Steve Albert, Executive Director
B.S. Haverford College. Ed. M. Harvard University. M.S. Portland State University. Steve is passionate about music and theater, and he enjoys singing as well as attending concerts and plays. He also enjoys hiking, kayaking, and skiing, and he likes to travel – especially to visit his grown children who are scattered around the country. He spends more time than he should caring for his saltwater reef tank at his home, which he shares with his wife, Janie, and dog, Lola. Steve’s favorite thing about PJA is the strong sense of community and the genuine care expressed by individuals for one another. This mirrors the collaboration that exists at all levels – from students to teachers to parents to school leadership – and creates a foundation that fosters learning and service on campus and off.
Becky Ewer, Marketing and Creative Director
Becky is the Marketing and Creative Director for the Mittleman Jewish Community Center and Portland Jewish Academy. She started working here in 2005 and loves the family feeling of the MJCC and PJA. Becky grew up in Seattle. She graduated with a B.S. in Business from Skidmore College and a Masters of Science in Arts Administration from Boston University. Becky is passionate about music as she has played the violin since the age of seven and is married to a professional violinist! She and her husband Greg Ewer founded the local nonprofit, 45th Parallel. Becky enjoys playing with her two children, cooking, knitting, and travelling. As a breast cancer survivor, Becky serves as a mentor to other women who are newly diagnosed.
Sarah Glass, Director of Admission
Sarah grew up in Portland. At the age of 18, she moved to New York City where she earned her BA from Barnard College of Columbia University. After college, she taught in a public school in Brooklyn for three years before returning to graduate school to earn a Masters in Urban Planning from NYU. All three of Sarah's children attended PJA. "I love sharing the story of PJA with families. This is a school that truly lives by its core values. Our students learn to think critically, work together to build community, and know that they can make a positive impact in our world."
Charlotte Gund, Assistant Director of the Afterschool Department
Charlotte was born and raised in Riverdale, NY. She graduated Oberlin College with a Bachelors in Biology, and later, a Masters in Early Childhood Education. She has lived in Portland for seven years now, six of which she has spent working in the PJA Afterschool Department! In addition to providing a meaningful, inclusive environment for kids to grow and learn in after school hours, Charlotte enjoys running races, reading, studying languages, and exploring different parts of Oregon with her partner, Rick.
Natalie Haskins, Director of PJA Afterschool Programs
Born and raised Northeastern Oklahoma, Natalie grew up exploring the foothills of the Ozark mountains, riding horses, climbing hay bales and playing music on her dad's family farm. In the spring of 2006, Natalie and her husband, Tim, relocated to Portland, Oregon where Natalie has continued her love of exploring the great outdoors. When not hiking or investigating coastal tide pools, Natalie can be found tending her vegetable and medicinal herb gardens, riding a bike with her dogs racing alongside her or reading several books at once. She also still very much enjoys playing music. Natalie studied Early Childhood Education at the University of Oklahoma and has worked in Afterschool with PJA since 2006. She teaches because she believes every child deserves a safe and supportive learning environment during their out of school time.
Merrill Hendin, Principal
Merrill grew up in Brooklyn, New York where she attended Jewish day school through high school. She graduated with a BA in English from the State University of New York at Binghamton and worked at a Jewish day school in Brooklyn before moving to Vancouver, BC, where she completed the graduate education program and received her teaching certification through the University of British Columbia. Merrill and her husband lived in Haifa, Israel, where she taught English to adults, seniors and children in a variety of settings. When her young family returned to the United States, they made Portland their home and their PJA lives began. Merrill taught Hebrew and Jewish Studies at PJA before taking time off to raise her growing family. Her involvement at PJA has taken many forms over the past 29 years as she became involved as a lay leader and then for the past 12 years, has served as a member of the PJA administration as the Director of Hebrew and Jewish Studies, Assistant Head of School, and for the past 8 years, as the school's Principal. Jewish education has always been an integral part of Merrill's life and when she and her husband were looking for a place to live after he finished medical school in Israel, at the core of the decision was to ensure that wherever they moved, there would be strong Jewish education and community for their family. PJA was home to all three of their children and remains an integral part of the Hendin family's lives.
Allison Hernandez, Assistant Director of Early Childhood Programs
Allison was born and raised in Portland, Oregon. She received her Masters Degree in Early Childhood Curriculum and Instruction from Portland State University. Previously, she lived in New York City and worked as both an educator and an acrobat. She lives with her family in Beaverton, Oregon, and in her free time enjoys running obstacle course races, gardening, and spending time with her family. Allison joined the PJA community in 2016, and believes that young children are capable, contributing citizens of our world.
Amy Katz, Director of Jewish Life
Amy Katz has been working in Jewish Education for over 20 years. She taught in Jewish Day Schools, synagogue schools, and Jewish summer camps in Wisconsin, Canada, Los Angeles, Boston, and San Francisco before moving to Portland in 2004. Amy taught Hebrew and Jewish Studies for seven years at PJA before becoming the Director of Jewish Life. Amy's favorite thing about PJA is forging strong connections with students and faculty and encouraging everyone to learn a little more about the beauty of Judaism. Her favorite part of each week is Middle School tefilah. She lives in Northeast Portland with her husband, two teenagers, and her dog Sox. Amy graduated from Beloit College with degrees in Creative Writing and Literary Studies, and has a Master's in Jewish Education from Boston's Hebrew College.
Saul Korin, Development Manager
Saul Korin, MBA, is the Development Manager for the Mittleman Jewish Community Center and Portland Jewish Academy, where he builds relationships and enables philanthropic dreams. He is active in Havurah Shalom where he makes Purim happen, and occasionally DJs Weddings and Bar Mitzvahs on the side. Saul graduated from the George Washington University in Washington, DC, and as an MBA in Nonprofit Management from the American Jewish University in Los Angeles.
Erika Saiers, Director of Early Childhood Education
Erika grew up in central Pennsylvania. She attended Green Mountain College in Poultney Vermont and earned a BS in Elementary Education and Teaching with a concentration in Recreation and played collegiate soccer. During her senior year at Green Mountain she attended the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) where she spent 3 months in the PNW mountaineering, sailing and rock climbing and decided that Oregon was where she was destined to be. She packed up a small pickup truck, spent a month traveling the country and has been rooted in Portland ever since, now calling the PNW home. In Portland Erika earned her MEd in Educational Leadership and Administration from PSU and continues her love of exercise coaching the PJA middle school cross country team, hiking and biking. Both of Erika's children attended PJA as "lifers" meaning they started as infants and graduated 8th grade and believes this community is truly a wonderful environment to grow up in.