Meet our Professional Staff

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Rabbi Dan Utley

Camp Director

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A Cleveland native, Dan is an alumnus of Beachwood High School and the College of Wooster, where he earned dual bachelor’s degrees in Music Education – Public School Emphasis and Physics. He received a Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management from CWRU’s Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences.

Dan developed a love for Judaism and Jewish community and music in his youth at The Temple -Tifereth Israel and as a camper and staff member of the URJ Goldman Union Camp Institute in Zionsville, IN. He was a member of the year-round staff at URJ Camp Newman in Santa Rosa, CA and on faculty at URJ Greene Family Camp in Texas – supporting campers and mentoring counselors for more than 15 summers.

Dan decided to pursue the rabbinate while working as Program Director at Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple where he led overnight retreats at Camp Wise Retreat Center. He was ordained in 2016 from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles, where he also earned a master’s degree in Jewish Education.

“I am looking forward to collaborating with staff, campers, volunteers, alumni and community partners to honor the 115-year history of Camp Wise with an eye toward the future of Jewish camping,” said Dan. “As a lifelong learner, I am excited to have the opportunity to strengthen Camp Wise and identify opportunities to keep the program relevant and progressive for the next 115 years.”

As a value-focused leader, Dan brings a culture of care and compassion to Camp that will build on the strong foundation of camp being a welcoming community where all constituent groups can find community and build their own Jewish path.

Dan and his wife Rachel (a Jewish educator), along with their three children Eitan, Judah and Benji, are ready to begin this next journey of their lives as they come home to Cleveland. Dan enjoys playing trombone, guitar and banjo and is excited to bring these talents to the Camp Wise community.

Rebecca Copeland

Assistant Director

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Rebecca Copeland joins the Camp Wise staff after five years at Case Western Reserve University Department of Physical Education and Athletics as the Associate Athletic Director for Facilities and Operations. Her wide range of responsibilities included the scheduling and oversight of the departments many athletic facilities, day to day operations along with event operations for over 200 varsity competitions and university events annually. Copeland initially served as Facility Manager for the CWRU Athletics Department from November 2004 through July 2007, before leaving for Johns Hopkins to become the Assistant Athletics Director for Game Operations. Following her time at Hopkins, she served as the Director of Events and Guest Services at the Pearlstone Retreat Center in Reisterstown, MD. Over her career, Copeland has also worked as the Coordinator of Team Operations for the Cleveland Cavaliers and Gund Arena, and as the Manager of Operations and Programs for the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission. She spent 4 years at Camp Wise (1985-88) as a camper and 3 years as a member of staff (1990-91 and 1994).  The highlight of her time at the Home of Happiness was her final year on staff as head counselor in Noar. Her responsibilities at camp will include staff recruitment, day to day summer programming, alumni engagement and fundraising. Outside of camp, Rebecca enjoys sports (watching them!), music (is currently missing live music), hiking and spending time with friends. Copeland received her Bachelor’s Degree in Actuarial Science with a minor in Business Administration from Ohio University, and her Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Cleveland State University.

Ezra Suldan

Assistant Director

Ezra will begin his role in May, upon graduation from Yale University in religious studies, and will be responsible for program design, camper recruitment and social media communications. In addition to programmatic creativity, he has a keen awareness of youth development and inclusion.
Ezra grew up in Baltimore, MD where he gained his first appreciation for Jewish overnight camp as a camper, counselor and village leader of Capital Camps (a partnership with Grater Washington, Richmond and Virginia Beach JCCs). In his free time, Ezra loves to cook, go on road trips and browse the cereal aisles at grocery stores to keep up with new products. Breakfast is his favorite meal at camp!

Amy Kalk, LISW-S

Community Care Manager

Amy’s Camp Wise story began long before she was an Ohalim camper in 1991 as she is a 3rd generation camper with both her dad and grandma attending Camp Wise. She was a camper through Solel and then spent another 9 summers working in a wide variety of roles (counselor, Art Shack Supervisor, Village Supervisor, SIT supervisor, and  Assistant Director) before her most recent (and reprised) role as the Camp Social Worker in 2021. Amy earned her bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of Cincinnati before coming back to Cleveland to obtain a Master’s degree from the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University. As a licensed social worker since 2004, she has worked in every aspect of healthcare and currently works as a social worker for an insurance company. Amy is so excited to be a part of the year-round team to help ensure the mental, emotional, and physical health of campers and staff. She is dedicated to the well-being and care of all campers while establishing trust, reassurance, and confidence between Camp Wise families and staff. She is also working on passing on her love of Camp Wise and all things Maccabiah to her husband, RJ and future 4th generation camper son, Hunter.

Hannah Mendelsohn

Office Administrator

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Hannah is excited to join the Camp Wise team! She spent many summers at Jewish overnight camp, both as a camper and a staff member, and is thrilled to be a part of the experience again. Hannah is a native Clevelander, and participated in many Mandel JCC programs growing up! Most recently, she worked for the Jewish Education Center of Cleveland promoting Jewish overnight camp and camper incentive grants. Hannah graduated from Hawken School, received a Bachelor’s degree from Brandeis University and a Master’s in Social Work from the University of Michigan. She is the proud mom of two current Camp Wise campers and has been a regular participant at our Camp Wise Women’s Weekend—for the past 13 years! Hannah is looking forward to working with our camp families and spending her summer out at The Home of Happiness.


Rabbi Shana Nyer

Judaic Educator & Rabbi

Rabbi Shana Nyer’s career at The Home of Happiness began as a camper in the late 1980s.  During the 1990s and early 2000s, Rabbi Shana returned in a variety of roles such as Arts & Crafts Specialist, Judaic Specialist and Program Director. After some time away, she returned to CW as our Jewish Educator in 2016 and has been with us since then.  When Rabbi Shana is not on camp, she serves as the Director of Lifelong Learning at Suburban Temple – Kol Ami in Beachwood. Rabbi Shana earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Jewish Studies at the University of Maryland, and then studied at Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in New York, where in addition to achieving her rabbinic ordination in 2003, she earned her Masters of Arts in Hebrew Literature in 2002, and her Masters of Arts in Religious Education in 2016. Rabbi Shana has published multiple articles on inclusion in Jewish Education. She is a gifted story teller who loves to teach Jewish values through this medium and also gets excited when her lessons combine her knowledge of and passion for Judaism, and her interest in all things pop culture.


Zach Rheaume

Facilities Manager

Zach joined the Camp Wise team in January of 2012 as a Maintenance Associate and became the Facilities Manager in the Fall of 2021. Before that he spent several summers working maintenance at the Scout camps he attended as child. Zach also spent time in California working and living among the redwoods repairing and maintaining buildings built in the 1930’s and 40’s by the CCC. He has a BS in Forestry with a concentration in Recreation Resource Management, an AAS in Forest Recreation, as well as a certificate in GIS all from Paul Smith’s College in the Adirondack Mountains of New York State. He has spent his time at Camp Wise designing and building almost anything the staff can dream up as well as helping supervise the SIT projects each summer. He can’t wait to see what he will get to build next.

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Chris Collins

Maintenance Associate

Recently returned to his home state of Ohio from Texas with his wife and 4 children, Chris joined Camp Wise in November of 2021. He has over 20 years of experience in the electrical trade and is looking forward to the many new trades he will get to be involved in working at Camp Wise.


Ron Cole

Maintenance Associate

Ron has been with Camp Wise since the spring of 2009. Originally from Conneaut Ohio, Run holds both a BA and MA from Allegheny College. You can find Ron on camp most afternoons during the off-season and all summer long. When Ron is not on camp he teaches teaching 20th Century US History and AP United States History at Chardon High School. Ron is married and the father of 6 children.

Summer Staff

At the heart of Camp Wise is a compassionate and energetic team of 150 staff members. Our staff is comprised of dedicated leaders working together to create a vibrant and comfortable Jewish community for our campers. Selected for their experience, skills, and dedication to kids, our counselors and specialists understand that they are the key to a successful camp experience for each child. Their caring and sensitivity create the foundation for a warm, welcoming home away from home. Our low staff-to-camper ratio ensures that each camper receives attention and guidance.

Work at Wise

Working at summer camp is demanding, with long hours, little privacy, and high intensity. The rewards are great – the joy of helping a child, the beauty of living in nature, and the excitement and fun of working as part of a hilarious, energetic team. Working at Camp Wise is an experience that will stay with you for the rest of your life.

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