Kalman Samuels, Founder and President
Kalman Samuels serves as the President of Shalva, which he founded with his wife Malki in 1990. Kalman is closely involved in the organization’s ongoing operations. As the head of Shalva, he is recognized as a leading figure in the field of disability care and addresses gatherings internationally. Since the organization’s inception, Kalman has played a leading role in ensuring Shalva’s sustainability and growth. He has received many awards for his contribution to Israeli society, most recently in 2018 the Sylvan Adams Nefesh B’Nefesh Bonei Zion Prize and the Lions International Israel’s Man of the Year Award.
Kalman’s memoir, Dreams Never Dreamed, was released in Hebrew in September 2019. The English version is expected April 2020.
Yochanan Samuels LLM, Chief Executive Officer
Yochanan Samuels has been a long-time member of Shalva’s administration; originally as the organization’s Deputy Director and since 2015 as the Chief Executive Officer. Since the organization’s early beginings and throughout its development, Yochanan is deeply connected to advancing Shalva’s mission and vision of creating a better, more inclusive society for all. As CEO, Yochanan is responsible for overseeing Shalva’s ongoing operations and developing the organization’s programs toward constant, sustainable growth.
A lawyer by profession, Yochanan has an LLM from Bar-Ilan University and previously worked at a legal firm specializing in the rights of people with disabilities. Yochanan currently serves as the Chairman of the Committee for Non-Profit Organizations of the Israel Bar Association. He also has an MBA from the Open University of israel. Yochanan is a graduate of the National Leadership Consortium on Developmental Disabilities at the University of Delaware and carries his passion for the care and inclusion of persons with disabilities into his daily work at Shalva.
Itamar Shevach, Deputy Director and Chief Financial Officer
Itamar Shevach began his career at Shalva as a high school volunteer, assuming various roles and promoted to Shalva’s administration over the years. A lawyer and MBA by training, Itamar has previously worked at a law firm specializing in non-profit organizations and served as the deputy director of a for-profit company in the interest of benefiting his work at Shalva. Itamar was instrumental in facilitating the organization’s transition to the Shalva National Center in 2016. Today he manages Shalva’s legal, financial, and operations departments and is responsible for the development of Shalva’s social enterprises. Additionally, Itamar serves as the Chairman of the National Forum for Deputy Directors of Non-Profits, is a lecturer at the Jerusalem College of Technology, and is a volunteer MDA ambulance driver.
Dr. Ariel Tenenbaum MD, Medical Advisor at Shalva, Director of the Hadassah Center for Children with Chronic Diseases, the Center for Intellectual Disability and Development, and the Down Syndrome Program at the Hadassah Medical Center
Dr. Tenenbaum is a Senior Pediatrician and child development consultant at the Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center, specializing in the care of children with chronic diseases and disabilities. A world renowned expert in the field, Dr. Tenenbaum shares his expertise and leading-edge research at international conferences. He recently established Israel’s first center for disability studies with multidisciplinary partners at the Hebrew University and has been awarded several honors and accolades for advancing the healthcare of children with disabilities. He currently serves as the Scientific Secretary of the Israeli Pediatric Association. At Shalva, Dr. Tenenbaum conducts educational seminars for Shalva’s professional staff, provides ongoing medical assessment for our program participants, and guidance to their parents attending Shalva’s support groups. Dr. Tenenbaum is a member of Shalva’s Internal Scientific Committee which aims to develop Shalva’s research collaborations and program development.
Dr. Hanoch Cassuto, Disability Assessment Advisor for Communication Disorders
Dr. Cassuto is one of Israel’s leading pediatric neurologists specializing in child development and autism assessment. Dr. Cassuto is a pioneering personality in developing diagnostic protocols which differentiate ASD diagnosis in the presence of intellectual disability. At Shalva, Dr. Cassuto heads the assessment and rehabilitative programs for children with communication disorders attending Shalva’s Inclusive Preschool. Dr. Cassuto also provides ongoing training and guidance to Shalva’s therapists and special education teachers.
Liron Benisti, Director of Research and Development
Liron serves an instrumental role in developing Shalva’s professional conferences, academic publications, and continuing education courses. She also oversees the knowledge management of Shalva’s clients and programs for the purposes of tracking rehabilitative progress, evaluation, and research. Liron heads Shalva’s Internal Scientific Committee which aims to develop Shalva’s research collaborations and program development. Prior to joining Shalva’s staff in 2014, Liron worked as a senior occupational therapist at the Clalit HMO. She was recently appointed research coordinator at the Hebrew University for projects concerning the implementation of government and social policies on inclusive education. Liron was awarded the Hebrew University’s “Outstanding Research” scholarship for her doctoral studies on perceptions of disability and the experiences of parents. She has a Bachelors in OT, a Masters in Health Systems Management, and a research-based M.Sc.
Gaby Hirsch, Chief Development Officer of Shalva, Chief Executive of British Friends of Shalva
Gaby Hirsch was appointed Shalva’s Chief Development Officer in 2018 and has been Chief Executive of the British Friends of Shalva since 2014. Gaby oversees Shalva’s international offices, coordinating communication and collaboration between Shalva’s representatives around the world. She also presides over all significant donor visits and events at the Shalva National Center in Israel. Over the years, Gaby has nurtured the number of significant donors in the UK, developing grassroots campaigns and numerous committees. Gaby has played an instrumental role in developing Shalva’s gala dinners both in the UK and in Israel. Previous to her positions at Shalva, Gaby served in leadership roles at Energise Squared Fundraising Consultancy, was a management consultant with Tesco Stores Plc, and was a member of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors in the UK.
Leo Klein, Executive Director of American Friends of Shalva
Leo Klein has served as the Executive Director of American Friends of Shalva since 2001, developing the organization’s presence in the United States and orchestrating several successful fundraising campaigns, including a significant capital campaign to build the Shalva National Center. Through regular events at various locations throughout the year, Leo continues to play an important role in spreading disability awareness and garnering support for the Shalva organization in Israel. Prior to his position at Shalva, Leo worked on the UJA-Jewish Federation New York’s young leadership team, developing programs and key events that continue to be organizational staples today.
Johanna Brooks, Executive Director of Canadian Friends of Shalva
As Executive Director of Canadian Friends of Shalva since 2014, Johanna is responsible for raising funds for Shalva Israel and managing the Canadian Friends of Shalva Board of Directors. Johanna coordinates several annual fundraising events and Shalva awareness programs throughout Canada, including an annual gala dinner. Johanna brings a wealth of experience to this role based on her years of volunteering and work experience in the non-profit world. Her past positions include working for Hillel of Greater Toronto, UJA Federation, and the Baycrest Foundation.