Leadership TeamBoard of Directors
Originally from New York, Saul received a B.A. from the University of Michigan and his J.D. (high honors) from the University of North Carolina. Saul is married and has three adult children. Saul is passionate about music and plays guitar and bass often and poorly. Saul is fluent in Spanish and has a love for Latin rock and roll, culture, and literature. Saul is the Treasurer of the Lost Boys Foundation, which is a support organization for Sudanese refugees in Nashville. Saul is also on the Board of Directors of the Nashville Bar Association and is a member of its Executive Committee.
Didi Biesman is a graduate of Akiva School, and the parent of three Akiva graduates. After graduating from the University of Michigan and Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, Didi began her career in financial services working at Bankers Trust and Fidelity Investments before returning to Nashville where she and her husband Brian joined forces to begin a medical practice. Didi has been an active member of the Nashville Jewish community having served as president of the JCC, president of the Jewish Middle School, and a member of the Federation board. In addition, she served as a trustee for the Harpeth Hall Board of Trustees.
Ellen is a parent of three Akiva graduates, and was involved when they were students, when Akiva was a much smaller school. I am happy to once again be a part of the board. My children received an excellent academic education, and also learned the importance of Jewish values which they continue to apply in their adult lives.
Moshe first served on the Akiva Board in the early 1970’s and a year later, was asked to Chair the board and help raise funds for the school. Moshe has been actively involved in fundraising for Akiva ever since. He loves working to support Akiva because it is Nashville’s best chance for a strong Jewish community in the future.
Board of Directors
Dan serves as the CEO of the Jewish Fed. of Greater Nashville. A Jewish day school product himself, Dan is a champion of inclusive, inspiring and deep Jewish learning. A rabbi, lawyer, and non-profit executive, he is also now an Akiva parent!
Larry has served on the Akiva School Board for 9 years, including as its President. Larry is committed to Akiva because he loves how it provides a high quality Jewish and general education in a caring and loving environment.
Pam serves on the boards of Sherith Israel, The Council on Aging, Nashville Pride, and the Emergency Food and Shelter Program. Pam was named a Women of Influence in Nonprofit Leadership by the Nashville Business Journal in 2019.
Jeremy is the CFO of Qualifacts Systems, LLC. Jeremy is a graduate of Akiva and appreciates the tremendous impact the school has on its students and the broader community and is honored to be included on the Board of Directors.
RABBI LAURIE RICE
Board of Rabbis Representative
Rabbi Laurie is the co-senior Rabbi of Congregation Micah. She loves Akiva School and has three alumni children whose core Jewish identity and values were shaped by the teachers and experience at Akiva. She is honored to serve on its Board.
Iris currently works as a medical consultant for the TN Department of Human Services. Iris’s sons are Akiva graduates and Akiva continues to be an integral part of her life. Iris is also an artist and her work has been exhibited at several juried events, art shows and fundraisers.
Phil Shmerling is a Senior Vice President and Relationship Manager at Studio Bank. Phil graduated from Indiana University with a BS in accounting and finance, and also has an MBA from the Wharton School of Business. Phil and his wife, Laura, have three children, two of whom currently attend Akiva.
Gordon earned a BS in civil engineering and an MS in Public Management & Policy from Carnegie-Mellon University. Most of his career was in local government financial and engineering management. His interest in Akiva School is mainly in its facilities, which he hopes to improve as he serves on the Board.
Shannon holds a BA in psychology from Southwestern University and an MS in community counseling from Syracuse University. Shannon and her family moved to Nashville 6 years ago where she currently serves as the Development Director at Vanderbilt Hillel. Shannon’s son Ari will be in 4th grade at Akiva School.
Janet is a native Nashvillian,
married to an Israeli, and has three sons who graduated from Akiva School.
Janet has served on the board of the Jewish Federation and raised money for the Federation Campaign,
which helps fund Akiva School. She enjoys serving on the Akiva School Board, ensuring that any
Jewish child can get a Jewish education.