ACT: Agents of Change Training

Jewish Women's Fund of Atlanta's Agents of Change Training program (ACT) builds the capacity of women in Atlanta's Jewish community to become agents of change, developing their skills through exclusive, interactive seminars led by accomplished leaders, activists, and influencers, and providing networking and mentoring opportunities designed to foster a sense of growth personally, professionally, and communally.

Click here to apply for the 2020-2021 cohort of ACT.

“Be the change you wish to see in the world!” -Ghandi

This familiar quote serves up powerful inspiration, but the question remains – How exactly do you “become the change?”

Jewish Women’s Fund of Atlanta (JWFA) promotes social change and expands positive opportunities for Jewish women and girls. JWFA’s ACT program builds the capacity of women in Atlanta’s Jewish community to become agents of change, developing their skills through exclusive, interactive seminars led by accomplished leaders, activists, and influencers, and providing networking and mentoring opportunities designed to foster a sense of growth personally, professionally and communally.

ACT’s pilot class of 20 incredible women was an overwhelming success and a new class of ACT is set to launch this fall and run through spring 2021. Due to the uncertainty surrounding the viability of in-person gatherings, we have decided to place additional limits on the number of participants in this upcoming cohort. Two-hour sessions will be conducted either virtually, or safety permitting, in various locations around Atlanta and will cover a variety of topics, including female leadership in the #metoo era and the power of collective activism. Participants will also be invited to various JWFA programs, meetings, and social gatherings.

This program is open to all women in the Jewish community, ages 25+ who support JWFA’s mission to empower women and girls through social change and wish to develop skills to impact their community, share expertise and inspiration, and be part of a network of like-minded women. No previous involvement or leadership experience is necessary.

Aside from the orientation, all meetings take place from 12:00pm – 2:00pm. The following dates are scheduled: September 30 orientation (evening timeframe TBD), October 28, November 18, December 16, January 13, February 10, March 17, April 21, May 19. Please confirm that the sessions work within your schedule before applying. 

Applications must be submitted by Monday, July 31, 2020. Space is limited. Click here to apply.

Meet the First Class of ACTivists:

Amy Fox lives in Sandy Springs with her husband, Chuck, and their 17-year-old twins, Ben and Sydney. She recently served as Administration Co-Chair for the 2019 Atlanta JCC Maccabi Games, overseeing volunteer efforts. Amy is Co-Chair of Jewish Federation’s Women’s Philanthropy Lion’s Division and is a Wexner Heritage Fellow. She serves on the Executive Committee of the Tulane Fund Advisory Board. Formerly, she was Advancement Committee Chair, Executive Committee member, and Trustee at The Epstein School. Prior to moving to Atlanta, Amy worked in major gift fundraising for educational organizations. In her free time, she enjoys tennis, family vacations, and watching her son play baseball. She feels ACT has the potential to create and strengthen bonds amongst members of the Atlanta Jewish community.

Andi Neiman has worked in public health, with a focus on global chronic disease prevention, for over 17 years. As a wife, a mother, and compassion crusader she is passionate about empowering all bodies to feel centered and strong. Andi is most excited to be a part of the ACT pilot cohort for the opportunity to learn with and from talented and diverse women across Atlanta while collectively working to harness and leverage the group’s unique skills to positively and meaningfully impact our community. 

Beth Sherman is passionate about promoting literacy, both in her own communities and in low-income communities. Beth teaches second grade at The Galloway School and organizes free book fairs in low-income communities, in partnership with Creating Connected Communities. Prior to teaching, she enjoyed a 12-year sales career with NCR Corporation, then stayed home for 12 years to raise two children. She re-entered the workforce by joining Teach For America and served in high-needs classrooms for two years. She is thrilled to work alongside other women so that they can advise, encourage, and inspire one another along our journeys toward meaningful change.

Caren Cohen is a mother, wife, yoga teacher and friend. She is always encouraging her students, children and friends to push themselves outside their comfort zones. With ACT, Caren is hoping to push herself out of her comfort zone. She is most excited to learn more about the community she lives in and then create positive change within that community. 

Eve Wexler grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, before attending college at Brandeis University and medical school at Tulane School of Medicine. She met her husband while in residency at Mt. Sinai in NYC and relocated to the Atlanta area six years ago, where she is the owner of Briarvista Pediatrics and lives in Toco Hills with her family. She is very excited about the chance to meet other rising leaders in the ACT program and cannot wait to see how each participant chooses to become more involved in our community.

Felicia Marable has lived in Atlanta most of her life, attended elementary school at the Hebrew Academy, participated in BBG throughout high school and was an active member of Congregation Or VeShalom. After college, she worked in PR and Marketing for the Atlanta Braves, and later, for Lockheed Martin Corp. She is the mother of two sons and has recently received her Certificate in Gerontology from Kennesaw State University. She now works with Jewish Home Life Communities, helping older adults find affordable housing. Through ACT, she hopes to set an example and encourage more women to get involved and take responsibility in the community.

Gabrielle (Gabby) Leon Spatt is the Executive Director of The Blue Dove Foundation and holds several volunteer roles, including the American Jewish Committee Atlanta Region board member, Atlanta Jewish Film Festival board member and a Phi Mu Fraternity volunteer.  Gabby is an Atlanta Jewish Times 40 under 40 honoree. She believes ACT is creating a unique spot for women in the Atlanta Jewish Community.  Gabby looks forward to seeing the intergenerational group of women from the first ACT class come together to learn from one-another and challenge the Atlanta Jewish community to think differently.  

Hannah Spinrad is the Atlanta Director of Community Engagement for Honeymoon Israel. Before joining the HMI team, Hannah worked for the Jewish Federations of Boston, Miami, and Atlanta. Hannah graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill with a B.A. in International Studies and earned her MBA and MA in Jewish Professional Leadership from Brandeis University. She lives with her husband (Kyle), daughter (Miri) and dog (Gus) on the Westside. Hannah is so excited to expand her network and learn with with the women of ACT and is passionate about building inclusive Jewish communities in the South.

Jan Jay was born and raised in Dayton, Ohio, and has lived in Atlanta for 32 years, since graduating from Indiana University.  She married her husband Gregory in 2001 and has three wonderful children, Jared, 16, Rachel, 14 and golden retriever, Emma, 8.  In her free time, she enjoys crafting, hiking, photography and volunteering with the Jewish Abilities Alliance, Second Helpings Atlanta and other local and national charities. She is looking forward to learning from other women and forging new relationships with those participating in the first ACT cohort.

Jennifer Mosbacher is a small business owner who is on a mission to discover her passion project.  When she was 19, she met her husband on a trip to Israel. The couple has been married for 21 years and are the parents of a 12-year-old daughter. Jennifer hopes that through the ACT program, she will make connections and find inspiration that puts her on a path to increased activism in the Atlanta community and her ultimate goal of starting a foundation.

Joanna Israel lives in Dunwoody and is the mom of two tweens – Josh and Maya. Joanna has volunteered for several organizations in the Jewish community including Davis Academy Congregation B’nai Torah.  She is also a marketing professional and a certified yoga teacher. One of the things that excites Joanna the most about the ACT program is the ability to help mold the program and shape what it will be about for future classes.

Julie Mokotoff is a former Communications Consultant and graduate of Emory University. Julie lives in Atlanta with her husband and three children, ages 18, 15 and 11. She currently serves as co-chair of Temple Emanu-El’s Social Justice Committee and co-chair for the American Jewish Committee’s Leaders for Tomorrow Program. An aspiring novelist, she completed her first manuscript and is seeking literary representation. With regard to the ACT Program, Julie is most excited about developing and mentoring the next generation of female leaders.

Lauren Derman Sturisky was born in South Africa, and has lived in Atlanta for the better part of fifteen years.  She is an attorney specializing in Alternative Dispute Resolution, with an emphasis on child-related matters. Lauren is a mother of three boys, a wife, and an evolving activist.  The issues closest to her heart involve anti-semitism, anti-zionism, and racism.  She is thrilled to be participating in the ACT pilot program, and her hope is that the program provides a communal set of tools that grows each participant’s ability to create change.   

Leslie Reitman is originally from Boston, MA and has lived in the Atlanta area for 17 years. Prior to raising three children and participating in a variety of pro bono projects, she worked full time as a financial professional and continues to consult with companies and individuals on a part time basis regarding financial and marketing matters.  She also enjoys photography and painting. With respect to ACT, she is most excited to help make a difference in the lives of women and girls in the surrounding area and believes that incremental differences can eventually create a large, positive impact on those directly effected as well as the community at large.

Dr. Lynn Bahr is a graduate of the University of Georgia, College of Veterinary Medicine and is the CEO of Dezi & Roo, a company that designs, manufactures and sells solution-based pet products that enhance the lives of cats their owners. Dr. Bahr was the recipient of the 2018 Pet Age Woman of Influence Award and serves on the Board of Directors of Pandemonium Aviaries, Fear Free Advisory Board, Parliamentarian of the Society of Veterinary Medical Ethics, and is on the Cat Committee of the Pet Professional Guild. Having the opportunity to participate in ACT’s pilot program is an exciting new venture that she feels will have a positive impact on our community at large. She hopes to gain insight on ways to improve the world while collaborating with other like-minded women and become a real force of change.

Melissa Kaplan currently serves as the Development Officer at Jewish Home Life Communities (JHLC).  She lives in Buckhead with her husband, Jake, and her two young sons, Sam (4) and Eli (1). Melissa is very excited to be selected for ACT and is looking forward to getting to know and learning from the other women involved.

Rabba Melissa Scholten-Gutierrez combines her personal, professional, and educational experiences to establish meaningful Jewish experiences wherever she goes. Melissa currently manages the Jewish Camp Initiative for the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta and serves on the Clergy Advisory Group for MACoM (Metro Atlanta Community Mikvah) and the Leadership Team for Limmud Southeast. She received semikha (rabbinic ordination) from Yeshivat Maharat and is a member of the Atlanta Rabbinic Association (ARA), Torat Chayim, and the International Rabbinic Fellowship (IRF). Melissa is excited to learn with and from fellow Atlanta Jewish activists while finding opportunities to enact change for women locally.

Sheryl Lyss is a physician who has been working in public heath for 20 years. She has recently returned to Atlanta after being overseas for four years, and welcomes the opportunity to become more engaged in the Atlanta community through ACT. As a member of the inaugural ACT class, she is excited to share a journey with a group of committed women who will challenge and inspire one another to each make a mark, collectively and individually, on the community around us.

Susie Greenberg has resided in Atlanta since 1994. Prior to leaving the workforce to raise her children, she worked professionally as a commercial litigator. She and her husband Marc are the parents of four children (Ben, Jake, Sarah and Rebecca), ages 21- 26. As a community volunteer she has focused on issues involving children, education and human rights. Through ACT, Susie hopes to meet like-minded women, elevate the quality of her volunteerism and learn from other community leaders.

Tracy Rosenbluth Howard has spent her entire professional career in finance, starting with Corporate Banking and including Venture Capital and Investment Banking services for both public and private companies. Tracy holds a M.B.A from The Wharton School of The University of Pennsylvania and a B.B.A. from Emory University. She enjoys being active and spending time with her husband and their two teenage children. Tracy is extremely excited to be a part of the inaugural ACT program and hopes to form meaningful and lasting relationships with other members while using the group’s collective strengths to effect change.

Be sure to follow their journey on our blog and Facebook page! Want to know more about ACT? Contact Dina at 678-222-3726.

What is ACT?

This is your chance to participate in an innovative leadership and advocacy program presented from a uniquely Jewish, female perspective.

The pilot class of ACT will launch in fall 2019 and run through spring 2020. Two-hour sessions will be conducted in various locations around Atlanta and will cover a variety of topics, including female leadership in the #metoo era and the power of collective activism. Participants will also be invited to various JWFA programs, meetings, and social gatherings.

The 2019-2020 application period has now closed. Please stay tuned for updates and announcements coming soon.

ACT is open to all women in the Jewish community 25+, regardless of their previous involvement or leadership experience.