Rabbi Jonah Pesner, Boston
Rabbi Jonah Pesner is the Senior Vice President of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), where he collaborates with Reform congregations and communities across North America and in Israel. An alumnus of the North American Federation of Temple Youth and URJ Eisner Camp, he also leads the Campaign for Youth Engagement, a bold initiative to retain teens in Jewish life after they become b’nai mitzvah. Additionally, Rabbi Pesner teaches on all four campuses of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. Prior to joining the senior leadership of the URJ, Rabbi Pesner served as the Founding Director of Just Congregations, where he led efforts to engage thousands of members of congregations to join together in successful campaigns for health care access, affordable housing, public education, gay and lesbian rights, nursing care workers rights, and living wage. A graduate of Wesleyan University, Rabbi Pesner is married to Boston attorney, Dana S. Gershon. Together they have four daughters, Juliet, Noa, Bobbie and Cate.
Larry Bailis, Boston
Lawrence Neil Bailis is an Associate Professor at Brandeis University’s Heller School for Social Policy and Management where for over two decades he has been conducting research on service programs, community organization, university-community partnerships, and programs to promote youth development and minimize inequality. His community activities include serving as Chair of Board the Massachusetts Service Alliance, the group that funds AmeriCorps, Commonwealth Corps and other volunteer generation activities in the state, and as a board member of the Jewish Funds for Justice/Progressive Jewish Alliance, the Jewish Organizing Initiative/JOIN for Justice, the Waltham Partnership for Youth, and the Silent Spring Institute, which brings scientists and advocates together to identify and eliminate the causes of breast cancer. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with his wife, Susan Shevitz. They have four children living in California, New York, and Massachusetts.
Stosh Cotler, New York
Stosh is the Executive Vice President of Bend the Arc, which works to fulfill the promise that everyone can share in social and economic opportunity, and enjoy equal rights and liberties. Bend the Arc engages Jews in addressing the most pressing issues we face as a nation as a reflection of core Jewish values. Stosh has twenty years of experience working as an educator, trainer, and organizer within the social and economic justice movements.
Rabbi Noah Farkas, Los Angeles
Rabbi Noah Zvi Farkas serves as a rabbi at Valley Beth Shalom in Encino, California. He was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in 2008 where he won numerous academic prizes in the areas of Jewish Philosophy and Talmud. During his time in rabbinical school he co-founded the Seminary Leadership Project. Before coming to VBS, Noah served as the Student Rabbi at Congregation Beth Israel in Biloxi, Mississippi where he helped rebuild the Gulf Coast Jewish community after Hurricane Katrina. In addition to his work at VBS, Noah has co-founded Netiya: the LA Jewish Coalition on Food, Environment, and Social Justice, which was awarded the Cutting Edge Grant by the Jewish Community Foundation.
Janice Fine, Rutgers
Janice Fine is Associate Professor of Labor Studies and Employment Relations at the School of Management and Labor Relations, Rutgers University where she teaches and writes about low wage immigrant labor in the U.S., historical and contemporary debates regarding federal immigration policy, dilemmas of labor standards enforcement and innovative union and community organizing strategies. She is the author of Worker Centers: Organizing Communities at the Edge of the Dream (2006) published by Cornell University Press and the Economic Policy Institute. Prior to becoming a professor at Rutgers, Janice worked as a community, labor, coalition and electoral organizer for more than twenty-five years. She also serves on the board of Progressive Jewish Alliance & Jewish Funds for Justice.
Michael Frieze, Boston
As Chairman of the Board of the Gordon Brothers Group, Michael Frieze focuses on building the strategic vision. During his more than 40 year tenure, the firm expanded from a retail liquidator to a full-service provider of strategic business and capital solutions to healthy and distressed companies alike. Prior to joining Gordon Brothers Group in 1966, Michael was a management consultant for Harbridge House and owned and operated his own consumer marketing business. He has served in top leadership positions on many community and corporate boards, including Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston and Chair of the New England Region of the American Technion Society. Currently, he is a Board member of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, a Trustee of Children’s Hospital and Chairman of Friends of Yemin Orde. He is a former Board member of Brandeis University. Mr. Frieze received a BA from Bowdoin College and an MBA from MIT Sloan School of Management.
Idit Klein, Boston
Idit Klein has served as Executive Director of Keshet since 2001. During this time, she has built Keshet from a one-person, local organization with an annual budget of $35K to a 14-person, national organization with an annual budget of over one million. Under her leadership, Keshet developed a comprehensive training curriculum for LGBT inclusion and has reached over 20,000 Jewish educators. In Massachusetts, Idit helped mobilize rabbis and synagogue members to defeat the proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. She also served as the Executive Producer of Keshet’s award-winning documentary film Hineini: Coming Out in a Jewish High School. Prior to leading Keshet, Idit was an activist in the queer women’s community in Israel and played a role in early organizing efforts to create the Jerusalem Open House. In Jerusalem she also worked for SHATIL and the Israel/Palestine Center for Research & Information. A magna cum laude graduate of Yale University, Idit received her Master’s in Education from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a focus on social justice and anti-oppression education. Idit was among eight recipients of the 2003-2005 Joshua Venture Fellowship for young Jewish social entrepreneurs. A Jewish Organizing Fellowship alumna, Idit was honored by the Jewish Women’s Archive with a Women Who Dared award.
Aliza Kline, New York
Aliza Kline first engaged with JOIN as a member of a Strategic Growth Team in 2008-2009 to help the organization explore new opportunities. She then began serving on the board of JOIN. Aliza has served as the founding executive director of Mayyim Hayyim Living Waters Community Mikveh and Education Center in Newton, MA, since its inception in 2001. She is currently in Israel enjoying a 10 month sabbatical with her family: her partner, Rabbi Bradley Solmsen, and three daughters Ela (8) Gila (5) and Nomi (soon to be 3). When they return this summer they will prepare for a move to NY to begin a new adventure.
Rabbi Stephanie Kolin, Los Angeles
Rabbi Stephanie Kolin is the Co-Director of the Union for Reform Judaism’s Just Congregations and is based in Los Angeles, CA. Stephanie, a native of New York City, is a Magna Cum Laude graduate of Brandeis University and was elected to the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society. Stephanie was ordained as a rabbi in 2006 from the New York campus of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. While in rabbinical school, Stephanie co-founded the Jewish Funds for Justice Rabbinical Student Fellowship for Leadership in Public Life. Upon ordination, Stephanie served as a rabbi of Temple Israel, Boston, where she guided the social justice community organizing and was rabbinic liaison to the youth program. In this capacity, Stephanie and her team organized on issues such as Access to Higher Education, Usury, Equal Marriage, Anti-Bullying Legislation, Transgender legislation, Healthcare, and other issues of shared concern. She was named as a Woman of Valor by the Jewish Funds for Justice and is included in a list that the Forward called: The Sisterhood 50: America’s Influential Women Rabbis. Stephanie has a reasonable fear of bears and a less reasonable obsession with super heroes.
Alice Kuhn, Austin
Alice Kuhn serves as the Executive Director of the Michael and Alice Kuhn Foundation, a foundation she and her husband Michael created and funded, dedicated to social justice and the eradication of poverty. She has served on numerous nonprofit boards, including the Jewish Federation of Austin, the Jewish Family Service of Austin, the New Milstones Foundation, and the Capital Area Food Bank. Born in Chicago, Alice received a BA from the University of Texas at Dallas and an M.Ed from the University of Texas, Austin.
Rabbi Greg Litcofsky, New Jersey
Rabbi Litcofsky, a Seminary Leadership Project alumnus ’06, is a rabbi at Congregation Temple Shir Tikva in Wayland, MA. While at Shir Tikva, Rabbi Litcofsky has applied the organizing skills he learned through the Seminary Leadership Project by building a thriving community of families with young children, deepening his congregation’s commitment to grassroots interfaith social action through participation in MICAH (Metropolitan Interfaith Congregations Acting for Hope), as well as building an innovative Shabbat morning service for religious school families. Starting in July he will assume the position of Senior Rabbi at Tempel Emanu-El of West Essex in Livingston, NJ.
Phil Rosenblatt, Boston
Phil Rosenblatt is a partner at the law firm of Nutter McClennen & Fish, in Boston. Inspired by the Jewish Organizing Initiative’s founding Executive Director, Michael Brown, Phil joined the JOI Board several years ago and has worked with leadership to guide the organization through a number of exciting transitions, culminating in JOIN for Justice’s collaboration with PJA & JFSJ to bring the organization to a whole new level. Phil has also served on the Board of Combined Jewish Philanthropies, as Vice President and Board member of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, as President of the Leventhal-Sidman Jewish Community Center, as an Executive Committee member of the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association, as President of the Lincoln Station Phase I Homeowners Association in Lincoln, NH, and as a Board member of the Loon Mountain Alpine Ski Race Team, also in Lincoln, NH. Phil received a BA from Union College in Schenectady, NY, and a JD from the University of Chicago Law School. He lives in Needham, MA with his wife Nancy and dogs Hannah and Bode. Their two sons live in Boston and Washington, D.C.
David Schwartz, Providence
David Schwartz graduated from Brown University in December 2009, where he spent more time organizing with the Real Food Challenge than he did in class. Coming from a Jewish household where issues of economic and racial justice were common dinner table discussions, David came to the world of food justice and sustainable agriculture in high school and hasn’t looked back. On campus he helped start a student garden, a local distribution scheme for local produce, and a campaign to redirect over $1 million of school food dollars to “real food.” David is a 2011 alumnus of the Jewish Organizing Fellowship.
Lee Winkelman, Los Angeles
Lee Winkelman is a consultant who provides strategic assistance and coaching to funders and nonprofits. He was a community organizer for 14 years in the greater Boston area, and a funder of community organizing with Jewish Fund for Justice and the UU Veatch Program. Lee also worked in El Salvador for two years helping popular movement groups prepare for the country’s first post-civil war election. As a lay leader, he spearheaded efforts of two synagogues to join congregation-based community organizing groups: Kolot Chayeinu in Brooklyn and IKAR in Los Angeles. He has written about synagogue organizing online. Lee currently lives in Los Angeles.
Terry Yoffie, Boston
For the past fifteen years, Terry Yoffie has been working as a volunteer on education issues in public and private schools and Jewish organizations advising on financing, fund development, strategy, internal controls and risk management. She also has been developing and overseeing projects on civic engagement and community organizing with organizations like the League of Women Voters, the Democratic Party, and on Jewish social justice projects and as well as assisting with City of Newton local task forces when requested. Terry has over 30 years experience in development, membership, outreach, financial management, reporting and planning.