What's next for Alon Futterman?

Futterman been recognized by Globes as one of the ‘40 under 40,’ and by Yedioth Aharonot as one of Israel’s ‘People of the State.’

ALON FUTTERMAN: Accomplished and under 40. (photo credit: NIR ARIELI)
ALON FUTTERMAN: Accomplished and under 40.
(photo credit: NIR ARIELI)
 Alon Futterman came to Israel from New York in 1986 at the age of four with his father, Rabbi Matt, mother Chana and baby sister, Yael. Two years later, brother Itamar was born in Ashkelon where the family had settled and the parents still live. The father is a Conservative rabbi and Alon grew up in “his dad’s shul.”
Already as a 10th grader in Kibbutz Kvutzat Yavne High School, while active in the NOAM youth movement, Alon produced an evening fundraiser for cancer research in Beit Hahayal in Tel Aviv.
“The evening,” says Futterman, “was a huge success, especially for a 15-year-old producer. I think it’s safe to say it was the beginning of my career.”
His “career” was put on hold until he finished high school, after which he joined the IDF. His service was spent as an infantry combat soldier and later commander in the Nahal Brigade. 
During his university studies he entered the political scene, becoming bureau chief to Labor MK Shelly Yachimovich in 2005, and in 2006 began serving as a senior adviser to education minister Yuli Tamir.
While at the ministry, he was appointed secretary of the National Committee on Special Education Policy, headed by then-Supreme Court justice Dalia Dorner, which worked to improve the work of the country’s special education system. 
In 2011, he founded the El Al Ambassadors program, which marked the first initiative between Israel’s diplomatic corps and a leading Israeli corporation. After undergoing a training course, pilots and cabin crew, volunteering their efforts, speak before different groups, donning their work uniforms, during their layovers in any of El Al’s worldwide destinations.
They talk about Israel, share their personal stories, the varied cultures, and answer questions from the audience. As of this writing, more than 500,000 people worldwide have participated in this program, which has been temporarily halted by the coronavirus but is scheduled to return when the skies of the world open once again.
In 2012, Alon became one of the cofounders of the Yesh Atid party.
“My aim was not to be directly involved in its political aspect, although I worked hard for the success of the party, especially in its first year, resulting in a win of 19 seats in the Knesset. I chose a professional path in the public sector and that led me to TALMA.”
TALMA,The Israel Program for Excellence in English, began in 2014 in order to meet the dire need for qualified English-language teachers in Israel’s periphery. The Israeli government had added an extra month to the school year. It was decided to use that month for intensive English teaching in low-income areas, reaching out to secular and religious – to Israeli Arabs, Muslims, Christians, Druze and Bedouin.
After passing a rigorous vetting process, candidates with at least three years of teaching experience in any part of the world, are offered an all-expense paid summer doing volunteer teaching in needy areas together with a local teacher. In addition to the summer project, there is also a full-year program. Both include a fellowship for teachers to lead a movement for educational equity internationally. After a morning of teaching, the participants are offered a wide variety of inspirational enrichment activities, including meeting speakers, workshops, trips and various learning opportunities.
TALMA is a joint undertaking with the Israeli government, the Schusterman and Steinhardt Foundations, Seed the Dream, and Jewish Federations of North America. Futterman is the founding CEO.
Aside from becoming a top educational program in Israel, TALMA has also allowed teachers from overseas to develop a meaningful connection to Israel and Jewish identity. Several TALMA participants have even made aliyah and helped launch additional TALMA initiatives, such as English programs for children and adults in the ultra-Orthodox sector and programs funded by additional philanthropists including Gerry Schwartz and Heather Reisman. 
SURPRISINGLY, IN the year of corona, TALMA is stronger than ever, says Futterman.
“You would think,” he notes, “that during a pandemic, this type of program would take a hit, but due to the dedication and creativity of the wonderful people on our team, and knowing how to partner with Israeli decision-makers and administrators, we’re continuing to expand and are running in 30 towns across the country.
“When we began in November 2014, we started with only two. And we have recently had over 150 superstar Jewish teachers from around the world apply to join our full-year program. The successful applicants will teach in underserved Israeli communities, and we hope that they will be allowed to land in the country within a couple of months.” 
Futterman is especially proud of being an honoree for this past year for ELEM, a leading nonprofit treating and transforming the lives of troubled youth. He is also busy on the lecture circuit, giving talks in Israel and elsewhere (using Zoom during the corona crisis). He has lectured at universities and leadership programs as well as IDF and Mossad commander training sessions, and his topics mostly revolve around educational leadership. However, on occasion he is asked to talk about the Israeli political system and provide analysis. 
Futterman been recognized by Globes as one of the ‘40 under 40,’ and by Yedioth Aharonot as one of Israel’s ‘People of the State.’
He recently published his first book, Mikol Melamday (“From All My Teachers”), a compilation of interviews with the most inspirational educators in the country. Last September he was the guest of President Reuven Rivlin, who personally invited him to his residence to receive a copy of the first edition of the book. 
For Futterman, the sky’s the limit (no pun intended regarding El Al’s Ambassadors Program). The question his friends and family are all asking is, “What’s next?” 