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2017 Consultation on Conscience Speakers

Megan Black, National Clergy Organizer, PICO
Megan Black is the National Clergy Organizer with PICO National Network, a multi-faith, multi-racial network of community organizations who bring grassroots leaders and congregations into public life. Megan holds a Master of Divinity degree from Vanderbilt Divinity School and has seven years' experience in community organizing, faith-based justice leadership, and interfaith engagement. She has worked to grow interfaith literacy in Chicago, combat predatory lending in Missouri, and in Nashville has worked to expand opportunities for the formerly incarcerated and mitigate the effects of gentrification on communities of color. As National Clergy organizer, she helps lead PICO’s clergy training and formation initiatives, develops and sustains religious partnerships, and integrates clergy/religious leadership and theological framing into PICO’s national campaigns. Megan is based in Nashville, Tennessee, where she is an over-active member of Christ the King Catholic Parish, a devoted Big Sister to her Little Brother of three years, and an outdoor-enthusiast in the making.

Rev. Cornell Brooks, President and CEO, NAACP
Cornell William Brooks is the president and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the nation’s oldest, largest, and most widely respected grassroots-based civil rights organization. In 2014, he became the 18th person to serve as chief executive of the Association, whose members in the United States and worldwide are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities.

Isabel P. "Liz" Dunst, Chair, Commission on Social Action
Isabel “Liz” Dunst is the Chair of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism. Liz serves on the Union for Reform Judaism’s Board of Trustees, having also served as a Vice-Chair and a member of its Oversight Committee. A long-term member of Temple Sinai, DC, Liz is currently an officer of the congregation and has served as its President. She is also a member of Temple Beth Abraham in Hagerstown, MD and of Yozma in Modiin, Israel. Liz has long been involved in the establishment and support of social justice organizations, including the National Partnership for Women and Families, and currently serves on the Board of Bend the Arc and on the Advisory Council of JOIN for Justice, and Tzedek, DC. Liz spent her professional career as a lawyer, in the government and as a partner at HoganLovells where she practices in the health care area. She is currently Of Counsel to HoganLovells.

Vanita Gupta, Incoming President and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights & Former Head of the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division
Vanita Gupta is an experienced leader and litigator who has devoted her entire career to civil rights work. Most recently, she served as Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General and Head of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. Appointed by President Barack Obama as the chief civil rights prosecutor for the United States, Gupta oversaw a wide range of criminal and civil enforcement efforts to ensure equal justice and protect equal opportunity for all during one of the most consequential periods for the division. Under Gupta’s leadership, the division did critical work in a number of areas, including advancing constitutional policing and criminal justice reform; prosecuting hate crimes and human trafficking; promoting disability rights; protecting the rights of LGBTQ individuals; ensuring voting rights for all; and combating discrimination in education, housing, employment, lending, and religious exercise. She is married to Chinh Q. Le, legal director of the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia, and has two young sons.

Anat Hoffman, Executive Director of the Israel Religious Action Center
Anat Hoffman became Executive Director of the Israel Religious Action Center in 2002. Previously, Ms. Hoffman served as a Jerusalem City Councilwoman for 14 years, carving out a niche for herself as an untiring warrior for justice and equality. She has dedicated her adult life to the Jewish principle of tikkun olam, which literally means repairing the world. It is this commitment to social action and justice that has formed her career. Anat was a founding member of Women of the Wall, and has served on the Boards of the Israel Women’s Network, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, and many other Israeli organizations working for social change.

Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President, Union for Reform Judaism
Rabbi Rick Jacobs is president of the Union for Reform Judaism, the most powerful force in North American Jewish life. The URJ leads the largest and most diverse Jewish movement in North America, with almost 900 congregations reaching nearly 1.5 million people. For nearly 150 years, the URJ has been at the forefront in promoting an open, progressive Judaism. A longtime and devoted creative change agent, Rabbi Jacobs spent 20 years as a dynamic, visionary spiritual leader at Westchester Reform Temple (WRT) in Scarsdale, New York.  During his tenure, he reshaped communal worship, transformed the congregation into a community of lifelong learners, and strengthened the synagogue's commitment to vibrancy and inclusion. Prior to his tenure at WRT, Rabbi Jacobs served the Brooklyn Heights Synagogue, where he founded and co-directed the first synagogue-based homeless shelter in New York City. He was ordained in 1982 by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in New York, where he received numerous excellence awards. Deeply committed to the State of Israel, Rabbi Jacobs has studied for two decades at Jerusalem's Shalom Hartman Institute, where he is now a senior rabbinic fellow. Rabbi Jacobs is a product of the Reform Movement, and has held numerous leadership posts within the URJ, the CCAR, ARZA and WUPJ.  He also has served on the boards of Jewish organizations in the community-at-large, including American Jewish World Service, UJA-Federation of New York, and, since its inception in 1996, Synagogue 2000 and its successor, Synagogue 3000.

Jennifer Brodkey Kaufman, Past Chair, Commission on Social Action
Jennifer Brodkey Kaufman is a Vice-Chair of the North American Board of the Union for Reform Judaism and the Immediate Past Chair of the Commission on Social Action. She also serves on the Leadership Team for Reform CA. She is a Past President of Congregation B’nai Israel in Sacramento and has remained actively involved, most recently working on efforts to make B’nai Israel a sanctuary congregation for those facing deportation. Jennifer worked for nearly 30 years as an attorney at the California Third District Court of Appeal and is enjoying retirement. When not traveling around the world with her husband, Todd, she can usually be found with her four grandchildren whose parents had the good sense to return to Sacramento.

Representative Joe Kennedy III (D-MA)
Joe Kennedy III is proud to serve the Fourth District of Massachusetts in Congress. Currently in his third term, he represents a diverse district that stretches from the suburbs of Boston to the more industrial cities of Massachusetts’ South Coast. As a member of the influential House Energy & Commerce Committee, Joe has crafted a legislative agenda driven by the needs of his constituents. With a focus on issues like mental health and addiction, energy costs, manufacturing and STEM education, he has prioritized bipartisan reforms that directly impact the families, businesses and communities he is honored to represent. His efforts to strengthen mental health parity laws, increase Medicaid reimbursement rates for behavioral health providers, and ensure the federal government invests in the entire continuum of care have made him an emerging leader on mental health and substance use disorders issues in Congress. 

Piper Kerman, Author and Activist
Piper Kerman is the author of best-selling Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison, which chronicles the 13 months she spent in the Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury, Connecticut. Piper’s memoir was later adapted into a critically acclaimed Netflix series. Since her release, Kerman has worked tirelessly to promote the cause of prison and criminal justice reform. She works with nonprofits, philanthropies, and other organizations working in the public interest and serves on the board of directors of the Women’s Prison Association and the advisory boards of InsideOUT Writers and JustLeadershipUSA. She has been called as a witness by Senate to testify on solitary confinement, women prisoners, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and has spoken at the White House on re-entry and employment, arts in prisons, and the unique challenges faced by women in the criminal justice system.

Governor Jack Markell, Delaware

Governor Jack Markell served as Delaware’s governor from 2009-2017.  During his  tenure  Delaware experienced the best job growth in the region and the best improvement in high school graduation rates in the country.  Gov. Markell also focused on running state government efficiently and effectively, keeping the state’s AAA bond rating while reforming Delaware’s health and pension systems to make them more sustainable over time. Beginning his career in the private sector, Gov. Markell helped lead the wireless technology revolution as the 13th employee at Nextel, where he served as senior vice president for corporate development. His other business experience includes a senior management position at Comcast Corporation, work as a consultant with McKinsey and Company and as a banker at First Chicago Corporation. 

Rabbi Sharon Mars, Temple Israel, Columbus, OH
Rabbi Sharon Mars is Senior Rabbi of Temple Israel in Columbus, Ohio, and is the first female head rabbi in the synagogue’s 170 year history. She received her rabbinic ordination from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1998, and has called Los Angeles, New York City, Jerusalem, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and Columbus home. Rabbi Mars has served as a rabbi on college campuses, in hospice, prisons, summer camps, elder care facilities, and mental health venues as well as synagogues. Her commitment to community-building and social justice was sparked by her parents (a public defender for minors and a public school teacher). Rabbi Mars’ passion is helping others find their authentic moral and spiritual voices so that they can grow awareness, action, and advocacy, and continue to complete the work of creation in a fragmented world.  She loves college basketball and her family. 

Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY)
Congressman Jerrold Nadler represents New York’s 10th Congressional District, one of the most dynamic and diverse districts in the country.  Covering the West Side of Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn, it includes the largest and most diverse Jewish community of any district in the United States.  Rep. Nadler is the second-most senior member
on the House Judiciary Committee, serving as Chairman or Ranking Member of its Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties for 13 years before becoming Ranking Member of the Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet Subcommittee. He is also a senior member of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, and serves as an Assistant Democratic Whip.  Representative Nadler began his career in public service in 1976 in the New York State Assembly, and was elected to Congress in 1992.  He lives on the Upper West Side of Manhattan with his wife, Joyce Miller.

Representative Jamie Raskin (D-MD)
Congressman Jamie Raskin proudly represents Maryland’s 8th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. The district includes parts of Montgomery, Carroll, and Frederick Counties. Raskin was sworn in to the 115th Congress on January 3, 2017. Congressman Raskin is the Vice-Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, and serves on two Judiciary subcommittees: the Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice; and the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigation. For more than 25 years, Congressman Raskin has been a professor of constitutional law at American University’s Washington College of Law. He authored several books, including the Washington Post best-seller Overruling Democracy: The Supreme Court versus the American People and the highly-acclaimed We the Students: Supreme Court Cases For and About America’s Students, which has sold more than 50,000 copies.Prior to his time in Congress, Jamie was a three-term State Senator in Maryland, where he also served as the Senate Majority Whip.

Isabel Rose, Activist and Artist
Isabel Rose’s viral letter to Ivanka Trump urging her to advance safer laws for transgender students pushed Rose to the forefront of trans activism. Harper’s Bazaar, CNN and The New York Times subsequently invited her to contribute articles in support of transgender rights. She is the founder of Woke Nation, an activist group dedicated to overcoming divisiveness fostered by fear-mongering, and serves on the boards of the Family and Gender Project at the Ackerman Institute and is a spokesperson for The Family Equality Council. As a multi-disciplinary creative artist, Isabel’s work primarily explores the theme of identity, whether that be in her film, Anything But Love, her two albums and accompanying music videos, or her novel, The J.A.P. Chronicles (Doubleday).

Representative Jacky Rosen (D-NV)
Congresswoman Jacky Rosen represents Nevada’s third District. Rosen has lived in southern Nevada for over 35 years and has worked as a computer programmer, software developer, and designer for some of the biggest companies in Nevada. As former President of Congregation Ner Tamid in Henderson, Rosen has dedicated countless hours to building the community and helping those in need. Rosen led a team that constructed one of the largest solar projects in the City of Henderson and southern Nevada by a non-profit through a public-private partnership. Congresswoman Rosen serves on the House Armed Services committee and is a member of the subcommittees on Tactical Air and Land Forces and Military Personnel. The Congresswoman also sits on the House Science, Space and Technology committee and is a member on the subcommittees on Research and Technology and Energy.

Mayor Darrell Steinberg, Sacramento, CA
Mayor Darrell Steinberg is one of Sacramento’s most accomplished public servants, serving the Sacramento community for over 20 years. Darrell began his political career as Chair of the Jewish Community Relations Council in Sacramento, before being elected to the City Council in 1992. He later ran for State Assembly and then State Senate, becoming the first Jewish President of the Senate in over 150 years. Throughout his public service, Darrell has always practiced the politics of Tikkun Olam. During his tenure in the legislature, Darrell championed economic development, civil rights, immigration reform, career pathways for underserved youth, building sustainable communities and major investments in healthcare and education. He authored the Mental Health Services Act, the first of its kind in the nation that generates $2 billion dollars a year for people in need. Darrell was sworn in as Mayor of Sacramento on December 13, 2016.

Rabbi Rachel Timoner, Senior Rabbi, Congregation Beth Elohim, Brooklyn, NY
Rabbi Rachel Timoner is the senior rabbi of Congregation Beth Elohim (CBE) in Park Slope, Brooklyn, where her passions are social justice, spiritual life, community building, and lifelong learning. Rabbi Timoner has launched several community organizing and social justice initiatives at CBE, including a Dismantling Racism community organizing team and, in partnership with New York City Council member Brad Lander, #GetOrganizedBK, through which thousands of New Yorkers work together to defend democracy and human dignity. Previously, Rachel served as associate rabbi of Leo Baeck Temple in Los Angeles, where she was a beloved teacher of Torah, a community organizer, and a leader in Reform CA. She received a B.A. from Yale University, worked for fourteen years in social justice in the San Francisco Bay Area, and received s’micha from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 2009, where she was a Wexner Graduate Fellow. Rachel is married to Felicia Park-Rogers and they have two sons, Benji and Eitan.

Michael Waldman, President, Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law
Michael Waldman is President of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, a nonpartisan law and policy institute that focuses on improving the systems of democracy and justice. Mr. Waldman was Director of Speechwriting for President Bill Clinton from 1995-99, responsible for writing/editing nearly two thousand speeches. He was special assistant to the president for policy coordination from 1993-95. He has been a lecturer at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and an attorney in private practice. Michael Waldman is the author of The Fight to Vote, The Second Amendment: A Biography, My Fellow Americans, and POTUS Speaks, among others. He appears frequently on television and radio to discuss public policy, the presidency and the law. Michael Waldman is a graduate of Columbia College (B.A., 1982) and New York University School of Law (J.D., 1987), where he was a member of the Law Review. 

Representative Lee Zeldin (R-NY)
Congressman Lee Zeldin grew up in Suffolk County, New York, where he graduated from William Floyd High School in Mastic Beach. Congressman Zeldin graduated from the State University of New York at Albany (SUNY) and then Albany Law School, becoming New York's youngest attorney at the time at the age of 23. Following four years in the State Senate, Congressman Zeldin was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2014 (NY-1). Congressman Zeldin’s top priorities in Congress include protecting America’s security at home and abroad, helping grow our economy and create more good paying jobs, supporting our veterans and first responders, improving the quality of education, repairing our nation’s infrastructure, improving healthcare in America and safeguarding our environment.