MEET THE TEAM
CEO & Director
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 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.
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 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.
Chief of Staff
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.
Director of Full Year Programs
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.
Chief Financial Officer
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.
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 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.
Full-Year Fellow Coordinator, Eilat
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.