Detroit Community Leadership Initiative Participants
Leor Barak has more than eight years of legal, public interest and community experience, most of which has involved Detroit. After some experience working in the corporate legal environment and in private practice, Leor litigated on behalf of low-income clients in family law matters. Since 2007, he has been a Legal & Policy Program Manager at Michigan Community Resources, where he uses his legal expertise to assist nonprofits and community groups across the State of Michigan. Leor received the Spirit of Detroit Award from the Detroit City Council in 2010. He received a BA in Political Science from the University of Michigan, a JD from Wayne State University Law School, and is currently working towards a graduate degree in Business Administration from Kettering University. His leadership activities include serving as Board President of the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue, Vice-President of the West Village Association and Community Development Corporation, as a Trustee of JVS, and Director of the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center. Leor is a proud resident of the City of Detroit.
Erica Bloom works and lives in Ann Arbor at the Michigan League of Conservation Voters. Her job allows her to travel throughout the state, where she is constantly inspired by the people she meets working on environmental and social justice issues. Erica received a graduate degree in Environmental Studies at the University of Montana, and returned to the Detroit area shortly after to put down new roots in her home state. In her free time she is an avid biker, salsa dancer and composter.
Shaindle Braunstein is the director of Project Chessed, a nationally recognized program of Jewish Family Service of Metropolitan Detroit. Project Chessed connects low income, uninsured Jews with volunteer physicians and donated care through local hospitals. Prior to joining Jewish Family Service, Shaindle served as director of the Hermelin ORT Resource Center, a program of World ORT, the world’s largest non-governmental education agency. Shaindle holds an undergraduate degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from Wayne State University and is currently working on graduate degree in Business Administration at Walsh College. She is active in the community, having served on the boards of several non-profit organizations and working as a communal volunteer.
Ben Falik is the co-founder of Summer in the City, a Detroit nonprofit that has mobilized over 100,000 hours of service in Detroit since 2002. Ben graduated with a J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School and holds a graduate degree from the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan. In 2004, Ben graduated from Columbia University with a B.A. in Urban Studies. He is an adjunct faculty member at Wayne State University, where he teaches a course in Service Learning: Living Detroit, and the University of Michigan, where he teaches Topics in Public Policy: Volunteerism. Ben is a columnist for Red Thread Magazine and a community correspondent for Street Beat on the CW50.
Ryan Hertz serves as Executive Director for South Oakland Shelter, an organization committed to reducing the prevalence and impact of homelessness in Metropolitan Detroit. In 2009, Crain’s Detroit Business recognized Ryan for his community work, naming him to their “20 in their 20s” list. Ryan is also Principal of EcoZoic L3C, a consulting firm specializing in social enterprise. He completed his undergraduate degree at Indiana University, and his graduate degree in Social Work at Wayne State University. He serves on the Board of Directors for the Greater Detroit Network of Social Innovators, and for the Upland Hills Ecological Awareness Center.
Noam departed Boston for colder waters in 2005, when he landed in Ann Arbor in search of the Michigan Difference. After completing an undergraduate degree in Anthropology and a graduate degree in Health Policy, he continues to run a fresh food distribution company called Fresh Corner Cafe, which works to increase access to healthy food and create a more vibrant, just, and healthy local food system in Detroit. When not trucking around town delivering salads, wraps, and soups, Noam is busy engaging with thoughtful organizations working to build a more just, conscious, and equitable Detroit. He leads Friday night services at the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue, where he serves as one of two liaisons to the Riverfront East Congregational Initiative, a network of 17 congregations working to build a more empowered and participatory Eastside. He serves on the Steering Committee of Foodlab, a network of good food entrepreneurs striving for triple-bottom line businesses. And he serves on the Structural Committee of the Detroit Community Co-op, a network of small businesses working to lower barriers of entry and build a more vibrant local economy. Noam is excited by the Detroit Leadership Initiative’s potential and is honored to be a part of the team.
Jeffrey S. Pitt
Jeffrey Pitt completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Michigan, majoring in English and History before completing his law degree from the University of Michigan in 2000. During law school, he served as a law clerk to the Honorable Gerald E. Rosen of the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan, and was a staff member of the Journal of Race and Law. Jeffrey traveled to London to study International Law at the University College of London, and worked at the AIRE Centre, a legal office focused on International Human Rights. After finishing law school, he practiced law at Honigman, Miller, Schwartz and Cohn for two years. Before his current work in the field of immigration law, Jeffrey founded a real estate development company, gaining extensive experience as a business owner and general counsel, and obtaining an Advanced Professional Certificate in the field of Real Estate Finance from New York University in 2003. Jeffrey provides representation in all immigration matters, including asylum and deportation defense. He also volunteers weekly at La Sed, a social services organization in Detroit. Jeffrey is a member of the Temple Israel Board of Trustees.
Harry Reisig is a lawyer and criminal justice policy consultant. He studied nuclear engineering at the University of Michigan, followed by philosophy, and studied religion in Jerusalem. While in Israel, Harry volunteered as a tutor and counselor at a school for new immigrants. He came back to the United States for law school at the University of Pennsylvania. In partnership with the Fels School of Government, Harry helped to develop the school's first joint J.D./M.A. degree in Criminology. After a few years as a lawyer in New York, Harry went to work at the Vera Institute of Justice. Since his time at Vera, Harry has researched the challenges of reentry programming, and has been developing Replanting Roots, which gives ex-offenders the opportunity to develop the skills, spirit and support network they will need to start new green businesses. Replanting Roots has brought Harry back to his own roots in Detroit.
Rabbi Ariana Silverman
Rabbi Ariana Silverman is the Assistant Rabbi at Temple Kol Ami. She was raised in Chicago and received her A.B. in History from Harvard University. She has worked for the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life, the Sierra Club, Hazon, Temple Beth Israel in Steubenville, OH, and Congregation Emanu-El of the City of New York. Rabbi Silverman was ordained by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 2010 and is an alumna of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship Program, CLAL’s Rabbis Without Borders Student Fellowship, and the American Jewish World Service (AJWS) Rabbinical Students’ Delegation. She lives in Detroit.
Francis Ford Coppola once said that, above all, he wants people to remember that he was a good camp counselor. Amit Weitzer feels the same way. Although her work has not been limited to camp counseling, she finds that her experience as a wilderness camp counselor and director continually informs her personal and professional values and goals. Amit is currently working as the Detroit Programs Manager for the Student Conservation Association, managing youth employment programs for Detroit youth that focus on promoting environmental stewardship and leadership development. She also works as a Bend the Arc Service Learning Program Leader, facilitating social justice learning with high school and college students in New Orleans and Detroit. Amit brings to her work in Detroit her experience as a community organizer for Campaign for Justice, a state-wide coalition seeking legislative reform of Michigan's public defense system, and other experiences working in youth development and criminal justice reform projects in Michigan.