Amani Hayes-Messinger is an aspiring scholar of Black motherhood, a Black Jewish daughter of two powerful women, and a believer in narrative based knowledge production. She is an undergraduate student active in communities of color on campus who has opted out of organized Jewish spaces at the university when they began stifling her faith and spirituality. Amani wears her uncolonized hair proudly, and self expresses through words and a black/burgundy clothing aesthetic. Her active forms of healing include journaling, collage, and breaking bread with community.
Anike has written for tv serials “One Life to Live,” “Girlfriends” and is the playwright of stage play “No Milk Today” which premiered at the Wisconsin Fermentation Fest. She has written and produced multilingual videos and public service announcements for the Immigrant Rights Movement including CHIRLA’s Know Your Rights training video (viewed by millions internationally) and is the writer, producer and first time director of award winning short film “America; Too.” Her feature film about the effects immigration law has on a mixed status family goes into production in 2018. Anike earned her BA from Bates College and MFA degree from The Ohio State University. Anike is the principal of production company Mixed Operations.
Autumn Leonard inherited a love of equality from her parents who braved laws against interracial marriage and got legally hitched in 1960. Autumn worked as the Creative Action Coordinator for United for a Fair Economy, using theater techniques to help craft press events and stage creative social actions. She has been a trainer for Ruckus and a puppet builder for Art & Revolution; she has chaired the Race Task Force at Kolot Chayeinu in support of other Jews of color and taught at Kolot’s K’tanim program. Autumn is currently the Social Media Coordinator for Hand-In-Hand, the domestic employers’ network, and teaches yoga at Urban Asanas in Brooklyn.
A Chicago native, Beckee is passionate about connecting people to the skills they need to be successful. She’s worked as a staff attorney at Equip for Equality and ran an AmeriCorps program called Illinois JusticeCorps, teaching undergraduate volunteers the basics of the legal system. Most recently, she worked at the Posse Foundation where she helped a diverse group of future leaders build their careers. Beckee graduated cum laude from Suffolk University and received a J.D. from DePaul University with a certificate in Public Interest Law. In her free time, Beckee sits on the board of trustees of an education non-profit called InterFuture and is learning to craft crepe paper flowers.
Erica Walker is a creative, compassionate person with more than a decade of experience in education and social service, dedicated to the empowerment of youth, families and vulnerable communities.
A native of Chicago’s South Side, Mrs. Walker attended St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire as a Daniel Murphy Scholar. She received a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University with honors in African American Studies. Mrs. Walker received a master’s degree in clinical social work in 2009 from the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration. Mrs. Walker is a licensed social worker in the state of Illinois. She is also an avid urban gardener, jewelry designer and cyclist, and is active in several community service capacities in Chicago, including the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs and Chicago Public schools. She is married to Rob Walker, an attorney and musician, and is the mother of two sons, Hans, 9 and Owen, 6.
Kavitha Kasargod-Staub is the lead teacher for Oakland SOL, a startup district middle school. She is social justice educator who believes we need to transform schools to be centers of the community. She has 10 years of experience as a teacher and instructional coach. She holds a Masters of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from American University. She grew up in India and the Middle East and spending her recent years in Washington, DC. She lives in Oakland, California with her family and dog Badmash.
Strong administrative professional. Experience with youth development program implementation and curriculum creation. Interested in increasing opportunities, initiatives, and pipelines to success for historically marginalized individuals in corporate firms, non-profit organizations, and higher education institutions. Passionate about finding sustainable development solutions, environmental and animal protection.
Leili Davari serves on the Bend the Arc team as Bay Area Regional Organizer. As a Mexican/Iranian hailing from El Paso, TX, Leili spent the last six years in Los Angeles where she first got involved with Bend the Arc as a Jeremiah Fellow in 2011. The following year, she was selected as a Community Organizing Residency Fellow (COR) and was placed at the Coalition of Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA). At CHIRLA, Leili organized a committee of domestic workers in the successful effort to pass the California Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights (AB 241), and on federal immigration reform. In 2013, after COR, Leili worked as an Organizer with Parent Revolution, where she organized Latinx and Black families to improve their local public schools through two successful school transformation campaigns along with parent leaders. Leili made the decision as a young adult to become Jewish when she discovered how central social justice and tikkun olam are within Judaism, and the opportunity to combine her love of organizing and Judaism into a career is a dream come true. Currently, Leili is part of Bend the Arc’s Jews of Color Selah Cohort where she is rediscovering her purpose and vision while on the path of self healing.
Rabbi Mira Rivera
Rabbi Mira Rivera is the Chaplain Fellow at DOROT in New York City where she provides spiritual care to isolated seniors and Holocaust survivors. In a role that she originated for DOROT, she supports families at the end of life, particularly Jews who have no synagogue affiliations. She conducts roundtables on Grief, Bereavement, and Self-Care for staff, Torah outreach to partner shuls, and Shabbat through University Without Walls. In partnership with Dr. Renee L. Hill, Rabbi Mira Rivera co-founded Harlem Havruta, a brave space for Torah-learning and engagement for Jews of Color, allies and co-conspirators in the West Harlem neighborhood. She teaches “Exploring Judaism”, a program of Jewish learning and experience sponsored by the Rabbinical Assembly of the Conservative Movement for those interested in learning more about Judaism or pursuing conversion. She is a proud member of this year’s Bend the Arc Selah Cohort 15 for Jews of Color. She is an incoming co-chair for the Rabbinic Circle of Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREF). Rabbi Mira Rivera received her ordination at The Jewish Theological Seminary in 2015 with an M.A. in Jewish Studies and a Certificate in Clinical Pastoral Education.
Tikvah (Nadia) Womack is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) and an Expressive Arts Therapist. She holds a Masters of Arts from Lesley University in Clinical Mental Health Counseling with a Specialization in Expressive Arts Therapy. Her graduate studies focused on trauma and resulted in a thesis entitled: A generational perspective on the effects of community violence on mothers of the Africana Diaspora & The curative benefits of Soulful Expressive Arts, Tikvah’s career has a concentrated focus on cultural sensitivity/competence and trauma. She uses multi-modal arts forms including movement, music, and art to create cross-cultural interactions. Given her global focus, Tikvah evaluated personal and societal barriers in Grahamstown South Africa and Sololá Guatemala. Tikvah’s experience ranges from inpatient, shelters, partial hospital, schools, treatment centers and outpatient settings conducting individual, family, and group therapy using expressive arts. Tikvah currently works at JCS as a clinical therapist on the child/adolescent team treating adults and families as well.
Noémie Hakim Serfaty is a filmmaker and educator based in Oakland, California. She has been doing videography for grassroots organizations engaged in fighting police brutality and displacement in the Bay Area. She is also a youth educator for PEACE Out Loud, a project of building self-determined communities through youth programs and social permaculture in Oakland, Berkeley and San Francisco. Her film work can be found at noematic.space
Oraneet Shikmah Orevi
Oraneet Shikmah Orevi is an Israeli-American, Mizrahi, bisexual woman of color, feminist, and Jewish social justice activist. Due to her various identities, Oraneet is especially interested in the intersectionality of identities and how the differences between them overlap to reveal united communities and commonalities. Oraneet received her Bachelor’s Degree from UC San Diego and her law degree from Golden Gate University School of Law. Currently, Oraneet is a poverty lawyer specializing in eviction defense to fight against displacement of our families and communities; she is deeply committed to creating and contributing to spaces where everyone belongs.
Rachel has spent her career creating social justice through educational equity. As a City Year AmeriCorps Member and Manager, then as Founding Site Director for Match Education, she piloted programs that combined academic and socio-emotional supports to support underserved students in staying on track to graduate. From 2014-2017, Rachel lead Citizens of the World, a diverse-by-design school in L.A. that uses mindfulness, socio-emotional curriculums, and constructivism to build students to be courageous and compassionate. Now, Rachel is the Program Director at Reading Partners, where she oversees volunteer-lead literacy interventions at 19 schools in D.C. Rachel is always on the hunt for new books, recipes, and cities to explore!
Rebecca Lynn, Jaye
Becky Jaye is a first-year rabbinic student from Brooklyn, New York. She completed her B.A. in American studies and creative non-fiction writing at Yale College. After working as a Yale-China Association Teaching Fellow in Zhuhai, China, for two years, she continued her studies at Yale Divinity School, where she completed an M.A. in religion, focusing her studies on interfaith dialogue and Sephardic Jewry. Aside from her studies, Becky enjoys traveling to new places, and listening to stories told by her grandparents, Lee and Barb.
Hazzan and Community Chaplain Sabrina Sojourner has been leading services, teaching, and storytelling for nearly 10 years across the country, including nearly 5 years at the Charles E Smith Life Communities campus. Her musical and liturgical influences are many, enabling her to provide meaningful services that reach through the diversity of her congregants. She is highly respected by her colleagues for her natural leadership, authenticity, compassion, and kindness. Most importantly, she is her grandson Kyle’s favorite person.
Sara Naomi Goldberg
Sara Goldberg is a senior at Vassar College graduating in May with a Bachelor of Arts in Women’s Studies with an Africana Studies minor. Bom in Seattle, WA, Sara grew up mostly in Atlanta, GA. She works at Vassar as the Women’s Studies Program academic intern. She is the president of the Multiracial, Biracial Students’ Alliance, and the social action chair of the Vassar Jewish Union. Some of Sara’s favorite artists include Ibeyi, SZA, Rihanna, Kara Walker, Toyin Ojih Odutola, and Frida Kahlo.
Dr. Sarah Gabriella Waisvisz Born in Germany and raised Jewishly in France and Canada by a Dutch father and an AfroCaribbean-French mother, Sarah lives at the intersection. She is a playwright, dramaturge, and multi-disciplinary performer with training in dance and physical theatre (classical ballet, puppetry, acrobatics, stilts, West African dance styles). Her artistic work intersects with her scholarship, and she has published and presented many academic papers over the years on Caribbean literature, Human Rights drama, and the Black Atlantic. Sarah also moonlights as a course instructor in the Department of English at Carleton University, where she teaches Caribbean Literature, Creative Writing, and Playwriting.
Sheba McCants is the Outreach Programs Manager for the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Sheba moved to Denver, Colorado, from Madison, Wisconsin, where she was the Community Engagement & Events Manager for DAIS (Domestic Abuse Intervention Services). In 2016, Sheba completed the WE LEAD program, a year-long leadership development and enrichment program for survivors and advocates of color, through End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time outdoors, cooking and doing yoga. Sheba holds a Bachelor’s Degree from New York University (NYU), where she studied how the arts can be used to create social justice and community change.