JCHS develops the promise of each individual through the strength of community. At JCHS the deepening of each student’s unique identity is a process, not a product.
Supported by a team of dedicated professionals and guided by a group of visionary leaders, our remarkable educators affirm, encourage, and challenge all students to integrate varied perspectives and sources of wisdom.
JCHS Leadership Team
Mount Holyoke College – BA
Northeastern University – MEd
Lauren has over two decades of experience in college admission counseling developing relationships with colleges, universities, and individual families engaged in the college admission process. Prior to her role at JCHS, Lauren served as an Associate Dean of Admission at Mount Holyoke College, a selective residential liberal arts college for women in Western Massachusetts.
Lauren is an active member of the National and Western Associations for College Admission Counseling (NACAC, WACAC), the Bay Area Independent School College Counselor (BAISCC) consortium, and the Association of College Counselors in Independent Schools (ACCIS). She served as WACAC President in 2019-2020, is a member of the Fiske Guide to Colleges Counselor Advisory Group, a frequent contributor to NACAC publications, and an occasional commentator on college admission for ABC7 News Bay Area. Lauren holds a bachelor’s degree in American Studies from Mount Holyoke College, a master’s degree in Education from Northeastern University, and is an alumna of the Social Justice Training Institute.
Bryn Mawr College – AB
Mary Ellen has been a part of the professional community at the Jewish Community High School of the Bay since 2003. She has worked in the Admissions office, consulted on the report for JCHS’ initial WASC accreditation, and served as Development Associate in the fundraising office, before taking the helm of the Marketing Department. She is constantly inspired by the creativity, warmth, and authenticity of JCHS students and colleagues, who make working at the school a joy.
A native New Yorker, Mary Ellen Hunt has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1997. Mary Ellen trained as a classical dancer, later going on to work professionally with Feld Ballets/NY and Dance Theatre of Harlem. She earned her undergraduate degree in astronomy and physics from Bryn Mawr College before entering the Master of Fine Arts program at the University of Arizona.
Avidly interested in science and science education, Mary Ellen was a research associate for Sheila Tobias on the revised edition of her landmark book Overcoming Math Anxiety, and worked for several years in the San Francisco Exploratorium’s Center for Teaching and Learning, Tactile Dome and later in the Public Relations office. She has also taught physics, math and astronomy for the Summer Science Program, an intensive course of study for gifted teenagers sponsored by the National Science Foundation.
Her extensive background in the arts has served her well as a freelance writer and arts critic for the San Francisco Chronicle, the Contra Costa Times, Dance Magazine, Dance Teacher Magazine, Dance Studio Life, South Bay Accent, and Diablo Magazine.
Hebrew Union College – Rabbinic Ordination and MAHL
University of California Hastings College of Law – JD
University of California, Berkeley – BA
Howard Ruben joined JCHS in 2008 after having served as the senior rabbi for nearly a decade at Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple in Beachwood, Ohio, an 1,800-family Reform congregation in a suburb of Cleveland. He previously served as the executive director of Cincinnati’s Bureau of Jewish Education. In these roles, Rabbi Ruben particularly enjoyed helping Jewish teens find their path to spiritual and ethical learning as well as their love of Judaism and growth as adults.
Rabbi Ruben has deep roots in the Bay Area Jewish and secular communities. Prior to entering the rabbinate, he served as a partner in the law firm of Severson & Werson in San Francisco, and held lay leader positions on the boards of the Jewish Community Relations Council and the Jewish Bulletin of Northern California. He also held several leadership positions at Peninsula Temple Beth El in San Mateo. His work with Jewish teens dates to his time as the assistant director of UAHC (now URJ) Camp Swig Institute in Saratoga.
Rabbi Ruben graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, with honors; the University of California, Hastings College of Law, in San Francisco; and Hebrew Union College, in Cincinnati and Jerusalem, where he studied as a Wexner Graduate Fellow. He also was in the inaugural class of Rabbinic Fellows of the Hartman Institute in Jerusalem.
San Francisco State University – BME
Julie Vlcek-Burke began working in the development office in 2003, and has literally grown with JCHS. She knows the School’s history, is personally connected to many of our 400+ alumni and enjoys working with many of the same community leaders today who helped make JCHS a reality. While directing the Annual Fund, grants program, and Spring Celebration gala, Julie looks for every opportunity to creatively engage members of our community to share what she knows first-hand is unique and valuable about our school and our students. Julie is an active member of the Association of Bay Area Development Officers (ABADO), and the California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS), and serves on the Advancement Committee at the Katherine Delmar Burke School.
Julie obtained her Bachelors degree in Music Education/Tuba from San Francisco State University. She lives in the Outer Richmond with her wife and two young daughters, and still uses her classical music degree – most recently while performing trumpet in a live drag rock musical.
Rabbi Howard Jacoby Ruben
Head of School
Assistant Head of School
Mary Ellen Hunt
Director of Enrollment Management
Chief Financial Officer
Director of Development
Dean of College and Gap-Year Advising