Ovdim Leadership Cohort
Meet the Cohort!
The IOWA Leadership Cohort is a retreat-based learning and practice spiritual community for experienced Jewish social justice leaders. The purpose of the cohort is to make social change a sustainable and nourishing practice by grounding it in Jewish spiritual wisdom that integrates cultivation of the inner-life with action in the world.
The Leadership Cohort also makes Jewish spiritual wisdom and practice an accessible resource for people addressing the most pressing social issues of our time including racism, climate change and political polarization.
We completed our inaugural Ovdim cohort at the end of 5781, and started the second cohort at the start of 5782. Meet the stellar leaders who are learning and practicing together in our second cohort!
Phil Aroneanu is an organizer and political strategist. He co-founded 350.org, where he helped launch and run dozens of efforts, including the campaign against the Keystone XL Tar Sands pipeline, the Fossil Fuel Divestment campaign, and the People's Climate March. He directed Bernie Sanders’ 2016 campaign in New York, helped mobilize millions to the streets and the ballot box after the 2016 elections, and directed digital organizing at the American Civil Liberties Union. Phil has also consulted and managed a variety of global, national, and state-level electoral and advocacy efforts, and currently serves as Chief Strategy Officer for Dayenu: A Jewish Call to Climate Action
Cheryl Cook is the Chief Executive Officer of Avodah. With close to 30 years of experience working across the Jewish community as a leader, fundraiser and manager, Cheryl is helping to develop the next generation of Jewish social justice leaders. Cheryl has overseen some of the organization’s most successful national growth strategies, including expansion of the leadership programs to new cities, the creation of innovative models to elevate Jewish justice voices, and bringing educational resources and conversations into the Jewish community to strengthen our work on poverty & social justice in the United States.
Nadav (he/him) is a multiethnic organizer and facilitator with Mizrahi (Iraq) and Ashkenazi (Poland/Belarus) roots, currently living on Massachusett land in Boston. He was born in Jerusalem and grew up in the Bay Area on Ohlone Land in a professional/managerial class family.
He organizes at the intersections of building a solidarity economy that centers shared ownership, communal care and redistribution, and growing our collective imaginations and capacities to address violence without relying on policing and prisons. As the New England Regional Organizer at Resource Generation, he supports local chapters of young people with wealth and/or class privilege to work alongside grassroots organizations towards the equitable redistribution of wealth, land and power.
For several years, his spiritual and political home has been Kavod, a Boston-based community that integrates Jewish practice and organizing, where he’s developed partnerships with organizations such as the Boston Ujima Project and Muslim Justice League, and co-founded a Jews of Color, Indigenous Jews, Sephardi & Mizrahi (JOCISM) caucus. Nadav is also an active member of the national Mizrahi Collective and on the steering committee of the Jewish Liberation Fund. He also loves to sing in community, make playlists, spend time in the nearby arboretum and watch and play basketball.
From Keshet's tribute to Koach as a LGBTQ Hero:
KB is an audiologist, musician, co-convener of the Tzedek Lab, a Reconstructionist Rabbinical student, and a queer, trans Jew. A collaborative and spiritual leader, KB travels the nation, striving to dismantle racism and actualize liberation, and was on the boards of the Missouri GSA Network and Central Reform Congregation. Common to all of these roles is KB’s commitment to healing and transforming lives. “I express my Jewish identity at the synagogue, at work as I serve people and my community, and through my social justice activism.” This includes drumming for justice “using my djembe — an African drum — that provided the cadence, much like a heartbeat, to help us as we marched [in Ferguson*].”
*On Aug. 9, 2014, the “Ferguson Uprising,” involving widespread protests, began after the murder of Michael Brown, an 18-year old, unarmed, African American by a white police officer.
Ginna Green is a strategist, writer, movement-builder, consultant, and Partner and Chief Strategy Officer at Uprise. She is also the co-host of A Bintel Brief: The Jewish Advice Podcast from The Forward.
At Uprise, Ginna leads the practice on diversity + equity + inclusion and philanthropic advising within the Jewish community, and is a principal strategist for its progressive movement communications clients. Previously, she worked as Chief Strategy Officer at Bend the Arc: Jewish Action where she managed the communications, advocacy, electoral, rapid response and racial equity teams from 2018-2020. Prior to Bend the Arc, Ginna was Managing Director of the Democracy Program at ReThink Media, and spent several years on staff at the Center for Responsible Lending. She is a frequent speaker and writer on democracy, race, racism in the Jewish community, Jewish community diversity, and leadership, and has been published in the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, and Salon; heard on NPR, KCRW, KQED, and CNN; and seen on local, national and international television and film.
Ginna is a Fellow at the Kogod Research Center of the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America, and sits on the boards of Bend the Arc, where she serves as secretary; Women's March WIN PAC, where she serves as president, Political Research Associates, the Jews of Color Initiative, the Jewish Social Justice Roundtable, and Jewish Story Partners. An alum of the Jeremiah Fellowship and the Selah Leadership Program, a Schusterman Senior Fellow, and a Jewish Orthodox Feminist Aliiance 2020 Notable Woman, Ginna is a native southerner and the mother of four amazing kids.
Photo by Alexa Curran
Rabbi Jason Kimelman-Block
Rabbi Jason Kimelman-Block is the Washington Director of Bend the Arc Jewish Action, a national organization helping to build a movement of progressive Jews across America who are building a country that lives up to our values of justice and equality for all. He received his rabbinic ordination from The Jewish Theological Seminary of America, and his B.A. in Political Science from Grinnell College. Previously, he directed the Selah Leadership Program and served as the Director of the PANIM Institute for Jewish Leadership and Values.
Arielle Korman is a Jewish educator, performer, and lifetime learner. She received her MA in Religion (Jewish Studies Track) at Columbia University. She has taught at the National Havurah Institute, Door to Door Tutoring, is a former Fulbright research fellow, and has been a featured teacher at the Jewish singing retreat “Let My People Sing.” She performs traditional and original Jewish music, is part of the davening team at Kehilat Romemu, and is an active member of JFREJ (Jews for Racial and Economic Justice). Arielle is passionate about accessible Jewish education and the creation of spaces for cultural sharing and deepening community.
Carin Mrotz is the Executive Director of Jewish Community Action, a 26 year old nonprofit organizing Minnesota’s Jewish community for racial and economic justice. On staff since 2004, she has worked on campaigns for immigrant and workers’ rights and played a key role in leading JCA’s work to organize with interfaith partners in support of marriage equality in 2012. Since becoming Executive Director in 2017, she has grown the organization, built on ongoing campaigns for affordable housing and criminal justice reform, and launched a new program to work statewide with other progressives to build a shared analysis of antisemitism and white nationalism.
Carin holds a bachelor’s degree in religion and a master’s degree in public administration. She has worked as a trainer, curriculum designer, and college instructor, and has served as a consultant to nonprofit organizations, providing support in fundraising, program evaluation, and organizational development. Carin has written about religion, parenting, and politics for The Forward, NBC News, and other local and national publications. In 2019, she was recognized on the Forward 50 list of influential American Jews.
Carin grew up in South Florida before moving to Minnesota on a dare in 1997. She lives in North Minneapolis with her family and her favorite thing to do is see live music in small spaces.
Yolanda Savage-Narva has twenty years’ experience working with public agencies and non-profit organizations to promote equity and inclusion. She is a Centers for Disease Control (CDC)-trained public health specialist who has led community based efforts in community health assessments for Indian Health Service, public education for the Alzheimer’s Association, pedestrian safety and advocacy for America Walks, and health equity for the National Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. Yolanda was also the Executive Director of Operation Understanding DC, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting understanding, cooperation, and respect while fighting to eradicate racism, anti-Semitism and all forms of discrimination.
In Yolanda’s current role she is leading the Racial Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (REDI) work for the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ). She is also a member of the JewVNation cohort, a fellowship sponsored by the URJ, a 2019 Schusterman Senior Fellow, a member of the Board of Directors for the Federation of Greater Washington and the Capital Jewish Museum. Yolanda is also a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority; an international Black sorority dedicated to community service and education.
Yolanda is a graduate of Tougaloo College (Sociology) and has a master’s degree in education from Jackson State University.
In her spare time Yolanda loves being outdoors, reading, birdwatching, playing sports and traveling with her family.
Arielle Tonkin (they/she) is a queer mixed Arab & Ashkenazi Jewish artist, educator, and spiritual director based living on Ohlone land in the SF Bay Area. Arielle works to dismantle white supremacy through arts & culture work and Jewish and interfaith education work. Arielle weaves relationships, and materializes conversations: the Muslim-Jewish Arts Fellowship, Arts Jam for Social Change, Tzedek Lab, SVARA, and Atiq: Jewish Maker Institute are among Arielle's networks of accountability, collective power, creative collaboration and care. Arielle’s studio artwork and social practice art presences, queers, and formalizes the belief that healing through relationship can shift the fabric of social space and eventually, one braided thread at a time, shift the structure of the physical world.