I am originally from Cleveland Heights, OH, lived with my family in Larchmont, NY for four years, and then in Israel for my teen-age years and as a young adult. I began my academic career as a student at Tel Aviv University, but finished my Bachelor’s degree at Smith College. What a serendipitous turn of events that was, for it began my love affair with the Pioneer Valley! I met my partner of 23 years in Northampton and together we moved to California to attend graduate school, and then work for two years in the Middle East. It was always our desire to return to Northampton, and that we did in the year 2000. We were even lucky enough to buy a house in our beloved Leeds right across the street from where we had lived before we went to California. I walk our dog every day along the Mill River and parts of the bike path, keep up a swim schedule three times a week, and volunteer for local and national projects that make our community and world a better place.
ALISA’S PROFESSIONAL LIFE
Since early 2014, I have worked at the Proteus Fund in Amherst, a public foundation that designs and manages collaborative grant making on a range of progressive social change efforts. I serve as the Officer for Partnerships for the Security & Rights Collaborative, an initiative that conducts programming and makes strategic grants to protect and restore the civil rights of individuals and communities who have been targeted for profiling, surveillance, hate crimes, and discrimination in the post 9/11 security environment in the U.S. — Muslims, Arabs, and South Asians. We work to make connections between these communities and groups working on civil rights and racial justice in order to work together to address the root causes of race- and ethnicity-based discrimination, educate the public, and influence policy.
Between 2003 and 2013, I served as the principal in my own public policy analysis and advocacy, program management, and strategic planning consulting practice. I provided these consulting services mainly in the following content areas:
- Social, health, gender, and political justice
- Public health prevention policy and practice
- Interpersonal violence prevention and response
- Criminal justice; alternative justice approaches such as restorative and transformative justice and mediation
- International policy, human rights, gender equality, and peacebuilding
Some of my consulting clients included:
- International Women’s Peace Service
- National Sexual Violence Resource Center
- Iraqi Children’s Art Exchange
- Division of Violence Prevention, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Louisiana Foundation Against Sexual Assault
- Civic Research Institute
- Center for Effective Public Policy
- Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers
2000 to 2005 – Stop It Now, Northampton, MA
I served as the Director of Public Policy for this Northampton-based national organization working on the prevention of child sexual abuse.
1998 to 2000 – Alternative Information Center, Jerusalem and Bethlehem
Fluent in Hebrew and a speaker of conversational Arabic, I worked as the Editor of a weekly Internet-based journal that examined the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and efforts to bring peace to the region. I also served as the Coordinator of the Israeli Society Project, a resource for analysis of Israeli governmental, military, and social policy.
1996 to 1998 – Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Monterey, CA
While attending graduate school towards a degree in International Policy, I carried out a fellowship researching and analyzing the spread of missile, chemical, and biological weapons, and political and military occurrences in the Middle East.
1994 to 1996 – Monterey County AIDS Project, Salinas, CA
I served as the Director of Education and Prevention for an HIV/AIDS services organization. I designed curricula, outreach, and communications strategies, and oversaw policy development and advocacy for legislative responses to the burgeoning AIDS crisis among diverse populations in Central CA. In this role, I also worked with the Monterey County Needle Exchange Project using harm reduction-based approaches to preventing the spread of HIV.
1992 to 1994 – Visiting Nurse Association of Pioneer Valley, Springfield, MA
I worked as the Community Resource Specialist on the HIV/AIDS team to provide case management and counseling services to individuals, families, and communities living with HIV and AIDS in Springfield, Holyoke, and surrounding towns and cities.
1990 to 1992 – Stavros Center for Independent Living, Springfield and Amherst, MA
While attending, and after completing, Smith College, I worked as an Outreach Specialist assisting community members throughout Hampshire and Hampden counties to access disability benefits and other services. I also conducted research for Stavros on accessibility of public spaces for people with disabilities.
As an individual, activist, and professional, I am committed to social justice, community building, and positive social change. Here are some of the things that I do locally:
- I am a trained mediator through the Mediation and Training Collaborative in Greenfield and have served as a volunteer mediator in Northampton District Court.
- I am a past member of the board of directors and writing group facilitator for the local organization Voices from Inside, a project that conducts writing groups for currently and formerly incarcerated women to empower them to make changes in their lives and reintegrate into society successfully.
- I served as a member of the Program Committee of Western MA American Friends Service Committee, an organization concerned with empowering communities to find lasting solutions that increase peace, build unity, and demand justice.
- I am a volunteer for the BagShare Project. By sewing cloth bags that we distribute for free to local stores, and educating the public about their use, we have saved over 6,000,000 disposable bags from entering the waste stream.
- I am a member and listserv moderator for the Middle East Peace Coalition of Western MA, a local coalition of groups working for peace and justice in the Middle East.
- I served on the Programming Committee of Valley Free Radio WXOJ-LP, the local community radio station based in Florence; I also produced and hosted two radio shows – a music show and a public affairs program focused on Middle East peace and justice.
- I served as the publicity coordinator and volunteer for the Leeds Civic Association-sponsored Hotel Bridge Bike Ride that takes place annually as a benefit for the restoration of the historic Hotel Bridge linking Water and Main Streets in Leeds. I am also a regular volunteer for other Leeds Civic Association events, like the fall block party and cookout, the annual Halloween party, and the annual woods and river clean-up.
- I am a member of our local co-op, River Valley Market, and have belonged to a local, organic CSA (Community Supported Agriculture farm) since their inception in the Valley.
And some of the things I have been involved in at the national level:
- I was a member of the Advisory Council to the Safer Society Foundation for 10 years.
- I serve on the Education Committee of the Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies Network.
- I was a member of the Steering Committee and Co-Chair of the Public Policy Committee, of the National Coalition for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation for five years.
- I served for six years on the Advisory Council to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, two years as a member of the Steering Committee.
- I am a member of the Victim Offender Mediation Association and participate in restorative justice conferences and trainings around North America.