Cyd Weissman, Vice President for Innovation and Impact, oversees the launch of new projects for Reconstructing Judaism. Her portfolio includes spiritual and meaningful online learning and community building engages Jews and fellow travelers around their personally compelling questions. Cyd also teaches Social Entrepreneurship at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical School. Previously, Cyd was the Director of Innovation in Congregational Learning for Greater New York, The Jewish Education Project, leading the field to create and spread new models of Jewish education. For a decade, she taught Organizational Dynamics, Curricular Design and Assessment, and Accompanying Families on their Spiritual Journey at the New York campus of Hebrew Union College Jewish Institute for Religion.
Evie Levy Rotstein is the director of the New York School of Education at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, having previously been the director of the Leadership Institute for Congregational Educators. Prior to this position she was a congregational school educator and developed programs for faculty learning, teen mentoring and parent education. Evie began her career in Jewish education as a camp director for Young Judaea. She holds an M.A. in Foreign Language education and a Doctorate in Jewish education from The Jewish Theological Seminary. She teaches courses in the New York School of Education at Hebrew Union College –Jewish Institute of Religion and consults to congregations on various projects.
Jeff Kress is the Bernard Heller Professor at the William Davidson School of Jewish Education of the Jewish Theological Seminary. His book Development, Learning, and Community: Educating for Identity in Pluralistic Jewish High Schools (Academic Studies Press, 2012) won a National Jewish Book Award. He also edited the volume Growing Jewish Minds, Growing Jewish Souls: Promoting Spiritual, Social, and Emotional Growth in Jewish Education (URJ Press, 2013). Dr. Kress is the coauthor, with Drs. Bernard Novick and Maurice Elias, of Building Learning Communities with Character: How to Integrate Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (ASCD, 2002).
Lisa Litman is the director of PJ Goes to School, a division of PJ Library, which strives to increase Jewish literacy in schools and enable teachers to engage families in Jewish life. Lisa and her team work with approximately 500 schools and 1500 classrooms across North America, helping educators reflect on how Jewish learning affects their teaching practice and relationships with families. All of Lisa’s projects support the early engagement field by using books as the cornerstone to create environments that inspire the entire family’s interest in living Jewishly. Lisa has a BA/BS from the University of Pennsylvania and her M.Ed. from Gratz College.
Maurice J. Elias is Professor, Psychology Department, Rutgers University, Director of the Rutgers Social-Emotional Learning Lab, and Academic Director of The Collaborative, Rutgers' Center for Community-Based Research and Service. He is Past President of the Society for Community Research and Action/Division of Community Psychology (27) of APA and has received the SCRA Distinguished Contribution to Practice and Ethnic Minority Mentoring Awards, as well as APA’s National Psychological Consultants to Management Award. With colleagues at the College of St. Elizabeth, he developed an online credentialing program for Social-Emotional and Character Development programs.
Mitch Lyons is the founder and president of the Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) Alliance for Massachusetts (www.SEL4MA.org) which created the Social-Emotional Learning Alliance for the United States (www.SEL4US.org), now in 14 states offering grassroots advocacy for effective SEL in all schools and wherever youth meet. He was a trial lawyer and basketball coach for over 25 years. He has spent the last 19 years advocating for the systemic change required in equipping children with the mental health skills necessary to overcome the daily traumas they suffer. He now engages in finding ways to bring SEL into the community to reinforce the SEL skills now taught in schools.
Nancy Parkes is an educational consultant and taught Jewish Leadership at JTS for two years. Nancy’s primary focus is in supporting schools, organizations, and educators that are embarking on, or in the process of change, as they redefine Jewish education for the 21st century. Nancy gave an ELI talk on this topic in 2015. She currently works with educators interested in bringing social emotional learning into their schools and continues to work with Jewish educators enrolled in the Social Emotional Learning certification course at Rutgers University as they translate their learning into their educational settings. Previously, she was the Director of Congregational Learning at Temple Israel Center in White Plains for ten years. Nancy received her M.A. degree in Jewish Studies and Education in the William Davidson School of Education at JTS and is currently earning her Ed.D there.