Michael Ben-Avie, Ph.D. is an academic psychologist with postdoctoral work at the Yale Child Study Center. In 2005, he was accepted for inclusion in the U.S. federal government’s Registry of Outcome Evaluators. As Principal Investigator and Co-P.I., Dr. Ben-Avie has conducted numerous government-sponsored research studies, including outcome evaluations of grants from the U.S. Department of Health, U.S. Department of Education, and U.S. Department of Justice. Dr. Ben-Avie is a nationally-recognized expert on education as co-editor of six books on educational change and youth development. As an Associate Research Scientist at the Yale Child Study Center’s School Development Program, he conducted national, large-scale assessment activities over the course of 10 years and was the co-coordinator of the Yale SDP Symposium on Linking Brain Research and Child Development. Dr. Ben-Avie has conducted numerous research studies with colleagues in the Jewish community, and is currently the Chair of Tag Institute for Jewish Social Values Think Tank and Research Centre.
David Lehmann is Emeritus Reader in Social Science at the University of Cambridge where he taught for almost forty years in Development Studies, Latin American Studies and in the Department of Social Science. His main works are Democracy and development in Latin America: economics, politics and religion in the post war period (1990), Struggle for the Spirit: popular culture and religious transformation in Brazil and Latin America (1996) and (with Batia Siebzehner) Remaking Israeli Judaism (2006). Since 2007 he has also been working on evangelical religion and also on multiculturalism and affirmative action policies in Brazil, Mexico and Peru. His new research is on Judaism in the Pentecostal imaginary, based on a study of Brazilian Pentecostals. He has been a Visiting Professor at the Universities of Paris-IV, São Paulo, Brasilia and at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, and is currently Lady Davis Visiting Professor at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology of the Hebrew University.
Heather Rice coordinates the National Religious Campaign Against Torture's efforts to limit the use of solitary confinement in U.S. prisons and jails in her capacity as NRCAT's Director of U.S. Prisons Policy & Program. Heather has testified before state legislative committees and has been published in various publications, including the Washington Post, the Roanoke Times-Dispatch, the State Journal-Register, and the International Business Times. Heather holds a J.D. from George Mason University School of Law and graduated cum laude from Colorado State University where she majored in Social Work and Liberal Arts. Before joining NRCAT, Heather worked with international survivors of torture at the Rocky Mountain Survivors Center in Denver, Colorado and also spent a year teaching English to university students in Djibouti. During law school, Heather completed a law clinic with the Board of Immigration Appeals and also competed in the 2011 International Rounds of the Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition.
Shmuly Yanklowitz is the Founder and President of Uri L’Tzedek. In 2012, Newsweek rated Rav Shmuly one of the top 50 rabbis in America! Rav Shmuly is the author of "Jewish Ethics & Social Justice: A Guide for the 21st Century" now available on Amazon. He studied at the University of Texas as an undergraduate and Harvard University for a Masters in Leadership and Psychology, and he completed a second Masters degree in Jewish Philosophy at Yeshiva University. He is now a Doctoral candidate at Columbia University in Moral Development and Epistemology, and has taught as an instructor of moral philosophy at Barnard College and at the UCLA Law School. Shmuly was ordained as a Rabbi by Yeshivat Chovevei Torah (the YCT Rabbinical School) as a Wexner Graduate Fellow prior to which he studied Talmud and Jewish law at Yeshivat Hamivtar in Efrat, Israel for two years. Shmuly also received a second rabbinic ordination from Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, the Chief Rabbi of Efrat and a third rabbinic ordination from Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo of Jerusalem.
As a global social justice activist and educator, Shmuly has volunteered, taught, and staffed missions in five continents including Israel, Ghana, India, France, Thailand, El Salvador, Britain, Senegal, Germany, Switzerland, Ukraine, Argentina, South Africa, and Haiti. Shmuly served at the World Economic Forum in Geneva and Davos, Switzerland as the rabbinic representative, a facilitator, and motivational speaker. Shmuly served as the Director of Jewish Life & Senior Jewish Educator at the UCLA Hillel, was on faculty at Shalhevet High School, served on the Executive Committee of the Board of Rabbis of Southern California, and is a member of the International Rabbinic Fellowship. For three years, Shmuly taught philosophy twice a week at an inner-city school in Harlem and served on the New York Department of Health’s Office of Minority Health Clergy Steering Committee. Shmuly worked in business consulting for a major top 10 firm, has lectured and consulted across the world, has served in five different congregations in Montreal, Connecticut, Boston, Florida, and Los Angeles and has taught as a scholar-in-residence for dozens of synagogues and organizations. He served on the International Board of Hillel for two years and was the Director of Panim’s Leadership and Activism training (JAM) in Washington D.C.
A film crew followed Shmuly for over a year to produce a PBS documentary (“The Calling”) about the training of religious leadership which aired nationwide in December 2010. In 2008, the Jewish Week recognized Shmuly as one of “36 under 36” (one of 36 of the most influential Jewish leaders under the age of 36). In 2009, the UJC named Shmuly one of five “Jewish Community Heroes.” Shmuly has been invited to the White House Chanukah party to celebrate with the President and First Lady. Shmuly and his wife, Shoshana, live in Overland Park where he serves as the Senior Rabbi of an over 500-family congregation (Kehilath Israel).