HUC Alumna Anna Hartman ‘15 Receives 2021 Covenant Award, One of the Highest Honors in the Field of Jewish Education

Anna HartmanAnna Hartman ‘15, a clinical faculty mentor in HUC’s Executive M.A. Program in Jewish Education (EMA) and an alumna of the EMA program, is a recipient of the 2021 Covenant Award. The Covenant Award honors educators who are forging change in the field of Jewish education, and the Jewish community at large, and is among the highest honors in the field of Jewish Education.

Hartman serves as Director of Early Childhood Excellence at the Jewish United Fund (JUF) in Chicago, IL, and Director of The Paradigm Project, a national organization. At JUF, Hartman has led the visioning, strategy, and professional development planning for Jewish early childhood education across Chicagoland. She also leads communities of practice around topics such as utilizing the Reggio Emilia approach through a Jewish lens. In addition, she conducts educational research on various issues ranging from reflective supervision to young children’s understandings of Israel.

“I feel deeply honored to receive this award from The Covenant Foundation,” says Hartman. “I am grateful for the opportunity the Award affords me to honor the educators working tirelessly and skillfully to support the learning and development of our community’s children. Jewish early childhood education, with its sacred partnership with families, is my beloved field and I am humbled to be among its ranks.”

Dr. Miriam Heller Stern, National Director of the School of Education, shares, “Anna is a Jewish educator who lifts up those around her in a profound way. As a clinical faculty member and collaborator on faculty research at HUC, as a thought partner on national and local task forces, Anna is a doer and thinker whose impact on the field of Jewish education is a gift.”

Dr. Lesley Litman, EMA Director, says, “Anna brings a unique constellation of qualities – curiosity, openness, boldness, grace and humility – to everything and everyone she touches. These qualities enable her to question and push us, her colleagues and students, to think more deeply and expansively. From her earliest days in the field, Anna opened new pathways for Jewish learning for any and all Jewish families seeking to learn and engage in Jewish life. Her rare combination of joy and seriousness of purpose as a leader is a blessing to the Executive MA program – both as a member of the Clinical Faculty team and when she was a student.”

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hartman led the development and organization of webinars for educators, collaborating with field leaders around the country. Focusing on skill building and leadership development, webinar topics ranged from reopening schools to racial justice in early childhood education. Hartman and her team also looked to support educators as they struggled with layoffs and closures through the development of the Early Childhood University. This initiative enabled 140 Chicago-area Jewish early childhood educators to take a variety of university courses free of cost. In 2021, Hartman also started three new national learning communities: one for new teachers, one for racial justice, and one exploring the Reggio Emilia approach from a Jewish perspective.

In 2011, as a volunteer, Hartman cofounded and has since directed The Paradigm Project, a network of practitioner-activists passionate about envisioning and realizing the potential of the early childhood years for children, families, educators, and communities. The Paradigm Project aims to multiply, nurture, and network the seeds of excellence in Jewish early childhood education by facilitating learning gatherings that empower educators with vision, tools, and a vital network of colleagues. Hartman has developed The Paradigm Project into a self-sustaining non-profit organization and oversees a group of volunteers who run its annual conference, which convenes 250+ educators from around the country.

“Anna is a tremendous thought partner,” said Diana Ganger, a Covenant Award recipient, and Co-Founder and Director of IDEAL18 who nominated Hartman for the Award. “And when she develops an idea, it always translates into action—and leaves a deep sense of possibility and excitement in its wake.”

Helene Drobenare-Horwitz, Executive Director, Young Judaea Sprout Camps, New York, NY, and Judith Turner, Senior Program Officer for Volunteer Services and Intergenerational Program Engagement, DOROT, New York, NY, are also recipients of the 2021 Award.

“As we emerge from the struggles of the past year and a half, it is such a joy and breath of hope to welcome Anna, Helene, and Judith into the network of Covenant Award recipients,” said Cheryl Finkel, Chair of the Board of Directors of The Covenant Foundation and a 1999 Covenant Award recipient. “It is also heartening to know that these consummate educators—all of them ‘doers’ in the best sense—are out there in the field, putting their heart into their work and creating opportunities for Jewish engagement across generations.”

The Executive M.A. Program has graduated 120 educators since its inception in 2011. Our graduates lead schools, camps, Hillels, early childhood centers, national organizations, youth engagement, and lifelong learning. To learn more about the Executive M.A. Program, click here or contact Dr. Lesley Litman, RJE, Program Director, at