Bend the Arc Leader Stosh Cotler Has Radical Streak — and Black Belt

Tattoo and Black Attire Sets Activist Apart

Old and New: Incoming leader of Bend the Arc Stosh Cotler and departing CEO Alan van Capelle.
bend the arc
Old and New: Incoming leader of Bend the Arc Stosh Cotler and departing CEO Alan van Capelle.

By Julie Wiener

Published January 10, 2014.
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“It’s fully outside of our mission. We have a principled approach that we just do not make any commentary on that issue at all,” she said. “We feel like by being so clear in this way what we create is a big tent, what we create is an organization where Jews who have a range of opinions feel like they can find a home at Bend the Arc to focus their activist energy on a very progressive domestic agenda.”

Howard Welinsky, a member of Bend the Arc’s executive board who is also active in the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and chairs Democrats for Israel, Los Angeles, said that Cotler’s views on Israel are not relevant to her work at Bend the Arc.

“I’m personally passionately pro-Israel and have been very aggressive in those activities, but when I’m on a [Bend the Arc] call it’s about the domestic programs of our country and the progressive Jewish agenda we focus on,” Welinsky said. “All the other things we leave at the door. I have never had a conversation with [Cotler] about Israel.”

Ruth Messinger, president of the American Jewish World Service, which participates with Bend the Arc in the Jewish Social Justice Roundtable, praised Cotler for being a “responsive, out-of-the box thinker” and a “real team player.” Like several other high-ranking Jewish women professionals interviewed for the article, Messinger praised Bend the Arc not only for hiring a female CEO but for recognizing talent within an organization rather than looking outside.

Rabbi Jill Jacobs, executive director of T’ruah, formerly the American branch of Rabbis for Human Rights, said that as recently as five or 10 years ago, “the Jewish social justice world was surprisingly male, and now it’s really shifting.”

Jacobs, who previously worked with Cotler at Jewish Funds for Justice, said that Bend the Arc’s newly tapped leader is known for being a “strong presence” who is “attuned to human dynamics and interpersonal issues.” Cotler, Jacobs said, is “not someone out there tooting her own horn, but everyone who’s ever worked with her is impressed by her.”

Read more: http://www.jta.org/2014/01/10/news-opinion/politics/bend-the-arcs-new-leader-is-a-black-belt-with-a-radical-streak#ixzz2q1XyfGRJ


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