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Spertus Welcomes New Trustees

Spertus Welcomes New Trustees


Spertus Institute Welcomes New Trustees Shelley Stern Grach and Dr. Alicia Gejman

Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership is thrilled to welcome two accomplished local leaders to its Board of Trustees.

Shelley Stern Grach (left above) is the past Director of Civic Engagement for Microsoft Corporation, where she worked for nearly 16 years with local and national partners to strengthen metropolitan communities and contribute to local economic growth. Prior to Microsoft, Grach served in various senior-level roles at AT&T.

Grach has an impressive background of nonprofit board experience. Over the years, she has been a board member for Jewish, civic, and arts organizations including the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, Chicago Sinai Congregation, the Women’s Business Development Center, Skills for Chicagoland’s Future, the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, and Year Up Chicago. More recently, she has served on the boards of Forefront, Thrive Chicago, and the Illinois Science and Technology Coalition. She served on the Executive Committee of the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership and was a Governor-appointed Commissioner for the State of Illinois Workforce Innovation Board. In Michigan, where she currently lives in the town of New Buffalo, she is a founding member of the Oakland University Civic Engagement Advisory Council and has served on the board of the Acorn Center for the Performing Arts.

In addition to her new role as a Spertus Trustee, Grach is a Spertus student, studying for her Master of Arts in Jewish Studies. “Through Spertus Institute’s MAJS program, I am hoping to learn to have a stronger voice and help to heal just a little bit of the world by helping others, and myself, engage in meaningful dialogue,” she said. “There are two key issues in contemporary Jewish life that I would like help positively to impact: antisemitism, and increasing my understanding of Israel, its politics, religious variances, and how all that impacts the global stage. Through my role as a Trustee, I’m excited to take advantage of the tremendous resources at Spertus and to share my voice and commitment to resolving these challenges.”

A native of Detroit, Grach earned a double BA at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, and an MA in business from Central Michigan University. Grach lives with her husband Mark, a healthcare consultant. They are proud parents of a daughter, Stephanie, who is completing her Internal Medicine Residency at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

Dr. Alicia Gejman (right above) is the current Director of Family Education at North Suburban Beth El Synagogue in Highland Park, where she directs the Jack and Mildred Cohen Religious School, the Bernard H. Sokol Hebrew High School, and the Paul S. and Sylvia Steinberg Pre-School.

In her career as an educator, Dr. Gejman has held positions of Principal at West Suburban Temple Har Zion in River Forest, where she served for thirteen years, and as Director of Makor Or and the Special Needs Center of the Board of Jewish Education of Metropolitan Chicago.

Like Shelley Stern Grach, Gejman was introduced to Spertus as a student. As an alumna of Spertus Institute’s Doctor of Science in Jewish Studies degree program, she is passionate about the Institute’s work inspiring leaders and communities. “I was always inspired by the Spertus symbol ‘Yehi Or—Let there be light,’” she said of the Hebrew tagline in the Institute’s logo. “This motif expresses the deepest aspirations of Jews to contribute to the betterment of society through educational transformation. I look forward to volunteering my time and effort in helping advance Spertus' mission.”

Gejman is a native of Argentina and lived in Israel for many years. While in Israel, she obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Education Counseling from Bar-Ilan University and then a Master of Arts in Educational Psychology from The Hebrew University. She later completed an Educational Specialist Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from George Washington University.

Her Spertus doctoral dissertation was on Judeo-Spanish proverbs and how to teach them to elucidate a deeper understanding of the Sephardic worldview. Reflecting on her studies, Gejman said she feels more grounded in learning and more equipped to develop curriculum, ready to inspire lifelong learners.

With her husband, Dr. Pablo Gejman, a researcher/physician, she has raised two children. Ron, who will begin his medical residency at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston this June and Maya, who works as a nurse in Chicago.

Monday, August 10, 2020