NEW YORK (JTA) – The Progressive Jewish Alliance has named attorney activist Elissa D. Barrett as its new executive director.
Barrett was the Pro Bono Director of Bet Tzedek Legal Services — The House of Justice, which provides direct legal representation to low-income residents of Los Angeles as well as advocacy for the poor. She fought slum housing and led advocates in local and state legislative initiatives designed to provide safe, affordable housing for the poor, the disabled and the elderly.
She also founded the Holocaust Survivors Justice Network, a pro bono project that links Jewish social service agencies, law firms and corporations that assist Holocaust survivors to obtain funds from a new German reparations program. In its first six months, HSJN sought more than $7 million in reparations and engaged more than 3,000 participating attorneys in 30 cities in the U.S. and Canada.
"Elissa Barrett brings to PJA exactly the kind of bright, dynamic and resourceful leadership we need as we consolidate our growth in California and look toward the planned national growth of our organization," said the president of the PJA board, Douglas E. Mirell. "PJA welcomes Elissa as a fresh Jewish voice for change in this new era of progressive possibilities."
Barrett takes over for Daniel Sokatch, who founded the PJA, but who now serves as the CEO of the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties.
She lives in the North Hollywood section of Los Angeles with her wife, Zsa Zsa Gershick, an award-winning author and playwright.