Cindy Rowe to Succeed Sheila Decter as JALSA Exec. Director

Sheila Decter, left, and Cindy Rowe
July 13, 2017 — The Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action, a Boston nonprofit that advocates for social and economic justice, civil rights, and constitutional liberties, recently announced that Sheila Decter, its founder and executive director, will step down and will be succeeded by Cindy Rowe, the organization's deputy director for development and outreach.

Rowe will assume her new duties at Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action (JALSA) on Sept. 1

"I am excited to see Cindy Rowe step into the role of executive director," Decter said. "Cindy has worked with JALSA to advance progressive policies since our organization was founded. She spearheaded all of JALSA's development initiatives, served as a leader on the Strategy Committee guiding the passage of the state's most recent gun violence prevention law and so much more."

Decter, who served as executive director since she founded JALSA in 2001, noted that "it is time for the younger generation to take on the seemingly intractable issues of racism, xenophobia, and economic inequality."

Rowe was principal of Rowe Resources, a consulting practice that worked with more than 60 social justice and advocacy-based nonprofits in the Greater Boston area for 20 years, providing clients with board development, fundraising, coalition building, and major event planning expertise.

Previously, she worked in Massachusetts state government in the executive and legislative arenas, focusing on public policy and community affairs. She also has managed political campaigns.

In her volunteer capacity, she serves as social justice chair at Temple Israel of Boston, where she helped to pioneer the use of community organizing techniques in a congregational setting. Rowe is on the board of the Lawyers Clearinghouse, which leverages the skills of the private bar to assist non-profit organizations.

Rowe holds an undergraduate degree from Harvard College in government and English and a law degree from Boston College. She is a member of the Massachusetts Bar.

Larry Bailis, JALSA's board president, cited Decter for dedicating her career to fighting for the rights of others, noting, "Her work ethic and progressive vision will always be the bedrock of our organization."

Prior to JALSA, Decter served as executive director of the New England Region of American Jewish Congress for 23 years. She also was assistant director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston and taught political science at Northeastern University, as well as at Lasell College as chairman of the faculty.

"Civil Rights and social justice have been a lifelong pursuit for me," Decter said. "My Jewish values have always guided my career and taught me the importance of working to make our communities more responsive to the needs of the most vulnerable. I am incredibly proud of all that JALSA has accomplished over the past 16 years, from supporting religious liberties to civil rights to earned sick time. JALSA is now, has been, and will continue to be a leading voice for social justice and that work is more important now than ever before."