Newsletter   /   February 2024
Q&A with Grace Osborne, JoCI’s LA Program Coordinator

Q&A with Grace Osborne, Los Angeles Program Coordinator

In October 2023, Grace Osborne, a JoC leader with roots in both the West and East Coasts, joined the Jews of Color Initiative as the Los Angeles Program Coordinator. Facilitating our innovative programming in LA, supported generously by the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles, Osborne is enriching the region’s Jewish community by centering the leadership of and connections among Jews of Color in Los Angeles. 


Q: Tell me a little bit about yourself. Where are you from and what are some notable characteristics or experiences of your time growing up?

A: I am from the traditional homelands of the Tongva and Chumash peoples and I’m striving to be a good guest here. I was born and raised in Pasadena, California but I am also from my ancestors. They are an amalgamation of brilliant and creative West African peoples forcibly brought to the Americas (specifically Arkansas, Texas, Barbados, and Trinidad and Tobago), Chinese merchants who made homes in Trinidad and Tobago, English settlers in Barbados, and Portuguese Jews who sought refuge in Barbados by way of Brazil.

Growing up as an only child meant that I often had to lean deep into my imagination to entertain myself. I had imaginary friends, spent a lot of time in my local library reading everything and anything I could get my hands on, I made a lot of bad art, and at home I listened to a lot of great music. Some of my most cherished memories from that time of my life include painting with my grandma, long summer days at Zuma beach with my mom, and lying around watching movies with my aunts, uncles, and cousins on those special days when everybody could get together. 


Q: What experiences shaped your decision to become a communal leader?

A: Truthfully, I don’t often think of myself as a communal leader. I think of the work I do in our community more as being a facilitator, steward, or caretaker. I know what it feels like to be disconnected from community and I know what it feels like to be nourished by community. I especially cherish the time I spent in New York City advocating with my Pasifika loved ones so that their languages, creative practices, and knowledges could be honored in both the public sphere and elite institutions. I also think back with gratitude on my experiences with the Skeleton Architecture artist collective. From these experiences I learned that community isn’t something that happens automatically, it’s a practice of presence. Humans are hardwired for connection to each other and I do my best, however imperfectly, to tap into all these past experiences to bring that wisdom and passion to my work.


Q: How did you initially connect with JoCI prior to accepting this role? 

A: It’s funny because it was totally by chance. I had just left my Hebrew lesson with my Rabbi at the Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life at NYU and was on my way to work and just so happened to run into Arya [Marvazy, JoCI’s Senior Director of Programs] in the foyer. We ended up chatting about the JoCI’s New York programs and our visions around vibrant Jewish life and futurity. After that conversation, I felt deeply inspired and ended up going to almost all of JoCI’s New York events that year. When I decided that my chapter of life in NYC was ending, I decided to move back home to LA. Learning about the LA Program Coordinator role opening up felt like an excellent opportunity emerging at the right time.


Q: As the Los Angeles Programs Coordinator, what are your primary goals and objectives for the region?

A: My primary goals are growing our community through outreach and creating programming that is responsive to the data we gather from our community assessments. Please engage with our post-event surveys—we take your feedback seriously!  


Q: What do you find most meaningful and/or inspiring about your work?

A: The people! I love our vibrant JoC community and whenever we’re all sharing space together I can’t help but marvel at our collective strength, brilliance, and diverse beauty. I feel the most myself within our community because I never feel like I’m too complicated or that I have to make myself make sense to others. I endeavor to create a similar space for other JoC who engage with our programming.


Q: What is your vision for the future of the JoC community?

A: I have a lot of visions, some are personal and some are collective. Some I hope will come to fruition within the year and some may take a lifetime. 

First, my short-term vision is that the Los Angeles Jewish community appreciates that there is vibrant Jewish life outside of the Westside. Eastside Jews and especially JoC exist—we are out here and I want to see more Jewish life local to us!

Thinking more long term, I am dreaming into being a JoC-led pluralistic, accessible, and gender inclusive Mikveh in LA. I can already feel the warm and welcoming spirit of the place. I see the circular pool and seven steps adorned with terracotta, cobalt, and turquoise tiles. I smell the rainwater and chlorine. I hear the movement of water. I see parents blowing on their baby’s eyelashes before a brief submersion, a man emerges from the water after a difficult year, and someone is celebrating their top surgery and joyfully splashes in the warm water. 

I also want and think we desperately need non-denominational chevra kadisha for disconnected, marginalized, and/or underserved Jews to mark life transitions in a way that draws upon our rich ancient traditions while also feeling meaningful to the uniqueness of that person.

Lastly, the collective vision is more engagement with meaningful embodied Jewish ritual and life. This vision requires that we build muscles for reciprocity and cultivate the competency to practice real and sustainable community building. In other words, together we grow a collective vessel of people who show up for each other in the moments of deep simcha and tsuris.



Our next Los Angeles program, a session on “Rewriting the JoC Leadership Narrative” with Rachel Sumekh, is taking place on March 13, 2024. Learn more and register at

Date Posted

February 2024


Jews of Color Initiative