BOARD Of dIRECTORS


Karyn L. Bass Ehler

Board President

Karyn L. Bass Ehler currently serves as an Assistant Chief Deputy Attorney General for the Illinois Attorney General. Prior to this role, Karyn served as the General Counsel for the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), where she managed all legal functions for IDPH, including helping the agency and the State of Illinois navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to joining IDPH, Karyn served as a civil rights attorney in both private practice and in the public sector. Karyn served as the Chief of the Civil Rights Bureau for the Illinois Attorney General and oversaw the department that investigates and litigates cases under both state and federal law involving patterns and practices of discrimination. While working for the Illinois Attorney General, Karyn served as one of the lead counsel in the State of Illinois v. City of Chicago (N.D. Ill.) litigation and negotiation, which resulted in a historic consent decree addressing comprehensive and systemic reform of the Chicago Police Department. In addition, Karyn successfully led the legislative initiatives on campus sexual assault in 2015 and the effort to expand Illinois’ hate crimes law in 2017. Karyn earned her J.D., cum laude, from DePaul University College of Law, where she was the Editor-in-Chief for the DePaul Law Review and a Dean’s Merit Scholar and earned her B.A., with honors, from Northwestern University.

Sara cantor

Board Vice President

Sara Cantor co-founded Greater Good Studio to apply her background in ethnographic research and design strategy to overlooked problems and underserved people. At Greater Good, she designs effective and inclusive engagements, guides the research practice, and develops partnerships with clients, peers and mentors. Sara speaks regularly on designing for social impact and has facilitated social innovation workshops around the world with a wide range of learners, from nonprofit executives to high school students. Sara holds a master’s in design planning from the Institute of Design at IIT and a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from Northwestern University.

RICH AMEND

Board Treasurer

Rich Amend and his wife Andy have been connected with JCUA for almost thirty years. Rich lives in Highland Park and retired in 2014 from his work in the distribution industry. He periodically works as an industry consultant on international supply chain and computer systems integration. Deeply committed to social justice causes, Rich has had more time to be active following his retirement. He is a board member of Curt’s Cafe and was part of the core team that brought Curt’s to Highland Park. Additionally he holds the following leadership roles in Jewish and community organizations: board member for Family Service of Lake County; Commission on Social Action member for the Religious Action Council; member of J-Street’s National Leadership Circle; and member of JCUA’s immigration task force. Rich also belongs to Makom Lakeside, the new synagogue entity resulting from the merging of Solel and Lakeside Congregations.

Cydney Wallace

Board Secretary

Cydney Wallace is a Torah observant wife and mother of four, born and raised on the South side of Chicago. Cydney graduated high school a year early and attended Spelman College in Atlanta, GA, where she met and began dating her husband in 2002, though she was unable to finish school due to lack of funds. Working exclusively in customer service jobs, her first job as a grocery store stocker in Sandy Springs, GA paid her just $5.45/hr in 2004. Cydney now works for CBRE, managing three mailrooms, two in Chicago, IL and one in Tempe, AZ, and oversees fifteen employees for a financial institution. After a childhood of constantly moving/being evicted, and a stint of homelessness in college, Cydney and her husband bought their first home in Chicago Lawn/ Marquette Park to be within walking distance of Beth Shalom B’Nai Zaken Ethiopian Hebrew congregation, where she currently serves as vice president. She joined JCUA after becoming increasingly frustrated with how the 2016 election cycle was going as a volunteer of the Police Accountability campaign (now the Community Safety Committee) in 2016. She is an Avodah Fellowship alum of ’17-’18 and was named a Double Chai in The Chi: 36 Under 36 in 2020.

Rabbi Frederick Reeves

Immediate Past President

Rabbi Frederick Reeves is the senior clergy of KAM Isaiah Israel Congregation in Chicago, Illinois. In addition to serving as the spiritual leader of Illinois’s oldest Jewish congregation, he is the president of the Hyde Park & Kenwood Interfaith Council and serves as a member of the board for the Chicago Area Reform Rabbi’s Association. Prior to coming to KAM Isaiah Israel, Rabbi Reeves served as the Associate Rabbi of The Temple in Atlanta, Georgia. A native of Richmond, Virginia, Rabbi Reeves has a degree in French Literature from the College of William & Mary. He earned an M.A. in Hebrew Letters and was ordained at the HUC in Cincinnati, Ohio. Rabbi Reeves has five children: Violet, Asher, Levi, Hazel, and Judah. He and his wife, Lauren, love living in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago.

Daniel Epstein

Dan Epstein is a judicial law clerk on the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.  He received his bachelor’s degree in economics and political science in 2007 from Washington University in St. Louis.  He received his J.D. in 2015 from The University of Chicago Law School. Mr. Epstein’s pro bono practice is active and has included the representation of clients before the Supreme Court of the United States and the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. In 2017 Mr. Epstein won Jenner & Block’s pro bono award. Prior to practicing law, Mr. Epstein was the Director of Government Relations for a global private provider of education services. He also worked as a consultant — focusing on business best practices research for Fortune 100 insurers — and led a nonprofit supporting educational initiatives on five continents. Mr. Epstein is a founder and the president of Perspective to the People (a nonprofit working to provide free security cameras to residents in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood), serves on the board of directors of the Young Professionals Council of the Lawndale Christian Legal Center, is a member of the Institute for New Economic Thinking’s Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Global Working Group, and is a Tony Patiño Fellow.

David Feinberg

David Feinberg joined the Chicago Community Loan Fund in 2021 as the Director of Coaching and Knowledge Transfer. In this role, David is responsible for the strategic implementation of CCLF’s technical expertise and special programs to build community development capacity and support Chicagoland’s thriving communities. Over the course of his career, David has led the development of more than $250M and 1,000,000 sq. ft. of non-profit and community centered real estate projects with a specialization in educational facilities, community centers and social enterprises. David was a 2019 Civic Leadership Academy Fellow and has previously held positions as an LSC representative and a state commissioner. David holds an MPL from the University of Southern California, a Master of Education degree in Curriculum and Unit Planning from Arizona State University, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Creative Non-Fiction and Jewish Studies from Hampshire College. In his free time, David can be found coaching little league softball and traveling with his family.

MARIS GARCIA

Maris Garcia is the Director of the D+I Studio at the University of Chicago. Using a human-centered design approach, she coaches partners in making the campus more equitable for underrepresented students, staff and faculty members. She is a trusted design researcher and strategist with 15 years of experience across sectors and industries. With a strong commitment to social innovation, she has led extraordinary nonprofits and foundations in creating new programs, strategies and tools to help people change mindsets, behaviors and conditions. Maris previously taught Research Methods at the School of the Art Institute Chicago (SAIC) and received a B.A. from Washington University in St. Louis, where she studied architecture and psychology. She and her family are passionate Builders at Mishkan Chicago, where she serves on the community’s Organizing Team.

SONJE HAWKINS

A JCUA member and Kol Or leader, Sonje has lived in Chicago off and on since 2006, when she first moved here for college and law school. After practicing as a commercial litigator, Sonje now works at Sidley Austin LLC managing lateral hires. She lives in Lincoln Square with her fiancé and her dog, Boogie.

KAREN JACOBS

Karen Jacobs grew up in a small-town in New England and moved to Chicago after college to begin a career in advertising, working for Leo Burnett and then a sister company, Starcom Media, for more than 20 years. She and her husband Andy Jacobs raised their family in Northbrook, Illinois, and moved back to the Ravenswood neighborhood of Chicago in 2013. The Jacobs were among the founding families of Shir Hadash  Reconstructionist Synagogue in the northwest suburbs, and are now active members of Mishkan Chicago. She has served as a Board member for Shir Hadash, the Glenbrook North Choir Parents Organization, Chicago Market, and on two advertising trade organizations.

DAvid levinson

David Levinson arrived in Chicago in the fall of 1979 as a VISTA, assigned as Energy Programs Coordinator to The Neighborhood Institute (TNI), the not-for-profit community development arm of South Shore Bank. His work TNI involved education, advocacy and direct service. In 1984, David co-founded Recycling Services, which became one of the largest independently-owned paper recycling companies in the Midwest. David formerly served as JCUA’s Board Treasurer and has been consulting within the recycling industry.

Benetta Mansfield

Benetta Mansfield is a lawyer with more than 30 years of experience as an advocate and mediator. During her professional career in Washington, D.C., Benetta served as the Chief of Staff of the Amalgamated Transit Union, which represents more than 185,000 bus operators, maintenance and clerical employees throughout the U.S. and Canada. Previously, she was the Chief of Staff of the National Mediation Board and was appointed by a federal judge to direct the election of international officers for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. Upon retirement, Benetta returned to her hometown of Chicago, Ill., where she lives today with her husband, Kalman Resnick. She previously served as Vice President of the Board of Arise Chicago and Chair of the Board of Operation Understanding in Washington, DC. She is also a board member of the Mansfield Family Foundation, a longtime supporter of JCUA. In May of 2019, she completed her second term as Chair of the Avodah Board of Directors.

matthew Owens

Matthew Owens has been involved with JCUA since arriving in Chicago in 2016 and has been particularly active in JCUA’s work on police accountability. Justice is at the center of Matt’s religious practice, and he identifies strongly with the notion that Judaism calls on all of us to act on core Jewish values of humanity and fairness. He joined Miner, Barnhill & Galland in 2016 and has represented plaintiffs in civil rights, consumer protection, wage and hour, and environmental justice cases. Matt is a graduate of Stanford Law School. During law school, he worked at a pro bono legal clinic, where he defended tenants from unlawful evictions and recovered unpaid wages for workers, including a class action to compensate more than 2,400 janitors for minimum wage violations.

RABBI Steven Philp

Rabbi Steven Philp is an Associate Rabbi at Mishkan Chicago, a spiritual community reclaiming Judaism’s inspirational and transformative essence. He is currently a Rukin Rabbinic Fellow with 18Doors. Steven was ordained in 2019 by the Jewish Theological Seminary; he was a recipient of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship. After graduation, he served as the Rabbinical Fellow at Park Avenue Synagogue in New York. Steven also received his M.St. in Jewish Studies from the University of Oxford in 2016, his M.Div. and M.S.W. from the University of Chicago in 2014, and graduated summa cum laude from the University of Southern California in 2010, where he received a B.F.A. in Studio Art and a B.A. with Honors in English (Creative Writing) and International Relations. While a student at JTS, he served as a rabbinical intern for the University of Maryland Hillel and Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, the LGBTQ synagogue of New York City. Steven has written for publications like Hey AlmaThe Forward, and Jewschool, contributed to the books “Chaver Up” and “Choosing a Jewish Life,” and has been featured in Tablet Magazine. Steven grew up in California and Hawaii, as a Roman Catholic with a strong Methodist heritage. He became passionate about interfaith work while in college, a path that eventually led him to become part of the Jewish community. Steven lives in Boystown with his cat, Miso.

Jackie Rassner

Jackie Rassner is the Senior Program Associate for JUF Young Families. In this role Jackie works as a part of the jBaby Chicago and PJ Library team. In her current position Jackie manages social media, communications and outreach. In addition, she is committed to creating initiatives to support inclusive and welcoming space for all Jewish parents. Jackie was born and raised in the Chicago suburbs, graduated from Bradley University in 2005 and received her MSW at University of Michigan in 2008. Jackie is currently living and raising her young family (Violet, 8, Eli and Avi, 6) with her husband in Lincoln Park. In her free time Jackie serves as the Economic Justice co-chair at Mishkan, enjoys strength training, watching the Real Housewives, reading depressing books and drinking endless cups of coffee.

Gregory Rothman

Dr. Steve Rothschild is Professor and Chair of the Department of Family Medicine at Rush University Medical Center. Steve’s medical career has focused on eliminating health inequities, from opening his practice in Pilsen in 1988, to working with medical and nursing students at one of the city’s largest homeless shelters for over 25 years. As the COVID19 pandemic began in March 2020, he established CHHRGE, the Chicago Homelessness and Health Response Group for Equity, which has grown into a unique multi-sector coalition of over 130 advocates and agencies working to improve the health of persons experiencing homelessness. Steve is also a community health researcher, conducting multiple NIH-funded studies of interventions to improve the health of Black and Latinx people with diabetes, depression, and other chronic illnesses. He is on the leadership of the Chicago Albert Schweitzer Fellowship, and the Health and Medicine Policy Research Group, and serves on the Chicago Board of Health.

Randi Stern

Randi Stern has been an active JCUA member since 2014, working primarily on the Trauma Center and Domestic Workers Bill of Rights campaign. Randi has a bachelor’s degree in microbiology from the University of Illinois-Urbana and has worked in the medical research field for over 30 years. For the past 15 years, until she retired two years ago, she worked at the University of Chicago. Randi was involved in numerous neighborhood activities while living in the Dearborn Park community in the 1990s. Randi coached her children’s soccer team in the South Loop and currently coaches a girls softball team in the Hyde Park neighborhood. Randi loves to play basketball and has been fortunate to compete in women’s 3 on 3 basketball during the 2013 and 2015 Senior Games.

 

Jeff Zaluda

Jeffrey A. Zaluda is a partner at Horwood, Marcus & Berk. He built his practice by creating long-term relationships with clients who value his accessibility and ability to bring creative, practical and empathetic solutions to their unique matters. Jeff’s clients include individuals, families, fiduciaries, closely held businesses, business owners, entrepreneurs, philanthropies and social impact investors. He advises on estate and tax planning, business and succession planning, asset protection and preservation, estate and trust administration, estate and trust litigation, and deployment of social capital. Jeff regularly speaks and writes and has prepared and presented dozens of professional articles, treatises and speeches on a variety of topics related to his trusts and estates practice. He is a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel and a member of the Tax Management Estate, Gifts and Trust Advisory Board, the Chicago Estate Planning Council and the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners, among other organizations. He regularly publishes in various professional journals.

 

emeritus BOARD

Kay Berkson

Rabbi CAPERS FUNNYE

David graham

Sidney Hollander

Steve Keen

Peggy Slater

Nikki Stein