Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb, Chair
San Francisco Bay Area
Lynn Gottlieb is a pioneer feminist rabbi, storyteller, percussionist, peace educator, writer, ceremonialist, community activist and clown. She is deeply committed to a life grounded in the creativity, joy and wisdom of the Torah (teachings) of Nonviolence. Her journey includes life long activism with The Fellowship of Reconciliation and ongoing pursuit of Israeli Palestinian conflict transformation based on principles of active nonviolence. Lynn served as a pulpit rabbi from 1973 to 1980 with Temple Beth Or of the Deaf and Mishkan, An Experimental Shul in NY and from 1981 to 2005 with Congregation Nahalat Shalom in Albuquerque, NM which she co-founded.Since 1964, Lynn has engaged in multifaith, intergenerational and multicultural organizing around issues of economic and racial justice, gender justice and ‘the demilitarization of land and life’. Lynn’s love of Jewish cultural and spiritual arts embodies her way of being Jewish in the world.
Affad Shaikh, Secretary
Civil Rights Activist
Affad Shaikh is a social entrepreneur, a gentleman adventurer and an aspiring renaissance man. He is currently part of the USC Dornsife Center for Religion and Civic Culture and the Interreligious Council of Southern California cohort known as the Future 50, as well as Alumni of New Ground: Muslim Jewish Partnership for Change.
Prior professional experience involved working on behalf of the American Muslim community, advocating for civil rights and cultivating civic engagement at the Los Angeles chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR LA) for six years. Originally born in Karachi, Pakistan, he was raised in Los Angeles, California, and it was only fitting that Affad’s first big campaign was to organize and assist American Muslims facing years of naturalization delays.
Empowerment and civic engagement are interwoven experiences from which Affad developed innovative projects like the Muslim Youth Leadership Program in Sacramento and the Community Bridging program with Japanese and Muslims.
Jamie Ortiz, Treasurer
Jaime Ortiz is a member of St. Bernardine’s Catholic Church and has served as a lay leader in many ministries, for over 20 years. He served on the executive board of Inland Congregations United for Change, a PICO affiliate, for three years and volunteered for many more in leadership development, training and advocacy. He has been involved in the fight in the Inland Valleys against unfair checkpoints and towing practices, inclusive immigration reform, the dropout crisis and violence in San Bernardino. He has experience in grassroots fundraising through events, houseparties, community events and Gala’s. He is presently a member of the financial committee member at St. Bernardine Church and has served as a member of the Pastoral Council until a few months ago.
San Francisco Bay Area
Martha Matsuoka is Associate Professor of Urban and Environmental Policy and Executive Director of the Urban & Environmental Policy Institute at Occidental College. Her teaching focuses on environmental justice, community organizing, urban policy, environmental movement history, and community-based research. Her research focuses how community-based organizations organize to influence policy and planning and currently focuses on the intersection of environmental justice, community development, and health, specifically related to port and freight communities and the inequitable development processes in these neighborhoods and regions. This work is anchored and inspired by the Moving Forward Network, a nationwide network established to transform the system of ports and freight transportation to improve public health, labor conditions, and environmental justice. She has served on many boards, including the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation (past Chair), Human Impact Partners, and APEN. She currently serves on the Leadership Board of the LA Food Policy Council. Martha is a leading writer and researcher on social movements, especially in the Los Angeles area. Her first book, This Could Be the Start of Something Big: Regional Equity and America’s Metropolitan Future, was co-authored with Manuel Pastor and Chris Benner, was published by Cornell University Press in 2009. Martha received her Ph.D. in Urban Planning from UCLA, a Masters in City Planning from UC Berkeley, and an A.B. from Occidental College. She engages in a spiritual path of meditation and yoga towards generating openness, hope, love, inclusion and justice.
Jaime has been a participant and supporter of IM4HI’s work in the Inland Valleys for the past 3 years.
San Francisco Bay Area
Maram was born in Kuwait from Palestinian parents from eastern Jerusalem. She grew up in Kuwait finished her Electrical engineering degree at Kuwait university with an emphasis on computers. She lived and worked in Kuwait as a hardware and software engineer until the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait where she had to flee to Jordan and restart again. She later married and moved to Thousand Oaks, Southern California and then moved to the Bay Area 20 years ago. For over 8 years, she has been involved in interfaith work through Neighbor to Neighbor (N2N) to counter Islamophopia where she was responsible for forming many N2N circles. She was a part of the N2N steering committee and helped N2N to organize many events. She is an elected member of the Interfaith Council of Contra Costa. She serves on the Muslim Interfaith Council which seeks to coordinate Muslim interfaith activities between different masjids and organizations in the bay area. She has helped to coordinate the first Sunni-Shia conference in San Jose and intrafaith iftars during Ramadan. She attends Lighthouse Mosque in Oakland, a social justice oriented mosque.
Musician / Racial Justice Educator
San Francisco Bay Area
Benjamin Mertz is a performer, storyteller, and teacher who specializes in the Black Spiritual and Black Folk traditions. As an educator, he leads workshops on racial justice and equity at religious institutions, nonprofit organizations, and corporations. As a musician, he organizes and performs benefit concerts, vigils, protest actions, and sacred services. Standing on the shoulders of Black American heroes like Fannie Lou Hamer and James Baldwin, Benjamin’s work leverages the lyrical and artistic wisdom of this tradition to fight for integration, equal rights, and the creation of interfaith and interracial alliances.
Benjamin was born in New Jersey and has lived and taught in the San Francisco Bay Area for 15 years. He is also the founder/director of the Joyful Noise! Gospel Singers of Sonoma County. When off stage, he spends time gardening, composing music, wishing he was better at basketball, and cooking meals for his two children. He lives in Richmond, California.
Tarek Shawky is an attorney and criminal justice reform advocate. He was born in Cairo, Egypt and was raised in Southern California. He started his legal career as a public defender in Riverside and Los Angeles Counties before starting his practice in 2011. Working as a public defender taught him that the justice system often favors the wealthy and privileged. He witnessed the negative impacts of policing on black, brown and marginalized communities which motivated him to advocate for criminal justice reform. He is a member of the Pasadena Police Chief’s Citizens Oversight committee, the local NAACP Foothill chapter, ACLU, and National Lawyers Guild, and serves on the board of the Tiyya Foundation for Refugee Relief. Tarek has also worked on interfaith relations in Los Angeles with New Ground, A Muslim Jewish Partnership, where he completed the fellowship program and later served as a facilitator.
Tarek lives in Pasadena and represents clients in state and federal court in LA, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego Counties.