Jews of Color (JoC) Organizing Fellowship Cohort at the Inaugural Retreat
Meet our Fellows!
Carlyn Cowen (they/she/siya) is an advocate, activist, and Filipinx-American dedicated to building social, racial, and economic justice through radical systemic change. As the Chief Policy and Public Affairs Officer of the Chinese-American Planning Council (CPC), the nation’s largest Asian-American social services organization, they oversee public policy, advocacy, government affairs, and community engagement. Previously, Carlyn worked at FPWA, an economic equity nonprofit, the New York City Mayor’s Office of Contract Services, and consulted for the United Nations Development Programme and Oxfam International, among others. Originally from North Carolina, they graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill with a Bachelor’s in International Relations and Philosophy. They received their Master’s from the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs. Carlyn can also be found organizing with Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ), where they serve as a board member and member of the steering committee of the Jewish Vote, do mutual aid with Uptown Wagon, bartend on weekends, and bake for fun.
Carolyn Cheng is passionate about environmental and climate justice, anticolonialism, and other initiatives to create healthy, resilient, thriving communities. Cheng is currently a fellow at Asian Pacific Environmental Network and, in the past, has organized and researched for community-based environmental justice and national climate action organizations. Cheng is of Taiwanese and Ashkenazi Jewish descent and was raised in the Bay Area on Bay Miwok and Ohlone lands. Outside of organizing, Cheng enjoys taiko drumming, being outside, and reading fiction.
A native Wisconsinite, Chelsea Cross uses her experiences from living abroad and on both United States coasts while serving in the education and health fields to impact her home on a broader scale. Chelsea identifies as a Blewish woman (Black+Jew), as her background propels and enables her to make change. She is a former classroom teacher who works as a consultant, leading political and other community-based campaigns. She also consults in the public relations sector and with organizations that use data and technology as tools for social change. Chelsea holds degrees from Brown and Johns Hopkins Universities and relishes the challenges of advocating for diverse, safe, educated, and healthy communities. In addition to acting as E’dot Point in Milwaukee, she helps to lead E’dot fundraising and development work. She also serves on the board of Tikkun Ha-Ir, which focuses on the Jewish value of “tikkun olam,” improving the world; she recently graduated from Boardified and Next-Gen Ovation, where she trained to be a Jewish board leader and is a current Weinstein Fellow through the Milwaukee Jewish Federation. Chelsea is also a Suzuki-trained classical violinist who speaks multiple languages, serves on various other boards across the country, can walk on stilts, has visited every continent besides Antarctica, and enjoys cooking, reading, gardening, rowing, swimming, volleyball, hiking, biking, and practicing Bikram yoga.
Dann (they/them) is a professional nerd originating from Michigan, routing through Chicago, and now living in Philadelphia. They are an embodied scholar (the fancy way of saying tangible work) who focuses on the hands-on work of building community, focusing on intersectionality and decolonial practices. Dann’s bitter enemy is stairs, they have a weakness to sweet lokshen kugel, and you can find them causing mild chaos in patterned shirts wherever they go.
Erica Hall, M.S. CED, MBA, ARM, born and raised in Queens and Brooklyn, NY, has a multi-disciplinary background as a community economic development practitioner; community organizer; environmental justice advocate; board member; justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI) facilitator/trainer/consultant; and senior legal professional who organizes around issues related to intersectional environmentalism while exploring the connection between sustainability, resiliency, food waste, climate change, food insecurity, the built form and placemaking, economic resilience, racial/social justice and equity, housing diversity, and affordability. Erica has organized at the federal, state, and local levels in NYC, Los Angeles, Washington, DC, Atlanta, and now throughout Florida. Erica is currently the Board Chair/Executive Director of the Florida Food Policy Council, a statewide food policy council which creates opportunities to collaborate, celebrate, and advance equitable food policies to improve quality of life while working to explore and address gaps in the food system in Florida.
Erica is also an Executive Committee Member of the Suncoast Sierra Club and Florida Chapter Sierra Club Executive Committee Vice Chair. Erica is active in the US Green Building Council (USGBC), American Planning Association, and other environmental and community-based organizations working in urban agriculture, food advocacy and policy, community engagement, nonprofit management, board development, environmental, racial, social, and climate justice, neighborhood revitalization, historic preservation, and community economic development.
Gen Slosberg 夏夜 (she/her) is a queer, disabled Chinese American Jewish organizer, researcher, and writer. For JOCOF, she will be the Bay Area Organizer for T’ruah, managing the organization’s local presence and partnerships to advance its mission of organizing rabbis and cantors for human rights causes. She is originally from Guangzhou, China, and Orange County, California. Before T’ruah, Gen has held various roles in and out of the Bay Area Jewish community in electoral, cultural, and youth organizing, program management, and leadership development. She also has a background in political economy and had stints in the halls of power in Washington, D.C., working on China trade and economic issues. She is fluent in English, Mandarin, and Spanish.
Iola Kostrzewski is a dedicated Jewish professional with a passion for building connections and advocating for marginalized communities. With a background in public and maternal health.
Throughout their career, Iola has been committed to expanding access to healthcare and education surrounding HIV, working closely with healthcare providers, public health organizations, and community members. They have demonstrated expertise in navigating policies, promoting intersectional equity within healthcare, and delivering impactful public speeches. Their certifications in addiction and trauma, LGBTQ+ identity and health disparities, and grassroots community organizing further enhance their knowledge and ability to address complex social issues.
In addition to their professional endeavors, Iola is the mother of 6 amazing children involved in various activities, including helping out on their urban farm!
Iola has committed to fostering inclusive and equitable communities; this extends beyond their professional roles. They continuously advocate for birth equity and connecting families to essential resources. Their efforts have led to speaking engagements on a national stage and involvement in policy reform initiatives.
Iola Kostrzewski is a compassionate individual dedicated to making a difference in the lives of underserved populations, BIPOC communities, and the LGBTQAI+ community while holding on to their Jewish values. Their unique blend of experience, skills, and passion makes them a valuable advocate and ally in creating a more inclusive and equitable society.
Israel Harris (he/him/his) is a Hispanic/Latino, Jewish American with Indigenous, Mayan heritage who grew up in Bellevue, WA, and is now based in Brooklyn, NY. With great appreciation for the communities that helped shape Israel’s goals and aspirations, he continues building on their lessons by promoting stronger education, opportunity, accessibility, and equity. Israel sees the potential of our communal power by connecting with individuals, sharing his personal story, advocating for a more just world, educating and guiding advocates, and leading communities into action. As an artist, Israel can also be found at theaters nationwide, dancing and performing for a wide range of audiences. He loves working at the intersection of art and advocacy, with a clear understanding of the passion needed to promote change and joy and the importance of highlighting the perspectives of those often silenced.
Joules Huang Duze is a wayfaring wonderer and changemaker; born in China, raised in Queens, and residing in Brooklyn. Their organizing passions include but are not limited to food, gender and racial equity, expansive education access, and climate justice.
Joules has worked with CitiHarvest, Peer Health Exchange, and Repair the World and regularly volunteers with Black Trans Liberation. When they are not directly engaged in activism, they can be found biking between boroughs, creating, exploring green spaces, reading, and always leaning into love.
Nick Joy is a 22-year-old born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, Surrounded by different cultures, classes, and people. Nick was raised to appreciate art, culture, and literature. They were born to a Black American father raised in Israel and a Mexican American mother raised in Chicago. Nick has also studied art since a very young age and has valued self-expression since then. They were disciplined in Creative Writing during high school and practiced different artistic outlets outside of writing. They are very passionate about creating a more open and transformative world where boundaries are being pushed, and the status quo is being changed. They value challenging normative values and systems of oppression and control. Nick continues their work in being a change maker in Chicago at Pilsen Alliance, a local community organization, through teaching and building a radical future with the next generation.
For the last seven years, Noemie has worked to produce and/or direct and edit films and campaign videos used by social justice nonprofits. Her recent credits include The Story of Stuff, JWOC Resilience Circle, Anti-Police-Terror, and Common Vision. Before her work in film, Noemie was the Social Justice Camp Director at Peace Out Loud Berkely, where she oversaw the summer camp programming. Her duties included recruiting, training, and leading a staff of 15. She was additionally tasked with creating long-term partnerships with neighboring social justice organizations, parks, and STEM programs. Noemie is fluent in French and English. She is proficient in Hebrew and Spanish and Arabic basics. She graduated from La Sorbonne in Paris, HEC (Paris’ top business school), and Earth Activist Training, Sebastopol, CA.
Sharah Hutson is a recent graduate of the College of Wooster and holds a BA in Philosophy and Gender Studies. Sharah is dedicated to making change through movement spaces and found success working as the Publication Officer at Wooster, where they oversaw public relations duties for the Black Student Association and The Queer People of Color Collective. From 2021 – 2022 Sharah was the Digital Organizer for Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation, where they co-led the Affirming Care for Transgender Folks in Cook County Jail and led an initiative to change policies within the jail to redirect funds to trans-led organizations. Sharah ran an 8-month-long bi-weekly organizing event called Power Hours, which called for aldermen to take concrete steps to ensure safe drinking water for all Chicago residents. Additionally, Sharah was tasked with building relationships with other organizations and faith communities. Sharah has a warm, welcoming personality and an excitement to learn about organizing spaces that inspire others around them.
Shekhiynah Larks is a Black and Jewish Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion educator, artist, published essayist, and content creator. Her work focuses on the intersections of Black American and Jewish American identity and how these identities are further complicated by American racial domestic politics and building brave spaces for people to discuss identity. Her published work is featured in Jewish&, Blavity, Jewish Women’s Theater, Hey Alma, and The Jewish News of Northern California.
Shoshana Vogel grew up on Staten Island, where her musicianship and movement background were fostered. She studied ethnomusicology and politics at UC Berkeley. In her graduate work in World Arts and Cultures at UCLA, she studied movement, ethnomusicology, and activist engagement while helping students to develop their critical thinking skills in performance and critique. Shoshana was a cultural affairs organizer at SEIU and an organizer with the protected caucuses at the Screen Actors Guild in their Affirmative Action and Diversity department. As an activist and cultural organizer, she deeply engaged with multiple community organizations on the ground for 12 years in Los Angeles. Shoshana has returned to the East Coast, where she is a facilitator with the Inside Out Wisdom and Action Project and a leadership development organizer with Jews For Racial and Economic Justice, fighting for a better New York City.
Sumner Lewis (she/her) is a Manhattan-based writer, activist, and performer. She has been published in Hey Alma as one of their inaugural College Writing Fellows. She hosts various public events, such as panels at the Big Bold Jewish Climate Fest and the keynote session of the UMASS 2021 Undergraduate Research Conference. At Dayenu, Sumner supports young people – ages 18 to 32 – utilizing her background in politics and community building within Jewish youth spaces. Outside of work, Sumner can be found taking in a Broadway show, singing, or wandering around one of New York City’s many parks.
Suzette Guzman joined SUHI in April 2023 as the Business Services Liaison, where she develops and implements various workforce development initiatives with a specific focus on the community health worker (CHW) training program. Suzette coordinates relationships between SUHI and apprenticeship sites and works closely with employers to identify jobs and internships for CHWs and on-the-job training and apprenticeship opportunities.
Suzette’s career journey began at the University of Chicago (UChicago) Pritzker School of Medicine, where she attended medical school and worked as a research assistant with the Department of Family Medicine for four years. As a UChicago medical student clinic provider at several free clinics, Suzette supported patients with acute medical care and referrals to social services and longitudinal healthcare providers. She also participated in the planning and execution of community health events, including COVID-19 vaccinations and diabetes education and screening. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Suzette volunteered as an Infection Control team member at the UChicago Medicine Hospital, where she assisted physicians, nurses, and staff to prevent and control the spread of COVID-19. She created and facilitated strategies to ensure the health and well-being of patients and healthcare professionals in the hospital. From 2020-2021, she participated in the Chicago Area Albert Schweitzer Fellowship, led by the Health & Medicine Policy Research Group, where she designed and implemented a community service project that promoted health equity in the Pilsen neighborhood.
While Suzette enjoyed her work in the hospital providing compassionate care to patients, her invaluable experiences as a free clinic provider, Infection Control team member, and Schweitzer Fellow ignited her passion for public health. These transformative experiences propelled her towards a career change, enabling her to channel her expertise and commitment to creating a meaningful impact in the field. During her transition into the public health field, Suzette worked as a Program Coach for Stryv365 where she supported youth through a trauma-informed curriculum and interventions designed to increase social and emotional well-being while counteracting toxic stress and trauma-induced behaviors.
Suzette is passionate about affecting meaningful change in healthcare through the utilization of evidence-based strategies and interventions. Her equity-driven mindset, commitment to community health, and dedicated outreach to marginalized communities have significantly improved health outcomes for those in need.
Victoria Alcoset holds a BA in Feminist Studies from USC Santa Cruz, Doctor of Ayurveda from the National Ayurvedic Medical Association. She prides herself on her knowledge of tech and computer systems. Victoria is a seasoned operator of Microsoft Suite, Google Docs and Sheets, QuickBooks, Salesforce (nonprofit basic), Mac and PC operating systems, recordkeeping, AWeber, MailChimp, Constant Contact, and more. Victoria has independent consultant experience, as well as government contracting experience. Victoria is highly involved with her temple’s DEI leadership team, where she helped to create their racial equity plan, led small groups, and co-taught transformational community engagement courses. She’s also drafted and delivered sermons and developed and planned ritual spaces with attention to racial equity. As Bay Area Recruiter for JOIN for Justice, Victoria contributed to Jewish community-building efforts in and around the Bay Area.
Ellie Tang Kleiman
Ellie Tang Kleiman is a queer organizer, communicator, archives enthusiast, and beginner pickleball student of Chinese and Ashkenazi Jewish descent. Ellie was politicized by labor, immigration, and anti-imperialism movements in Maryland, where they grew up, and in Massachusetts. They recently graduated from Brandeis University with a B.A. in Anthropology and International Studies and minors in Women’s Studies and Asian American/Pacific Islander Studies. Currently, they are based in Chicago, working in communications with the Public Library Association division of the American Library Association, where they are passionate about using social media and the press to uplift the importance of public libraries as a hub for free community resources and intellectual freedom.