Dr. Adi Nir-Sagi


Dr. Adi Nir-Sagi is a senior psychologist and holds a master's degree 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, for which 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. Nir Sagi directed the Mandel School for Educational Leadership from 2008-2012. She was previously the chief psychologist of the Ministry of Education.


Dr. Itzhak (Kiki) Aharonovich

Faculty Member

Dr. Itzhak​ Aharonovich holds a PhD from the department of geography and environmental development at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. His field of interest is the relationship between man-made space and people. The thesis he developed in the framework of his MA studies dealt with the relationship between financial cycles and spatial cycles. His doctoral thesis dealt with the approaches of urban planning to multicultural realities and focused on the differences between Tel Aviv-Yafo and Toronto. His current research interests are the various aspects of urban space. Previously, Dr. Aharonovich was the deputy director of the tutoring program (Perach) at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, director of the division for strategic planning and information in Ofakim and also worked at Svivot Tichnun, a firm specializing in urban planning. Dr. Aharonovich joined the Mandel Center in 2006.

Kassim Alsraiha

Faculty Member

Kassim Alsraiha is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Middle East Studies at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. His field of research is state and religion in the Middle East, with a focus on the Gulf States. Kassim holds a master’s degree from Tel Aviv University’s Department of Middle Eastern and African History. In the framework of his master’s thesis, he studied the Arab-Bedouin population of the Negev, focusing on tribal law. Kassim is one of the founders of AHD, the Association of Academics for the Development of Arab Society in the Negev, and is one of the founders of the AHD School for Scientific Excellence in the Bedouin community in the Negev. He has worked at Ben-Gurion University’s Chaim Herzog Center for Middle East Research, and has published articles and book chapters on the topics of religion and state, minorities and leadership.

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 Kaye Academic College of Education.

Dr. Rotem Bresler-Gonen

Faculty Member

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. Nitza Roskin

Faculty Member

Dr. Nitza Roskin is an organizational consultant, evaluator and group facilitator. Her PhD research, conducted at the department of education at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, dealt with organizational identity from a narrative perspective. She studied the construction of identity in a veteran educational institute in Israel and showed how the organization's central narratives assist its personnel in allaying the dissonance between the organization's social-educational ideology and the economic principles underlying its work. Her main research and work interests include organizational identity, processes of constructing identity and the interface between self-identity and organizational identity. Roskin was the evaluator for the southern office of the Karev Program for Educational Involvement and has worked as an organizational consultant, group facilitator and evaluator for educational, health and welfare institutions, mainly in the south. She teaches courses on evaluation, organization and identity for undergraduate and graduate students at Ben-Gurion University and several other academic colleges.

Israel Sorek

Faculty Member

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.

Visiting Faculty

Professor Dana Arieli

Visiting Faculty Member

Professor Dana Arieli is the dean of the faculty of design at the Holon Institute of Technology. She is a researcher and photographer who specializes in the interrelations between art and politics in democratic and totalitarian political systems around the world. Previously, she headed the department of history and theory at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design and was a faculty member of the department of political science at Tel Aviv University. Professor Arieli completed her doctorate at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where her dissertation was titled "Between Aesthetics to Politics: National-Socialism and Plastic Arts," and was a postdoctoral fellow at Oxford University. Beyond her extensive experience in research and teaching, she initiates, curates and exhibits her works at leading exhibitions in Israel and the world. Her writings focus on art and culture, with an emphasis on the culture of memory and on extreme situations, such as war, terror, and trauma.

Dr. Ruth Calderon

Visiting Faculty Member

Dr. Ruth Calderon, former Member of Knesset and Deputy Speaker of the Knesset for the Yesh Atid party, is an educator and Talmud scholar. As part of her work promoting a Hebrew, Israeli, and Jewish culture that draws on traditional sources but looks to the future, she co-founded Elul (a pioneering pluralist beit midrash) with Moti Bar-Or, and founded and directed the Alma nonprofit for teaching and nurturing Hebrew culture. After eighteen years as director of Alma, Ruth was appointed head of the culture and education department at the National Library of Israel. She completed her master’s degree and her doctorate in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s department of Talmud. In recognition of her work, Ruth was awarded the AVI CHAI Prize for Jewish Education, and honorary doctorates from the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, Hebrew College in Boston, and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Philadelphia. She studied at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, and is a graduate of Cohort 1 of the Mandel School for Educational Leadership.

Dr. Hagit Damari

Visiting Faculty Member

​Hagit Damari 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.

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, is 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.

Senior Staff

Hadas Kedar

Senior Staff Member

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.


Shira David

Programs 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.

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.

Debra Shaked

Administrative Manager

Debra Shaked holds a bachelor's degree in sociology and management from the Open University and a master's degree in consulting and organizational development from the College of Management Academic Studies (COMAS). Prior to her work at the Mandel Center, she worked in human resources, senior management, and marketing communications at high-tech companies, for Kimberly-Clark, and at the College of Management Academic Studies. Debra was born in Beer Sheva and is the mother of a daughter.

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.