Lisa Armony has served in strategic planning, educational and communications positions for Jewish organizations in Toronto, Canada and the U.S.  As Rose Project Director, she has been instrumental in implementing strategies that create a more civil campus climate for Jewish students on Orange County college campuses, spearheading efforts that create learning opportunities about Israel, empower Jewish student leaders, and support Jewish campus organizations. In 2015, she launched an experiential learning journey to Israel and the Palestinian Authority for diverse student leaders seeking to explore the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  That program has been scaled to dozens of college campuses throughout the U.S. and Europe. She has also developed a variety of community education programs on Jewish identity, Israel and antisemitism, including an educational platform for teens that supports leadership development and counters bigotry and antisemitism in the greater Orange County community. As Chief Impact Officer, she oversees Federation’s strategic planning and granting and works closely with Community Partners to support community development and growth. A Magna cum Laude graduate of Cornell University, Lisa holds a Master’s degree in Political Science from Yale University, a Certificate in Israel Experiential Education from the iCenter and George Washington University, and a dual Master's degree in Jewish and Israel Education from The Hebrew University’s Melton School of Jewish Education. She is also a Fellow in the Executive Leadership Program of the Mandel Institute for Nonprofit Leadership.

Richard Arum is professor of sociology and education at the University of California Irvine (UCI). He recently served as dean of the UCI School of Education, senior fellow at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and director of the Education Research Program at the Social Science Research Council. He received a M.Ed. from Harvard and a Ph.D. in Sociology from the U.C., Berkeley.

David Bocarsly is the Executive Director of the Jewish Public Affairs Committee of California (JPAC), the voice of California’s Jewish community to the State Capitol, and the largest single-state coalition of Jewish organizations in the nation. Comprised of 30 leading Jewish community organizations – including Jewish Federations, Jewish Community Relations Councils, Jewish Family Service agencies, and others – JPAC advocates in Sacramento on behalf of the Jewish community’s concerns and broadly shared values. Prior to joining JPAC, David served as the Director of the California Legislative Jewish Caucus, curating and implementing legislative and advocacy efforts for its 18 elected officials. In that capacity, he created an annual Tikkun Olam–Repairing the World bill package, guided the Caucus’s efforts to establish a widely-accepted statewide Ethnic Studies curriculum, and drove advocacy efforts that secured over $150 million from the state budget for Jewish community priorities.

Dr. Liat Franco (B.A., J.D., L.L.M., Ph.D.) is a member of the Law Department in Zefat Academic College and as a lecturer in the Law Department in Haifa University (Israel). Dr. Liat Franco submitted her Ph.D. dissertation "Cyberbullying, an Evolving Phenomenon Amongst Children and Youth-Demands Reframing Local and International Law" in 2018. Dr. Franco received her B.A in Communication from UCLA and graduated from UCLA Law School with a J.D. in 2003. She is a member of the New York, California and Israeli bar associations. Upon her return to Israel she was employed in Carmel Academic College. In 2013, she received a scholarship from the Israeli Ministry of Science, Technology and Space. At Zefat College, she teaches courses on Internet law, education law and children and youth law. 

Oren Jacobson is a civic entrepreneur, thought leader, and policy advisor focused on helping communities and organizations build the strength and capacity necessary to address systemic challenges. In professional and personal practice, deep pride in his Jewish identity instills in Oren a sense of duty to disrupt the unjust imbalances of our world and his advocacy spans local to international engagement.

To help deepen understanding and build bridges, Oren co-founded Project Shema, which helps Jewish students, leaders, and organizations navigate the difficult conversations surrounding Israel/Palestine and antisemitism and provides social justice centered antisemitism education to public and private institutions. Through this work, he has advised global Jewish institutions and served as a subject matter expert on antisemitism to global corporations. Oren currently also leads Men4Choice, a multi-state advocacy organization focused on mobilizing male allies into the fight to protect and expand reproductive freedom.

Previously, Oren served as National Chapter Development Director for the New Leaders Council, growing NLC into the largest leadership development organization in the progressive movement. He holds a Master's in International Relations from the University of Chicago, a Master's in Economics and Policy Analysis from DePaul University, and an MBA from Regis University.

Rabbi Peter Levi is a veteran Jewish community professional. After 18 years as a congregational rabbi, he now is the Regional Director for the Anti-Defamation League’s Orange County/Long Beach office where fights antisemitism and all forms of bigotry, defends democratic ideals and protects civil rights for all by responding to hate incidents, building relationships with elected officials, the interfaith community, law enforcement, other cultural and civil rights organizations, and educating the community [anti-bias, bullying prevention, and responding to hate and bigotry programs for K-12 schools and college campuses]. Peter currently just completed a 5-year term as president of the Orange County Board of Rabbis, is a member of the Orange County Sheriff’s Interfaith Advisory Council, the OC Hate Crime Prevention Network among many other community coalitions. He was recently featured in the Los Angeles Times/Daily Pilot,  3 Orange County Residents Who Fight Against the Spread of Hate (May 13,2021).

Michael Matsuda is a nationally recognized 21st century educational leader known for innovation, entrepreneurship, and compassion. Under his leadership, the Anaheim Union High School District has built a new educational model incorporating “reverse engineered” career pathways in partnership with higher education, private, and non-profit sectors, which have extended and transformed educational opportunities for all students.

Since becoming superintendent in 2014, Mr. Matsuda has earned several accolades, including: one of twelve national “Leaders to Learn From” Award from Education Week Magazine, the “Visionary Education Leadership Award” from Cal State University, Fullerton, the California Association for Bilingual Education (CABE) Administrator of the Year Award, and an honorary “Doctor of the University” from Chapman University.

Additionally, Mr. Matsuda was named the California Council for the Social Studies Administrator of the Year for promoting democracy in public schools. AUHSD leads the state with 10 California Democracy Schools which promote student voice and civic engagement throughout the district. Mr. Matsuda was also appointed to the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships (NCCEP) Board of Directors to enhance the organization’s mission of ensuring underserved students have the opportunity, skills, and knowledge to pursue the education and training to achieve their career and life goals. NCCEP oversees the federal government’s largest secondary grant program, GEAR UP.

As an innovator, Mr. Matsuda has developed the AIME (Anaheim Innovative Mentoring Experience) program to create mentorships for over 4,500 high school students and has created over 150 annual summer work-based paid internship experiences for students who also receive college credit through Fullerton College. He also conceptualized the AUHSD SERVATHON, an annual service event celebrating MLK Day with over 4,000 students, families, and adult mentors.

Before assuming the role of superintendent in March 2014, Mr. Matsuda spent 22 years as an educator in the Anaheim Union High School District. He began teaching at Orangeview Junior High School, where he was twice selected as Teacher of the Year. He also taught honors English classes at Oxford Academy. He received his BA from UCLA, MPA from USC, his teaching credential from Chapman University, and administrative credential from CSUF.

Joanna Mendelson is the Senior Vice President, Community Engagement of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles. In this role she helps convene statewide and national coalitions, expand interfaith and multi-faith community relationships, lead local, state, and federal advocacy efforts and strengthen ties to Israel.

 

Prior to this, she worked for more than two decades for the ADL, most recently serving on the national team as Associate Director for the Center on Extremism, which combats extremism, terrorism and all forms of hate in the real world and online. She trained more than 12,000 federal, state and local law enforcement officers, judges and public officials nationwide on extremism and domestic terrorism related issues. Ms. Mendelson is a certified subject matter expert and has provided testimony in numerous criminal cases involving extremism. In partnership with law enforcement partners, she has helped thwart potential extremist attacks against Jews and other vulnerable communities. Additionally, Ms. Mendelson authored, then testified and successfully lobbied in favor of legislation addressing paper terrorism tactics used by sovereign citizens. She frequently speaks to national and international media outlets, including CNN, the BBC and CBS.

 

You can follow her on Twitter at @jo_mendelson.

April Powers is the Cofounder of Jewbian Princess and DEI strategist for ProjectShema.org. April is committed to building inclusion in Jewish spaces and beyond. She sits on her synagogue board and on the advisory board of Progressive Zionists of California.

Mark Rotenberg oversees Hillel's Campus Climate Initiative, working across the U.S. with Hillel professionals and higher education leaders to ensure a campus environment in which every student can feel comfortable learning about and identifying with Judaism and Israel. Mark has spent most of his professional career on university campuses, serving for many years as the general counsel at the University of Minnesota and at Johns Hopkins University. In those positions, he provided strategic counsel and policy advice to university boards, presidents, chancellors and other senior officers. A seasoned university educator, Mark currently is an Adjunct Professor of Law at American University in Washington, has taught at the University of Minnesota for over 20 years, and was a visiting professor of law at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He has argued and won cases in the US Supreme Court and many other judicial forums. Mark received his B.A. from Brandeis University, and J.D., M.Phil., and M.A. from Columbia Law School and Columbia University Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.

Ambassador Rabbi David Saperstein was designated by Newsweek Magazine as the most influential rabbi in America and by the Washington Post as the “quintessential religious lobbyist on Capitol Hill,”. For 40 years as Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, David Saperstein represented to Congress and the Administration, the Reform Jewish Movement, the largest segment of American Jewry. Under Rabbi Saperstein, writes J.J. Goldberg in his book Jewish Power, the Religious Action Center "has become one of the most powerful Jewish bodies in Washington, second only to AIPAC."

 

During the second term of the Obama administration, Rabbi Saperstein served as the United States Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, carrying out his responsibilities as the country’s chief diplomat on religious freedom issues. In this capacity, he served as a principal advisor to Secretary Kerry and President Obama on issues of international religious freedom and travelled widely as America’s advocate for religious freedom across the globe.  In 2019-20, Rabbi Saperstein served as the President of the World Union for Progressive Judaism, the international arm of the Reform Jewish Movement.

 

Also an attorney, he taught seminars on Church–State law and on comparative Jewish and American Law for 35 years at Georgetown University Law Center and continues his academic work as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University’s Foreign Service School and Center for Jewish Civilization and as a Distinguished Fellow at the PM Glynn Institute at Australian Catholic University.

 

During his career, Rabbi Saperstein has served as the chair or co-chair of several national interreligious coalitions including the Coalition to Preserve Religious Liberty and first chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious freedom. He has served on the boards or executive committees of numerous national organizations including the NAACP, People for The American Way, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the National Religious Partnership on the Environment, and the World Faith Development Dialogue.

 

His work has been recognized over the years from many sources, receiving numerous national organizational awards (including the inaugural recipient of the Embassy of the Netherlands’ “Anne Frank Award”) and honorary doctorates from several universities (most recently from Yale University in 2016). His articles have been published in publications ranging from the New York Times and the Washington Post to the Harvard Law Review. He has appeared on most major television news and talk shows, including Oprah, Meet the Press, ABC’s Sunday Morning, the Rachel Maddow Show, Nightline, PBS News Hour, Crossfire, Hardball, and the O’Reilly Factor. His latest book is Jewish Dimensions of Social Justice: Tough Moral Choices for our Times.

As Vice President of the Center on Extremism, Oren Segal and his team combat extremism, terrorism and all forms of hate in the real world and online. Recognized as the foremost authority on extremism, the Center provides resources, expertise and training which enables law enforcement, public officials and internet and technology companies to identify and counter emerging threats.  

Oren joined ADL in 1998 after working for The New York Times and the Jewish Community Federation in San Francisco. Much of Oren’s 21 years with ADL has been devoted to evaluating the activity and tactics of extremist groups and movements from across the ideological spectrum, training law enforcement officers and publishing reports and articles on a wide range of extremist topics. In 2006, Oren was recognized by the FBI for his exceptional service in the public interest. He was named to the Forward’s list of 50 influential, intriguing and inspiring American Jews in 2019.

Oren is a graduate of Wheaton College in Massachusetts. 

Rabbi Richard Steinberg is the dynamic and transformative leader of Congregation Shir Ha-Ma’alot (SHM) in Irvine, CA since 2001. Rabbi Steinberg grew SHM from fewer than 300 member families to a thriving congregation of over 625 families with Orange County’s largest religious school. He works diligently at providing a warm, caring, and educational environment for people to grow in all ways. Through creating an interactive partnership with the laity, Rabbi Steinberg is literally fashioning a place that people call home.

 

Born and raised in Northern California, Rabbi Steinberg graduated from the California State University system with a Bachelor of Science in criminal justice and minor in sociology. After working for a police department for a year, he decided to focus on a different kind of law – the law of the soul. As a graduate of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, he became the assistant rabbi at the historic Isaac M. Wise Temple in Cincinnati, OH, where Reform Judaism was founded. He holds a Master of Arts in Hebrew Letters, a Master of Arts in marital family therapy and is a licensed psychotherapist. Among the many roles he has held in the community, Rabbi Steinberg is a member of Children’s Hospital of Orange County Mental Health Advisory Board; a Commissioner and former Chair of the Orange County Human Relations Commission; the Chaplain of the Irvine Police Department; an executive board member of the Orange County Sheriff’s Interfaith Religious Council and of AIPAC Orange County, and Past-President of the Jewish Association of Special Needs and the Orange County Board of Rabbis. He is married to Abby Rozenberg and together they have five adult children

Jesse Tannetta is a former high school teacher and is the Program Manager for Echoes & Reflections, specializing in providing professional development to middle and high school teachers focused on Holocaust education throughout the United States. He holds bachelor’s degrees in History and Catholic Theology from Emmanuel College as well as a master’s degree in Holocaust and Genocide Studies from Gratz College.

Eric K. Ward, a nationally-recognized expert on the relationship between authoritarian movements, hate violence, and preserving inclusive democracy, is the recipient of the 2021 Civil Courage Prize – the first time in the award’s history that an American has won the prize, revealing the dangerous proliferation of hate crimes and political violence by authoritarian and extremist movements in the United States. Eric brings over three decades of leadership in community organizing and philanthropy to his roles as Western States Center’s Executive Director and member of the President's Leadership Council for the Search for Common Good. Since Eric took the helm in 2017, Western States Center has become a national hub for innovative responses to white nationalism, antisemitism, and structural inequality, towards a world where everyone can live, love, work, and worship free from bigotry and fear.

 

In his 30+ year civil rights career, Eric has worked with community groups, government and business leaders, human rights advocates, and philanthropy as an organizer, director, program officer, consultant, and board member. Currently Chair of The Proteus Fund, Eric is Advisor to the Bridge Entertainment Labs, a member of the Pop Culture Collaborative’s Pluralist Visionaries Program, and the recipient of the Peabody-Facebook Futures Media Award. Eric is in high demand as a speaker and media source, and is the author of multiple written works credited with key narrative shifts, including “Skin in the Game: How Antisemitism Animates White Nationalism.” He has been quoted in The New Yorker, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, ESPN, Black News Channel, NPR, BBC, Rolling Stone and numerous other media outlets, and regularly publishes on Medium. Eric has a special interest in the use of music to advance inclusive democracy.

 

In 2020 he helped to launch the Western States Center Inclusive Democracy Culture Lab which works with musicians to create new narratives that puncture the myths driving our political and social divisions, and invite people who don’t always trust politicians and movement leaders into the safe and trusting conversational space that exists between a performer and their audience.

Join us as we open this important communal dialogue to combat hate together.

 

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This program is partially funded by grants from the Jewish Community Foundation Orange County and Jewish Federations of North America.