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Jonathan Stein


Photo: JJ Tiziou

Jonathan Stein has pursued a 50-year plus career as an anti-poverty, civil legal aid lawyer at Community Legal Services (CLS) since 1968, where he has served as its Executive Director, General Counsel and staff attorney. Before CLS he had graduated from Columbia College, University of Pennsylvania Law School, and did research at the London School of Economics. He is semi-retired from CLS but still engaged with work there.

Jonathan was among the first to advance the rights of broad numbers of low income people via class-action law suits and law reform advocacy, which through US Supreme Court cases and other litigation, Congressional legislation, and representation of organizations of low income, elderly and people with disabilities, have had major local and national impacts. He has been at the forefront of social justice reform in such areas as Social Security and SSI disability; welfare and Medical Assistance; school lunch and breakfast programs; rights of people with disabilities and blindness; access to low income health insurance; childhood lead paint poisoning prevention; utility termination protections; civil rights housing access; among others.

He has also had a long-standing interest in all the arts, especially dance, and since the 1970s-80s has pursued modern dance and contact improvisation with inspiring teachers including Madeline Cantor, Susan Deutsch, Leah Stein, Steve Krieckhaus, Eric Schoefer, Karen Carlson, and David Brick. Since 1989, he has appeared in two dozen dance performances in the works of Leah Stein, Asimina Chremos, Stephan Koplowitz, Megan Mazarick, and in Headlong Dance Theater’s Cell in the 2006 Live Arts Festival, and 2007 International Festival of Arts and Ideas, New Haven, and in Jerome Bel’s The Show Must Go On, Live Arts Festival, 2008, at the Kimmel Center. Most recently in the RehearsingPhiladelphia festival, he choreographed and performed his first solo work in collaboration with the poet CA Conrad, 27ONWARD: Dancing in the Revolution, about his CLS legal aid advocacy.

Jonathan has been a writer and editor for thINKingDANCE since its 2011 founding, including serving on its Board of Directors as Chair as well as writing dance and theater reviews for a period for BroadStreetReview.com. He has been a founding Board member of various arts groups including the Wilma Theater, Philadelphia Dance Projects, PhillyCAM, ars nova workshop, and the Philadelphia Cultural Fund. He got the itch early for writing as the Features Editor at the Columbia Daily Spectator in the early 60s and in the last historic days of letterpress (hot lead metal typesetting) printing.