Seminar 1: What's at Stake


CEO, Jewish Council for Public Affairs

Amy Spitalnick is the CEO of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the national convener of Jewish coalitions working across communities to build a just and inclusive American democracy. She previously served as Executive Director of Integrity First for America, which won its groundbreaking lawsuit against the neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and hate groups responsible for the Charlottesville violence.

Cohen Family Leaders in Light Institute | Seminar 1

Cohen Family Leaders in Light Institute | Seminar 1

Before coming to RRJ, Rabbi Kanter served for 15 years, as faculty member, Associate Dean and Director of the Rabbinical School at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati. Born in Chicago, Rabbi Kanter received his B.A. in Jewish and American History from Harvard, his M.A.H.L. and Ordination from HUC-JIR, and an honorary Doctor of Divinity.


Rabbinic Director, Roots of Reform Judaism


Seminar 2: Mainstreaming of Hate

Director, Polarization and Extremism Research and Innovation Lab (PERIL)

Pasha Dashtgard is the Director of Research for the Polarization and Extremism Research and Innovation Lab (PERIL). He has a Ph.D. in Social Psychology from the department of Psychological Science at the University of California, Irvine, and was formerly a postdoctoral Fellow at Loyola Marymount University’s Psychology Applied Research Center (PARC).

Cohen Family Leaders in Light Institute | Seminar 2


Seminar 3: How Our Neighbors Become Radicalized

Cohen Family Leaders in Light Institute | Seminar 3

Dr. Sophia Moskalenko is a psychologist studying radicalization, terrorism, self-sacrifice, martyrdom, and disinformation as a Research Fellow at Georgia State and at the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (NC-START) at the U. of Maryland. Dr. Moskalenko has worked on projects commissioned by the Dept. of Defence, Dept. of Energy, Dept. of Homeland Security, and Dept. of State. She serves as a consultant to the European Commission; the NATO; and The UN's Office of Counter-Terrorism, Hub for Behavioral Insights.


Psychologist, Georgia State & University of Maryland


Former Violent White Supremacist

Shannon Foley Martinez, a former violent white supremacist, has two decades of experience in developing community resource platforms aimed at inoculating individuals against violence-based lifestyles and ideologies. Foley Martinez has worked in at-risk communities teaching and developing dynamic resiliency skills. She has worked for school systems, nonprofits, and community organizations.

Cohen Family Leaders in Light Institute | Seminar 3


Seminar 4: The Role of Antisemitism Past & Present

Cohen Family Leaders in Light Institute | Seminar 4

Jackie Congedo is a former journalist turned community advocate and bridge-builder. In 2022, she joined the Nancy & David Wolf Holocaust & Humanity Center as the Center’s Chief Community Engagement and External Relations Officer. Prior to her work in Cincinnati’s nonprofit community, Congedo spent nearly a decade as a broadcast journalist, working for stations in Washington, D.C.; Lexington, Kentucky; and Cincinnati, Ohio, where she specialized in enterprise and investigative stories. A native Marylander, she has called Cincinnati home for more than a decade.


Chief Community Engagement & External Relations Officer, The Nancy & David Wolf Holocaust & Humanity Center


Executive Vice President, Race Forward

Eric K. Ward, Executive Vice President of Race Forward, is a nationally-recognized expert on the relationship between authoritarian movements, hate violence, and preserving inclusive democracy. He brings over three decades of leadership in community organizing and philanthropy to Race Forward, having worked with leaders from government, law enforcement, business, and civil rights groups to advance civil rights work.

Cohen Family Leaders in Light Institute | Seminar 4

Seminar 5: Intersectionality in Equity Movement Building

Cohen Family Leaders in Light Institute | Seminar 5

Yavilah McCoy has spent the past 20 years working extensively in multi-faith communities and partnering specifically with the Jewish community to engage issues of diversity, equity and inclusion. Yavilah is an educator, activist and spiritual teacher.  She is a Jewish woman and a person of color and has designed numerous tools and methods that enable students and educators to be better citizens of the world through exploring differences and reaching for tangible solutions in allied engagement.




Executive Director Emeritus, American Jewish Archives

Dr. Gary Phillip Zola is the Executive Director Emeritus of The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives (AJA), the world’s largest free-standing research center dedicated solely to the study of the American Jewish experience.  Zola is also the Edward M. Ackerman Family Distinguished Professor of the American Jewish Experience & Reform Jewish History at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in Cincinnati.

Cohen Family Leaders in Light Institute | Seminar 5


Seminar 6: Working Across Difference

Cohen Family Leaders in Light Institute | Seminar 6

Bernie Mayer, Ph.D., has provided conflict intervention services for families, schools, public interest groups, communities, NGO’s, unions, corporations, and governmental and agencies throughout North America and internationally for over 40 years. He is a founding partner of CDR Associates and a prolific author of books and articles. In his most recent book The Neutrality Trap, he and Professor Font-Guzmán discuss the relationship between conflict intervention and social justice advocacy and in particular the way in which a commitment to a neutral stance can interfere with social change efforts.


Professor Emeritus of Conflict Studies,

Creighton University


Seminar 7: Strategies for Maintaining Relationship through Disagreement




Jay Rothman, Ph.D. founded the ARIA Group 30 years ago to enhance creative engagement with conflicts in nations, organizations and communities. He is an educator, mediator, facilitator, consultant, public speaker and author.

Cohen Family Leaders in Light Institute | Seminar 7