Director of Administration
Howard is a graduate of San Diego State University earning a degree in Business Administration with a marketing focus. Howard brings to Temple B’nai Torah over 25 years of business experience managing various businesses, including two successful start-ups that became market leaders in their respective niches in their first year (including kosher bakeries). In addition, Howard has been a volunteer and lay leader in two Jewish communities for the past 20 years, having served in Portland on the boards of the Portland Jewish Academy, the Jewish Federation and Cedar Sinai Park (Nursing Home; Assisted Living; Independent Living).
Howard has a passion for working with and serving people, be they staff, members and the community at large. His long-time reputation as the “super-organized detail guy” will certainly serve him well in his new role. Howard is blessed having a loving wife and three grown “kids”, and is delighted to be at Temple B’nai Torah. Most recently he was the Assistant Executive Director at the Sabes JCC in Minneapolis.
Debra J. Siroka, RJE
Director of Lifelong Learning
Debra J. Siroka, RJE has been a Jewish educator for more than 18 years. Prior to joining the professional staff at Temple B’nai Torah as the Director of Lifelong Learning, Debra served as Director of Congregational Learning at Temple Beth-El in South Bend, IN. In this capacity she helped transform and modernize a small religious school program into a vibrant intergenerational enterprise for the entire Temple community. Debra also acts as the Educational Consultant for the American Jewish Archives, developing interactive curricula using primary source materials from the archives vast collection. Previously, she was an Education Specialist at the Union for Reform Judaism with expertise in curriculum writing and development and family, middle school and high school programming, and adolescent development. Additionally, she is the author of adult education curricula including Adult Jewish Living and Learning Journeys Project, and the study guides that correspond to the Reform Judaism Think Tank Project. Debra also served as the Director of Jewish Learning at Temple Beth-El in Hillsborough, NJ for ten years. An active member of the National Association of Temple Educators (NATE), she received her RJE certification in 2000 and was the NATE representative to the Commission on Outreach and Synagogue Community, on the NATE board, co-team leader for Communications, and is currently co-team leader for Professional Development. She also co-chaired the Symposium on Jewish Identity that took place prior to the 2009 Biennial. Debra was a mentor for the Leadership Institute for Congregational School Principals, a joint project of JTS and HUC-JIR and has lead several workshops at regional and national URJ Biennials.
Bellevue native Nance Ruiz loves the Temple’s Bellevue location, just five minutes from her home. She enjoys working with numbers and people and has been with TBT since 1996. She also enjoys spending time with her husband, family, and friends, loves cruises and traveling, especially to warm climates. She’s the one to call when you can’t quite figure out your Temple statement or you need to have adjustments made. Nance is definitely a people person!
Marketing & Outreach Coordinator, Lifelong Learning
Jessica studied Environmental Economics at Western Washington University and spent most of her career in environmental outreach before joining the staff at Temple B’nai Torah. Although she now lives with her husband and two dogs in Kirkland, she grew up just a mile from the Temple. She’s also a writer and herbalist, and loves spending time outdoors, whether it’s in the garden, hiking in the mountains, or walking her dogs in the woods near her home.
From email marketing to communications, website and social media, Katie is excited to use her digital skills to keep the community up to date and connected with the most relevant information. She has a background in interfaith dialogue, works with a few different non-profits in the Seattle area and beyond, and is passionate about making this world a better, more connected and meaningful place. Feel free to drop her an email to connect!
Nestor Quijada is our Facility Manager and an indispensable member of our Temple team. He knows where everything is and how to make all of the equipment work the way it is supposed to. Anytime you need a special set-up for a Bar Mitzvah, wedding, dinner, or meeting, Nestor is the man who makes it happen. His skills, dedication, and good humor help to make Temple B’nai Torah the welcoming and comfortable community we are. Nestor is a native of El Salvador. He is married and has a daughter.