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James Pearlstein, Senior Organizer

James Pearlstein has been an organizer with the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) since 2009 and serves as Senior Organizer at VOICE.

James previously organized with IAF affiliates Washington Interfaith Network (WIN), Action in Montgomery (AIM), and Greater Cleveland Congregations, VOICE’s sister organizations in Washington, DC, Montgomery County, Maryland, and Cleveland, Ohio.  At WIN, James headed up the organizations’ youth leadership arm, DC Youth Power Network, which engaged youth-serving institutions in WIN’s broad-based organizing work.  During that time James helped spearhead campaigns to build a new $2 million community park, provide significant physical upgrades to a local recreation center, and increase DC government investment into housing for homeless youth by $3 million.

As the Lead Organizer at AIM, James led a campaign to increase county investment into the Housing Initiative Fund by $7 million, the building of Maryland’s largest after-school and parent organizing program in the county’s public schools, and secured commitments from top county officials to support gun violence prevention measures.  At GCC James helped win significant criminal justice reforms in Cuyahoga County, including the creation of the county’s first-ever Civil Rights Division within the prosecutor’s office, one of only three such offices around the country, as well as a new summer school for youth incarcerated in the county’s juvenile detention facility.        

At VOICE, James helped to run successful campaigns to build a Public Defender’s Office in Prince William County, eliminate Virginia’s practice of suspending driver’s licenses for unpaid court debt, and win $3.4 million in new funding to support low-income families in the Prince William public schools.  Prior to becoming an organizer, James spent 10 years as a frontline youth worker in a community-based organization that served young people from DC’s Barry Farm public housing neighborhood.