Community Organizing Residency Participants

COR Cohort 5

Eliana Machefsky

Eliana is a School Safety Organizer for the New Settlement Parent Action Committee, located in the South Bronx of New York City. In this role, she works with parents of public school students on their School Safety Campaign to reduce suspensions, arrests, and court summonses in Bronx public schools by advocating for restorative discipline practices. Eliana became passionate about organizing as a method for change during college, when she organized in solidarity with dining hall staff on her campus as they fought for higher wages, paid sick leave, and eventually—a union. Raised as a queer woman in an Orthodox Jewish community, Eliana has experienced some of the ways that Judaism can be (mis)used to enforce individual and structural forms of oppression, but she also sees her Judaism as a deeply important and meaningful tool for fighting injustice. Eliana is very excited to join the COR community and learn from the ways each of you connect your justice work to your spiritual lives.

Amanda Otero

Amanda grew up in Fargo, ND, although her roots come from Mexico, Nicaragua, and England. She was introduced to community organizing at Carleton College in Northfield, MN, and was told being an organizer is like being a professional revolutionary. She was sold. Amanda has tried out organizing in a variety of settings: with Latino communities in MN, at Catholic churches, and in Nicaragua. Now, as a health care organizer at TakeAction Minnesota, Amanda is building power to push forward a bold vision for a just and inclusive society that includes universal health care.

Eric Paul

Eric Paul is an organizer with the Professional Staff Congress (PSC), a union that represents faculty and staff at the City University of New York (CUNY). Prior to arriving to the PSC, Eric was an organizer with Make the Road New York. Before coming to the world of organizing, he worked in academia. Eric is a native of California but loves NYC. He lives on Staten Island with his partner and young son.

Sahar Pirzada

Sahar Pirzada graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a degree in Development Studies. As a student, Sahar was heavily engaged in interfaith relations, community development and inclusion, and coalition building on campus. After graduating, Sahar moved to Singapore where she worked for The Association of Women for Action & Research. Sahar served as a Project Manager for Gender Equality IS Our Culture. She is passionate about creating inclusive and safe spaces for Muslims to engage in critical conversations about identity. She currently works at CAIR-LA as the Youth Development Manager.

Arielle Rosenberg

I work full-time at B'nai Jeshurun in NYC as a rabbinical fellow and hope to complete my rabbinic training at Hebrew College in 2017. Before and during rabbinical school, I worked on direct action campaigns with migrant and workers’ rights organizations in Seattle, WA and Woodburn, OR. I love singing, reading, crafting ritual and the way that these creative crafts nourish activism. I live in NYC with my excellent partner, Noam.

Maria Salazar

Maria Alejandra Salazar is the Director of Multicultural Resources at Northside Community Resources, in Chicago. She works to improve the well-being and aid the self-sufficiency of immigrant and refugee communities in the Chicagoland area through direct service, advocacy, and community organizing. Her work centers on building relationships with faith-based organizations, local elected officials, and other public institutions to tackle issues including housing, food security, and immigrant rights. Maria is passionate about black-brown coalition building, civic engagement, and anti-oppression education. She feels grounded by spirituality and faith in action, and identifies as culturally Catholic. Maria received her B.S.Ed in Education and Social Policy with a minor in Latina/o Studies from Northwestern University. A 1.5 generation, formerly undocumented immigrant from Peru, she is happiest when reading Xicana authors, writing, and learning to grow her own food.

Anna Salem

Anna Salem is a Program Coordinator for the Youth Leadership Institute (YLI). At YLI, Anna works with middle and high school students on building healthier communities by developing and partnering with young people on local advocacy. Previously, Anna served as an Organizer and Policy Advocate at the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California (ACLU-NC). With an emphasis on education equity and LGBTQ student rights, much of her work has focused on engaging youth and their allies in creating systemic change in their schools and communities. Anna is currently on the Bend the Arc Bay Area Regional Council and is an active member of their Racial Justice Team.

Sam Sukaton

Sam organizes for a power shift - social, political, electrical - out of the hands of polluters and into the hands of people. Born in Pennsylvania to immigrant parents from Indonesia, Sam grew up in San Bernardino and went to UCLA, where he organized with students for relevant, affordable education at the height of the last state budget crisis. He continued his apprenticeship writing e-mails for faith-rooted organizers, advocating for universal healthcare, and supporting worker-called boycotts on hotels that mistreat their workers.


Sam continues to organize for power in California with the Sierra Club, where he organizes Angelenos and Southern Californians for climate justice, energy democracy, and access to wild and green spaces for historically oppressed communities, while also serving as a shop steward and vice-president of John Muir Local 100, the union for Sierra Club field staff. Sam lives, works, and believes in California, and is based in Los Angeles.

Benjamin Toney

I’m currently living in Los Angeles and working as a community organizer. I was born in Providence RI, but for most of my youth grew up in Oakland. I’m in love with music, especially jazz and Hip-Hop, and am a primarily Jazz-trained trumpet player. I also play Ultimate Frisbee (everyone should go pick up a disc and learn to throw!) and love art, reading, and goofing off.

Jazmyne Walker

Jazmyne Walker was inspired to organize while working as a field reporter for a local paper that serves Chicago’s west side. She covered local stories primarily on the west side of Chicago and better understood how her community was being misrepresented in mainstream media. She is currently organizing with Black On Both Sides, an organization that challenges mass incarceration by targeting the foster care system. She also does parent engagement out of schools in the Auburn Gresham area with The Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corporation.