As the Women’s March geared up for its third annual event, it announced on Monday that it had created a steering committee of 32 women — including three Jewish activists.
The three are Abby Stein, a transgender activist and former ultra-Orthodox Jew; Yavilah McCoy, the founder of a not-for-profit that provided materials to better educate and advocate for Jews of color; and April Baskin, who until last month worked as the “vice president of audacious hospitality” for the Union of Reform Judaism, the nation’s largest Jewish denomination.
The Women’s March website says that the steering committee “more fully represents the diversity and vibrancy of the Women’s March movement” than the organization’s four co-chairs.
As the year-long accusations of anti-Semitism against the leaders of the Women’s March crescendoed in November following the publication of an investigation in Tablet, the group’s co-chairs promised that they would soon be unveiling a more decentralized leadership model. Many local marches around the country, already upset over the national leaders’ handling of the anti-Semitism allegations, had also complained about the national organization’s top-down approach; many have disaffiliated to join a rival grassroots organization called March On.
None of the three Jews on the steering committee are currently affiliated with prominent Jewish institutions. One of the top Jewish partners of the Women’s March had been the National Council of Jewish Women, and an NCJW employee in 2017 helped write the organization’s “Unity Principles” (those principles didn’t include Jewish women in the list of minorities the Women’s March wanted to protect until December 2018). Although some local NCJW chapters are partnering with their local Women’s March, the national group is no longer doing so, though NCJW CEO Nancy Kaufman told the Forward last month that the two organizations’ agendas are “in complete alignment.”
Two other prominent Jewish groups, Bend the Arc and Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, are still partnering with the March.
The Daily Beast reported on Friday that the Southern Poverty Law Center would not partner with the Women’s March this year over their leaders’ ties to anti-Semitic Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, whom the anti-hate organization has monitored for decades.
Other notable members of the Women’s March’s new steering committee include former Ohio state senator Nina Harris, the president of the pro-Bernie Sanders PAC Our Revolution; Rev. Liz Theoharis, a Presbyterian minister who co-founded the Poor People’s Campaign with the minister and activist Rev. William Barber; and Winnie Wong, one of the founders of Occupy Wall Street.