Dear Members of the 117th Congress,
On behalf of the 180,000 advocates of National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW), welcome to the 117th Congress.
Founded in 1893, NCJW is the oldest Jewish women’s volunteer organization in the US. We are a grassroots organization of advocates who turn progressive ideals into action. Inspired by Jewish values, NCJW strives for social justice by improving the quality of life for women, children, and families and by safeguarding individual rights and freedoms. This mission provides the overarching framework for the organization’s programs and activities, primarily focused on: reproductive health, rights, and justice; federal courts; and voter engagement.
NCJW’s advocates are from diverse backgrounds and share both a commitment to Jewish activism and a determination to improve their communities and country for all regardless of faith, ethnicity, race, or gender. The organization has affiliate groups (sections) in over 60 communities in 30 states, with NCJW advocates in every state across the country.
We have included some information below about NCJW in this “welcome packet” that we hope will be helpful for you and your staff as you begin the 117th Congress:
- Vision for America
- Abortion and Jewish Values Toolkit
- Government Relations and Advocacy staff contact information
- Section location and information
- State Policy Advocacy contacts
- Blessing for the 117th Congress
- NCJW 117th Congress Priorities
Dana Gerson and Sheila Katz
Chief Executive Officer
Click here to download the resources from the folder
NCJW Government Relations and Advocacy Department Contacts
The NCJW Government Relations and Advocacy Department coordinates all of NCJW’s public policy work, representing the organization to Congress and the Administration. In addition, the office is a resource on advocacy and public policy work for NCJW members and sections. Learn more here.
Jody Rabhan, Chief Policy Officer
Faith Williams, Associate Director
Ari Solomon, Judicial Nominations Campaign Manager
Shannon Russell, Legislative Counsel
Dana Gershon has been a social justice activist and leader in the Jewish community since high school when she served as Social Action Vice-President of CRaFTY, the NFTY region for New York City. A graduate of Combined Jewish Philanthropy’s (CJP) Acharai program, Dana held a number of leadership positions during the nearly twenty years that she and her family lived in Boston: she served as President of the Board of Trustees of the Rashi School (the Boston area Reform Jewish Day School) from 2010-2012 and was co-Chair CJP’s Boston-Haifa Connection. Dana was instrumental in the founding of Parents at the Center in Haifa, Israel, early intervention for underserved children and their families. Dana has been a Director on the national board of NCJW since 2017.
Sheila Katz, NCJW CEO
Sheila Katz is the CEO of National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW), a network of 180,000 grassroots activists and supporters across the U.S. who are living out their Jewish values and turning their progressive ideals into action.
Since her start as CEO, Sheila has overseen the founding of the “Rabbis for Repro” campaign, through which over 850 Jewish clergy members have pledged to write, speak, and teach about reproductive health, rights, and justice, and create an open system of support for reproductive health care access. Additionally, under Sheila’s leadership, NCJW has made advancing anti-racism efforts at the national and local levels a priority, showing the intersectionality of racial justice in all of the organization’s main advocacy issues.
Prior to joining NCJW, Sheila served as Hillel International’s vice president for student engagement and leadership. During her 12 years at Hillel, Sheila engaged Jewish students and professionals around the world through programs including “Ask Big Questions,” a national initiative to guide students in meaningful conversations, and MitzVote, Hillel’s non-partisan civic engagement campaign.
In 2014, Sheila was appointed by the White House to committees advising President Obama on higher education and women’s rights. She is a longtime advocate for equal pay and an activist fighting for inclusion for people with disabilities. Sheila is currently on the executive committee of a national coalition of over 100 Jewish organizations working to promote safety, respect, and equity in Jewish communal spaces.
Sheila holds an M.S. in teaching from Pace University and B.A. in politics from Ithaca College. She is a proud alumna of the Wexner Foundation Field Fellowship and Teach for America. Sheila was named as one of the 50 most influential Jews in the world in 2020 by the Jerusalem Post and one of 2020’s faith leaders to watch by the Center for American Progress.
Jody Rabhan, NCJW Chief Policy Officer
Jody Rabhan is the Chief Policy Officer for National Council of Jewish Women. As head of the organization’s government relations and advocacy work, Jody helps lead the organization’s advocacy efforts in Washington and plays a key role in mobilizing effective grassroots work on the organization’s issues and campaigns around the country. In her role as Chief Policy Officer, Jody works with the CEO and the board of directors to create policy and advocacy strategies for the organization.
Over the years, Jody has represented NCJW on national coalitions concerned with civil rights, economic justice issues, intimate partner violence, gun violence, and human trafficking among other issues. She speaks and trains on public policy and legislative issues to groups throughout the country, including Jewish communal organizations and other faith groups, youth groups, and advocacy groups in the general community.
Jody began her career at NCJW in 1994 as a Graduate Fellow in the Washington office. Following graduate school, Jody worked at the Jewish Community Council of Greater Washington, the political arm of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington. She then worked at the National Council of Jewish Women’s Washington office where she remained for 6 years ultimately rising to Associate Director.
After taking time off to start a family, Jody returned to the workforce as an Independent Consultant, shepherding issue-based and development related projects for Jewish organizations in Washington, DC. In 2012 Jody returned full-time to NCJW as Deputy Director of Washington Operations, and in 2015 was promoted to the Director of Washington Operations.
Jody graduated from the Baltimore Institute for Jewish Communal Service with an M.A. in Social Work, an M.A. in Jewish Studies, and a Certificate in Jewish Communal Service. She earned her B.A. in Political Science from Boston University. Jody currently lives with her husband and two sons in Bethesda, Maryland.
Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg, Scholar-in-Residence
Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg is an award-winning author and writer. She was named by Newsweek and The Daily Beast as one of ten “rabbis to watch,” by the Forward as one of the top 50 most influential women rabbis, and called a “wunderkind of Jewish feminism” by Publishers Weekly. Her newest book, on applying an ancient framework of repentance and repair to the contemporary public square, to institutions, and to national policy is due from Beacon Press in 2022. She has written for The New York Times, The Atlantic, Salon, Time, Newsweek, and many other publications, and contributes regularly to The Washington Post and The Forward. She has been featured on NPR a number of times, as well as in The Atlantic, USA Today, NBC News, CNN, MTV News, Vice, Buzzfeed News, Upworthy, the Canadian Broadcasting Company, Al Jazeera America, Reese Witherspoon’s podcast How It Is, and elsewhere.
She is the author of seven books; Nurture the Wow: Finding Spirituality in the Frustration, Boredom, Tears, Poop, Desperation, Wonder, and Radical Amazement of Parenting (Flatiron Books), which the National Jewish Book Award finalist and PJ Library Parents’ Choice selection; Surprised By God: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Religion (Beacon Press), nominated for the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish literature and a Hadassah Book Club selection. Her other books include The Passionate Torah: Sex and Judaism (NYU Press), Yentl’s Revenge: The Next Wave of Jewish Feminism (Seal Press), and, with Rabbi Elliot Dorff, three books for the Jewish Publication Society’s Jewish Choices/Jewish Voices series: Sex and Intimacy, War and National Security, and Social Justice.
She serves as Scholar in Residence at National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW). Before her ordination from the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in 2008, she worked as a freelance writer and has in the years since also served as rabbi and educator at Tufts and Northwestern Universities, for Hillel International, for the dialogue project Ask Big Questions and Avodah, an organization dedicated to creating leaders for economic justice. She lives in the Chicago area with her spouse and three children.