Meet the Incredible Cohort of the Jews of Color Initiative Leadership Fellowship 

Our New York hub launched the Jews of Color Initiative Leadership Fellowship in mid-October. But already, the fellows in the program are demonstrating their potential. Riki Robinson, Program Director, New York, has led the fellows through activities to help them explore possible avenues for their leadership in the Jewish community, get to know one another to build community among the cohort, and work on professionalization skills. Soon, these fellows will be placed in pairs at Jewish institutions in New York City to gain hands-on experience in the Jewish nonprofit sector. Get to know our great cohort of fellows by reading their bios below! 

Haftam Heathwood (she/her) was born to a Jewish family in Ethiopia in 1987 during a time of civil war and famine. At the age of three she and her family were evacuated to Israel where she would grow up in the town of Beit She’an. After graduating high school, she joined the Israeli Defense Forces and served in the medical laboratory unit for two years.  

While in high school Haftam was part of a cultural exchange program in the US.  When she finished her military service she came to the U.S. as an au pair, the only way she knew how. After a long journey, she has finally become a US citizen and is studying childhood education. She is inspired to work in nonprofits to help others so that their journeys will not be as difficult. Haftam has worked at the Jewish Women’s Foundation of New York, where she currently serves on the Board of Directors and is co-chair of the Diversity, Equity, and Justice Committee. She has also been involved with JCC Manhattan, Be’chol Lashon, and the JOC’s of NY. 

Kavi Subramanian (he/they) has a strong interest in healthcare equity/accessibility, including mental health and the many external factors by which it is influenced. They are also passionate about restorative justice and finding the best ways to address trauma and conflict. Prior to this fellowship, Kavi was an educator serving youth in foster care. Before that, they worked offering formal mediation, conflict resolution, and community facilitation. They also spent time working at Exalt Youth, a non-profit aiming to help court-involved youth avoid future contact with the justice system. 

They graduated from Reed College in 2020 with B.A. in Comparative Literature, concentrated in Media Studies. 

Jules Duze (they/them) was an active member of United Synagogue Youth growing up, engaging on a local and regional level and holding various positions on their chapter board. During their undergraduate pursuit for a Bachelors in Women and Gender Studies, with a minor in African Studies through the Macaulay Honors College Program, they were a full-time wage employee at various food establishments. They also participated in a food justice internship with Just Food, CitiHarvest, and Peer Health Exchange where they taught progressive health curriculum to under-served high schools.  

With their lens as a transnationally adopted, queer, non-binary, Chinese person, they have spent the last year engaged in community organizing, mutual aid, and various collaborations with the goal of collective liberation for all oppressed people. 

Maryam Chishti (she/her) is a proud “Mus Jew”, passionate about interfaith dialogue, community building, and using the arts as a vehicle for social change. Outside of the fellowship, Maryam works for LUNAR: The Jewish Asian Film Project and runs a Moishe House in Lower Manhattan. Past work experiences include the NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, the Office of Senator Schumer and Secretary Hillary Clinton, the Anti-Defamation League, and numerous political campaigns.   
   
 Maryam received her B.A. in Theater for Social Change and American Studies from Brandeis University. 

Tova Harris (they/them) has a background in Clinical Psychology, Research, and Special Education. They will be attending a Master’s in social work program in Fall 2022 where they will gain skills in community engagement and empowerment. Tova is an advocate for addressing injustice and discrimination on Long Island through an intersectional lens, and works with various nonprofits, Jewish and otherwise, to attain those goals. Tova is also an electric violinist in a Reggae Band. 

The fellows will continue their participation in the 10-month Leadership Fellowship until August 10, 2022. Learn more about our investment in the JoC community of New York City and about additional ways to engage with the Jews of Color Initiative’s New York Hub here.