Kurtz Family Executive Director
Amanda Herring is an experience curator and Jewish educator. She is currently the Hillel Director at Virginia Tech, as a 2011 Hokie and former Hillel President and staff member, this role feels full circle.
In between school and her return, she worked at BirthrightNEXT in New York, and as Regional Director at the Israel on Campus Coalition. In 2018 Amanda received her Master’s in Experiential Education and Jewish Cultural Arts at GW, and completed the JOFEE Fellowship in Jewish, Outdoor, Food, Farming and Environmental Education with Hazon placed at OneTable in Washington, D.C.. It was there that she combined her passions for Shabbat and sustainable food which together can nourish and heal communities and ecosystems.
For the last 3 years, she served as the Director of Jewish Life & Learning at the Edlavitch DC JCC. Amanda enjoys long walks with her kids and dog (@MenschTheMastiffMix) and eating amazing food with her Husband, Greg, who is a whole animal butcher and chef.
Her top strengths from StrengthsQuest are Communication, Activator, Individualization, Futuristic, and Woo
Claiming Buffalo, New York as his hometown, Jacob received both his Bachelor of Arts in English and his Master of Arts in Philanthropy and Development from LaGrange College alongside a minor in Servant Leadership.
Jacob is excited to continue his professional journey in the nonprofit sector with Hillel at Virginia Tech after being promoted to Assistant Director after just a year of service. With the knowledge of working and volunteering with nonprofits for several years, Jacob brings a mixture of strategic planning with the perfect balance of casual fun that Hillel is known to excel at.
Jacob has been successful at organizing several college programs and trips connecting students with Jewish culture and history through guest speakers, impactful trips, and performing research with locations such as the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum while an undergrad and graduate student at LaGrange College.
When Jacob isn't in the office, he can most likely be found on the hiking trails in the DMV area, cooking up a new dish in his kitchen, or reading and discussing the philosophy of Franz Kafka's writings at the local coffee shop.
His top strengths from StrengthsQuest are input, maximizer, ideation, deliberative, intellection.
Sun graduated with a BA in politics and government from BGU with a versatile internship and volunteer background. He feels a higher need to represent his country, Israel, objectively through values of dignity. Leading the world to a healthy notion is his current goal.
Sun worked at the President's House - internship in the Political Department under the then Senior Adviser to the President. He had the opportunity to help with the relationship processes with foreign presidents and embassies worldwide.
During his military service, he served one year of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles training, followed by two years as battalion's medics commander at Artillery Corps.
His volunteering was focused on therapeutic surfing, where he learned to listen to patients' difficulties and guide them holistically toward a motivational and therapeutic process - surfing instruction for children with muscular dystrophy and children on the autism spectrum.
Having surfed since childhood, he is always on the lookout for adrenaline-filled activities!
My top strengths from StrengthsQuest are ideation, empathy, belief, strategic, and responsibility.
Sasha Stadnik was born and raised in Jacksonville, FL. She attended the University of Florida and graduated with a BA in Economics and minor in Secondary Education and Teaching. Currently she is pursuing her M.Ed. in Educational Leadership and Policy, also from UF (go Gators)!
After graduating from UF, she moved to Israel to teach English for 6 months in a middle school outside of Tel Aviv! She fell in love with Israel during this time and knew that she wanted to stay in Jewish education. Sasha is so excited to connect with our Hokies and share her love and knowledge of Israel with them.
Her top strengths from StrengthsQuest are activator, futuristic, individualization, input, and strategic.
Campus Marketing and Development Manager
Ashley Nalven (she/her) is thrilled to be a part of the VT community! She grew up in Indialantic, Florida, and graduated from Florida Atlantic University (go owls!) with a degree in Sociology in 2017. She spent the year following graduation teaching English in Israel. The next three years were spent working as UMass Hillel’s Senior IACT Coordinator, helping students foster meaningful relationships with Israel and Judaism. After a short stop in corporate HR, she is thrilled to be back in the Jewish non-profit world! She is excited to be starting a new chapter with Hillel International, where she supports Hillel at Virginia Tech, Oregon Hillel, and the Brody Jewish Center with their grassroots fundraising efforts. In her free time, you can find Ashley exploring new towns, making lavender syrup for her iced oat milk lattes, hammocking with a good book, or petting a nearby dog.
Her top strengths from StrengthsQuest are learner, developer, input, positivity, individualization
Annalee Thompson was born and raised in Chattanooga, TN. She fell in love with Southwest Virginia while attending Roanoke College, where she obtained a BA in History with an exploration in Religion. Annalee worked as a Campus Ministry Fellow at Roanoke and was very active in her college’s Hillel, but it was not until her Birthright Israel trip that she realized she wanted to make a career in the Jewish professional world.
When not at Hillel, Annalee loves reading, singing (she is a classically trained opera singer), making clothing and costumes, and baking. She is so excited to be back in VA and working with the amazing students at Hillel at Virginia Tech!
Her top strengths from StrengthsQuest are input, adaptability, woo, empathy, and arranger
Greg Herring studied Culinary Arts and Patisserie at the Jerusalem Culinary Institute in Israel, the world’s only kosher mehadrin culinary school (now defunct). He was the opening Head Chef at the Malcolm Rosenberg Hillel Center before going on to broaden his culinary horizons in NYC, where he worked in a broad diversity of cultural cuisines in varying degrees of fine dining. He then was the first full apprentice at Dickson’s Farmstand Meats, a whole-animal retail butcher shop. He continued in whole animal butchery for 8 years before returning to Blacksburg with his wife Amanda (Executive Director), two kids Abraham, and Simkha, and dog Mensch. Greg enjoys the opportunity to translate and trace culture through cuisine, and introduce people to new flavors and cooking techniques.
His top strengths from StrengthsQuest are strategic, command, self-assurance, relator, and ideation
Cat grew up in New England. She moved to the New River Valley after high school graduation and has never left. She loves "her" mountains. She has worked in various commercial kitchens and bakeries for the last 35 years. Cat enjoys learning new things in the kitchen. Making Challah and Chocolate Babka have become some of her favorite things to make! In her time away from Hillel, she also works for a local soup kitchen which she finds very rewarding feeding those in need. She loves to read and research her ancestry.
Cat and her husband Robert live in Radford with their two rescues Waylon and Pepper. English Setters who keep them on their toes. They enjoy regular trips to the Eastern Shore of Virginia. They have four adult children.
Rabbi Bruce D. Aft, Rabbi Emeritus of Congregation Adat Reyim in Springfield, Virginia serves as Hillel at Virginia Tech’s Rabbinical Advisor.
Rabbi Aft is a graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Philadelphia and received an honorary Doctorate of Divinity in June of 2006. He has been the Rabbi at Congregation Adat Reyim since 1991.