Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
Forward 50 2014

Stosh Cotler

Tell someone to picture the CEO of a Jewish not-for-profit organization and they probably won’t envision a woman with a tattoo, a black belt in kung fu, a history of demonstrating against Israeli policies and experience dancing at a sex club. But Stosh Cotler has all that and more.

Cotler, 46, took over as CEO of the progressive organization Bend the Arc in February. That in itself is a rarity: Few Jewish communal organizations not specifically devoted to women’s issues are headed by women. Cotler, who identifies as queer, is also an unusual choice in that she didn’t get involved with Judaism until her late 20s. She recounted in the Forward how it was only when a lesbian couple invited her to their Passover Seder that she discovered “that being Jewish could be revolutionary.”

Cotler sees her unconventional background as an asset that can help attract Jews “who have little or no or an ambivalent connection to being Jewish.” Other female CEOs in her orbit agree: Ruth Messinger, president of American Jewish World Service, has applauded Cotler’s “responsive, out-of-the box thinking.”

Bend the Arc, which advocates for liberal causes like workers’ rights and immigration reform, has been Cotler’s professional home since 2005; she served as executive vice president for the past three years. But her experience fighting liberal battles stretches back to her time as an activist in Portland, Oregon, where she designed programs to train women in self-defense and empower local girls. In many ways, Cotler was a natural choice to helm this organization.

Engage

  • SHARE YOUR FEEDBACK

  • UPCOMING EVENT

    SKY & SCULPTURE

    Hybrid: Online and at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan

    Oct 2, 2022

    6:30 pm ET · 

    A Sukkah, IMKHA, created by artist Tobi Kahn, for the Marlene Meyerson JCC of Manhattan is an installation consisting of 13 interrelated sculpted painted wooden panels, constituting a single work of art. Join for a panel discussion with Rabbi Joanna Samuels, Chief Executive Director of the Marlene Meyerson JCC of Manhattan, Talya Zax, Innovation Editor of the Forward, and Tobi Kahn, Artist. Moderated by Mattie Kahn.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.