US State Department, Michigan Office of Children, Youth and Families, Missouri Department of Mental Health, New York State Office of People with Developmental Disabilities and Maryland Child Welfare Academy. She currently directs the Kagen Fellows Program in Washington State and Georgia and created Coach Approach Partners to teach coaching and communication skills to leaders across the county. She is on the founding faculty of Preside, a national program that links Leadership and Governance through a Jewish Lens.
In addition to her professional experience, Ellen has a wide range of lay leadership involvement at the local, national and international levels. She is a graduate of the Wexner Heritage Program and is a past chair of the National Young Leadership Cabinet of Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) and PANIM: The Institute for Jewish Leadership and Values. She currently serves on the boards of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington and is a trustee of their Jewish Community Foundation. She is the 2019 recipient of the Kipnis-Wilson/Friedland award and was recently selected to join the Shalom Hartman Muslim Leadership Institute. She also served on the founding Board of BBYO and two innovative start-ups, Judaism Alive and JChoice. Ellen was the founding president of the Partnership for Jewish Life and Learning, the collaborative education and identity building agency in Greater Washington, DC where she successfully integrated three separate organizations into one new entity. She also co-led the efforts to create a nationally recognized, community-wide, teen identity agency called JET, Jewish Experiences for Teens.
Ellen and her husband David established the Waghelstein Family Hopes and Dreams Endowment Fund to further advance leadership opportunities for emerging activists. Ellen is delighted to continue her service to the Baltimore Jewish Community through her work with ACHARAI and Na’aleh.