Facilitator Bios 2016-2017
Gerri Baum, Owner, GB Media Networks
Gerri is a seasoned marketing and communications professional with over 20 years’ experience servicing businesses and non-profits. Her career spans from the motion picture industry, where she coordinated and promoted corporate-wide events for Columbia Pictures, to the non-profit arena, directing region-wide campus marketing efforts for Hillel of Greater Baltimore.
In 2009, Gerri began creating a professional niche for herself in social media. Now an authority in the social arena, Gerri creates and manages the implementation of customized strategies and social media campaigns for businesses, corporations and non-profits. Through in-depth research and analysis, Gerri stays on top of the ever-evolving world of social media applications and technology, allowing her to evaluate and recommend value-added platforms, functionality and ads that reinforce brand, mission, principals and goals. Gerri is founder of, Keepin’ it Social, a social media consulting firm located in Baltimore, Maryland. She is also a social media manager for Sociality Squared, a full-service social media company located in New York City, and serves as Manager of Social Media for Kalix Communications, an integrated social marketing firm in Baltimore, Maryland. Aside from her professional interests, Gerri loves to travel and has a passion for music and the arts. She plays piano and guitar, and enjoys spending time with her daughter Mira whom she adopted as an infant from China.
Joel Bolling, Senior Director, Student Retention and Development, Center for Student Diversity, Towson University. In this role, Joel provides leadership for the Center for Student Diversity and social justice advocacy on campus through cultural competency and allyship trainings, staff, faculty, and student development, educational programs, counseling, advising, and facilitates intergroup dialogue. Joel’s previous work at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and the University of Nevada, Reno supported underrepresented and underserved populations, with a particular focus on equity for LGBTQ+, women, African American, and religious minority populations.
Joel received a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a minor in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Nevada, Reno and later completed a Master of Arts in Educational Leadership with a focus on Higher Education Administration. He is currently completing a Ph.D. in Organizational Development and Leadership with a specialization in Organizational Diversity from the University of the Rockies in Denver, Colorado.
Dr. Erica Brown is an associate professor at George Washington University’s Graduate School of Education and Human Development and the director of its Mayberg Center for Jewish Education and Leadership. She also consults for non-profits and serves as the community scholar for The Jewish Center in Manhattan. She previously served as the scholar-in-residence for The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, where she directed its Jewish Leadership Institute. She also held that position at the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Boston. Erica was a Jerusalem Fellow, is a faculty member of the Wexner Foundation, an Avi Chai Fellow, winner of the Ted Farber Professional Excellence Award, is a recipient of the 2009 Covenant Award for her work in education and the 2012 Bernie Reisman Award (Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program, Brandeis University). Erica has degrees from Yeshiva University, University of London, Harvard University and Baltimore Hebrew University. She lectures and writes widely on subjects of Jewish interest and leadership and lives with her husband and children in Silver Spring, Maryland.
Erica is the author of 11 books. Her forthcoming book is Jonah: The Reluctant Prophet (fall, 2017). She is the author of Take Your Soul to Work: 365 Meditations on Every Day Leadership (Simon and Schuster, December 2015) and Happier Endings: A Meditation on Life and Death (Simon and Schuster), which won both the Wilbur and Nautilus awards for spiritual writing. Her previous books are Leadership in the Wilderness (OU/Koren), Inspired Jewish Leadership, a National Jewish Book Award finalist, Spiritual Boredom, Confronting Scandal and co-author of The Case for Jewish Peoplehood (all through Jewish Lights), In the Narrow Places: Daily Inspiration for the Three Weeks (OU Press/Koren) and Return: Daily Inspiration for the Days of Awe (OU/Koren) and Seder Talk: A Conversational Haggada (OU/Koren). She writes a monthly column for the New York Jewish Week and London’s Jewish Chronicle and has blogged for JTA, Psychology Today and Newsweek/Washington Post’s “On Faith” and tweets on one page of Talmud study a day @DrEricaBrown. She also writes Weekly Jewish Wisdom. Access her articles at ericabrown.com.
Meagan Buren is Director of Public Opinion Research & Messaging at RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization working to empower people with disabilities to achieve the American dream. Buren has worked with RespectAbility to increase inclusion of Jews with disabilities in communal life. She conducts trainings and works with organizations and synagogues to match their positive intentions surrounding inclusion with the necessary action and infrastructure to succeed.
Buren is a strategist and public opinion research expert with a strong background in focus groups, dials tests, polling, media relations, and in leading communications and training programs. Before joining RespectAbility, Buren served as Senior Project Director for Luntz Global, a leader in corporate, political, and nonprofit message creation and image management worldwide.
Prior to that, she worked at The Israel Project (TIP) where she helped built it into a major educational, policy, and communications organization that reached out globally in 10 languages. At TIP, Buren managed focus groups, polling, dial testing, grassroots and educational training, and media outreach in the U.S., Europe, Russia, and the Arab world. Buren conducted interactive language and media training sessions for ambassadors, top public officials, professionals, and leaders who had a significant impact on Middle East security and peace. She initiated and led media tours of Middle East experts worldwide, including at two cycles of the Republican National Convention, the Democratic National Convention, and presidential primary and debate seasons. She has been interviewed on national and international television and radio and is gifted in strategic communications. Buren holds a Master’s degree in Communications, Culture, and Technology from Georgetown University, and a Bachelor’s degree from The Ohio State University. You can reach her at MeaganB@RespectAbilityUSA.org.
Mandy Diamond, Leadership Facilitator
Mandy started her leadership and learning career in Australia, working as a Learning and Development Consultant for one of Australia’s major banks. This saw her move through various roles in learning and development with her focus always on leadership and team development. Mandy was responsible for developing, designing and facilitating a leadership development program for frontline managers and worked through a company merger, playing a pivotal role in the change management program. While on maternity leave with her first child, Mandy co-authored a book with Ivan Nurick, “Leaders developing Leaders”. The success of this book led her to leave her role at the bank and join Ivan at On Cue Executive development. This saw Mandy expand into Executive level leadership and strategy development as well as working with organizations at an executive level to work through cultural change. Mandy has worked globally with clients in Australia, Asia, Middle East and the USA. She has worked across a variety of industries from mining to hospitality and in both the private and public sector. Whether her focus is at a 1-on-1, team or organizational level, Mandy has the ability to connect with individuals and open their eyes to possibilities and capabilities they never thought possible. This is the foundational principle of her business, Blue Zone Thinking. Mandy has made it her mission to provide organizations (and their leaders) with the tools (and the confidence) to move beyond their comfort zones. Everything you have ever desired lies just outside your comfort zone. We refer to this space as the Blue Zone, because once you’ve broken through the barrier of comfort, the sky is the limit. For more information on Blue Zone Thinking please contact Mandy: email@example.com, 410-733-3672
Yaffa Epstein serves as the Director of Education, North America for the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies.
She received Rabbinic Ordination from Yeshivat Maharat and holds a Law Degree from Bar-Ilan University. She has studied at the Pardes Kollel, the Advanced Talmud Institute at Matan and the Talmud Department of Hebrew University.
Yaffa has been a teacher of Talmud, Jewish law, and Liturgy at Pardes for over a decade, and has served as the Director of the Beit Midrash at the Dorot Fellowship in Israel. She has taught Talmud and Jewish Law at Yeshivat Maharat, The Drisha Institute, The Wexner Heritage New Members Institute, Kayam Farm Kollel and Young Judaea. Yaffa has lectured at Limmud Events around the world, has written curriculum for the Global Day of Jewish Learning and has created innovative educational programming for Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life.
Allison Fine is among the pre-eminent guides to the social media revolution.
Her gift is for converting uncertainty over rapid change into excitement over remaking organizations by the least expensive and most profitable means available: connecting with others.
The author of the award-winning Momentum: Igniting Social Change in the Connected Age, co-author of the bestselling The Networked Nonprofit, and Social Citizens Beta, she is also co-editor of Rebooting America and writes about the intersection of social media and social change on her blog, A. Fine Blog.
Joanne Gold, Psychologist/Educator
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.
Leslie Goldberg has had over 25 years experience in the creative arts field specializing in various arenas. Originally a graphic designer followed by a manufacturer of her own line of children’s arts and crafts kits, Leslie currently is involved in needlepointing, knitting, and weaving. Leslie’s passions now lie in the field of Jewish communal volunteerism and philanthropy.
Rabbi Jessy Gross serves as the Senior Director of Jewish Life at the JCC and continues to be intimately involved as the founding director of Charm City Tribe. Jessy cares deeply about Jewish pluralism, culture and community, and she is ordained through the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute for Religion and also holds a M.A. in Hebrew and Jewish Education from the College as well as a B.A.
Miriam Gross is the Engagement Coordinator at the DFI, she has a master’s degree in Jewish education. For the past 15 years, Miriam has served as a Jewish educator across the denominational spectrum. She is currently pursuing rabbinic ordination at Yeshivat Maharat.
Avraham Infeld serves today as President Emeritus of Hillel – the Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, is a Senior Consultant to the Reut Institute in Tel Aviv, and is a Member of the Faculty of the Mandel Institute. He served previously as the Founder and President of the Melitz Centers for Jewish Education, Community Shaliach in Baltimore, Maryland, Director of the Jewish Agency’s Youth Department based in London, Director General of both the Shalom Hartman Institute the Gesher Educational Affiliates, Director of the Birthright Planning Process, International President and CEO of Hillel, the Foundation for Jewish Campus Life and President of the Chais Family Foundation.
Martha James-Hassanm, Assistant Professor in the School of Urban Studies and Education earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Kinesiology, her Master’s from Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota, and her Doctorate in Critical Pedagogy from the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She is a graduate of the AASA/Howard University Urban Superintendents Academy and the Saint Paul Public Schools Leadership Academy. She is a researcher, teacher, and leader with over 20 years of experience in PreK-12 urban education. Dr. Hassan is currently an Assistant Professor at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland. Her research agenda involves investigating in-service teacher professional development, cultural fluency, and interdisciplinary education.
In addition to her teaching, Dr. Hassan has served in local, regional, and National leadership roles throughout her career. Currently she represents the students and families of Baltimore City as a Commissioner on the Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners.
Martha has been honored as an Upper Midwest Human Rights Fellow, State Teacher of the Year, National Social Justice and Diversity Teacher of the Year, Joanna Davenport Outstanding Doctoral Research Awardee, The National Association of Kinesiology in Higher Education’s Outstanding Young Scholar, a Faculty Diversity Fellow, and the Baltimore-Area Badger Alumna of the Year. She is the proud parent of two grown children, wife to an amazingly supportive partner, and in 2008 she became an Ironman by completing the 140.6 mile course in 14 hours 9 minutes and 31 seconds.
Jared Jackson, Founder and Executive Director of Jews in ALL Hues has been on the cutting edge of Jewish community programming and Jewish diversity advocacy for the past seven years. In 2008 he received the Schusterman Family Foundation’s Charlie Award for excellence in communal service and was recently named one (at #1) of “Ten Young Jews [Who] Will Change the World” by Maariv News.
Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi is the CEO of RespectAbilityUSA where she works tirelessly to unlock the potential of millions of Americans who want to contribute to growing our nation’s prosperity and standing in the world. Mizrahi is a proven serial social entrepreneur and transformative change agent. Mizrahi founded and led the DC Jewish Community Center’s Community Service program. Under her leadership, it served 15,000 people including the homeless, at-risk youth and seniors and was recognized as a “Point of Light” by President George H.W. Bush. In 1989-90, as political and training director for Campaigns & Elections magazine, she traveled behind the Iron Curtain to help train democratic activists in the nuts and bolts of winning campaigns so they could defeat communism at the ballot box.
In the U.S., her client projects included the White House, GOVERNING magazine, GOVERNMENT EXECUTIVE and others who wanted to make government work better and cost less. During the Clinton Administration, she was an official spokesperson of the Democratic National Committee and appeared more than 400 times on national television. After 9/11 she became “post partisan” and devoted a decade of her life to winning hearts and minds on terrorism and peace issues. In this she founded, and for a decade led, The Israel Project (TIP). TIP successfully utilized strategic communications to significantly impact U.S. public support for Israel, bring United Nations sanctions on Iran, and used Facebook in Arabic to promote peace and economic development even before the fall of Egyptian President Mubarak.
Shira Levy, NCSP, MAPP is the founder of BMORE Thrives, a local Maryland based organization which aims to improve professional wellbeing and thriving through workshops, coaching and organizational consulting. She received her Master of Applied Positive Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania, founded by Dr. Martin Seligman, the “Father of Positive Psychology.” Her passion is helping to create flourishing individuals and positive organizations.
Shira has over 10 years of experience as a school psychologist with a passion for organizational change. In addition to BMORE Thrives, Shira is a mother, wife, school psychologist, and private psychology associate for Arundel Psychological Associates
Trina Lion, Licensed Acupuncturist just returned from a decade in Shanghai, China, as a Traditional Chinese Medicine specialist. She worked as an acupuncturist at Shanghai Humanity Hospital and as a TCM faculty member at Shanghai Jiao Tong University. She was featured in the cover story for Shanghai Family magazine and appeared as a featured expert on the ICS-Shanghai TV show “Culture Matters.” Trina has also lectured on TCM globally at institutions including Johns Hopkins University, Yale University, New York University in Shanghai, University of Maryland Medical Center, L’Oréal China, and NFL China. Learn more about her work at trinaliontcm.com.
Neil Rubin, an educator and speaker based in Baltimore, has taught in various venues and formats in the region including: Baltimore City Public Schools, Ner Israel’s Behren High School, UMBC and Towson University, the latter including the Baltimore Hebrew Institute’s in depth Tzion course on Zionism’s complicated past and present. Prior to embarking on a full-time teaching career, he served the Baltimore Jewish Times company for 21 years. That included stints as editor of the Atlanta Jewish Times and senior editor in Baltimore.
His main areas of interest are Zionism’s development, present-day Israel-Diaspora relations, and the evolving nature of American Jewish identity. In 2010, Neil received his Ph.D. from the Baltimore Hebrew Institute at Towson University where he also was an Israel Studies Prize award winner. His thesis was “American Jewry and the Oslo Years,” which has been published as a book by Palgrave McMillan.
The Randallstown native and Pikesville resident is married to Ronit Alon Rubin and they are the parents of two teenaged children. They are active members of Congregation Chevrei Tzedek where Neil particularly enjoys with particular zest his job of sweeping up and throwing out the trash after Kiddush.
Dena Farber Schoenfeld, Vice President, TBF Consulting Dena is an organizational design and change management specialist with extensive experience in the non-profit space. She is skilled in working with organizations to assess, identify and resolve misalignments between organizational goals and structure. Dena’s consulting experience extends to commercial, government and non-profit organizations that include efforts around strategic planning and organizational development and training design and delivery Dena’s education includes a Bachelor of Business Administration from George Washington University and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Maryland concentrating in Change Management. Dena holds a Top Security clearance.
Marcy N. Schwab is the energetic founder of Inspired Leadership, LLC and brings over 20 years of experience as a senior executive, management consultant, and leadership coach. She is a respected business executive who has earned a reputation for delivering significant results in complex organizations. Throughout her corporate career she successfully managed large strategic projects from idea through successful execution and has been consulting and coaching executives and leaders in large corporations, the Federal Government, small businesses, start-ups, and individuals. Marcy has a wide-range of experience in highly strategic line management roles, holding executive and officer level positions at both Sallie Mae and Capital One. In her corporate capacity, she led strategy, product development and marketing of groundbreaking businesses. In early 2012, Marcy decided to leave a rewarding career as a senior executive in order to bring her energy, knowledge and expertise to individuals and organizations. Marcy is dedicated to helping leaders and organizations by providing consulting and coaching to those seeking to evolve their thinking in order to succeed in ways they never thought possible. In her present role she is able to leverage her extensive business background and formal training as a coach that produces tangible results for clients. Marcy’s primary work focuses on helping individuals and teams find and develop their voice, build their business or personal brand, set a vision, and reach new heights. Marcy is certified in Emotional and Social Competency Inventory, an Emotional Intelligence assessment tool from The Hay Group, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) Steps I and II, conducts customized 360 degree feedback and facilitates Design Thinking and Action Learning. Education and Credentials include:
- The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, MBA Marketing & Strategic Management
- University of Pennsylvania, BSE Systems Science & Engineering
- Georgetown University, Certificate in Leadership Coaching
- Associate Certified Coach (ACC) and Member, International Coach Federation
Rabbi Yerachmiel Shapiro, Moses Montefiore Anshe Emunah
Rabbi Shapiro received his smicha from Yeshivat Chovevei Torah and has served as rabbi of Moses Montefiore Anshe Emunah here in Baltimore for the past 6 years. His approach to Judaism through Modern Orthodoxy demands that he live in two worlds that are sometimes completely contradictory. His studies at Hakotel, Isralight, Brandeis and Chovevei Torah, as well as his personal experiences, have helped him shape an outlook on life which honors both worlds while staying grounded in traditional Judaism.
Yael Zelinger, Associate, Disability and Inclusion Services, Macks Center for Jewish Education – Masters degree in Deaf Education from McDaniel College Coordinating JADE at CJE since 1999 (15 years). Initiated many programs and grants on behalf of the Jewish deaf community in Baltimore including:
- Jewish clubs at MD School for the Deaf in Frederick and Columbia and in Jemicy
- Jewish workshops at Deafblind camp of MD
- Shabbatonim for Jewish people of all backgrounds who live with dual hearing and vision loss
- Workshops for people who are deaf and hard of hearing like “Raising Jewish Deaf Children”
- Sign Language 101 at Bais Yaakov High School
- Communication Awareness workshops for teachers and staff of local Jewish day schools who have CODAs: Children of Deaf Adults
- Deaf Awareness/Sign Language and Special Needs Awareness workshops for typical students in local Jewish schools and camps.
- Interpreter Fund for parents who are hearing impaired to attend educational school events at their children’s local Jewish schools with a sign language or oral interpreter.
- Interpreter fund to help pay for sign language and oral interpreters at local Jewish community events.
- **New grant** to help make synagogues more welcoming to people who are deaf or hard of hearing
Mother of 4 boys and 3 girls who write descriptive essays like: “How to Host a Person who is Deafblind for Shabbat.”
Larry Ziffer, Chief Executive Officer, Macks Center for Jewish Education is a veteran faculty of ACHARAI. Larry is the Chief Executive Officer of the Center for Jewish Education in Baltimore. He has twenty-six years of experience as a federation planner and the breadth of leadership experience working in a number of large city federations, including Baltimore, Boston and Detroit. Larry graduated from Yeshiva University with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy, received his ordination from Yeshiva University’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, and his Masters in Social Work (majoring in community organization) from the Wurzweiler School of Social Work. He also holds a number of Jewish and general community volunteer positions.