Founder and Chief Visionary Officer
Amy was born into a Jewish family in Cleveland, Ohio in the earIy 1950s. She moved to the Boston area to attend Brandeis University and stayed in the area for 32 years. Her first exposure to social justice activism came through reading about the resistance to the Holocaust in the fifth grade. Throughout Amy’s college years she was involved in anti-Vietnam protests. She participated in the second wave of the U.S. women’s movement and the growing post-Stonewall LGBT movement. Amy has become increasingly focused on efforts to build bridges between and alliances among communities that have traditionally been at odds. This focus includes supporting efforts that integrate voices and issues of marginalized groups into mainstream progressive organizations. Amy and her partner Katina have been together since 1991 and were legally married in Massachusetts in 2009. In 2001, they moved to Asheville and have never regretted it. They both feel firmly planted in their new community. These days Amy enjoys spending time with their granddaughter, friends, and family; playing piano; practicing qigong; witnessing the effective work and impact of the Tzedek Social Justice Fellows; and, after a long hiatus due to illness, singing once again with her beloved community women’s chorus, Womansong of Asheville.
Director of Philanthropic Partnerships,
Amy Mandel Katina Rodis Fund
Raised in the upper coastal corner of Washington State, Jennifer’s passion led her to work initially in marine biology and on environmental issues, focusing first on endangered species and later working for Habitat for Humanity International on affordable green building practices. She has volunteered her time over the years on various social justice causes. Jennifer’s primary work focuses on managing grant processes and strengthening relationships with both grantees and other funders. She managed the Tzedek Social Justice Fellowship from its beginning in 2012 through 2015. She loves researching issues and collaborating with diverse voices in order to build stronger movements of equity. Having spent much of her adult life in the South, she was engaged early in efforts to leverage and expand funding for LGBTQ equality work in the Southern United States. Her collaborative work includes Astraea’s LGBTQ Racial Justice Fund, Funders For LGBTQ Issues’ Out in the South Fund, and the CoThinkk giving circle. Jennifer has served on several nonprofit boards, and is currently a board member of the Movement Advancement Project based in Denver. Jennifer finds inspiration from her long-time partner of 29 years, and from other family members, friends, and her dogs. She loves creating and listening to music, cooking, hiking, boats and the outdoors. She lives in the mountains of Asheville, North Carolina.
Heather Laine Talley,
Director of Social Justice Leadership and Community Engagement,
Tzedek Social Justice Fellowship
Heather grew up in South Louisiana, where she discovered social justice through Catholic workers who worked towards radically inclusive community. Since that time she has collaborated with community based organizations on campaigns for queer justice, racial equity, a transformed criminal justice system, and a world where women’s lives are celebrated. Additionally, Heather has been a co-creator of programs designed to fortify the wellbeing of adolescent girls, children with burn injury, and incarcerated women.
In 1998 while she was a student at UNCA, Heather fell in love with Asheville. After graduation, she completed a Ph.D. in sociology and a graduate certificate in gender and sexuality studies at Vanderbilt University. Through her work as a teacher, writer, and community worker, she mastered the craft of synthesizing complex ideas and the art of telling stories. These are essential skills in social justice work because looking at our communities from a different vantage point can change our lives and our world.
Since 2014 following a university teaching career, Heather has served a trainer, consultant, and program developer for non-profit organizations and socially conscious ventures, invested in thinking outside of the box. On the weekends, Heather’s on a hike with her spouse Lee and two gorgeous mutt dogs. Her greatest joy is cooking for and feeding chosen family. Visit Heather’s website.
Director of Mindful Operations,
Amy Mandel Katina Rodis Fund & Tzedek Social Justice Fellowship
Lindsay grew up moving every three or four years in an Army family. Having lived five different places by the age of 15, including eight years in Germany, Lindsay learned the importance of community early on. She began her professional career in environmental planning and natural resource management and soon realized social equity is too often left out of sustainability efforts. Lindsay began working for social justice in 2013 with a job-training and workforce development non-profit organization. This work increased equitable access to opportunity, education, health, and wealth to all individuals regardless of their background, which is the only way thriving communities are created. When not providing organizational support for the Amy Mandel and Katina Rodis Fund, Lindsay teaches yoga in a variety of settings from group classes, wellness retreats, and one-on-one private sessions in Asheville, NC. She loves digging in the dirt and making flowers and vegetables grow. She also enjoys cooking and spending time dining with friends.
Katina Eleni Rodis
Katina is a first-generation American, born to Greek immigrants in Brooklyn, NY. Working in a gay bar down the street from the Stonewall uprising combined with her involvement in the anti-war, early feminist, and pro-abortion movements, has informed her sense of social justice. By the time Katina and Amy met in 1991, she was living and working as a psychotherapist and facilitating AIDS support groups in Provincetown, MA. A few years later she moved to join Amy and her two daughters in Cambridge, MA, where she was able to legally adopt her two new daughters. In 2001 their family moved to Asheville, NC where she has enjoyed living ever since. Katina spends time woodworking, cooking, talking to trees and hanging out with friends and family. She hopes to leave the planet a better place for her daughters, granddaughter, and everyone else.
Craig White provides training, coaching, planning, and facilitation services to nonprofit organizations, foundations, schools and community groups across Appalachia and the South. With a particular interest in dismantling systems of privilege and oppression, Craig works as a trainer for racial equity analysis and organizing, and as an organizer for LGBTQ equality. Previously, Craig worked for more than a decade as a staff member of the Center for Participatory Change, providing community organizing and grassroots support to African American, Cherokee, Latino and white Appalachian groups and organizations across Western North Carolina. His other nonprofit experience includes conservation projects in Eastern North Carolina, regional coordination of the American Heritage Rivers Initiative in the New River watershed, counseling for adjudicated youth, and performing with a traveling educational theater group. He holds a BA from Brown University and an MSW from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and is a William C. Friday Fellow for Human Relations through the Wildacres Leadership Initiative. A native of rural Maine, he has lived in Asheville, NC since 1999.
Desiree Adaway brings her clients insights and expertise from having served in senior-level roles in the nonprofit and grant management sectors for such renowned organizations as Habitat for Humanity International where she was the Sr. Director of Volunteer Mobilization and Rotary International where she was the director of their largest Humanitarian Grants program. Her industry expertise also includes information technology, youth focused non-profit, social justice non-profit, and faith based organizations. As a writer, speaker, and coach, she leads difficult conversations on race, class, and gender to build resilient organizations
Idit Klein has been an activist for equality and social justice for the past 20 years. Since 2001, she has served as Executive Director of Keshet. During this time, Klein has built Keshet from a one-person, local organization with an annual budget of $42,000 to an 18-person, national organization with an annual budget of two million dollars. Under her leadership, Keshet developed a comprehensive training curriculum for LGBT inclusion and trained educators in hundreds of Jewish communities around the country. In Massachusetts, Klein helped mobilize Massachusetts rabbis and synagogue members to defeat the proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. Klein also served as the Executive Producer of Keshet’s award-winning documentary film Hineini: Coming Out in a Jewish High School. Prior to leading Keshet, Klein was an activist in the LGBT community in Israel and played a role in early organizing efforts to create the Jerusalem Open House. She has worked for social justice organizations in Jerusalem and in Boston including SHATIL, the Israel/Palestine Center for Research & Information, and Community Work Services. A magna cum laude graduate of Yale University, Klein received her Master’s in Education from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a focus on social justice and anti-oppression education. Klein was a recipient of a Joshua Venture Fellowship for Jewish social entrepreneurs and a plenary speaker at the Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly. A board member of JOIN for Justice, Klein was honored by the Jewish Women’s Archive with a Women Who Dared award and named to the Forward 50.
Lael Gray is a communications specialist whose career has taken her into a range of environments, including large corporations, technology startups, and running three of her own businesses. In 2003 Lael made a complete professional shift when she became the Early Childhood Director at the Asheville Jewish Community Center, where she has since held a variety of positions. Lael currently serves as the JCC’s Executive Director. Throughout her time in Asheville, Lael has served as a board and committee member for a number of agencies that work to develop access to quality early childhood programs, end bias in all of its forms, and create a sustainable future for Asheville.
Mandy Carter describes herself as an “out, southern, black, lesbian, social justice activist.” She has been advocating for human rights for more than 48 years. After meeting a group of people at the League for Spiritual Discovery, she traveled to San Francisco and joined the War Resisters League in 1969. In 1992, Carter became a public policy advocate for the Human Rights Campaign. The following year, she helped establish Southerners on New Ground (SONG), an organization that integrates people of color, immigrants, people with disabilities and working class members of the LGBT community in the South. She cofounded the National Black Justice Coalition, the only national organization focused on African-American LGBT civil rights. The National Organization for Women called her “one of the nation’s leading African-American lesbian activists.”
Bishop Tonyia Rawls
Bishop Tonyia M. Rawls is a national faith leader and social justice activist who has focused the majority of her work in the Southeastern United States fighting oppression and discrimination. She is the Founder and Executive Director of The Freedom Center for Social Justice (FCSJ). Founded in 2009, they work intersectionally through their programs that support the trans community, people of color, people of low wealth, youth and sexual minorities. Bishop Rawls is cofounder of the Charlotte Clergy Coalition for Justice and the National Trans Religious Cohort which provides training and support to trans and gender-variant seminary and religious studies students. Bishop Rawls is the architect of the FCSJ Do No Harm Campaign, which provides safe space for faith leaders to discuss challenging justice issues like marriage, equal protection for LGBTQ citizens and other current issues impacting communities of faith. April 2016 marked the launch of the Beta testing for a new network they are creating for trans people of faith and allies. The Transgender Faith and Action Network provides critical information that ranges from healthcare and employment opportunities to research and community for those often left isolated. In 2000, Bishop Rawls founded Unity Fellowship Church Charlotte and in April 2008, was consecrated as one of the first women Bishops in the Los Angeles-based Unity Fellowship Church Movement’s history. In 2014 she founded Sacred Souls Community Church, a diverse congregation of progressive Christians in Charlotte. They are currently finalizing steps for affiliation with the United Church of Christ. Bishop Rawls has also been a reviewer for the Journal of African-American Studies and is published in Black Sexualities: Probing Powers, Passions, Practices, and Policies (Released 2010), Sojourners, SAGE and other printed and electronic publications. She has been a guest speaker at Duke University School of Divinity, Union Theological Seminary, Union Presbyterian Seminary, Rochester Colgate Crozer Divinity School, and various other colleges and universities in the South. Bishop Rawls is a graduate of Duke University and done post-graduate work at Episcopal Divinity School in Boston, MA. She sits on the Governing Board of the North Carolina Council of Churches, on the board of the Family Equality Council and works closely with other local and national leaders and organizations to create a more just world.
Friends of the Program
Caren Harris Photography
Green Opportunities’ Kitchen Ready Program
Hood Huggers International
Hy V. Huynh, Humanitarian Photographer
JB Media Group
Land of the Sky Association of Realtors
Michelle Tracz, CPA, CFE, PLLC
Mountain Valley Spring Water
The REAL Center