We are incredibly proud to welcome leaders from communities across the country as the keynote speakers and workshop facilitators of Pursuing Justice 2020.
May 3–5, 2020
MARRIOTT WARDMAN PARK
Founder, Black Futures Lab
Alicia Garza founded the Black Futures Lab to make Black communities powerful in politics. In 2018, the Black Futures Lab conducted the largest survey of Black communities in over 150 years.
Alicia believes that Black communities deserve what all communities deserve — to be powerful in every aspect of their lives. An innovator, strategist, organizer, and cheeseburger enthusiast, she is the co-creator of #BlackLivesMatter and the Black Lives Matter Global Network, an international organizing project to end state violence and oppression against Black people. The Black Lives Matter Global Network now has 40 chapters in 4 countries.
Alicia serves as the Strategy & Partnerships Director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance, the nation’s premier voice for millions of domestic workers in the United States. She is also the co-founder of Supermajority, a new home for women’s activism. She shares her thoughts on the women transforming power in Marie Claire magazine every month.
Her forthcoming book, tentatively titled How to Turn a Hashtag Into a Movement will be published in 2020, and she warns you — hashtags don’t start movements. People do.
President, Color of Change
Rashad Robinson is President of Color Of Change, a leading online racial justice organization. Driven by more than 1.5 million members working to build political and cultural power for Black communities, Color Of Change is creating a more human and less hostile world for all people in America.
Color Of Change uses an innovative combination of technology, research, media savvy and local community engagement to build powerful movements and change the industries that affect Black people’s lives: in Silicon Valley, Hollywood, Wall Street, Washington, prosecutor offices, capitol hills and city halls around the country.
Rashad has led the organization in developing cutting-edge strategies to accelerate reform in the criminal justice system and win justice for its victims, increase electoral participation, cut off corporate support for right-wing organizations, and change the representation of Black people and social issues in news and entertainment media.
Rae Abileah is a social change strategist, author, and troublemaker for collective liberation. She is a trainer and editor at Beautiful Trouble, and is the co-creatrix of the global Climate Ribbon art ritual. She was the co-director of CODEPINK, consulted on digital strategy for social justice at ThoughtWorks, and now runs her own consultancy, CreateWell. Rae is a contributing author to books including Beyond Tribal Loyalties: Personal Stories of Jewish Peace Activists. Rae graduated from Barnard College with a dual degree in Environmental Science and Human Rights, and received ordination by the Kohenet Hebrew Priestess Institute. She’s based in the Colorado Rockies. Raeabileah.com | @raeabileah
Sanaa Abrar serves as the Advocacy Director at United We Dream, the largest immigrant youth-led network in the nation. Sanaa leads the network in crafting federal and state and local policies and advocacy campaigns that are informed by the vision shared by immigrant youth across the country. She was born in Karachi, Pakistan and immigrated with her mother at three months old to reunite with her father in the United States. She shares in the UWD vision of reaching out to other sisters of color who feel isolated and ostracized by their communities, to build together, organize and win.
Sivan Battat is an Iraqi-Jewish theatre director, cultural worker and community organizer. She has worked at numerous theaters in NYC, regionally, and internationally. Sivan is currently directing a solo comedy show starring Noam Shuster entitled Coexistence My Ass. Previously, Sivan Artistic Coordinated JFREJ Mimouna. She teaches storytelling workshops across various communities as well as courses at the Jews of Color Torah Academy. Sivan recently completed the Dorot Fellowship, where she studied Mizrahi Feminisms and Arabic. She comes from a legacy of women who take care of women, from Baghdad to Brooklyn, and is proud to walk in their paths.
Rakia has an undergraduate degree in criminology and forensic science from South University and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth. She is also a religious school teacher at Congregation Shir Tikvah and teaches psychology and political science at Wayne County Community College District. As former program coordinator of gardens and food for Hazon Detroit, she helped set up many gardens for local synagogues and designed the Sensory Garden at Tamarack Camps Farber Farm. She’s a doula, urban farmer, “weaver of ritual and keeper of sacred space,” and was recently ordained through the Kohenet Hebrew Priestess Institute.
Helen Bennett works to help people remember how crucial it is to trust and depend on each other. Helen is a community organizer, facilitator, network weaver, spiritual director, and movement chaplain. Helen is a co-founder of Tzedek Lab, a national network of Jewish political educators, organizers and spiritual leaders building collective competency to politicize, transform, and inspire the Jewish community into collective action against racism, antisemitism, and white supremacy. Helen works with Kavod House, IfNotNow, and Never Again Action in embodying liberatory movement culture. She has worked with the Ayni Institute, Momentum Community, and JOIN for Justice and is featured on the Healing Justice Podcast and How We Gather. Helen is a Seattle native now based in Boston. Her ancestors came from Eastern Europe.
Since he was a teenager, Eddie Chavez Calderon has been deeply involved in social justice work. From the trenches to the coasts and everywhere in between, Eddie fights for a progressive movement that works towards a more inclusive, diverse America. Despite having many obstacles in his way, nothing has deterred Eddie from continuing to fight for the Latino community as well as LGBTQ+ acceptance and inclusion, woman’s rights, economic justice, workers’ rights, citizenship and civic engagement, voter equality, and much more! He is excited to be a part of an interfaith coalition to continue to advocate for the dignity of every person no matter their creed or national origin.
Nadav David is a Boston-based multiethnic Jewish organizer with roots in Iraq and Poland. His work centers around racial and economic justice as a leader in cultivating relationships between Kavod, his spiritual and political home, and grassroots organizations, and in his full-time role as a financial coach supporting families living in subsidized housing. His organizing projects focus on building an economy with the Boston Ujima Project that shifts wealth and power to Black and Brown communities, developing safety strategies for communities that rely on solidarity rather than law enforcement, and co-leading a Jews of Color, Indigenous Jews, Sephardim + Mizrahim caucus.
Sue Ellen Dodell has been a lawyer and administrative law judge for more than 40 years and a Jewish political activist her entire life. She was General Counsel to NYC’s Campaign Finance Board, Deputy General Counsel to NYC’s Comptroller, and drafted legislation and lobbied in D.C., Albany, and NYC. She’s been a leader in her local Conservative synagogue and active in an alternative synagogue, Lab Shul. She loves working with Bend the Arc to lobby local legislators and plan rallies and actions relating to immigration. She received her J.D. from the Columbia University School of Law, and an A.B. from Mount Holyoke College.
Diana Dvora Falchuk is an artist, mother, organizer, facilitator, coach and strategic consultant who works in diverse contexts – from Jewish community to government, social services and arts organizations – to cultivate belonging and justice, integrating arts and culture to shift culture and policy. In addition to consulting, Diana works for the City of Seattle Race and Social Justice Initiative and is a partner with Our Bodhi (Belonging, Organizing, Decolonizing, Health and Interconnectedness) Project. The daughter of a Venezuelan immigrant, granddaughter of Ashkenazi refugees, and someone living with chronic illness, Diana is moved by a commitment to physical and spiritual healing across generations.
Kohenet Keshira haLev Fife is a community shepherdess, shlichat tzibbur (prayer leader), lifespiral ceremony officiant, ritual creatrix, liturgist, songstress and public speaker. She is founder and leader of Kesher Pittsburgh and serves as Oreget Kehilah / Executive Director of the Kohenet Hebrew Priestess Institute. Her work in these realms and beyond is informed by her lived experience as a Jewish Woman of Colour and the quandries she encounters as a scholar of the Orphan Wisdom School. After living in Sydney, Australia, for 13 years, she and her beloved have returned to Pittsburgh, PA, where they nest when they're not on the road. www.keshirahalev.com
Amy Fischer is a Legislative Assistant for Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), covering issues including immigration and criminal justice. Previously, Amy coordinated the Defund Hate Campaign for Detention Watch Network (where she had the opportunity to work closely with Bend the Arc) and served as Policy Director with RAICES. Amy grew up outside Nashville, Tennessee, has a bachelor’s from Brandeis University, and a Masters in Public Policy from the University of Maryland. Amy’s introduction to the policy world came through community organizing with undocumented youth and people involved in the criminal legal system. She believes good policy should be grounded in the communities it impacts, with the goal of making our world a bit more just every day.
Tamara Fish (Harvard, A.B.; Union Theological Seminary, MA; Columbia, M.Phil.), co-founder of Khazbar, served as a former professor of religion at Manhattan College in Riverdale, NY; Asst. Dir. of the Office of the University Chaplain at Columbia Univ., a Bend the Arc NY chapter Leadership Team member, and a president of Jewish Multiracial Network. The immediate past president of Congregation Tehillah in Riverdale, Tamara welcomes the opportunity to help synagogues, clergy, seminars, boards and workshops acquire practical methods for actively including Jews of Color in Jewish communities. She is a member of two synagogues and the author of “Ahead of Yom Kippur, How Can You Repair Relationships with African-American Jews?” (The Forward, Oct 11, 2016).
For more than a decade, Arielle Gingold has advocated for social justice and progressive policies in Washington, D.C. As the Deputy Washington Director of Bend the Arc: Jewish Action, Arielle represents the organization on Capitol Hill, at political events, and in diverse coalitions on a range of domestic policy issues. Arielle also spent a year as the National Conference Director for Bend the Arc’s Pursuing Justice 2016. Before joining Bend the Arc in 2013, Arielle served as the Deputy Director for Public Policy of the Interfaith Alliance, and was a Legislative Assistant at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.
A graduate of Columbia University, Rabbi Meyer was ordained by HUC-JIR in New York. She currently serves as Rabbi-in-Residence at HIAS, where she develops educational materials, resources, and programs that educate American Jews about refugee issues, connecting the plight of contemporary refugees to Jewish values and history. Before joining HIAS, Rabbi Meyer served as Assistant Rabbi at Congregation Rodeph Sholom in New York City. Her writing has been featured in the Forward and she is the author of an essay that appears in the book Seven Days, Many Voices: Insights Into the Biblical Story of Creation.
Heron Greenesmith is the Senior Research Analyst for LGBTQI Justice at Political Research Associates. Heron has worked in LGBTQ advocacy for over a decade with the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, the Movement Advancement Project, Family Equality Council, and the National LGBTQ Task Force. They specialize in advocacy for bisexual and pansexual people. Heron is a graduate of the University of New Hampshire and American University, Washington College of Law. Heron is admitted to the New York and Massachusetts bars. They are a former board member of the Massachusetts LGBTQ Bar Association, a former board member of the National LGBT Bar Association, a former Rockwood Leadership Institute Fellow, and a returned Peace Corps Volunteer.
Sarah is the daughter of a refugee, and was born in San Francisco. As a Romani Jew, uplifting marginalized Jews of Color is forefront in her mind. She currently works with the San Francisco Jewish Federation, and also volunteers with numerous housing justice organizations in the Bay Area.
In her role as Fellowship Director and Trainer at Jewish Organizing Institute and Network (JOIN) for Justice, Allegra Heath-Stout (she/her) supports the development of young adult Jewish community organizers through the Jewish Organizing Fellowship. Allegra has spearheaded the creation of the Empower Fellowship, an initiative designed to support disabled Jewish organizers and train all of our Fellows and local justice organizations to work against ableism. Prior to coming to JOIN in 2016, Allegra organized low-income people with disabilities at Boston Center for Independent Living. Allegra lives in Somerville, MA, and serves on the board of Disability Policy Consortium.
Matthew Hom is a Bend the Arc leader in Southern California whose Jewish identity is rooted in social justice. After pursuing graduate studies in ancient Jewish history at New York University, he participated in the Jeremiah Fellowship’s 2017 Los Angeles cohort. Much of his work with Bend the Arc has focused on representing the progressive Jewish movement within Orange County’s vibrant and diverse immigration coalition via lobbying, rapid response activities, community events, and direct actions. Matthew also does Jewish immigration advocacy with Never Again Action, and he has worked as a professional organizer for statewide and congressional campaigns in California.
Rabbi David Jaffe leads the Inside Out Wisdom and Action (IOWA) Project, which integrates Jewish spiritual practices like Mussar and Chassidic prayer with social change activism. He is the author of Changing the World from the Inside Out, which won the 2016 National Jewish Book Award. David got his start in activism organizing to combat homelessness in San Francisco and was among the founders of the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization. He serves on the board of the Brockton Interfaith Community, which is building an alternative economy based on empowerment and asset creation among traditionally marginalized populations. He lives in Sharon, MA with his partner and two teenage boys.
Rachel Kann’s latest poetry collection is How to Bless the New Moon, from Ben Yehuda Press. She is a poet, performer, ceremonialist and teaching artist. She’s a 2019 WORD: Bruce Geller Memorial Prize recipient, a 2017 Asylum Arts Reciprocity Fellow and the 2017 Outstanding Instructor of the Year at UCLA Extension Writers' Program. She leads Realize Paradise Shabbat Soul Journeys and New Moon Union Rosh Chodesh Circles and is initiated as Tzovah through Kohenet: The Hebrew Priestess Training Program.
Hannah is a National Organizer with Bend the Arc where she supports and conspires with leaders across the country to build community and organize powerfully through Moral Minyans. She is passionate about creating deep relationships through story telling and experimenting with new organizing models. She comes to Bend the Arc with experience in electoral campaigns, movement building and faith based community organizing. When she’s not organizing, she can be found drinking coffee, exploring the outdoors, and befriending random cats.
Meir Lakein, JOIN for Justice's Director of Organizing, has worked as a professional community organizer for 30 years, helping develop the model for engaging Jewish communities in broad based organizing, and serving as the mentor of a generation of young organizers and rabbis. Prior to coming to JOIN, Meir served as the lead organizer of the Boston Jewish Community Relations Council and the Brockton Interfaith Community and organized public housing tenants in Israel and homeless people in Connecticut.
Abby is the first director of the Jewish Social Justice Roundtable. Under her leadership, the Roundtable has tripled in size, supported sector-wide efforts on civic engagement and racial equity, inclusion and diversity, and organized conferences of 150 people across the network. Previously, Abby worked in Columbus, Ohio with America Votes, and served as the founding San Francisco staff member for Progressive Jewish Alliance, now Bend the Arc. Abby received an Abraham Joshua Heschel award from Jews United for Justice and is a Senior Schusterman Fellow. She has a BA in political science from Yale University and lives in Washington, DC with her husband and two kids.
Ben Lorber works at Political Research Associates, a progressive think tank, as a researcher focusing on antisemitism and white nationalism. He has worked as an organizer, writer and movement-builder for over a decade, and has written extensively on matters of Jewish identity, history and spirituality, antisemitism, Middle East peace, and other justice issues for a variety of outlets. Ben lives in Boston and blogs at doikayt.com.
Megan Pamela Ruth Madison, a Ph.D. candidate at Brandeis University, studies social policy, specifically racial inequities in early childhood education. Before graduate school, she co-led a Head Start preschool classroom in Chicago. When not working on her dissertation, Megan facilitates workshops for teachers on race, gender, and sexuality. She recently served on the Governing Board of the National Association for the Education of Young Children, and currently serves on the boards of JOIN for Justice and JFREJ.
Brandon Mond (he/him/his) is a Jew from Texas rooted in the southern United States, trying to build power with our people and other marginalized communities. He is currently a statewide organizer for Carolina Jews for Justice where he focuses on the issue areas of economic justice and white nationalism. With his other hats, Brandon is a co-founder of Never Again Action and has been an active leader on the local and national level of IfNotNow. He also enjoys hammocking and river swimming.
Rev. Alba Onofrio (aka Reverend Sex) lives and loves in la Lucha with QTPOC folks as a Spiritual Healer and Bruja Troublemaker to combat spiritual terrorism, reclaim Guad, and eradicate shame and fear wherever they are found. They hold a Masters of Divinity degree from Vanderbilt Divinity School, where their studies focused on the theologies of sex, embodiment of the Divine in the Queer Colonized body, and sexual ethics based in Queer desire. As the Co-Executive Director and Spiritual Strategist for Soulforce, Reverend Sex sabotages Christian Supremacy for Queer Liberation all over the place, but most fondly in the US South and in solidarity with the Global South.
Catherine Orsborn has served as the Executive Director of Shoulder to Shoulder since 2014. Previously, Catherine co-led the Social Justice Community at the University of Denver while working on her doctoral studies in religion, conflict and peace. She also worked as a researcher at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies, examining the interactions between religion and peacebuilding in deeply divided societies.Catherine received her undergraduate degree from Asbury University in Kentucky, holds a master’s degree in Religious Studies from the University of Denver and recently earned her PhD in Religious Studies from the University of Denver. She lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband, son, and daughter.
Amelia Mae Paradise is the founder of the Jewish Bridge Project of New Mexico where she works locally and nationally as an antiracism educator, consultant, and facilitator in Jewish and interfaith communities. She is a white, lesbian member of Tzedek Lab, a multi-racial, multi-ethnic network of Jewish political educators, organizers, and spiritual leaders inspiring the Jewish community into collective action against racism, antisemitism, and white supremacy. Guided by the responsibility to honor and continue the work of her feminist foremothers in dismantling systemic oppression, Amelia embraces the wisdom that living in a less brutal and racist culture benefits all members of society. www.ameliaparadise.com.
Rachel Plattus is an organizer and popular educator living in Boston, MA. She stewards Taproot, an intergenerational Jewish learning community, and is a member of Tzedek Lab. Rachel supports communities of women religious and spiritually diverse seekers to take action as Co-Coordinator of Nuns & Nones. She is Co-Creator of Beautiful Solutions, a storytelling and popular education project supporting people to imagine and create community-controlled solutions to the problems they face. She believes in the power of silence, wild places, bodies in motion, and creating spaces that bring us into conversation, connection, and collective action with one another.
Kate Poole is an Investment Advisor working with people who have inherited wealth to design and implement investment portfolios that embody an explicit commitment to racial and economic justice. Kate co-founded Chordata Capital with Tiffany Brown in the summer of 2018. She has worked in the local investing ecosystem since 2009, and has been a member of Resource Generation since 2013. She has served on the board of the New Economy Coalition since 2018, and was a 2017-2018 RSF Social Finance Integrated Capital Fellow. Kate loves dance and feminist performance art, and enjoys creating comics about Buddhist economics, Jewish economics, and racial justice and reparations. She lives in New Jersey with her partner, who is also named Kate.
Barry Price is a core leader of the San Luis Obispo, California moral minyan. He has been an activist for peace, racial equality, human rights, environmental justice, and political freedom his entire life. When not engaged in one campaign or another, Barry teaches archaeology and environmental law at California Polytechnic State University.
Sasha Raskin-Yin is a Jewish educator and social justice organizer. She is currently the Program Director at Amplifier, prior to which she was Avodah's National Educator and New York Program Director. Sasha has managed training design, implementation, and evaluation and has organized around causes including police reform, housing justice, and LGBTQ liberation. She is a member of JFREJ, an alumna of M2’s Senior Educators Cohort, JFREJ’s Grace Paley Organizing Fellowship, and Avodah’s Justice Fellowship. Sasha holds a Master’s degree in Anthropology from the New School for Social Research and a BA in Sociology and Anthropology from Swarthmore College where she studied Jewish immigration, assimilation, race, and settler colonialism.
David is a long-time organizer and social movement trainer, focused on racial and economic justice. He serves as the Director of Programs at JOIN for Justice, the Jewish Organizing Institute and Network. David was also a co-founder and former Campaign Director of Real Food Challenge, where he mobilized tens of thousands of young people around the country to push back against the corporate power of food and agri-businesses, and get anchor institutions to invest in just and sustainable alternates. David also works as a consultant and trainer with VISIONS Inc., a racial justice consulting firm.
Franny Silverman is a facilitator, officiant, and creator of theatre, ritual and experiential learning for humans of all ages. She is the Director of Learning and Action for Brooklyn’s independent, synagogue, Kolot Chayeinu, supporting the open tent on Israel/Palestine and integrating Kolot’s anti-racist and lgbtq-affirming mission throughout the congregation. As a Facilitation & Training Associate with Resetting the Table, Franny supports communication across differences. She sits on the on the board of Lab/Shul, advisory board of Repair the World Brooklyn, and is on the founding steering committee of the NY-metro area interfaith anti-racist coalition connected to the People’s Institute (PISAB). Proud mama to the sunshine of her love.
Hazzan Sabrina Sojourner is the Spiritual Leader for Revitz House and the DMV Multicultural Jewish Network, Co-founder of Khazbar Inc., and the creator of Training the Heart to Listen, a programmatic approach to courageous conversations. Sabrina approaches all her work with the invitation for participants to bring their full selves to the conversation, worship service, or meal. The opportunity for change or transformation often occurs when we embrace our discomfort and stay present. Sabrina accomplishes this by bringing her full self to all that she does, including her own vulnerability.
Kendra Watkins is a Black queer Jew living in Detroit where they organize with Detroit Jews for Justice. While attending the University of North Carolina, they were an active member of Carolina Jews for Justice. Kendra is passionate about co-creating community and ritual space for Black and Indigenous Jews and Jews of color across the Midwest and South.
Rabbi Julia Watts Belser is a scholar, activist, and spiritual teacher working at the intersections of disability studies, queer feminist Jewish ethics, and environmental justice. She is an associate professor of Jewish Studies at Georgetown University, whose current research examines the nexus of climate change, disability, and environmental justice through the prism of Jewish texts. A longtime advocate for disability and gender justice, she co-authored a Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities, developed in collaboration with disability activists from 42 countries, which helps women organize in their local communities to challenge the root causes of poverty, gender violence, and disability discrimination.
Kohenet Liviah Baldwin is a professor at Northern Virginia Community College, theatre practitioner, challah maven, and composer/arranger of choral music exploring Kohenet melodies and midrash. She resides in Northern Virginia where her activism is focused on labor issues.
Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz is the President and Dean of the Valley Beit Midrash (Jewish pluralistic adult learning and leadership), the Founder and President of Uri L’Tzedek (Jewish Social Justice), the Founder and CEO of Shamayim (Jewish animal advocacy), the Founder and President of YATOM (Jewish foster and adoption network), and the author of seventeen books on Jewish ethics. Newsweek named Rav Shmuly one of the top 50 rabbis in America and the Forward named him one of the 50 most influential Jews.