Intentional Deep Experiences Across Lifecycles

Diana Ganger, “Oma D”, MSW
Co-Founder & Executive Director

Diana Ganger, M.S.W., works as a coach and consultant in Organizational and Educational settings.  A long-time Jewish educator, she was a graduate of the Wexner Heritage Foundation and is a recipient of the 2008 Covenant Award for Excellence in Jewish Education.   She made aliyah to Israel from Argentina with her husband and earned her B.A. degree in social work from Haifa University, and then her M.S.W. at Washington University in St. Louis, MO.  In Israel she implemented her first intergenerational program between a high school and and the elder residents in a retirement home. She specialized in gerontological social work and family therapy.

In 1985, Diana became Director of the Moriah Early Childhood Center, where she created a model of a family-centered school, that gained recognition throughout the country. She was a pioneer in fusing the Reggio Emilia approach and Judaism. In the mid 1990’s, Diana also implemented one of the first intergenerational programs in an early childhood center, that continues to thrive as grandparent figures “adopt” and become “adopted” in a classroom on a regular basis.

In 2004, Diana became Program Director of the Jewish Early Childhood Education Initiative (JECEI), spear ­heading efforts to redefine how families and institutions can become co-visionaries of Jewish life. As Program Director for JECEI, she developed and implemented a national vision for Excellence in Jewish Education.  Diana developed and oversaw the coaching and consulting work in schools across the country. The “JECEI” schools remain beacons of national excellence in Jewish Education.

Diana went on to develop and lead the Covenant Fellows mid-career Leadership Program, a national fellowship program. Diana worked at Rodfei Zedek, in Hyde Park IL, as the Director of Community Learning, to explore and implement a new educational vision. Since then, Diana has led educational leadership fellowships for excellence in Jewish early childhood education for educational directors across denominations. She coaches and consults nationally and internationally, as the Director of DG1818ConsultingLLC. She has a diverse post denominational lens. Her consulting experience includes all movements from JCC’s to Orthodox schools. Diana is married to Daniel Ganger and is the thrilled grandmother of seven. Communities/countries she has worked with:  Chicago, Seattle, Baltimore/Washington DC, Florida , Cleveland, Atlanta, Kansas City, Boston, New York, Denver, Detroit, California, New Jersey, Connecticut, Israel, Bulgaria, Romania, Argentina, and Canada. Diana’s areas of expertise include:

  • Organizational and systems leadership
  • Intergenerational work
  • Leadership through Jewish lenses
  • Excellence in Jewish education
  • Self awareness and leadership
  • Difficult conversations
  • Administration
  • Visioning
  • Jewish Big Ideas
  • Reggio Emilia Big Ideas
  • Developing a learning community
  • Culture change
  • Inquiry and reflection as the new cultural DNA
  • Collaboration and collegiality
  • Appreciative inquiry and leadership
  • Covenantal schools

Linda White, MSW, MAEd.,
Co-Founder & Creative Director

Linda White, M.S.W., M.A.Ed.,   is the founder and creator of Imagination Play Project, and an experienced educator and clinician.  As a Play Curator, her focus began with young children and has grown to working with people of all ages and abilities.
Linda works directly in elder centers in Bulgaria and Romania bringing her materials to engage with the elder population adding joy to their day.
She began doing intergenerational programs in Kansas City-”Articipation” at the Epsten Gallery and Village Shalom, connecting communities and generations through the arts. She uses loose parts and creativity to find whimsical and interesting materials that intentionally engage and awaken curiosity. To her amazement, Linda has found that same materials engage every age group. Drawing inspiration from the schools in Reggio Emilia, Italy, the rich aesthetic landscape of NYC, and nature, she creates experiences using a variety of materials that encourage open-ended exploration, engage the senses, and inspire creativity.

Linda has a Masters Degree in Social Work and Educational Counseling from Washington University in St. Louis. Linda completed her undergraduate degree in Behavioral Disabilities and Early Childhood Education, at University of Wisconsin-Madison. Linda is also a graduate of the  Wexner Heritage Foundation.As a trained clinical therapist, Linda has worked with families and children with behavioral, emotional, and medical challenges in private practice in St Louis, New York City and Westchester.   Linda has spent many years working with children and adults on the autism spectrum, and with a variety of neurological and developmental delays. Her private practice included creating and facilitating therapeutic groups with children and parents in community agencies, corporations, and schools.  Upon moving to New York in the 1990’s, Linda was hired as a Museum Educator at the Children’s Museum of the Arts in Soho. This led to facilitating a number of experiences for families and children as a museum educator at museums across the U.S. and abroad, including: Cooper-Hewitt, Rubin Museum, The Asia Society, Children’s Museum of the Arts Soho, Providence Children’s Museum, No Longer Empty, The U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC, and the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.For three years, Linda was a Play Curator at the JCC Nursery School in New York City, where she created a pop up materials studio and invited children from various classrooms to engage with open-ended materials.  This led to offering professional development trainings for educators and directors in New York and beyond. In addition to working with schools and community organizations through the Imagination Play Project, Linda currently acts as a Play Curator and Teaching Artist curating experiences with open-ended materials in a sculpture studio at the Children’s Museum of the Arts Soho. Linda collaborated with many talented educators and artists in NYC to create the ateliers, open-ended materials studios, that were set up as part of the Wonder of Learning Exhibit from Reggio Emilia. She has brought all this expertise to IDEAL18.

Sharon Goldman, JD.,

Sharon’s journey to working with educators on documentation,research, and action research, has been a winding one. As an educator and parent, she has marveled at the way intergenerational experiences enrich the lives of everyone it touches. In high school, while helping an aging teacher with struggling sight to read papers and grade them after school one day, he said, “Ya know, you should really think about becoming a teacher.” That seed grew serendipitously at Washington University in St. Louis, when a friend shared the Teach For America website with Sharon. One application process later, Sharon was in the first St. Louis Teach For America Corps. After requesting “anything but middle school,” she taught middle schoolers, (and their hormones) in north St. Louis. During this time Sharon witnessed the incredible impact of involved grandparents on children, as she partnered with several families where the grandparents were primary or additional caretakers. Sharon also saw first-hand the difficulties of a failing school district and the repercussions of the No Child Left Behind Act. She reconnected with her university passion for education policy, and completed her JD at University of Illinois. Sharon’s enthusiasm for research led her to write on the (false) evidentiary methods of Holocaust deniers, and edit the Labor Law Journal. Her passion for advocacy led her to intern as an advocate for migrant workers rights. Sharon’s joy in teaching led her to teach undergraduate Communications courses, and assistant teach Business Law courses at the University of Illinois. As an attorney, she worked as a litigator in a large law firm in several fields including labor and employment, and volunteered helping immigrants seeking asylum (putting her Spanish to good use). She took what would originally be a sabbatical to Israel, and turned it into more than four years! During that time, she researched Jewish Value Based curriculum as a Dorot Fellow in Israel, attended seminary, met and married her husband Michael, and started a family that now includes Yonah, Talia and Ashira. As they returned to the States, Sharon realized that she missed bringing theory back to educators, children, and families. She is thrilled to be doing just that at Moriah ECC as an Assistant Director, and Research and Documentation Collaborator. Sharon  is participating in my fifth year in the Jewish Early Childhood Education Research Collaborative, and led a community of practice for educators in Chicago on documentation and the use of photography to promote Jewish identity in Jewish Early Childhood Settings. Based on this research, Sharon co-created an emergent photography-based curriculum and co-founded Within the Image, where she is the Director of Education. She is currently leading a community of practice for Chicago educators based on Reggio Principles. Sharon also considers herself an advocate for the importance (and professionalization) of Jewish early childhood education, and has written on the topic.

Made possible with a grant from The Sunflower Fund