Leadership Team

Professional Staff

Rabbi Salem Pearce (she/her/hers), Executive Director. Rabbi Salem previously served as Director of Organizing at T'ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, after being ordained by Hebrew College Rabbinical School in 2018. She is a noted speaker and writer on immigration and the Jewish community, and her writing has appeared in JTA, Ha'aretz, Sojourners, and Sh'ma. While in school, Rabbi Salem was a student fellow with Rabbis Without Borders, American Jewish World Service, and T'ruah. She also completed an internship at the Institute for Southern Jewish Life, in Jackson, Mississippi. Before rabbinical school, she lived and worked in Washington, D.C., as a fundraiser for several nonprofit organizations, and volunteered for and served on the board of the DC Rape Crisis Center. She now lives in Durham with her two cats, Akiva and Alex Bregman (AB). Rabbi Salem can be reached at [email protected].

Cole Parke-West (they/them/theirs), Senior Statewide Organizer. Cole is an experienced organizer, activist, researcher, and facilitator with a deep passion for supporting faith communities in fulfilling the call to resist oppression and advance social justice. They are an expert trainer and practitioner in conflict transformation, and prior to relocating to Durham in 2018, Cole spent the previous five years working for Political Research Associates, a Boston-based think tank dedicated to understanding and interrupting right-wing extremism, including white supremacy, misogyny, xenophobia, and antisemitism. Cole can be reached at [email protected].

Alanna Davis (she/her/y'all), Statewide Organizer. Alanna is a hard-working team player with a diligent attention to detail and a strong commitment to bending the arc of the moral universe toward justice. After moving to North Raleigh at a young age in the early 1990s with her family from Montreal, Alanna briefly attended day school at Sha'arei Israel before matriculating through Wake County schools in downtown Raleigh. She grew up attending and eventually teaching Hebrew school at Beth Meyer Synagogue, and then held multiple leadership roles in student organizing of both secular and Jewish life during her time at UNC-Chapel Hill. Her background is an intentional balance of grassroots community organizing and professional startup operational roles in the multimodal transportation sector, both of which have provided her with extensive experience in leadership development. She is interested in rethinking models of land stewarding and sits on the advisory board of the Respite in the Round retreat center. Alanna lives in Chapel Hill with her partner and pets where she passionately advocates for queer liberation and disability justice. Alanna can be reached at [email protected].

Board and Steering Committees

Carolina Jews for Justice is currently led by a volunteer Board of Directors from Jewish communities in Charlotte, Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Mebane, and Asheville. CJJ local chapters are led by volunteer chairs of local steering committees. 

Julia Barnard, Board President

Julia (she/her/hers) holds a B.A. with highest distinction in History from the University of Kansas and a Masters in City and Regional Planning from UNC. She works as a researcher at the Center for Responsible Lending, where she fights for student loan cancellation and other fair lending campaigns at the federal and state levels.

Meredith Cohen, Board Vice-President

Meredith (she/her/hers) was born and raised in Hillsborough, NC and grew up attending Beth El Synagogue in Durham. After many years away from the area, which she spent attending college, teaching elementary school, and learning to farm at Adamah, she is so happy to be back home in NC, putting down roots near family and old friends. In 2018, Meredith founded One Soil Farm, a Jewish farm serving the Triangle Jewish community. She is thrilled to have the opportunity to grow food for her community and to share her combined love of Judaism and farming.

Debbie Goldstein, Board Treasurer

Debbie (she/her/hers) lives in Durham with her husband, Steve Prince, son Avery, and daughter Hannah. She is the Executive Director of the NC Leadership Forum at Duke University and previous worked at the Center for Responsible Lending, where she advocated against predatory lending. Debbie serves on the boards of Bend the Arc and Beth El Synagogue in Durham and previously served as a board member of Durham Congregations in Action. Debbie is originally from the DC area, and has lived in Durham for over 20 years.

Max Parish, Board Co-Secretary

Max Parish (he/him/his) is a seasoned organizer with many cycles of experience in issue and electoral campaigns on both municipal and state levels. He works at Mothers Out Front, a national movement of mothers who are building power to secure a swift transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy to ensure a livable climate for all. There, he supports the organizing as a Database Administrator, ensuring members across the organization are equipped to use data and technology as a part of their organizing. He is passionate about investing his time and energy into growing the skills and leadership of CJJ members to ensure the movement is built to last and win justice for North Carolinians. He lives with his fiancee Mira in Durham.


Emma Cohn, Board Co-Secretary

Emma Cohn (she/her/hers) is originally from Asheville, but is now an undergrad student at UNC Chapel Hill, studying public policy and global studies. Within CJJ, she helps run the communication team and manages CJJ’s social media presence.

Judy Leavitt, Board Past-President

Judy (she/her/hers) started serving as president in 2018. She also serves as Chair of the steering committee of Carolina Jews for Justice West, which focuses on western North Carolina. Judy lives in Asheville, where she was chair of the social justice committee of Congregation Beth HaTephila for 10 years. She is a retired educator of nursing and health policy.

Frank Goldsmith, Board Member

Frank (he/him/his) is an Asheville-area mediator and arbitrator active in social justice issues since the 1960s.  He is a former civil rights lawyer who represented Death Row inmates, victims of employment discrimination, victims of police abuse, and Guantánamo detainees, among others.  He served as state president of the ACLU of North Carolina and more recently as co-chair of the North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torture.  Frank is a member of the steering committee of Carolina Jews for Justice/West and former chair of the Social Action Committee at Congregation Beth Israel in Asheville, where he is also a regular Torah reader and service leader.

Jack Holtzman, Board Member

Jack (he/him/his) is an attorney at the NC Justice Center, with a focus on housing discrimination. He has been in NC since 1985 and has previously helped lead the Progressive Jewish Network/(Triangle chapter of New Jewish Agenda), the Triangle Childrens' Shule and the CRC of the Durham-Chapel Hill Jewish Federation. Jack’s wife Pam is a professor of public health and he has two grown daughters, Rachel and Danya.


Ray Katz, Board Member

Ray Katz (she/they) is a PhD student who has been living in Durham since the Fall of 2017. In her preschool evaluation, her mother was informed that she has "a strong sense of justice that she is not afraid to correct with her fists." She's since gotten better at using her words. Her first involvement with CJJ was in Spring of 2018, writing a pro-union themed Purim spiel. She is now an active organizer in Fed Up as well as the occasional CJJ study. She also has experience in electoral political organizing, but has a real love for more community-based work.

Dove Kent, Board Member

Dove Kent, Senior Strategy Officer at Bend the Arc: Jewish Action, has two decades of experience in grassroots organizing, political education, and movement building. As the executive director of Jews for Racial & Economic Justice (2011-2017), Dove supported the organization to triple in size and win game-changing legislative victories for police accountability and worker’s rights through powerful local coalitions. She teaches nationally and has been published in many anthologies and news outlets including the Guardian and Ha’aretz, and is the co-author of the ground-breaking "Understanding Antisemitism: An Offering To Our Movement" (2017). Dove is the co-founder of the national Tzedek Lab network, and lives in Durham, North Carolina.


Rabbi Dusty Klass, Board Member

Rabbi Dusty Klass (she/her) serves as Associate Rabbi at Temple Beth El in Charlotte. She was ordained from the Los Angeles campus of Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion with Masters degrees in Hebrew Letters and Jewish Educational Leadership. Much of her world view has been shaped by her experiences growing up in South Seattle (the West Charlotte of Seattle) as a lower-middle-class white Jewish kid with a Jewish dad and a Catholic mom. She loves tea, story-sharing, finding Judaism in American pop culture, and the pursuit of a world where all people recognize the holiness in each other and choose to act accordingly.

Milan Pham, Board Member

Milan (she/her/hers) lives in Hillsborough with her spouse and their many animal family members. She is a partner in her firm and concentrates her practice on queer family creation via adoption and assisted reproduction law otherwise known as subverting the cis/het/erosexist paradigm. She serves on the boards of Equality NC, The Pauli Murray Center for History and Social Justice and GoldenGirlz, NC. She has been a member of Judea Reform Synagogue and served on the Social Justice Committee there. She's excited to lend her passions and knowledge to CJJ and to be in j/Jewish community.

Rochelle Sparko, Board Member

Rochelle (she/her/hers) grew up in western Massachusetts where she was an active member of her synagogue and USY. She received undergraduate degrees from Barnard College and the Jewish Theological Seminary and spent her junior year abroad at Hebrew University. After three years in Washington, DC, where Rochelle attended law school, she moved to Hawaii. Rochelle practiced law at the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii and taught the b’nai mitzvah class at a Honolulu synagogue. Since moving to Durham in 2008, Rochelle had a five year stint practicing law at the NC Justice Center, and then served as the policy director for a sustainable agriculture non-profit from 2013-2019. Now she serves as the Director of NC Policy at the Center for Responsible Lending. She’s been missing Jewish community life, and looks forward to working hard with CJJ to advance her social justice values in the context of her Jewish identify.