Democracy Awakening Speakers, Performers & More

Sunday, April 17: Rally for Democracy Emcees

Maryssa T. Hall, Fellowship Program Manager, Young People For (YP4)

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Maryssa T. Hall is the Fellowship Program Manager at Young People For (YP4). In that capacity, Maryssa oversees all aspects of the Fellowship Department including recruitment and selection efforts, supporting Fellows on their leadership development and Blueprints for Social Justice, as well as organizing all YP4 Regional Trainings and National Summit. Originally from the Bay Area, she graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles, where she received her Bachelor’s Degree in Afro-American Studies and Political Science in 2014. While at UCLA, Maryssa was involved in a number of progressive student organizations that focus on increasing access and retention of students of color to the University and addressing inequalities in our local and global community. From 2012-2013, she served as the External Public Relations Coordinator for the Afrikan Student Union at UCLA while simultaneously serving on the United States Student Association Board of Directors as the People of Afrikan Descent Caucus Chairperson. In May of 2013, she was elected as the Undergraduate External Vice President at UCLA and was charged with representing all 29,000 undergraduates at a local, state and national level. In addition, she served on the University of California Student Association (UCSA) Board of Directors where she represented all 250,000 UC students. During her term as EVP, she brought the 25th Annual UCSA Student of Color Conference to UCLA and organized an action surrounding breaking the school-to-prison pipeline with over 1600 students from across California. After graduation, Maryssa moved back to the Bay Area and joined the San Francisco/Silicon Valley Public Allies AmeriCorps program where she served as a College Success Academic Counselor for a non-profit in East Palo Alto to increase access to higher education for low-income students of color in the surrounding community.

Brendien Mitchell, President, Florida State Conference NAACP Youth and College Division

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Brendien Mitchell is a Senior, Political Science and Economics double major at Howard University in Washington, DC. A native of Ocala, FL, he has been an active member of the NAACP since the age of 10, traveling the country advocating for civil rights. He has represented the NAACP before thousands from the steps of the United States Supreme Court in favor of the Voting Rights Act to the platforms of the Sanford Police Department for Justice for Trayvon Martin. Brendien proudly represents the NAACP’s young voices in the mighty Southeast Region 5.

Additionally, Brendien is the President of the Florida State Conference NAACP Youth and College Division, President of the Howard University Student Association, and an alumni of the Young People For fellowship. Brendien has also worked for the Andrew Goodman Foundation and served as a legislative intern in the office of United States Senator Bill Nelson. As the new leader of the 11,000 person student body on one of the nation’s most historic and socially active campuses, he hopes to combine his talents in grassroots organizing, which he gained from the NAACP, with his experiences in student leadership to be an advocate for equality and opportunity.

Rebecca Price, Chair, NC PIRG

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Rebecca Price is a rising junior at The University of North Carolina, studying Political Science and Global Studies and minoring in Public Policy. She has been involved in the establishment of an NCPIRG chapter on UNC’s campus, and will serve as the club’s first Chair next year. Through NCPIRG, she has worked on issues surrounding young voter mobilization, ranging from poll monitoring to educating voters about North Carolina’s ID laws to helping with voter registration drives.

Sunday, April 17: Rally for Democracy Speakers

More to come! Check back soon.

Reverend Dr. William Barber II, Pastor & Moral Monday Architect

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“Fifty years after the signing of the Voting Rights Act, we have seen the Supreme Court nullify its preclearance protections while congressional leadership has refused to fix it for more than two years. This is immoral, an attack on our democracy, and a threat to the furtherance of every other progressive ideal – we cannot stand quietly by. We must now stand up all over the country and reawaken the spirit of true democracy.”

The Rev. Dr. William Barber II is Pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church, Disciples of Christ in Goldsboro, North Carolina which has a deep social justice ministry and has engaged in more than 12 million dollars of community development. He is the architect of the Forward Together Moral Movement first born in 2006 that gained national acclaim with its Moral Monday protests at the North Carolina General Assembly in 2013. These weekly actions drew tens of thousands of North Carolinian’s and other moral witnesses to the state legislature. More than 1,050 peaceful protesters were arrested, handcuffed and jailed. In February 2014 more than 80,000 people showed up for a Moral March and Peoples Assembly some say was the largest civil rights fusion gathering since the Selma to Montgomery march.

A highly sought after speaker, he has keynoted hundreds of national and state conferences. He has spoken to a wide variety of audiences including national unions, women’s groups, economic policy, voting rights, LGBTQ groups, environmental and criminal justice groups, small organizing committees of domestic workers, fast food workers, Christians, Muslims, Jews, and others. He has served as president of the North Carolina NAACP, the largest state conference in the South, since 2006 and sits on the National NAACP Board of Directors.

A former Mel King Fellow at MIT, he is currently a Visiting Professor of Public Theology and Activism at Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York and is a Senior Fellow at Auburn Seminary. Dr. Barber has been arrested numerous times for non-violent civil disobedience and is regularly featured in media outlets such as MSNBC, CNN, New York Times, Washington Post and The Nation Magazine, among others. He is the 2015 recipient of the Puffin Award and the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Award. His two most recent books include Forward Together (Chalice Press) and The Third Reconstruction (Beacon Press).

Cornell William Brooks, President & CEO, NAACP

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Cornell William Brooks is the president and CEO of the National Association
for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). In 2014, he became the 18th person to serve as chief executive of the Association, whose members in the United States and worldwide are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities.

A graduate of Head Start and Yale Law School, Brooks considers himself “a grandson, heir and a beneficiary” of the landmark decision Brown v. Board of Education argued by legendary NAACP litigator Thurgood Marshall.

Prior to joining the NAACP, Brooks led the Newark-based New Jersey Institute
for Social Justice as president and CEO. There, he directed the Institute’s successful efforts to win the passage of three landmark prisoner reentry bills in 2010, hailed by The New York Times as, “a model for the rest of the nation.” Additionally, Brooks successfully led the passage of a precedent-setting “Ban the Box” statute, as well as laws combating foreclosures during the housing crisis.

Brooks previously served as senior counsel with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), where he led efforts to increase financing available to small, minority- and woman-owned businesses through regulatory and industry initiatives. Earlier as a U.S. Department of Justice trial attorney, Brooks secured the then largest government settlement for victims of housing discrimination based on testing, and filed the government’s first lawsuit against a nursing home alleging housing discrimination based on race.

His civil rights experience includes serving as Executive Director of the Fair Housing Council of Greater Washington and as trial attorney with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

Tefere Gebre, Executive Vice President, AFL-CIO

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Tefere Gebre, born in Gondar, Ethiopia, was a political refugee who emigrated to the United States as a teenager. While in college, Tefere worked his first union job as a night shift loader at UPS (and member of Teamsters Local 396). Since, Tefere has devoted his entire life to the values of hard work and a voice at the workplace.

Work and the Labor Movement

After working for Laborers Local 270 and as the executive director of Frontlash, the former youth and college arm of the AFL-CIO, Tefere went on to work for the statewide labor movement as the Southern California political director of the California Labor Federation, and then as political director of the Orange County Labor Federation from 2006 to 2008. His leadership earned him the role as executive director for the labor federation in 2008.

Tefere contributed tremendous change in redefining the growing labor movement in Orange County, California. As executive director, he doubled the political capacity of the labor movement in the county. In 2008 and every year thereafter, the federation was honored by the state federation’s Strategic Planning Committee as one of the highest-performing labor councils, and was singled out as an “agent for change” by the California Labor Federation. In less than a year as executive director, Tefere increased the federation’s membership by more than 15,000 new members, established a communications division, expanded the political operations and grew the program staff.

Through Tefere’s leadership, the federation built strong coalitions with faith and civil rights organizations throughout the county to advocate and support policies that improve the lives of all workers. In 2012, the federation created and took on the first 10-week leader initiative program at local schools to educate parents and students on city government, boards and commissions, public speaking, civic engagement and policy change, while also giving participants an understanding that work connects us all.

When he was elected to the position of executive vice president of the AFL-CIO in 2013, joining Rich Trumka and Liz Shuler as the elected leadership team for the national labor federation, it was a clear recognition of Tefere’s leadership skills and of the focus on building strong labor-community partnerships at the local level through the movement’s central labor councils and state federations.

Tefere has continued to demonstrate leadership by example. He has focused his attention on building strong partnerships between labor and community groups, immigrant rights advocates and civil rights organizations. He has placed particular emphasis on building the labor movement in the South, where conditions are most oppressive for millions of workers. Based on his own experience as a child refugee, Tefere has brought a passionate and personal perspective to bear in the labor movement’s fight for comprehensive immigration reform and a pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrant workers and their families. In the end, it is Tefere’s experience as an immigrant labor activist and local labor council leader that makes him a great complement to President Trumka, of the Mine Workers, and Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler, of the Electrical Workers, to lead the AFL-CIO.

Before joining the labor movement, Tefere worked for then-Speaker of the California State Assembly Willie L. Brown Jr. as a legislative aide. Never hesitant to lead, Tefere twice was elected as president of the California Young Democrats—and he was the first African American and first immigrant elected to serve in that position. Tefere received a bachelor’s degree in international marketing from Cal Poly Pomona and an MBA from the University of Southern California. Tefere and his wife, Jennifer Badgley have relocated from California and live in Maryland.

David Goodman, President, Andrew Goodman Foundation

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David Goodman is the brother of Andrew Goodman and the President of The Andrew Goodman Foundation and its Board of Trustees. At the height of the Civil Rights Movement, Andrew (Andy) Goodman joined Freedom Summer ’64 to register African-Americans to vote. On Andy’s first day in Mississippi, he and two other civil rights workers, James Chaney and Michael Schwerner, were murdered by the Ku Klux Klan. The story of these three young men struck a public chord that galvanized support for the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The Goodman Foundation recruits, trains and supports emerging leaders at America’s colleges and universities in order to strengthen democracy by leading long-term voter engagement, public policy and social justice initiatives.

Representative Raúl Grijalva, Congressman, Arizona's 3rd District

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Raúl Grijalva began his career in public service as a community organizer in Tucson. Four decades later, he continues to be an advocate for those in need and a voice for the constituents of his home community. From 1974 to 1986, Raúl served on the Tucson Unified School District Governing Board, including six years as Chairman. In 1988, he was elected to the Pima County Board of Supervisors, where he served for the next 15 years, chairing the Board for two of those years. Raúl resigned his seat on the Board of Supervisors in 2002 to seek office in Arizona’s newly created Seventh Congressional District. Despite a nine-candidate primary and the challenge of being outspent three-to-one by his closest competitor, Raúl was elected with a 20-point victory, thanks to a diverse coalition of supporters that led the largest volunteer-driven election effort in Arizona.

Throughout his career, Raúl has always fought for underrepresented voices. The passions that drove him as a School Board member to fight for and succeed at implementing bilingual education in Arizona are the same passions that motivated him to help pass the first bond package containing a $10 million commitment to reinvest in older, poorer neighborhoods while he was a County Supervisor. Likewise, they are what drive him today as he fights to reform our broken immigration system, ensure livable wages for American workers, and create vital land protections to safeguard our nation’s natural treasures for the next generation.

In 2014, Raúl was elected Ranking Member of the House Natural Resources Committee by his Democratic colleagues on the committee. He also serves on the Committee on Education and the Workforce, and is a Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, as well as a long-standing member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director, Food & Water Watch

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“Environmental rights, civil rights and democracy go hand in hand. That’s why we’re part of Democracy Awakening, where the progressive movement will come together, take on big moneyed interests and prepare to take back our democracy.”

Wenonah Hauter has worked extensively on food, water, energy and environmental issues at the national, state and local level and is the founder and Executive Director of Food & Water Watch.

Due in bookstores on June 7, Wenonah’s new book Frackopoly: The Battle for the Future of Energy and the Environment shines an unapologetic light on the fracking industry, the policies that threaten our global climate and the powerful grassroots movements that has emerged to ban fracking and demand a future powered by clean, sustainable energy.

Wenonah’s earlier book, Foodopoly: The Battle Over the Future of Food and Farming in America, examines the corporate consolidation and control over our food system and what it means for farmers and consumers.

Experienced in developing policy positions and legislative strategies, she is also a skilled and accomplished organizer, having lobbied and developed grassroots field strategy and action plans. From 1997 to 2005 she served as Director of Public Citizen’s Energy and Environment Program, which focused on water, food and energy policy. From 1996 to 1997, she was environmental policy director for Citizen Action, where she worked with the organization’s 30 state-based groups. From 1989 to 1995 she was at the Union of Concerned Scientists where, as a senior organizer, she coordinated broad-based, grassroots sustainable energy campaigns in several states.

She has an M.S. in applied anthropology from the University of Maryland.

Jim Hightower, Radio Commentator & Activist

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“Democracy Awakening is us – grassroots people rising up to restore our sovereignty over big money. Progress on every one of our issues is hopelessly walled in by corporate bribery funds, K Street lobbyists, crony capitalism, Koch-headed ideology, and nefarious voter suppression. This is the start of something big, and we want you to be there to help make democracy happen again.”

National radio commentator, writer, public speaker, and author, Swim Against The Current: Even A Dead Fish Can Go With The Flow, Jim Hightower has spent three decades battling the Powers That Be on behalf of the Powers That Ought To Be – consumers, working families, environmentalists, small businesses, and just-plain-folks.

A popular public speaker who is fiery and funny, he is a populist road warrior who delivers more than 100 speeches a year to all kinds of groups. He is a New York Times best-selling author, and frequently appears on television and radio programs, bringing a hard-hitting populist viewpoint that rarely gets into the mass media. In addition, he works closely with the alternative media, and in all of his work he keeps his ever-ready Texas humor up front, practicing the credo of an old Yugoslavian proverb: “You can fight the gods and still have fun.”

Dolores Huerta, co-founder, the United Farm Workers union with Cesar Chavez

“Without a strong democracy movement, we won’t be able to make progress on the biggest issues we face: climate change, immigration reform, protecting workers’ rights, raising the minimum wage, empowering women and so much more. I’m coming to D.C. this month to demand that Congress listen to the American people and stop blocking democracy reforms. Si se puede!”

Dolores Huerta is a civil rights activist and labor leader who has fought all her life for the rights of working people and immigrants. Huerta co-founded the United Farm Workers union with Cesar Chavez. In 2012 President Barack Obama awarded Huerta the highest civilian award in the United States, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Currently, Huerta serves as President of the Dolores Huerta Foundation and Board Member of People For the American Way.

Carlos Jimenez, Executive Director for the Metropolitan Washington Council, AFL-CIO

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Carlos Jimenez is the Executive Director for the Metropolitan Washington Council, AFL-CIO. He came to the council after more than a decade of union, political, community, and student organizing. He was previously a regional field organizer at Jobs with Justice, where he had the privilege of supporting local leaders and organizations as they built long term relationships and coalitions committed to building powerful organizations and movements for social and economic justice.

Annie Leonard, Executive Director, Greenpeace USA

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A lifelong environmentalist, Annie Leonard is currently the Executive Director of Greenpeace USA. She has over 25 years experience investigating, organizing and communicating about the environmental and social impacts of all our stuff: where it comes from, what it is made out of, and where it goes after we get rid of it. Her 2007 online film, The Story of Stuff, has been viewed over 40 million times making it the most watched online environmental film to date. In 2010, she authored a book of the same title which takes a deeper dive into the issues in the film.

Leonard earned her undergraduate degree at Barnard College, Columbia University and has a Masters Degree in City and Regional Planning from Cornell University. She began her career at Greenpeace in Washington, DC in 1988 and now leads the organization’s U.S. office out of San Francisco.

Aaron Mair, President, Sierra Club

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Aaron Mair is the Sierra Club’s 57th president. Mair became a Sierra Club member in 1999, following a decade-long battle that he led to shut down a polluting solid waste incinerator in an inner-city community in Albany, New York. His efforts ultimately led to a commitment by the state to shut down the facility and a $1.6 million settlement award to that community. Mair was also a key figure in leading the fight and securing the Sierra Club’s participation in the Clean Up the Hudson campaign, which resulted in a settlement between the EPA and General Electric to dredge toxic PCB sediments from the Upper Hudson River.

Mair has held more than three dozen leadership positions within the Sierra Club’s Hudson Mohawk Group and Atlantic Chapter, including chapter chair (2002-2003), chapter executive committee (2002-2004) and environmental justice chair (2009-present). He was elected to the national Sierra Club’s Board of Directors in 2011.

Throughout his tenure with the Club, Mair has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to grassroots action, environmental justice, and transforming the culture of the Sierra Club to make it – in his words – “a more welcoming environment to all people, regardless of their race or socio-economic status.”

Kai Newkirk, Co-Founder, 99 Rise

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Kai Newkirk is a progressive organizer and activist. Before helping to launch Democracy Spring and serving as Campaign Director, he co-founded 99Rise, a grassroots organization fighting to get big money out of American politics through nonviolent civil resistance. Kai first gained national attention for interrupting the US Supreme Court and demanding the Justices overturn Citizens United in February 2014. Following the SCOTUS disruption, he led 99Rise activists in the California March for Democracy and the subsequent sit-ins at the state capitol in the summer of 2014 – resulting in the passage of two democracy reform bills in the California Legislature. Most recently, Kai made news when he disrupted the first South Carolina Republican Presidential Debate with a demand for free and fair elections that give all Americans an equal voice. Before deciding to devote himself to the nonviolent struggle to save our democracy in the wake of the Occupy movement, Kai worked as a field deputy for a member of the Los Angeles City Council after working as a community organizer. He grew up in West Virginia and is currently based in Washington D.C.

Chris Shelton, President, Communications Workers of America

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Christopher Shelton was elected president of the Communications Workers of America by acclamation by delegates to the union’s 75th convention on June 8, 2015.

Prior to his election as president, Shelton served as vice president of CWA District 1, representing 160,000 members in more than 300 CWA locals in New Jersey, New York and New England.

He served as the Verizon Regional Bargaining Chair in 2000 and 2003, and overall Chair of Verizon bargaining for CWA District 1, District 2-13, IBEW New Jersey and New England in 2008 and 2011. He also chaired negotiations in New Jersey for 40,000 State Workers in 2008 and 2011.

Shelton started his union career when he went to work for New York Telephone in 1968 as an outside technician. He was elected a CWA Local 1101 shop steward in 1968 and served Local 1101 in various positions until December 1988 when he joined the CWA national staff.

He is a native of the Bronx, N.Y.

Sandra Steingraber, Biologist & Anti-Fracking Activist

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Sandra Steingraber, Ph.D. is a biologist, Distinguished Scholar in Residence at Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York, and an internationally recognized authority on the environmental links to cancer and human health.

A leader in movement to abolish fracking, she helped lead the successful campaign to ban fracking in New York State. Sandra co-founded New Yorkers Against Fracking and Concerned Health Professionals of New York, and currently serves as science advisor to Americans Against Fracking.

Reverend Ezra L. Tillman Jr., Pastor in Flint, Michigan

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“As a father, husband and pastor in Flint, Michigan, I have experienced personally and through the lives of my members and friends, the kind of tragedy that can happen when democracy is threatened. When elected persons place non-elected persons in positions to value cost-cutting budgets above the health and well-being of everyday people, democracy is threatened. I’m coming to D.C. for the Democracy Awakening because democracy is not for some but for all. This is a Humanity Matters issue. We stand united, with a unified message, that it’s time to choose the well-being of People over Politics.”

Pastor Ezra L. Tillman Jr. is a native of Detroit, Michigan. His childhood education began within the Detroit Public School System, in which he later completed his education in the Ferndale Public Schools.

In 2005, Pastor Tillman graduated from Midwestern Baptist Bible College with a Bachelors of Religious Education (B.R.E.). Pastor Tillman is currently a student at Andersonville Theological Seminary in the Master of Divinity- Pastoral Leadership program. In addition, he has also studied at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in Mill Valley, California; and later at Moody Bible Institute, Chicago, Illinois.

Pastor Tillman was spiritually nourished at The New Mt. Vernon Missionary Baptist Church under the pastoral leadership of the late Dr. John L. Webb, and was baptized in June of 1989. Pastor Tillman accepted the call of God into the Gospel ministry in 2002. In 2009, Pastor Tillman was asked to serve as Assistant Pastor at the Greater Middle Missionary Baptist Church in Royal Oak Township, Michigan. During his tenure there over 100 souls were added to the Kingdom of God within a year timeframe. In 2011, he was elected as the Pastor of Greater Peace Missionary Baptist Church in Cleveland Heights, Ohio and served there until being called to Pastor at First Trinity Missionary Baptist Church in Flint, Michigan in May of 2014. Since then, he has recently been appointed as Vice Moderator of the Great Lakes Baptist District Association.

During his time at First Trinity Missionary Baptist Church, Rev. Tillman has been a leader in responding to the Flint water crisis through both direct support of affected communities and public advocacy. Under his leadership, the church routinely sends volunteer teams to deliver water to senior homes, daycares, and other locations. The church has also served as a distribution site for water, baby wipes, and other supplies; opened its doors to town hall meetings about the water crisis, with over 500 people in attendance; and held a large-scale environmental justice rally.

Pastor Tillman is married to the former Ms. Catrina Jones and has been blessed with three sons: Ezra Lee Tillman III, Micah Nathaniel Tillman, and Isaac Christopher Tillman. He is a member of the Micah Leadership Council, a program of People For the American Way Foundation.

Kathleen Turner, Director and Award-winning Actress

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Kathleen Turner is a director and award-winning actress whose body of work spans film, TV, and Broadway. She is the author of Send Yourself Roses: Thoughts on My Life, Love, and Leading Roles.

A tireless advocate for a woman’s right to choose, she has served as chair of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America Board of Advocates and testified before Congress about family planning and contraception coverage. She serves on the boards of People For the American Way Foundation and Citymeals-on-Wheels NYC.

Ellen L. Weintraub, F.E.C. Commissioner

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Ellen L. Weintraub (@EllenLWeintraub) has been a commissioner on the United States Federal Election Commission since 2002 and twice chaired the Commission, in 2003 and 2013. Prior to her appointment to the FEC, Commissioner Weintraub was Of Counsel to the Political Law Group of Perkins Coie LLP and was Counsel to the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct for the U.S. House of Representatives (the House ethics committee). She is a native New Yorker who graduated from Yale University and Harvard Law School.

Robert Weissman, President, Public Citizen

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“Fundamental reform to expand and deepen our democracy, we know from America’s history, follows from one thing and one thing only: mass movements. With our democracy in crisis, now is the time for Americans to mobilize to ensure the right to vote and to get Big Money out of politics. Democracy Awakening is the start of something, not the end, as the democracy movement enters a new phase of intensity, mobilization, aggressive activism and disruption of business as usual.”

Robert Weissman is a staunch public interest advocate and activist, as well as an expert on a wide variety of issues ranging from corporate accountability and government transparency, to trade and globalization, to economic and regulatory policy.

Leading Public Citizen since 2009, Weissman has spearheaded the effort to loosen the chokehold corporations and the wealthy have over our democracy. Since 2010, two U.S. Supreme Court rulings opened the floodgates to unlimited election spending by corporations and the wealthy. Weissman has been outspoken about what these rulings mean to Americans and how We the People can fight to restore our democracy. Immediately after the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United, Weissman established the Democracy Is For People campaign, a project of Public Citizen, specifically to fight for a constitutional amendment to overturn the ruling and curb money in politics. In just a few years, support for amending the Constitution has blossomed.

Weissman also has been a strong voice in the fight against the Wall Street greed and recklessness that caused the global financial crisis and recession. After the 2008 financial collapse, Weissman pushed for strong legislation and regulatory action, specifically through the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, to stabilize the financial system, hold corporations and big banks accountable and help Main Street.

In 2010, Weissman led the charge to hold corporate oil giant BP responsible for the Deepwater Horizon explosion that killed 11 workers and set off the worst corporate-made ecological disaster in our nation’s history. Through a rigorous campaign, headed by Weissman and Public Citizen, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency banned BP from obtaining federal contacts during a probation period. Over the years, Weissman has pushed Congress to pass meaningful legislation to hold the oil industry accountable, reform the regulatory process, and protect workers and the environment.

Weissman also has expanded Public Citizen’s work to curb climate change and push for a single-payer, Medicare-for-all health care system. He is an expert in intellectual property issues associated with drug patents.

With a wide variety of expertise, Weissman has used his knowledge and skill to challenge abusive corporate practices in many different arenas with the common goal of protecting consumers and fighting for a government that works for the people.

Sunday, April 17: Rally for Democracy Performers

More to come! Check back soon.

Aztec Sun, Funk Band

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AZTEC SUN is an 8-piece, “Funk with Soul” band that blends a strong sense of groove and eclectic improvisation in their live performances. Their upbeat and infectious melodies inspire high-energy, albeit soulful, dance parties no matter what the venue. If James Brown and Sly Stone had a late night talk show, this would be the house band. Since its inception in 2013, AZTEC SUN has been captivating audiences in Washington, D.C. and making strides out of market in New York, Virginia and Maryland, often playing to sold-out, encore-clamouring audiences. With a studio E.P. in the works, AZTEC SUN will look to make a name for itself in 2016 and will continue to push the mantra behind their infamous live performances: “Whatever makes you dance”.

Rochelle Rice, Vocalist & Songwriter

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Rochelle Rice is a dynamic and compelling vocalist and songwriter, and has been named Best Jazz Vocalist by Washington City Paper Jazzy Awards (Washington, DC). Fresh from her residency at the prestigious arts center, Strathmore, her profound and flawless sound joins the singer/songwriters of the 1960s and the contemporary jazz vocalists of today.

As a consistent voice on Washington DC’s music scene, Rochelle has performed at some of the area’s top venues and events including The Kennedy Center, The Filmore, Twins Jazz Club, Amp by Strathmore, DC Jazz Festival, Strathmore Mansion, Capitol Bop’s Jazz Lofts, and the Hamilton.

Dedicated to social justice and music education, Rochelle has performed at protest rallies, and recently sang in honor of the work of Congressman John Lewis.

Rochelle received her B.M. in classical voice from East Carolina University, and attained her Master’s degree in jazz studies from Howard University. While at Howard University, Rochelle was a member of the multiple DownBeat Magazine award winning premiere jazz vocal ensemble, Afro Blue, and was the graduate teaching assistant to the award winning and well noted arranger, clinician, and jazz vocalist, Connaitre Miller. She is featured on the group’s recording, The Best is Yet to Come. Stepping outside of her jazz and soul background, Rochelle was the lead singer of DC’s only live house music band, House of Soul, and is featured as a vocalist and songwriter on the band’s album, Let’s Move.

Rochelle’s sound is a woven tapestry of jazz influenced contemporary pop and soul. Her highly personal, yet relatable original music reflects her deeply rooted love of jazz and singer/songwriters. While continuing to perform, write, and educate, Rochelle is preparing for her debut CD release, Wonder.

Sweet Honey in the Rock, Grammy Award-Winning A Capella Ensemble

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Sweet Honey In The Rock® remains among the most vibrant, versatile and ever relevant musical collectives in music today; both as a performance ensemble and as an ambassadorial African American organization founded on the triumvirate missions of empowerment, education and entertainment.

Currently consisting of members Carol Maillard, Louise Robinson, Nitanju Bolade Casel, Aisha Kahlil, American Sign Language interpreter Shirley Childress (who continues the group’s distinct and long-standing commitment to the deaf community), and featured musician Romeir Mendez on upright acoustic bass and electric bass, Sweet Honey In The Rock is a powerful and unique concert entity.

The Grammy Award® nominated female a cappella vocal quartet has a history of over four decades of distinguished service. They have created positive, loving, and socially conscious message music that matters as it pertains to spiritual fortification, and have consistently taken an activist stance toward making this planet a better place for all in which to live. Thus, the theme of the group’s 24th recording, #LoveInEvolution, Sweet Honey In The Rock’s first studio album in nine years, and most contemporary project to date.

#LoveInEvolution (released on Appleseed Recordings, (January 2016) in partnership with the group’s own She Rocks-5 label and distributed by Entertainment One) meshes Sweet Honey In The Rock’s finely honed a cappella, world, gospel, and folk roots with elements of hip hop, jazz and Rhythm & Blues. Many of the 14 songs are literally ripped from the headlines of today’s world news, railing against systemic injustice as it pertains to people of color—past and present—police brutality, gun control and the Black Lives Matter movement.

The album’s stark second single, “Second Line Blues”, roll calls the names of innocent people such as Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland and the children of Sandy Hook Elementary School that have fallen victim to murder. Oh, Sankofa”, details the 1920s Black Wall Street story of Greenwood, Oklahoma and its destruction at the hands of racists. ” The Living Waters”, speaks fluidly on the ravaging pollution of the world’s waterways and the senseless destruction of natural resources (such as the recent tragedy in Flint Michigan in which polluted water poisoned thousands of people and ruined the DNA of children there for generations to come).
Since its inception in 1973 in Washington, DC (founded by Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon as part of the D.C. Black Repertory Theater Company ) Sweet Honey In The Rock has performed in many of the world’s most prestigious venues on almost every continent for royal command concerts and festivals.

In 2015 alone, they embarked on four U.S. Embassy tours with performances and community outreach in, Ethiopia, Peru, Jamaica and Swaziland (and also toured Belize in 2014). In Swaziland, they were one of the headliners of the internationally acclaimed 9th Annual Mountain Bushfire Music Festival (which attracted 20,000 people). They were also featured at the 11th Annual Festival of Voices, in Hobart, Tasmania as part of an Australian tour that included concerts in Launceston, Melbourne and Sydney. Earlier this year, they made their 32nd appearance at New York’s historic Carnegie Hall (with noted guest artists trumpeter Terence Blanchard and violinist Regina Carter).

“We are constantly reevaluating how we can express concepts to uplift and create change through our music and concerts,” says founding member Carol Maillard.

Sunday, April 17: Faith Rally

Dennis J. Coker, Principal Chief, Lenape Indian Tribe

A lifelong resident of Kent County, Delaware, Dennis J. Coker has been honored to be elected Principal Chief of the Lenape Indian Tribe of Delaware since 1996. During his term successful collaborations with the Delaware State Historic Preservation Office and the Federal Census Bureau, his Tribe was awarded a Census Designation Area allowing Tribal members to include their ethnicity as Lenape on the 2010 Census for the first time in history.

Chief Coker’s service as current Chairman of the Confederation of Sovereign Nanticoke-Lenape Tribes of the Delaware Bay has allowed him to effect progress towards recognition of the Indigenous human rights of all member Tribes. His membership in the National Congress of the American Indian (NCIA) and founding membership in the Alliance of Colonial Era Tribes (ACET) has brought recognition, furthered understandings, and developed collaborations for the betterment of Delaware’s Indigenous population.

As a well respected public speaker and story teller, Chief Coker has helped educate diverse leadership as well as the public leading to Delaware’s General Assembly proclamation that all residents celebrate November as Native American Heritage Month and learn to honor “The First People of the First State.” In his well received keynote address at Delaware’s First Annual Environmental Justice Conference, Chief Coker challenged educators to learn and pass on the Lenape view of the interconnectedness of all living things, the sanctity of place, and the concept that man is but one small part of the web of life, not the center of it.

Collaborating with the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s (BOEM) Delaware Renewable Energy Task Force and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council of the Oceans (MARCO), Chief Coker’s rare sensitivity for the balance of ecology, economy and ethnicity makes him a valued member of many committees and task forces where he continues to work diligently with federal, state and local governments to improve the health and wellbeing of the Lenape People remaining in their original homeland, now known as the State of Delaware.

Imam Yahya Hendi, Chaplain, Georgetown University

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Imam Hendi is the Muslim chaplain at Georgetown University, the first American university to hire a full-time Muslim Chaplain. Imam Hendi is also the Imam of the Islamic Society of Fredrick and is the Muslim Chaplain at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, MD. He servers as a member and the spokesperson of the Islamic Jurisprudence Council of North America. He is an adjunct faculty member at McDaniel College in Westminster, MD. Imam Hendi holds a Master’s degree in Comparative Religions from Hartford Seminary in Connecticut and is currently working on his Ph.D. in Comparative Religion. In May 2002, Imam Hendi was selected by Hartford Seminary to receive its annual “James Gettemy Significant Ministry Award” for his dedication to his Ministry and for his work to promote peace-building between people of different religions.

Imam Hendi has written numerous publications on many topics, including women in Islam, women and gender relations in Islam, the coming of the Messiah, and religion and Islam in the United States. He has presented a multitude of interfaith and general lectures in the United States, Asia, Europe, central Asia, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East in the last eight years. He was one of the Muslim leaders who met with the President of the United States in the aftermath of September 11 tragedy. Hoping to create positive relationships between the followers of the three Abrahamic religions, Imam Hendi often visits and lectures at churches and synagogues. He also serves on national and international interfaith councils.

Imam Hendi offers Muslim retreats. He often leads Qiyamul-lail prayer and Jum’ah (Friday services). He also counsels students on academic, professional, and social issues. Imam Hendi believes that only with love and education can the world be a better place to live in.

Rev. William H. Lamar IV, Senior Pastor, Metropolitan A.M.E. Church

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The Rev. William H. Lamar IV was appointed Senior Pastor of Metropolitan A.M.E. Church in Washington D.C. by Bishop William P. DeVeaux, Presiding Prelate, on April 11, 2014, at the conclusion of the 64th Session of the Washington Annual Conference. Rev. Lamar had served previously as Senior Pastor of Turner Memorial A.M.E. Church in Hyattsville, Maryland, since 2011, after serving congregations in Monticello, Orlando, and Jacksonville, Florida.

As a pastor, Rev. Lamar is credited with strengthening disciples and communities through ministry development and community outreach and with successfully organizing for social justice, financial growth, and property acquisition.

Born in Macon, Georgia, Rev. Lamar grew up in the A.M.E. Church and as a child attended St. Paul A.M.E. Church, his family’s home church. He was educated in Catholic school from kindergarten through sixth grade. The Lamar family moved in 1986 to Jacksonville, Florida, and then in 1988 to Tallahassee, Florida, where Lamar graduated from high school in 1992. In 1996, Pastor Lamar graduated with magna cum laude honors from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, earning a degree in Public Management with a minor in Philosophy and Religion and a Certificate in Human Resource Management.

Rabbi Gilah Lagner, Educator

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Rabbi Gilah Langner serves as a rabbi and educator in Washington, DC. She also serves as a Jewish Social Service Agency chaplain in area hospitals, and co-director of the Washington Jewish Healing Network, where she leads bereavement support groups and mikveh healing workshops. She teaches at George Washington University, the Catholic University of America, and is co-editor of the journal Kerem: Creative Explorations in Judaism. Rabbi Langner leads meditation sessions at the Jewish Mindfulness Center of Washington at Adas Israel, and works as a rabbinic resource with Shoreshim in Reston, Virginia. She received rabbinic ordination in 2003 and is affiliated with the Jewish Renewal movement.

Rabbi Mordechai Liebling, Founder & Director, the Social Justice Organizing Program at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College

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Rabbi Mordechai Liebling has worked throughout his career toward tikkun olam, repair of the world. He is the first to direct RRC’s unique Social Justice Organizing Program; he leads the College’s initiative to invest rabbinical students with the clarity of purpose, vision and voice to become uniquely effective, spiritually strong leaders in the drive toward social justice and environmental sustainability.

Through his own experience, Liebling came to realize that spiritual leaders hold unique power to demonstrate and inspire ethical choices, and to lead a pursuit of justice fueled by caring rather than rage. Most recently he served as the executive vice president of Jewish Funds for Justice; prior to that organization’s merger with The Shefa Fund, he held the title Torah of Money Director at TSF, providing guidance to help people apply Jewish laws and values to how they spend, invest and donate. For 12 years he was the executive director of the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation, and he later served there as senior consultant. Before entering the rabbinical program at RRC, he worked as a community organizer.

Liebling was a member of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations for 12 years. He has served on the boards of various national and international non-profit organizations; currently he serves on the boards of the Faith and Politics Institute and Rabbis for Human Rights-North America. Liebling also is the president emeritus of the Shalom Center.

He has received awards from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, the Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility and Mazon. Liebling also has spoken out for justice for people with disabilities, and his family was the subject of the award-winning documentary film Praying With Lior.

He holds a Bachelor of Arts in government from Cornell University and Master of Arts in the history of American civilization, specializing in American progressive movements, from Brandeis University. Liebling is a 1985 graduate of RRC.

He has published articles in many publications, including Tikkun, Israel Horizons, Jewish Currents and The Reconstructionist.

Rev. Dr. Linda Olson Peebles, Minister of Faith in Action, Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington

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The Rev. Dr. Linda Olson Peebles was called to join the ministry team of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington in May 2001. She now serves as its Minister of Faith in Action.

She was ordained at the Mt. Vernon Unitarian Church in Alexandria, Va., in 1997. Before coming to the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington, Va., she served as Minister of Religious Education at Mt. Vernon.

Linda is a supporter of families and children, and has been a leader for education reform, women’s health rights, peace education, and sexuality education. She was instrumental in founding and supporting the growth of a broadbased power organization working for justice for poor and immigrant people in Northern Virginia – VOICE (Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement). She feels honored to connect with the UUCA leaders who support the Mayan people in Guatemala, through visits to that country, support of “accompaniers” to keep the people there safe, and contributions to the education of youth through scholarships and mentorships.

Nationally, Rev. Peebles has been a leader for Unitarian Universalism. She has served LREDA, the Liberal Religious Education Association, in a number of roles. She was elected to serve two 4-year terms on the denominational Board of Trustees of the UU Association. She has led in the work of anti-racism, serving on the national Journey Towards Wholeness Transformation Team. Her seminary, her professional organizations, and her denomination have all called on her to help nurture excellence in religious leadership. She has been a faculty member of UU Leadership Schools, at Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago, and at Wesley Seminary in Washington, DC; she has served on the national UU credentialing committees for religious educators and for ministers; and she now serves on the Board of the 1,800-member UU Ministers Association, currently as its President.

Linda holds a BA from the College of Wooster, in Ohio, and a Masters of Divinity and Doctor of Divinity from the Meadville Lombard Theological Seminary.

David Shneyer, Founder & Director, Am Kolel

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Rabbi David Shneyer, founder and director of Am Kolel, studied at the Jewish Theological Seminary and in Israel, earning degrees in Judaic studies from Rutgers Unversity and Baltimore Hebrew College. Rabbi David received his “semicha” ordination from the Aleph Seminary founded by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shlomi. The past president of Ohalah, the Rabbinic Association of Jewish Renewal Rabbis, Rabbi David is also accomplished musician and composer of new liturgical music. He is a founder of Jews United for Justice, active in the Chesapeake Climate Action Network and Rabbis for Human Rights. Rabbi David is also the spiritual leader of Kehila Chadasha a havurah-fellowship community based in Bethesda, Maryland.

Saturday, April 16: Teach-In Panelists

More to come! Check back soon.

Johnny Barnes, Trial Attorney, Living with the Law

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Johnny Barnes is the self-described “People’s Lawyer” who spent more than a quarter of a century in various Congressional staff positions, including service as Chief of Staff for three Members of Congress. In addition, he has taught law and college courses at area schools and has practiced law in the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands. Of his time spent in the Virgin Islands as a trial lawyer, Barnes unapologetically states, “Someone had to do it. So I made the sacrifice.” Other related experience includes his appointment as the first male Member of the D.C. Commission for Women; a Member of the D.C. Commission on Residential Mortgage Investment; a Member of the D.C. Human Rights Commission; and an attorney on a Special Task Force that addressed ill treatment of small Minority farmers, resulting in a resolution supported by the Congressional Republican Leadership in which billions of dollars was slated to flow to the Minority farmers. Barnes is particularly proud of the role he played in helping to create the “Street Law” Program at Georgetown University Law Center; a program that began in two D.C. High Schools and is now taught throughout the United States in schools and prisons and in thirty-five foreign countries.

A Distinguished Military Graduate, Commissioned and Honorably Discharged, Regular Army, Combat Engineer Officer, Barnes graduated, Cum Laude, from Central State University and received his Juris Doctor Degree from Georgetown University Law Center. He is the Father of two grown sons, a grown daughter and four grandchildren; one who is named in part after his Mother, Pinkie, who Barnes believes was a modern day Saint on earth. Barnes recently retired after serving a decade as the Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union for the Nation’s Capital. He is currently in private law practice as a trial lawyer, taking and litigating select “cause” cases. During his time at the ACLU-NCA, he led several successful efforts to conserve the Constitution and preserve the Bill of Rights. Among those efforts were resisting the proliferation of video surveillance cameras in D.C.; fighting against proposed warrantless searches by the D.C. Police; standing up against unconstitutional police checkpoints in the Trinidad Neighborhood; and pushing back against the Secure Communities program in behalf of D.C.’s Immigrant population. Barnes worked with several interns in updating and completing a law review article on D.C. Statehood, the unfinished human rights business in America. He continues to devote much of his time to the quest for D.C. Statehood and predicts it will happen in our lifetime. In private practice, as a young lawyer, Attorney Barnes filed and with the help of other lawyers won the very first TOPA Case (Tenant Opportunity to Purchase). Barnes successfully represented one of the D.C. Statehood Protesters facing two criminal charges. He also successfully represented Dick Gregory who was arrested and charged for protesting against BP’s failure to reimburse small, minority business owners after the Gulf Coast disaster. Fighting many lawyers for the Government and a private law firm, Barnes stopped the construction of a Bus Parking Lot in Ivy City. Recently, Barnes successfully represented the Washington Informer Newspaper when the Government refused it an advertising Contract because the Newspaper “appealed primarily to one ethnic group.” He is Editor and Publisher of Living with the Law, an online periodical found at livingwiththelaw.com that seeks to provide ordinary people with information about the law. And, Attorney Barnes was Lead Counsel in the case seeking to stop the ill-advised school closings affecting people of color and the disabled.

Medea Benjamin, Co-founder, CODEPINK & Global Exchange

Medea Benjamin is the co-founder of the women-led peace group CODEPINK and the co-founder of the human rights group Global Exchange. She has been an advocate for social justice for more than 40 years. Described as “one of America’s most committed — and most effective — fighters for human rights” by New York Newsday, and “one of the high profile leaders of the peace movement” by the Los Angeles Times, she was one of 1,000 exemplary women from 140 countries nominated to receive the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the millions of women who do the essential work of peace worldwide.

Since the September 11, 2001 tragedy, Medea has been working to promote a U.S. foreign policy that would respect human rights and gain us allies instead of contributing to violence and undermining our international reputation. She has organized many protests against the U.S. interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria. Medea has also been on the forefront of the anti-drone movement. Her direct questioning of President Obama during his 2013 foreign policy address, as well as her trips to Pakistan and Yemen, helped shine a light on the innocent people killed by US drone strikes.

She is the author of eight books, including Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control,and her articles appear regularly in outlets such as The Huffington Post, CommonDreams, Alternet, The Other Words, and TeleSUR.

Phyllis Bennis, Fellow, Institute for Policy Studies

Fellow Phyllis Bennis directs the New Internationalism Project at IPS, working as a writer, activist and analyst on Middle East and UN issues. She is also a fellow of the Transnational Institute in Amsterdam. In 2001 she helped found and remains active with the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. She works with many anti-war organizations, and writes and speaks widely across the U.S. and around the world as part of the global peace movement. She has served as an informal adviser to several top UN officials on Middle East and UN democratization issues.

Phyllis has written and edited eleven books. Among them are her new Understanding ISIS & the New Global War on Terror: A Primer, the 6th updated edition of her popular Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict, as well as Before & After: US Foreign Policy and the War on Terror and Challenging Empire: How People, Governments and the UN Defy U.S. Power.

Lindsey Berger, Grassroots Campaign Strategist, UnKoch My Campus

Since graduating from Missouri State University in 2009, Lindsey has been supporting students across the country in launching and running strategic grassroots campaigns to bring about positive change. Through skills trainings and direct support, Lindsey has equipped hundreds of students on dozens of campuses with the campaign, research and organizational skills needed to achieve short-term goals, while also building sustainable networks for the long haul. While most of Lindsey’s energy has been devoted to transitioning the aging fossil fuel fleet to renewable energy sources, she has recently taken an interest in issues of higher education (putting to use her education degree more and more each day). Lindsey’s greatest passion is empowering young leaders to find the courage to stand up and take action in creating the change they want to see.LIndsey Berger Staff Photo in the Greenpeace Office in Washington, D.C., March 10, 2016.

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Ari Berman, Senior Contributing Writer, the Nation

Ari Berman is a senior contributing writer for The Nation magazine and a Fellow at The Nation Institute. His new book, Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America, was published in August 2015 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. He has written extensively about American politics, civil rights, and the intersection of money and politics. His stories have also appeared in The New York Times, Rolling Stone, and The Guardian, and he is a frequent guest and commentator on MSNBC and NPR. His first book, Herding Donkeys: The Fight to Rebuild the Democratic Party and Reshape American Politics, was published in 2010 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Emma Boorboor, Election Reform Campaign Director, U.S. PIRG

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Emma Boorboor is the Election Reform Campaign Director for U.S. PIRG. In this role, she develops and coordinates federal and state level campaigns for election modernization to ensure voting is easily accessible for every American so every voice is heard.

Prior to coming to U.S. PIRG, Ms. Boorboor learned firsthand about the importance of representative and responsive democracy with Green Corps, the field school for environmental organizing, on campaigns for the Sierra Club, Food & Water Watch, and Environment New York.

She graduated Summa Cum Laude from American University where she majored in Anthropology and International Relations.

John Bonifaz, Co-Founder & President, Free Speech For People

John Bonifaz is the Co-Founder and President of Free Speech For People. Mr. Bonifaz previously served as the Executive Director and then General Counsel of the National Voting Rights Institute, an organization he founded in 1994, and as the Legal Director of Voter Action, a national election integrity organization. Mr. Bonifaz has been at the forefront of key voting rights battles in the country for more than two decades: pioneering a series of court challenges, applying political equality principles, that have helped to redefine the campaign finance question as a basic voting rights issue of our time; initiating and leading a legal strategy for revisiting Buckley v. Valeo in the courts; leading the fight in the federal courts in Ohio for a recount of the 2004 presidential vote in that state; and prevailing in federal court in Pennsylvania on the eve of the 2008 election to ensure that Pennsylvania voters would receive emergency paper ballots when they faced long lines caused by voting machine breakdowns.

In addition to his work in the field of voting rights and democracy advocacy, Mr. Bonifaz has also served as co-counsel in international human rights and environmental litigation, including litigation to hold the Chevron-Texaco oil company accountable for its widespread destruction of the Ecuadorian Amazon. Mr. Bonifaz is a 1992 cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School and a 1999 recipient of a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship.

Brenda Brink, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement

Brenda Brink – a member of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (Iowa CCI) is a dietician from Huxley, Iowa. Brenda lives half a mile from the proposed Bakken Pipeline, which would pump over 500,000 barrels of fracked Bakken crude underneath Iowa’s farm fields and waterways every day. Brenda has been a leader in fighting to stop the pipeline, helping organize landowner and community resistance. She also is a member of Iowa CCI’s citizen lobby team, where she works to take on big ag and big oil by pushing for small dollar public financing legislation as well as other People & Planet First Policies.

Daniel Carillo, Executive Director, Enlace

Daniel has over a decade of experience organizing in Los Angeles, the Bay Area, Chicago, New York, and Internationally. He has organized workers, negotiated contracts, researched and led campaigns for AFSCME, SEIU, and CWA. Daniel has worked in his community around issues of immigration, mass incarceration, LGBTQ, and environmental justice. He is currently the Executive Director for Enlace and based out of New York City.

John P. Comer, Lead Organizer, Communities United

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John P. Comer, MPA is the Lead Organizer for Communities United, a grassroots, membership organization of low income Marylanders building power to win transformative change for social, economic, and racial justice.John’s many years of organizing include canvassing and community organizing with ACORN in NY and NC, directing a North Carolina effort to organize exonerees and murder victims’ families against the death penalty, and field organizing for the National NAACP. John is the creative force and chief strategist behind Communities United’s organizing campaigns, most recently the successful effort to expand voting rights to all Maryland citizens on release from prison. He has successfully recruited, trained, and continues to mentor many of CU’s core leaders and organizing staff.

Derek Cressman, Author, When Money Talks

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Derek Cressman began working professionally to reduce big money in politics in 1995 with such nonpartisan organizations as Common Cause and the Public Interest Research Group. As US PIRG’s democracy program director, he was the first professional advocate in Washington, DC, to support a constitutional amendment to limit campaign spending.

As director of Common Cause’s Amend 2012 campaign, Derek was the architect behind voter instruction measures in Montana, Colorado, Massachusetts, and California, where voters demanded Congress pass an amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. FEC.

In 2014, Derek Cressman ran for California secretary of state. Though he didn’t win his election, the legislature responded to his campaign, and the efforts of others, by referring a question to the ballot instructing Congress to overturn the Citizens United ruling—the central plank of Derek’s campaign platform. Both during and after his campaign, Derek joined the March for Democracy from Los Angeles to Sacramento, culminating in a nonviolent civil disobedience where many activists were arrested for staging a sit-in at the state capitol.

Derek has testified before committees of the United States Senate, California State Assembly and Senate, and California Fair Political Practices Commission; served as an expert in federal litigation; and authored and coauthored numerous reports as well as one previous book, The Recall’s Broken Promise: How Big Money Still Runs California Politics. Derek has appeared extensively in the media, including the Associated Press, Roll Call, The Hill, National Journal, USA Today, the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor, Washington Times, Boston Globe, San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News, Sacramento Bee, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Austin American-Statesman, Orlando Sentinel, Albuquerque Journal, and Kansas City Star.

Damon L. Daniels, Campaigns & Outreach Associate, Demos

Damon joined Demos in November of 2013. Before Demos, Damon worked for the New York Times, moderating online reader feedback for articles, blogs and interactive forums throughout the paper’s website. Prior to this, Damon served as a New York City Teaching Fellow for the city’s Department of Education. In his spare time, Damon also serves as a College Readiness Instructor for educational enrichment organization Creative Connections.

Damon holds dual B.A. degrees in Psychology and American History from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, an M.S. in Education from Mercy College, and is working towards completing a M.A. from the Gallatin School at New York University, with concentrations within Politics, Public Policy and Media Studies.

Jerame Davis, Executive Director, Pride at Work

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Jerame Davis is a long-time LGBTQ and labor rights activist. His first campaign was in 1999 when he led a coalition of labor unions and social justice organizations – including Pride at Work, the organizations he now leads – to develop a successful campaign against an employer who fired him and two other workers because they are gay.

Just a year later, Davis staged his hometown’s first LGBTQ rally and through that effort co-founded and led the city’s first LGBTQ rights organization. Davis’ activism and influence expanded when he moved to the state capital in 2001. After co-founding another activist group, he joined the board of Indiana Equality, a statewide coalition of LGBTQ and civil rights groups and led their communications strategy for nearly two years.

He was also a leader in the Democratic Party as an officer of the Indiana Stonewall Democrats and was appointed to represent the state as a member of the Rules Committee for the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver. In 2010, he moved to Washington, DC to lead the National Stonewall Democrats where he helped make history once again by working with the Democratic National Committee to coordinate efforts of Stonewall Democrats around the country to send a record number of openly LGBTQ delegates to the 2012 Democratic National Convention.

Davis’ personal papers and mementos from his career in activism have been archived by the Smithsonian Museum of American History. He continues his activism for LGBTQ equality and labor rights in his current role as the Executive Director of Pride At Work, the only national group dedicated to bringing together the LGBTQ and labor movements.

Tam Doan, Research and Policy Director, Every Voice Center

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Since joining Every Voice Center in 2011, Tam’s research and analysis have supported communications, policy development, and campaigns. Prior to Every Voice Center, she worked at the Center for Community Change where she analyzed policies for health care, immigration, and job creation campaigns, and managed a low-wage worker financial services project. She has also worked in the Vietnamese immigrant community in Boston and taught eighth grade math and science. She is a graduate of MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning and Swarthmore College. Tam lives in New Mexico with her partner Brian.

Chris Melody Fields Figueredo, Legal Mobilization & Strategic Campaigns Manager, Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights

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Chris Melody Fields joined the Lawyers’ Committee in December 2011, serving as the Election Protection campaign manager to ensure the successful execution of the 2012 program. She continues to work with the Voting Rights Project to combat efforts to curb access to the ballot box, expand voting rights and create tools to educate and empower voters. As the Lawyers’ Committee’s lead organizer, she works with the organizing and tech team to develop strategies to address critical civil rights issues and implement other programs like the Parental Readiness and Empowerment Program (PREP).

Prior to joining the Lawyers’ Committee, Fields worked in the government affairs division for a local biological resource center on their global health and biosecurity agenda. Before that, Ms. Fields spent two years as the Outreach Director for Common Cause working to advance their democracy reform agenda and pass the Fair Elections Now Act that would create publicly financed campaigns for members of Congress. She got her start in community organizing and issue advocacy as a Program Specialist for DC ParentSmart, a nonprofit working to help DC parents navigate the DC public and charter school education system. A seasoned campaign organizer, she has served in numerous roles for different political campaigns across the country including as the Iowa Deputy Political Director for a 2008 presidential campaign, campaign manager for an Iowa State Senate race in 2006, and a field organizer for a 2004 U.S. Senate campaign in South Carolina.

Born in Venezuela and raised in Texas, she graduated from Austin College with a B.A. in English Literature and Anthropology.

Franklin Garcia, US Representative (Shadow) for the District of Columbia

Franklin Garcia was elected US Representative (Shadow) for the District of Columbia on November 4, 2014. He is working to bring full democracy to more than 650,000 people in our nation’s capital by helping make the District of Columbia the 51st State in the union. He is part of a Statehood Congressional Delegation that includes two Senators and one US Representative.

Representative Garcia is the former President and founder of the DC Latino Caucus, and current President of the non-profit DC Latino Leadership Council. He has held key positions in the campaigns of Hillary Clinton, former DC Mayor Adrian Fenty, Dominican President Leonel Fernandez, and other politicians. Representative Garcia serves on a number of Boards and Committees and served on the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington Host Committee.

Representative Garcia came to live in Washington, DC with his parents and sister at the age of 10. He attended public school in Montgomery County, Maryland where he graduated from Montgomery Blair High School. He holds an undergraduate degree in Finance from the George Washington University and a Master of Arts degree in Financial Economics for Public Policy from the American University. He is the founder of the DCiReporter TV Show, writes for a Spanish language newspaper and is a Huffington Post and Examiner blogger. He is an active member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and lives in the Woodrige neighborhood in Ward 5

April Goggans, Core Organizer, Black Lives Matter

April Goggans is a sociologist, organizer, disrupter, mother of one, proud southeast DC resident and a Core Organizer with Black Lives Matter DC. Her organizing work focuses on community power building, affordable housing and tenants rights, direct action organizing, policing and police brutality. She recently launched #KeepDC4Me, a coalition working to confront, disrupt and dismantle systems of oppression and state sanctioned violence that displace Black people and incite intra-community violence in southeast DC through political education, building community power, and direct action.

April currently serves as a Management Analyst at a federal agency. Previous to that she interned for the National Association of Blacks for Reparations in America and the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund. She also served on the board of directors of the National Association for Ethnic Studies. Additionally, April served as a charter school administrator and vocational specialist with vulnerable and dropout populations, and as a residential counselor for the care of pregnant and parenting, teens and their children.

As Tenants’ Association president at Marbury Plaza Apartments in southeast DC, April led a two-year rent strike resulting in a historic settlement with the owners, Attorney General of DC, and the Director of the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs securing $5 million in property repairs and a 50 percent rent abatement.

April is also a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and a Union chapter Vice- President At-Large, Steward and Legislative Coordinator. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Black Studies, a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology, and a master’s degree in Clinical Sociology from the University of Northern Colorado. She is a Stryker Scholar and the recipient of two Departmental Scholar awards. She works and plays in Washington D.C. with her 18-year-old daughter.

Rebecca Green, DC Outreach Coordinator, CODEPINK

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Rebecca Green is the DC Outreach Coordinator for CODEPINK. She has worked to build the peace contingent within the greater Democracy Awakening movement. She writes on a multitude of social justice issues ranging from war and peace to gendered violence to mass incarceration. She is currently working as an editor on Medea Benjamin’s book about Saudi Arabia that will be released in late May. She is working towards a degree in sociology with a minor in women’s, gender, and sexuality studies at Northeastern University.

Emilia Gutierrez, Director of Digital Strategy, Center for Community Change

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Emilia Gutierrez is the Director of Digital Strategy at Center for Community Change. She serve as digital point of contact for CCC’s economic justice, childcare, and environmental justice campaigns. Previously, as a Campaign Manager at Change.org, the world’s largest petition platform, Emilia works to empower citizen activists and non-profit organizations to use Change.org’s tools and platform to successfully launch and win campaigns.

Courtney Hight, Director, Sierra Club's Democracy Program

Courtney Hight is the Director of the Sierra Club’s Democracy program. She began organizing around environmental issues as a student at the University of Oregon, where she helped develop a campaign to make her campus more energy efficient. Since graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies, Courtney has worked with the Oregon Student Association, the United States Student Association, the Obama campaign, the White House Council on Environmental Quality, and Energy Action Coalition.

As Director of the Democracy program for Sierra Club, Courtney currently implements the Democracy Initiative program by working closely with NAACP, Communication Workers of America, and Greenpeace to engage a broad base of labor unions, women’s organizations, environmental organizations, civil rights groups and money-in-politics organizations to address root problems facing our democracy.

Erik Lampmann, Public Affairs and Policy Manager, Young People For

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Erik Lampmann is Young People For’s Public Affairs and Policy Manager. In that capacity, he directs all of YP4’s communications and policy products. He also serves as the primary liaison to YP4’s 1,600+ member network of grassroots organizers, working with them to hold the progressive movement accountable for creating lasting, meaningful change. Erik recently served as the Klagsbrun Fellow in the Alliance for Justice’s (AFJ) Outreach Department. His principle responsibility at AFJ was building a national campaign around AFJ’s “First Monday” film, Lost in the Fine Print. Before AFJ Erik served as one of six student thought-leaders within the nation’s largest student think-tank, the Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network. Erik has conducted grant-funded research on democratic theory, spent time at the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society at UC Berkeley, and completed an honors thesis project on the changing French legal landscape for LGBTQ people. Erik has sat on the Board of GLSEN for Richmond, won honors for his LGBTQ organizing from Virginia Pride, and worked as a 2011 Young People For (YP4) Fellow. His writing has appeared in The Nation, [Young]ist, The Indypendent, The NextNewDeal, and Mic.com. Erik graduated Phi Beta Kappa summa cum laude from the University of Richmond with majors in Philosophy, Politics, Economics, and Law (PPEL) and French. You can reach Erik at elampmann@pfaw.org.

Katy Kiefer, Activist Network manager, Food & Water Watch

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Kathy Kiefer is the Activist Network Manager at Food & Water Watch. She uses online tools to engage volunteers across the country around key issues affecting our food and water. Katy has worked to develop a program of scalable leadership development, with a focus on providing remote trainings and opportunities to take impactful actions beyond clicktivism.

Michael D. Knox, Ph.D., Chair and Founder, US Peace Memorial Foundation, Inc.

Michael D. Knox grew up on Grosse Ile, Michigan and earned his Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Michigan in 1974. A Distinguished Professor Emeritus; Affiliate Distinguished Professor, Department of Internal Medicine; and Affiliate Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Global Health at the University of South Florida (USF), he is currently Chair of the US Peace Memorial Foundation and Editor of the US Peace Registry.

Spanning over 40 years, his academic career has focused on issues of peace, ethics, disease prevention, death, and mental health. He has been elected to a variety of leadership positions nationwide and authored over 125 scholarly presentations and publications, including several books and book chapters.
His long-standing peace and antiwar activities began in 1965 in opposition to the war in Vietnam. As a delegate to the 20th National Student Congress, he introduced a successful resolution to hold an antiwar demonstration in August of 1967 in front of the White House. In 1970, Knox co-founded a draft counseling center and, in 1971, he blew the whistle on classified weapon systems research at the University of Michigan. Since then, he has continued to engage in speeches, debates, interviews and other actions regarding peace. He is an invited speaker nationwide on the topics of “building a culture of peace” and “honoring peace leadership”.

Dr. Knox was awarded the 2007 Anthony J. Marsella Prize for the Psychology of Peace and Social Justice at the 115th Annual Meeting of the American Psychological Association. The award is presented annually by Psychologists for Social Responsibility and recognized him for more than four decades of outstanding contributions to peace and humanitarian assistance. His work promotes cultural change, raising our awareness of past efforts towards peace and increasing future opportunities to challenge the promotion of war.

Delvone Michael, Executive Director, DC Working Families

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Delvone Michael was named Executive Director of DC Working Families in May 2013. Previously Delvone was Program Director and Market Data Coordinator at OurDC. While at OurDC, he headed the organizations work with low-wage workers demanding higher wages from federal contractors and played an intricate role in their corporate accountability campaigns.

Delvone has worked for national nonprofit and political communications organizations, including USAction and Mack/Crounse where he oversaw national public education and voting rights programs and worked with federal, state, and local candidates.

Delvone received his B.A from Norfolk State University. He earned his Juris Doctorate from the University of Arkansas School of Law. In 2013 Delvone earned a dual Master’s Degree in Applied Politics and Campaign Management at George Washington University.

Greg Moore, Executive Director, NAACP National Voter Fund

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As Executive Director, Mr. Moore is responsible for the overall coordination of national programs designed to promote voter rights, election reform and issues that are critical to the NAACP and its branches, while also increasing voter education and participation among African Americans and communities of color throughout the US.

Mr. Moore has a long history of political empowerment and advocacy, serving in a number of leadership positions throughout his 28 years of issue advocacy. Most recently, Mr. Moore served five years as the Chief of Staff to the Dean of the Congressional Black Caucus, US Representative John Conyers (D-14, MI). He served as Deputy Political Director for the Democratic National Committee, where he was instrumental in developing the Voter Registration and outreach programs while also overseeing Base Vote Constituency programs and activities nationally. While at the DNC, he also served as the Liaison to the Training division and targeted Coordinated Campaigns, strategic planning and implementation of the 1996 Clinton-Gore re-election campaign.

Mr. Moore has also served as the Executive Director of the Citizenship Education Fund, the civic educational arm of the National Rainbow Coalition. Private sector involvement includes the founding of GTM Consulting Services, a political consulting firm, where he served as its President and CEO, and TriCom Associates Advertising Firm, where he served as Senior Vice President for Government Relations. Mr. Moore received his Bachelor of Science Degree from the College of Communications, Ohio University.

Jessica Newman, Coordinator of Democracy Programs, Communications Workers of America

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Jessica Newman is the Coordinator of Democracy Programs at the Communications Workers of America. In this role she advocates on behalf of CWA in front of Congress and the Administration on a portfolio of issues including campaign finance reform, voting rights, and family economic policies. Jessica received her Bachelors degree in Social Relations and Policy from James Madison College at Michigan State University, and holds a J.D. from Washington University in St. Louis School of Law.

Nick Nyhart, President, Every Voice Center

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A three-decade veteran of social change politics, issue advocacy, grassroots organizing, and nonprofit management, Nick brings a wealth of experience to the national reform movement. Following the 1992 elections, Nick became the director of the Northeast Action Money and Politics Project, a six-state venture that laid the groundwork for Maine’s 1996 breakthrough victory for public financing. In 1997, Nick joined scores of state and national money-and-politics activists to found Public Campaign (which later became Every Voice Center), where he served as national field director and deputy director before assuming the group’s helm in 2000. At Every Voice Center, Nick has worked to win cutting edge state reform efforts and has organized a number of innovative national collaborations to promote publicly financed elections at the federal level.

Elise Orlick, Democracy Associate, U.S. PIRG

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Elise is the Democracy Associate for U.S. PIRG, based in Washington, D.C. She has been working with campus PIRG chapters and other students to bring hundreds of students to the Democracy Awakening. During the rest of the year, she works on campaigns to get big money out of politics by overturning Citizens United and requiring disclosure of corporate political spending.

She graduated cum laude from the College of William & Mary in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in Government and French.

Will Roberts, Legislative Director, Every Voice Center

Will Roberts helps craft and gain support for various campaign finance reform proposals at the state and national level. Will primarily conducts legislative outreach and advocacy activities with congressional staff in addition to members of national organizations and key constituent groups. Having served as a legislative assistant and legal advisor in the House of Representatives, his knowledge and understanding of the legislative process, as well as his relationships with congressional staff, help advance Every Voice Center’s legislative goals. In his spare time, Will enjoys cheering for the Philadelphia Eagles and civic engagement. Will earned a J.D. and a B.A. in Political Science from Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Zachary Roth, National Reporter, MSNBC
Zack Roth, Author Portrait. 16 July 2015. Brooklyn NY

Zachary Roth is a national reporter at MSNBC, focusing on voting and democracy, and is the author of “The Great Suppression: Voting Rights, Corporate Cash, and the Conservative Assault on Democracy,” to be published by Crown in August 2016. Since 2012, he has produced hundreds of online, video, and TV stories on the erosion of voting rights in America. Many of his feature stories have highlighted the inspiring grassroots efforts of ordinary Americans to protect and expand democracy, from Texas to Iowa to North Carolina.

Zack has also written for The Atlantic, The New Republic, Slate, Salon, The Daily Beast, and Guardian America, and has previously worked at Talking Points Memo, Yahoo News, The Washington Monthly, and Columbia Journalism Review. In addition to appearing frequently on MSNBC, he has also been a guest on CNN, Fox News, C-SPAN, and Al-Jazeera. He lives with his family in Brooklyn, New York.

Rep. John Sarbanes, U.S. Representative for Maryland's 3rd Congressional District

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Congressman John Sarbanes has represented Maryland’s Third District in the United States Congress since 2007. With big money influencing politics and the American government more than ever before, Congress’ growing dependence on campaign contributions from the wealthy and well-connected is drowning out the voices of everyday Americans. As a result, the public’s trust in government is eroding. To counter the influence of big money in politics, Congressman Sarbanes is leading the effort in Congress to build a democracy of the many, not the money. The Government By the People Act (H.R. 20), which was authored and introduced by the Congressman, would establish a citizen-led alternative to the current big-money-dominated campaign financing system.

Hilary O. Shelton, Washington Bureau Director and Senior Vice President for Advocacy, NAACP

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Hilary 0. Shelton, presently serves as the Director to the NAACP’s Washington Bureau / Senior Vice President for Advocacy and Policy. The Washington Bureau is the Federal legislative and national public policy division of the over 500,000- member, 2,200-membership unit, national civil rights organization. In this capacity, Hilary is responsible for advocating the federal public policy issue agenda of the oldest, largest, and most widely recognized civil rights organization in the United States to the U.S. Government. Hilary’s government affairs portfolio includes crucial issues such as affirmative action, equal employment protection, access to quality education, stopping gun violence, ending racial profiling, abolition of the death penalty, access to comprehensive healthcare, voting rights protection, federal sentencing reform and a host of civil rights enforcement, expansion and protection issues.

Prior to serving as director to the NAACP Washington Bureau, Hilary served in the position of Federal Liaison/Assistant Director to the Government Affairs Department of The College Fund/UNCF, also known as The United Negro College Fund in Washington, D.C. In this capacity, Hilary worked with Senate and House Members of the U.S. Congress, Federal Agencies and Departments, college and university presidents and faculty members, as well as the White House and various government agencies to secure the survival, growth and educational programming excellence of the 40 private historically black colleges and universities throughout the United States.

Prior to working for The College Fund/UNCF, Hilary served as the Federal Policy Program Director to the 8.5 million-member United Methodist Churches’ social justice advocacy agency, The General Board of Church & Society. In this capacity, Hilary advocated for the national and international United Methodist Churches’ public policy agenda affecting a wide range of civil rights and civil liberties issues including preserving equal opportunity programs such as affirmative action, securing equal high quality public education for all Americans, guaranteeing greater access to higher education and strengthening our nation’s historically Black colleges and universities, abolition of the death penalty, reforming the criminal justice system, voting rights protection and expansion, gun control and a host of other social justice policy concerns.

Hilary serves on a number of national boards of directors including, The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, The Center for Democratic Renewal, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, and the Congressional Black Caucus Institute among many others.

Playing an integral role in the crafting and final passage of such crucial federal legislation as the Civil Rights Act of 1991, Hilary was also instrumental in ushering through to passage, The Civil Rights Restoration Act, The Violence Against Women Act, The Hate Crimes Statistics Act, The Native American Free Exercise of Religion Act, The National Voter Registration Act, The National Assault Weapons Ban, The Brady Handgun Law, Reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act, the Help America Vote Act and many other crucial laws and policy measures affecting the quality of our lives and equality in our society.

Hilary has humbly received a number of awards and recognitions for his unwavering dedication to the mission and goals of the NAACP. Among the many awards to which he is most grateful for receiving, Mr. Shelton is the proud recipient of the National NAACP Medgar W. Evers Award for Excellence, the highest honor bestowed upon a national professional staff member of the NAACP for Outstanding Service, Sincere Dedication and Commitment to the Mission of the NAACP, the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee’s Excellence in Advocacy Award, the Religious Action Center’s Civil Rights Leadership Award in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the Religious Action Center awards the Civil Rights Leadership Award to outstanding leaders in the black and Jewish communities, 2006 NCADP 30th Anniversary Award as well as the Congressional Black Caucus’ Chairman’s Award In Recognition and Appreciation for Dedication, Leadership and Commitment to Advancing the Cause of Civil Rights for All Americans.

Born in St. Louis, Missouri, to a family of 6 brothers and sisters, Hilary holds degrees in political science, communications, and legal studies from Howard University in Washington, D.C., the University of Missouri in St. Louis, and Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, respectively.

Hilary presently lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife Paula Young Shelton and their three sons, masters Caleb Wesley, Aaron Joshua, and Noah Ottis Young Shelton.

Stacey Long Simmons, Director of Public Policy and Government Affairs, National LGBTQ Task Force

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Stacey’s the Director of Public Policy and Government Affairs department, and works to advance LGBT equality through a progressive social change agenda that includes among other things ending discrimination in employment, housing, health care and education; expanding marriage equality; and pursuing protections from violence or hatred. Stacey is active in numerous civic and community groups including past chair of the DC Commission for Women.

Andrew Snyder, Campus Outreach Lead, TurboVote

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Andrew Snyder has worked in the public sector, on campaigns, and in digital political communications professionally since 2010, with a pit stop to get a Masters in Public Policy in 2015. He now works as the TurboVote Campus Outreach Lead at the Brooklyn non-profit civic tech shop Democracy Works, where he manages the TurboVote College Partnership program.

Francoise Stovall, Digital Director, Every Voice Center

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Francoise oversees content and strategy for web and social media, online advocacy, and online fundraising. Before joining Every Voice, she spent five years at NDI working to support democracy around the world. Before that, she was a field organizer and campaign manager for candidates in Iowa, Pennsylvania, Florida, and DC.

Ericka Taylor, Executive Director, DC Fair Budget Coalition

Ericka Taylor is the Executive Director of the DC Fair Budget Coalition. Prior to joining FBC, she served as the Development Director for The Other 98%, a netroots organization dedicated to ending the corporate control of the U.S. political system. She worked as a community organizer with the Washington, DC chapter of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) and trained young people and youth organizers as the Southeast Regional Program Coordinator for YouthAction, based in Albuquerque, NM. Beginning in 2000, Ericka joined the philanthropic community, working as a Program Officer at the Public Welfare Foundation in Washington, DC, where she directed funding to organizations working on issues that included low-wage worker organizing, living wages, affordable housing, homelessness, predatory lending and fair taxation. Ericka left Public Welfare to return to grassroots work and became the Organizing Coordinator for ONE DC. In 2012, she earned a Master of Fine Arts degree, with a concentration in fiction, from the Inland Northwest Center for Writers, and she holds a BA in English from Cornell University. She has served as a member of the Board of Directors or Steering Committees of the National Organizers Alliance, Progressive Technology Project, and Youth Education Alliance and is currently a board member of the National Priorities Project and Western States Center.

Who’s Risking Arrest?

For a complete list of who got arrested during the action, click here.

Reverend Dr. William Barber II, Pastor & Moral Monday Architect

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“Fifty years after the signing of the Voting Rights Act, we have seen the Supreme Court nullify its preclearance protections while congressional leadership has refused to fix it for more than two years. This is immoral, an attack on our democracy, and a threat to the furtherance of every other progressive ideal – we cannot stand quietly by. We must now stand up all over the country and reawaken the spirit of true democracy.”

The Rev. Dr. William Barber II is Pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church, Disciples of Christ in Goldsboro, North Carolina which has a deep social justice ministry and has engaged in more than 12 million dollars of community development. He is the architect of the Forward Together Moral Movement first born in 2006 that gained national acclaim with its Moral Monday protests at the North Carolina General Assembly in 2013. These weekly actions drew tens of thousands of North Carolinian’s and other moral witnesses to the state legislature. More than 1,050 peaceful protesters were arrested, handcuffed and jailed. In February 2014 more than 80,000 people showed up for a Moral March and Peoples Assembly some say was the largest civil rights fusion gathering since the Selma to Montgomery march.

A highly sought after speaker, he has keynoted hundreds of national and state conferences. He has spoken to a wide variety of audiences including national unions, women’s groups, economic policy, voting rights, LGBTQ groups, environmental and criminal justice groups, small organizing committees of domestic workers, fast food workers, Christians, Muslims, Jews, and others. He has served as president of the North Carolina NAACP, the largest state conference in the South, since 2006 and sits on the National NAACP Board of Directors.

A former Mel King Fellow at MIT, he is currently a Visiting Professor of Public Theology and Activism at Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York and is a Senior Fellow at Auburn Seminary. Dr. Barber has been arrested numerous times for non-violent civil disobedience and is regularly featured in media outlets such as MSNBC, CNN, New York Times, Washington Post and The Nation Magazine, among others. He is the 2015 recipient of the Puffin Award and the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Award. His two most recent books include Forward Together (Chalice Press) and The Third Reconstruction (Beacon Press).

Andy Bichlbaum, The Yes Men
May Boeve, Executive Director, 350.org

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May Boeve is the Executive Director of 350.org, an international climate change campaign. 350.org’s creative communications, organizing, and mass mobilizations strive to generate the sense of urgency required to tackle the climate crisis. Previously, May co-founded and helped lead the Step It Up 2007 campaign, and prior to that was active in the campus climate movement while a student at Middlebury College. May is the co-author of Fight Global Warming Now. She lives in Brooklyn.

Patrick Carolan, Executive Director, Franciscan Action Network

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Patrick has been executive director of the Franciscan Action Network since 2010. He is also a co-founder of the Global Catholic Climate Movement, an organization working on global climate justice issues as well as Faithful Democracy, a faith coalition focused on the issue of Money in Politics, working to educate on the corruptive influence of big money on our democracy. He is a recipient of the 2015 White House Champion for Change Award for his work in the Climate Change arena, a Senior Fellow at the Center for Earth Ethics and is personally dedicated to social justice to bring about individual and societal transformation.

Jeff Furman, Chairman of the Board, Ben and Jerry's Homemade, Inc.

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Jeff has been an activist for over 50 years. He has worked on many social justice issues including worker rights, land issues, and racial equity. He has been connected to Ben & Jerry’s since its inception. He is credited with helping to write the first business and has been involved with management and/or the Board of Directors for more than 35 years. He is the Board’s current chair. He also serves on the board of the Oakland Institute and Edge Funders Alliance. His work often entails connecting the business world with the activist’ world.

Tefere Gebre, Executive Vice President, AFL-CIO

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Tefere Gebre, born in Gondar, Ethiopia, was a political refugee who emigrated to the United States as a teenager. While in college, Tefere worked his first union job as a night shift loader at UPS (and member of Teamsters Local 396). Since, Tefere has devoted his entire life to the values of hard work and a voice at the workplace.

Work and the Labor Movement

After working for Laborers Local 270 and as the executive director of Frontlash, the former youth and college arm of the AFL-CIO, Tefere went on to work for the statewide labor movement as the Southern California political director of the California Labor Federation, and then as political director of the Orange County Labor Federation from 2006 to 2008. His leadership earned him the role as executive director for the labor federation in 2008.

Tefere contributed tremendous change in redefining the growing labor movement in Orange County, California. As executive director, he doubled the political capacity of the labor movement in the county. In 2008 and every year thereafter, the federation was honored by the state federation’s Strategic Planning Committee as one of the highest-performing labor councils, and was singled out as an “agent for change” by the California Labor Federation. In less than a year as executive director, Tefere increased the federation’s membership by more than 15,000 new members, established a communications division, expanded the political operations and grew the program staff.

Through Tefere’s leadership, the federation built strong coalitions with faith and civil rights organizations throughout the county to advocate and support policies that improve the lives of all workers. In 2012, the federation created and took on the first 10-week leader initiative program at local schools to educate parents and students on city government, boards and commissions, public speaking, civic engagement and policy change, while also giving participants an understanding that work connects us all.

When he was elected to the position of executive vice president of the AFL-CIO in 2013, joining Rich Trumka and Liz Shuler as the elected leadership team for the national labor federation, it was a clear recognition of Tefere’s leadership skills and of the focus on building strong labor-community partnerships at the local level through the movement’s central labor councils and state federations.

Tefere has continued to demonstrate leadership by example. He has focused his attention on building strong partnerships between labor and community groups, immigrant rights advocates and civil rights organizations. He has placed particular emphasis on building the labor movement in the South, where conditions are most oppressive for millions of workers. Based on his own experience as a child refugee, Tefere has brought a passionate and personal perspective to bear in the labor movement’s fight for comprehensive immigration reform and a pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrant workers and their families. In the end, it is Tefere’s experience as an immigrant labor activist and local labor council leader that makes him a great complement to President Trumka, of the Mine Workers, and Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler, of the Electrical Workers, to lead the AFL-CIO.

Before joining the labor movement, Tefere worked for then-Speaker of the California State Assembly Willie L. Brown Jr. as a legislative aide. Never hesitant to lead, Tefere twice was elected as president of the California Young Democrats—and he was the first African American and first immigrant elected to serve in that position. Tefere received a bachelor’s degree in international marketing from Cal Poly Pomona and an MBA from the University of Southern California. Tefere and his wife, Jennifer Badgley have relocated from California and live in Maryland.

Jerry Greenfield, Co-founder, Ben and Jerry's
Jay Harris, Editor & Publisher, The Hightower Lowdown

Jay Harris

Jay Harris is editor and publisher of The Hightower Lowdown, the monthly populist newsletter written by Jim Hightower, with 95,000 print subscribers and a large digital following. Jay also serves on the boards of Free Speech TV, the First Amendment Coalition, and the communications advisory board of Human Rights Watch. From 1991 to 2009, Jay was the publisher and CEO of Mother Jones. He has been publisher of The American Prospect; on the governing board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists; on the board of IMAG, the independent magazine group of the Magazine Publishers of America; and vice chair of the Independent Press Association. In 2006 Jay helped found The Media Consortium, an alliance of independent, progressive media working together across media platforms to extend the reach and impact of their journalism. Before joining Mother Jones, Harris was an executive with Newsweek International in New York and Hong Kong. He lives in San Francisco.

Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director, Food & Water Watch

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“Environmental rights, civil rights and democracy go hand in hand. That’s why we’re part of Democracy Awakening, where the progressive movement will come together, take on big moneyed interests and prepare to take back our democracy.”

Wenonah Hauter has worked extensively on food, water, energy and environmental issues at the national, state and local level and is the founder and Executive Director of Food & Water Watch.

Due in bookstores on June 7, Wenonah’s new book Frackopoly: The Battle for the Future of Energy and the Environment shines an unapologetic light on the fracking industry, the policies that threaten our global climate and the powerful grassroots movements that has emerged to ban fracking and demand a future powered by clean, sustainable energy.

Wenonah’s earlier book, Foodopoly: The Battle Over the Future of Food and Farming in America, examines the corporate consolidation and control over our food system and what it means for farmers and consumers.

Experienced in developing policy positions and legislative strategies, she is also a skilled and accomplished organizer, having lobbied and developed grassroots field strategy and action plans. From 1997 to 2005 she served as Director of Public Citizen’s Energy and Environment Program, which focused on water, food and energy policy. From 1996 to 1997, she was environmental policy director for Citizen Action, where she worked with the organization’s 30 state-based groups. From 1989 to 1995 she was at the Union of Concerned Scientists where, as a senior organizer, she coordinated broad-based, grassroots sustainable energy campaigns in several states.

She has an M.S. in applied anthropology from the University of Maryland.

Jim Hightower, Radio Commentator & Activist

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“Democracy Awakening is us – grassroots people rising up to restore our sovereignty over big money. Progress on every one of our issues is hopelessly walled in by corporate bribery funds, K Street lobbyists, crony capitalism, Koch-headed ideology, and nefarious voter suppression. This is the start of something big, and we want you to be there to help make democracy happen again.”

National radio commentator, writer, public speaker, and author, Swim Against The Current: Even A Dead Fish Can Go With The Flow, Jim Hightower has spent three decades battling the Powers That Be on behalf of the Powers That Ought To Be – consumers, working families, environmentalists, small businesses, and just-plain-folks.

A popular public speaker who is fiery and funny, he is a populist road warrior who delivers more than 100 speeches a year to all kinds of groups. He is a New York Times best-selling author, and frequently appears on television and radio programs, bringing a hard-hitting populist viewpoint that rarely gets into the mass media. In addition, he works closely with the alternative media, and in all of his work he keeps his ever-ready Texas humor up front, practicing the credo of an old Yugoslavian proverb: “You can fight the gods and still have fun.”

Reverend William H. Lamar IV, Pastor, Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church

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The Rev. William H. Lamar IV is pastor of Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C. He previously served Turner Memorial AME Church in Maryland and three churches in Florida: Monticello, Orlando and Jacksonville. He is a former managing director at Leadership Education at Duke Divinity. Lamar is a graduate of Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University and Duke Divinity School.

Annie Leonard, Executive Director, Greenpeace USA

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A lifelong environmentalist, Annie Leonard is currently the Executive Director of Greenpeace USA. She has over 25 years experience investigating, organizing and communicating about the environmental and social impacts of all our stuff: where it comes from, what it is made out of, and where it goes after we get rid of it. Her 2007 online film, The Story of Stuff, has been viewed over 40 million times making it the most watched online environmental film to date. In 2010, she authored a book of the same title which takes a deeper dive into the issues in the film.

Leonard earned her undergraduate degree at Barnard College, Columbia University and has a Masters Degree in City and Regional Planning from Cornell University. She began her career at Greenpeace in Washington, DC in 1988 and now leads the organization’s U.S. office out of San Francisco.

Susan Leslie, Congregational Advocacy and Witness Director, UUA

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Susan Leslie is the Congregational Advocacy and Witness Director in the Multicultural Growth and Witness staff team for the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA). She serves on the UUA Public Witness team and has also served as a Director in the UUA’s Advocacy & Witness staff team and Associate Director in the Faith in Action department that launched the UUA’s anti-racism multicultural initiative. She represents the UUA on the national board of Interfaith Worker Justice and on the Steering Committee of the Interreligious Organizing Initiative and other multi-faith coalitions and advocacy partnerships. Prior to her service at the UUA, Susan worked in publishing at Harvard University Press and Banner Press and has a long history of community organizing. She has held staff positions with Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA), the New Hampshire People’s Alliance, the New England Municipal Center—an agency fostering regional government, and the Refuse and Resist Campaign. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from the University of New Hampshire.
Susan grew up in a family that was very involved in electoral politics and public policy. Her father is an attorney and her mother was the Assistant Minority Leader in the NH legislature. She has been an active campaigner since her elementary school years. Susan has an eighteen year-old son named Kieran and is married to Bruce Pritchard who is a Systems Analyst for the MA Department of Mental Health. They reside in Cambridge, Massachusetts and are members of First Parish Cambridge, Unitarian Universalist. Bruce serves on the congregation’s Religious Education Committee, Susan serves on the Social Justice Council and Immigrant Justice group, and Kieran is an active member of the Youth Group.

Aaron Mair, President, Sierra Club

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Aaron Mair is the Sierra Club’s 57th president. Mair became a Sierra Club member in 1999, following a decade-long battle that he led to shut down a polluting solid waste incinerator in an inner-city community in Albany, New York. His efforts ultimately led to a commitment by the state to shut down the facility and a $1.6 million settlement award to that community. Mair was also a key figure in leading the fight and securing the Sierra Club’s participation in the Clean Up the Hudson campaign, which resulted in a settlement between the EPA and General Electric to dredge toxic PCB sediments from the Upper Hudson River.

Mair has held more than three dozen leadership positions within the Sierra Club’s Hudson Mohawk Group and Atlantic Chapter, including chapter chair (2002-2003), chapter executive committee (2002-2004) and environmental justice chair (2009-present). He was elected to the national Sierra Club’s Board of Directors in 2011.

Throughout his tenure with the Club, Mair has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to grassroots action, environmental justice, and transforming the culture of the Sierra Club to make it – in his words – “a more welcoming environment to all people, regardless of their race or socio-economic status.”

Eli McCarthy, Director of Justice and Peace, Conference of Major Superiors of Men
Rabbi Mordechai Liebling, Founder & Director, the Social Justice Organizing Program at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College

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Rabbi Mordechai Liebling is the founder and director of the Social Justice Organizing Program at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College of which he is a graduate. Prior he was Executive Vice-President of Jewish Funds for Justice. Earlier he was Executive Director of the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation. He serves on the boards of T’ruah: A Rabbinic Call for Human Rights; The Shalom Center and of the Faith and Politics Institute. He was the founding chairperson of Shomrei Adamah: Guardians of the Earth. He has been a Spiritual Director for 15 years; has been trained in The Work that Reconnects by Joanna Macy; and has completed the Jewish Meditation Teacher Training program. He has published numerous articles. He is married to Lynne Iser, they have five children and their family was the subject of the award winning documentary Praying With Lior.

Phil Radford, Co-founder, Democracy Initiative

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Phil Radford is an American clean energy, environmental, and democracy advocate who serves as the President of Membership Drive, was the youngest CEO of Greenpeace USA and the CEO of Power Shift, co-founded the Democracy Initiative, and is a board member of both the Mertz Gilmore Foundation and Green Corps.

Sandy Sorenson, Director, DC Office, United Church of Christ
Rabbi Arthur Ocean Waskow, Ph.D., Founder & Director, The Shalom Center

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Rabbi Waskow, Ph.D. has since 1969 been one of the leading creators of theory, practice, and institutions for the movement for Jewish renewal. In 1969 he created the original Freedom Seder, which transformed the celebration of Passover for thousands of American Jews. He founded (1983) and directs The Shalom Center, a prophetic voice in Jewish, multireligious, and American life – speaking for peace, eco-social justice, and healing of the Earth.

Robert Weissman, President, Public Citizen

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“Fundamental reform to expand and deepen our democracy, we know from America’s history, follows from one thing and one thing only: mass movements. With our democracy in crisis, now is the time for Americans to mobilize to ensure the right to vote and to get Big Money out of politics. Democracy Awakening is the start of something, not the end, as the democracy movement enters a new phase of intensity, mobilization, aggressive activism and disruption of business as usual.”

Robert Weissman is a staunch public interest advocate and activist, as well as an expert on a wide variety of issues ranging from corporate accountability and government transparency, to trade and globalization, to economic and regulatory policy.

Leading Public Citizen since 2009, Weissman has spearheaded the effort to loosen the chokehold corporations and the wealthy have over our democracy. Since 2010, two U.S. Supreme Court rulings opened the floodgates to unlimited election spending by corporations and the wealthy. Weissman has been outspoken about what these rulings mean to Americans and how We the People can fight to restore our democracy. Immediately after the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United, Weissman established the Democracy Is For People campaign, a project of Public Citizen, specifically to fight for a constitutional amendment to overturn the ruling and curb money in politics. In just a few years, support for amending the Constitution has blossomed.

Weissman also has been a strong voice in the fight against the Wall Street greed and recklessness that caused the global financial crisis and recession. After the 2008 financial collapse, Weissman pushed for strong legislation and regulatory action, specifically through the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, to stabilize the financial system, hold corporations and big banks accountable and help Main Street.

In 2010, Weissman led the charge to hold corporate oil giant BP responsible for the Deepwater Horizon explosion that killed 11 workers and set off the worst corporate-made ecological disaster in our nation’s history. Through a rigorous campaign, headed by Weissman and Public Citizen, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency banned BP from obtaining federal contacts during a probation period. Over the years, Weissman has pushed Congress to pass meaningful legislation to hold the oil industry accountable, reform the regulatory process, and protect workers and the environment.

Weissman also has expanded Public Citizen’s work to curb climate change and push for a single-payer, Medicare-for-all health care system. He is an expert in intellectual property issues associated with drug patents.

With a wide variety of expertise, Weissman has used his knowledge and skill to challenge abusive corporate practices in many different arenas with the common goal of protecting consumers and fighting for a government that works for the people.

Miya Yoshitani, Executive Director, Asian Pacific Environmental Network

Miya Yoshitani

Miya is the Executive Director of the Asian Pacific Environmental Network, APEN. She has an extensive background in community organizing, and a long history of working in the environmental justice movement. APEN has been fighting – and winning – environmental justice struggles for the past 23 years and remains one of the most unique organizations in the country explicitly developing the leadership and power of low-income Asian American and Pacific Islander immigrant and refugee communities. Through many years of leadership, Miya has supported APEN’s growth and expansion from a powerful local organization in the Bay Area, to having a statewide impact through an integrated API voter engagement strategy, a statewide Asian Pacific American Climate Coalition, and winning transformational state policy for equitable climate solutions and transitioning the state to a clean energy economy for all Californians. A movement leader in many key local, state, and national alliances, APEN is helping to shift the center of gravity of what is possible when the health and economic well being of working families, immigrant and communities of color are put at the center of solutions to the economic and climate crises. Miya has been Executive Director since November 2013 and proudly supports APEN to be a leading force for climate justice for all communities.