Our Team


Maccabee Avishur

Director of Leadership and Placement — avishur@yu.edu

There is no work holier than Jewish education, and I consider it a privilege to work with schools to help them bring out the best in our children.

Maccabee heads the Leadership and Placement team and serves as a leadership, placement, and educational consultant to schools in the US and abroad. A cornerstone of Maccabee’s work is providing a bridge between school leadership and instruction.

Prior to joining YUSP in 2012,  Maccabee
served as a teacher and senior school leader in California, Texas, and Michigan.

Jane Taubenfeld Cohen

Executive Director — jcohen11@yu.edu

Jane leads the YU School Partnership and is a sought after leadership coach and consultant. Her ability to build consensus and positive culture helps schools develop towards their vision.  

My work with school leaders inspires me to learn more, envision more, and connect more to be better able to support these incredible men and women who have dedicated their life’s work to Jewish education.

Prior to joining YUSP, Jane was the Head of School at the South Area Solomon Schechter Day School for 22 years, where she was one of the founders. In addition, Jane has been a mentor for eight years at the Day School Leadership Training Institute (DSLTI). Jane received the Covenant Award in 2006 and she is the recipient of the S’fatei Tiftach award from Hebrew College for her advocacy of specials needs students within the day school movement.

Melanie Eisen

Associate Director for Professional Development — melanie.eisen@yu.edu

Our teachers deserve the best training and support, so I walk into every classroom with one intention: to support the teacher in his or her growth as a professional.

Melanie partners with school teachers and leaders to plan and implement professional development programming that is dynamic, motivating, relevant, and honors the experience of our teachers.

Melanie began her teaching career over 20 years ago as a classroom teacher in a Jewish day school in Northern VA. While teaching, Melanie was always on the lookout for meaningful PD and quickly began to provide it to others, both in her school and beyond.

Odelia Epstein

Assistant Director — odelia.epstein@yu.edu

I believe Jewish education is the most important factor in Jewish continuity and I am proud to support Jewish day schools in achieving their missions.

Odelia is one of the key players behind the planning and facilitating of YUSP’s business development logistics and helps manage all aspects of YUSP development.

Odelia has over five years of experience working in the Jewish non-profit sector.  As the benchmarking project manager for YUSP's Benchmarking and Financial Reengineering Project, Odelia managed the budget and reported to funders.  Prior to joining YUSP, Odelia worked on the Benchmarking Project for the JCC and on seminars for the JCC's Jewish educators and camp directors.

Shira Heller

Assistant Director for Professional Development — seheller@yu.edu

Teachers deserve the best education and support so that they can offer the same to our children.

Shira designs learning opportunities for Jewish day school teachers, connecting them to valuable resources and to each other. Shira collaborates with the YUSP team to maximize the impact of all of our professional development programming and plays a key role on our leadership placement team.

Shira has devoted the last 15 years to working in diverse educational settings, having served as a classroom teacher, a campus Jewish educator at Boston University, and an adult educator at the Manhattan Jewish Experience.

Shira Loewenstein

Associate Director for Teaching and Learning — sloewens@yu.edu

I believe in every person’s capacity to learn throughout their lives. New teachers and veteran teachers have a lot to learn and as we advance in our careers, we can always improve upon our craft.

Since joining YUSP in 2009, Shira has helped many schools support their incoming staff by working with school leaders and veteran teachers towards creating a smooth transition for new teachers through the Teacher Induction Investment Program (TIIP). In addition, Shira works with schools on many professional development opportunities that include: classroom community, culture and routines, and knowing our students as learners. Shira also leads YUSP's Assessment program which works to ensure that schools are meeting the necessary benchmarks needed to provide an exemplary Jewish education.

Prior to joining YUSP, Shira served as a field supervisor, mentor, and instructor for the Delet Program at both Brandeis University as well as at Hebrew Union College. Additionally, Shira taught the lower school and middle school at the South Area Solomon Schechter in Norwood, Massachusetts. Shira still teaches part-time at the Striar Hebrew Academy in Sharon, MA and is completing her coursework towards a PhD in Jewish Education and Administration at Yeshiva University's Azrieli Graduate School .

James Moché

Director of Finance and Governance — jmoche@yu.edu

James has over 25 years experience as a strategy and financial adviser to Fortune 500 corporations, nonprofits, and schools. Since joining YUSP in 2010, James co-led a three-year intensive Jewish day school sustainability initiative, enabling 38 schools in five communities to generate millions of dollars in long-term budgetary relief. Earlier, James was a Strategic Risk Consulting manager at PricewaterhouseCoopers, developing programs to help large corporations implement strategy while avoiding operational and reputational breakdowns. He graduated Columbia College with a BA in Economics and NYU’s Stern School of Business with an MBA in Finance and Accounting. 


Associate Executive Director — rabhan@yu.edu

I am a passionate child advocate and believe that getting the right people into the best places makes a difference in the lives of children and in the success of schools. I have found that leveraging the leadership and teacher placement process is one of the most effective approaches toward improving school culture and the overall growth of a school.

Working for more than six years as a YUSP consultant, Dina is excited about her new role as Associate Executive Director. Her responsibilities include: leading YUSP’s strategy and business development, product development, conferences and strategic partnerships, and fundraising and development initiatives. 

Dina graduated Stern College with a degree in Jewish Studies, Rutgers University with an LMSW, and has completed her coursework and is currently writing her dissertation for her doctorate in education at the Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration.

Prior to joining the YUSP team, Dina was a teacher and social worker and worked in schools as a private mental health counselor, as well as an educational consultant. Dina has been actively and joyfully serving the Jewish community as a Rebbetzin for more than 20 years. Dina resides in Hashmonaim, Israel and is most proud of being the mother of seven lively daughters ranging in ages from 20 - 4 years old.

Shoshi Ross

Methodologist — soross@yu.edu

I am motivated by our ability to make a difference and to be able to demonstrate how we make a difference to the field.

Shoshi is a published researcher and statistical analyst who has broad experience in the education field.  Shoshi ensures that all of our projects and programs have embedded research and evaluation components. She looks at our work with a data-oriented lens, so that we can be a learning organization internally, and share that learning with the field to further develop Jewish education.  

eliana sohn

Project Coordinator — eliana.sohn@yu.edu

The most rewarding part of my job is working with people who put their all into giving Jewish children every opportunity to explore and own their unique place amongst the Jewish people.

Eliana coordinates YUSP’s leadership development programs, YU Lead and YU Lead HOS, which grants growth-oriented leaders access to the field’s most advanced resources, tools, and experts. Eliana also supports YUSP's placement services that include: the Jewish Job Fair, teacher placement, and JEDJobs.com - the only job board exclusively for careers in Jewish education.

Before joining YUSP, Eliana taught at Jewish day schools in New Jersey and Upstate New York, and also worked in the world of recruitment, copywriting, and public relations at the Orthodox Union and Mount Sinai Hospital. Always eager to meet and learn from other people, Eliana served for three years as an event coordinator and advisor for Yachad/National Jewish Council for Disabilities and NCSY. She earned her BA in English Literature at the City University of New York – Queens College, and is currently working toward her MS in Jewish Education at the Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration.

donna von samek

Head of Branding, Content, and Promotional Strategy — donna.vonsamek@yu.edu

The world of Jewish education is teeming with success stories, innovative ideas, and impactful projects. My favorite part of my job is shining a spotlight on the awesome things that are happening in Jewish day schools.

You may not know Donna personally, but if you ever opened a YUSP e-blast, clicked through the YUSP website, saw a YUSP post on Twitter or Facebook, flipped through a YUSP brochure, received a YUSP holiday card, or looked at a YUSP sign at one of our conferences, then you are familiar with her work. Each day, Donna sets out to find new ways to engage school leaders, lay leaders, teachers, and communities in our work.  She starts off each project by asking: "Wouldn’t it be great if….?" and then tries to find a way to make it happen. 

Before joining YUSP in 2012, Donna spent a decade honing her marketing and communications expertise in the areas of broadcasting, entertainment, and retail. She brings an extensive background in copywriting, design, customer relationship management, print, and branding development to her work.


Assistant Director of Operations — szamir@yu.edu

My belief in YUSP’s mission is what shapes my commitment to helping YUSP meet its goals in the most efficient way possible.

Shira oversees all operations, logistics, human resources, budget, and finance for YUSP. As a member of the senior leadership team, she is involved in crafting short-and long-term organizational strategy and maintaining a positive corporate culture.

Shira has several years’ experience as a program manager in the Jewish non-profit sector.