Speakers

Barbara R. Arnwine
President & Executive Director, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

Barbara-Arnwine-HeadshotBarbara Arnwine has led the Lawyers’ Committee since 1989. She is internationally renowned for contributions on critical justice issues including the passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1991 and the 2006 reauthorization of provisions of the Voting Rights Act. She also created the legendary Voting Rights “Map of Shame” in 2011. A graduate of Scripps College and Duke University School of Law, she continues to champion civil rights and racial justice issues nationally and internationally, in the areas of housing and lending, community development, employment, voting, education, and environmental justice. Arnwine’s work also includes women’s rights, immigrant rights, judicial diversity, racial profiling and LBGTQ rights. A prominent leader in the civil and human rights community, she continues to fight for the preservation of affirmative action and diversity programs.

A featured columnist with Trice Edney News Wire and a frequent conference speaker, she has written numerous articles and is widely quoted in The New York Times, the Washington Post, MSNBC and NBC Network News, BET, TV One and many other outlets. In 2008, Arnwine was selected as a Rockwood Institute Leadership Fellow. She is also the recipient of the National Bar Association’s Equal Justice Award and the C. Francis Stradford Award, the highest honor bestowed by that organization. In 2002, she received the Charlotte E. Ray Award from the Greater Washington Chapter, Women Lawyers Division of the National Bar Association. She is active on social media on Twitter and Facebook.

Amb. Carol Moseley Braun
NOW Board Advisory Committee Member, former US Senator from Illinois

Amb-Carol-Moseley-Braun-HeadshotAmbassador Braun has pursued a career path that fulfilled her desire for public service and she has devoted much of her professional life to legal issues concerning the environment and social justice. Ambassador Braun received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Illinois in 1969, and a law degree from the University of Chicago. She is a former candidate for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States. She has served her country as Ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa, United States Senator from Illinois, Cook County Executive Officer, Illinois State Representative and United States Attorney.

Her work earned her the Attorney General’s Special Achievement award and more than 200 additional awards and 11 honorary degrees. The public school, Carol Moseley Braun Elementary, Illinois, was named after her in 2001. The school team name is the Ambassadors. The first permanent female member of the Senate Finance Committee, Ambassador Braun advocated for retirement security and health care support for working men and women. She proposed the first modern federal school construction legislation, and the first women’s pension equity laws. Her legislative record reflects a commitment to social justice and fiscal prudence. Ambassador Braun serves on the advisory boards for the Chicago-based Healthy Foods Campaign and is a member of Delta Sigma Theta, the Chicago Network and the International Women’s Association.

Kimberlé Crenshaw
Civil and Women’s Rights Activist
Professor of Law at UCLA and Columbia Law School

Kimberle-Crenshaw-HeadshotKimberlé Crenshaw lectures around the world on race matters and on “intersectionality,” a concept she coined to capture the multidimensional dynamics of discrimination. A professor of law at UCLA and Columbia Law School, she co founded the African American Policy Forum (AAPF), an innovative think tank connecting academics, activists and policy makers to highlight the centrality of gender and structural inequality in the discourse on racial justice. Recently, Crenshaw, in response to “My Brother’s Keeper “ the White House initiative for boys, has led the fight to break the silence about girls of color through hearings using expert testimony and emphasizing that “only together will our collective well-being improve.”

Her ground-breaking work on “intersectionality” was influential in the drafting of the equality clause in the South African Constitution. Crenshaw authored the background paper on Race and Gender Discrimination for the United Nation’s World Conference on Racism. She has worked extensively on gender and race issues in the domestic arena including violence against women. Crenshaw has consulted with leading foundations to advance their race and gender equity initiatives. A founding member of the Women’s Media Initiative, she writes for Ms Magazine, the Nation and other print media and has appeared regularly on NPR and MSNBC. She is currently Director of the Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies at Columbia Law School, which she founded in 2011.

Heidi Hartman, Ph.D.
President and Founder, Institute for Women’s Policy Research

Heidi-Hartmann-HeadshotAn economist, Heidi Hartman heads the Washington-based Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) that she founded in 1987 to meet the need for women-centered, policy-oriented research. She is an economist with a B.A. from Swarthmore College and M.Phil and Ph.D. degrees from Yale University, all in economics. Hartman is also a Research Professor at The George Washington University. She lectures internationally on women, economics and public policy, frequently testifies before Congress, and is often cited as an authority in various media outlets including CNN, ABC News, and The New York Times.

She has published numerous articles in journals and books and has co-authored several IWPR reports, including Women’s and Men’s Employment and Unemployment in the Great Recession; Still A Man’s Labor Market: The Long Term Earnings Gap; Equal Pay for Working Families; and Strengthening Social Security for Women. She serves as Secretary-Treasurer of the National Council of Women’s Organizations and Editor of the Journal of Women, Politics & Policy, and served as Chair of the Board of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. Prior to founding IWPR, Hartman was on the faculties of Rutgers University and the New School for Social Research and worked at the National Research Council/National Academy of Sciences and the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. In 1994, she received a MacArthur Fellowship Award for her work in the field of women and economics.

Patricia Ireland
NOW Board Advisory Committee Member; professional attorney

Patricia-Ireland-HeadshotPatricia Ireland has been improving women’s lives for most of her own life. As the longest-serving National Organization for Women president from 1991 to 2001, Ireland helped move NOW to the forefront of the political scene, build a strong, effective women’s movement and establish herself as a ground-breaking activist. Ireland published an autobiography titled What Women Want. With a deep understanding of the connections between women’s rights and other human rights issues, Ireland forged bonds between NOW and allies in the anti-poverty, civil rights, disability rights and LGBT communities, strengthening and broadening NOW’s commitment to justice for women in all of our multiple, often overlapping, communities.

Her activism ranged from serving on the board of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition to getting arrested at the White House over the continued ban on lesbians and gays in the military. Ireland created NOW’s Elect Women for a Change campaign, which played a pivotal role in making 1992 the “Year of the Woman.” She led the 1992 Global Feminist Conference in the U.S. and represented NOW around the world. Today Ireland continues fighting for social justice, in her professional work — as an attorney in Miami, she represents unions and their members — and in her volunteer activism. She co-chairs the National NOW Board Advisory Committee and is a key advisor to the NOW/PAC.

Monica Simpson
Executive Director, SisterSong

Monica-Simpson-HeadshotMonica Raye Simpson is a native of North Carolina, and a proud graduate of Johnson C. Smith University, one of the country’s historical black universities. Her decision to come out as a same-gender loving woman while attending college, led her to become deeply involved in LGBT organizing on and off campus. Upon graduation, she was hired as the first person of color at the Lesbian & Gay Community Center in Charlotte. She later became the Ujamaa Coordinator for Grassroots Leadership, where she trained young African Americans in philanthropy, fundraising and activism. In 2010, she relocated to Atlanta, going to work for SisterSong as their Development Coordinator. She is now the Interim Executive Director.

Founded in 1997, SisterSong is a collective of 80 local, regional and national grassroots organizations representing the voices of indigenous women and women of color to ensure reproductive justice through human rights. Simpson’s activism and grassroots organizing have been featured in many publications. She is a founder of Charlotte’s first Black Gay Pride Celebration and Charlotte’s African American Giving Circle. She sits on the board of Resource Generation and the Fund for Southern Communities. When she is not organizing and facilitating, Simpson can be found performing in numerous theatrical productions including “The Vagina Monologues” and “For Colored Girls.”

Eleanor Smeal
NOW Board Advisory Committee Member; President of the Feminist Majority and the Feminist Majority Foundation

Eleanor-Smeal-HeadshotEleanor Smeal, Co-Founder and President of the Feminist Majority Foundation and former President of the National Organization for Women (NOW), has played a leading role in both national and state campaigns to win women’s rights legislation and in a number of landmark state and federal court cases for women’s rights. For over 30 years, Smeal has been at the forefront of almost every major women’s rights victory. As President of NOW, Eleanor Smeal led the drive to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). She led the first national abortion rights march in 1986, drawing more than 100,000 participants to Washington, D.C. She has been in the leadership of every major reproductive rights march ever since, including the 2004 March for Women’s Lives, the largest march in our nation’s history.

Smeal developed FMF’s National Clinic Access Project, which is the largest program of its kind in the nation. Smeal was also the chief architect of the Feminist Majority Foundation’s landmark 1994 U.S. Supreme Court case upholding the use of buffer zones to protect clinics, Madsen v. Women’s Health Center. Smeal in 1997 launched the international Campaign to Stop Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan to counter the Taliban’s abuse of women. For this work, the Feminist Majority Foundation was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2002. Smeal is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Duke University and holds an M.A. degree from the University of Florida.

Aimee Thorne-Thomsen
Vice President for Strategic Partnerships, Advocates for Youth

Aimee-Thorne-Thomsen-HeadshotAimee Thorne-Thomsen has an extensive background in communications, movement building and leadership development across various social justice movements. At Advocates for Youth, Thorne-Thomsen is part of a diverse team of youth-serving professionals and youth activists dedicated to improving adolescent reproductive and sexual health, securing young people’s rights, and realizing those rights. Prior to joining Advocates, she served as the interim Executive Director for the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice and the Executive Director fo the Pro-Choice Public Education Project (PEP). She has held senior management positions in the non-profit and private sectors.

Thorne-Thomsen sits on the Board of Directors for Reproductive Health Technologies Project, Mobilize the Immigrant Vote and RH Reality Check. She is a member of the Women’s Media Center’s She Source and volunteers as a Leader for the LiveStrong Foundation. She has spoken around the country at Netroots Nation, Center for American Progress, and WE ACT Advancing Climate Justice Conference. Her writing and blogs have appeared on Daily Kos, Feministing, and RH Reality Check among others. Thorne-Thomsen earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Yale University and a Master of Public Administration from Baruch College, City University of New York.