Our 2015 Fellows biographies are up to date as of January 2015
David Blank is an environmental educator at the Pearlstone Center, a retreat center and organic farm in Reisterstown, Maryland. Using story-telling, games and outdoor exploration, he is passing his love of the land and Jewish culture to the next generation. As a Maryland native, he is invested in building community and protecting the ecology of the place that has nourished him. He received a B.A. in American Studies from the University of Maryland in College Park. Now he is a student of Capoeira, an Afro-Brazilian body-game played to music. One day, he hopes to travel to Brazil to learn from the masters.
Mikey Hess Webber is a 2007 graduate of Hood College where she received a B.A. in Archaeology. She has lived in Baltimore ever since, not withstanding a year-long hiatus on Kibbutz Ma'agan Michael. A huge part of Mikey's life is spent with the Jewish youth in her community. After a 5-year stint as the Advisor of a local BBYO chapter, she is now the Teen Youth Director at Oseh Shalom Congregation where she also teaches 7th grade. For fun, Mikey works at a butcher shop part-time. She is an avid gardener, considers herself a world explorer, and loves her cat, Reuben.
Jenny Katz was born and raised on Kibbutz Gezer in Israel until the age of ten, when she moved with her family to central New Jersey. She graduated from Rutgers University in 2011 with a BS in animal agriculture, with a concentration in livestock production and management and a minor in Jewish studies. She worked on several dairy goat farms before settling in Baltimore in 2012. Currently she is the Assistant Supervisor of the Community Lot Team at Civic Works, a workforce development program serving young AmeriCorps members. Jenny helps the team members learn about landscaping, job skills, and social justice issues while creating ornamental gardens on vacant lots throughout Baltimore city. Her hobbies include crafts, walking in the woods with her big dog Leo, practicing gratitude, and learning about trees.
Rachel Kotkin moved to Baltimore from Seattle in August of 2013 to attend graduate school at the Maryland Institute College of Art. Having contently lived on the west coast for her entire life, moving across the country was no small feat, though she is happy to report that Baltimore's charm has worn off on her! Exploring the city, its unique neighborhoods, historic architecture, textures and detritus, have all served as inspiration and material for her latest mixed media art works. Currently, she is in her final semester of graduate school, and will earn her Masters of Arts in Teaching in May. Until then, she will be student teaching art classes in two different Baltimore City Public Schools at the primary and secondary level.
Dr. Beth Linas is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow in Epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Beth was born and raised in Denver, Colorado where she was a competitive gymnast, outdoor sports fanatic and dedicated member of her BBYO Chapter, Leah Fey 2310. Beth went east for college and studied Biochemistry and Health Policy at Brandeis University where she was also a member of the Israeli and contemporary dance troupes on campus. Prior to graduate school, Beth worked as a research assistant at NYU School of Medicine and served as the Special Assistant to the Assistant Commissioner of Epidemiology Services at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Beth relocated to Baltimore in 2008 and completed her Masters in Health Science in Epidemiology at The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in 2010 and her PhD in Infectious Disease Epidemiology in August 2014. Her research focuses on the use of mobile technologies to improve health outcomes (known as mHealth) for those most at risk for HIV. Beth is the youngest of 3 and has 6 nieces and nephews, whom she loves dearly.
In her personal time, although no longer the competitive gymnast she was growing up in Colorado, she tries to better herself by staying active at the gym through boxing as well as through social sports; she is the captain of her co-ed Bocce team. Beth is a lover of pop culture, estate sales, live music, books from bookstores and knitting.
Julie Oxenhandler moved to Baltimore in 2009 from Seattle to pursue her passion for educational equity. This is her sixth year teaching for Baltimore City Public Schools, where, in addition to her teaching responsibilities she has written curricula and facilitated professional development, and this year is leading an Anime Club for her students. She also works with Repair the World Baltimore supporting their Education Justice Fellows and with Johns Hopkins University as a faculty member in their Masters in Education program. In her free time she enjoys seeing movies at The Charles, yoga, being outside, and eating her way across Baltimore's restaurants.
Alison Reingold is from Bethesda, Maryland and is excited to be living in Baltimore for her second year. She has worked in several capacities but enjoys her work as a farmer the most. Alison was an Avodah Corps Member from 2009-2010 in New York and is excited to rejoin the Jewish social justice scene through the Jeremiah Fellowship.
Jon Sussman was born and raised on Long Island, NY and arrived in Baltimore in August 2014. A 2011 graduate of Brandeis University with a BA in English and the History of Ideas, Jon is currently employed as a research analyst with UNITE HERE, the hospitality workers' union. Jon is also a longtime volunteer with Jewish Voice for Peace.
Josh Swanner is a young attorney and Maryland native currently residing in Baltimore City. Josh earned a B.A. in Government & Politics and Jewish Studies from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2009, and a J.D. from the University of Baltimore School of Law in 2013. Josh recently concluded a judicial clerkship with the Honorable Emanuel Brown of the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, and he is currently a blog contributor for Washington Monthly on issues related to the Federal Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
After finishing at Clark University in Worcester, MA, Jeremy Weiss moved to Baltimore to begin an AmeriCorps fellowship working to promote residential energy efficiency. Three years on, and he’s proud to call Baltimore home. By day, he works as a home energy auditor in the Jewish housing scene in Baltimore and is an avid coffee consumer. When he’s not working, Jeremy trains as an amateur boxer, and enjoys reading and cooking.
Kate Wolfson moved to Baltimore from Washington, DC in 2009 to attend the University of Baltimore School of Law; she graduated in 2012. Kate has served as the Director of the Maryland Public Safety Compact (PSC) for the Safe and Sound Campaign since August 2012. The PSC facilitates a shorter stay in prison for eligible inmates, resulting in safer re-entry with better outcomes for participants and public savings. She also recently orchestrated the implementation of a new transformation program in the Baltimore City Detention Center that focuses on life skills and education. Kate has always been passionate about social justice issues and thrives on helping people and doing direct service work in her community. She is currently a volunteer and mentor for Baltimore SquashWise and is a member of the Executive Committee for the Lawyers’ Campaign Against Hunger. In her spare time, Kate enjoys spending time with family and friends, going to the movies, and traveling.