PARTNERS IN JUSTICE

Jazz Brunch | Sunday, June 2, 2024

11:30 am at Temple Sinai

 

Celebrating Extraordinary Social Justice Leaders:

Calvin Duncan, Davida Finger & Dani Levine

 

PARTNERS IN JUSTICE

Jazz Brunch | Sunday, June 2, 2024

11:30 am at Temple Sinai

 

Celebrating Extraordinary Social Justice Leaders:

Calvin Duncan, Davida Finger & Dani Levine

Partners in Justice is an annual celebration of Avodah in New Orleans where we recognize incredible leaders and the work they do to create a more just world.

Tickets


Tickets are $100. For guests under 36, Young Professional tickets are $40.

Can’t make it but want to make a gift? Donate here.

Meet the Honorees

Calvin Duncan stands facing the camera

Calvin Duncan

Calvin Duncan is a New Orleans native who grew up in the Ninth Ward. At the age of nineteen, he was arrested and later convicted for capital murder that he did not commit. He was sentenced to prison for the remainder of his life. On January 7, 2011, the Innocence Project of New Orleans secured Mr. Duncan’s release from prison after he had served 28 1⁄2 years. After his release from prison, Mr. Duncan founded The Light of Justice Program, whose goal is to assist incarcerated individuals in gaining access to the courts. He has provided legal support in capital and non-capital cases to help incarcerated individuals understand the criminal justice system.

While in prison, Mr. Duncan worked as a jailhouse lawyer for inmates for 23 years. For nineteen of those years, Mr. Duncan provided legal assistance to individuals on Louisiana’s Death Row. Mr. Duncan also taught law courses to other incarcerated individuals for 15 years. After his release from prison, Mr. Duncan was homeless. After spending several days at the home of his attorney, he moved into a transitional living home called Resurrection After Exoneration (one of Avodah NOLA’s first placement partner agencies). Mr. Duncan resided there until a law student provided him with the opportunity to reside in their home rent-free for one year.

Taking full advantage of the opportunities bestowed upon him, Mr. Duncan enrolled in Tulane University’s School of Continuing Learning, where he pursued a degree in paralegal studies. To continue his work in providing legal assistance to incarcerated individuals, in 2013, the Open Society Foundation awarded Mr. Duncan the 2013 Soros Justice Fellowship, which strives to assist incarcerated individuals overcoming procedural barriers that hinder access to the courts. Mr. Duncan also worked to change Louisiana’s non-unanimous jury verdict law.

Mr. Duncan co-founded the First 72+, which provides transitional housing for individuals recently released from prison. He also co-founded the Rising Foundations, whose goal is to stop the cycle of incarceration. In 2015, the Echoing Green Foundation awarded Mr. Duncan the 2015 Black male Achievement Fellowship. In June 2017, Mr. Duncan earned his Associate of Arts Degree in Paralegal Studies and Paralegal Certificate from Tulane University. That same year, Mr. Duncan was awarded the Pony Award from the Street Lawyers. The following year, August 2018, Mr. Duncan earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Paralegal Studies from Tulane University. In May 2023, Mr. Duncan received his J.D. degree from Lewis & Clark Law School.

Davida Finger stands with arms crossed while smiling at the camera

Davida Finger

Davida Finger is the René August and Mary Jane Pastorek Distinguished Clinical Professor of Law and serves as the Director of the Law Clinic and the Gillis Long Poverty Law Center at Loyola New Orleans College of Law. She has taught the Community Justice section of the Law Clinic, the externship course, and the Law & Poverty course. 

Davida and her clinic students have represented clients in cases on landlord-tenant, post-disaster housing, housing discrimination, and other civil rights matters. In addition to litigating cases, Davida strives to provide support and collaboration on community advocacy for anti-poverty and justice initiatives. She has worked with many community organizations over the years on post-disaster, housing, and other advocacy issues. 

Davida founded the Incubator Program for solo practitioners working for social justice and the Education Project that represents youth on special education matters. She served as co-president of the Society of American Law Teachers, a national organization of law teachers that works to promote teaching excellence, social justice and diversity. Davida is married to Josh Lichtman and they have two children, Emzi and Laizer.

Dani Levine sits on a park bench smiling at the camera

Dani Levine

Dani Levine believes in the transformative power of relationship building. Dani was born and raised in Washington, DC and fell in love with the Jewish Social Justice community through Habonim Dror camps and programming, where she was encouraged to dream about revolution and collective organizing. Dani dabbled in the environmental, public policy, and consulting world of environmental sustainability, before finally succumbing to that still small voice calling her to full-time Jewish Professional life.
 
Dani has since dedicated her personal and professional life to the process of building a more just world through cultivating Jewish communities that act according to Jewish and justice values. Dani spent a decade with Avodah, first as the local New Orleans Director and ultimately as the National Program Director. While at Avodah, Dani learned from and with countless Corps Members, staff, and friends of Avodah. She is so grateful for all the opportunities to laugh and be joyful as well as the serious and deep learning and introspection that came with working at Avodah.
 
Dani has a BA in Environmental Studies and Comparative American Studies from Oberlin College and received her Masters of Public Health (MPH) in Environmental Health and Policy from Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. Dani has been a lay leader at Touro Synagogue in New Orleans where she has been honored to serve on the board and on various committees and social action initiatives. Dani also had the privilege of being a member of the IOWA Project inaugural Ovdim leadership cohort, where she studied Musar with other rad Jewish thinkers. Dani works now as the Director of Social Impact at Hillel International, where she works to bring social justice values, learning, and programming to college students all over the world. Dani lives in the best city in the world, New Orleans, with her wife, Vanessa and three spirited children: Louis, Major and Abraham. When she’s not working or organizing with fellow congregants, Dani can be found on the parade route, at the fais-do-do stage, or cooking up some freshly caught fish.

Sponsorships


Sponsoring this year’s Partners in Justice event gives you an opportunity to celebrate our honorees, recognize the work of Avodah New Orleans, and provide Jewish leaders with the tools, experience, and networks they need to create change. Let’s work together to create a more just world.

Accessibility & Covid

 Parking and Entrance: Temple Sinai has an all-accessible parking driveway with a wheelchair-accessible ramp on the Palmer St side of the building.

Restroom: There will be a gender-neutral restroom available throughout the event.

Food: Avodah follows a practice of Default Veg for all events. Learn more about this practice

Covid: Avodah asks that all participants and event attendees practice Covid saftey when gathering in person. More information will be shared in a logistics email in advance of the event. At a minimum, please note that we ask attendees to be up-to-date on Covid vaccines if you’re able to. Additionally, if you have been exposed to someone with a positive Covid test within a few days of the event and/or you are experiencing cold-like or Covid symptoms, we may ask you to remain home, or to remain masked through the event. Thank you for helping to make Avodah gatherings feel safe and accessible to our diverse community.

If you have any access needs related to the physical space that the event is held in, please reach out to Meredith at moconnell@avodah.net so that we can do our best to meet your needs.

Our generous sponsors

As of April 18, 2024.

Ellie Streiffer & Ben Horwitz

Mensch

Gail and Stuart Chalew

Inspirer

Shelley Sturman and Noam Stopak

Inspirer

Carole Cukell Neff

Sustainer

John Haspel and Amy Gainsburgh-Haspel

Sustainer

URJ 6 Points Sci-Tech Academy

Sustainer

Ann and Rick Streiffer

Chaverim

Rabbi Todd Silverman

Chaverim

Jonathan Lake

Chaverim

Susan and Arnie Fielkow

Chaverim

Laura and Adam Magnus

Chaverim

Questions?

 

For event-related questions please contact Meredith at moconnell@avodah.net or (917) 534-7483.