Our Board

We are endlessly grateful for the wisdom and support of our Board of Directors. Get to know this team of prominent thinkers, activists, and leaders!

Sam is smiling widely and has a ran colored sweater on. Sam is wearing sunglasses and appears to be inside, in a room with white walls.

Sam Grosby

Board Chair
Sam is a latchkey Yid from Chicago currently living as a troublemacher femme in St Paul, MN with her partner and two kids.  Her late capitalism project is computer geek.
Angel is visible from the shoulders up. He is wearing a tan crew-neck t-shirt, and is sitting in front of a leafy background. A fence is also visible behind him. He is smiling widely.
Board Member
Angel Alvarez-Mapp is the Chief Operating Officer of Repair the World. Prior to joining Repair the World, Angel was the Senior Director of Operations for the Jews of Color Initiative, whose mission is to advance racial equity in the US Jewish community.…
Bianca is wearing a green button-down shirt and is smiling at the camera. Bright green trees can be seen behind them, and it appears to be a sunny day.
Board Member
Dr. B González-Lesser (they/them) has spent the last decade of their life focusing on equity, diversity, and anti-racism. They received their PhD in Sociology at the University of Connecticut and served as Assistant Professor of Sociology. B has also worked in the…
Dan stands in front of a brick wall, wearing a black crew-neck t-shirt. He is smiling.
Board Member
Dan Libenson is the founder and president of Judaism Unbound, where he co-hosts the Judaism Unbound Podcast and directs The UnYeshiva, a digitally-driven center for Jewish learning and unlearning. He is also the President of Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah. With…
Jo stands in front of a blue background, visible from the shoulders up, wearing a white blouse.
Board Member
Joanna (Jo) Ware is an organizer, facilitator, and educator. As the Founding Executive Director of the Jewish Liberation Fund, she organizes money and donors to build power and mobilize resources to sustain and grow a progressive Jewish movement for justice and liberation.…
Leykn stands in front of a lake ringed by mountains, visible from the chest up. They are wearing a green baseball cap and a blue body warmer over a flannel.

Leykn Schmatz

Board Member
Leykn Schmatz was fortunate to enter Judaism through the queer door, thanks to SVARA’s Queer Talmud Camp. They are a writer, an activist, a caregiver, and always a student and studier of language, humans, trees, and water. They currently live in Pittsburgh…
Marques is standing in the golden light of a setting sun, with their mouth open in song. They are wearing a blue collared shirt and an orange name tag.
Board Member, Scholar in Residence
Marques is an operatically-trained vocalist, theatre artist, and accidental techie who has been telling stories for as long as he can remember. He began singing professionally in the late aughts, and after a particularly meaningful Passover seder, began an artistic and spiritual…
Sandy, visible from the shoulders up, smiles in front of a sunset over the sea. She is wearing a purple jacket over a blue turtleneck.
Board Secretary
Sandy Sussman, contrary to Benay’s often-quoted statement, first came to Svara in 2017 “primarily to learn Talmud.” Recently retired and having studied Talmud in translation for more than 20 years, she literally was “sitting at home, wishing [she] could learn Talmud” in…