Debra Kolodny has been a volunteer and professional activist in the faith, labor, social justice, women's, and LGBT communities for thirty-two years. She began her career in the labor movement in 1986 where she helped create and sustain participatory workplaces governed by labor-management partnerships. While a unionist, Ms. Kolodny helped negotiate protection from discrimination based on sexual orientation and HIV status for over one hundred thousand workers.
From 1993 until 2002 Debra consulted to public and private sector clients in the areas of participation, labor-management partnership, interest based bargaining, conflict resolution and workplace redesign. She also served dozens of LGBT and faith based social justice clients as a facilitator, trainer, coach and project manager. She served as Executive Director of ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal for nine years, and is currently the rabbi at P’nai Or in Portland, Oregon.
Debra has published over a dozen articles in The Washington Blade, Friends Journal and BiNet News regarding bisexuality and social justice. She has been interviewed by several major news outlets for stories on bisexuality (e.g.: Philadelphia Inquirer, Toronto Globe and Mail) and has spoken on the radio and cable television. Her anthology, Blessed Bi Spirit: Bisexual People of Faith, was published by Continuum International Press in April of 2000.
Debra was ordained in January, 2011, by the ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal seminary. She has an undergraduate degree from the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell and a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania.
Her roles in the LGBT movement and in faith communities include:
- Participating in the lay leadership of Fabrangen, a Jewish spiritual community in Washington DC for 15 years;
- Founding and leading P’nai HaSadeh, a Jewish learning community in Maryland;
- Serving Shoreshim, a Jewish congregation in northern Virginia for four years;
- Five years as National Coordinator of BiNet USA: National Bisexual Network;
- Six years facilitating the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force National Religious Leadership Roundtable;
- Conducting over 50 workshops on bisexuality, social justice and spirituality at LGBT conferences around the country, keynoting at several;
- Serving on the Board of The Interfaith Alliance of Montgomery County and chairing the LGBT task force;
- Facilitating bisexual support and leadership groups of 10 to 150 people;
- Conducting workshops for congregations on welcoming LGBT members;
- Organizing a Rosh Chodesh group (a monthly Jewish women’s gathering);
- Leading the Montgomery County Living Wage Campaign;
- Leading the DC BiNetwork and the DC Alliance for Multicultural Bisexuals;
- Organizing over a dozen conferences and retreats for a variety of national and local organizations;
- Conducting Bisexual Awareness Training for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the Human Rights Campaign, and the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network;
- Representing BiNet USA at the NGLTF National Policy Roundtable;
- Lobbying legislators on bisexuality, and in support of ENDA;
- Managing a national bisexual clearinghouse;
- Organizing the first bisexual support group in Philadelphia;
- Organizing protests on a law school campus against discriminatory employers;
- Performing prison ministry with Quakers;
- Performing GLBT peer counseling; and
- Spearheading the ERA Countdown Campaign in Tompkins County, New York.
(This biographical statement provided by Debra Kolodny.)
Biography Date: January, 2004
Jewish (ethnic, Reformed, Reconstructionist, Orthodox) | Human Rights Campaign | National Gay & Lesbian Task Force | Author/editor | Bisexual activism