Dr. Yaron Ayalon

Dr. Yaron Ayalon teaches Middle Eastern, Israeli, and Jewish history at Ball State University in Indiana, where he is the Associate Director of the Jewish Studies Program. Dr. Ayalon serves as the chairperson of Ball State’s Faculty Council, the representative body of all faculty, overseeing 15 university committees. Previously a visiting professor at Emory University through the Emory Institute for the Study of Modern Israel (2011-2013), he taught undergraduate courses on the history of Israel, the Arab-Israeli Conflict, the Ottoman Empire and Turkey, and Jewish history. Dr. Ayalon is the author of Natural Disasters in the Ottoman Empire: Plague, Famine, and Other Misfortunes (Cambridge University Press, 2014), and has published over 20 articles on Middle Eastern and Jewish history. He has closely watched and formulated effective responses to the challenges of teaching about Israel on college campuses. He earned his BA from Tel Aviv University, and his PhD from Princeton in 2009.

Aveva Dese

Aveva Dese, an Ethiopian Israeli singer & songwriter, is a rising star in the Israeli music scene. Aveva's Music brings stimulating African groove with a touch of the fresh urban beat of Tel Aviv. As a child to Jewish parents, who have suffered from persecution and struggled to come from Ethiopia to Israel, Aveva brings a unique life story that is conveyed through her music. In her show, You will discover powerful texts, in English, Hebrew and Amharic, about our society, love, and the Endless search for freedom. Combined with traditional Ethiopian sounds the music creates a Fascinating intercultural connection. Aveva has been invited to perform in many prestige international venues, including a special show at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.

Dean Michael Elliott

Michael A. Elliott, Charles Howard Candler Professor of English, was appointed dean of Emory College of Arts and Sciences on July 1, 2017. A scholar of American literature and culture, he is a prize-winning teacher who has been a member of the Emory University faculty since 1998.  Prior to his current role, he served as Senior Associate Dean for Faculty, Executive Associate Dean in the College of Arts and Sciences, and Interim Dean of Emory College.

Dan Gordon

Dan Gordon is Emory University Vice-President and Chief Engagement Officer. He works closely with the university president, the executive vice president of business and administration, and other leaders at Emory to form strategic partnerships and to expand the university's connectivity internally and across all sectors in Atlanta and the region. Gordon came to Emory in 2018 from the City of Atlanta, where he had served as chief operating officer since 2015. He also held management roles at the Arthur M. Blank Family of Businesses, North American Properties, and Home Depot. Gordon holds a BA in international studies from Emory University (1999) and an MBA from the Emory Goizueta Business School (2005).

Dr. Rachel Fish

Rachel Fish is Senior Advisor and Resident Scholar of Jewish/Israel Philanthropy at the Paul E. Singer Foundation in New York City. Most recently she was the Executive Director of the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies at Brandeis University. She completed her doctoral degree in 2013 in the Near Eastern and Judaic Studies department at Brandeis University, where she researched the history of the idea of bi-nationalism and alternative visions for constructing the State of Israel. She has taught at Brandeis University, Harvard University, UMASS Amherst and Tzion and Me’ah, Adult Jewish Education programs. In 2015 she held the Rohr Visiting Professorship at Harvard University, where she lectured on modern Israel and received the Derek Bok Certificate of Teaching Excellence. She is co-editor, with Ilan Troen, of the book Essential Israel: Essays for the Twenty-First Century.

Lois Frank

Lois is a 1961 graduate of Emory College and nationally recognized for her sterling accomplishments as an American Jewish leader. She has served as President of the American Jewish Committee in Atlanta, and National President of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) and the American Jewish Committee. In 2012, Lois and her husband Larry established through the JCPA the Frank Family Leadership Institute for Emerging Jewish Leaders who seek to be active in public policy, public affairs and interfaith group relations.

Alan Makovsky

Alan Makovsky is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, a private think-tank in Washington, DC. From 2001 to 2013, he was a senior staffer for Democrats on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, advising Congressmen on the Middle East and Turkey.  At The Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), a private think-tank where he worked from 1994 to 2001, Makovsky published on various Middle Eastern topics. He also founded and directed WINEP’s Turkey Research Program.  At the U.S. State Department, where he served from 1983 to 1994, Makovsky variously covered southern European and Middle Eastern affairs in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, including three years as analyst for Palestinian affairs and the Middle East peace process. He also served as Political Advisor to Operation Provide Comfort (1992) in Iraqi Kurdistan and as advisor to Middle East Coordinator Dennis Ross (1993-94).

Joshua R Newton

At Emory University, Joshua R. Newton is senior vice president for advancement and alumni engagement. Prior to resuming his professional career at Emory, he served as president and CEO of the University of Connecticut Foundation, Inc. In that capacity, he presided over the five most successful fundraising years in the foundation’s history, raising a total of nearly $400 million over fiscal years 2014-2018, representing a 46 percent increase.  Before his move to Connecticut, Newton served for more than a decade in Emory’s Development and Alumni Relations division, most recently as vice president for university development, a position he held until 2013. During his tenure at Emory, the university successfully completed Campaign Emory, a seven-year, $1.69 billion effort, the largest in the university’s history, with nearly 150,000 donors contributing.  A North Carolina native, Joshua is a graduate of Belmont Abbey College in Belmont, North Carolina. He began his career in higher education as executive director of development at Converse College in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

Allison Padilla-Goodman

Since 2017, Allison Padilla-Goodman has served as the Southeast Regional Director of the Anti-Defamation League.  Born and raised in the south, Allison has spent her life as a community organizer and effective voice against racism and anti-Semitism. Prior to her current position in Atlanta, she served for several years as ADL South-Central Regional Director in New Orleans. She was the New Orleans Advisory Leader for the Greater New Orleans Civil Rights Working Group, trained thousands of law enforcement officials on hate crimes and domestic extremism, and spearheaded efforts to advocate for legislation supporting LGBT rights, immigrant rights and religious freedom in Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas. Her impact on the region was acknowledged as a recipient of the A.I. Botnick Torch of Liberty Award. Allison received a B.A. from Middlebury College, an M.A. in Latin American Studies from Tulane University and a PhD and M.A. in Sociology from the City University of New York Graduate Center. There she focused on understanding the conflicts of race and urban development through the lens of public education in the South. She has taught undergraduate and graduate level university courses on race and ethnicity, immigration, criminal justice, and urban development and is a published scholar on these issues.

Dana Pearl

In Atlanta, Dana Pearl is a consultant for Simon-Kutchner & Partners. A 2018 Emory graduate, she majored in Business and History, spending time as a teaching assistant in a communications course at the Goizuetta Business school. She was president of TAMID, a student organization focusing on business engagements with Israel. In the summers of 2016 and 2018, she was a student intern at ISMI, where she collected college course syllabi on topics relating to Israel and the Middle East, charting the relationship of anti-Semitic incidents on campuses with institutions that offered courses where pro, balanced, or anti-Israeli based  courses offered were offered.   She also participated in copy-editing and proof-reading an ISMI/CIE documents reader covering the Carter Administration’s 1977-1981 involvement in Arab-Israeli negotiations.

Stacey Popovsky

Stacey Popovsky is the Executive Director of The Lisa and Michael Leffell Foundation, a family foundation dedicated to inspiring passion for Jewish education and strengthening the security and vibrancy of the State of Israel. Stacey works in partnership with the funders to implement philanthropic strategies and determine funding priorities that maximize impact.  Her work at the Foundation includes Israel projects, including assessments of Israel’s influence on American Jewish identity and Israel learning for rabbinic students. Prior to joining The Leffell Foundation, Stacey was the Director of Higher Education and Confronting Anti-Semitism Initiatives for the Anti-Defamation League and the Director of Hamagshimim, the University division of Young Judaea.

Dr. Yitzhak Reiter

Yitzhak Reiter is Professor of Middle East, Israel and Islamic Studies and Ashkelon Academic College in Israel where he also chairs the Department of Land-of-Israel Studies. He is a senior researcher at both the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies and the Harry S. Truman Institute for Peace Research of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. From 1978-1987 was a Deputy Advisor for Arab Affairs and Senior Research Officer at the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office  during the tenures of Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Shamir, Shimon Peres, and worked for Minister Ezer Weizman. He has written a dozen books on the topic of Jerusalem’s role in Moslem and Jewish histories, some with particular focus on contemporary issues that pertain to Arab-Israeli negotiations. He has also written on Arab society in Israel and the relationship of Jews and Arabs in Israel.   His publications have included Contested Holy Places in Israel-Palestine: Sharing and Conflict Resolution Among (2017), Status Quo in Change: Conflict over Controlling the Temple Mount/Al-Haram al-Sharif (2016), National Minority, Regional Majority: Palestinian Arabs versus Jews in Israel (2009),  and Islamic Institutions in Jerusalem: Palestinian Muslim Administration under Jordanian and Israeli Rule (1997). Before become Emory’s 14th Visiting Israeli Professor in September 2018, he  taught at the Hebrew University, Haifa University, University of Sydney and University of Minnesota.  Professor Reiter received his BA (1976), MA (1986), and Doctorate from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (1991).

Jay Schaefer

Jay Schaefer is a first year student at Harvard Law School where he serves as an editor of the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy and is a member of the Federalist Society and Jewish Law Students Association. In May 2018, he graduated from Emory University magna cum laude with a BA in history. Jay interned at the Institute for the Study of Modern Israel for two years, and worked with Dr. Ken Stein on his senior honors thesis, 'Push and Pull: Carter Diplomacy in the Negotiations Between Egypt and Israel, October 1978-March 1979.' After law school, Jay hopes to pursue a career in constitutional and appellate litigation.

Dr. Jonathan Schanzer

Jonathan Schanzer is Senior Vice President for research at Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), a nonpartisan foreign policy think tank in Washington, DC.  At FDD, he oversees FDD’s timely research and works closely with their interns.  Jonathan has written three books, more than a dozen monographs, and hundreds of articles on the Middle East.  Among his publications are State of Failure: Yasser Arafat, Mahmoud Abbas, and the Unmaking of the Palestinian State (2013),  Hamas vs. Fatah: The Struggle for Palestine (2008)  and Al-Qaeda's Armies: Middle East Affiliate Groups and the Next Generation of Terror (2004).  A former terrorism finance analyst the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Jonathan has worked for other think tanks, including the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and the Middle East Forum. He is a regular media contributor and has testified numerous times before Congressional committees.  In July 2018 he testified to he House Subcommittee on National Security, “The Muslim Brotherhood’s Global Threat,”  Jonathan graduated from Emory College in 1994, holds a Masters Degree from the Hebrew University and a doctorate from Kings College, London.

Joel Singer

Joel Singer is a Partner of the Washington, DC law firm of SidleyAustin LLP.  Singer served as the Head of the International Law Department of the Israel Defense Forces, from which position Singer retired with the rank of Colonel.  He became a Legal Adviser to the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Shortly after the 1973 Yom Kippur War and for a span of almost 25 years, Singer participated in all of Israel’s negotiations with its Arab neighbors. Among other such countries, Singer negotiated with Egypt (the 1979 Treaty of Peace and many other agreements), Lebanon (the 1983 Peace Treaty), Syria, and Jordan. While working for the Government of Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres, Singer negotiated with the PLO the 1993 Oslo Agreement and its implementing agreements, including the 1994 Gaza -Jericho Agreement and the 1995 Interim Agreement on Self- Government Arrangements (Oslo II) that extended the autonomy arrangements to the West Bank. He recently published, “Oslo 25/Twenty five years since Oslo: an insider’s account,” Fathom, August 2018,  His areas of law practice include commercial litigation, international arbitration, international trade, and internal investigations. Singer received his LL.B from Tel Aviv University (1972).

Eli Sperling

Eli Sperling began working at ISMI in November 2012. He has been actively engaged in issues relating to Israel and the greater Middle East since the beginning of his under-graduate education at Evergreen in Olympia, WA. After receiving his BA in Middle East studies and political economy in 2006, he moved to Israel to pursue an MA in contemporary Middle Eastern history at Tel Aviv University. We was a research assistant to Yosi Kostiner,  led groups of students and other international delegations around Israel and spent two years researching the social, political and economic conditions of the Sinai Bedouin living in Dahab, Egypt.  Eli is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. His dissertation title is: Singing the Land: The Parallel Development of Hebrew Musical Culture During the British Mandate of Palestine in the United States and Eretz Yisrael.  At ISMI, he is an Israel specialist  and project coordinator, directing the ISMI internship program and oversees the ISMI website.

Professor Kenneth W. Stein

Ken Stein is a Professor of Contemporary Middle Eastern History, Political Science and Israel Studies at Emory University. Since 1998, he has remained the Founding Director of the Emory Institute for the Study of Modern Israel (ISMI) and is Founding President of the Center for Israel Education (2008).  Since its founding and for the duration of  ISMI’s existence,  Ken has been solely responsible for all ISMI annual fund raising.  He is recipient of Emory University Awards for Teaching, Life-Long mentorship of students, and for internationalizing the curriculum.  In 1979, he founded Emory’s International Studies Center which spawned many of Emory’s area studies programs. From 1980 – 1983, Ken was the Executive Producer and Director of a semi-monthly Georgia Public Television Program, “World in Review.”  He was the first Director of the Carter Center of Emory University (1983-1996) and Middle East Fellow at the Center from 1983 to 2006 when he resigned in protest over the falsehoods in President Carter’s book.  He is the author of dozens of scholarly articles and six books including The Land Question in Palestine, 1917-1939 (1984), with Samuel W. Lewis, Making Peace Among Arabs and Israelis Lessons from Fifty Years of Negotiating Experience,(1991), Heroic Diplomacy Sadat Kissinger, Carter and Begin and the Quest for Arab-Israeli Peace  (1999) and History, Politics and Diplomacy of the Arab-Israeli Conflict  (2017)- a documentary collection of more than 500 entries.   He received his BA degree from Franklin and Marshall College (1968), his Masters Degrees and doctorate from the University of Michigan (1969, 1971 and 1976).

Todd Stein

Todd practices law in Atlanta. He served on the Staff of Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) from 2005-2011, as the Legislative Director/Chief Counsel while the Senator was a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and Chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security.  Todd also worked as Majority Counsel on the Senate Homeland Security Committee where he led the Committee’s investigation into domestic Islamist terrorism and advised the Chairman on all legal issues related to the Global War on Terror.  Todd was a frequent speaker at the Army War College and was a lecturer at Sam Nunn School of International Affairs at Georgia Tech where he taught The Politics of National Security. He was a Senior Fellow at the Center for Cyber & Homeland Security at George Washington, University.  Todd holds a BA from Emory University (1996), an MA from King’s College, University of London (1997), and a JD from Vanderbilt University (2000).

Professor Asher Susser

Asher Susser, PhD (Tel Aviv University, 1986), is a Professor Emeritus and retired Senior Research Fellow at the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies and former Director of the Center (1989-1995, 2001-2007).  Professor Susser teaches in the Department of Middle Eastern and African History at Tel Aviv University and in 2006 he received the Faculty of Humanities outstanding teacher's award. For forty years, Asher made major contributions to the field of modern Middle Eastern History, publishing scholarly articles, essays in collected volumes, websites and popular publications. Asher is a superb teacher with impeccable standards for academic excellence.  Among many publications his most noted are, The Emergence of the Modern Middle East, Tel Aviv (2017),  Israel, Jordan, & Palestine: The Two-State Imperative, Brandeis University Press, Waltham, Mass, (2011), The Rise of Hamas in Palestine and the Crisis of Secularism in the Arab World (2010), and  On Both Banks of the Jordan Political Biography of Jordan’s Prime Minister Wasfi al-Tall, (1994). Notably his The Emergence of the Modern Middle East, Coursera, 2017, an  on-line course has had over 95,000 students enrolled from more than 160 countries.

Mitchell Tanzman

Mitchell Tanzman is Co-Chief Executive Officer and Co-Chief Investment Officer of Central Park Group and has over 25 years of experience in alternative investments, including fund-of-funds portfolio management. Prior to co-founding Central Park Group, Mitchell served as Co-Head of UBS Financial Services Alternative Investment Group and was a member of the Firm's Operating Committee. Mitchell began his career at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan as an attorney specializing in investment companies and advisory services. Mitchell is a contributing author to the book "Hedge Funds", edited by Lederman and Klein. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of Emory University and Chair of Emory's Investment Committee. Mitchell and his wife Denise Berson Tanzman (‘81C) have endowed the Berson family lecture at Emory to focus on the connectivity between healthcare and business. Mitchell has been actively involved for over a decade with the New York Regional office of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) acting as Vice President, Treasurer, Co-Chair of Institutional Advancement and founding Chair of the Anti-BDC Task Force. Mitchell is a 1981 graduate of Emory University and earned a J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School in 1984.

Ambassador Judith Varnai Shorer, Consul General of Israel to the Southeast

Ambassador Judith Varnai Shorer is a nearly 40-year veteran of the Israeli diplomatic corps. She is a former ambassador to both Hungary and Bosnia-Herzegovina as well as a former minister of congressional affairs at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, DC. Prior to her posts in Europe, Ambassador Varnai Shorer served as first secretary and mission spokesperson for Israel’s Mission to the UN in New York. From 2007 to 2010, Ambassador Varnai Shorer served as projects director, Euroasia Division for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Her most recent post was desk director at the Center for Policy Research. Ambassador Varnai Shorer is a graduate of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the Hebrew University Graduate School of Communications. She was a Research Fellow at Johns Hopkins University, The SAIS Center for Strategic Studies, where she published a position paper titled “U.S.-Israel Relations vis-a-vis the Peace Talks.” Most recently, Ambassador Varnai Shorer completed a program regarding Global Issues of Mass Destructions Weapons at the Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies (NESA), National Defense University in Washington, DC. Ambassador Varnai Shorer has substantial experience in the U.S. and the Middle East. She speaks Hebrew, French, English and Hungarian and was born in Beer Sheva, Israel. Joining her in Atlanta is her husband, Oded and their daughter, Roni.


Dov Wilker

Dov Wilker has been Regional Director of AJC Atlanta since 2011. He previously served as AJC Atlanta’s assistant director, and in that position, was selected to participate in the first United States professional exchange in South Asia, visiting Sri Lanka in the summer of 2009. Active in the community, Dov sits on the board of the Faith Alliance of Metro Atlanta (FAMA), the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition’s Georgia Advisory Committee, the Advisory Council for the Atlanta Ballet, and the Legacy Committee at the Center for Civil and Human Rights. After earning his International M.B.A. from Tel Aviv University (2010), Dov worked for an Israeli software start-up. Dov began his career with the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Southeastern United States. Dov has been recognized as a “40 under 40” by both the Atlanta Business Chronicle and the Atlanta Jewish Times, and was honored with the Asian American Heritage Foundation’s Distinguished Community Service Award. Dov received his BBA from the University of Miami (2004) and is married to Julie Jacobson and together they have two daughters.