Cohort 8 Mentor and Staff Bios

Project Director

Frances M. Urman

Fran is the project director of the Day School Leadership Training Institute. She is responsible for managing all program operations, including planning, marketing, participant selection, logistics, staff and external consultant supervision, and dissemination of project results. Fran held the position of principal at the Solomon Schechter Day School of Essex and Union in West Orange, New Jersey, from 1999 to 2004.

She previously held leadership positions at the Solomon Schechter High School of New York and the Yitzhak Rabin High School in Ottawa, Canada. Additional professional work includes 20 years of teaching experience in the Orthodox, Conservative, and community day schools of Canada and the United States. Fran holds a master's degree in Education from Tufts University and a bachelor of arts from Sir George Williams University in Montreal. She completed the Secondary School Leadership Training Program (precursor to DSLTI) at The Jewish Theological Seminary in 1999, and has studied at the Principal's Center, Harvard University.

Fran is married to Stan Urman and is the proud mother of three grown daughters—Mia Urman Tsur, Dr. Marnina Urman, and Samara Urman—and her beautiful grandsons, Noam, Ari, Hillel, and Daniel.

Senior Mentor

Cheryl R. Finkel

Cheryl has been a staff member of the DSLTI since its beginning in 1998, and is proud to play a role in the professional development of new Jewish day school heads.

Currently an independent consultant based in Atlanta, Cheryl serves school heads and board leaders eager to enhance their leadership performance. She was senior consultant at the Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education for eight years, and before that spent 20 years as head of the Epstein School, the Solomon Schechter School of Atlanta.

Prior to Epstein, Cheryl taught in public and private high schools in Boston, New York, and Israel. Before moving to Atlanta in 1978, she served as assistant principal at Manhattan Day School in New York City. She then spent five years as assistant director of the Atlanta Bureau of Jewish Education, her portfolio including service as principal of the community Hebrew High School.

Cheryl holds an AB in English from UNC–Chapel Hill and an MA in Teaching from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and has pursued her Jewish education at Emory University's Institute of Jewish Studies and in Israel. She was honored by the Covenant Foundation with its award for Exceptional Jewish Educators in 1999, and received an honorary doctorate from JTS in 2010.


Nora Anderson

Raised in Lima, Peru, Nora came to the United States to pursue a BA in Psychology with minors in Education and Mathematics from Stern College for Women, Yeshiva University. In 1984, Nora began her teaching career as a mathematics teacher in the Bronx. After three years in teaching, Nora received an MS in School Guidance and Counseling from Lehman College, SUNY, and worked as a middle school guidance counselor for 10 years.

Nora continued her education by pursuing a master of education in School Supervision and Administration from Bank Street College of Education and a Certificate in the Reading and Writing Process from Teachers College. Upon completion of this program, Nora became an assistant principal in the Bronx and, in July 2001, she was appointed middle school assistant principal at the Dobbs Ferry District in Westchester, New York.  

Nora also holds an advanced professional degree from Columbia University Business School Executive Education's Institute for Day School Management. She has been a presenter at RAVSAK and PEJE Conferences.

Nora has been the head of school at Carmel Academy since July 2003. She lives in Rye Brook, New York, with her husband and children.

Jerry Isaak-Shapiro

Jerry D. Isaak-Shapiro is a graduate of the prestigious two-year Mandel Jerusalem Fellowship (2001–2003), which offers senior Jewish educators an opportunity to learn with colleagues from North America, Latin America, Europe, and Israel, while conducting postdoctoral-level research in Jewish education in Jerusalem, Israel.   

Prior to moving to Jerusalem, Jerry served as Jewish education director at the San Francisco Jewish Community Center; as Northern California regional director for Hillel, supervising 15 Northern California campuses; and as associate director for the Jewish Community Relations Committee for San Francisco, the San Francisco Peninsula, and Marin and Sonoma Counties, during which time he was the community's media spokesperson and Middle East specialist. In addition, for 10 years he was the executive producer and host/moderator of A Jewish Perspective, a talk show seen on San Francisco's NBC affiliate, Channel 4. Before moving to San Francisco, Jerry served as Young Judaea regional director in the Southwest, as camp director for Camp Young Judaea West, and as synagogue education director at Temple Ramat Zion in Los Angeles, California.

Jerry received his master's degree in International Affairs from the George Washington University, where he specialized in Middle East history and foreign policy. While in Washington DC, he also served as program director for the US–Japan Economic Agenda, a think tank, and as chief researcher for a series of articles on Israel and the Middle East for the Washington bureau of the Chicago Tribune.

Jerry has been a teacher, lecturer and scholar-in-residence, specializing in the areas of non-formal education, Zionist thought and history, and Jewish identity. He served as head of school of the Agnon School, a community Jewish day school in Beachwood, Ohio. Jerry was one of five national mentors in the initial two-year phase of SuLaM, a program of study, leadership, and mentoring for heads of school (sponsored by RAVSAK: The Jewish Community Day School Network and funded by the AVI CHAI Foundation), and continued his work as a national mentor in SuLaM's third cohort.

Dr. Ray Levi

Ray is completing his 14th year as head of school at the Amos and Celia Heilicher Minneapolis Jewish Day School. Previously, he spent seven years as head of school at the Agnon School, Cleveland's Jewish community day school. Ray has been a mentor for DSLTI Cohorts 1, 4, 5, 6, and 7. He is serving as a consultant for the Yeshiva University School-University Partnership Benchmark Program, working with schools on recruitment, retention, marketing, and planning.

A past chair of the Heads Council of the Minnesota Association of Independent Schools, Ray is president of the Center for Spiritual and Ethical Education, and served on the executive committee of RAVSAK: The Jewish Community Day School Network.  He is a past member of the board of governors of the Independent Schools Association of the Central States, and the editorial board of the National Council of Teachers of English.  In addition to many years of classroom teaching in the primary grades and as a middle school advisor, he has been an adjunct professor of Education at John Carroll University in Cleveland, a director of special curriculum projects at University School, and a staff development consultant for the Institute for Educational Renewal.  He and his wife, Ginny, are the parents of two grown daughters.

Dr. Steve Lorch

Dr. Steven Lorch is the founding head of the Solomon Schechter School of Manhattan, an award-winning K–8 coeducational Jewish day school. He previously headed three Jewish day schools on three continents: Akiba Hebrew Academy in Pennsylvania, Mount Scopus College in Australia, and Hartman High School in Israel. He was a founding mentor in the DSLTI program, and helped pioneer the use of protocols and critical friend groups within the community of Jewish day school leaders. He is currently the president of the board of directors of the Schechter Day School Network.

Naomi Reem

Naomi Reem is completing her eighth year as the head of school of the Jewish Primary Day School of the Nation's Capital, a community day school in the heart of Washington DC. Naomi served as the head of school at Sinai Academy of the Berkshires in Western Massachusetts for seven years, prior to moving to the Washington area in 2005.

Naomi started her career in Jewish education in her native Argentina more than 30 years ago, and worked as a teacher and administrator in diverse educational settings in Israel and the United States. She holds a bachelor's degree from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and a master's degree in Jewish Education from Hebrew College in Newton, Massachusetts, as well as an Early Childhood Teacher Certification from the Agnon Institute in Buenos Aires. 

Mara Bernstein

Mara Bernstein has been a part of the DSLTI team since November 2011. In addition to her responsibilities with DSLTI, she also provides support for the Jewish Day School Standards and Benchmarks Project and other Davidson School professional development programs for Jewish educators.

Prior to her current position, she served as an educator at the Museum at Eldridge Street, teaching visitors of all ages about the landmark synagogue on Manhattan's Lower East Side. Additionally, she interned in the Education department of the Fraunces Tavern Museum and worked as a resident assistant at New York University.

Mara graduated from New York University with a BA in History with a focus in New York City history, and minored in Hebrew and Judaic Studies. Mara continues to docent at Fraunces Tavern Museum and the Museum at Eldridge Street, and enjoys exploring her Upper West Side neighborhood.