David Brauer was born a Jew on a very WASP part of Long Island, so his parents put up a Hanukah bush one year, and they were all embarrassed about it later. The family moved to Des Moines, Iowa where there were, unexpectedly, more Jews. Despite not being bar mitzvahed (short version: too many kids doing it for the money & he was too lazy to learn Hebrew), David became leader of his temple NFTY chapter, later becoming regional treasurer and chair. He still marvels at this. David attended the University of Rochester in New York, realized it was a mistake, transferred to the University of Minnesota, dropped out three times, and finally graduated in 2013. Maybe there's still time to get that bar mitzvah. In 2007, he went to work for MinnPost, covering the media and politics. In 2014, he retired to live off his lawyer wife under the guise of corralling their two teenagers. Along the way, David was president of the Kingfield (Mpls) Neighborhood Association in the late ‘90s and again in the mid-2000s. He become treasurer and later chair of the Kingfield Farmers Market board for several years until 2014. His big accomplishments were spinning off the market organization into its own nonprofit from the neighborhood association, and transitioning the market to a full-time executive director. He’s pretty proud of that. In his spare time, David is on Twitter (all the time), takes care of his elderly parents in Tucson, Arizona and is, jaw-droppingly, training to teach Pilates and something called GroupPower, which involves weights. No, you wouldn’t know it to look at him. David isn’t affiliated with any local Jewish congregation, but began volunteering for JCA in 2017 because there are Nazis in the White House and he couldn’t hide behind journalism any more. He graduated from Tzedek Institute (on the first try!), and worked a bit on Deep Canvassing, Action Havurot, and on the Criminal Justice Reform/Immigration team
Nancy Brown has spent most of her career conducting qualitative marketing research and consulting with non-profits and corporations. She has served as a program director at Jewish Community Relations Council and a therapist at Minneapolis Jewish Family and Children’s Service. She is a long-time elementary school tutor, a YouthLink mentor/connector, and a host for Humphrey Institute Fulbright fellows from South Sudan, Israel and the Philippines. She has participated in Jewish-Christian, Jewish-Muslim and Jewish-Black dialogues. Nancy belongs to Temple Israel, where she leads services and has been a member of the Adult Education and Social Action committees. With JCA, she has worked on foreclosure, bank accountability and affordable housing initiatives. She has a B.A. in Psychology from Skidmore College, and a Master’s in Social Work from Boston University. Her passions are her 3 grandchildren, traveling, doing Tikkun Olam, learning, attending cultural events and reading.
Susan Cobin was born and grew up in Springfield, IL, which may explain or partially explain her deep interest in Lincoln. After college at Northwestern University, Susan and her husband David lived in Boston, Berkeley and Cambridge studying, working, demonstrating and having children before moving to St Paul in 1977. Here David taught at Hamline University Law School until his death in 2011 and Susan taught for a few years in the Roseville Public Schools before beginning a long career with Talmud Torah of St Paul Day School. In addition to her vocation in Jewish education, Susan has been active in peace and justice issues and in the last decade has added qvelling over grandchildren to her skills. She has enjoyed learning with and from people at JCA and looks forward to continuing the relationship.
Michelle Horovitz is a Minnesota native and is one of the co-founders and Executive Director of Appetite For Change (AFC), a nonprofit social enterprise organization dedicated to using food as a tool to build health, wealth and social change. AFC works with residents to build strong families and healthy, equitable communities around food. They also own and operate Kindred Kitchen, a shared commercial kitchen incubator and Breaking Bread Café and Catering, a youth social enterprise serving NorthMinneapolis. Michelle graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a B.A. in Bioethics and Spanish and earned a J.D. from the University of Minnesota Law School. She worked as an Assistant Public Defender in Miami-Dade County before working for James Beard Award winning Chef Michelle Bernstein as a prep cook, line cook and assistant to the pastry chef. After returning to Minneapolis she co-founded Appetite For Change. She is a dedicated leader, passionate about social and racial justice, and advocates for criminal justice reform, and equity across all cultural, religious, and geographic communities. Michelle enjoys yoga, biking and spending time with her family and friends. She lives inMinneapolis with her husband, two children, two dogs and two fish.
Jeremy Kalin has spent the last seven years serving as CEO of Eutectics, a mission-oriented company focused on making clean energy mainstream, by connecting qualified clean energy projects with committed finance partners. By mobilizing capital for the public good, Jeremy has gained national recognition for unlocking underserved markets for solar and energy savings projects, ranging from low-income and affordable housing properties to small businesses and urban brownfields. With a J.D. from William Mitchell College of Law and a B.F.A. in ceramics (truthfully!) as well as two years of graduate training in architecture, Jeremy has been active in nonprofit organizations for more than 2 decades, in roles ranging from staff to board member to Governance Committee Chair. He serves on the board of Jewish Family and Childrens Service of Minneapolis and is a current member of the Harry Kay Leadership Institute. Interestingly, the summary of Jeremy’s Kolbe Index (one of many personal inventory tools) stated: “You are uniquely able to take on future-oriented challenges. You lead the way to visionary possibilities and create what others said couldn’t be done. You’ll say “Yes” before you even know the end of the question - then turn it into a productive adventure."
Geri Katz has been the political organizer for the Minnesota Nurses Association for three years, facilitating nurse participation in policy and advocacy on behalf of patients and the nursing profession. Prior to that, she spent five years as a political organizer for the Service Employees International Union, and three years at Minnesota Citizens for the Arts. Geri has volunteered for many social justice organizations and campaigns, and served as a board member and chair of NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota. She is a member of Shir Tikvah Synagogue.
Cindy Reich is a native of Philadelphia, Cindy Reich came to MN almost 32 years ago. She is a Jewish educator and has worked in a range of settings from congregations to day schools to national change initiatives. Her most recent work focuses on professional development for teachers and leadership development in Jewish day schools across the ideological spectrum. In 2015 Cindy completed her PhD in Evaluation Studies at the University of MN. She has conducted evaluations and done evaluation capacity building for faith-based organizations and congregations, educational institutions, and non-profits. Through JCA, Cindy has been involved in marriage equality, criminal justice reform, deep canvassing, and affordable housing. She is a member of Adath Jeshurun Congregation. In recent years she has begun to fulfill a life-long dream of learning to play the drums.
Elana Schwartzman has a background in marketing and communications, having worked with nonprofit, for-profit, and electoral organizations and campaigns throughout the Twin Cities with a particular emphasis on social media strategies and online community development. Elana spent seven years at Wellstone Action, leading grassroots issue campaigns and training on citizen activism, and led social media and digital marketing for a statewide network of museums at the Minnesota Historical Society. Elana is currently a graphic designer and communications consultant working with nonprofit organizations and creative entrepreneurs.
Abbie Shain swore off institutional Judaism and moved to St. Paul to attend Macalester College after 5 years of teaching Hebrew School in her 80-family hometown shul in South Jersey. Nine years, a Religious Studies degree and Masters in Social Work later, Abbie is now a therapist for queer teens at RECLAIM. After years of social media admiration, Abbie participated in Tzedek Institute in January of 2018 and then helped lead the Minnesota Poor People's Campaign. Abbie served as Field Director for a political campaign about criminal justice reform and continues to bringing together issue based campaigns and electoral justice work. Abbie is a co-facilitator of JCA's Tzedek Institute and a member of Tzedek Lab (Jews across the country inspiring collective action around racism, antisemitism, and white nationalism). Much to her surprise and delight, Abbie is a member at Shir Tikvah (swearing off institutional Judaism didn't go very well) where she rejoices in a community where she usually just shows up and occasionally teaches Sex Ed to raucous 7th graders.
Noa Shavit-Lonstein is a Master of Public Policy candidate at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School for Public Affairs. She has been involved as an organizer with several different campaigns, and worked as Student Outreach Coordinator for Ilhan Omar for State House. She currently works for Minnesota 350. Noah’s involvement with Jewish Community Action began in high school, as a member of a youth team working to defeat the Marriage and Voter ID amendments in 2012.
Jacob Smith is an attorney for the Minnesota Department of Revenue in the Appeals and Legal Services division where he deals with Sales and Use tax. He has an undergraduate degree in political science from the University of Michigan and a law degree from William Mitchell College of Law. He is a member of Adath Jeshurun Synagogue.