Thirteen Hillel professionals from across North America have been selected to participate in Debra S. and Joseph S. Weinberg Accelerate Executive Training Program, an executive training program that prepares individuals to become Hillel directors. Begun in 2009, ACCELERATE has proven to be a successful training ground for top-level Hillel professionals. The group participated in its first training session this week at Hillel headquarters in Washington, D.C, complete with a Segway tour of the city. Learn more about the cohort and faculty below.
Maiya Chard-Yaron (Maryland Hillel)
Maiya Chard-Yaron is the Assistant Director of Maryland Hillel, which serves nearly 6,000 Jewish undergraduates at the University of Maryland, College Park. Prior to arriving to Maryland in 2012, she worked as the Program Director for Hillel at Davis and Sacramento for three years. Maiya received her BA in Sociology from Columbia University (Columbia College) and an MA in Experiential Jewish Education (Honors) from the Jewish Theological Seminary, where she studied as a Professional Leaders Project Academic Fellow. She played for four years on the Columbia University women’s softball team (NCAA Division I), and was elected team captain her junior and senior seasons. She played with the Israeli national team from 2003-2013, traveling throughout Europe and South America. Previously, she has worked as an educator at Camp Alonim of the Brandeis-Bardin Institute, Camp Ramah in New England, and Congregation Habonim in New York City.
Sarah Cohen Domont (North Carolina Hillel)
After receiving her BA from San Francisco State University, Sarah Cohen Domont’s first career was as a case manager with homeless adults and single mother families. In 2006, she began working in the Jewish community in fundraising and administration. In 2011, she received her MBA in Nonprofit Management and MA in Education from American Jewish University. Sarah started her Hillel professional journey as the Director of Student Life for Santa Barbara Hillel and is currently the Associate Director - Statewide of North Carolina Hillel. At NC Hillel, Sarah leads staff and mentors student leaders to create vibrant Jewish life at multiple campuses with smaller Jewish populations and limited resources. She loves engaging in Jewish learning with students, cares deeply about fostering a warm and inclusive environment for all, and is passionate about building a supportive and positive team culture. She is honored to be journeying through life with her husband and children.
Lior Cyngiser (Hillel Ontario)
Lior Cyngiser is the Vice President for Israel Engagement, Education & Advocacy for Hillel Ontario, where he works to infuse Israel culture into the campus community through engagement, education, and Israel experiences. Prior to joining the team at Hillel, Lior spent 7 years serving as the Manager of Leadership Initiatives at UJA’s Community Connect, overseeing the Canada Israel Experience Leadership Development Training Program that has been recognized by Taglit-Birthright Israel as the top Staff Training Program in North America. Previously, Lior was involved with United Synagogue Youth for over 10 years in a local and regional capacity. Lior holds several degrees including a MA in Jewish Professional Studies from Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies in Chicago and a Certificate in Experiential Jewish Education from Yeshiva University. Lior was an inaugural Fellow in the iCenter Israel Education Fellowship program. Lior is married to Ilana and together they have two boys, Sam and Elie.
Michelle Dardashti (Brown RISD Hillel)
Michelle Dardashti serves as Rabbi of Brown RISD Hillel and Associate Chaplain at Brown University. Michelle was ordained and received an MA in Jewish Education from JTSA. She came to campus life from the congregational world, first as the MTM Rabbinic Fellow at Congregation B'nai Jeshurun in Manhattan and then at a synagogue in Stamford, CT, where she specifically cultivated those at the fringes of community, such as young families, teens, and young professionals. Prior to JTS, Michelle lived in Uruguay—teaching at a Jewish day school, running Hillel programs, and writing for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency—and in Israel—first on a Dorot Fellowship and, later, working for the Nesiya Institute. During rabbinical school, Michelle served as Educator for Interfaith Community, Chaplain at Bellevue Hospital, and the leader of JTS's free, walk-in High Holy Day services. She was also trained in Congregation-Based Community Organizing through Jewish Funds for Justice and traveled to El Salvador as part of an American Jewish World Service Rabbinical Student Delegation. Michelle lives in Providence with her husband, Nathan and their two little girls.
Marissa Feinman Freed (MIT Hillel)
Marissa Feinman Freed is starting her 4th year at MIT Hillel. She currently serves as the Assistant Director responsible for student leadership, Graduate Hillel, supervising the program team, and running the MIT/Technion ConnecTech Fellowship. Marissa has created Jewish community, empowered student leaders, and built relationships through her work as a JCSC Fellow at Rutgers University and as a Program Director for BBYO in both Orlando and Boston. Marissa studied Psychology at UC Santa Barbara, spent a year in Jerusalem at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies, and earned an MBA and certificate in Informal Jewish Education through BBYO and Jim Joseph Foundation's Professional Development Institute. She enjoys listening to podcasts, biking to work when the weather isn't horrible, staying up late, and cooking for other people.
Rob France (Penn State Hillel)
Rob France is the Assistant Director at Penn State Hillel. Prior to coming to Penn State, Rob taught High School ESL as a Teach For America corps member in Memphis, Tennessee. After completing his two year commitment in the classroom, Rob worked on Teach For America Memphis's staff as a coach of corps members and later as the Managing Director of all corps members within Shelby County's traditional school system. While in Memphis, Rob became more involved in the Jewish Community, working part time at the Jewish Community Center and joining the Advisory Board at Memphis Hillel, which led to his career change and move to State College. When he's not working, Rob enjoys spending time with his wife and two dogs, playing soccer, and watching (and re-watching) any Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, and Harrison Ford movie on cable television.
Megan Goldman (Columbia/Barnard Hillel)
Rabbi Megan Goldman grew up in the Chicago suburbs where she found her voice as a Jewish leader at her Conservative youth group and Reform summer camp. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2006 with a B.A. in Psychology and Women’s Studies. Megan then went to work for the Hillel at Yale University where she discovered her passion for working with college students, and realized that rather than pursuing a PhD in Clinical psychology she wanted to use the Jewish tradition as a source of meaning to empower young adults to create their own rich Jewish identities on campus. In May 2014, Megan was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary where she also received an MA in Jewish Gender and Women’s Studies and a certificate in Pastoral Care and Counseling. Megan is thrilled to be in her second year as the Senior Jewish Educator at Columbia/Barnard Hillel, where she worked as an intern for three years during rabbinical school. She has a passion for travel and outdoor adventure, which has currently led her to forty-eight of the fifty states in the US. Megan is also an alumna of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship.
Rachel Hollander (Penn Hillel)
Rachel Hollander is the Associate Director at University of Pennsylvania Hillel. She is beginning her sixth year and her previous positions at Penn Hillel include Acting Executive Director, Assistant Director, Director of Jewish Student Life, and Jewish Student Life Coordinator. She moved to Philadelphia, after graduating from The George Washington University, for her Masters in Jewish Education at Penn. She is a volunteer docent at the National Museum of American Jewish History. Rachel received the Richard M. Joel Exemplar of Excellence from Hillel International. She is a certified Anti-Violence Advocate (AVA) from Penn Women's Center. Penn's LGBT Center deemed Rachel a "Safe Space" for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, and ally students. She completed I CARE (Inquire, Connect, Acknowledge, Respond, Explore) Training from Penn's Counseling and Psychological Services to learn the signs of distress and mental health crises that can affect college students.
Anna Levin Rosen (UChicago Hillel)
Anna Levin Rosen is entering her 6th year as Rabbi and Director of Jewish Student Life at University of Chicago. She studied Anthropology and Religious Studies as an undergraduate at University of Virginia and completed rabbinic ordination and a degree in Education from HUC-JIR in Cincinnati. Anna sees Hillel as a greenhouse for Jewish life and the most fertile ground for pluralism in American Judaism. With a background in organizing, Anna is currently working with students on an education campaign to prevent sexual assault on campus and address the racial inequality that surrounds the campus in the South Side of Chicago. Anna loves spending time outside and cooking with her children, Joshua and Eliezra, and her husband Tal.
Sara Rich (Hillel at Princeton)
Rabbi Sara Rich is the Director of Education at the Center for Jewish Life – Hillel at Princeton University. In her role, she oversees the CJL’s educational offerings, teaches classes on topics such as Jewish Ethics and Public Policy and Jewish Business Ethics, advises the Reform student community and engages students in conversation about Jewish identity, the college experience, and leadership. Sara was ordained in 2011 from the New York campus of HUC-JIR. She earned a Certificate in Experiential Jewish Education in 2015 from Yeshiva University. Previously, Sara served as a student rabbi in Williamsport, PA and Brampton, Ontario. She also worked at the Brooklyn Heights Synagogue, Central Conference of American Rabbis, Greene Family Camp and as a chaplain intern at the Bellevue Hospital Center. Sara earned a B.A. in Psychology from the University of MD, College Park and an M.A. in Hebrew Literature from HUC-JIR. Today, Sara resides in Highland Park, NJ with her husband Ezra and their daughter Miriam.
Davey Rosen (Michigan Hillel)
Davey Rosen is the Associate Director of the University of Michigan Hillel. He is originally from Detroit, MI, and joined the Michigan Hillel team in 2011. Davey and Jillian, his wife, the program officer at a community foundation, live just a frisbee throw away from the Big House, with their baby Elah. He is passionate about living an exciting and dynamic Jewish life and believes that it requires exciting and dynamic Jewish communities. Davey supervises programming, leadership development and engagement initiatives at Hillel. He received a BA in Jewish History & Thought from the University of Judaism in LA, an MA in Informal & Communal Jewish Education from the Davidson School at JTS in New York, and has performed as a singer-songwriter from California to Estonia. Davey is always happy to talk about Jewish life on campus, Detroit sports and anything related to Bob Dylan. Prior to working at Hillel, Davey served as Area Supervisor for Young Judaea, Family Educator at B’nai Jeshurun in New York, and Assistant Director of Camp Ramah in New England.
Sharon Silverman (University of Vermont Hillel)
Sharon Silverman is the Assistant Director at the University of Vermont Hillel. She began her career with Hillel as the Engagement and Leadership Coordinator at UVM Hillel after graduating from the Pennsylvania State University in 2011 with a BA in Jewish Studies. In 2013, Sharon was promoted to Director of Jewish Student Leadership where she helped students create over eight new clubs and organizations under the umbrella of Hillel. As Assistant Director, Sharon continues to support these student initiatives while also cultivating and strengthening relationships with the University. Sharon strives to create vibrant and inclusive Jewish community both on and off-campus, where she worked as a Hebrew school teacher and is currently creating opportunities for Jewish graduate students, med students and young professionals to come together for meaningful Jewish experiences.
Ginny Vellani (Elon Hillel)
Ginny Vellani is the Acting Director of Hillel and Coordinator of Jewish Student Life at Elon University in in North Carolina. Over the past three years with Elon Hillel, she has been with the community as it has doubled in size and expanded to include a historically Jewish fraternity, an Israel advocacy and dialogue club, and a chapter of Challah for Hunger. Because travel has been a transformative part of her life, Ginny loves finding ways to work with students off campus, which has most recently found her leading Birthright trips, teaching a Literature/Jewish Studies course abroad during Elon’s January semester, and traveling with a diverse group of students to an interfaith leadership conference in Atlanta. Ginny has a B.A. in Religious Studies from Agnes Scott College, a M.A. in Jewish-Christian Studies from Seton Hall University, and studied abroad at the University of Haifa. She lives in Winston-Salem with her fiancé.
Scott Brown is the Vice President for Leadership Coaching and holds a certificate in Leadership Coaching from Georgetown University and has been designated as a Professional Certified Coach by the International Coaching Federation. Scott has held professional and volunteer leadership positions in Jewish communal affairs specializing in organizational excellence, turnaround situations, and leadership since his early years serving as camp director in Cleveland, Ohio. Scott has held numerous senior leadership positions since joining Hillel International and is currently the Vice President for Leadership Coaching. Previously, Scott was the executive director at the University of Maryland Hillel, senior executive at the Jewish Community Center in Northern Virginia and camp director in St. Louis Missouri.
Scott has earned numerous professional and volunteer awards throughout his career including being named as a Hillel Exemplar of Excellence, awarded by the Washington Business Journal in the area for Mentoring and Ethics, and recognized for coaching excellence by the ICF Metro DC Prism Award. Scott currently serves on the executive board of the JCC of Northern Virginia and is President-elect. He was the founding President of Hillel at George Mason University. He also leads his own professional leadership practice, Scott Brown Leadership Coaching, LLC. Scott earned a Master’s Degree in Management from Webster University and received a Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts with a focus on Personnel from Ohio University. Scott is married to Jane Schapiro Brown, a published author, poet and teacher. They live in Annandale, Virginia and are the proud parents of three daughters, Naomi, Tamara and Eliana.
Brian Cohen began working as Executive Director of the Kraft Center for Jewish Student Life, Columbia/Barnard Hillel, in January of 2012. He previously worked as the Director of Campus Services for Hillel’s Schusterman International Center in New York where he consulted with Hillels around the country. Brian was the Executive Director of the University of Virginia Hillel from 2004 – 2009 and the Assistant Director of the Hillel at Binghamton from 2001-2004. In 2006, Brian was awarded the Richard M. Joel Exemplar of Excellence from Hillel International for transforming the University of Virginia Hillel. Brian sits on the Board of Directors for Hillel International where he is a member of the Executive Committee and is a Trustee of the Glen Rock Jewish Center. Prior to working for Hillel, Brian was an Account Executive for an internet marketing firm. A proud graduate of Syracuse University, Brian is an avid football and baseball fan. He lives in NJ with his wife Lisa, daughter Shayna, and son Ari.
Beth Gansky is the Executive Director of ACHARAI: Shoshana S. Cardin Leadership Development 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 Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School and Camp Ramah in the Poconos. She is a past board member at Beth Israel Congregation, University of Maryland Hillel, 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.
Jay Lewis is in his 14th year as the Executive Director of KU Hillel and has been on the ACCELERATE faculty since the program’s inception in 2009. After graduating from KU with a BA in Political Science, Jay received his MA in Jewish Communal Service from the Hornstein Program at Brandeis University. Prior to returning to KU, he was the Assistant Director of the Bureau of Jewish Education in Orange County, CA. Under Jay’s leadership, KU has emerged as one of the most successful Jewish campus organizations in the country and KU has become a destination school for Jewish students. Locally, Jay has been recognized as KU’s Advisor of the Year and nationally has received Hillel’s prestigious Richard M. Joel Exemplar of Excellence Award. He is passionate about basketball, golf, and the Royals and the Jayhawks. He lives in Overland Park with his wife and two kids.
Rae Ringel is a certified executive coach and founding President of The Ringel Group. She is a faculty member for the Leadership Coaching Program at the Georgetown University Institute for Transformational Leadership and was recognized in 2013 by the International Coaching Federation for excellence in the field. Rae is also the founding director of a new program at Georgetown – a Certificate in the Art of Facilitation and Design – which will launch in winter 2016. Rae is in high demand as an innovator in the areas of coaching, facilitation and training across sectors. She enables a growing list of executives in some of the most successful Fortune 500 companies, nonprofits and government agencies to become more effective managers and stronger communicators with a formidable leadership presence. In cooperation with ChangeCraft, Rae runs an ongoing facilitation-training program for executives and business owners from around the world.
Rae offers deep experience in the areas of fundraising and board development. Prior to starting the The Ringel Group, Rae was the Director of Professional and Volunteer Development at United Jewish Communities, a two-billion dollar annual enterprise that provides global humanitarian and development assistance. In this capacity, Rae devised an award-winning interactive web-based training program and myriad conferences in service of over 20,000 professionals and volunteers. Rae is a Phi Beta Kappa Graduate of the University of Rochester. She received her Master’s Degree in Organizational Psychology from Columbia University, and earned her Leadership Coaching certification from Georgetown University. She was a Wexner Graduate Fellow and now holds a faculty position with the Wexner Foundation. Rae lives in Washington D.C. with her husband and four children.