Our Team


Rabbi Chani & Zev Baram, Co  -Founders   chani and zev.jpg

Since bringing the first two friends together in 2004, their shared leadership has nurtured an inclusive and welcoming environment. In the years that followed, they have brought together children, teens, young adults and their families for thousands of hours of friendship and fun. Together with the professional team, they continue to lead this dynamic organization inspiring our local community and serving as a model to organizations worldwide.


Rabbi Zev is a graduate of the Rabbinical College of America and holds a certificate from the National Leadership Consortium on Developmental Disabilities at the University of Delaware.  He has been working in the special needs community since his teens and has been trained and certified in various modalities of special needs intervention and support. In his role as executive director, Zev ensures thoughtful oversight of administration and programs and the execution of the strategic plan. He is actively involved as an advisor at all events and at Friends at Home introductory visits. He proudly leads the Friendship Circle’s Birthright Trip to Israel. Zev’s love of people and passion for those with special needs are ever present in all of his work. zev@phillyfriendship.com ext. 3 


Chani is a graduate of Bet Chana Academy in Israel where she augmented her extensive experience in formal and informal Jewish education and programming.  As the older sister of three siblings with special needs, Chani brings her unique personal experience and her many years working in the community. While Chani works with Zev to set the strategic direction and provide advice on the on-going operations of Friendship Circle, her primary role is to develop and nurture the personal relationships with our FC youth, parents, families, board members, donors and staff which are the backbone of Friendship Circle and its success. chani@phillyfriendship.com

shachar .jpg  Shachar Watemberg, Director of Operations: Shachar holds a degree in Psychology and International Relations from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She has worked with people with special needs in the field of occupational rehabilitation. Before joining Friendship Circle she worked as director of an employment center for adults with mental health disabilities in Tel Aviv, Israel. In her free time Shachar loves spending time outdoors and traveling to new and exotic places! Operations@phillyfriendship.com




Alexa Website.jpgAlexa Hinds, Development & Executive Coordinator :  Alexa graduated from Western Connecticut State University with a degree in Anthropology/Sociology. Before coming to Friendship Circle she was the Office Manager for the Center of Student Involvement at her school. Alexa assists with programming, scheduling, and organizing all Friendship Circle Activities. In her free time, Alexa volunteers at Community Learning Center and her yoga studio! office@phillyfriendship.com, ext. 4


Jess.jpg Jess Shapiro, Program & Curriculum Coordinator: Jess graduated from Skidmore College with a degree in History and English. She recently returned from London where she worked as the Program Assistant for a group of Skidmore freshman studying there. She brings a background in Jewish education as a Sunday School teacher and Jewish camp counselor, where she received training and experience working with children and young teenagers with special needs. In her spare time, Jess enjoys knitting and embroidery, as well as cooking and board games. programs@phillyfriendship.com  

FullSizeRender.jpg Cait Gilmartin, Lead Behavioral Specialist: Cait has worked with children and adults of all ages in different capacities across the Philadelphia area, utilizing skills in relationship building, teaching, behavior strategies, consultation and counseling. She is a graduate of SJU and Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. Cait holds advanced degrees in clinical psychology and school psychology, receiving a doctorate in school psychology in 2014. Cait has been having fun and meeting new faces at Sunday Circles and other programs since 2009. Cait loves making art and music in her spare time and tries to read a book every week! cgilmartin@phillyfriendship.com, ext. 5 


Behavior Specialists

Caitlin Gilmartin - Lead Behavior Specialist
Chelsea Andrews
Avriel Finder 
Meghan Garrett
Kelly Larson
Adrienne Maimone
Caitlin Oleski
Stephanie Solomon

Activity Facilitators

Sarah Gladwynne Camp - Movement 
Julie Caramanico - Yoga 
Michael Clipman - Drum Circle 
Daniella Forstater - Music 

Aislinn Gilmartin - Arts 
Liz Greene - Drama 
Jacki Kopen - Martial Arts 
Ben Laden - Music 
Rebekah Narli - Arts 
Aleah Sullivan - Movement 
Rebecca Salus - Improv 
Ami Yares - Music