Bridging Cultures Group Inc

Consultants

Maimuna Mohammed

Maimuna Mohammed has a master’s degree in Early Childhood Leadership from Bank Street Graduate College of Education’s Principal Institute. She has been working as an early childhood educator in community based programs, in New York City for more than 35 years, and has gained a wider experience in teaching a variety of students. In that time she has specialized in working with all types of abilities, families and cultural ways of learning and doing. Reveling in the mysteries of creative equitable classroom management skills, team work, and enjoying working in play centered style.

Ms. Mohammed uses multiple approaches to encourage cooperation between organizations and individuals to help all team members to gather around a common value, goals, and culture that will improve the communities. Her partnership support for families and community includes getting other individuals, organizations, alliances, and coalitions involved in accomplishing community goals. She supports Elevating Parent Voices and has a sense of loyalty and devotion to supporting and improving community growth and development.

Jonayah Marie Jackson (Jo) is a data analysis consultant with 4 years of experience working in higher education.  In her last role, she was the project manager for the Center on Culture, Race & Equity at Bank Street College of Education.  There, she managed research projects, conducted interviews, administered focus groups, and co-facilitated professional development sessions for educators and caregivers.  In addition, Jo supported her team with graphic design, website maintenance, and administrative/technical support. A graduate of Williams College with a major in Anthropology and a concentration in Africana Studies as well as a certificate of Software Engineering from Columbia University School of Engineering, Jo brings her experience conducting fieldwork, creating materials, and working in nonprofits and higher education to her teams. Currently, she is bridging her passion for data and technology by working on educational- and medical-themed applications.

Jonayah Jackson

Trent Webb

Trent Webb is an award-winning educator and nationally recognized public speaker. He also is a nationally honored collegiate speech and debate coach. Both his undergraduate and graduate work was done at Texas State University – San Marcos in the field of Communication Studies, with an emphasis on Rhetoric, Public Affairs and Theatre/Performance. He currently teaches Public Speaking and Argumentation & Debate courses at various colleges in the NYC metro area. His primary focus in the classroom is fostering student advocacy and increasing diversity by amplifying the voices of the disenfranchised – most notably in BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities.
 
Growing up in a military household, Trent was afforded the opportunity to travel extensively throughout the world. He regularly draws upon those experiences in his approach to DEIB work. He has served on various diversity steering committees and has incorporated diversity strategies in both educational and nonprofit organizations. Most recently, he completed his official certification in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Cornell University. He endeavors to make all aspects of the education process more inclusive.
Throughout Tahira’s long and successful DEI, media production/marketing career, her versatility emerged as she successfully navigated a myriad of responsibilities. Notably, Tahira possesses a deep understanding of the unique challenges and opportunities in engaging diverse audiences, skillfully crafting culturally relevant and authentic messaging across programming, marketing externally and internally. A stalwart advocate for diversity and inclusion, Tahira served as the NBCU Cable DEI lead. During this tenure, Tahira tracked and reported diversity data with a focus on increasing Year over Year results, this included spearheading programs across the portfolio to directly increase diversity in front of and behind the camera all grounded in the belief that everyone deserves representation in media. 
 
Tahira’s journey into education advocacy was inspired by her own experiences in the NYC public school system, where she personally received a stellar education. Tahira’s active involvement in the NYC public education sector gained momentum with the enrollment of her three children in a diverse array of public schools, including zoned elementary schools, middle schools, and specialized academic and arts high schools. From being voted into the inaugural class of the CEC councils under former Mayor Bloomberg to volunteering with various schools and parent organizations, Tahira was active in understanding the structure and process at the DOE to advocate for schools’ day to day needs and the needs of a diverse population of students. 
 
Notable current and past work include serving on the CEC Parent Council District 22 for two years, SLT rep, DLT rep, Parent member – PLAN Advisory Group, Parent Advisor – Blue Ribbon Commission on Graduation Measures, and as a current member of the CPAC High School Committee. Additionally, Tahira served as the President of LaGuardia HS PA in 2021-2022, a 501c3 org with and YTY operating budget of $500,000, prior to the stint as president she was a parent volunteer where she also produced a Emmy nominated student talent show Rising Stars that was aired on the local NY PBS station WNET/ALLARTS.com.

Tahira Bhatti

Lisette Roman

Lissette Roman is a mother of three who has worked in the field of education for over eighteen years. Lissette most recently served on the Staten Island Hebrew Public team as Founding School Director and Network Culture Leader after serving as Founding School Director at Cypress Hills Ascend Lower School. 
 

During her career, she held various educational roles in Honolulu, including instructional mentor and operations specialist at Teach For America, program specialist at Read Aloud America, and Founding School Board Member of DreamHouse Ewa Beach. Lissette Roman has also held teaching positions at Achievement First in Bridgeport, CT, and in Las Vegas Public Schools, where she began her teaching career as a Teach For America Corps member. 

Lissette is fluent in both English and Spanish. She earned her bachelor’s degree in professional studies and human services from Metropolitan College of New York and her master of arts in education from Touro University.

Lauren Gonzalez holds a Master’s degree in International Education Development with a concentration in International Humanitarian Issues from Columbia University and a Bachelor’s in Health Science from Boston University. She began her career as an ESOL instructor with the International Rescue Committee and has since worked to develop more inclusive educational spaces. Lauren currently serves as a consultant for numerous school districts nationwide, offering strategic guidance and formulating data-informed recommendations. In her previous roles, she worked on federal and state grants at Teachers College- Columbia University and Rutgers University’s New Jersey Safe Schools Program. Lauren successfully managed research projects and played a key role in developing and facilitating educational programs on Career and Technical Education, Peace and Human Rights, Violence Prevention, Occupational Safety, and Culturally Responsive Pedagogy for education professionals and secondary students.

Lauren is driven by a passion for addressing educational inequities. With her multifaceted background, commitment to research-driven strategies, and a track record of providing impactful support to schools. She brings a unique skill set to education and workforce development and is dedicated to redefining educational paradigms and empowering learners.

Lauren Gonzalez

Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis is the owner of L.E.A.R.N Coaching & Consulting, where she provides services to educational, not-for-profit, public and private organizations to create/ build upon existing systems to improve operational functions. She also provides coaching services to educators at various stages of their career.

For over 15 years, she has served multiple schools with large populations of Title I, Black and Latino children, English language learners, and immigrant families. She has experience as a network leader, school leadership coach, teacher coach, workshop designer and facilitator, edTPA evaluator, curriculum writer and history educator. Michelle has supported, supervised and coached novice and veteran leaders, teachers and non-instructional staff to build their capacity.  She has expertise in creating systems and learning experiences to enable those she supports to be successful. 

She was previously the Associate Director for Performance Management & Development at New Visions where she has held multiple roles during her 11 year tenure. She has a M.S.Ed in educational leadership from Brooklyn College, a M.A from NYU and a B.A from Hunter College.  Her career has been a complete commitment to working with adults who want to continue to LEARN.

Dr. Simran Jeet Singh is an award-winning educator, writer, activist, and scholar who believes deeply that love, equity, and justice are closely intertwined. He writes and speaks regularly on issues of diversity, inclusion, civil rights, religion, and hate violence, and his thought leadership extends to a number of audiences, from the White House and the Pentagon to university campuses and social justice groups.

Simran is a professor of religion at Trinity University and Senior Religion Fellow for the Sikh Coalition, a civil rights organization based in New York City. This year, Simran serves as the Henry R. Luce Fellow for Religion and International Affairs at NYU’s Center for Religion and Media. He frequently contributes opinion pieces to various news outlets, and he has become a consistent expert for reporters around the world in television, radio, and print media. Simran is also on the board for Religion Newswriters Association, a fellow for the Truman National Security Project, and a term-member with the Council on Foreign Relations.

Simran Jeet Singh

Dr. Sango Blake

Nationally known as the Hip Hop Principal, Dr. Shango  A.  Blake-CEO of TRU SK Consultants, LLC is a much sought after speaker about issues in urban education; from pioneering unique collaborations between students, teachers, parents, and the community towards creating and sustaining a vibrant academic atmosphere, to his successful tenure as a New York City Principal, he has proven to be a true renaissance educator. As a Principal, Dr. Blake saw a profound need to institute drastic and creative changes to improve his school’s failing health. Dr. Blake initiated a bold and daring self-created project to integrate a conceptualized Hip Hop based educational program. This program led to the creation of:

  • A new curriculum model that included teacher development, parent involvement, and school/community collaboration.
  • His school went from one of the lowest-performing schools in the district to number one in reading and math.
  • As a result,  Dr. Blake has been featured on Oprah Winfrey, People Magazine, 98.7 Kiss FM, The Joey Reynolds Show, WABC channel 7 news, and WCBS Channel 2 interviewed Dr. Blake.

As Chair of the Education and Youth Committee of the Million Man March Coordinating Council of Queens, Dr. Shango Blake has been responsible for:

  • The exposure and placement of hundreds of high school students to Historically Black College and Universities
  • Resolving  violent conflict between rival gang members
  • Organizing Youth Empowerment Days

 

Shatiera Porte‘e, is a certified school counselor, international speaker, Goldman Sachs One Million Black Women Black in Business alumni, mentor, consultant, mother and the New Educator of the Year Black Excellence award recipient. Shatiera has been working in the mental health and education fields for almost two decades. Shatiera is the author of the self-help book,  I Forgive Myself for Forgetting Myself  Affectionately known as “your favorite school counselor,” Shatiera empowers others by sharing her story and the tools she used to overcome challenges to find herself. Over the past 10 years, Shatiera has implemented programs to over 500 at-risk students and has created more than a dozen initiatives for businesses, communities empowering youth, various counseling capacities, corrections, emergency crisis and psychiatric screening services. Growing from a mentee to now a mentor, Shatiera’s philosophy “counseling beyond the classroom” stems from her desire to support individuals toward mental health wellness in a non-traditional approach. Shatiera is the founder of School Counselor On Wheels LLC,  an education consulting company that provides  mentoring, consulting, professional development workshops for staff and social emotional programs for youth to help build and promote self-love and self-esteem within. Shatiera’s goal is to mentor at least 2,000 girls. Shatiera enjoys traveling abroad especially for community outreach which includes teaching at a school in Haiti, volunteering at an orphanage in Morocco and connecting with  like minded  women in South Africa. She is working diligently to one day establish her own international mentoring program helping young girls and women all over the world to love themselves so they can go after their dreams and make them a reality.

Shatiera Portee

Amy

Amy Sit is a dialogue facilitator, designer, researcher and organizational strategist who seeks to create experiences that help people become more curious, connected and compassionate. She holds a B.A. in Development Studies, an MBA, and certifications in Dialogue Facilitation and User Experience/User Interface Design. She believes that in our globalized and increasingly polarized world, dialogue is an essential tool that can help us find our common humanity and constructive ways to engage during times of conflict. Amy has worked as a virtual and in-person Dialogue Facilitator for organizations such as Soliya and Seeds of Peace, leading dialogue sessions to promote peace and understanding between youth from the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, South Asia, and the US. She also is the co-founder of AMENA Vlogs, a virtual exchange program connecting individuals from the US, Yemen and Iraq through cross-cultural dialogues and vlog projects. Across her varied experiences in organizational change management, market research, academic advising, and design, there has been a common throughline that defines Amy’s work: a desire to help individuals and organizations understand themselves and their contexts so they can navigate complexity with empathy, foster inclusive environments, and cultivate meaningful connections for collective growth and resilience.

Restorative Circles in Schools

Ruben Abrahams Brosbe is a Brooklyn-based educator and writer. In addition to his work with Bridging Cultures, he supports middle schools in New York City as restorative justice coach and facilitates workshops to educators on racial equity and high-quality math instruction.

Abrahams Brosbe began working in NYC public schools in 2007. He entered NYC schools as a Cohort 14 Teaching Fellow. He has a masters from Fordham University in childhood education, and in education policy and management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Abrahams Brosbe attended the Harvard Graduate School of Education as a member of the Urban Scholars cohort.

As an educator, Abrahams Brosbe believes in the power of culturally relevant, project-based learning. One of his favorite memories from teaching was watching his 5th graders present their research on historical and contemporary systemic racism to an audience of educators and community members at the Museum of the City of New York’s Teaching Social Activism Conference.

Ruben Abrahams Brosbe

Abeer Ramadan-Shinnawi

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Palestinian-American Educator with Over 20 Years of Experience Veteran Middle School Social Studies Teacher Dedicated to Promoting Equity and Inclusivity in Education. Abeer Ramadan-Shinnawi is a passionate Palestinian-
American career educator with a strong commitment to bridging cultures and fostering inclusivity, who has made a significant impact in the field of education, both as a teacher and an education consultant. Abeer’s journey began as a veteran middle school social studies teacher, where she leveraged her personal experiences as a child of immigrants to connect with her students, schools, and communities. Through her dedication, she created a dynamic learning environment that inspired her students to thrive. Abeer’s expertise extends to
curriculum development, as she previously served as a resource teacher in the Baltimore County Public Schools Office of Social Studies. In this role, she led curriculum development efforts and provided vital support to fellow educators. She also played a pivotal role in fostering equity within the educational landscape. Abeer’s dedication to equity is exemplified through her role as an equity liaison and as the co-facilitator of an affinity group for teachers of color. Additionally, she created and facilitated a student support group that provided a safe haven for Arab and Muslim immigrant female students, emphasizing the importance of inclusivity and support. She is an active member of numerous Teacher Advisory groups, including the Smithsonian National Museum of Native Americans in Washington DC, EdLoc Culturally Responsive Social Studies Accelerator, and the National Arab American Women’s Association. Her involvement in these organizations reflects her commitment to promoting diversity and inclusivity.Throughout her career, Abeer has collaborated with schools, cultural institutions, and publishers to develop curriculum, content, and activities that authentically represent the perspectives of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) students and educators. Her work has been instrumental in creating inclusive learning experiences. In 2019, recognizing the need to provide educators with valuable resources and insights about Muslim and Arab youth, Abeer founded Altair Education Consulting. Through this endeavor, she has been offering educational materials, professional development, and engaging speaking sessions aimed at amplifying the voices and histories of Arab and Muslim American communities. Abeer has authored numerous education guides for ABRAMS Books and has shared her insights and experiences through conferences, podcasts, blogs, journals, and newsletter publications. Her goal is to continue working alongside educators to empower students to share their narratives, fostering global equity and justice.

Abeer Ramadan-Shinnawi’s tireless dedication to education, advocacy, and inclusivity has left an indelible mark on the educational landscape. Her work serves as a beacon of inspiration for educators and students alike, as she continues to champion diversity, equity, and justice within the realm of education.

Scheherazad Al-Salamin (she/her) is of Palestinian-American heritage hailing from Yonkers, NY. Scheherazad believes in the power of an anti-racist education to free young minds. Her journey began at Sarah Lawrence in Bronxville, NY (B.A. with a focus on Arabic:English translation) and continues on at the Teacher’s College of Columbia University (M.A. in Social Studies Curriculum Pedagogy).

Scheherazad has spent the last ten years serving in schools within urban communities. She believes in the power of teaching for justice and works to support educators in unpacking their own histories, backgrounds, identities (all leading to a wonderful wealth of knowledge) before engaging in disciplinary thinking with students.

Scheherazad has worked with students and families in the field of education as a teacher, school leader and network lead. Scheherazad has spent time in forty schools, across several regions (NY, RI, CT, D.C., CA, WI, TN) within two large networks of the charter sector. Scheherazad has experience coaching and leading towards vision for instruction on both a school and network level within the charter sector. Of her many interests, Scheherazad finds her passion in project based learning as means of re-shaping pedagogical beliefs about what it means to both “teach” and “learn.”

Scheherazad Al-Salamin

Mino Akhtar

Mino grew up on four continents and came to New York City as a high school student. She has a BS in Computer Science from CUNY, and a Master’s in Transformative Leadership from California Institute of Integral Studies.

She worked for 20 years on Wall Street (American Express Co., Shearson Lehman Brothers, AT&T, Lucent Technologies), and another 20 years as an international management consultant in organizational change and Director of Organizational Development for global corporations (Pfizer, Johnson &Johnson, Eisai US) She transitioned from her IT field to organizational change to fulfill her passion for working with people and making workplaces more humanistic.

She continued to do non-profit work in the areas of women and girls’ development (www.wisemuslimnetwork.org), Together Women Rise, NJ Women’s Fund, Global Fund for Women and interfaith and conflict resolution work for various NGO’s. She worked with the Dialogue Project in New York City and co-founded the Interfaith Women’s Initiative in Bergen County, NJ.

She is a certified coach, dialogue facilitator and conflict resolution specialist; her areas of focus were technology innovation, creativity; individual, leadership and team development; and innovation and conflict transformation. She has spoken at many conferences on these subjects and continues to lead the Global Dialogue Collective – a new organization that brings together dialogue practitioners across the world. She also blogs at Medium and www.sufidialogue.com to promote peace and humanismx

Adam Katz (he/him) has been teaching for almost two decades and writing for even longer. His writing frequently centers on moments that change a person’s mind or moments at which a person’s moral compass and self-interest point in conflicting directions.

You can find Adam’s writing in Door=Jar, Academy Forum, Capital Psychiatry, and JewishFiction.net, as well as in his own literary magazine, 2RulesOfWriting.com, where he also teaches classes and hosts workshops for fellow writers and artists. Adam enjoys cooking, reading, and collecting hobbies.

Adam Katz

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Sayyeda Mirza

Sayyeda Mirza is a philanthropy professional with experience in strategy, leadership development, nonprofit management, policy engagement and international development, training and facilitation as well as interfaith dialogue. She has worked with policy organizations and philanthropic. Institutions. She received a Masters degree from the London School of Economics and a Bachelors degree with honors from New York University. Her language skills at varied levels include: Arabic, Bengali, Hindi, Persian, Spanish, and Urdu.

Rebecca Cannara (pronouns she/her) is a nonprofit manager and intergroup dialogue facilitator with over 25 years of experience in social work and education and is focused on promoting equity and social justice with an intersectional and dialogic approach. Rebecca has served youth and families experiencing homelessness, developed a cooperative preschool, and produced curriculum in mathematics and on homelessness. She received her master’s in Education from UCLA, where she trained in the University of Michigan model of intergroup dialogue and conducted research on providing dialogue as part of the professional training of educators. Rebecca is a member of the Global Dialogue Collective, formerly the US Academy of Professional Dialogue. She has been facilitating intergroup dialogues with a focus on difficult and courageous conversations since 2015.

Rebecca Cannara

Susan H. Smith

Susan H. Smith is director of operations and community engagement at the Fellowship of Reconciliation-USA since 2018. Founded in 1915, FOR-USA is the country’s oldest interfaith peace organization and committed to the transformative powers of love and nonviolent direct action. In this capacity, she also serves as a member of the International Committee of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR) and as a United Nations Representative. From 2020-21, Susan served as a group facilitator on the Islamic Networks Group (ING) Intercultural Speakers Bureau, a peace-building organization providing face-to-face education and engagement opportunities that foster understanding of Muslims and other misunderstood groups to promote harmony among all people. From 2017-2018, she worked as a community outreach consultant for the Women’s Initiative in Spirituality and Equality (WISE) for its WISE UP – Knowledge Ends Extremism Community Guide and Campaign. From 2014-2020, she was a member of the Community of Living Traditions in Stony Point, NY, an intentional residential community of Jews, Christians and Muslims engaged in peace and social justice work “from Ferguson to Palestine”. During this time, she became certified as a Circle Process: Restorative Circles and Community Building in 2020; and in 2019 as an Alternatives to Violence Project group facilitator, which is a Quaker-led conflict resolution model that emphasizes “seeking God in everyone” and finding nonviolent ways to respond to conflict. Prior to that, Susan served as the principal of two Islamic schools: Salah Tawfik School in Sunrise Florida from 2011-2012; and Andalusia School in Yonkers, NY from 2007-2010. While at Andalusia School, she participated in meetings of the Dialogue Project, a group that worked to foster communication, listening and understanding about issues pertaining to Israel and Palestine. She is the author of Biblical Children’s Stories as Told in the Qur’an published by Tahrike Tarsile Qur’an Press (2017). Prior to that, she worked as the Director of the Divorce Mediation Program at the Dispute Resolution Center of Orange and Putnam Counties, NY, and facilitated trainings in divorce mediation, community mediation, and “Parenting Apart”. She is a former UN employee who worked in the Department of Public Information at its headquarters in New York City, and in the Department of Peace-keeping Operations on a mission in the Western Sahara. Throughout her career, Susan has worked and volunteered doing refugee resettlement and sanctuary work in Palestine, Jordan, Turkey, the Western Sahara, Algeria, and the USA. In 2016, Susan co-founded the International Sanctuary Declaration Campaign. In 2023, she co-founded the Weaponized Drone Ban Treaty Campaign.

In summary, Susan has a background in interfaith dialogue, community relations, international relations, multi-faith residency, conflict resolution, humanitarian relief and advocacy, nonprofit administration, and Islamic school leadership. As a convert to Islam since 1986, she has experience crossing religious, cultural and other divides towards the end of listening, establishing mutual understanding and trust, and bridging disparities through relationship and community building. She endeavors to empower individuals to achieve their full potential through love of self and, importantly, love and acceptance of others without judgement. She has spoken nationally and internationally on topics pertaining to reclaiming the name of God from nationalist ideologies and extremism, ending war and militarism, nonviolence as the path to justice and peace, confronting and dispelling Islamophobia, sanctuary and migrant justice rights, and ending drone warfare. She has facilitated many in-person and Zoom panel discussions on these and other topics. In addition, she has lived, studied, worked, and traveled extensively throughout the Middle East and has a Masters in Middle East Studies from the American University in Cairo (1990); and a Masters in Educational Counseling and Guidance Counseling from Long Island University (1999).

Caroline Rothstein (she/her) is an internationally touring writer, poet, performer, educator, and documentary filmmaker. Her work has appeared in Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, The Guardian, BuzzFeed, NYLON, Narratively, The ABA Journal, Williams Magazine, The Forward, Hey Alma, The Brooklyn Rail, and elsewhere. She tours year-round performing spoken word poetry, public speaking, facilitating workshops and teaching at colleges, schools, performance venues, summer camps, and community organizations worldwide. She is a facilitator for the Dialogue Arts Project, a faculty member at the Avodah Institute for Social Change, and has been on faculty for Foundation for Jewish Camp’s annual Cornerstone Fellowship, Brandeis University’s precollege BIMA summer arts-intensive program, and elsewhere. She previously served as the Project Manager of Curriculum at JustMedia, and as a Youth Mentor at Urban Word, NYC. She has a B.A. in classical studies from the University of Pennsylvania, and an M.S. from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.

Caroline Rothstein

Alan Singer

Alan Singer is a social studies educator and historian in the Department of Teaching, Learning and Technology at Hofstra University, Long Island, New York. He is a former New York City high school teacher and regularly blogs on Daily Kos and other sites on educational and political issues. Dr. Singer is a graduate of the City College of New York and has a Ph.D. in American history from Rutgers University. He is the author of Education Flashpoints (Routledge, 2014), Teaching to Learn, Learning to Teach: A Handbook for Secondary School Teachers, 2nd edition (Routledge, 2013), Social Studies For Secondary Schools, 5th Edition (Routledge, 2024), Teaching Global History, 2nd Edition (Routledge, 2020), Teaching Climate History (Routledge 2022), New York and Slavery, Time to Teach the Truth (SUNY, 2008), New York’s Grand Emancipation Jubilee (SUNY, 2018), and Class-Conscious Coal Miners (SUNY, 2024). He is the co-author of Supporting Civics Education with Student Activism (Routledge, 2021). He was a participating historian in “Defining Moments: The Civil Rights Movement in North Hempstead,” co-director of the New York State Great Irish Famine Curriculum Guide, and the editor of the “New York and Slavery: Complicity and Resistance” curriculum guide. Both curriculum projects were recipients of National Council for the Social Studies Program of Excellence Awards. He is a DEI curriculum consultant with ESBOCES and with the Bridging Cultures Group.

Melissa Shaw is a facilitator and educator who offers a unique consultancy based in social justice, equity, diversity and inclusion, social emotional learning and the arts. She has facilitated for school districts, school boards, universities, theaters, congregations, summer camps, detention centers, yeshivas, corporate offices, and long-term temporary housing centers. She has led workshops for Israelis and Palestinians, tech professionals, Rabbis, Imams, security guards, chaplains, non-profit managers, video game designers, Buddhist monks, school principals, NGO leaders, and the NYPD. Melissa facilitates a variety of anti-bias, anti-oppression, and anti-racist programs for the New Jersey State Bar Foundation, Anti-Defamation League, Powerful Communications, and Avodah. She has been a teaching artist and creative coach for various community-based organizations, including Community Word Project, Brooklyn Arts Council, Energize Your Voice, and the Lulu and Leo Fund. She is the Arts and Communication Advisor for the Muslim-Jewish Solidarity Committee and was part of the 2019 Nahum Goldmann Fellowship cohort and a member of the 2022 Leadership Seminar cohort. She is a certified Ethno-Religious mediator, Restorative Justice practitioner and Interfaith Minister. She was most recently EDI coordinator for the Tony Award-winning Broadway production of The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window. Melissa holds an M.F.A. from Sarah Lawrence College.

Melissa Shaw

Michelle Koch

Michelle Koch is an educator, facilitator, and a co-founder and the Executive Director of the Muslim-Jewish Solidarity Committee (MJSC). Under her leadership, since its founding in 2015, MJSC has created ‘brave’ dialogue spaces for thousands of people to form genuine relationships and partnerships founded on mutual recognition, empathy, and respect. Born and raised in Israel, Michelle’s facilitation work focuses both on interfaith and inner faith relations. She is a passionate believer in the power of dialogue, storytelling, and personal relationship-building to bring sustainable social change. Michelle came to this work after more than a decade as a music teacher. She studied music theory and audio engineering at Hunter College, the Aaron Copland School of Music, and the Institute of Audio Research. Michelle trained in community and civil court mediation with the New York Peace Institute and in circle keeping with The Restorative Center and Dandelion.