Idit Klein has been an activist for equality and social justice for the past 20 years. Since 2001, she has served as executive director of Keshet. During this time, Klein has built Keshet from a one-person, local organization with an annual budget of $42,000 to an 18-person, national organization with an annual budget of $2 million. Under her leadership, Keshet developed a comprehensive training curriculum for LGBT inclusion and trained educators in hundreds of Jewish communities around the country. In Massachusetts, Klein helped mobilize Massachusetts rabbis and synagogue members to defeat the proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. Klein also served as executive producer of Keshet’s award-winning documentary film “Hineini: Coming Out in a Jewish High School.”
Prior to leading Keshet, Klein was an activist in the LGBT community in Israel and played a role in early organizing efforts to create Jerusalem Open House. She has worked for social justice organizations in Jerusalem and in Boston, including Shatil, the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information (now known as Israel-Palestine: Creative Regional Initiatives) and Community Work Services. A magna cum laude graduate of Yale University, Klein received a Master of Education from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, with a focus on social justice and anti-oppression education. She is also a certified facilitator of the Center for Leadership Initiatives.
Klein was among eight recipients of the 2003-2005 Joshua Venture Fellowship for young Jewish social entrepreneurs, and was a plenary speaker at the 2007 Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly. A board member of JOIN for Justice and a past fellow, Klein was honored by the Jewish Women’s Archive with a Women Who Dared award, and named to the Forward 50.
Daniel Bahner brings experience in program development, community building and social-justice education to Keshet. Originally from southwest Ohio, Daniel quickly formed a connection between his Jewish identity and the importance of inclusion and working toward a more socially just society. He dived further into social justice and Jewish thought while an undergraduate at Lehigh University. Studying classics and religion studies, Daniel learned the importance of reflecting upon the past, but at the same time finding meaning for the present. At the same time, he began to become involved in many social-justice education groups, winning multiple campus awards for his involvement. His passion for social justice and education continued during his graduate studies at New York University, where he received a master’s in higher education administration and student affairs.
Daniel joined Keshet spending three years working at a small liberal arts college as assistant director of residence life. There, he trained students in building inclusive residential communities as well as assisting students whenever they had concerns about their community environment. Daniel was highly involved with campus-inclusion projects, presenting at conferences, putting together programs, sitting on committees and managing educational processes. For his work, he was awarded a major regional award for commitment to social justice. Daniel is excited to be working with communities across the country and helping to facilitate a larger conversation about inclusion and equity.
Catherine Bell has been working for justice since college, when she found her feminist voice and realized that she had to use it. She comes to Keshet from JOIN for Justice, where she served for six years as sirector of the Jewish Organizing Fellowship. Under Catherine’s leadership, the fellowship grew into a highly competitive, nationally acclaimed program for recruiting and training talented emerging Jewish organizers. Catherine’s work at JOIN focused on training, coaching and facilitating communities of practice, as well as consulting with Jewish organizations on how to use the framework of community organizing to build stronger, values-driven institutions and communities.
Catherine has more than 15 years’ experience organizing and educating in a Jewish context. Since her own participation in the JOIN Fellowship after college, she has worked as a youth educator and organizer within the Boston Jewish community and with immigrant youth in Brockton, Mass. She has also worked as an organizer of progressive Jewish adults in the Boston area and in New York City, and as an organizer at Temple Israel in Boston. Catherine spent time in Ghana as an HIV educator with the Volunteer Corps of American Jewish World Service, and has a background in performance and Theater of the Oppressed popular education techniques. She graduated summa cum laude from Amherst College, and holds a master’s in sociology of education from New York University.
Eva Bilick is thrilled to be back in Boston, contributing to Keshet’s powerful and innovative work. She holds a bachelor’s degree in political communication from Emerson College, where she began her social-justice career as founder of a student activist group that spread awareness of the genocide in Darfur. Upon graduating in 2011, she moved to New York, where she wrote about feminism, sexual assault and gender roles in the Jewish community for various online magazines. Her passion for gender studies and activism led her to pursue her role at Keshet. Eva worked as house manager at a theater in Cambridge, and enjoys writing short stories and teaching herself piano remarkably slowly.
James Cohen grew up in the Boston area and is happy to be back in his hometown and working with Keshet and the LBGT Jewish community. During his 15 years in South Florida, his career focused primarily on the restaurant and food-supply industries, but it was a personal experience that led him to a career in Jewish communal service. At a time when it was not legal for openly gay people to adopt in Florida, James became a licensed foster parent. When the law changed in 2010, he began the process to adopt his son, Jason. Raising Jason and sharing Jewish values with him inspired James to reconsider many aspects of his life. He was fortunate to be able to combine his passions for social justice and Judaism into a position at the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, where he served as donor relationship manager and worked closely with attorneys, financial professionals and other donors to deepen their involvement in the organization and the local Jewish community. At the same time, James served on the board of directors of Next@19th, a nonprofit promoting Jewish culture in South Florida. He and Jason were active volunteers at Temple Israel of Greater Miami, a synagogue with a commitment to inclusiveness and to social justice. James holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Miami.
Rich Feczko brings a wealth of knowledge to Keshet, with more than 25 years of management experience in a broad range of businesses. He came to Keshet from Hebrew College, where he served as chief operating officer and directed the college’s Me’ah adult-education program, guiding its national growth into new regions. Prior to Hebrew College, Rich was managing director at Hammer and Co., a research and consulting firm, where he oversaw all internal processes, including finance, technology, product development and market research. Earlier in his career, he built worldwide training organizations at a number of high-technology companies. Rich holds a bachelor’s degree from City College of New York, and pursued master’s work in computer science there as well. He is a founding member of Shaarei Tefillah in Newton, Mass., where he has served in numerous capacities, including president.
Shana Gee-Cohen is a highly seasoned development professional, with more than five years of event-planning and fundraising experience. Her passion for donor-relations management and producing large-scale fundraising events began at the Minneapolis Jewish Federation. Over the years, she has owned her own event-planning business; worked for the St. Paul Jewish Community Center; JPRIDE, Minnesota’s only Jewish LGBTQ organization; and PFund, an LGBT philanthropy organization. In 2015, Shana was selected as a Schusterman Family Foundation Connection Point Fellow and participated in Eighteen:22: A Global Network for Change, in Salzburg, Austria. She holds a Master of Social Policy and Practice from the University of Pennsylvania. She is married to her brilliant spouse, Beck. They have two adorable pups, Tootsie and Scout, who collectively weigh 13 pounds.
Gene Goldstein-Plesser joined Keshet in 2015 as the community program coordinator of Nice Jewish Boys, a group that builds community among the gay, bi, trans and otherwise queer men of the Bay Area. Gene was homeschooled by Jewish lesbians in North Carolina before making his way to San Francisco, where he’s worked various stints as a land-use consultant, community manager, data analyst and bicycle courier. He is a graduate of the urban studies program at Brown University, where he also served as executive vice president of Brown-RISD Hillel, ran a political debate group and cooked countless giant vats of vegetarian food for the West House food co-op. Gene is an avid potluck-hoster, accordion-player, storyteller and bread baker.
Ken Gornstein has more than 25 years’ experience in marketing and communications, primarily in the higher education field. He has held senior-leadership roles at Northeastern University, Brandeis University and, most recently, Hebrew College, where he directed all print, electronic, public-relations, advertising and branding efforts. Ken also has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan and Massachusetts. He is a native of St. Louis and a graduate of Michigan State University. He currently lives in Medford with his wife, Susan.
Jenny Hogg was born in Salt Lake City and grew up Louisiana and Alabama. She holds bachelor’s degrees in classical studies and modern philosophy from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College in Lynchburg, Va., and a master’s in museum studies, with an emphasis in fundraising management, from San Francisco State University. Jenny has 13 years of nonprofit experience working in development, and is excited to apply her skills to the Jewish LGBTQ community in the Bay Area. She lives in San Francisco with her chocolate lab, Scout, and works full time as an annual fund and database manager for a small independent all-girls school. After several years of study and questioning, Jenny converted to Judaism in 2014. She enjoys hiking, camping and reading.
Talya Husbands-Hankin is a nice Jewish girl with a passion for justice. Originally from Eugene, Ore., Talya brings more than 15 years of experience in community organizing, leadership development, training and facilitation, and grassroots social-change work. She has lived in Boston, New York and Oakland, Calif., where she has worked for leading Jewish social-justice organizations, including AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice and the Welcoming Synagogues Project, founded by the Institute for Judaism and Sexual Orientation at Hebrew Union College. In addition to her role at Keshet, Tayla currently serves as an arts educator for several local Jewish groups and as a young-adult program organizer.
Jacob Klein has been steadily moving up the California coast. Originally from San Diego, Jacob attended UCLA, where they studied English literature with an emphasis in creative writing. They also studied at Trinity College in Dublin, where their participation in queer communities took off. While in Dublin, Jacob attended Pink Training, a series of leadership workshops on LGBTQ-related matters, and became involved in campaigns ranging from an internationally visible trans informational campaign to the staging of a mock wedding demonstration fighting for marriage equality in Ireland.
Jacob was asked to write a piece to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Q Soc (Trinity’s LGBTQ Society) that was published in “Ne Plus Ultra*: Celebrating 30 Years of TCD LGBT, LGBTQ in Ireland, and Beyond.” Jacob has since made their way to the Bay Area for an internship at Tikkun magazine, and they are excited to be joining the Keshet team. Jacob spends their free time writing and lounging with cats.
Kathryn Macías (Muh-SEE-us), Keshet’s Boston community organizer, is a queer with chutzpah. She came to Keshet from Athens, Ga., where she was a JOIN for Justice Fellow. While in Athens, she earned a bachelor’s degree in communication studies, a minor in religion and a certificate in leadership and service from the University of Georgia. It was during her time in college that Kathryn discovered and cultivated her passion for social-justice work at the intersection of religious and queer identity. She served as the executive director of the LGBT Resource Center’s programming board, co-led the university’s first LGBTQ Awareness alternative break trip and was lead organizer of the Gender Advocacy Campaign. She describes her work at the Gender Advocacy Campaign as one of her proudest achievements, as it resulted in the addition of “gender identity” to the university’s nondiscrimination anti-harassment policy. While in college, Kathryn also interned with SOJOURN — the Southern Jewish Resource Network for Gender and Sexual Diversity — where she developed LGBTQ-inclusion, train-the-trainer curricula and secured a grant for youth suicide prevention.
Originally from New York City, Kaden Mohamed moved to the Boston area in 2010 to attend Wellesley College. There, he studied women’s and gender studies and education studies. During his time at Wellesley, Kaden began exploring and understanding his interests in social justice and anti-oppression work, which in turn helped him understand and feel comfortable with his own gender identity as a part of the trans community. Prior to joining Keshet, most of his advocacy and activism was expressed through participation in educational panels, press interviews and participation in different community movements for social change and equity.
Kaden is excited to work with Keshet and expand his participation in striving for a more inclusive society for all LGBTQ-identified people. He currently lives in a collective in Allston, Mass., with eight other people, three cats and six bikes. In his spare time, he can be found working as a barista and biking around Boston.
Jodi Nemser-Abrahams is a Massachusetts native who spent time living in Vermont; Washington, D.C.; and Israel before returning to Boston, where she currently resides. Prior to joining Keshet, she was executive assistant at the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, where she discovered an unexpected passion and talent for data management. She is excited to contribute her knowledge and energy toward furthering Keshet’s mission from behind the scenes.
Jodi cares deeply about social-justice issues and has focused much of her professional work on at-risk youth. Most recently, she managed a career-exploration program for high school students at Youth Enrichment Services in Boston. She has also volunteered with a variety of populations, including immigrants, adult GED students and homeless children. As a volunteer for ReachOut!, a service-learning program for young professional Jews in the Boston area, Jodi had the opportunity to serve as a site captain at several local service sites.
Jodi holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and Spanish from Marlboro College. When not working or volunteering, she can be found outside — most likely rock climbing, biking or hiking — or in the kitchen, trying out a new recipe.
Deborah Newbrun’s career as a Jewish leader spans 33 years, including 26 years as director of Camp Tawonga, a nationally recognized Jewish resident summer camp outside Yosemite National Park, where 18 years ago, Deborah founded the first Jewish LGBT Family Weekend in the country. She served four years as Hazon director in the Bay Area and has worked as associate director at two local Jewish Community Centers.
Deborah has served on the faculty of multiple Jewish leadership fellowships, including Pathways, Keshet’s young adult leadership program co-led by the Jewish Community Federation. She is co-author, with Matt Biers-Ariel and Michal Fox Smart, of “Spirit In Nature/Teaching Judaism and Ecology on the Trail.” Most recently, Deborah founded Get Set Go Community Adventures, and developed and conducted a national Jewish Outdoor Leadership Training. She also helped to create the first multiday retreat for SVARA, a traditionally Radical Yeshiva in Chicago, and The Kitchen, an indie synagogue in San Francisco.
Justin Rosen Smolen joined Keshet in 2015 as national director of youth programs, a new senior position focused on creating inclusive, visible and celebratory spaces for LGBTQ Jewish teens throughout the country. Representing the Keshet team in New York, he cultivates partnerships with organizations to develop trainings on LGBTQ issues for professionals, as well as leadership-building opportunities for LGBTQ teens across organizations and movements. Justin brings a passion for social entrepreneurship, leadership development and experiential education to his work.
Previously, Justin served as associate director of the National Incubator for Community-Based Jewish Teen Education Initiatives at The Jewish Education Project, where he consulted to a collaborative of 14 national and local funders developing new strategies and initiatives for working with teens, and as director of programs and strategy at PresenTense, where he oversaw accelerator programs for social innovators in cities throughout North America.
Justin is a graduate of the dual-degree program of Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary, where he earned bachelor’s degrees in philosophy and Jewish thought . A Wexner Graduate Fellow, he holds a Master of Public Administration in nonprofit management and a master’s in Jewish studies from New York University.
Jordyn Rozensky completed her undergraduate studies at Smith College and her graduate work at Brandeis University, earning a master’s degree in public policy, as well as a degree from the Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program. With a passion for community building and an eye for social justice, Jordyn has worked at the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, the Arava Institute of Environmental Studies and the Jewish Women’s Archive. She lives, with her cat, her camera, and her partner, in Salem, Mass.
A Jewish activist for LGBTQ issues since she was a teenager, Joanna Ware joined Keshet in 2009 as a member of the JOIN for Justice Community Organizing Fellowship. As Keshet’s Boston regional director, Joanna oversees Keshet’s community-building, education and advocacy work in Greater Boston. While at Keshet, Joanna has built powerful communities of LGBTQ Jews and allies across Massachusetts and the country, working in support of full justice and equality for LGBTQ people, including leading Keshet’s work in support of the successful passage of the Massachusetts Trans Equal Rights Bill in 2011. Joanna’s academic background is in gender studies, Middle East studies and politics, and she brings to Keshet professional experience in Jewish youth work and informal education, antiviolence and antisexism education and prevention, policy advocacy and community organizing.
Originally from San Diego, Joanna is an alumna of Antioch College, and has spent time living, learning and working at the intersections of gender, sexuality, faith and politics in Israel and Western Europe. She lives in Jamaica Plain, Mass., with her partner and a clutter of cats, including Ginny. On the critical question of whether she’d choose flight or invisibility as her super power, she always chooses to fly.