Meet the Team

Staff

Marina Awerbuch

Aleinu Program Manager

Marina Awerbuch (she/her) is the Aleinu Program Manager at Sacred Spaces. Marina has twelve years of experience working with children and parents in community-based settings. Prior to joining Sacred Spaces, Marina served as the Manager of Advocacy Center Operations at ChildHelp Inc., a national child abuse prevention organization. She has led continuing education seminars for professionals and families on evidence-based parent education, trauma-informed care, and child development and conducted community outreach, education, and collaborative program efforts to enhance awareness of child development and child abuse prevention. Marina specializes in building program infrastructure and data management to best support the growth of non-profit organizations with a focus on children’s wellbeing. Holding a Bachelors of Psychology from York University, Toronto ON and a Masters of Advanced Study in Infant Family Practice from Arizona State University, Marina is endorsed through the Infant Mental Health Coalition of Arizona.

Shira Berkovits, J.D., Ph.D.

President and Chief Executive Officer

Shira Berkovits (she/her) is President and CEO of Sacred Spaces. A behavioral psychologist with a research background in creating large-scale organizational change, and a background in criminal law, Shira has spent years studying the intersection of psychology and law as related to sexual offending in faith communities. Bringing a uniquely Jewish lens, Shira partners with Jewish leaders to build healthy and accountable institutions, whose culture and daily operations foster sacredness and reduce the risk of harassment, abuse, and other forms of interpersonal harm. In her role as CEO of Sacred Spaces, she has worked with Jewish communities across five continents to prevent, handle, and heal from institutional abuse. Named to The Jewish Week’s 36 Under 36 for her pioneering work on abuse prevention, and awarded the JPro 2022 Young Professionals Award, Shira sits on the board of the Academy on Violence and Abuse and is a member of the National Coalition to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation.

Ateret Cope

Finance and Operations Manager

Ateret Cope (she/her) is the Finance and Operations Manager for Sacred Spaces. In this role, she develops, supports, and continues to improve efficient systems for managing Sacred Spaces’ finances and operations. Ateret has over a decade of operations experience working with a range of small and startup organizations. Specializing in procedural assessment and systems development, she has implemented and revised strategies to boost organizational effectiveness. Ateret previously worked at Sacred Spaces as Office Manager from 2018-2020, during which time she helped grow the team and build systems and structures. Prior to her return to Sacred Spaces, she worked as the Operations Manager for Classrooms Without Borders. With a Master’s Degree in the Business of Art of Design from the Maryland Institute College of Art, Ateret brings to the team a unique background of business operations, arts management, and Jewish culture.

Stephanie Gray

Keilim Program Manager

Stephanie Gray (they/them) is the Keilim Program Manager at Sacred Spaces. In this role, they oversee the online Keilim Policy Toolkit, manage Keilim cohorts, organize trainings, and support policy development work with individual organizations. They have been working for over a decade in grassroots organizing and non-profit consulting, with a focus on accessibility, LGBTQIA2S+ inclusion, and liberatory spiritual practices. In the past, Stephanie has led numerous trainings and overseen policy development projects. Prior to Sacred Spaces, they founded the Faulkner County Coalition for Social Justice, co-founded Reinvest in Conway, and served as a delegate to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. They are alumni of Avodah and JOIN for Justice’s Access to Power Fellowship. Stephanie received their Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the University of Central Arkansas and their Master’s degree in Philosophy from the Global Centre for Advanced Studies, where they are also currently a Research Fellow working on their PhD in Critical Theory.

Lauren J. Litton, Esq.

Vice President of Consulting

Lauren Litton (she/her) provides leadership and strategic guidance on the development and implementation of innovative and comprehensive programs, trainings, and resources. She manages a high performing team of Sacred Spaces staff and consultants in order to deliver effective case consultations and impactful programming. Guided by a commitment to human rights and social justice, Lauren has centered her work on promoting safety, well-being, and equity. She operated a consulting firm with specialized focus on domestic and sexual violence, civil and criminal justice reform, child welfare and juvenile justice, racial equity, and youth engagement. Working with the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and a multitude of national organizations, Lauren has tremendous experience managing large-scale, multi-system change initiatives. Previously, Lauren also worked as a program manager at the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, managed a legal services program for survivors of domestic violence and their children, and served as a county prosecutor. She has been admitted to practice law in Ohio and Arizona, has authored numerous publications, and designed national conferences. Lauren received her undergraduate degree from The Ohio State University and a juris doctorate from Case Western Reserve University.

Consultants and Policy Specialists

The mission of Sacred Spaces is no less than to bring every Jewish institution in line with best practice standards in preventing and responding to abuse. We cannot do this alone. Therefore, we have partnered Jewish social service agencies, already doing invaluable work in their communities, as well as the following policy specialists and trainers, to empower institutions with the education and tools necessary to protect their constituents.

 

Hadar Schwartz, Ph.D.

Hadar Schwartz is a licensed clinical psychologist with specialized training working with children, adolescents, and adults who have experienced relational trauma, including physical and sexual abuse. Hadar conducted trauma-focused individual, family, and group psychotherapy with youth victims of abuse and neglect and their non-offending parents at Jacobi Medical Center’s Family Advocacy Center and has run groups for adult survivors of child sexual abuse and survivors of campus sexual assault. In addition to her work as a therapist, Hadar has conducted research on sexual violence and sex trafficking and has published articles and presented at conferences on this topic. Hadar earned her PhD in Clinical Psychology from the CUNY Graduate Center, where she lectured on The Psychology of Women, and completed her postdoctoral training at Columbia’s University’s Counseling and Psychological Services. Hadar works in private practice in Riverdale and Manhattan and provides psychotherapy to individuals in a nursing home. She also consults with schools and universities on issues of sexual assault and abuse. Over the past year Hadar has been working with Sacred Spaces to develop model policies on preventing and responding to elder abuse in Jewish communal institutions.

Gillian Steinberg, Ph.D.

Writing Consultant

Gillian Steinberg is a writing consultant for Sacred Spaces, focusing on clarity and readability, tone, and consistency of diction and style. Because Sacred Spaces’ work relies on careful, sensitive use of language, Gillian helps to ensure that all of Sacred Spaces’ written materials are accessible, precise, and clear. Gillian is also a full-time English teacher at SAR High School in Riverdale, the Bronx, and serves as a writing coach for adults working on academic or other professional writing. She holds a PhD in English from the University of Delaware and is the author of Philip Larkin and His Audiences (Palgrave Macmillan 2010) and Thomas Hardy: the Poems (Palgrave Macmillan 2013) as well as numerous articles and book chapters on literature and pedagogy.

Victor Vieth, J.D.

Victor is the Chief Program Officer of Education and Research for Zero Abuse Project. He is the Founder of the National Child Protection Training Center (which merged into Zero Abuse Project) and previously served as director of the National Center for the Prosecution of Child Abuse and president of the Academy on Violence and Abuse. Victor has trained thousands of child-protection professionals from all 50 states, two U.S. Territories, and 17 countries on numerous topics pertaining to child abuse investigation, prosecution, and prevention. Victor gained national recognition for his work addressing child abuse in small communities as a prosecutor in rural Minnesota. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Pro Humanitate Award for Child Advocacy from the North American Child Resource Center for Child Welfare and the Heritage Service Award from the National Partnership to End Interpersonal Violence. Most recently, Victor received the “Victims Rights Legend” award. This is one of the National Crime Victim Service Awards, which are the highest honors in the field of victim services. Victor has published numerous peer-reviewed journal articles, books, and other writings pertaining to child abuse and neglect. He has consulted with public policy makers throughout the country and has testified before the United States Senate Judiciary Committee on reforming child protection education. He holds degrees from Winona State University, Hamline University School of Law, and Wartburg Theological Seminary.