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).
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 former president of the Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) Alliance for Massachusetts (www.SEL4MA.org), that spawned the Social-Emotional Learning Alliance for the United States (www.SEL4US.org,), a sponsor of SESL4JewishEd. SEl4US now has 18 state affiliates, all of which are 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 20 years advocating for the systemic change in education that would include teaching children the skills to attain emotional well-being. He is currently researching and writing a book called Dropping the Ball in School Athletics: A System Desperately Needing Change, a call to action to include student voice and a written sport psychology/social emotional learning (SEL) curriculum on all sports teams.
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.