Judy Levey has been JCUA’s executive director since 2012. She originally joined the staff in 2009 to manage JCUA’s community development work. Building on JCUA’s strong history, Judy has led the renewed membership initiative to help galvanize JCUA’s voice and impact as a partner and ally to marginalized communities in Chicago. She was formerly the executive director of the Homeless and Housing Coalition of Kentucky, where she led a successful campaign to establish permanent statewide funding for affordable housing. Earlier in her career, Judy spent seven years working for New York City’s Human Resources Administration. She holds a master’s in public policy from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and a B.A. from the University of Michigan.
A life-long Chicagoan, Jackie joined JCUA in 2019 as a community organizer. Jackie has wide ranging social activist experience that includes registering voters, voter education workshops, working on political campaigns and volunteer work with multiple grassroots organizations. She is passionate about pursuing social justice. A Columbia College graduate with a B.A. in Marketing/Communications, she has worked as an educator and realtor. Jackie is an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She attends Beth Shalom B’Nai Zaken EHC. In her free time she likes to spend time with her daughter, Racquel.
Director of Education and Movement Building
Beckee Birger joined JCUA as the Director of Education and Movement Building in 2020. Her passion for social justice has led her through a variety of jobs, such as special education attorney, AmeriCorp program manager, and career advisor at an education non-profit. She believes engaging people of all ages in political education and activism is critical to our future, and she’s proud to celebrate her Judaism through a deep commitment to social justice. In her free time, she’s a co-facilitator of Tzedek Lab’s Political Educators kabal, and she’s an avid board game player.
Associate Director and Director of Organizing
Marla Bramble joined JCUA as the Director of Organizing in 2014. With more than 15 years of organizing in Chicago, Marla brings a passion for justice and a breadth of campaign experience and relationships to the new position. She previously built a grassroots leadership development program and has worked with various coalitions to win victories on community, city, and statewide issues. Marla graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a BSW degree. Marla is a swimmer and enjoys Chicago’s forest preserves, parks and lakefront.
Communications and Engagement Manager
Jonathan Elbaz joined JCUA in 2019 after beginning his career in journalism and education. He first worked as a newspaper reporter for the Montgomery Sentinel in Maryland and later as a web producer for POLITICO. He became fascinated by the power of Judaism to spur civic engagement when he spent a year volunteering for the NGO Ma’ase Olam, which empowers and connects religious and ethnic minority students in northern Israel. Jonathan grew up in Bethesda, Md. and holds a bachelor’s in Journalism from the University of Maryland and a master’s in Civic Media from Emerson College. Outside of work, he loves spending time with friends, doing crosswords and exploring the city.
Director of Development
Brian Gladstein rejoined the staff of JCUA in 2020 where he worked from 2000 to 2011. Brian currently serves as JCUA’s Director of Development. Most recently, Brian was the founder of BGlad Consulting where he helped organizations with fundraising, organizational development, and building democracy campaigns. Prior his consulting work, Brian was the Executive Director of Common Cause Illinois where he helped advocate for democracy reforms in Illinois such as Same Day Registration and Automatic Voter Registration. Over this career, Brian has successfully led social justice campaigns on issues such as affordable housing, immigration, transportation, health care, environment, and workers’ rights. Brian has a Master’s Degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago in Urban Planning and Policy, and a Bachelor’s degree from Indiana University on Public Affairs and Environmental Science. Brian enjoys spending time with his family and spending time in Orange Theory Fitness classes with his wife.
Emma is JCUA’s Field Organizer, focused on the Fair Tax campaign. She was previously JCUA’s Avodah Organizer for 2019-2020. She is excited to continue building progressive, Jewish power to pass a Fair Tax in Illinois this November. Growing up in Shaker Heights, Ohio was where she first gained interest in the power of community and how it can lead to positive social change. In May 2019, Emma graduated with a BA in Public Affairs from Ohio State University. While not at work you can find her visiting the nearest public library, running on the lakefront or spending time with her roommates!
Becca is JCUA’s 2020-2021 Avodah Organizer. Becca discovered her love of Jewish justice work as an organizer for IfNotNow movement and co-founder of Never Again Action, a direct action mobilization of Jews against ICE concentration camps. She graduated from the University of Michigan with a bachelor’s in Political Science. Outside of work, Becca loves singing, building deep communal relationships, and plants.
Anna rejoined JCUA in 2017 after working as the Avodah Organizing Fellow in 2015-16. In the intervening year, Anna worked as a national field organizer with Interfaith Worker Justice, organizing around issues of worker rights and immigration justice across the country. She is excited to bring those experiences to the work JCUA is doing organizing for just immigration policies here in Chicago. Anna graduated from Princeton University with a B.A. in Religion and a certificate in Judaic Studies. Outside of work, you can find Anna hanging out in other rad Jewish spaces in Chicago and spending as much time at the lake as possible.
Mauricio Román is the Development Associate at JCUA. He is an experienced fundraising professional with a proven record in database management, event management, and grassroots fundraising. He is a passionate and active advocate for immigrant rights, environmental justice and economic justice. Mauricio has worked as an organizer for Chicago Stand Up and the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization. He’s also worked in development roles with DePaul USA, Little City, and United Way Metro Chicago. He is a running aficionado and has completed countless 5ks, 12 half-marathons, and 4 marathons. He received his Bachelor of Science in Economics with a focus on Development and International Economics from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Lead Trainer & Community Organizer
Avra joined JCUA in 2017. They graduated from Northwestern University with a BA in Sociology and a minor in Global Health Studies. They first began organizing on her college campus to create a group to fight for campus and Chicago-based justice issues. They are deeply invested in building a more just Chicago. Avra was a 2016 Avodah Justice Fellow, and they are in training to become a Hebrew Priestess through the Kohenet Institute. When they are not building power, Avra enjoys writing poetry, singing and swimming.
Manager of Youth Engagement
Mara Wolkoff rejoined the JCUA staff in 2019 after organizing around Chicago’s municipal elections and housing justice issues with Grassroots Illinois Action in Humboldt Park. In 2017-2018, Mara was JCUA’s Avodah Organizing Fellow. She studied Sociology and Public Policy at Smith College. She leads JCUA’s youth engagement work and is eager to bring her experience to JCUA’s work with high school and young adults. When not at work, you can find Mara laughing with her friends and with her toes in the lake.
Community Development Program Manager
Brenda brings to JCUA more than 25 years experience working with community-based organizations on a local, state and national level to build coalitions, design programs, and deliver training to increase the availability of affordable housing. As an attorney at the Legal Assistance Foundation, she worked with residents of public housing to help them access their options under CHA’s Plan for Transformation. She has provided technical assistance to nonprofit developers to expand their capacity and partner with local CBOs, financial institutions and local municipalities. As Housing Policy Advisor at the Office of the Illinois Attorney General’s Office, she established a statewide foreclosure helpline for Illinois residents at risk of foreclosure and identified approximately $1 million in new funding to support the program. Brenda received her JD from the University of Illinois and her BA from Northwestern University.
Jewish Education Consultant
Aryeh Bernstein is a Torah educator, culture integrator, and 5th-generation South Sider. He is the Director of Avodah’s Justice Fellowship in Chicago, teaches for Mishkan Chicago and elsewhere, and co-founded the Northwoods Beit Midrash at Camp Ramah in Wisconsin. In 2011, he independently released a hip-hop album, called A Roomful of Ottomans.
Communications & Engagement Assistant
Sarah joined JCUA in 2020 as the Digital Organizing intern. She is currently a junior at Northwestern University, majoring in political science. Sarah is passionate about social justice, and she hopes to pursue a career in government or international relations. At Northwestern, she is active in the performing arts community as Special Events Producer for the Jewish Theatre Ensemble and as Outreach Director for her a cappella group Significant Others. Sarah is also a member of Students Organizing For Labor Rights, a group which provides direct financial support and resources to Northwestern service workers. She is so excited to continue working with JCUA to advocate for justice and equity in Illinois.
Rose Silverman joined JCUA as a consultant after being an active member since she moved to Chicago in 2018. Rose works as a third grade teacher at the Francis W. Parker School. With JCUA, she is on the Racial Justice Training team and is one of the co-facilitators of JCUA’s White Racial Justice Working Group (WRJWG). As JCUA continues to commit to dismantling white supremacy, it is crucial that white Jews have the tools necessary to do this in our own lives and in our organizing. The White Racial Justice Working Group provides an intergenerational opportunity to gather and practice these tools through monthly meetings, ongoing resource-sharing and providing compassionate accountability to one another around our individual and collective commitments to racial justice. Rose’s primary position is to evaluate and strengthen the White Racial Justice Working Group curriculum so that past, present and future cohorts can find deep meaning from their participation in this group.