The National Team

Alon Futterman, Director and CEO

Alon Futterman is a dynamic social entrepreneur who has founded and directed some of the most innovative initiatives in Israel. Alon’s accomplishments span the worlds of entrepreneurship, government and politics, public education, international partnerships, aviation, and non-profits.


In 2014 Alon was appointed to be the founding CEO of TALMA, a joint endeavor of the Israeli Government, the Schusterman Foundation, and the Steinhardt Foundation.  Recognized by “YNET News” as the #1 educational program in Israel, TALMA brings together teachers from all over the world and Israel to provide summer English studies to elementary school students from low-income communities.


In 2011 Alon founded the “El Al Ambassadors” program, at the request of then El Al President, General Eliezer Shkedy. Alon continues to direct this innovative initiative which enables volunteer pilots and flight attendants to speak before audiences abroad and share their personal stories. This program represented the first time that a leading Israeli corporation became actively involved in the country’s diplomatic efforts.


From 2006- 2011 Alon served first as Bureau Chief for MK Shelly Yachimovich and then as Senior Advisor to Minister of Education, Professor Yuli Tamir. He was appointed Secretary of the National Committee on Special Education Policy headed by then Supreme Court Justice Dalia Dorner.


Derech Eretz Ve’Shamayim / By Way of Land and Skies was Alon’s first joint venture with then Commander of the Israeli Air Force, General Eliezer Shkedy in 2008. As national director of this unique educational effort Alon brought high school teachers and IDF commanders together in order to create a program for all 9th-12th graders celebrating Israel’s 60 years of achievements in culture, technology, medicine, music, and the arts.


Alon is a co-founder of the “Yesh Atid” party, and a board member of the “Fighters for Life”- a program enabling discharged IDF soldiers to volunteer in humanitarian projects while backpacking abroad. He was also was chosen to join the European Union – Middle East Young Leaders Forum in Brussels in 2014. He served as a commander in the Nahal combat infantry brigade of the IDF. Recipient of an ISEF scholarship, he earned a BA in Government and Strategy, as well as an MA in Government and Public Policy, from IDC Herzliya.

Debra Feinberg, Deputy Director

When Debra first started in education as a Teach For America corps member in Charlotte, North Carolina, she had no idea her journey would eventually take her to Israel, Uganda, India, Kenya, and beyond. Through a Schusterman Foundation education leadership initiative called REALITY, Debra traveled to Israel where she experienced an education system trying to serve a melting pot of cultures. This experience inspired Debra to explore other education systems around the world, beginning as a Teaching Fellow with the Entwine Global Jewish Service Corps in Mumbai, India. From there, she traveled to Eastern Africa volunteering, teaching, and working with various ed and health initiatives along the way. Finally, her journey came full circle; she was back in Israel teaching as a TALMA fellow. After two years as TALMA's Recruitment Director, today, Debra serves as TALMA's Deputy Director, coordinating TALMA's recruitment and expansion.


Debra has a Master of Arts in Teaching from UNC Charlotte and is a recipient of the Warren Buffett & Fairholme Foundation’s Inspirational Teacher Award, as well as a recipient of Teach For America’s Second Year Teacher Leadership Award for classroom innovation. 

Shay Cherpanov, Deputy Director - Israel

Shay Cherpanov was born in 1984 in the U.S.S.R.  In 1990, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, he made Aliya to Israel with his mother and sister.


Shay has an undergraduate degree in Political Science from the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya and a graduate degree in Law from Bar Ilan University. In 2008 he entered the political sphere, serving for a brief period at the Prime Minister's Office under Ehud Olmert. He held various positions in the third sector, including Head of Government Relations for Shatil (NIF) and CEO of Israeli Wedding - an organization aimed at promoting civil marriage in Israel.

From 2014 to  2016 Shay served as the parliamentary advisor to the leader of the opposition, M.K. Issac Herzog, and as a legislation advisor to the opposition. From 2017-2020 he served as the leadership program manager at the Berl Katzenelson Center.  

Today, Shay serves as TALMA's Deputy Director of Israel, managing relationships with municipalities, new partners, and stakeholders.

Ido Mahatzri, Assistant Director

Born and raised in Ashkelon, Israel, Ido recently returned from two years as the Israel Fellow at Rutgers University and settled in Tel Aviv. Ido has managed many important projects, including overseeing the Israel programs on campus. After his army service at the infantry headquarters of the IDF, Ido studied to become a lawyer at the Management College in Rishon Letziyon and at Oxford University in England.


Since 2019, Ido has served on the TALMA staff as Assistant Director, managing program logistics, serving as a liaison to key stakeholders and participants, and overseeing TALMA's online education program in response to the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.

Keren Paz, Director of Full Year Programs

Full Year Associate, Eilat

Details coming soon

Coming on board the TALMA team soon!

Naama Wrightman, Pedagogy Leader & Relay Liason

Dr. Naama Wrightman, Assistant Professor of Practice at Relay Graduate School of Education, leads our Pedagogy team which is in charge of designing the English immersion curriculum that is used as a guide for our TALMA Fellows. Naama leads training sessions for TALMA Fellows, runs classroom observations, and provides our educators with virtual and in-person support to further cultivate their teacher talents.

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Tova Dorfman, Director of the Steinhardt Family Foundation in Israel

Tova Dorfman is the Director of the Steinhardt Family Foundation in Israel. In that capacity, she oversees the provision of assistance to a variety of nonprofits operating in the area of children and youth at risk and has forged significant partnerships among other philanthropic foundations, public agencies and nonprofits in a number of far-reaching educational and social ventures. From 2008-2011 she served as the co-chair of the Forum of Foundations in Israel, a professional network of over 100 philanthropic foundations operating in Israel. Among the projects in which Tova has played a leading role in establishing and steering is Birthright Excel.  Previously, Tova directed the Israel and Overseas Department of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, based in Israel. In her years of representing the Detroit Jewish community in Israel, she has initiated a variety of projects and programs to foster relationships between Detroit Jews and Israelis, culminating in the pivotal role she played in shaping that community's relationship with the Central Galilee in the context of Partnership 2000. Currently, she advises the Federation leadership on special projects.

Raised in Oak Park, MI, Tova pursued her undergraduate and graduate education in Los Angles, receiving a BA in International Relations from UCLA and an MA in Jewish Education from the University of Judaism. She settled in Israel in 1984 and worked until 1993 for “Melitz” – The Centers for Jewish Zionist Education in Jerusalem.

Throughout her professional career, Tova has always been at the forefront of innovative, creative programming and has been singularly successful in bringing around the table of all of these programs key individuals and institutions that provide to them an invaluable synergy.

Tova lives with her husband Raviv Schwartz and their two sons, Matan and Yaniv outside of Tel Aviv.

Eliezer Shkedy, Retired Commander of the Israeli Air Force; former CEO of El Al

Eliezer Shkedy is a retired general in the Israel Defense Forces, who served as Commander of the Israeli Air Force from 4 April 2004 until 13 May 2008. He is also a former CEO of El Al, the flag carrier of Israel.


In addition to sitting on the board of TALMA, he is the chairman of Heroes for lifean international NGO for volunteer work at orphanages and other frameworks of need in Third World world countries, and Yedidim, an organization that supports wounded soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces.

Justin Korda, Executive Director of ROI Community

Justin is the Executive Director of ROI Community and has been with ROI since its inception in 2005. Growing up in Montreal, Canada, he saw how young people can truly be instruments for change, thereby setting the stage for a life of Jewish activism.

In 1999, he led the first Taglit-Birthright Israel trip from Canada. Justin went on to serve in a number of positions at the Canada-Israel Experience, where he was instrumental in implementing Taglit-Birthright Israel for the initial 5,000 Canadian participants. Justin holds an MBA from the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya and a BA in political science from McGill University. He and his wife, Yael, live in California, with their three children.

Yuli Tamir, President of the Shenkar College of Engineering and Design

Yuli Tamir is an Israeli academic and former politician who served as a member of the Knesset for the Labor Party between 2003 and 2010, and as Minister of Immigrant Absorption and Education, as well as the deputy speaker of the Knesset and a member of the Finance committee, the Education committee and the Security and Foreign Affairs committee. Since 2010 she has been President of Shenkar College of Engineering and Design. Since 2015 she is an adjunct professor and the Blavatnik School of Government, Oxford.

Noa Gorlin, Associate Executive Director of ROI Community

As Associate Executive Director of ROI Community, No’a is responsible for supporting and developing ROI membership, enhancing the leadership development of its members, and all grantmaking within the ROI Community.

No’a began her career as a marketing professional in the Israeli high-tech industry and later, seeking to add meaning to her life while impacting the Jewish world, transitioned into the non-profit sector. As Associate Director at Kolot, she worked to increase Jewish identity among secular Israelis through text study, and at the Chais Family Foundation she allocated philanthropic funding to deepen Jewish identity as well as advance excellence in education.

No’a holds an MBA and a BA in Psychology, both from the Hebrew University. She lives in Jerusalem with her husband and four amazing children. 

Shlomit Amichai, Founder of Teach First Israel

Shlomit Amichai has dedicated her career to improving the quality of education for pupils in Israel. When Shlomit completed her service in 2009 as the Director General of Israel's Ministry of Education, she decided to cross over from central government to the third sector, and try to generate change in the system by creating a new initiative: Teach First Israel. Teach First Israel seeks to bring excellent students from Israel’s' top universities, train them to be teachers in challenged schools and nurture them so that they become Israel’s' future social leaders.


Shlomit previously served as Director-General of Israel's Ministry of Education from 1999 to 2001 and was called in to serve in this role for a second time between 2007 and 2009. Shlomit returned to the Ministry of Education after six years with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) where she served as Director of JDC-Israel's Division for Voluntarism, Philanthropy and ELKA: JDC's training center for senior executives who provide social services for various communities in Israel.  While at the JDC, Shlomit oversaw the training of director-generals of Israel government ministries, mayors and senior personnel from the public and nonprofit sector fields of health, education and welfare.  She also directed programs to promote voluntarism in Israel as well as programs for the Israeli-Arab sector. Among her many current activities, Shlomit assists the Israel Center for Excellence through Education in Jerusalem.

Yehudit Kadesh, Former Director of the Department of Elementary Education, Ministry of Education

Yehudit Kadesh is the former Director of the Department of Elementary Education in the Ministry of Education and founder of the School of Great Freedom in Israel.


She spent 36 years in the education system holding number of senior positions, including Deputy Director of the Nof Yam School, Beit Yehezkel School, and the Lachish Region Regional School. She was also the Supervisor of Education in Ashdod and Sderot, and the Director of the Division of Elementary Education. She lived all her life in Ashkelon and raised three children and four grandchildren, all residents of the city.

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