MEET THE TEAM

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ALON FUTTERMAN

CEO & Director

alon@talmaisrael.com

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.

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DEBRA FEINBERG

Deputy Director

debra@talmaisrael.com

Debra Feinberg began her career in education as a Teach For America corps member in Charlotte, North Carolina. Her entrepreneurial efforts in the classroom made national headlines when she and her students were flown to Omaha, Nebraska as finalists in Warren Buffett's 'Grow Your Own Business Challenge' - an achievement for which Debra was recognized in-person by Mr. Buffett & The Fairholme Foundation with their Inspirational Teacher Award.

 

Following the completion of a Masters in Education from UNC Charlotte, Debra was selected to represent Teach For America as a participant in a Schusterman Foundation education leadership initiative in Israel called Reality. It was during this experience that Debra first encountered TALMA in its inaugural summer - and was struck by the commitment of TALMA's teachers who persisted in leading their classrooms with joy, pride, and an unwavering devotion to their students in the midst of the 2014 Gaza War, Operation Protective Edge. 

 

Debra's experience in Israel inspired her to explore other complex education systems around the world. She served as a Gabriel Project Teaching Fellow in the slums of Mumbai, India with the Entwine Global Jewish Service Corps; backpacked across Africa from Nairobi to Cape Town visiting classrooms in the likes of the Bwaise Slum; volunteered with a rural Ugandan school for the Pygmies of Lake Bunyonyi; and took on an assortment of projects with various ed and health initiatives along the way. Her journey came full circle when she returned to Israel in 2015 as a founding teaching fellow for TALMA's first summer school program in Jerusalem. 

 

At the conclusion of her summer in Israel with TALMA, Debra returned to the US to work in Washington, D.C. as a consultant with Strategic Education Inc., and for the next four years juggled her full-time role at SEI while also serving as TALMA's Recruitment Director and, eventually, Deputy Director.

 

In 2019, Debra shifted full-time to TALMA as Deputy Director, leading TALMA's recruitment, marketing, and expansion strategy from a base in New York City. Additionally, Debra on-boards all incoming summer and full-year fellows, oversees TALMA's alumni community, and works closely with TALMA's funders and stakeholders to support grant management and new partnerships. She serves as a Special Advisor for TALMA's sister-program, Hebrew Public Charter Schools - and is always on the prowl for superstar educators and champions of educational equity. If you are interested in teaching, supporting, or partnering with TALMA, drop Debra an email here.

SHAY CHERPANOV

Deputy Director, Israel

shay@talmaisrael.com

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 within Israel with municipalities, new partners, and stakeholders. If you are looking to bring TALMA to your municipality, or you are a municipality, education department, business, or government agency wishing to launch a teacher training program, English bootcamp, or summer or yearlong English program, email Shay here.

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IDO MAHATZRI

Chief of Staff

ido@talmaisrael.com

Born and raised in Ashkelon, Israel, Ido Mahatrzi - now a Tel Avivian - is the glue that holds TALMA's international team together. As TALMA's Chief of Staff, Ido coordinates cross-departmental communications among staff working on complementary projects, while also overseeing TALMA's workforce integration efforts in the Haredi sector and supporting the launch of new initiatives such as TALMA's business English boot camps with Jolt - an effort that seeks to give a leg up to Israelis who lost their job throughout the pandemic.

Ido brings to TALMA a wealth of experience in a range of areas. 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 Oxford University in England; however, it was during a two-year stint at Rutgers University as a Campus Israel Fellow with the Jewish Agency Israel that he discovered a passion for public policy. While working with TALMA, Ido completed an Executive Master of Public Policy (EMPP) at Tel Aviv University and he brings his passion for public service to TALMA's efforts of creating education access and opportunity for all. 

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KEREN PAZ-KOPLOVICH

Director of Full Year Programs

keren@talmaisrael.com

Keren Paz is the leader of TALMA's Full Year Fellowship communities which four sites across Israel from Ben Shemen Youth Village to the Ein Gedi School, our community of teachers in Jerusalem, and our newest partnership in Eilat. In her role, Keren supports our Full-Year Fellows with their personal and professional development as they integrate into the Israeli education system and learn to navigate their new school and community. Keren also works closely with TALMA's partner schools, municipalities, and community partners to ensure the highest of outcomes, impact, and program success.

 

It is Keren's dream and goal to do her part to equip Israeli youth to meet the challenges of tomorrow and to use English education as a platform to build, strengthen, and cultivate bridges between the Diaspora and Israel. 

 

Prior to joining TALMA, Keren served as a Program Developer & Project Manager for the Ministry of Education's Diaspora Department training teacher emissaries and developing education projects between Israel and Diaspora communities. Before that, she spent more than 20 years in education, teaching at Ramot Hefer High School, TOM Boarding School for Youth at Risk, and even operating her own English language school.

In addition to her deep devotion to her TALMA family, Keren also has her own beautiful family. She is married to Eyal, a mother to four, and lives in a small village In the Hefer Valley where her family grows olives and produces olive oil as a hobby and a means to remain connected to the land of Israel.

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OLGA RIVKIN

Chief Financial Officer

olga@talmaisrael.com

Olga Rivkin was born in Russia and made her Aliya to Israel in 1999. Olga holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Economics and Management as well as CPA licensure.  Olga brings a wealth of knowledge from her work at NGOs in the financial management sector.

Prior to joining TALMA's team in 2021, Olga served as a lead accountant for the prestigious Shalom Hartman Institute. She also serves as CFO of the Haruv Institute. At her job she was responsible for preparing the financial statements of the Israeli and North American branches of the company.

 

Olga has significant experience in preparing and managing organizational budgets, cash flow and payroll. In her previous jobs she was responsible for the government and donor's grands, including the financial report for them. She has extensive knowledge in Israeli law in the areas of payroll and NGOs. She is excited to bring her knowledge and expertise to the TALMA team and its important work in the realm of education.

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STACEY ARUCH

Pedagogy Leader

stacey@talmaisrael.com

Stacey Aruch is a longtime member of the TALMA community and is the essence of 'a product of TALMA.' She began her journey with TALMA as 2015 Teaching Fellow in the North of Israel. Following a second summer with TALMA in 2016, Stacey returned to Israel in 2017 to pioneer first cohort of TALMA's full year fellowship in Mitzpe Ramon, Israel.

 

At the completion of a memorable year in the Negev, Stacey made the bold decision not to return to her home in New York, but to join yet another new TALMA initiative - Morim Olim: teachers making Aliyah. As a new citizen of Israel, Stacey chose TALMA's partner city of Ashkelon as her new home, and - with the support of TALMA and Nefesh B'Nefesh, she threw herself into immersing into her new home.

 

While attending Ulpan and building her community, Stacey joined TALMA's team as an instructor for our first 'workforce integration' initiative at Ampersand in B'nei Brak - a unique Co-working project that 'started from two orthodox initiators who had a dream to bring work spaces that in terms of design and concept bring Manhattan to Bnei Brak.' Here, Stacey took on the role of lead instructor for an English accelerator for Haredi women seeking introductory or business level English classes in order to enter the workforce, or climb the ladder in Israeli high-tech. Eventually, her teaching grew in demand - and in 2020, Stacey became a full-time team member of TALMA, co-leading TALMA's pedagogy team.

Today, Stacey develops curriculum and programming for TALMA's teacher training programs, English bootcamps, and summer school initiatives - while also continuing to serve as a lead -and in-demand- instructor.

DANIEL SOLOWAY

Pedagogy Leader

daniel@talmaisrael.com

Daniel Soloway is an experienced educator and experienced computer programmer, building web applications for businesses and educational initiatives alike. He holds an MA is Jewish Education from Hebrew University in Jerusalem, a BA in Jazz Guitar performance from University of the Arts in Philadelphia, and a teaching certificate. He lives in Mevaseret Zion (outside Jerusalem) with his wife and two young children.

American born, Daniel made Aliyah as a young professional and threw himself into his Hebrew and Ulpan studies. He joined TALMA in the summer of 2018 as a mentor teacher, co-teaching as an Israeli by day and serving as a local liason and community leader. Daniel later joined TALMA's instructional team as the lead male teacher pioneering our workforce integration English bootcamps for Haredim at KamaTech in Bnei Brak.

Daniel returned to TALMA's summer program in 2019 as an instructional Coach in Jerusalem, and shortly thereafter joined TALMA's pedagogy team to continue supporting adult programs throughout the year. Daniel works closely with TALMA alum and fellow pedagogy leader, Stacey Aruch, to develop curriculum and programming for TALMA's teacher training programs, English bootcamps, and summer school initiatives.

DAWN SIRI

Full-Year Fellow Coordinator, Eilat

dawn@talmaisrael.com

Dawn Lor Siri was born in Safed and raised and educated in Eilat where she currently resides with her two daughters and wonderful husband. Rotem.

 

Dawn holds a BA in Humanities & Social Sciences from BGU of Eilat and a teaching diploma in literature. Over the past four years, Dawn has served as an English teacher in elementary schools across Eilat.

 

In the summer of 2020, TALMA launched its first full year fellowship program in Israel's southernmost city of Eilat. With a firsthand knowledge of Eilat, an understanding of the local education system, and a wealth of connections to anyone and everyone in the city - Dawn became the on-the-ground coordinator for TALMA's largest full-year fellowship site.

 

Throughout the year, Dawn supports programming and logistics for TALMA's ten Eilat-based Full-Year Fellows, and is an incredible liason connecting fellows to community projects, social events, and ensuring their successful integration into the community. With her support, it's no wonder fellows are already throwing their name in the hat for yet another year teaching with TALMA in Eilat. 

Beyond her work with TALMA and the education sector, Dawn is a passionate musician and singer, gracing stages across Israel with her husband, Rotem - a fellow musician and music educator in Eilat.

THE ADVISORY BOARD

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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