Jess Greenblatt Seeley, Co-Executive Director
jgseeley (at) joinforjustice.org
Jess Greenblatt Seeley (she/her/hers) is a seasoned activist, organizer, and trainer with nearly two decades of experience leading national nonprofit organizations. Most recently, she served as the Director of Core Fellowship Programs for the Environmental Leadership Program (ELP) — a nationally-renowned organization that has trained more than 2,000 of the United States’ emerging leaders in environmental and social change. Previously, Jess worked extensively in the food justice and local food system movement. She served as the Executive Director of the FoodRoutes Network, Director at Pennsylvania Certified Organic, and worked on her late husband’s sustainable grass-based dairy farm business in North Central Pennsylvania. Her contributions as a woman in agriculture were featured in Temra Costa’s 2010 book, Farmer Jane: Women Changing the Way We Eat.
Jess’s personal leadership style is firmly grounded in empathy, relationship-building, and a commitment to an equitable future for generations to come. She is a skilled network weaver and facilitator both online and on land, and is excited to return to a world where we can safely convene and hug. Jess is a Korean American Jew, first-generation college graduate, widow, parent, and partner. She is energized by building relationships, the power of community, and deepening her commitments to racial justice. Jess firmly believes that Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color must have clear pathways to leadership to equitably address the world’s social, political, and environmental issues. Jess lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, Kevin, their three children, and a large furry dog.
Meir Lakein, Co-Executive Director
mlakein (at) joinforjustice.org
Meir Lakein (he/his/him) is a visionary community organizer with more than 30 years of experience mobilizing communities at the intersections of social justice and Jewish life. From 2011 to 2022, Meir was the Director of Organizing at JOIN for Justice and, during that time, he created JOIN for Justice’s Fellowship for Clergy. He has trained over one thousand rabbis to be organizers for change, and has provided hundreds of consultations to synagogues and Jewish organizations nationwide. Regarded as a mentor for a generation of young organizers and rabbis, Meir has shaped a new model of Jewish leadership that is rooted in relationships, humility, and collective equity. Prior to coming to JOIN, Meir served as the lead organizer for the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, organizing thousands of adults and teens in 14 synagogues to identify their common values and interests, develop a common story and mission, and take action to live their values and defend their interests — both in the community around public issues and within their own institutions. He also worked as the lead organizer of the Brockton Interfaith Community, a coalition of 25 churches and synagogues that won major victories in areas such as home ownership, prescription drugs, nursing home care and employment, and certification for immigrant nurses. Meir has experience building powerful organizations with homeless people in Connecticut and with Mizrachi, Russian, and Arab public housing tenants in Israel. His work and writing have been featured in myriad publications.
A white Orthodox Jew, Meir has been influenced by synagogues, Jewish day schools, and other Jewish institutions and believes in the role that they can play in the march towards liberation. He lives in Massachusetts with his wife and two sons.
Jeannie Appleman, Senior Organizer and Trainer
jappleman (at) joinforjustice.org
Jeannie Appleman co-founded the Seminary Leadership Project in 2005 with Meir Lakein and Rabbis Stephanie Kolin and Noah Farkas and has trained more than 750 seminary students in organizing, congregational development, and leadership. In addition to the Seminary Leadership Project, she also runs JOIN’s Clergy Fellowship and has trained and coached hundreds of Rabbis and Cantors, lay leaders, and staff from the Reform, Reconstructionist, and Conservative movements, Federations, and other communal organizations. Jeannie is currently working to create new ways to integrate traditional organizing with anti-oppression and anti-racist frameworks alongside JOIN staff and organizational partners & trainers of color, Megan Madison and Megan Black.
Before coming to JOIN to teach organizing to others, Jeannie, herself, was an organizer for 25 years. Through the Industrial Areas Foundation, she served as the lead organizer for a primarily African- and Caribbean-American-led affiliate in Queens, New York, as well as their Long Island affiliates. Jeanie led electoral campaigns in Chicago and Baton Rouge, and directed a successful statewide campaign in Illinois to stop contra aid in Congress. Additionally, Jeannie has written several articles, created and directed a national foundation for faith-based organizing, and conducted two research studies on faith-based organizing.
Lisa M. Goldstein, CMA, Chief Financial Officer
lgoldstein (at) joinforjustice.org
Lisa brings over 25 years’ of experience specializing in nonprofits in the Boston area. She has extensive experience with financial leadership and building effective systems for organizational success. She is a Certified Management Accountant (CMA) and her finance specialties include restricted income management and multi-year planning.
Previous to working at JOIN, Lisa financially transformed a local theater company by introducing a new budget process and restructuring the annual fundraising schedule. At a workshop-focused nonprofit, she solved multiple logistical problems in the order-fulfillment chain through collaboration with the drop-shipment vendor to improve processes at both locations.
Lisa received her B.A. in Asian American Studies from University of Massachusetts/Boston, an A.S. in Accounting from Quincy College, and a post-graduate certificate in Nonprofit Management and Leadership from the Questrom School of Business at Boston University. In her spare time, Lisa helps run local science fiction conventions as a volunteer and is fluent in Mandarin Chinese.
Bryant Heinzelman, Director of the Jews of Color Organizing Fellowship
bheinzelman (at) joinforjustice.org
Bryant Heinzelman brings to JOIN over 20 years of experience working in Jewish education, DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) consulting, synagogue diversity engagement, teen mentorship, and US Army military intelligence. He is as proud of his Black Southern heritage as he is of his German-Polish background; and quotes the wisdom of his Christian grandmothers along with Heschel, Torah, and Hillel.
Bryant says neither the inherited memory of slavery, Jim Crow, or the injustices he’s experienced deter him from pursuing justice, because his family has successfully made change through coalition building and interfaith outreach since the days of Dr. King. His Birmingham-based relatives were among those who participated in school integration, sit-ins, marches, and their legacy reminds him of what’s possible when working together. The example they set of interfaith, interracial, and intergenerational cooperation informs his work today.
Bryant is a graduate of NTTC Corry Station (Naval Defense College), studied African American Literature and History at the University of Maryland UC, and is currently pursuing Genocide and Holocaust studies at Western Washington University in Bellingham Washington. Bryant is a 2018 URJ Jew V’ Nation Fellow, 2021 Ko’ach Fellow, and prior to his work with JOIN worked as a Boulder area Director of Teen Engagement with The North American Federation of Temple Youth (NFTY), focusing on civil rights and interfaith alliances.
Elana Kogan, Director of Development
ekogan (at) joinforjustice.org
Elana Kogan is the Director of Development at JOIN. Previously, she served as the Senior Director of Organizing and then National Field Director of Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice, where she led the organization’s base-building efforts including the creation of a new chapter-building model. Elana has also worked at the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston as Director of Planning and Leadership Development and Director of Synagogue Organizing, where she organized synagogues, developed leaders, and ran campaigns in partnership with the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization and other coalitions. During that time, she also served as the loaned executive to the Jewish Organizing Initiative for several months. Elana has a bachelor’s degree from Yale University and a Master of Education from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education. Elana is also a Certified Consulting Hypnotist and founder of Wellness Through Hypnosis.
Cole Papadopoulos, Administrative and Finance Officer
cpapadopoulos (at) joinforjustice.org
Cole Papadopoulos is JOIN’s Administrative and Finance Officer. In addition to three years in medical administration and patient services, he has worked at clinic front desks, restaurants, retail, staffing hotlines, and more.
David Schwartz, Senior Trainer
dschwartz (at) joinforjustice.org
David is a long-time organizer and social movement trainer, focused on racial and economic justice. He helped found and lead Real Food Challenge (RFC), where he mobilized tens of thousands of young people around the country to push back against the corporate power of Big Food, and get anchor institutions to invest in just and sustainable food systems instead. Through RFC he led national corporate campaigns and built farmer-worker-youth coalitions, while developing and supporting new organizers. David also brings more than a decade of experience training on issues of race, oppression and multiculturalism, most recently as a consultant with VISIONS Inc. He’s a respected strategy consultant for a number of heart-centered social justice start-ups. David is a JOIN alumnus, and formerly served on its Board of Directors. Fun fact: one of his first organizing mentors, at age 16–through a Jewish social action youth group–was a JOIN Fellow! When he’s not leading or attending trainings, David is an avid gardener, fermenter, singer and uncle.
Karla Van Praag, Senior Advisor
kvanpraag (at) joinforjustice.org
Karla Van Praag is the Senior Advisor for JOIN for Justice. From 2012 to 2022, Karla served as JOIN’s founding executive director, after leading its predecessor organization the Jewish Organizing Initiative for four years. During her tenure, she grew JOIN into a national organization — more than quadrupling its annual budget and cementing its status as the go-to organization for rabbis, nonprofit leaders, and Jewish groups in North America to receive mentoring and training in how to advance social justice.
Karla has a rich background in leadership development, youth programs, nonprofit management, service learning, and organizing. She served as the Director of Planning and Leadership Development at Boston’s Jewish Community Relations Council and as Deputy Director of the Somerville Community Corporation. Karla holds a graduate degree from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, where she was a Public Service Fellow, and is a graduate of Wesleyan University. She served as an Advisory Board Member at Real Food Challenge, and was a longtime member on the leadership team of the Jewish Social Justice Roundtable — a network of 78 American Jewish social justice organizations that pursue justice from a Jewish perspective. A recipient of the prestigious Schusterman Fellowship for Jewish Leaders, she is a member of the Selah Network and was named a ‘Chai in the Hub Honoree’ by Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP). Karla lives in Revere, Massachusetts with her husband Rafael and their three children.
Jan Wolf, Program Assistant
Jan graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts with a double major in Photography and Art Education. She is a seasoned educator with ten years of teaching experience working in diverse settings locally and abroad. She has led international cultural exploration trips with experiential education companies for high schoolers in Southeast Asia. Jan is dedicated to promoting creativity, empathy, and cross-cultural understanding.