Leadership Team

Professional Staff

Rabbi Salem Pearce (she/her/hers) joined CJJ as our first Executive Director in July 2020. She served as Director of Organizing at T'ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights for the past three years, 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. Rabbi Salem can be reached at [email protected].

Cole Parke (they/them/theirs) 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].

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Brandon Mond (he/him/his) has been involved in numerous Jewish organizing and social justice efforts. He cut his teeth in Austin, Texas first as a student and later as a resident working on issues related to immigration, white nationalism, and guns on public university campuses. Professionally, he has worked on the past three election cycles in various capacities, helping southern progressives seek political office. Brandon is a co-founder of Never Again Action and has been an active leader on the local and national level of IfNotNow. Brandon 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 focusing on student lending and debt collection, and also teaches at the Lerner School in Durham. She previously she served as a community organizer for Texas Hillel Foundation, and is currently helping CJJ's new youth chapter, NC Teens for Change, get off the ground. 

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, she is so happy to be back home, putting down roots near family and old friends. Just before moving back, Meredith spent 3 years living at Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center in Connecticut, and working with amazing Jewish farmers at  the Adamah farm. She is excited to be back and building her Jewish community here in North Carolina, and finding ways to stand up for justice alongside her fellow Jews.

Debbie Goldstein, Board Treasurer

Debbie (she/her/hers) lives in Durham with her husband, Steve Prince, son Avery, and daughter Hannah. She serves in a leadership role at the Center for Responsible Lending, a national nonprofit based in Durham that advocates for fair and affordable financial services for low-income families, and also sits on the board of Durham Congregations in Action and Beth El congregation. Debbie is originally from the DC area, and has lived in Durham for over 15 years.

Max Parish, Board 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. 

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.

Emma Cohn, Board Member

Emma Cohn (she/her/hers) is originally from Asheville, but is now a first-year student at UNC Chapel Hill, studying political science and art history. Previously, she was the secretary and Social Action VP for her synagogue's NFTY chapter, served on Asheville's Jewish Community Relations Council, and was a fellow of the Jewish Women's Archive's Rising Voices Fellowship. Within CJJ, she manages social media for both statewide and the West chapter and writes for the blog.

Frank Goldsmith, Board Member

Frank (he/him/his) is a civil rights lawyer and mediator active in social justice issues since the 1960s. He 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, NC.

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.

Dove Kent, Board Member

Dove (she/her/hers) has over 15 years of experience in grassroots organizing, political education, and movement building. As the former executive director of Jews for Racial & Economic Justice (2011 through 2016), 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. Under Dove’s tenure, JFREJ grew into one of the strongest and most effective progressive Jewish organizations in the country, creating significant culture shifts within the Jewish community, New York and nationally. She has been published in many media outlets nation-wide. Dove teaches throughout the country and currently resides in Durham, North Carolina.

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.