Alumni Spotlight Profile

Ariana Heideman '00
Ariana Heideman is a marketing and communications professional, Israel enthusiast, and owner of Starburst Communications. She also serves as the Public Relations and Special Events Director of the Israel Forever Foundation (IFF), an organization founded by her parents, Richard and Phyllis Heideman, and where her sister, Elana Yael Heideman '92, serves as Executive Director. In addition, Ariana works directly with IFF's North America Director, Heidi Krizer Daroff, current CESJDS parent of Lily Daroff (2019).

Ariana's family moved to the Washington, DC area in the late 1980's and she began at CESJDS in the first grade. Coming from a family with very strong connections to Israel, any subject related to Israel or the Jewish people were her favorites. Mrs. Edith Lowy, a Holocaust survivor and beloved member of the faculty, was Ariana's first grade Hebrew teacher. She had profound impact on Ariana's life, as she has for so many other students.

Of the many lasting memories Ariana has from her 12 years at CESJDS, the experience of journeying to Poland and Israel after graduation inspired her the most. It contributed greatly to her decision to later make Aliyah. "When we were in Poland, I kept thinking back to first grade and Mrs. Lowy. There I was, with friends whom I had been with since Mrs. Lowy's first grade class, walking through Poland and the camps. It was as if everything I had learned had now become so clear, so important. It became part of my soul."

Upon receiving her BS from Philadelphia University, Ariana made Aliyah and lived in Israel from 2005-2007, where she studied at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya and worked as a fashion stylist in Tel Aviv. She returned to the US to earn an MA in Public Communication from American University and subsequently joined WDCW-TV as Program Director. In 2012, Ariana launched Starburst Communications, an events and communications firm with a strong focus on Israel advocacy and engagement.

"CESJDS made it possible for me to do the kind of work that I do today. Attending a pluralistic school during the formative years of my life, I learned the importance of being able to communicate with those whose philosophies fit with mine, as well as those who do not. We each have strong ideas how to fit our individual beliefs into our lives, and I believe it is important to find a way of bridging the gaps, finding common ground and standing strong together as a united Jewish community. Through my work with The Israel Forever Foundation, I am able to create events and spread a greater understanding of Israel to help individuals and communities throughout North America celebrate and strengthen their personal connection to Israel."

Active in the global Jewish community on many diverse levels, Ariana is the International March of the Living USA Young Leadership Chair, BBYO Chapter Advisor, member of the RJC Leadership Council, and was elected Gather the Jews' 2012 Jewish Girl of the Year.

Ariana lives in Washington, DC and is the CESJDS Alumni Captain for the Class of 2000.

Read more from Alumni Spotlights