FOUNDER / executive director
Naomi Ackerman, the founder and executive director of The Advot Project is an experienced actress, consultant, and facilitator creating curriculums that use drama techniques to deal with social, gender, and educational issues as well as exploring identity and promoting tolerance and dialogue between diverse participants. The Advot (ripples) Project uses theater for transformation and works with disadvantaged youth, many have been incarcerated and all come from difficult family situations. Through theater exercises, creative writing, music and dance the youth explore healthy relationships, improve communication skills, nurture personal growth, improve their self-esteem, and transform their lives for the better. Naomi is a social activist who produces events and gatherings that teach, engage, and call to action communities and individuals to take a stand, and find their voice to fight injustice. Naomi served two years in the Israeli Defense Forces and received a BA in Education and Theatre from Hebrew University as well as a Special-Ed Teaching Credential from the David Yellin Teachers Seminar. She has participated in various multinational theater productions. Founding member of “View Points” an Arab Jewish dialogue theater produced by the “Shimon Peres Center for Peace.” Naomi wrote, directed, and performs the acclaimed one-woman show “Flowers Aren’t Enough” which deals with the issue of domestic violence and has been featured over 1900 times globally, translated to four different languages. Including the United Nations for the Commission for the Status of woman (CSW). Naomi is a recipient of the KCET – Link Local Hero 2014 Award, and the 2016 International Woman Achievers Community leadership award.
Amanda Sissman grew up on both coasts of the US. She received her undergraduate degree in Communications and Media Arts from UC San Diego, attending classes at UC Santa Cruz and Royal Holloway at the University of London. After graduating she became a flight attendant for United Airlines. Based out of Washington D.C., she visited 15 countries and most of the United States in the course of just a year! Late in 2008 she moved to Lawrence, Kansas to begin a new adventure as the Program Director for University of Kansas Hillel. While a member of the Hillel staff she attended Brandeis Collegiate Institute (BCI) in the summer of 2009. The following year she moved back to California to become the Assistant Director of BCI, a position she held until 2014. Amanda now enjoys being a mother, working for The Advot Project, and teaching pottery classes at a local ceramics studio.
Rabbi Steven Carr Reuben, Ph.D.
home shalom project director
Dr. Steven Carr Reuben has been involved in the field of moral development and spiritual education for nearly forty years. He holds Bachelors degrees in Philosophy and Political Science from the University of California, Davis, two Master’s degrees from the University of Southern California and the Hebrew Union College, Certification in Aging and Human Development from the University of Georgia, a Ph.D. in Religion from Sierra University and two honorary Doctor of Divinity degrees from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. He was ordained as a rabbi in 1976. Dr. Reuben was a founding editor of Compass Magazine for teachers, a recognized expert on moral education who has appeared on countless television and radio talk shows and travels the country lecturing on character education and how to successfully meet the challenges of interfaith relation. He currently serves as Rabbi Emeritus of Kehillat Israel Reconstructionist Congregation in Pacific Palisades, California and is past president of the Board of Rabbis of Southern California. He is married to Didi Carr Reuben and is stepfather to Gable. www.rebreuben.com ~ www.interfaithrabbi.com
Strategy and program Coordinator
Annie Kee is originally from Brooklyn, NY, but has also lived in Cambria, CA, Berkeley, CA, and Boston, MA before she moved to Los Angeles in 2015. Annie received her undergraduate degree in Theater and Performance Studies from UC Berkeley and her Master's of Art in Theater Education from Emerson College in Boston. After graduating with her MA, she spent almost five years as the Director of Visual and Performing Arts at the West End House Boys and Girls Club in Allston, MA, where she helped significantly grow the program and worked with nearly 300 kids every day. After moving to Los Angeles in 2015, she served as the Manager of Visitor Experience at the Hammer Museum in Westwood where she hired, trained, and supervised hundreds of college students that make up the majority of the museum's part-time employees. She is thrilled to bring her passion for youth development and arts education to The Advot Project.
facilitator / Visionary trainer
Whitney Wakimoto was born and raised in Missoula, MT. She has received her BFA in Acting at the University of Montana. After graduating she made the move to NYC to pursue her craft. There she lived as a professional actor and fell in love with the culture and city of New York. Her favorite work is Shakespeare and has trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London. She has performed on tours with the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey and played many roles from Shakespeare’s cannon from Queen Margret in Richard III to Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Her love for Shakespeare, and theater in general, only grew at the Old Globe Theatre/University of San Diego, where she earned her MFA in Acting as one of the three women accepted to the grad program in 2011. Whitney decided to stay on the west coast where she continued to pursue her love of acting, started her own business and embraced her love of teaching. She is an artist facilitator for the Strindberg Laboratory, where she has the honor to teach inmates the art of acting and helping them learn to feel and express emotions in a healthy, artistic form. As a life long student, Whitney loves working with all kinds of populations and learns so much from every group of students she works with. She is thrilled to be joining the team at The Advot Project where there is a clear passion to serve the community through the arts.
Judy Bain retired in June 2015 as Vice President, Legal Affairs and General Counsel for Epson America, Inc., headquartered in Long Beach, California. She founded the Epson America Legal Affairs Department in 1986 and was the company’s first employed lawyer. As Epson America’s Vice President Legal Affairs and General Counsel, Judy oversaw the legal issues arising from the development, marketing, sales, and support of digital printing, digital display, and advanced sensing technologies in both consumer and commercial products in a rapidly changing and multi-national business environment. Judy actively supported various professional and community organizations throughout her legal career. She served on the Board of the Southern California Chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel for several years starting in 1999, where she helped re-invigorate its pro bono activities. In 2005, she joined the Board of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Los Angeles. As an active Board member, Judy chaired the agency’s program and strategic planning committees, helping the agency move from near dissolution in 2005 to a position of fiscal and programmatic strength in 2015, when she retired from the Board. Judy earned a J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center. Before law school, she studied at the Sorbonne in Paris following graduation from the University of California, Berkeley with a degree in political science. During college, she spent her junior year at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. Judy has started a consulting practice to merge her experience in the legal and business worlds with her passion to serve non-profit organizations focused on improving outcomes for children living in adversity.
Phylliss Bailey Brooks
Phylliss Bailey Brooks, a native of Los Angeles realized her passion when her wise mother enrolled her in USC’s prestigious Children’s Institute For The Performing Arts at the tender age of seven. There she was introduced to classical studies of piano, voice, theatre and dance. She went on to study at The Inner City Cultural Center (which she eventually became a teaching artist), and The Beverly Hills Playhouse. Phylliss has received two Hollywood NAACP Theatre awards, as well as three Los Angeles Dramalogue awards for theatre. She is presently the Vocal Director/Arranger and member of the popular all women, international drumming and vocal group “ADAAWE.” As a performance coach she is a freelance acting/dialogue and vocal coach with several private students preparing for their turn on such talent based shows as “American Idol” and “The Voice.” She also day plays, coaching the youngest cast members on tv shows like ABC’s hit series, “Black-ish.” Phylliss is proud to lend her talents to The Advot Project, a community outreach organization with programing designed to transfer the lives of our youth through the power of the performing arts and Dream A World, Inc., in which she serves as a teaching artist for kindergarten and first graders for underserved communities in the public school systems. This multi-talented artist is thrilled to live her life working as she was designed to do!