Noam Pianko is the Samuel N. Stroum Professor of Jewish Studies and Associate Professor in the Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington where he also directs the Samuel and Althea Stroum Center for Jewish Studies and serves as the Herbert and Lucy Pruzan Chair of Jewish Studies. He is the author of Zionism and the Roads not Taken: Rawidowicz, Kaplan, Kohn (Indiana, 2010) and Peoplehood: An American Innovation (Rutgers, 2015). Pianko has published articles in leading journals, including the Journal of Modern Jewish Studies and Ab Imperio: Studies of New Imperial History and Nationalism in the Post-Society Space. He also serves on the Executive Board of the American Jewish Historical Society and the Association for Jewish Studies board. Pianko is the recipient of a Mellon Foundation Fellowship, a UW Technology Teaching Fellowship, and a Royalty Research Award.
Ali Michael, Ph.D.
Ali Michael, Ph.D., is the Director of K-12 Consulting and Professional Development at the Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education at the University of Pennsylvania and the Co-Founder and Director of the Race Institute for K-12 Educators. She is the author of Raising Race Questions: Whiteness, Inquiry and Education (Teachers College Press, 2015): a book designed to support teachers in the long term and personal process of understanding the role that race plays in their lives and in their classrooms. She is also co-editor of Everyday White People Confront Racial and Social Injustice: 15 Stories (2015, Stylus Press) and The Guide for White Women who Teach Black Boys (Forthcoming, Corwin). Ali sits on the editorial board of the journal Whiteness and Education. She and her partner, Michael Ramberg (RRC ’12), live in Philadelphia and consider questions of race and education on a daily basis in the raising of their two children.
Rabbi Joshua Lesser leads the dynamic Congregation Bet Haverim as a place dedicated to celebrating all aspects of Jewish life and creating a spiritual home that balances the needs of a diverse community. He served in the first Teach for America Corps in New Orleans and founded the Rainbow Center (SOJOURN's predecessor), a Jewish response to LGBTQ people and their families. He is the co-editor of the groundbreaking book Torah Queeries: A Weekly Commentary on the Hebrew Bible. He was named one of the 36 most influential rabbis in North America in 2013 and listed as one of the 100 most notable LGBT clergy in America by Huffington Post. Throughout his tenure at Bet Haverim, Rabbi Lesser has worked with a wide variety of groups and coalitions to build a better community for Atlanta by focusing on building bridges between diverse communities as demonstrated through being a founder and past president of the Faith Alliance of Metro Atlanta and serving as the co-chair of Georgians Against Discrimination. Taking positions as the chair of Reconstructionist movement's Tikkun Olam Comission and the board of Georgia Equality, he is solidly dedicated to human rights for all. Recently, he has completed the Lev Shomea Spiritual Direction Program.
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