Blog  LTI Speakers and Teachers

LTI Speakers and Teachers

Keynote Speaker

Jan Schakowsky

Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky

Jan Schakowsky has been a lifelong consumer advocate and a champion for, what she sees as, the disappearing middle class. From her days as a young housewife who led the campaign to put expiration dates on food products to the 2008 passage of legislation she helped write making children’s products and toys safe, Jan has worked to make life better for working and middle class Americans. Jan grew up in the 9th District and returns home every weekend to meet with individual constituents, business leaders, and groups large and small. 

Jan lives in Evanston, Illinois, with her husband Robert Creamer and their golden retrievers, Franklin and Eleanor (Frankie and Ellie for short). She has three marvelous children, Ian, Mary and step-daughter Lauren, and six exceptional grandchildren – Isabel, Eve, Lucy, William, Aidan and Alice. She graduated from the University of Illinois in 1965 with a B.S. in Elementary Education.

Sam BerkmanSam Berkman

Sam Berkman, a NFTY Chicago alum, joined J Street in 2011 and is the Midwest Deputy Regional Director.  He previously lived in Washington, DC, and served as J Street’s Assistant Director of Government Affairs.

Red Lines and Green Lines: Mapping Israel in the US Today: Explore what “pro-Israel” really means and how to navigate the Israel conversation on campus and beyond.


Erez Cohen Erez Cohen

Erez Cohen is the Executive Director at the University of Illinois Hillel. He was born and raised in Tel Aviv, Israel and is a graduate of Tel Aviv University. Erez worked in the past as Illini Hillel’s Israel programs coordinator.

Find the Jew in U: Thinking of college? Come hear what resources are available to you as a Jewish student on campuses across America.


Rabbi ConoverRabbi Shoshanah Conover

Rabbi Conover is a rabbi at Temple Sholom of Chicago.  She is a fellow in the Shalom Hartman Institute’s Rabbinic Leadership Initiative and is a leader in the pioneering work of the Central Conference of American Reform Rabbis’ Rabbis Organizing Rabbis.  She serves on the Executive Committee of the Chicago Board of Rabbis as well as on the Union for Reform Judaism’s Commission on Social Action.

The Power of Story: Learn This Fine Art of Community Organizing to Repair the World: “A lost coin is found by means of a candle; the deepest truth is found by means of a simple story.” – Anthony De Mello Each of our lives is a profound story that has the power to inspire others around us to join with us in doing tikkun olam.  This session will start with a powerful story that underpins the practice of community organizing.  Then, we will learn how to tell a story from our own life to guide ourselves and others toward social change.


Rabbi RyanRabbi Ryan Daniels

Rabbi Ryan Daniels joined the clergy team at North Shore Congregation Israel (Glencoe, IL) in July 2015. Rabbi Daniels is from New York City, and was active in NFTY-NAR during high school and spent 15 summers at URJ Eisner Camp.

Leave Your Phone ON for T’filah: Talking to your friends, yoga and watching Netflix can all be part of the service! We’ll dissect a typical Shabbat prayer service, and with a better understanding of each individual prayer and the overall design of a traditional service, we’ll practice crafting meaningful worship for you to bring home to your youth group! Proficiency in Hebrew and Jewish liturgy is not required; only a desire for meaningful prayer experiences and the ability to step outside of the box and be creative is necessary to attend!


Brad EgelBradley Egel

Bradley is a long time educator, musician and song leader working with tots through teens, a former youth advisor, current youth chair on the Beth Tikvah congregation board of Directors, Young Family coordinator for Congregation Beth Judea, Tot Shabbat song leader for numerous congregations and a cancer charity, fundraising & family advocate for over ten years.  Bradley lives in Buffalo Grove with his wife Jody and their 3 children Sam, Hannah & Byron.

24 Hours in a Day…How to Maximize Each Minute (Time Management): Come take a look at how you are spending your daily time in a open and honest way.  How do you manage all of the important parts of your life? Learn techniques and online tools to help you turn chaotic energy into directed action!


Josh GibbsJosh Gibbs

Josh Gibbs works at Hillel at The University of Chicago and is completing his graduate studies at the Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership. A former teacher in Washington DC, Josh graduated from the University of Illinois where he studied History, Communication and Jewish Studies.

Meaningful Relationships and Network Building: Learn about yourself and each other as we build the framework to leave this meeting with concrete ideas on how to build the movement. Relationships are a major key.



Rabbi Richard Prass

Rabbi Prass has served Congregation Beth Am as the Rabbi Educator for 8 years.  He  also volunteers on faculty at OSRUI.  An alum of NFTY Northern, he currently volunteers as the NFTY-CAR Regional Rabbinic Advisor.

Make it Jewish, or Don’t Bring that Program to NFTY: Come debate why you should or shouldn’t build Judaism into everything you do.



Beth RodinBeth Rodin

Beth Rodin is the Managing Director for NFTY – The Reform Jewish Youth Movement. She has served on the NFTY team for 10 years including time as Regional Advisor for NFTY’s Chicago Area and Northern Regions, Program Director, and NFTY Board Advisor. During her time in NFTY, she has championed the development of our partnership and collaboration with fellow youth movements and led a number of interest-based trips to Israel.

Everything I Needed to Know about Getting a Job I Learned in NFTY: Whether applying for a job at a camp, an internship in a law office, or a barista position at a local coffee shop on campus, the process of creating a resume, interviewing, and then starting  a new job can be complicated.  This workshop will explore some of the most important do’s and don’t’s and will give you a chance to practice some of your interview skills.


Eric SchorEric Schor

Eric M. Schor, a former CFTY Regional Board member, is a founding partner of EMS Communications in Northbrook, IL. Since 1998, EMS has been on a mission to “rid the world of boring presentations, one speaker at a time!” They accomplish this by helping individuals and teams improve their leadership, presentation and communication skills. Their services include private executive coaching, customized corporate workshops and open-to-the-public presentation skills seminars.

Speaking with Confidence: As a youth group leader, you’re always presenting. Whether speaking to an audience or sitting in a meeting, you want to make sure your message is delivered with clarity and confidence. This session will teach you to look at public speaking from a new point of view–as an opportunity rather than as a challenge. Specific topics to be covered include: powerful techniques for improving your delivery, eliminating distracting tendencies, and communicating with confidence.


Beth SchuckBeth Schuck

After graduating from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Beth attended UIC where she got her masters in social work. She now works for Kaleidescope, an organization that helps support children and families in the foster care system. Beth is a proud NFTY-CAR alum.

Building Healthy Relationships: In this session, we will be discussing all the aspects of a healthy relationship, spotting red flags in personal relationships, and what you can do to help yourself and your friends who are experiencing these issues.


Jordan TaitelJordan Taitel

Jordan Taitel graduated Grinnell College with a Bachelors degree in Religious Studies and Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies in May of 2015. She now works as a Hebrew School teacher at BJBE and Am Shalom and as a religious school teacher at Beth Emet.

Beyond Tolerance: Embracing Inclusion of Gender and Sexuality Diversity in our Jewish Communities: In this workshop we will discuss the importance of enthusiastic inclusion of people with diverse genders and sexualities. We will move beyond understanding terminology and basic needs to discussing techniques for helping all people feel comfortable and welcome in a Jewish space.


Zak WainerZak Wainer

Zak Wainer is a US History and Political-Science teacher at the West Town Academy, an alternative high school on the West side of Chicago. In his spare time, he loves to do things like teach/advise Jewish Youth (OPTY), play with his dog Max, and contemplate existential questions such as: what is the meaning of life, how did we get here, and what’s for dinner?

Fostering Civic Engagement: Too often, we are told that we need to get involved and make the world a better place. Volunteer at a homeless shelter; clean up the neighborhood; tutor underprivileged kids. We know that we should do these things but here’s the real question: Why should we do those things? The answer… Civic Engagement!


Joe WinnerJoe Winner

Joe Winner is a Jewish educator and youth worker in the Chicago area. In his work with NFTY, Jewish Student Connection, Beth Emet, Etz Chaim, and Moishe House he works toward incorporating Judaism into peoples’ lives in a way that is accessible, engaging, and enjoyable. He also loves to talk about food, music, and books.

Why should I care? Programming for Inclusion: In this workshop, we will learn how to think about programming in a way that engages EVERY participant who chooses to be a part of it. Camp talk about about the importance of goal-setting and differentiated instruction and how using them can engage everyone!


Lisette ZaidLisette Zaid

Lisette Zaid is the Chicago Program Manager for UpStart.  UpStart partners with innovative organizations to help transform vision and passion into successful, scaleable Jewish social ventures.

Think Like An Entrepreneur: From Walt Disney to Steve Jobs, entrepreneurs have changed the world around us. Learn the mindsets and techniques entrepreneurs use when solving problems and starting businesses.