Dr. Adi Nir-Sagi

Director, Mandel Center for Leadership in the Negev

Dr. Adi Nir-Sagi is a senior psychologist with expertise in public administration. She holds a doctorate in education from the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, a master's degree in educational psychology from the Hebrew University and an additional master's in public administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, where she was a Wexner fellow. Her areas of expertise include leading system-wide psychological processes, leading changes in systems, development of professional identity and culture, and individual and group leadership training. Adi directed the Mandel School for Educational Leadership from 2008-2012. She was previously the chief psychologist of the Ministry of Education.

Dr. Rotem Bresler-Gonen

Faculty Member, Director of the Mandel Program for Senior Executive Leadership in the Negev

Dr. Rotem Bresler-Gonen is a Beer Sheva native and currently lives in the Negev. She is a researcher and lecturer in public policy and administration at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. She completed her doctoral studies in 2005 at the London School of Economic and Political Science, researching political appointments in local government. Her research focuses on issues of administration and politics in local government, the connection between local and central government, and the challenges of local democracy. Bresler-Gonen directs a program to train heads of local authorities at the Hebrew University’s Federmann School of Public Policy and Government in collaboration with the Ministry of Interior. For over a decade, she has served as an adviser to the Ministry of Interior and other ministries, as well as a consultant to local authorities on a variety of issues.

Dr. Hagit Damri

Faculty Member, Director of the Mandel Program for Cultural Leadership in the Negev

​Hagit Damri holds a PhD in sociology and anthropology from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, where she lectures in the gender studies program. Her research deals with the relationship between cultural-political negotiations and the body. Hagit served as the executive director of Hagar: Jewish-Arab Education for Equality, and led the development and establishment of a bi-lingual Jewish-Arab educational system in Beer Sheva. She initiated and oversaw the production of Israel's first anthology of children's stories in Hebrew and Arabic, which was published in two volumes: Sweet Tea with Mint and Other Stories, and I Am from There and Other Stories. She is involved in artistic projects as a conceptual consultant and as a writer of texts for exhibitions.

Israel Sorek

Faculty Member, Director of the Mandel Program for Regional Leadership in Dimona and Arad and the Mandel Program for Medical Leadership for the Negev

Israel Sorek is a graduate of cohort 2 of the Mandel School for Educational Leadership. He is the founder and director of Be’Machshava Techila (Think Ahead) – an institute for applied philosophy. Sorek taught philosophy and educational philosophy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he also trained teachers of philosophy. He founded and edited the journal A-Formally, a platform for social, educational and leadership issues, and was coordinator of the Human Dignity forum at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute. Sorek was a faculty member and dean of fellows at the Mandel School for Educational Leadership and co-directed the Mandel Leadership Institute’s IDF Educational Leadership Development Program in its first two years. Sorek's work includes, among others, the training of group instructors, incorporating theater and philosophy in their training. His published work (in Hebrew) includes "Values," which appeared in Crossroads, 1997, and "Philosophy as a Practical Science," published in Educational Deliberations, 2005.


Dr. Einav Aizikovitsh-Udi

Faculty Member

Dr. Einav Aizikovitsh-Udi is a researcher, educator, and social activist. She holds a doctorate in mathematics education from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (2011), and completed her post-doctoral research at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education. She is also a graduate of programs of the ICEF Education Fund and the MOFET Institute, and is an expert in leading knowledge communities and communities of practice. Einav’s research focuses on mathematics teaching and on the impact of multidisciplinary approaches on the professional development of teaching staff in education in general and in mathematics education in particular. In addition to her position at the Mandel Foundation–Israel, for the last decade Einav has been working at the Davidson Institute of Science Education at the Weizmann Institute of Science, where she focuses on the development of teaching staff and on the integration of technology into mathematics education. Her responsibilities include developing models, tools, and courses for hybrid education and distance learning; raising awareness about the importance of gender equality in mathematics education; facilitating teacher communities; creating courses and methodologies for the professional development of teachers; and running conferences. Einav volunteers for Nitzotzot, a nonprofit that develops professional motivation and potential among youth, where she focuses on raising awareness about gender equality via mathematics teaching. She also participated in the Hashkafa initiative for teacher leadership, as a researcher and facilitator at Ben-Gurion University's laboratory for the study of pedagogy. Einav's work in facilitating teacher communities at schools throughout the Negev has introduced her to the challenges facing various populations in the region and to their inherent potential. This experience has given her the desire to be a part of leading change and leadership development in the Negev.

Dr. Kassim Alsraiha

Faculty Member

Dr. Kassim Alsraiha is a researcher and lecturer who holds a doctorate from the department of Middle East Studies at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern studies at the University of Cambridge. Kassim’s research is located at the interface between Islamic studies, contemporary intellectual history and politics of the Middle East. His work engages contemporary issues of citizenship, democratization and reformism in the Arab world, with a particular focus on the Gulf States. He is also interested in the legal history and Arab minority in the Negev. Kassim has published widely on the topics of religion and state, minorities, citizenship, and leadership. He is one of the founders of AHD – The Association for Academic Arabs for the Development of Arab Society in the Negev, and of the AHD High School Science in Arab-Bedouin society in the Negev.

Professor Smadar Ben-Asher

Faculty Member

Professor Smadar Ben-Asher is an expert educational psychologist and a researcher of the social representation of minority groups who, within the public discourse, are fighting for their place in Israeli society. Her doctoral dissertation dealt with the internal dialogue of a minority group (the kibbutz society) that maintained functional patterns intended to preserve the group through conflict. Additional research dealt with the parents of Navy commando soldiers who fought their sons' battle against the health threat caused by diving in the polluted Kishon river; with the coping methods of settlers evicted from their homes in the Gaza Strip before and after implementation of the Disengagement Plan; with the group of Bedouin consultants who are required to blaze their professional trail in a traditional society; and with the liberal and republican streams in Israeli society and their attitudes toward the role of IDF widows in the preservation of national myths. Ben-Asher was the director of the educational psychological services in two local authorities and was the regional psychologist in the South at the time of the disengagement from Gaza. She is an adjunct lecturer in the educational psychology and counseling track at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and heads the MEd program in educational counseling at the Achva Academic College.

Dr. Ruth Calderon

Faculty Member

Dr. Ruth Calderon is an educator and Talmud scholar working to promote Hebrew, Israeli, and Jewish culture, to cultivate the study of Torah in the secular world, and to create a liberal, humanistic public space that is rich in culture. She served in the 19th Knesset as a Member of Knesset for the Yesh Atid party and as Deputy Speaker of the Knesset. Ruth founded Beit Midrash Elul in Jerusalem and Alma – Home for Hebrew Culture in Tel Aviv. She also served as the head of the culture and education department of the National Library of Israel. In recognition of her work, Ruth was awarded the AVI CHAI Prize for Jewish Education, the Samuel Rothberg Prize for Jewish Education, and honorary doctorates from Brandeis University, the Jewish Theological Seminary, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, and Hebrew College in Boston. Ruth is the author of A Bride for One Night: Talmud Tales and A Talmudic Alpha Beta, which present personal readings of Talmudic stories. Her children's books, The Princess and the Rock and A Rainy Day Story, present adaptations of Talmudic and Chassidic stories for children. Ruth holds a master's degree and doctorate in Talmud from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She is a graduate of Cohort 1 of the Mandel School for Educational Leadership.

Dr. Gili Zivan

Faculty Member

​Dr. Gili (Mivtzari) Zivan has been involved in teaching Bible, Talmud, Midrash and Jewish thought for many years. She served as the director of the Yaacov Herzog Center for Jewish Studies from 2001–2008, during which time she co-founded the Tzahali Academy, a pre-military preparatory program for religious women, and the Ofek program for Jewish identity for Russian-speaking students. Gili currently lectures, facilitates workshops and conducts Beit Midrash programs for the Herzog Center and in other settings throughout Israel. She has published numerous articles on faith in an age of doubt; religion and pluralism; faith and bereavement; religious Zionism, and more. Gili’s book Religion without Illusion, an adaptation of her doctoral dissertation, was published in 2005. She is a social activist in the field of Jewish-Arab coexistence and an advocate for the inclusion of women in Jewish lifecycle events, Torah study, and leadership. A former member of the Board of Kolech – the Religious Women's Forum, Gili has published a variety of articles on Judaism and gender. As part of her work as a faculty member of the Mandel School for Educational Leadership, she teaches and tutors fellows.


Dr. Muhammad Al-Nabari


Dr. Muhammad Al-Nabari, a visiting faculty member at the Mandel Center for Leadership in the Negev, is a social entrepreneur and public figure with extensive experience in leading social change in local government and civil society. From 2004 to 2018, he served as head of Hura Local Council. Throughout his tenure, he was committed to improving the quality of life in Bedouin Arab society in the Negev in innovative and groundbreaking ways, promoting women’s employment, scientific and technological education, building infrastructure, and more. For his achievements as mayor of Hura, he was named a Knight of Quality Government by the Movement for Quality Government in Israel. Muhammad also founded and served as chairman of Wadi Attir, a desert agriculture initiative that also includes environmental, technological, community, and economic elements. This initiative implements the principles of the Global Sustainability Laboratory and leverages the knowledge, values, and aspirations of traditional Bedouin society by harnessing advanced modern technologies and scientific knowledge. As a visiting faculty member at the Mandel Center, Muhammad is an important source of expertise and inspiration on meaningful and sustainable acts of leadership, ways of leading grassroots change, public administration, and leadership challenges in Bedouin Arab society in the Negev. Alongside his work at Mandel, Muhammad is also the founding chairman of Yanabia, a nonprofit promoting social business entrepreneurship that works with government ministries, local authorities, civil society organizations, and businesses to advance Bedouin Arab society in the Negev and transform it into an engine of growth for the region. He is also chairman of the board of Desert Stars, a non-profit organization dedicated to developing trailblazing young Bedouin leadership, and is a member of the board of Achva Academic College and of the board of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

Professor Avi Kaplan

Visiting Faculty Member

Professor Avi Kaplan is Professor of Educational Psychology at Temple University, Philadelphia, USA. Previously, Avi was a faculty member in the Department of Education at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, where he was Chair of School Counseling. Avi's research focuses on motivation and identity, environmental effects on motivation and identity formation, and interventions that promote people's active and informed role in their own identity formation and motivation. Avi is a Fellow of the Association of Psychological Science and the American Psychological Association, was the Vice President of the Division of Educational Psychology (Division 15) of the American Psychological Association, and is the former editor of The Journal of Experimental Education.

Dr. Hadas Kedar

Visiting Faculty Member

Dr. Hadas Kedar is a cultural entrepreneur and researcher in the field of curatorship. She holds bachelor's and master's degrees in fine arts from the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem and from the University of Middlesex in London, and is currently a doctoral candidate at the Research Platform for Curatorial and Cross-disciplinary Cultural Studies, a joint program of the department of art at the University of Reading (UK) and the postgraduate program in curating at the Zurich University of the Arts in Switzerland. Kedar's research explores local art in areas that are remote from dominant cultural centers, and focuses on the Negev and on collaborative and place-specific cultural activities in the desert. After being awarded the Israeli Ministry of Culture’s “Artist of the Community” scholarship, she returned to Arad, the city where she was raised, and established the “Arad Art and Architecture” residency program and “Arad Contemporary Art Center,” in cooperation with the municipality. Kedar has participated in and curated exhibitions in Israel and abroad. These include “Summer Harvest” (Israel Museum, Jerusalem), “Rulers” (Camden Arts Centre, London), and “Sipookation” (Kav 16 Community Gallery for Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv-Yaffo). She has also chaired and participated in conferences on the relationship between art, politics, and the economy. These include “Art, Power and Knowledge” (Tel Aviv Museum of Art), “Protest and Art” (Israel Museum), and “Contemporary Political Art” (Van Leer Institute). Since 2019, Kedar has been the director and curator of “Studio Bank” – a temporary art complex in a building in Tel Aviv, comprised of work and exhibition space for 40 artists from a wide range of disciplines. She is also a lecturer in the department of visual and material culture of the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design.

Dr. Yair Varon

Visiting Faculty Member

Dr. Yair Varon is a lecturer and researcher who specializes in architecture, particularly the history of architecture, heritage, and preservation of historic buildings and sites. He is a lecturer at the Ariel University School of Architecture and the coordinator of the diploma program in architectural preservation. Yair is a member of several international scientific committees that deal with the preservation of World Heritage sites under the auspices of ICOMOS Israel, and is Israel's official representative to the International Scientific Committee on Fortifications and Military Heritage (ICOFORT). His academic publications include David Cassuto – Due Mondi, a tribute to more than 50 years of professional activity by architect David Cassuto, which was published in Italian and Hebrew. Yair’s research deals with the preservation of defense heritage sites, dark tourism, dissonant heritage, sites of painful memories, and the way populations relate to the built heritage of totalitarian regimes. He advises national and private organizations, and serves as a consultant for urban planning and renewal projects and for the preservation of historic buildings and sites. In 2020, he led the national pilot of "Open for Conservation" – an initiative of the Ministry of Jerusalem and Heritage, the Council for Conservation of Heritage Sites in Israel, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, and the Israel Antiquities Authority. Yair holds a bachelor's degree in architecture from the Polytechnic University of Milan, and a master's degree in conservation and development of heritage landscapes from the department of geography and environment at Bar-Ilan University. His doctoral dissertation, written under the supervision of Professor Irit Amit-Cohen of Bar-Ilan University, explored heritage assets that transitioned from military to civilian status. As a visiting faculty member of the Mandel Center for Leadership in the Negev, Yair teaches fellows about urban and spatial issues.


Hani Botrashvili-Hotoveli

Administrative Manager

Hani Botrashvili-Hotoveli is the administrative manager of the Mandel Center for Leadership in the Negev, and has worked in administration and office work since 2000. Hani studied alternative medicine and holds a bachelor's degree in multidisciplinary studies in the humanities and social sciences from Sapir College. A married mother of two, she lives in Beer Sheva.

Gili Brayer

Professional Assistant

Gili Brayer is a professional assistant at the Mandel Center for Leadership in the Negev. Prior to her work for the Mandel Foundation, she worked in occupational assessment and recruitment at Adam-Milo and was a research assistant for an educational research project at the Henrietta Szold Institute. Gili holds a bachelor’s degree in social sciences and management and a master’s degree in sociology, both from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. She lives with her family in Shoval.

Shira David

Admissions Process Coordinator

Shira David holds a bachelor's degree in human resource management from the Sapir Academic College. Prior to joining the Mandel Center for Leadership in the Negev, she was a legal assistant at a law firm in Beer Sheva. She also has experience as a guide for tourism projects and other organizations in the Negev. She lives in the Old City of Beer Sheva.

Inbal Eshed

Graduate Community Facilitator

Inbal Eshed is the facilitator of the graduate community of the Mandel Center for Leadership in the Negev. Prior to her work at Mandel, Inbal served in Israel’s diplomatic corps for a decade. First, she served as a senior political advisor in Israel’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York, then she served as the public information officer and officer in charge of the UN Outreach Programme on the Holocaust at Unite Nations Headquarters, and following her return to Israel, she served as a diplomat at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. In recent years, Inbal has held various managerial positions in the non-profit sector. She served as a project manager for a regional cooperation project bringing together communities from Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority; directed a nonprofit organization that works to advance regional economic development; and was director of partnerships for the Eretz-Ir NGO. Inbal holds a master’s degree in human rights studies from Columbia University, and a bachelor’s degree in media studies and political science from Hunter College (CUNY). She lives in Arad with her husband and two sons.

Eyal Fridman

Program Coordinator

Eyal Fridman is a program coordinator at the Mandel Center for Leadership in the Negev. Prior to his work for the Mandel Foundation, Eyal worked as a client manager in a digital marketing firm, developing marketing strategies and overseeing their implementation. Previously, he served for four years as an emissary (shaliach) to Los Angeles on behalf of the Bnei Akiva youth movement. In this capacity, he managed educational programs and an educational team of youth leaders, and held a senior educational position in the youth movement’s summer camps. As part of his work, Eyal developed relations and collaborations with various communities and institutions in the Los Angeles area. On his return to Israel, he chose to settle in Yeruham with his wife and their four children. Eyal holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and logistics from Bar-Ilan University.

Dan Glasserman

Professional Assistant

Dan Glasserman was born on Kibbutz Hatzerim and lives today in Beer Sheva. He holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and linguistics from Tel Aviv University. Prior to joining the Mandel Center for Leadership in the Negev, Dan worked for civil society organizations, conducting research on distributive justice in Israel and especially in the Negev, and monitoring the implementation of government decisions in this area.

Yael Hadar

Program Coordinator

Yael Hadar is a program coordinator at the Mandel Center for Leadership in the Negev. Alongside her work at Mandel, she works as a program coordinator in the field of employment in Israel’s southern region. Previously, she worked as an office manager in hi-tech settings and was the coordinator of a professional union in the Israel National Labor Federation. Yael holds a bachelor's degree in special education and East Asian studies from Tel Aviv University, and is studying to become a certified personal trainer at the Adler Institute. Yael lives with her family in Be'er Sheva.

Arie Nissenbaum

Research and Development Coordinator

Arie Nissenbaum is the research and development coordinator of the Mandel Center for Leadership in the Negev. Before working for the Mandel Foundation–Israel, he was a teaching assistant and research assistant in the department of sociology and anthropology at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. He was also involved in math and technology education, working as a mentor and instructor for youth, and was a computer network manager. Arie holds a master's degree in critical sociology and a bachelor's degree in sociology, anthropology and management, both from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. As part of his work as research and development coordinator of the Mandel Center for Leadership in the Negev, he is involved in the development of new leadership programs, in research and in writing. Arie lives in Be'er Sheva.

Mark Shabtayev

Technical Instructor

Mark Shabtayev provides technical support at the Mandel Center for Leadership in the Negev. He has more than six years of experience in website and server security, is an expert in managing web servers, and holds three certifications in information security. Mark is a graduate of the information security and cyber reserves program at the College of Technological Innovation, where he specialized in enterprise network management and in information security. He is also a graduate of ITSafe Cyber College, where he specialized in cyber intelligence investigations and information gathering, and in responses to cyber attacks and online crime. Mark is currently studying information and cyber security at Bar-Ilan University, in a course for cyber experts that includes a specialization in virtualization and cloud computing. He lives in Beer Sheva.

Tal Shemesh

Secretary and Receptionist

Tal Shemesh holds a bachelor's degree in economics and management from the Ashkelon Academic College. Prior to joining the Mandel Leadership Center in the Negev, she was a personal banker at Bank Hapoalim in Beer Sheva. Before that, she served as the assistant to the director general and as an administrative manager at Beit Moriah in Beer Sheva, and worked as a national civilian service coordinator for the Bat Ami organization.

Housekeeping and Maintenance

Miryam Yitzhak


Married and the mother of two daughters, Miryam Yitzhak was born and raised in Beer Sheva. She has vast experience in the management of school cleaning crews and of nursing staff for the elderly under the National Insurance Institute. Miryam joined the Mandel Center for Leadership in the Negev upon its establishment in 2006.