Dr. Tamara Mann Tweel is the Director of Civic Spirit.
Dr. Tweel has devoted her professional life to educating students, faith leaders, and politicians on the history and value of American religious and secular civil society. She began her career at the Interfaith Center of NY building civic coalitions and later worked as the Associate Director of the Freedom and Citizenship Program at Columbia University, where she taught courses in the Great Books, the history and ethics of philanthropy, aging, and civics. There is little she loves more than spending time with students and a text. She continues to teach and lecture widely as a seminar instructor at Columbia University and as a research fellow at Shalom Hartman Institute of North America. Dr. Tweel developed Civic Spirit inside Hillel International’s Office of Innovation where she also serves as the Director of Strategic Development.
Dr. Tweel received a master’s degree in theological studies from the Harvard Divinity School and a doctorate in history from Columbia University. In 2009, she received the K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Award from the Association of American Colleges and Universities. Her work has been published in numerous academic and popular journals, magazines, and newspapers, including the Washington Post, The Forward, The Harvard Divinity Bulletin, The Jewish Week, Inside Higher Ed, and The Huffington Post.
Virginia Bayer is a past president of and currently serves as the Chair of the Board of The Jewish Center, on New York’s Upper West Side. Virginia worked in commercial banking and has been a lay leader in various organizations in the Jewish and general community, often with start up organizations.
She has been actively involved in The Abraham Joshua Heschel School since its founding in 1983 and has served in a myriad of capacities, including as its president. In 2004, she was one of the founders of SAFE – Securing America’s Future Energy in Washington DC that works to reduce America’s dependence on oil.
Virginia recently co-authored Marguerita Mergentime: American Textiles, Modern Ideas and is reviving the Mergentime designs for the consumer market.
Rabbi Robert S. Hirt is the Vice President Emeritus of RIETS (Rabbinical Seminary) Yeshiva University in New York City. He served as a faculty member teaching leadership and values. Rabbi Hirt was the Chair and Series Editor of the Orthodox Forum, a think tank and publication project (23 volumes) on the interface of Judaism and General Culture. Together with his wife Virginia they founded the Washington entity Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE) devoted to reducing America’s dependence on oil.
Dr. Catherine Guerriero is the first female President of La Salle Academy, one of the oldest all-boys Catholic high schools in New York City, and the flagship school of the International Institute of Brothers of the Christian Schools and the lead partner school in Civic Spirit. In addition to serving as the President of La Salle Academy, Dr. Guerriero is a faculty member at Teachers College, Columbia University, where she has taught courses in politics for nineteen years. Dr. Guerriero is a Senior Adjunct Professor at New York University and Manhattan College. Dr. Guerriero recently received the Martin Luther King Faculty of the Year Award at NYU for her “teaching excellence, leadership and commitment to social justice.” She was also named “Outstanding Faculty Member” at Teachers College twice.
A firm believer in and advocate for civic education, Dr. Guerriero is thrilled that her school, La Salle Academy, is a participant and lead partner in Civic Spirit. Her experiences in the political arena combined with her teaching expertise and experiences working for the Archdiocese are perfect complements to the mission of this collaborative project. One of Dr. Guerriero’s favorite aspects of Civic Spirit is its’ potential to bring together the Judeo-Christian traditions for the benefit of society.
Dr. Guerriero has a Ph.D. in Educational Administration and a master’s degree in Public Administration from New York University, as well as a bachelor’s from Wagner College, where she was a two-sport, full scholarship, Division I athlete.
Director of Communications and Strategic Partnerships
Lindsay Bressman is a trusted community leader who bridges authentic relationship-building with thoughtful and effective system design. Professionally reared in social work and process improvement, she has led both small and large teams within healthcare, education, and the Jewish community, using storytelling, user experience, and best practices to create solutions that both resonate and accomplish desired goals. Lindsay has an MSW from Columbia University and an MPH in Healthcare Management from UCLA and has worked in management roles at New York Presbyterian, Stanford Hospital, and DaVita and most recently as Head of Brand for four years at an education services company. Lindsay is a member of the Hannah Senesh Community Day School board and has served as a UJA voting committee member for the past four years. She lives with her husband and her two children in Prospect Heights.
Jude P. Webre is a political and intellectual historian of the modern U.S. with particular interest in the intersection of creative expression and democratic movements in the mid-twentieth century. He completed his Ph.D. in History at Columbia University in 2017, and his post-doctoral teaching and writing have sought to engage the full spectrum of the American political tradition, from the socialist and anarchist Left to modern conservatism, especially regarding questions of race, immigration, and social democracy. His dissertation examined the reception and adaptation of European literary modernism into American culture, from World War I to the early Cold War, specifically the ways in which political affiliations shaped the aesthetic ideologies and practices of American modernists. Since 2013, Dr. Webre has taught courses in History, American Studies, and Literature Humanities at Columbia, Yeshiva University, NYU-Gallatin, and is Associate Faculty at the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research. He also has served as a researcher and consulting historian for Robert A. Caro, the Office for Metropolitan History, Goethe-Institut, and now Civic Spirit. He also supports Civic Spirit as a facilitator and coach, partnering with Civic Spirit educators during the Institute and school year. Besides his scholarly life, Jude has been a performing rock and jazz bassist in New York for nearly twenty years.
Karli McMenamin is the project manager for the creation and design of Civic Spirit’s website. She also supports Civic Spirit as a facilitator and coach, partnering Civic Spirit educators during the Institute and school year. Karli has focused her academic and professional work on expanding access and implementing change within education. Through her work as a College Counselor for Columbia University’s Double Discovery Center, Karli worked to improve educational opportunities for New York City students. As a Consultant and Operations Associate with the Center for Public Research and Leadership at Columbia Law School, Karli worked to strategically improve and expand problem solving and management systems within educational organizations. Karli earned for BA from Columbia University and her MPA from Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs. Karli is a Fellow in New York State’s Higher Education Services, where she works to design and implement a new higher education outreach strategy for the state.
Daniel Olson is a doctoral candidate in Education and Jewish Studies at NYU, where he has received training in a wide array of social science research methods including in-depth interviewing, survey design, and analysis of big data. His research focuses on the concept of inclusion as it applies to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. He is particularly interested in the ways that debates about the rights and responsibilities of citizenship can enhance our understanding of inclusion. His work has been published in the Journal of Jewish Education, the Ruderman Family Foundation blog, and eJewishPhilanthropy. At NYU, he serves as a course assistant for “Global Culture Wars” and “Introduction to American Education”, helping undergraduates engage in historical and contemporary debates about timeless civic questions. He is the 2018 co-recipient of the Harold Wechsler Award for Emerging Scholars from the Network for Research in Jewish Education and is an alumnus of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship. He lives in Port Chester, NY with his husband Rabbi Benjamin Goldberg.
Amendment XIV: Equal Protection to all Citizens
Judith Ballan teaches World History and AP European History at SAR High School in Riverdale (Bronx), NY, where her students learn to read a source closely and carefully. She sings in two choirs, and loves the bookends of the choral experience: reading through music they haven't seen before, and polishing it once it is learned. When she is not teaching or singing , she can be found at any sidewalk café, just about anywhere in Manhattan. Her greatest sense of connection comes from talking to alumni of her school and sensing the degree to which she helped shape the people they have become.
Donna Bello teaches in the Social Sciences department at St. Peter’s Boys High School on Staten Island, New York.
Rabbi Akiva Block brings energy, enthusiasm, and excitement to his classroom at SAR High School in Riverdale (Bronx), NY, where he teaches Judaic Studies, including Bible, Talmud, Jewish Law, and Jewish Philosophy. He relishes the meaningful connection within the school community at the magical moments everyone is studying together. When not teaching, he is most invigorated by spending time with family, and by his work as a rabbi of a synagogue in Englewood, NJ. Reading, schmoozing, politics, and all sports (especially the Mets) fill in his free time.
Sr. Maria Cassano is Principal at St. Jean Baptiste High School in Manhattan’s Upper East Side. She thinks of civic education as an opportunity for all, adults and students alike, to reflect on the foundations of the nation, the hopes and dreams of the founders, and to help create a reality for all Americans that is inclusive and reflective of those dreams as a matter of peace and justice. Outside the classroom, she enjoys reading, going to museums, attending instrumental and choral concerts and ballet performances. Interactions with the faculty and students, and witnessing the development of students from young girls to young women, are what drives her.
Tani Cohen-Fraade teaches a variety of subjects at Luria Academy of Brooklyn to students across elementary and middle school levels. Especially important to him is the Montessori-based, child-centered approach of the school, which allows him to help students find their own interests in the work that they do and the texts they study. Tani’s non-teaching life is made up of playing music, experimenting with cooking, hiking, water sports, and visit to the bonsai museum at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens.
Nina Cohen teaches history at The Frisch School in Paramus, NJ, helping students understand that history is not a collection of dates and names, but an analysis that offers narratives to make sense of those facts. A graduate of Barnard College and the University of Pennsylvania, she studied the production and readership of 17th-century Hebrew print. She is also an avid fiction reader, and is greatly enjoying rediscovering old favorites through the eyes of her three young children. As an Orthodox Jew teaching at Orthodox institutions, Nina finds it incredibly fulfilling to help younger members of her community connect to the complex and non-linear trajectories of historical actors, presenting students with data points for personal reflection and growth.
Anne Ebersman is Director of Community Service and Justice at Abraham Joshua Heschel School. Professionally, she is invigorated by powerful, demanding texts such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” and by genuine conversations with curious students. Beyond the classroom, she is invigorated by practicing yoga, by observing the Sabbath, and by drinking wine with friends. She is an excellent storyteller.
Petrus Fortune teaches AP World, Global, and African-American History at Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School in Fort Greene (Brooklyn). He most enjoys teaching students about segregation and the Civil Rights era, showcasing democracy and citizenship as pro-active. He enjoys sports of several varieties, the Met, and bonding with students in the classroom.
Catherine Guerriero is President of La Salle Academy in Manhattan and also teaches Advanced American Politics and Civic Education. At La Salle, she gets the most energy from when the full school community is gathered together, and when she is in the classroom teaching with the students she describes as being “hungry and on fire for life’s greatest expectations.” Teaching the importance of participation in the students’ own lives and the political realities of our country are the cornerstones of her work. She also loves the time she spends with her daughter and walking underneath the Brooklyn Bridge.
Audi Hecht currently serves as Chairperson of the History Department at Yeshiva University High School for Girls (Central) where she teaches history and government and is a doctoral candidate at the Azrieli School of Education and Administration at Yeshiva University. An ideas enthusiast, Audi draws inspiration from the exploration of theories in books, in dialogue, in learning and gender studies in particular. Her ideal NYC spot is a park, a town hall, a courthouse, or a street corner that is a hub for political activity and energy. Audi feels most connected to her school and community by the feeling that possibilities are limitless and people, as change agents, can paint the landscape in which they choose to live.
Dennis Kallo, of St. Joseph High School in Brooklyn Heights, has taught social studies, including Global History, US Government, and Economics, for the last six years. When he is not teaching, he is studying for his PhD in World History at St. John's University. It is these studies that ultimately fuel his teaching. Brooklyn Heights is not just a workplace; it is also his favorite place in the city, as there is so much to do and see there, culturally and historically. Dennis feels the most connected to his school when the faculty are engaged in student-led events—cultural, political, and other.
Caitlin Kerwin oversees Civic Spirit and teaches honors American and New York Politics at La Salle Academy in the East Village as part of a small, passionate, mission-based staff and faculty. Driving student involvement animates her in her work, and dance and social justice work animate her life outside school. David McCullough’s 1776 has been motivational for her understanding of history, with its realistic depictions of the battles pitched in the New York area.
Murray Sragow teaches 11th grade US History at Yeshiva University High School for Boys in Washington Heights. He feels deeply connected to the school’s demand for excellence in both Jewish and general studies, and builds his approach to teaching around getting students to think about their role in the outside world beyond their immediate community. Murray is also called to be outdoors hiking, biking, kayaking, and admiring the George Washington Bridge when it is lit up at night.
Daniel Linehan is Dean of Students at St. Jean Baptiste High School in Manhattan’s Upper East Side, where he also teaches 11th graders. He tries to travel at every possible break in his non-teaching life, and believes that experiencing the culture, customs, foods, and wines of different peoples and places brings to life both the great diversity of our world as well as the hidden, common bonds which make us a human family. If he ever needs to escape that world, he retreats to the Met. He is most connected to his school when students are engaged in this world, when they see something unjust and come to his office to make a plan to take action toward the potential of change—to raise awareness, to begin a drive to collect items, or to protest. You are not allowed to complain in his class unless you have a plan to make things better.
Wilson Martinez teaches a wide variety of subjects at De La Salle Academy in Manhattan, where he also oversees the Public Debate Forum. He especially enjoys using classroom duties to motivate students to strengthen their self-confidence and self-expression. Wilson is also fueled by neighborhood organizations such as the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition, which advocates for different issues affecting quality of life for Northwest Bronx residents. One of his favorite New York City sites is St. Patrick's Cathedral, where some of his heroes reside, and his greatest connection with the school community comes during times of retreat and reflection
Bill Mason has been in Catholic schools for 33 years, including his current position teaching US History and Government, and Holocaust Studies at Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School in Brooklyn. He is invigorated by immersing himself in the study of history and the groundbreaking statements of freedom and liberty in documents such as the Declaration of Independence. He feels he has never worked a day in his professional career, because he loves what he does. Bill’s goal is to be involved in projects that make students better people and citizens. There is no better place on the planet to him than his home of Brooklyn.
Liz Peralta is very grateful to be an administrator at St. Joseph High School in downtown Brooklyn. Her background in museums leads her to explore the rich history of Brooklyn and the untold stories of those who've settled here. She uses that love of history to show the students in her school that history surrounds them wherever they go, waiting to be seen in neighborhoods and building façades. She also volunteers with Crossroads Culture Events, in order to help bring dialogue on topics of faith, politics, and the arts and their connection to one another. The strong community life inside and outside St. Joseph drives her professional work. In moments of calm, she can be found at Roosevelt Island.
Rivka Schwartz is an administrator and teacher of US History and Jewish Philosophy at SAR Academy in Riverdale (the Bronx). Her work in the classroom integrates Jewish values and Torah teaching with the wisdom of the broader world. In this pursuit, it is critical to her to convey to students that the simple answers are almost always the wrong ones, and she is inspired by the brutal honesty and Biblical inflections of Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address. To soothe the distress she feels over the current state of our republic and its value and institutions, she reads, thinks, and writes about the big and challenging issues facing the Modern Orthodox Jewish community. She will be happy to show you around some of the underappreciated beauties of Upper Manhattan, such as the Little Red Lighthouse and Inwood Hill Park.
Beverly Segal will, in her next life, pursue her interest in design, architecture or engineering. In this life, she will be overseeing Civic Spirit for Yeshiva University High School for Girls in Hollis, NY. Her approach to education is to help her students solve problems, big and small, with creativity and a sense of humor. It is this approach that allows her to solidify the personal connections she has with faculty and students alike, which is what she values most about her work. When not with her students, she likes to take multiple round trips on the Staten Island Ferry, just to be out on the water and see the magnificent harbor sights.
Tiphanie Shoemaker teaches at Luria Academy of Brooklyn, where she helps students develop a deep love of literature and using analytical and critical reading and thinking skills to appreciate stories on a deeper level. Her ultimate goal with students is to give them the tools, skills, and resources to be engaged community members and positive forces in the world. When she is not overseeing the teaching and learning at Luria, she enjoys politics, baseball, science fiction, the guilty pleasure of bad TV, and consulting with new schools. Her favorite spots in Brooklyn are Greenwood Park and Prospect Park.
Seth Taylor is the Principal for General Studies at Yeshiva University High School for Boys, and an instructor in Modern European History. He earned his Ph.D. in German History at New York University, and is the author of Left-Wing Nietzscheans: The Politics of German Expressionism, 1910-1920 and Between Tradition and Modernity: A History of the Marsha Stern Talmudical Academy. A resident of New York’s upper west side, my favorite location is my building’s rooftop garden where in summer I get to chat with my wife, my two children and friends as we watch the sun set. While I enjoy school administration, what most connects me to my school is teaching AP European History to interested and inquisitive students. A trip to abroad every summer is important in order to recharge the batteries.
Jonathan Waechter teaches Ancient Civilizations and US History at De La Salle Academy in Manhattan, with a focus on cultural currency. He most enjoys the sense of community his school gives him, as well as pushing the norms by trying something new—a new course, a new program, a special assembly. Aside from that, he finds interest in old houses, travel foreign and domestic, boating with motors, sails, and/or paddles, and skiing. If you need to find Jonathan, go to Grand Central Station and meet him at the clock.
John Walsh is an assistant principal and teaches macroeconomics and US government at St. Peter’s Boys High School on Staten Island, a school with a family atmosphere where close relationships are cultivated between teachers and students. He wants his students to learn that civic education is about understanding their roles in the broader community. John is also St. Peter’s tennis and basketball coach, and spends his spare time at various parks around Staten Island.
Ethan Zadoff chairs the history department at the Frisch School in Paramus, NJ, overseeing the entire scope and sequence of the history curriculum as well as directing the school’s professional development. Outside of my school responsibilities, my limited time is dedicated to my family. In his history classes, he wants students to understand that history is not simply a single narrative or the comprehension of past events, but a multitude of perspectives and opinions that affect today’s world. The most invigorating moments outside work come from the simple experiences of the day-to-day with his family, and the vast, complex experience of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. As an educator, Ethan values how the sense of community in celebrations and mourning, learning and playing, allow the factors that divide us to recede into the background to allow for the school to come together despite the differences that persist.