2011-2012 Fellowship Class

Stephanie AinbinderStephanie Ainbinder is a proud graduate of Tulane University with a degree in Sociology and Social Policy and Practice. During her time in New Orleans, she worked at United Labor Unions Local 100 and is looking forward to applying the organizing experience and ideals she gained there to her work as a fellow. Hailing from Boca Raton, FL, Stephanie is excited to explore Boston and learn the true meaning of winter. As a JOIN Fellow, she is thrilled to be spending this year at both the Jewish Labor Committee and the Massachusetts Building Trades Council.

Helen Bennett is a farmer, educator, learner and organizer.  After finishing a Community Planning degree at the University of Washington in Seattle, she spent a year living and working for Adamah: The Jewish Environmental Fellowship.  Most recently, Helen was residing in New York City for the summer studying at Hadar, a traditional egalitarian yeshiva in Manhattan. As a JOIN Fellow, Helen will be living and working at the Moishe Kavod House.

Ross Bloom graduated from Harvard College in 2010 with a degree in History, with a focus on Modern Native American History. He hails from the Boston area and has been involved in a variety of social justice efforts around the city. He is in the process of learning more about Judaism in general, and spent this past summer in Haifa, Israel learning Hebrew. Ross hopes to gain a deeper knowledge about both Judaism and social justice through his time at JOIN, and is excited to be working this year at Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education, a national organization that supports Jewish day schools across the country.


Camilla Claiborn is a recent Smith College graduate who was born and raised in Kansas City. At Smith, she double majored in the Study of Women and Gender and American Studies, and has worked with women’s activism organizations as well as with LGBT rights groups for the past several years. Camilla is looking forward to her JOIN placement with the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization.

Jedd Cohen has been working since his college years (Swarthmore ’05) to use the perspectives of people at the ground level to create social change, but his introduction to organizing as a method came in 2010, when he joined some of his classmates in the Ed.M. program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education to increase the Ed School’s investment in content specific to LGBTQ issues in K-12 education. He has worked as an education policy researcher, then teacher and nonprofit board member, and he is active in Keshet and Kavod House here in Boston. He has a combined placement this year, at OneVille, a community-based effort in Somerville to link the supporters in a young person’s life within and beyond school, and at the Welcome Project, which serves the members of Somerville’s Mystic Housing Project.

Ari Fertig is a community organizer with Healthcare for All, a non-profit consumer advocacy organization in Massachusetts. Before that, he was a regional organizer in Plymouth for Bill Keating’s successful campaign for US Congress, and also served as Campaign Manager to Michael Day in his bid for State Senate. Prior to that Ari served as Legislative Aide to Massachusetts State Representative Jason Lewis, working in constituent services and developing legislation for the Massachusetts House. He’s proud to say that in that role he once helped save a zoo. Ari went to Brandeis University, where he majored in History and Philosophy and was raised in Newton, MA. He has worked and volunteered in the progressive community in Massachusetts since high school and is thrilled to be joining JOIN continuing at HCFA.

Phoebe Gardener just graduated from Dartmouth College where she studied human geography and English. She got involved in labor issues as a student, advocating for the rights of Dartmouth maintenance and dining workers. She will be working with three immigrant worker centers in the greater Boston area that serve primarily Central American and Brazilian immigrants: Centro Comunitario de Trabajadores, Metrowest, and the Immigrant Worker Center Collaborative.

Eli Latto grew up in suburban Massachusetts and has lived in Boston since 2004, going to school, working, and building community. In the past seven years he has gotten a BA in sociology, gender studies, and English; studied human rights in South Africa and had the resulting articles published in a book; co-founded a queer and trans open mic; and worked on sexuality education with both Fenway Health and Moishe/Kavod House. As a member of the 2011-2012 JOIN class, Eli will be continuing his work with CISPES, the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador, a grassroots solidarity organization that works with the social movement in El Salvador to combat destructive US policy in Central America. Eli is also passionate about reading, writing, and immigrants’ rights.

Rachie Lewis is very excited to be working at the Massachusetts Senior Action Council. She hails from Elkins Park, PA and graduated from Brandeis University in 2009 with a degree in Sociology and Women’s and Gender Studies. Since then she has lived in New Orleans working in a social services capacity at the public defender’s office there and has spent the last year studying traditional Jewish texts at Yeshivat Hadar in NYC. Throughout college and the past two years, she has participated in the building of diverse, open Jewish communities committed both to tradition as well as to social justice and action. Rachie is excited to experience and explore this intersection in greater depth through JOIN.

Anna Lifson is a proud native of Madison, Wisconsin. She has also lived in the Twin Cities of Minnesota (where she graduated from Macalester College in 2006), Oaxaca/Chiapas, Mexico, and Washington, DC; most recently, she has called the Boston area home since 2009.  Some of the hats Anna has worn in her professional journey thus far include: domestic violence survivor advocate, sexual health educator/family planning counselor, environmental justice canvasser, anti-racism discussion facilitator, Spanish/English interpreter, collegiate community service planner, and pro bono legal program coordinator.  Anna is delighted to have her first formal organizing experience this year as she works with Boston Mobilization’s Sub/Urban Justice program to engage local teens on issues of privilege, oppression and action for social justice.

Lissy Romanow was introduced to organizing as a teenager at The City School in Boston and returned to organizing when she moved back to Boston a year ago. After graduating from Columbia University in 2007 with a B.A. in Religion, she moved to Berlin where she studied art and worked as a baker. For the past year, Lissy worked a case manager at a mental health services corporation and learned about economic justice from teen activists in the Youth Jobs Campaign. She is thrilled to be joining JOIN and Neighbor to Neighbor, a statewide economic and environmental justice organization, as an organizer in the Lynn chapter.

Natalie Russ is a native New Yorker who has been in Massachusetts since her boarding school years. She is a recent graduate of Wellesley College, where she majored in Psychology, minored in Jewish Studies, and fell in love with Peace and Justice Studies.  Her path to pursuing JOIN included a class in India focused on the Gandhian legacy and grassroots development, a project to organize communities on campus after hateful symbols were carved into a chair, and exposure to the mental health field, gender violence work, and the peace movement. Natalie is thrilled to continue her work at the Public Conversations Project  which prevents and transforms conflicts driven by deep differences in identity, beliefs, and values.

Dylan Scharf-Lazerow has dedicated his life to organizing young people and developing them as social change agents for the past three years. Working as a College Math Literacy Worker who trained,mentored and helped develop troubled high school students as leaders, organizers and facilitators of math to elementary school students at a school in southwest Detroit,Dylan helped sustain an arm of the Young People’s Project (YPP), a national non-profit organization.  He has since worked to coordinate the programs out of The Young People’s Project headquarters in Cambridge, MA, through which he becameinvolved in Teens Leading The Way (TLTW), a by teens, for teens, statewide coalition seeking to create lasting change through policy-making.  In 2011-2012, he will be working at Teens Leading The Way as the Boston regional fellow.

Celia Segel works as the Health Reform Campaign Organizer at Health Care for All in Boston. Originally from Brookline, MA, Celia studied Religion and Education at Carleton College in Minnesota, with a special focus on the role of religious institutions in social movements. After graduating in 2008, she went on to work on the Obama campaign in Philadelphia and Northern Virginia, and then landed in DC to work in the Senate for Sen. Al Franken. Celia left DC in Summer 2010 to work on the midterm election cycle and after a season of campaigning, ended back home in Boston and is now working on improving the health care system in Massachusetts.

Jesse Yurow is a recent graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park where he earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental science with a focus in ecological design.  As a student organizer, Jesse fought for environmental justice and a more transparent, affordable, and democratic University.  After spending time at Kayam Farm in Reisterstown, MD, Jesse led the creation of several community gardens on University of Maryland’s campus and organized students to leverage the institutional buying power of the University to support local, organic farms.  Jesse is excited to continue organizing students to manifest a just and sustainable food system as northeast regional organizer for the Real Food Challenge.

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