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Ryne Sandberg

Ryne Sandberg

Ryne Sandberg let his glove, bat and legs do the talking on the baseball diamond. And by the time his 16-year career was through, Sandberg's actions had announced him as one of the game's best second basemen.

Sandberg debuted with the Phillies – who had drafted him out of high school in the 20th round of the 1978 MLB Draft – in 1981 as a late-season call-up. Following the 1981 season, the Phillies and Cubs exchanged starting shortstops in a deal that sent Larry Bowa to the Cubs for Iván DeJesus. But to complete the trade, Cubs general manager Dallas Green – who had seen Sandberg while managing the Phillies – insisted on getting Sandberg as well.

It was a deal that changed the destiny of the Cubs.

In his rookie season, Sandberg – then playing third base – hit .271 with 33 doubles and 32 stolen bases, finishing sixth in the National League Rookie of the Year voting. The following season, the Cubs moved Sandberg to his natural position at second base, where he won the first of his nine straight Gold Glove Awards.

In 1984, Sandberg led the Cubs to their first postseason appearance since the 1945 World Series, hitting .314 and leading the league in runs scored with 114 and triples with 19. He also began turning on the ball at the plate and chipped in 19 homers on his way to the NL Most Valuable Player Award while earning the first of 10 consecutive All-Star Game selections.

In 1989, Sandberg reached the 30-homer mark for the first time in his career. A year later, Sandberg led the NL in homers with 40, while also leading the league in runs (116) and total bases (344) while totaling 100 RBI and 25 steals. He was the first second baseman since Rogers Hornsby in 1925 to lead the NL in homers and the first second baseman ever to hit 30-or-more home runs in consecutive seasons.

When Sandberg retired following the 1997 season, he held the record for most Gold Glove Awards by a second baseman (nine), the most consecutive errorless games by a second baseman (123) and the most home runs by a second baseman (277 of his 282 home runs came as a second baseman).

He led all NL second basemen in assists seven times and fielding percentage four times.

Sandberg was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2005.

In his managerial career, Sandberg coached in the Chicago Cubs Minor League system during 2006-2010 and the Philadelphia Phillies Minor League system during 2011-2012. Sandberg managed the Philadelphia Phillies from 2013 to 2015.

Currently, Sandberg supports the organization as a Chicago Cubs Ambassador and Spring Training Instructor. He also performs Postgame Radio Analyst on The Score.

Ryne Sandberg
LeeAnn Trotter

LeeAnn Trotter

LeeAnn Trotter is a feature reporter covering Arts and Culture and events happening around the Chicago area. She's also a regular contributor to NBC 5’s "Making a Difference" segments.


The Chicago native joined NBC 5 in December 2005 after working at CLTV for eight years. There, she anchored the weekend news and hosted the award-winning entertainment show, "Metromix: The TV Show," which earned her a local Emmy and several nominations for Best On Camera Performance.


Prior to working at CLTV, she was the News and Public Affairs Director at WUSN-FM, where she reported news on the morning show and hosted, "Chicago Up Close," a weekly public affairs show. She also worked briefly at Fox News and WGN Radio. LeeAnn began her broadcasting career at WBBM Newsradio 780, where she held numerous positions, including production manager and traffic reporter.


LeeAnn graduated from the University of Illinois at Champaign with a degree in Broadcast Journalism, and attended high school at the Latin School of Chicago.

Rabbi Charles E. Savenor We Are Here

Rabbi Charles E. Savenor

Rabbi Charles E. Savenor serves as the Executive Director of Civic Spirit. Founded in 2017, Civic Spirit provides training and support to Jewish, Catholic, Christian, and Islamic day schools in civic education. The mission of the organization is to educate, inspire, and empower faculty and students towards civic belonging, knowledge, and responsibility.


He recently finished eight years as the Director of Congregational Education at Park Avenue Synagogue (PAS) in New York. Rabbi Savenor came to PAS from the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ), where he served as the Director of Leadership and Organizational Development (2008-2014). Previous positions included the Associate Dean and Director of Admissions at the Jewish Theological Seminary (2001-2008) and Associate Rabbi at Anshe Emet Synagogue in Chicago (1996-2001).


Rabbi Savenor graduated from Brandeis University with a B.A., summa cum laude, in History as well as Near Eastern and Judaic Studies (1991), having spent his junior year studying at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He was ordained at JTS in 1996 with a concentration in Education. In 2008 he earned a Masters of Education at Columbia University, Teachers College. He participated in the 2019-2020 cohort of the LEAP Fellowship created by Clal and the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. He received an honorary doctorate from JTS in 2022.


He currently sits on the international boards of Leket Israel (the National Food Bank of Israel), Gesher and the Brandeis University’s Alumni Admissions Council. He previously served as the Education Chair of the Rabbinical Assembly.


Rabbi Savenor’s articles on parenting, leadership and Judaism in the 21st century have appeared in The Jerusalem Post, The Jewish Week, The New York Observer, Kveller, Hadassah Magazine, and The Boston Jewish Advocate. He blogs for The Times of Israel. He is currently writing a book called What My Father Couldn’t Tell Me.


Charlie and his wife, Julie Walpert, are the parents of two sons, Joseph and Benjamin. Raving fans of the Red Sox, Celtics, and Patriots, they make their home in New York City.

Lourdes Duarte

Lourdes Duarte

Lourdes Duarte is a four-time EMMY Award winner. She co-anchors the WGN Evening News at 4pm and is one of the station’s lead investigative reporters.  Prior to her role on the evening news, Lourdes co-anchored the top-rated WGN Morning News. She also hosts WGN’s public affairs program Adelante Chicago.

She started her journalism career as a reporter for Telemundo Chicago. She then went on to work in news markets throughout the country including Miami, Indianapolis and Detroit. While in Indianapolis she launched, produced and hosted the public affairs show “Hoy en Dia” which won an EMMY for its impact on the Latino community.

Lourdes has been recognized for her volunteer work and engagement with Chicago’s minority communities. Her alma mater, De Paul University recognized her as one of DePaul’s 14 Under 40. Most recently, the Center for Journalism Integrity and Excellence awarded her the Distinguished Alumna Award along with New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet.

When she’s not at WGN-TV, Lourdes is checking off locations from her travel bucket list with trips to Europe and South America. In 2017, Modern Brown Girl and Chicago Woman Magazine published her travel essay on her one-week stay in Argentina.

She’s also been a featured speaker and panelist for events and organizations throughout Chicago including the annual Dare to Dream Conference, Negocios Now, The Miracle Center and the National Latino Education Institute.

Lourdes received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication from DePaul University.

She lives in Chicago with her husband and daughter, Madeline.

Shoshana Conover

Rabbi Shoshanah Conover

Rabbi Shoshanah Conover is the 8th Senior Rabbi of Temple Sholom of Chicago in its    152-year history.  She earned a B.A. in English Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Dean’s List, Cum Laude. Her love of the Jewish people and Jewish texts, as well as a strong commitment to social justice, led her to rabbinical school. Rabbi Conover’s responsibilities at Temple Sholom of Chicago reflect her passions:    learning and teaching inspiring (and challenging) texts, leading dynamic and engaging spiritual experiences, serving as pastoral counselor, and finding ways to improve our world through the guidelines of our faith. Rabbi Conover is a Senior Rabbinic Fellow of the Shalom Hartman Institute.  She serves on the Steering Committee of the Chicago Status of Women and Girls Working Group and is in the founding cohort of the Aspen Institute’s Powering Pluralism Network, a national network of faith, civic, and academic thought-leaders who seek to weave a stronger fabric of civility in our national dialogue through institutions of faith. Rabbi Conover was honored to receive AVODAH’s Partner in Tzedek Award and the Chicago Board of Rabbis’ Rabbi Mordecai Simon Memorial Award as well as being a featured speaker at the Women’s March on Chicago 2017.  She enjoys co-hosting a podcast on Jewish and Israeli films called The Chosen Films.  Her poems and essays have been published in numerous collections including A Life of Meaning: Embracing Reform Judaism's Sacred Path, Seven Days, Many Voices: Insights into the Biblical Story of Creation, and Moral Resistance and Spiritual Authority. Rabbi Conover is grateful to work in and for a community in which she is proud to raise her two sons Eli and Ben with her husband Damien. 

Lizzi Heydemann

Rabbi Lizzi Heydemann

Rabbi Lizzi Heydemann is the founder of Mishkan Chicago, an independent spiritual
community in Chicago whose mission is to lead people toward greater purpose, connection and inspiration through dynamic experiences of Jewish prayer, learning and community building. At Mishkan we create Jewish spaces to bring your whole self to something larger than yourself and when we come together across the spectrum of background, age and identity, we breathe new life into Judaism. Since its founding in 2011, Mishkan Chicago has grown to serve 650 households with over 13% of households tuning in from outside of Chicago and 130 kids in Mensch Academy, Mishkan’s religious school. Rabbi Lizzi was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago, and graduated with Honors in Religious Studies and Philosophy from Stanford University, and was ordained by the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies. She was the first rabbinic fellow at IKAR in Los Angeles and is one of the founding rabbis of the Jewish Emergent Network, a network of 7 national path breaking communities reimagining Judaism for the next generation. She is one of a dozen people married to someone they met at Mishkan, and Lizzi and Henry’s children are growing up in a community where Judaism pulsates with joy, harmony, justice and love.

Bob Sirott Headshot

Bob Sirott

Generations of Midwesterners have grown up with lifelong Chicagoan Bob Sirott. First as a top Chicago rock and roll DJ in the 70s and later as a news anchor on CBS2, NBC5 and Chicago Tonight on PBS. Bob also worked as an anchor/ correspondent for the 1985 CBS-TV network newsmagazine “West 57th.”

Bob’s frequent broadcast partner is his wife Marianne Murciano who co-anchored the ground-breaking Emmy award winning “Fox Thing In The Morning” on Fox32 in the 90s.

Sirott’s radio career began when he was 21. While working as a producer and writer at NBC Radio in Chicago, Bob landed a summer on-air job at WBBM-FM.  Two years later, the former legendary Chicago rock radio powerhouse WLS took notice of his popularity and hired him for their 2-6pm shift, where Bob famously achieved great success for the next seven years before moving to television in 1980.

Sirott currently hosts “Icons of the Ivy”, a series of interviews with Chicago Cubs legends, on the Cubs Marquee Sports Network.

After several previous stints on WGN Radio, Bob is back home on “Chicago’s Very Own” AM 720 weekday mornings 6-10.

Bob is a graduate of Chicago’s Columbia College.

Of his many awards and achievements, Sirott considers being the voice of the coal mine exhibit at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry his proudest accomplishment.

Bill Kurtis

Bill Kurtis

Bill Kurtis is an acclaimed television documentary producer and host, and former CBS news anchor. He runs his own multimedia production company, having traveled the world for the Peabody Award-winning PBS series The New Explorers. He hosted over 150 episodes of COLD CASE FILES for A&E.

Bill is currently co-host on the weekly news quiz, “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me,” on NPR radio.

Using his journalistic skills and his background as a Washburn law school graduate, Bill authored, The Death Penalty on Trial: Crisis in American Justice. And offering a deeper insight into the news stories he has covered, his book Bill Kurtis On Assignment, also features his photographs.

He provided the satirical narration for the feature film comedy Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.

Michael Ahrens

Michael Ahrens

Michael Ahrens took up his position as Consul General of Germany in Chicago in August 2023. Before arriving in Chicago he served as Minister Counselor for Security and Defense Policy at the German Embassy in Washington, DC. Prior to that he was the Deputy Head of Division for Humanitarian Assistance at the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Berlin from 2015-2019. His previous postings included Counselor for Cultural and Legal Affairs at the German Embassy in Seoul (2012-2015), Consul at the German Consulate General in San Francisco (2009-2012) as well as at the German Consulate General in Shanghai (2003-2006). He also worked from 2006 – 2009 at the Federal Foreign Office on Humanitarian Assistance in Asia. Michael joined the Diplomatic Service in 1989. After a three year-training at the Diplomatic Academy of the Federal Foreign Office he was serving at the German Consulate General in Los Angeles as well as at the German Embassy in Belgrade, before returning to Berlin to the Crises Reaction Centre. He re-joined the Diplomatic Academy for a year in 2002. Michael is married and has one daughter and one son.

Richard Roeper

Richard Roeper

Richard Roeper is a nationally syndicated columnist and film and television critic for the Chicago Sun-Times, the film critic for ABC-TV in Chicago and the author of nine books on popular culture. His globally popular podcast has reached the top 100 in the United States, Croatia, Poland, Costa Rica, Hong Kong and Great Britain.


Roeper is the recipient of the National Headliner Award as the best columnist in the country and has won three Emmys. For nine years, Roeper was the co-host of “Ebert & Roeper,” which along with “Siskel & Ebert” was the longest running and most popular movie review show in the history of television.

Rick Krosnick.jpeg

Rick Krosnick

Rick Krosnick has spent more than three decades raising money to develop the land of Israel and strengthen the Jewish people.

Following posts with the Detroit Jewish Federation, the national United Jewish Appeal and the Chicago Jewish Federation, Rick joined Jewish National Fund-USA in 1999 to manage the Midwest region and ascended to the position of Chief Development Officer in 2010.

As CDO Rick supervises the national Campaign Cabinet, comprised of top-level lay leaders and professionals, to develop campaign initiatives, formulate short-term and long-range goals and identify fundraising opportunities in support of JNF’s life-transforming projects in Israel. Under Rick’s leadership, his fundraising team reached JNF-USA’s $1 billion ten-year goal, one year ahead of schedule, and now embarks on an ambitious campaign to engage One-Million Voices for Israel, a comprehensive donor acquisition program. Today, among dozens of other initiatives to build the land of Israel, Jewish National Fund-USA has embarked on the single largest project in its history, a $350 million, 21-acre World Zionist Village to be built in Be’er Sheva.

Rick is a graduate of the prestigious Wexner Heritage Foundation’s two-year course in Jewish Leadership.

Rick’s understanding of Israel and the political and socio-economic tensions of the Middle East were shaped by his work outside of the Jewish community. Beginning in 1985, for a nine-year period both on active-duty and in the reserve forces, Rick was an Intelligence Specialist in the United States Navy, serving aboard the aircraft carriers USS Nimitz and the USS Theodore Roosevelt. Much of Rick’s tenure in the Navy was spent with the U.S. Sixth Fleet operating in the eastern Mediterranean, confronting issues of state-sponsored terrorism and other threats to the security of the United States and our allies.

Yinam Cohen.jpg

Yinam Cohen

Yinam Cohen is the Consul General of Israel to the Midwest. He is a career diplomat with 16 years of experience in the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Before arriving in Chicago, he held the position of Senior Policy Adviser to Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi and Director of the Policy Department in the Minister’s Bureau.

Prior to that, Consul General Cohen was the Director of the UN Political Affairs Department, where he oversaw Israel’s diplomatic campaigns in the UN Security Council and General Assembly in Israel.

Between 2015 and 2018, he served as Deputy Chief of Mission in the Embassy of Israel in Madrid, Spain. There, he led the diplomatic dialogue with the Spanish government and outreach to Spain’s Parliament and political parties.

Previously, he served as Spokesperson and Press Attaché at the Embassy of Israel in Berlin, Germany (2010-2012), and as Deputy Chief of Mission in Bogota, Colombia (2007-2010). From 2012 to 2015, he was a diplomatic advisor to three consecutive director generals of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Prior to his diplomatic career, Cohen worked as a strategic consultant at Shaldor Ltd. He holds an MBA cum laude, as well as B.Sc. in Computer Science, both from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

Consul General Cohen likes exploring new cuisines and tries to balance the intake of calories with daily jogging. He speaks English, Hebrew, Spanish and German.

Cohen was born in Jerusalem in 1976. He is married to Ayelet and they have three children.

Click here to learn more about Consul General Cohen’s background, family, and plans to strengthen the relationship between Israel and the Midwest.

Bret Werb We Are Here Concert

Bret Werb

Bret Werb has served as the Musicologist & Recorded Sound Curator at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum since 1993, helping to build an archive and reference service used by researchers worldwide.  He has programmed the Museum’s chamber music events, curated its online exhibition Music of the Holocaust, and produced and annotated four CDs of ghetto, camp and resistance songs.  A contributor to The New Grove Dictionary of Music & Musicians, The Oxford Handbook of Holocaust Studies, Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry, Musica Judaica, and other scholarly books and periodicals, Werb holds a PhD in Ethnomusicology from UCLA, has lectured widely, and collaborated on numerous theater, film, recording, and concert projects.

Michael Siegel

Rabbi Michael S. Siegel

A graduate of Hiram College, Rabbi Michael Siegel was ordained in 1982 by the
Jewish Theological Seminary of America where he received his Master of Hebrew Letters. Rabbi Siegel came to Anshe Emet in 1982 as Assistant Rabbi and was named
Senior Rabbi in 1990. Rabbi Siegel is a dedicated leader in the Jewish community both locally and nationally. He has served on the Executive Council of the Rabbinical Assembly of America, the Jewish Theological Seminary's Chancellor's Rabbinic Cabinet, the Executive Board of MAZON: A Jewish Resource to Hunger and as a board member of the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago. Rabbi Siegel is a past President of the Chicago Board of Rabbi, and a national Co-Chair of the Heksher Tzedek Commission. Additionally, Rabbi Siegel helped to form the Hayom Coalition, an organization of synagogues committed to the transformation of institutions, and a re-envisioning of the Conservative Movement. Rabbi Siegel has been an avid supporter of AIPAC and a leader in the creation of their Synagogue Initiative. He has represented the synagogue at the White House on a number of occasions including the United States Honorary Delegation commemorating the 60th Anniversary of Israel's Statehood. More recently, Rabbi Siegel has worked hard to bridge the gap between African Americans and Jews in Chicago through outreach to clergy. He has worked to develop a study group between Rabbis and African American Clergy which has helped to deepen the dialogue and understanding between religious leaders. In addition, Rabbi Siegel currently serves as a Board Member on the Bright Star Community Outreach and Natal: Israel’s Trauma and Resiliency Center. As Anshe Emet’s Senior Rabbi, Michael Siegel is committed to the development of an open,caring and spiritual community. He seeks to further the historic role that the Anshe Emet Synagogue has played in Chicago and on the national Jewish scene. Rabbi Michael Siegel and his wife, Janet have been blessed with four wonderful children: Joseph, Rebecca, Deena and Emma.

Michael Simon

Michael Simon

Michael Simon became Executive Director of Northwestern Hillel in July 2010, after seven years on the staff of Harvard Hillel. As Executive Director, Michael works with students, staff colleagues, and community members toward achieving Hillel's mission of inspiring every Jewish student at Northwestern to make a meaningful and enduring commitment to Jewish life. Michael grew up in Long Beach, California, and completed a bachelor's degree in American Studies at Stanford University. He spent three years teaching elementary school in Los Angeles as a member of the Teach for America corps, then attended the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, where he completed a master's degree in Public Policy. Following graduate school, Michael worked as Policy Director at The Providence Plan, a nonprofit that works to revitalize and improve the economic and social well-being of the city of Providence, Rhode Island. Michael traveled to Israel for the first time in 2000 as a participant on Livnot U'lehibanot, and returned the following year as a Dorot Fellow. While in Israel from 2001-2003, Michael studied Torah intensively at the Pardes Institute for Jewish Studies and worked as a madrich (counselor) with the Nesiya Institute's summer program in Israel for American and Israeli Teens. Michael has participated in the Shalom Hartman Institute’s Fellowship for Campus Professionals, has served on the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs’ Jewish–Muslim Community Building Initiative Advisory Board, and is a member of the Board of Directors of Yahel Israel Service Learning. In 2013, Michael received The Rock Award from Northwestern University in recognition of his outstanding leadership at Hillel and his work toward strengthening the entire campus community.  The following year, he was named a Richard M. Joel Exemplar of Excellence by Hillel International. Michael is married to Dr. Claire Sufrin, Senior Editor at The Hartman Institute of North America. Michael and Claire reside in Evanston with their two beautiful boys, Jacob, who was born in March 2011 and Ethan, who was born in June 2014. The two have become the unofficial mascots of Northwestern Hillel and can often be found playing soccer in the  hallways of the Hillel building.

Kelley Szany

Kelley Szany

Senior Vice President of Education and Exhibitions, Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center

During her over 20-year tenure Szany has become an internationally recognized leader in Holocaust and genocide education. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Association of Holocaust Organizations and Educators Institute for Human Rights. She also serves as Co-Chair of the Illinois Holocaust & Genocide Commission. Szany has won multiple awards for her educational and human rights work, including the Samuel Goldsmith Award from the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, Damen Award from the Graduate School at Loyola University of Chicago, and the Carl Wilkens Fellowship where she worked alongside national leaders to create and strengthen a permanent anti-genocide constituency through both advocacy work and influence of U.S. policy. Executive Producer and Producer of ten documentary and virtual films on the Holocaust, her work has won a Midwest Emmy and awarded official selections at film festivals across the globe, including Venice International Film Festival and SXSW. Szany is also the author of scores of journalistic pieces and scholarly chapters, with recent publications in Teaching About Genocide: Insights and Advice from Secondary Teachers and Professors.

Steven Stark Lowenstein

Rabbi Steven Stark Lowenstein

Rabbi Steven Stark Lowenstein was ordained at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, Ohio in June, 1995. In July of 2002 he began his tenure as the Senior Rabbi of Am Shalom. Prior to Am Shalom, Rabbi Lowenstein spent seven years as the Associate Rabbi, with a full range of rabbinic responsibilities, at Temple Sholom of Chicago, the largest Reform congregation in Illinois. Rabbi Lowenstein has a wealth of experience in rabbinic and pastoral service. He is a talented chaplain, preacher and youth worker with experience in Jewish camping, and has worked with senior members of the temple on issues regarding adulthood and aging. During rabbinical school, Rabbi Lowenstein was spiritual leader for congregations in Ohio, Michigan, and Oklahoma. He has also developed and taught high school and religious school courses in many areas of Jewish life. He is the author of For the Love of Being Jewish, published in 2010, and For the Love of Israel, published in 2012. “Rabbi Steve” loves to travel and leads congregational missions regularly to Cuba and to Israel. Rabbi Lowenstein is married to Julie Stark, currently President of The Stark Solution, a corporate training and development organization. The Stark-Lowensteins’ greatest accomplishments are their two sons, Benjamin and Noah. Currently involved with: Glencoe Clergy Association, North Shore Fellowship of Rabbis,Steering Committee, Chicago Public School Interfaith Partnership,Gilda’s Club Chicago United States Holocaust Memorial Museum,President’s Council-Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.

Raven Schwam-Curtis

Raven Schwam-Curtis

Raven Schwam-Curtis (shh-wahm) is a full-time content creator, keynote speaker, and recent Northwestern University graduate. Her research explores intersectional histories with a focus on Black and Jewish relationality. Bringing the expertise of academia to life in digital spaces allows Raven to serve the communities she loves and cherishes. As Gen Z increasingly turns to digital methods of learning educators need to adapt. And as a member of Gen Z themselves, Raven is up for the challenge!

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