Myrna Teck, President

Myrna Teck, Ph.D. is a professional art educator.  Her interest in drawing and painting began as a young child.  She went on to receive a B.A. (SyracuseMyrna University, 1958) in Fine Arts and Psychology.  She received an M.S. (Old Dominion University, 1974) in Special Education with a focus on 'Art for the Emotionally Disturbed.'  She received her  Ph.D in Visual Arts Education (University of Kansas, 1999) focusing on understanding Jewish art and culture.

Professionally, Myrna worked as a public high school art teacher for 13 years (1970-1983).  Overlapping this experience, Myrna was an adjunct assistant art professor at Virginia Wesleyan College (Virginia Beach, VA) for 17 years (1967-1985).  She subsequently returned to graduate school and received her Ph.D. in 1999.

For the past twenty years, Myrna has researched Jewish art in all of its forms (drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography, architecture, etc.) with a goal of teaching about these objects and the world in which they were created. This proposed film, The Art of Jewish Life, is an extension of her ongoing research.  She continues to write, edit, format, market, and present a variety of PowerPoint slide programs on various aspects of Jewish art.  Her personal website for her presentations is www.JewishArtEducation.com.

Robert Barkin, Vice President and Executive Director

Robert Barkin is a professional with experience in communications and management. He is currently a partner in T3np (www.T3np.com), which provides RAB
management services to nonprofit organizations. He also is president of Arkos Group (www.arkosgroup.com), where he assists for-profit organizations in their communications strategy.

From August 2010 until April 2012, he was the interim executive vice president of the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation, the congregational arm of the Reconstructionist movement. He was also its president for four years and a member of the JRF Board of Directors since 1998. He has also served as a member of the Board of Governors of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, the Jewish Reconstructionist Camping Corporation and the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations.

Barkin is currently vice president for communications of Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation in Bethesda, MD. He was previously its president and under his leadership, the congregation undertook a successful capital campaign that made possible the construction of its first permanent home. At Adat Shalom, he was previously Treasurer and Chair of the Religious Practices Committee.

Previously, he was Vice President, Corporate Communications, for ICMA-RC, a $28 billion financial services corporation, based in Washington, DC. For 15 years, he was a journalist with a number of newspapers, including the Providence Journal-Bulletin and the Miami Herald. He is a graduate of the University of Michigan, Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism and the University of Miami School of Business.

Peggy Davidson, Secretary

Peggy Davidson is a member of the JAE Board of Directors. She has Bachelor's and Master's degrees in elementary education and has taught Hebrew at Adat Peggy
Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation's Torah School for the past 10 years. She is Vice Chair of the congregation's Adult Education committee and a member of

its Creative Arts committee and its choir. Previously, she was chair of the synagogue's adult Bar/Bat Mitzvah program.

Peggy is a graduate of the Florence Melton Adult Mini-School for (Hebrew School) Teachers, of its Graduates' Seminar in Israel, and of The Foundation for Jewish Studies Open Academy. She and her husband Robert (a technology consultant) have two grown sons; their daughter is a recent college graduate.

Ellen Simsohn

Ellen Simsohn joined the JAE Board of Directors in January, 2015.   She is a retired computer professional living in Glen Ellyn, Illinois.    Ellen holds a BA from ellen
Purdue University in Elementary Education and taught at the Hebrew Academy of Tidewater in Norfolk, Viriginia, where she met fellow teacher Myrna Teck in 1970.

Upon moving to Illinois in 1981, Ellen became active at Congregation Etz Chaim in Lombard.  She was instrumental in setting up their state-licensed, week-day Nursery School, helped develop and leads their Leadership Development Program, and has been teaching kindergarten in their Sunday School for the past 32 years.  She even taught during the two years that she was President of the Congregation.

Ellen enjoys tap dancing, doing cross-word puzzles and playing word games, spending time with her grandchildren who live in Takoma Park, Maryland, and going to the theater with her husband, Harvey.

 Bill Klein

Bill is an architect and artist who is currently a partner in the Washington DC office of SmithGroupJJR. He has worked on many prominent commissions for museums and health care clients, including serving as an Owner’s representative for the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, as project architect for the Smithsonian Institutions’ National Museum of the American Indian Cultural Resources Center, as Project Manager Kline
for the Smithsonian Institutions’ National Museum of the American Indian Mall museum, and as a consultant to the National Archives and Records Administration. 
The Jewish value of tikkun olam is important to Bill; his interest in the health of our society and the preservation of collective memory drives his health care and museum work.

In his free time, he creates mixed media collages with discarded objects such as broken headlights, printed material, and scrap wood, much of it found on roadsides. Themes include highlighting the importance of sustainability, recognizing the value of all material, and maximizing the utilization of resources. He also serves on the Building and Grounds committee of Adat Shalom Synagogue.

Jenni Schlossman

Jenni L. Schlossman, Ph.D. is an independent art historian specializing in 20th-century and contemporary American Jewish art and artists. She received her BA in Jenni
Art History and Fine Art from the University of Delaware, and continued her education at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, where she received her M.A. and Ph.D. in American art history.. After moving to Omaha, Nebraska, Dr. Schlossman became involved in the Beyt Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation, teaching art in the religious school, until becoming President. Dr. Schlossman is currently President of the Omaha Association of Phi Beta Kappa.

Dr. Schlossman presented "Visual Art as a Pathway to Prayer" at the 13th Annual Klutznick Symposium at Creighton University, and curated "Tikkun Olam: Repairing the World," for the 20th Symposium. She has given lectures for the Center for Jewish Education and Limmud Omaha. Along with publishing articles about American art, Dr. Schlossman taught art history at the University of Nebraska, Omaha, Bellevue University, and is currently teaching online for Rutgers University, Camden.  Her painting Never Forget: To Life is included in the touring exhibition for Project Interfaith, Omaha: Unraveled: A Visual Response to Ravel/Unravel Traveling Art Exhibit. http://projectinterfaith.org/page/unraveled-pieces-included-traveling-exhibit

Michael Scharff

Michael was added to the JAE Board of Directors in December 2014.  He and his wife Robin have been married 30 years, and they have four children - Jacob, David, Melody, and Joshua.  Michael wears many hats at his job with East Central Regional Hospital.  In addition to be a Quality Assurance Specialist, ScharfMichael is also the Hospital Policy Coordinator, as well as the HIPAA Compliance Officer for the Facility.

Michael is a native of Augusta, Georgia, where he has lived for most of his life.  He is a member of Congregation Children of Israel (CCI), a Reform Temple in Augusta, Georgia.  CCI is getting ready to celebrate its 170th anniversary next year.  Michael's great-great-grandfather, his great-grandfather, and his father have all served as president of the Congregation.  Michael's father is a Lifetime Member of the Board of Trustees, and Michael is currently the Board Secretary.  

Michael also has been involved with the Joint Community Sunday School for the past decade, serving at various times as both Principal and teacher.  He currently teaches the combined 3rd and 4th grade class.  For the past eight years, Michael has attended the annual Education Conference for the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life.  This is where he had the good fortune to meet Myrna last summer and thus become involved with the JAE.