Our Board of Directors

Sara Cantor

Board President

Sara Cantor is a creative leader and human-centered designer focused on equity, inclusion and social innovation. She co-founded Greater Good Studio in 2011 to apply the process and principles of design to the more pressing challenges of the social sector. Sara speaks regularly on designing for social impact and has facilitated social innovation workshops around the world with a wide range of learners. 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.

Cydney Wallace

Board Vice President

Cydney Wallace is a 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 her husband. Cydney began working for an outsourcing company in 2011 pushing a mail cart and has worked her way up to overseeing three mailrooms as the Mail Services Manager. After a childhood of constantly moving/being evicted, and a stint of homelessness in college, Cydney, along with her husband Brent, bought their first home in Chicago Lawn/Marquette Park.

Rich Amend

Board Treasurer

Rich Amend and his wife Andy have been connected with JCUA for 30 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 is a board member of Curt’s Cafe and was part of the core team that brought Curt’s to Highland Park. Rich belongs to Makom Lakeside, the synagogue resulting from the merging of Solel and Lakeside Congregations.

Steve Rothschild

Board Secretary

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. As the COVID19 pandemic began in March 2020, he established 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.

Nia Crosley

Nia Crosley is a law student at Northwestern University and a Jewish educator. She first got involved with JCUA when she moved to Chicago two years ago, and has been an active member of the Kol Or Jews of Color Caucus. Nia is originally from Texas: she grew up in Austin and taught eighth-grade U.S. History and English in Houston for six years. She currently teaches third grade religious school at Temple Sholom and plays in the Grateful Klez, Temple Sholom’s klezmer band. Nia attended the University of Pennsylvania for undergrad and Rice University for a master’s in teaching.

Rabbi Scott Gellman

Rabbi Scott Gellman, an Associate Rabbi at Temple Sholom, ordained in 2017 by HUC-JIR. He holds a B.A. in Jewish Studies and Philosophy from Indiana University and a master’s from Gratz College. His roles include pastoral care, engagement with various groups including LGBTQ+ initiatives, and support within the temple community. During his time at HUC-JIR, he served in diverse Rabbinic roles, including chaplaincy and youth engagement. He has a passion for Jewish youth work, nurtured during summers at URJ Camp Coleman. Actively involved in Chicago’s Jewish community, he serves on the boards of the Chicago Board of Rabbis and The Community Mikvah of Chicago. He resides in Ravenswood with his wife Ma’ayan, son Yair, newborn Amitai, and their dog, Shmooli.

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.

David Levinson

David Levinson arrived in Chicago in the fall of 1979, assigned as Energy Programs Coordinator to The Neighborhood Institute (TNI), the not-for-profit community development arm of Shorebank. His work at 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. Upon retirement, Benetta returned to her hometown of Chicago, 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 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.

Jessica Nepomiachi

Jessica is the Director of Special Projects for Real Estate Solutions at IFF, a mission-driven lender, developer, and real estate consultant for nonprofits across the Midwest. In her previous roles as a developer, Jessica created and preserved hundreds of mixed income and affordable housing units utilizing the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program. She previously served at the Chicago Housing Authority and the New York Housing Authority. Jessica grew up in DeKalb and northern Chicagoland, and after living in NYC for many years, moved to Chicago in 2014. She loves spending time with her rescue dog, family, monthly book club, and in nature.

Rabbi Steven Philp

Rabbi Steven Philp is the Associate Rabbi at Mishkan Chicago, a spiritual community reclaiming Judaism’s inspirational and transformative essence. He was formerly a Rukin Rabbinic Fellow with 18Doors (2020-23). 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. 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, 10, Eli and Avi, 7) with her husband in Lincoln Park. In her free time Jackie serves as the Economic Justice co-chair at Mishkan, enjoys strength training, reading and drinking endless cups of coffee.

Rabbi Frederick Reeves

Rabbi Frederick Reeves is the Director of Jewish Programs at the One America Movement. Fred served pulpits in Atlanta and Chicago before coming to the One America Movement. He also was the president of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Interfaith Council, the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, and the Chicago Association of Reform Rabbis. In those roles, he has been active Jewishly and across faith lines working to bring positive change to our society. Fred graduated from the College of William and Mary in Virginia with a degree in French Literature. He completed a Master’s in Hebrew Letters and received rabbinic ordination from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, Ohio. Fred enjoys baking, spending time at Lake Michigan, movies, and card games. He and his wife have five children.

Greg  Rothman

Greg Rothman is deeply committed to civic engagement and social justice. He is dedicated to philanthropy that promotes understanding and equity and leads to social change. His progressive causes include JStreet, the ACLU, American Jewish World Service, Bend the Arc, progressive candidates for public office, and JCUA. In addition to working with his family’s company, NAMTOR, Greg is an accomplished actor, a scuba diver, and photographer with a passion for adventure.

Deb Sokol

Deb is originally from New Jersey but has lived in the Chicago area for the past 20 years including the last 18 years in Wilmette. She is a Senior Managing Counsel at Allstate, serving as Lead Counsel for Allstate’s privacy, regulatory compliance and ethics team, and is a subject matter expert on privacy and data matters. Deb leads a team of attorneys, and works collaboratively as part of large, cross-functional team.  The team she leads provides legal support across the corporation. She has experience working to develop, maintain, and improve policies and processes, determining best practices for multiple stakeholders with competing priorities. Prior to working at Allstate Deb was acting North America Chief Privacy Officer at Citibank. She also has worked at Grainger and spent over 10 years in-house with AT&T.

Randi Stern

Randi Stern has been an active JCUA member since 2014, working primarily on the Trauma Center, Domestic Workers Bill of Rights and Police Accountability campaigns. Randi has a bachelor’s degree in microbiology from the University of Illinois-Urbana. Before she retired, Randi worked for over 30 years in the medical research field, most recently at the University of Chicago. Randi loves to play basketball and has been fortunate to compete in women’s 3 on 3 basketball during the Senior Games where in 2022 her team won a bronze medal.

Emeritus Board

Kay Berkson

Rabbi Capers Funnye

David Graham

Sidney Hollander

Steve Keen

Peggy Slater

Nikki Stein

Jeff Zaluda