Stosh Cotler

b. 1968

by JWA Staff
Our work to expand the Encyclopedia is ongoing. We are providing this brief biography for Stosh Cotler until we are able to commission a full entry.

Stosh Cotler, CEO and radical social activist.

Courtesy of Bend the Arc

An unconventional CEO with tattoos, a black belt, and a reputation as a radical social activist, Stosh Cotler has mobilized Jewish Americans to fight for immigration reform, racial equality, and workers’ rights. Cotler became involved with advocacy work in her twenties, while living in Portland, Oregon. There, drawing on her skills as a black belt, she created Open Hand, an organization that taught women and girls self-defense and offered violence prevention and empowerment training. Meanwhile, she became involved with the Jewish Radical Action Project and Jews for Global Justice, speaking out for the rights of Palestinians. In 2005 she began working for Jewish Funds for Justice in New York, helping build the organization (which merged with the Progressive Jewish Alliance in 2011 to become Bend the Arc) into a multi-million-dollar non-profit that blends advocacy, community organizing, and leadership training. She ran their Selah Leadership Training Program, which has trained more than 300 activists working for Jewish and secular organizations. She became executive vice president in 2011 and CEO in 2014, the same year she was honored as one of the Forward 50; she held the role as CEO until 2022, after which she served Bend the Arc as Senior Advisor. In 2017 Cotler became a senior fellow at Auburn Seminary. She was also outspoken about issues of racial injustice and immigration, participating in a Black Lives Matter “die-in” on Capitol Hill in 2015 and protesting the use of a Japanese internment camp to detain migrant children in 2019. 


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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Stosh Cotler." (Viewed on May 19, 2024) <>.