About Our Staff

City Leadership Institute
A Precollege Program in Change Leadership

Aliyah Vinikoor, Program Director
Aliyah Vinikoor is the assistant dean of the Albert A. List College of Jewish Studies of The Jewish Theological Seminary, where she directs the JustCity Leadership Institute and the Fellowship in Jewish Social Entrepreneurship. Ms. Vinikoor earned a bachelor's degree in History from Barnard College, and worked in book publishing for seven years before receiving a master's degree in Social Work from Hunter College. She joined JTS after having worked as the director of emergency housing at the Ali Forney Center, an organization serving homeless LGBT young adults. She also served as the director of Margaret's Place, a teen antiviolence center in the South Bronx, and as a social worker at the victim assistance agency, Safe Horizon. She currently participates on behalf of JTS in the Jewish Greening Fellowship, a program created by the UJA-Federation of New York to mobilize the Jewish community in response to climate change. Originally from Seattle, Washington, she is pleased to bring her extensive experience in and passion for Jewish leadership, education, and engagement in social justice to JustCity Leadership Institute

Laura Landau, Program Leader
Laura Landau graduated in 2012 from List College's Double Degree Program with Barnard College, with majors in Jewish Art and Visual Culture and Urban Studies. After graduating, she moved to Chicago to participate in AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps, where she worked at Friedman Place, a residential facility for blind and visually impaired adults. Ms. Landau returned to New York City to work as a community organizer at Congregation Beth Elohim in Park Slope, Brooklyn, where she has created and managed volunteer opportunities on issues such as homelessness, hunger, and gun control. She has also served as an alumni admissions representative for Barnard College and an AVODAH alumni interviewer. Ms. Landau is originally from Providence, Rhode Island. She looks forward to spending the summer in her second home of New York City, and to collaborating in the JustCity Leadership Institute.

Rabbi Stephanie Ruskay, Course Instructor
Rabbi Stephanie Ruskay is the director of alumni and community engagement at AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps. Prior to receiving rabbinic ordination and a master's degree in Jewish Education from The Jewish Theological Seminary, she was the program director for Face to Face / Faith to Faith, a multifaith youth leadership and conflict resolution program of Auburn Theological Seminary. She has also served as the associate director of education at American Jewish World Service, and as a Jewish Service Corps volunteer in Bulgaria for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. Rabbi Ruskay is a member of the Social Justice Commission of the Rabbinical Assembly, and a consummate example of a Jewish leader.

PresenTense NYC, Course Instruction
PresenTense is a largely volunteer-run community of innovators and entrepreneurs, thinkers and leaders, and creators and educators from around the world, who are investing their ideas and energy to revitalize the established Jewish community. Since 2007, PresenTense has been helping the next generation of Jewish leaders convert new ideas into transformational ventures. Through its trainings and fellowships, PresenTense equips visionaries with the tools and resources they need to change the world and mobilize the community behind their ventures; in this way, it helps to create a sustainable ecosystem of social change and a culture of action. More than 2500 people, young and old, have participated in PresenTense training seminars to brainstorm new ideas, foster innovative thinking, accelerate new projects, communicate vision, and effectively engage community members. The community's inquisitive and creative approach to problem solving will be put to practical use in our hard-skills course, helping JustCity participants translate their vision into an action plan.