Educators

Tami Weiser

Jen Shankman

Early Childhood Center Director

Bio

310.889.2298
JShankman@Wise-School.org
www.facebook.com/WiseSchoolLA

Ashley Marx

Director of Education: Religious School and Camp Wise

Bio

310.889.2294
AMarx@WiseLA.org
www.facebook.com/WiseSchoolLA

Temple Administration

Sharon Spira-Cushnir

Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer

Bio

310.889.2390
SSpira@WiseLA.org
www.Facebook.com/WiseLA

Jackie DeFede

Director of Facilities and Safety

Bio

310.889.2250
JDefede@WiseLA.org
www.Facebook.com/WiseLA

Marc Entous

Senior Director of Technology and Facilities

Bio

310.889.2320
MEntous@WiseLA.org
www.Facebook.com/WiseLA

Jeremy Goldstein

Director of Communications

Bio

310.889.2242
JGoldstein@WiseLa.org
www.Facebook.com/WiseLA

Lucy Harel

Director of Membership

Bio

310.889.2242
LHarel@WiseLA.org
www.Facebook.com/WiseLA

Jessica Lebovits

Director of Development

Bio

310.889.2276
JLebovits@WiseLA.org
www.Facebook.com

Stacey Rosenthal

Director of Special Events

Bio

310.889.2247
SRosenthal@WiseLA.org
www.Facebook.com/WiseLA

Kevin Schaffels

Director of Finance/CFO

Bio

310.889.2238
KSchaffels@wisela.org
www.Facebook.com/WiseLA

Jennifer Smith

Director of Programming

Bio

310.889.2265
JSmith@WiseLA.org
www.Facebook.com/WiseLA

Educators

Tami Weiser, Head of School

Rabbi-Yoshi-ZweibackAs Head of School of the Elementary School, Tami Weiser has a rich background of educational experiences. Prior to joining Wise Elementary, she held the position of Head of School at Heschel West Day School, and prior to that, she was Principal of Palisades Elementary Charter School. Mrs. Weiser worked in the Los Angeles Unified School District for twenty-two years, serving as Principal, Assistant Principal, Magnet Coordinator for a highly gifted magnet, Annenberg Grant Coordinator, and classroom teacher. She was selected to be an Education Leadership Fellow, where she had the opportunity to fully understand educational policy at the local Los Angeles level, the state level in Sacramento, and the national level culminating with key meeting in Washington, D.C. She is a member of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, as well as the Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education. Mrs. Weiser enjoys reading their professional growth literature and attending their national conferences.

Mrs. Weiser is passionate about looking at the educational process through many lenses. Using a microscope, she enjoys working with teachers and students as she focuses on specific classroom lessons and individual student achievement. With a telescope, Tami takes on the challenge of looking at our school for long-term vision and growth. There is a special pleasure in viewing Stephen Wise Temple Elementary School through a kaleidoscope, as she turns each rotation to see the ever evolving, and colorful community of students, teachers, administrators and parents. Mrs. Weiser lives by the philosophy that, “Excellence is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction, skillful execution and the vision to see obstacles as opportunities.” She is looking forward to merging her personal philosophy with the exceptional culture at Stephen Wise Temple Elementary School.

Mrs. Weiser holds a B.A. in Psychology, and a Master’s in Elementary Education from the University of California, Los Angeles, as well as a Master’s in Educational Administration from California State University, Northridge. She is married to her husband, Robert, and has two children, Michelle and Jordan. In her free time, Tami enjoys traveling, exercise, reading, and spending time with family and friends.

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Jen Shankman, Early Childhood Center Director

Jen Shankman has worked in a wide range of educational settings within the Jewish community for well over 20 years, from early childhood to youth development, music education to camping. She has had rich experiences as both an educator and as an administrator of some incredibly diverse programs. Jen comes to Wise School after having served as an Associate Director at Wilshire Boulevard Temple Early Childhood Centers for the last two years. Prior to that, Jen was the Associate Director of Wilshire Boulevard Temple Camps, Camp Hess Kramer and Gindling Hilltop Camp, for five years. During her time with the camps and schools, Jen also taught parenting center classes and music. Jen is skilled as a mentor and supervisor, and understands the importance of leading a community through the building of a shared vision.

Jen has 18 years of experience in the field of early childhood education. Prior to her work at Wilshire Boulevard Temple, Jen worked at the JCC in Manhattan. There she served as a Leadership Team Teacher, providing curriculum support as well as mentorship in the areas of dialogue with EC families and colleagues for new teachers. She taught music and Jewish Life there as well, facilitated workshops for parents, and during the summers she helped to build and direct the JCC’s day camp @ Pearl River, a day camp focused on providing younger children with the same magical connection one might find in an overnight program. Prior to her work at the JCC, Jen spent years developing cutting edge music programs for Jewish early childhood programs in Westchester County and Manhattan, and building wonderful classroom communities.

Jen has a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology from Hamilton College in Clinton, NY, and a Master’s Degree in Music Education (N-12) with a focus in Early Childhood Education from Teacher’s College at Columbia University. Jen’s research and fieldwork there focused on the development of religious identity through communal musical experiences from birth to five. She completed her Administrative Early Childhood Education courses at UCLA. Jen lives in Westwood with her husband, Tevin Adelman and their five year- old son.

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Ashley Marx, MAJE – Director of Education: Religious School and Camp Wise

Ashley’s work at Stephen Wise Temple is fueled by her passion for creating community and fostering Jewish identity. Ashley has worked in a broad range of educational settings in the Jewish community, including Religious Schools, youth programs, day and overnight camp, and early childhood.  Ashley came to Wise after graduating from Hebrew Union College, where she received a Masters in Jewish Education and a Graduate Certificate in Jewish Nonprofit Management. She also received a master’s concentration in Israel Education from the iCenter for Israel Education. Raised in Seattle, Ashley received her BA from the University of Washington in Early Childhood and Family Studies, where she graduated with honors. Ashley has previously worked as the Youth Advisor at Temple B’nai Torah in Bellevue, Washington and while at Hebrew Union College interned with Temple Isaiah, supervising their madrichim program and worked with NFTY-SOCAL. When not sharing her love of learning with our Wise families, you can find Ashley running or enjoying the LA sunshine.

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Temple Administration

Sharon Spira-Cushnir, Executive Director/Chief Operating Officer

Sharon Spira-Cushnir

Sharon brings to her role over two decades of service to Los Angeles-area nonprofits, including having overseen programs as Chief Operating Officer of two premiere social service agencies, St. Anne’s and Chrysalis. She also served as President & Chief Executive Officer of the nonprofit capacity-builder Executive Service Corps, leading a cadre of more than 100 volunteer executives in providing transformational consulting services to over 150 nonprofits annually. Previously Sharon held leadership roles at Phoenix Houses of California and the consulting firm Pallotta TeamWorks, after beginning her career with positions at the L.A. County Department of Health Services and the United Jewish Appeal (now Jewish Federations of North America).

Sharon has also served on the boards of directors and advisory councils of several local, statewide, and national nonprofit organizations, both secular and in the Jewish community. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree at Cornell University, including a semester at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and her Master of Public Policy from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, where she included a focus on nonprofit management. Sharon’s husband Andrew is Chief Development Officer at the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, and together they are the proud parents of teenagers Freddy and Liza.

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Jackie DeFede, Director of Facilities and Safety

Jackie DeFede

Jackie Defede was the Facilities Director for the Los Angeles LGBT Center, overseeing 9 locations, 650+ employees, and a clinic exceeding 42,000 patient visits per month. She chaired the Disaster Preparedness Peer Network for the California Primary Care Association, and Co-chaired the Disaster Preparedness Work Group for the Community Clinic Association of Los Angeles County. Prior to moving to California from New York, Jackie was the Director of Operations for a family of companies providing disaster restoration, construction, maintenance, and consulting services. She also worked as an Environmental Services Director, traveling the country for an international company providing management services to hospitals.

She has authored children’s stories, traveled extensively, sailed and spent time scuba diving many places around the world, and lives with her long time partner and fiancee in their North Hollywood bungalow.

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Marc Entous, Senior Director of Technology and Facilities

Marc Entous

Marc Entous is a proud alumnus of Stephen Wise Temple Early Childhood Center, Elementary School, Middle School and Nosaya summer camp. Additionally, Marc helped organize and teach our children’s Morning Minyan program for nine years. His parents have been members of Stephen Wise Temple since 1965. In June 2003, he graduated from the University of Southern California with a Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture.

Marc began working as a Database Consultant for the Activities and Youth offices, and, in August 2001, became the Database Manager for Stephen Wise Temple and Schools. As of July 1, 2015, Marc took on the role as our Director of Information Technology.

Marc became a Bar Mitzvah and was married, both by Rabbi Eli Herscher and Cantor Nathan Lam. Marc lives in Encino with his wife Tonia and three boys, Jonah, Jayden, and Jordan who attend Wise School.

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Lucy Harel, Director of Membership

Lucy HarelLucy joined Stephen Wise Temple in 2016 and brings warmth and compassion to her role as Director of Membership. She loves working with people and strives to build and connect the community. Lucy has worked in membership, marketing, and events roles throughout her career in non-profits, education, finance and healthcare in Los Angeles, Sydney, Boston and New York. Lucy studied Economics and Marketing at the University of Sydney and Cornell University. She is Australian and is married to an Israeli-American (and Wise alumni). They have three kids and live in Tarzana.

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Jessica Lebovits, Director of Development

Jessica LebovitsJessica Lebovits was born and raised in Los Angeles. She earned a B.A. in Religious Studies with a minor in Jewish Studies at UCSB in 2006. She then moved to Aspen, Colorado where she was a Ski Instructor for several years.

After returning to Los Angeles, Jessica began her studies at Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion where she earned Masters in Jewish Education as well as Jewish Nonprofit Management in 2012. She also received a Master’s concentration in Israel Studies from the iCenter. While at HUC, Jessica interned in the International Relations Department at American Jewish Committee and served as the interim Director of the Religious School at Temple Emanuel, her childhood school and congregation. When she completed her studies she became the Area Director of Israel Advocacy and Education and then a Campaign Executive, focusing on development, at Jewish National Fund.

Jessica is still an avid skier and loves all activities that take her outdoors, including running, hiking, swimming, and biking to name a few.

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Stacey Rosenthal, Director of Special Events

Stacey RosenthalStacey was born and raised in Los Angeles, growing up in Chatsworth. She attended Mommy and Me at Stephen Wise Temple as a baby, and then moved on to Temple Ahavat Shalom in Northridge through confirmation.

After graduating from Chatsworth High School, she attended the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where she graduated with a B.A. in Sociology and Business. Before joining Stephen Wise in 2010, Stacey’s professional career began in development at Beit T’Shuvah. Later, she moved on to pursue her career in event planning for The New Philanthropy Group and Your Great Event.

At Stephen Wise, Stacey combined these two passions — working initially as the Development Events Manager. Today, she serves as the Director of Special Events, where her primary goal is to welcome and guide those who wish to host their events at the Temple through the entire process — from choosing a caterer to assisting with vendors and everything in between. Stacey also continues to work in Development, working closely with volunteers and lay leaders on various events and fundraising throughout the year.

Stacey lives in Studio City with her husband, Steve.

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Kevin Schaffels, Director of Finance/CFO

Kevin Schaffels

Kevin Schaffels is a deeply experienced senior financial leader of area nonprofits. Before joining Stephen Wise Temple’s administration he was Chief Financial Officer of AbilityFirst, and he has also served in similar positions at Tierra del Sol, California Lutheran University, and the San Fernando Valley Girl Scout Council. Prior to joining the nonprofit sector professionally, Kevin held senior accounting positions at Disney and Deloitte & Touche.

Kevin has earned both an MBA and CPA. He is also active as a volunteer in the Boy Scouts, Our Lady of Grace parish in Encino, and youth baseball.

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Jennifer Smith, Director of Programming

Jennifer Smith

Jennifer (Bernstein) Smith was born and raised in Los Angeles and has been a member of Stephen Wise Temple all her life – being named here as a baby, attending preschool and Elementary School, becoming a Bat Mitzvah, and attending confirmation classes (as it was called back then).

In 2008, Jennifer returned to Stephen Wise Temple, but this time, in a professional capacity. During her years at Wise, she has served as B’nai Mitzvah Coordinator, Social Justice Coordinator, Membership Director, and helped to launch our Wise Readers to Leaders program back in 2012. Jennifer currently serves as the Director of Programming, helping to manage Temple & School events including High Holy Days, other Holiday programs, and much more, including a continued partnership with Rabbi Ron Stern to plan, execute, and manage the Temple’s Social Justice and Social Action programs. Additionally, Jennifer assists Wise School with their hesed projects and works closely with the WPA Tikkun Olam Committee throughout the year in planning Mitzvah Day and other school-related community service. Jennifer aims to work closely with the Temple Clergy, Administration, and lay leaders throughout the year to deepen the sense of community and spiritual home that is Stephen Wise Temple.

Jennifer received her Bachelor`s degree from the University of Colorado in Business Management in 2003 and currently lives in Agoura Hills. She is a proud mother to daughters, Avery and Harper, and son, Gavin (who also attend Wise School).

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