Speakers

Donna Edwards
Congresswoman, MD-4

Donna-Edwards-HeadshotCongresswoman Donna F. Edwards represents Maryland’s 4th Congressional District, comprising portions of Prince George’s and Anne Arundel Counties and is the first African American woman to represent Maryland in Congress.

Congresswoman Edwards has enjoyed a diverse career as a nonprofit public interest advocate and in the private sector on NASA’s Spacelab project. In 1994, as co-founder and executive director of the National Network to End Domestic Violence, she led the effort to pass the Violence Against Women Act that was signed into law by President Clinton.

Since being sworn in, Congresswoman Edwards has secured a number of legislative accomplishments to improve the lives of working families in her Congressional District and around the country. Her first act as a Member of Congress was to add Maryland to the Afterschool Suppers Program, ensuring access to nutritional suppers to afterschool and youth development programs in schools located in low-income areas. During the health care debate, Congresswoman Edwards secured a provision that holds insurance companies accountable for unjustifiable rate increases.

Congresswoman Edwards has introduced legislation to expand research and development, domestic manufacturing, and infrastructure spending to create jobs and grow our economy. She was also the first Member of the House to introduce and champion a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.

Michelle Lujan Grisham
Congresswoman, NM-1

Michelle-Lujan-GrishamMichelle Lujan Grisham was elected to 113th Congress in New Mexico’s First District in November 2012. Public service comes easily to her, a twelfth generation New Mexican who has dedicated her life to serving her community, fighting for seniors and building an economy that works for all New Mexicans. As an attorney, Michelle fought to protect seniors from scam artists, safeguard them from abuse and neglect, and helped them to remain in their homes. Later, during her tenure as head of the New Mexico Department of Health, she fought to require public health facilities to meet the same high standards as private sector facilities. Elected in 2010 as a Bernalillo County Commissioner, Michelle hit the ground running, leading efforts to bring more transparency and accountability to county government and sponsoring new ethics standards for county officeholders, contractors, and staff. Michelle currently serves on the House Committee on Agriculture, the House Committee on the Budget and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in the 113th Congress.

Elizabeth Schuler
Secretary-Treasurer, AFL-CIO

shuler_l2Elizabeth “Liz” Shuler became the first woman ever elected Secretary Treasurer of the AFL-CIO when she was voted into office by acclamation at the Federation’s 26th convention on September 16, 2009. Ms. Shuler also became the youngest officer ever elected, rising through the ranks from her first union position in Local 125 of the IBEW in Portland, OR.

From her earliest days on the job in Portland, Liz displayed a commitment to excellence and professionalism that helped her succeed in all she undertook, often against daunting odds.

Shuler is active with many women’s causes. She is a member of the boards of the Women’s Campaign Fund, a bipartisan fundraising organization that aims to boost the number of women holding public office; Women’s Policy Inc., the caucus organization for women members of Congress; and the National Women’s Law Center. She also volunteered for many years with the International Women’s Democracy Center, an organization that sponsors mentoring programs encouraging women to run for office and seek change in countries overseas.

Shuler also represents the AFL-CIO on various boards and committees, such as the AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust; the Alliance for Retired Americans; the Solidarity Center; and the Women’s Committee of the International Trade Union Confederation.

Sandra Kim
Founder & CEO, Everyday Feminism

SKim_HeadshotSandra Kim is the Founder and CEO of Everyday Feminism. One of the fastest growing online feminist platforms, it works to address the everyday violence, discrimination, and marginalization people face due to their gender, sexual orientation, race, class, size, and other social differences. Through our online magazine, forum, and online courses, we help people apply feminism to their real lives. In under two years, Everyday Feminism has built a monthly readership of 500,000 people, has over 5,000 forum users, and served over 800 course members. She’s also the course leader for the Everyday Self-Love and Relationship Course, which helps people free themselves from toxic messages and learn how to be loving toward themselves and others. Sandra brings an inside-out approach to feminism because she believes personal transformation and social transformation are interdependent. She’s also pioneering an innovative online business model for feminism and social justice to make this work sustainable for activists.

Sandra brings a wide range of approaches and skills to Everyday Feminism from her experience on the front lines in the fight against human trafficking and in the social innovation and capacity-building field from her work at Polaris, Ashoka, and the Management Assistance Group (MAG). Sandra is also a trained life coach from the Coaches Training Institute. In her volunteer time, she has worked with sexual assault and domestic violence survivors, people involved in gangs, and landless rural workers. She is also currently a board member of the Brown Boi Project and on the advisory board of FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture.

Patricia Ireland
Advisory Committee Co-Chair, National Organization for Women

Patricia IrelandAs the longest-serving president of the National Organization for Women (NOW) from 1991 to 2001, Patricia Ireland helped move NOW to the forefront of the political scene, build a strong, effective women’s movement and establish herself as a groundbreaking activist. Patricia emerged as one of the most influential feminist leaders in this country and a leading figure in the world-wide feminist movement.

Patricia found her calling when she confronted discrimination as a flight attendant for Pan American World Airline. Patricia credits NOW’s help and federal affirmative action laws for her success in winning equal health benefits at Pan Am. She saw law as a powerful tool for positive change and enrolled in law school while continuing to fly internationally, earning her law degree in 1975.

Widely recognized as a key player in improving social and economic conditions for women, Patricia is especially adept at challenging people to make the connections between women’s rights and other human rights issues. A hallmark of her work has been to forge stronger links among the feminist, antipoverty, civil rights, disability, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender movements.

LaDonna Harris
President, Americans for Indian Opportunity

LaDonnaHarrisLaDonna Harris, President of Americans for Indian Opportunity, is a remarkable statesman and national leader who has enriched the lives of thousands. She has devoted her life to building coalitions that create change. She has been a consistent and ardent advocate on behalf of Tribal America. In addition, she continues her activism in the areas of civil rights, environmental protection, the women’s movement and world peace.

As a national leader, Harris has influenced the agendas of the civil rights, feminist, environmental and world peace movements. She was a founding member of Common Cause and the National Urban Coalition and is an ardent spokesperson against poverty and social injustice. As an advocate for women’s rights, she was a founder of the National Women’s Political Caucus. In 1980, as the Vice Presidential nominee on the Citizens Party ticket with Barry Commoner, Harris firmly added environmental issues to that and future presidential campaigns. Her influence now reaches to the international community to promote peace as well. She was an original member of Global Tomorrow Coalition, the U.S. Representative to the OAS Inter-American Indigenous Institute.

Santita Jackson
Radio Host, Network Television Commentator, & Acclaimed Singer

Sanita-JacksonThe host of the top-rated “Santita Jackson Show” on Chicago’s WVON-AM, the nation’s leading urban talk radio station, she tackles topics of political, social, cultural and religious import five days a week. She is also the Executive Producer, Writer and co-host of the nationally-syndicated KEEP HOPE ALIVE with REV. JESSE JACKSON radio show. A writer, she is a founding contributor to theGrio, the MSNBC website dedicated to African American news and opinion.

Born in Greensboro, North Carolina, and reared in Chicago, Illinois, as a young child, Santita had a passion for academics and music. Recognizing her nascent talent, Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway gifted her with a Steinway piano at the tender age of eight. As a high school senior, Santita won the prestigious National Merit-Achievement Scholarship. Having tendered offers from Spelman College, Yale University and Harvard University, Santita accepted a full academic scholarship to Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Radio talk show host, network television commentator, writer, television and radio show producer, and acclaimed singer — Santita Jackson has a career that is vast in range and depth. It is her hope that she can use these gifts to bless and serve.

Terry O’Neill
President, National Organization for Women

Terry O'Neill bio photoTerry O’Neill, a feminist attorney, professor and activist for social justice, was elected president of NOW in June 2009. She is also president of the NOW Foundation and chair of the NOW Political Action Committees, and serves as the principal spokesperson for all three entities. O’Neill oversees NOW’s multi-issue agenda, which includes: advancing reproductive freedom, promoting diversity and ending racism, stopping violence against women, winning lesbian rights, ensuring economic justice, ending sex discrimination and achieving constitutional equality for women.

O’Neill’s feminist activism began in the 1990s, fighting right-wing extremists in the Deep South, including David Duke. She has served as president of Louisiana NOW and New Orleans NOW and as a member of the National Racial Diversity Committee. She is a past president of Maryland NOW and served on the NOW National Board twice, representing the Mid-South Region (2000-2001) and the Mid-Atlantic Region (2007-2009). O’Neill was NOW’s membership vice president from 2001 to 2005, when she oversaw NOW’s membership development program as well as finances and government relations.

A former law professor, O’Neill taught at Tulane in New Orleans and at the University of California at Davis, where her courses included feminist legal theory and international women’s rights law, in addition to corporate law and legal ethics. She has testified before committees in the Maryland House of Delegates and has written federal amicus briefs on abortion rights for Louisiana NOW, Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union.

O’Neill is a skilled political organizer, having worked on such historic campaigns as Hillary Clinton’s campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, and the campaign leading to the election of Louisiana’s first woman U.S. senator, Mary Landrieu. She also worked to elect women’s rights supporters to judgeships and the state legislature in Louisiana, as well as the successful campaign to elect former Maryland NOW president and NOW National Board member Duchy Trachtenberg to the Montgomery County (MD) Council.

Avis Jones DeWeever
Founding President & CEO, Incite Unlimited, LLC

Jones-DeWeever-HeadshotDr. Avis A. Jones-DeWeever, Ph.D. is the Founding President & CEO of Incite Unlimited, LLC, a consulting firm devoted to the principle of moving great ideas to effective action. An accomplished scholar, writer, and public speaker, Dr. Jones-DeWeever is an authority on race, gender and the economy, poverty, inequality of educational and economic opportunity, and issues of privilege, power, and policy in the U.S. Her forthcoming book is Black Women Lead: Owning Your Power, Living Your Purpose, Exceptional Leadership in the Boardroom and Beyond. A sought-after political commentator, Dr. Jones-DeWeever’s policy perspectives appear in numerous media outlets including: CNN, PBS, TV One, BET News, ABC News, National Public Radio, Glamour Magazine, Clutch Magazine, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, The Grio, and Vital Speeches of the Day. Dr. Jones-DeWeever is a Magna Cum Laude graduate of Virginia State University and holds a Ph.D. in Government and Politics from the University of Maryland, College Park. She is a member of the Black Women’s Roundtable and serves on the Board of Directors of the Voter Participation Center and Women’s Voices. Women Vote Action Fund. She also serves as an Affiliated Scholar with the Institute for Women’s Policy Research and the Women of Color Policy Network.

Kimberley Inez McGuire
Director of Public Affairs, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health

Kimberley Inez McGuireKimberly serves as the Director of Public Affairs at the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, where she directs the communications activities of NLIRH and advocates for salud, dignidad, y justicia (health, dignity, and justice) for the nation’s more than 26 million Latinas, their families and communities. Kimberly is a reproductive justice leader and queer Latina with nearly a decade of experience in government relations, movement building, and strategic communications. Kimberly develops and implements intersectional policy change and culture shift campaigns focused on restoring insurance coverage for abortion, reproductive health equity, and promoting health and human rights for immigrant women. Previously, she held a position as Senior Associate for Programs and Policy at the Reproductive Health Technologies Project, where she coordinated groundbreaking research on Latino attitudes on abortion and served on the Oral Contraceptives Over-the-Counter Working Group. A frequent writer, presenter, and spokesperson on reproductive health and justice, Kimberly has been featured and quoted in national media, including The Washington Post, NBC Latino, Fox News Latino, Color Lines, Dissent, and ThinkProgress. Kimberly earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Hampshire College and is studying to become a birth doula. Follow Kimberly on Twitter

Bonnie Grabenhofer
Action Vice President, National Organization for Women

Bonnie Grabenhofer Bio PhotoBonnie Grabenhofer is a dedicated feminist who balanced a highly successful consulting career with her extensive volunteer work in the women’s movement. She has been involved with NOW at the local, state and national levels in numerous capacities. She was elected executive vice president in June 2009 and action vice president in 2013.

Grabenhofer supervises the Government Relations, Field, and Internal Operations Departments. As Action Vice President she supervises NOW’s chapter development program and national action campaigns such as the campaign for marriage equality including support for the federal Respect for Marriage Act and state legislation and ballot initiatives. She supervises the integration of NOW’s policy and field work to ensure the advancement of NOW’s agenda. As director of the NOW/PAC, she works with NOW state organizations, candidates, and the NOW/PAC to shepherd hundreds of federal endorsements through NOW’s grassroots endorsement process and oversees NOW’s projects to send NOW activists to key states to work on elections.

Grabenhofer has served as president and several other positions in her local chapter and also served as president of Illinois NOW, chair of the Illinois NOW PAC, and represented the Great Lakes region on the National NOW board from 2002 to 2004. During her presidency, Illinois NOW introduced reproductive justice legislation and began a successful telemarketing campaign. She is passionate about electoral politics and used her organizing expertise in many elections, including Hillary Clinton for president and Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun’s historic campaign to become the first African-American woman elected to the U.S. Senate. She led the grassroots support for the fiercely contested opening of the Aurora, Illinois Women’s Health Clinic, generating significant media which earned her recognition as the “Face of 2007″ in the Beacon News.

Pramila Jayapal
Chair, We Belong Together

Pramila-Jayapal-HeadshotPramila Jayapal is a leading national advocate for immigrant, civil and human rights. Born in India and raised in India, Indonesia and Singapore, Pramila has worked for over 20 years in international and domestic social justice. In May 2013, Pramila was recognized by President Barack Obama as a White House Champion of Change. Pramila is the founder and former Executive Director of OneAmerica, Washington state’s largest immigrant advocacy organization. She has led a successful nationwide class action against the Federal government to prevent the deportation of 5,000 Somalis, led the largest voter registration of new citizens in Washington state, and built coalitions that include business, labor unions, faith, government and law enforcement organizations. In 2012 she left OneAmerica to become co-chair of We Belong Together, a national campaign to engage women in immigration reform. Pramila believes in connecting grassroots organizing to policy change with an ultimate goal of building power amongst immigrant communities and people of color who are often not represented fully in our democracy. Pramila is a sought-after speaker, has appeared on television and radio, and writes regularly for publications including Reuters, The Nation and Crosscut. She is a Distinguished Taconic Fellow at the Center for Community Change and a Distinguished Fellow at the University of Washington Law School.

Janaye Ingram
Acting National Executive Director, National Action Network

Janaye-ingram-HeadshotJanaye Ingram is the Acting National Executive Director of National Action Network (NAN), whose founder and president is Rev. Al Sharpton. Janaye oversees NAN’s action agenda and legislative advocacy on numerous issues including education, criminal justice, housing, technology, economic development and healthcare. She was a lead organizer of the “National Action to Realize the Dream Rally and March” in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington. Janaye is a recognized voice on politics and activism with a weekly blog on Loop21.com, a weekly segment on the syndicated radio show, “Keepin’ It Real with Rev. Al Sharpton” and appearances and features in other media including MSNBC, TVOne’s “Washington Watch with Roland Martin”, The Huffington Post and TheGrio.com. Janaye is a founder of Ambassadors of Hope, a scholarship and involvement campaign, serves on the National Board of the Women in Entertainment Empowerment Network and the Editorial Board of emPower Online Magazine (and is a mentor for Brown Girls Lead. Janaye holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Clark Atlanta University and a Master of Science in Nonprofit Management from The New School University. She is a graduate of the National Urban Fellows America’s Leaders of Change executive leadership program and a Fellow of the Give1 Project.

Annie Hill
Secretary-Treasurer, Communications Workers of America

Annie-HillAnnie Hill was elected Secretary-Treasurer of the Communications Workers of America on July 11, 2011, by delegates to the Union’s 73rd Convention.

With the CWA President, Hill works to advance the membership’s top priorities and initiatives.

Hill has been a leader in CWA since her earliest days as a union member. Most recently, she has served for three years as CWA Vice President for District 7, representing workers in 14 states. She was elected to that post in 2005.

As Vice President, Hill bargained critical contracts for members at Qwest Communications, among other employers, and put in place new structures in the district to better represent members across that region.

Hill also was a member of the executive board committee on diversity which was created to help give persons of color, women and local union leaders a greater voice on the executive board committee on diversity which was created to help give persons of color, women and local union leaders a greater voice on the executive board. That measure was adopted by convention delegates in 2007.

She joined CWA in December 1976 as an outside technician for Pacific Northwest Bell, and was elected to two terms as president of Local 7904 in Salem, Oregon. She joined the District staff in Minneapolis in 1990. She went on to serve as an administrative assistant to the Vice President in 1994, then assistant to the Vice President in 1999, and then Executive Vice President in 2008.

Dara Richardson-Heron
CEO, YWCA

Dara-Richardson-Heron-headshot-img_0039Dara Richardson-Heron, M.D. is the CEO of the YWCA USA, leading one of the nation’s oldest and largest multicultural organizations for women and girls. Richardson-Herron oversees the YWCA’s national operations and leads the development and implementation of innovative, value-added supports for the 229 YWCA local associations throughout the country that offer community-based services in over 1,300 locations. She also represents the organization on Capitol Hill, at the White House, and in the media. The YWCA USA is dedicated to eliminating racism and empowering women, advocating for women’s economic advancement, racial justice and health equity. The organization is also the largest provider of domestic violence services and women’s shelters in the nation, serving 500,000 women and children annually. Richardson-Heron has been honored with numerous awards, including the YWCA Academy of Women Achievers, Woman of Excellence in Philanthropy and “25 Influential Black Women in Business.” In 2013, she was named one of the “21 Leaders for the 21st Century” by Women’s eNews and was also listed on The Nonprofit Times “Power & Influence Top 50″ list. Richardson-Heron received her Doctorate in Medicine from New York University School of Medicine and her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Biology at Barnard College of Columbia University. She also completed a Human Resources Executive Program at the University of Michigan.

Eesha Pandit
Writer/Activist

eesha-panditEesha Pandit is a writer and activist – her writing can be found at The Crunk Feminist Collective, The Nation, Feministing, Salon, RH Reality Check, Feministe and In These Times. She most recently worked as Executive Director of Men Stopping Violence, a social change organization dedicated to ending men’s violence against women. She’s also served as as Women’s Rights Manager at Breakthrough, a global human rights organization. At Breakthrough Eesha worked on the Bell Bajao! (Ring the Bell!) Campaign that asks men and boys to take action, get involved and help end violence against women. Previously, Eesha served as Director of Advocacy at Raising Women’s Voices (RWV). RWV is a national initiative working to make sure women’s voices are heard and women’s concerns are addressed as policymakers put the new health reform law into action. At RWV, Eesha coordinated a national field network of 22 state-based regional coordinators working to include women’s health access in local, state and national policy efforts. Eesha has also served as Associate Director of Programs at the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program at Hampshire College where she coordinated the organization’s New Leadership Networking Initiative and the Reproductive Rights Activist Service Corps. She’s worked with the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University, and Amnesty International USA’s Women’s Rights Program. Eesha currently serves on the board of the National Network of Abortion Funds. She has a B.A. from Mount Holyoke College and an M.A. from the University of Chicago.

Kimberly Peeler-Allen
Co-Founder, Higher Heights for America

Kimberly Peeler Allen Headshot NewA highly skilled political fundraiser and event planner, Kimberly Peeler-Allen is respected as the only African American full-time fundraising consultant in New York State.

After completing the 2002 gubernatorial campaign of H. Carl McCall where she served as the deputy finance director, Kimberly founded her New York City-based consulting firm to help develop capital for clients, organizations, and issues affecting people of color that have historically been kept outside of the mainstream. She built her company to help ensure that systemic change would be created for the causes in which she believes.

Peeler Allen Consulting, LLC has raised in excess of $10 million for its clients. As finance director on major political campaigns, Kimberly also provides overall vision and tactical strategy for fundraising operations.

In 2010, Kimberly was named to the Crain’s New York Business 40 Under 40 list as well as named one of The Feminist Press’ 40 Under 40: The Future of Feminism.

Kimberly took her commitment to women candidates and candidates of color one step further. In 2011, she founded with Glynda Carr, Higher Heights for America, a nation organization seeking to elevate Black women’s voices to shape and advance progressive policies and politics.

Kimberly’s work on political campaigns has continued and she most recently served as Finance Director for Letitia James’ successful bid to become Public Advocate of the City of New York and the first African American woman elected city-wide in New York’s history.

Kimberly currently makes her home in the Bedford-Stuyvesant community in Brooklyn, NY, with her husband and daughter.

Chitra Panjabi
Membership Vice President, National Organization for Women

Chitra Panjabi Bio PhotoChitra Panjabi is an intersectional feminist activist with a professional background in non-profit management and fundraising. Panjabi was elected membership vice president in 2013 in an uncontested election. She joins a small group of national officers elected prior to their 30th birthday.

Raised in Hong Kong, Panjabi’s parents were immigrants from India. Prior to moving to the United States in 2008, she lived in the United Kingdom for four years. Due to her experiences of living as a minority in three diverse countries, she has seen firsthand how discrimination and inequality persist worldwide, and has thus committed herself to the fight for equality. The lessons she learned from her upbringing inspire her daily to transcend boundaries and borders in fighting the intersecting oppressions that women face.

Panjabi has served as president of 51st State NOW and as a leader of the DC NOW chapter. She played a vital role in revitalizing the anniversary programming for Roe v. Wade, expanding the event from a small vigil to a large activist celebration which has become a cornerstone of DC NOW’s annual actions. She has extensive experience working in a variety of capacities at progressive non-profit organizations, including South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT); The Women’s Foundation in Hong Kong; and the Sewall-Belmont House & Museum in Washington, DC.

Panjabi holds a bachelor’s degree from King’s College London, a master’s degree in international journalism from City University, London, and a master’s degree in women’s studies from George Washington University in Washington, DC.

Atima Omara
President, Young Democrats of America

Atima-OmaraAtima Omara is a recognized leader and speaker on engaging youth, women, and people of color in the political process. She is the first African American and the fifth woman President of the Young Democrats of America (YDA), the nation’s largest youth partisan organization, in YDA’s 82 year history. Atima oversees the day-to-day operations, fundraising, and strategic planning of an organization with 150,000 members, 46 state chapters, and over 2300 local chapters. As President, she also sits on the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) Executive Committee and serves as Secretary of the DNC Youth Council.

Outside of the Young Democrats of America, Atima is an active member of local, state, and national women’s organizations as a board member of Emerge Virginia, the DC Abortion Fund and Planned Parenthood Metro Washington. Atima has also served as a state officer of the Virginia Chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW) and a founder and Co-Chair of National NOW’s Young Feminist Task Force.

Atima grew up in Richmond, Virginia and graduated from the University of Virginia with a BA in American Studies and Foreign Affairs and received a Masters Degree in Public Administration at George Mason University in Virginia.

Martha Burk
Co-Founder, Center for Advancement of Public Policy

MarthaBurkeMartha Burk is a political psychologist and women’s issues expert who is co-founder of the Center for Advancement of Public Policy, a research and policy analysis organization in Washington, D.C. She serves as the Money Editor for Ms. magazine, and is a syndicated newspaper columnist and frequent blogger for Huffington Post. In January 2012 she launched a new national show on public radio, “Equal Time with Martha Burk.” Her latest book Your Voice, Your Vote: The Savvy Woman’s Guide to Power, Politics, and the Change We Need (2012) is a Ms. magazine book selection. The 2008 edition won NM Book award for best political book of 2008..

Burk is a frequent speaker on women’s issues, civil society, and the role of media in shaping public discourse. She is an active contributor to the Journalism and Women Symposium, and holds a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Texas at Arlington. Her background includes experience as a university research director, management professor, and advisor to political campaigns and organizations.

Dr. Burk has long been active in public debate and political analysis. She has provided briefing papers for presidential candidates, including Bill Bradley, Wesley Clark, and Howard Dean, and has worked closely with members of the United States Congress on issues of importance to women. She most recently served as a Senior Adviser for Women’s Issues to Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico, where she developed a ground-breaking national model on gender pay equity.

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 has served in various capacities at SisterSong since 2010 and is currently its Interim Executive Director. Before joining SisterSong, Monica was the Ujamaa Coordinator for Grassroots Leadership where she trained young African Americans in philanthropy, fundraising, and activism. Monica is a nationally sought-after facilitator and organizer. She has been featured in numerous publications and has written articles on LGBT issues, philanthropy and activism. Monica is a founder of Charlotte’s first Black Gay Pride Celebration, and Charlotte’s African American Giving Circle. She also sits on the board of Resource Generation and the Fund for Southern Communities. Living by the Paul Robeson quote “If the artist does not create, the world suffers,” Monica uses her talents of song and spoken word in the community, for example in the Atlanta production of “For Colored Girls.” Her first solo album is “All About LOVE.”

Miriam Yeung
Executive Director, National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum

Miriam-Yeung_headshot2013Miriam W. Yeung, Executive Director of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF), guides the country’s only national, multi-issue, progressive organization dedicated to social justice and human rights for Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women and girls. With chapters in 13 cities, NAPAWF’s priorities include winning rights for immigrant women, reproductive justice, and conducting community-based participatory research with young AAPI women. NAPAWF leads coalitions such as We Belong Together (with the National Domestic Workers’ Alliance) organizing women for common sense immigration policy reform, as well as a broad coalition of groups educating the public about the racist underpinnings of so-called “sex selection” abortion restrictions. Miriam is a sought after public speaker and is published on new media including Huffington Post and RH Reality Check, and in print in Medical Issues, The Shriver Report, and A New Queer Agenda. Miriam has received recognition from the National Council for Research on Women, the New York City Council, and ChoiceUSA. Born in Hong Kong and raised in the projects of Brooklyn, Miriam is a proud queer Asian-American immigrant committed to social justice and raising her two young daughters to be fearless. Miriam holds a master’s degree in public administration from Baruch College and a bachelor’s degree from New York University.

Dr. E. Faye Williams
Speaker, Activist, Attorney, Author

Fay WilliamsAn expert on politics, women’s rights, foreign a¬ffairs, human rights and diversity, Dr. E. Faye Williams, Esq. is a woman of many trades and talents. She is National Chair of the National Congress of Black Women (NCBW) and PRESIDENT/CEO of Natural Health Options (NHO) where she acquired the exclusive rights to natural products created by Dr. George Washington Carver; she continues to be a leader in the women’s movement and catalyst for social change

Dr. Williams has been in the forefront of social change for decades. She demonstrated her expertise in Politics during the 2008 Presidential election, where she was a surrogate for the“OBAMA FOR PRESIDENT” Campaign and is now a “PRESIDENTIAL PARTNER” who works with the Administration on many subjects. During the campaign, she was a highly sought after rally program speaker and debater and she traveled throughout the country for numerous campaign events.

Appointments and Accomplishments:

  • 2009-2016 Obama Administration Presidential Apppointee (Commissioner -Presidential Scholars Commission)
  • National Chair of the National Congress of Black Women (NCBW)
  • Respected Attorney, and
  • Author, “The TRUTH, Shall Set You Free.”

Nancy Lopez
Associate Professor of Sociology, University of New Mexico

nancylopezNancy López (nlopez@unm.edu), Ph.D., is associate professor of sociology at the University of New Mexico. She directs and co-founded the Institute for the Study of “Race” and Social Justice, housed at the RWJF Center for Health Policy. López’s scholarship, teaching and service is guided by the insights of intersectionality and the importance of understanding the “racialized-gendered social determinants of health.” Dr. López co-edited a volume entitled, Mapping “Race”: Critical Approaches to Health Disparities Research (Rutgers, 2013).  The paper in this volume were part of a NIH-funded workshop that convened multidisciplinary scholars from the social sciences and the health sciences as well as from diverse empirical traditions. A central theme of the volume is that “race” is as a multidimensional and multilevel social construction has profound methodological implications for health disparities research and policy. Her book, Hopeful Girls, Troubled Boys: Race and Gender Disparity in Urban Education (Routledge, 2003) focuses on Dominicans, West Indians, and Haitians to explain why girls are succeeding at higher rates than boys. The daughter of Dominican immigrants, Dr. López was born and raised in New York City Baruch Public Housing in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. In 1987 she graduated from Washington Irving H.S., the last large public vocational high school for girls. Spanish is her first language.

Shireen Mitchell
Chair, National Council of Women’s Organizations and Director, Digital Sisters

Shireen Mitchell

Shireen is the founder and Executive Director of Digital Sisters/Sistas, Inc. a non-profit organization focused on using media and technology to access self-sufficiency tools for women and children who are traditionally underserved. Shireen has twenty years of technology, human services, and non profit experience. She has combined information and communication technologies (ICT) with policy, advocacy, and education to support underserved communities.

Shireen works to promote equity and access for women as the Co-Chair of the Media and Technology Taskforce of the National Council of Women’s Organizations. She is also the Chair and has served as the Younger Women’s Taskforce Co-Chair.

As an author she has written “Gaining Daily Access to Science and Technology” in the book 50 Ways to Improve Women’s Lives and “Access to Technology: Race, Gender, Class Bias” in the publication The Scholar and Feminist Online. Shireen has written articles including “What Does Tech Have to Do with Women’s Rights” and continues to blog about women, tech, policy, and media issues.

Isha Punja
Teen Coordinator, NOW Orange County High School Clubs

Isha Punja HeadshotIsha Punja is 17 years old and a junior at Northwood High School in Irvine California. As a sophomore in high school, Isha started the only NOW club in  Orange County, California.  Isha volunteers as the teen coordinator for NOW Orange County high school clubs and mentors other teens who want to start NOW clubs. In addition to her interest in women’s rights, Isha was one of the five runners that led her high school to a fifth place finish at the California State Cross Country Championships. As a runner with asthma, Isha’s  determination helped her overcome challenges — a message  she shares with other girls. She is an honors student with a 3.9 GPA, and plans to become a doctor, lawyer or business woman. She wants to inspire girls to dream big and believe in themselves. In her spare time Isha loves creating trendy attire from discarded clothing, playing with her dog Rocky and baking cookies.

Irene Vasquez
Director, Chicano Hispanic Mexicano Studies Program at the University of New Mexico

Irene-Vasquez-HeadshotIrene Vásquez received her Ph.D. from the History Department at the University of California, Los Angeles. Currently, she is Director of the Chicano Hispano Mexicano Studies Program at the University of New Mexico. She is an Associate Professor in American Studies.

Irene Morris Vásquez’ research and teaching interests include Indigenous peoples of the Americas, Afro-Mexican/Latino relations, U.S. Social Movements, Women of Color Feminism, and Intercultural Collaboration and Peace Building. Presently, she is co-authoring a book on the Chicana/o Movement entitled, Aztlan Making: The Chicana/o Movement: Ideology and Culture, 1966-1977. She has written several essays in English and Spanish on the historic and contemporary relations between African Americans and Latin American descent peoples. In 2006, Irene Vásquez co-edited the Borders Within Us: Three Global Diasporas, published by New World African Press.

In the area of K-12 Education service, Irene Vásquez has served as a co-founder and Council of Trustees member for Academia Semillas del Pueblo, a public charter school located in El Sereno, California. In 2005, she was appointed to the Mayor’s Education Advisory Council for the City of Los Angeles.

Adelita Medina
Executive Director, Alianza-National Latino Alliance for the Elimination of Domestic Violence

Adelita_Michelle_MedinaMs. Medina has more than 30 years of experience working in a wide-range of fields in both the private and public sectors. She has worked as head administrator for numerous non-profit organizations at the local and national levels in New Mexico, New York City, and Washington, DC, as well as for the State of New Mexico and City of New York. Before her first stint at Alianza, Ms. Medina was a private consultant for several years, and in that capacity helped raise funds for various non-profit organizations serving women, children and families, including several that addressed domestic violence. She worked for the Sister Fund as editor of its newsletter and for the Ms. Foundation for Women, where she was a Program Officer in charge of the Women’s Safety and Girls Empowerment areas.

Throughout her career, Ms. Medina has been a keynote speaker at various local, state, and national forums and conducted various training workshops both within and outside the domestic violence field. She has also published numerous articles on a variety of topics ranging from worker, immigrant, veterans’ and women’s rights, to women’s health & safety, business, and arts and culture.
She holds an M.S. degree in Journalism from Columbia University’s School of Journalism and a B.A. in English and Art from New Mexico Highlands University. She lived and worked in New York City for 30 years and returned to her native New Mexico in December 2004. She has one son, one grandson, and one granddaughter.

Christine Sierra
Director, Southwest Hispanic Research Institute at the University of New Mexico

christine-sierra HeadshotA member of the UNM faculty since 1986, Professor Christine Sierra teaches and researches in the field of American politics with a focus on race, ethnicity, and gender. Her publications include work on Mexican American activism on immigration policy, Hispanic politics in New Mexico, and the politics of Latina women in the United States. Sierra has been a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution, the University of Arizona, and the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. As an expert in American and Latino/a politics, she appears frequently in local and national media outlets. During presidential elections, she has also appeared in the international press, including Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC), Libération (Paris), Carta Capital (Sao Paulo), Suddeutsche Zeitung (Munich), Franfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (Frankfurt), Neue Zurcher Zeitung (Zurich), and the Asahi Shimbun (Japan).

During the Clinton administration, she served as a presidential appointee to the Good Neighbor Environmental Board, which advised the President and Congress on environmental and infrastructure needs of the U.S.-Mexico border region. More recently, she was a member of the Immigration Policy Roundtable co-sponsored by the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University and the Brookings Institution.

Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun
Advisory Committee Co-Chair, National Organization for Women

Carol-Mosely-BraunIn 1992, Carol Moseley Braun made the leap to the national political arena: She ran for the Illinois seat in the U.S. Senate, looking to unseat incumbent Democratic Senator Alan Dixon in the Democratic primary. Up against a seasoned politician who had spent decades in office, Braun appeared to be the underdog. But many responded to Braun as a chance for political change. Although she had tough opposition from her Republican opponent, she was endorsed by NOW PAC and had NOW activists working with her campaign. She won the election, becoming the first African-American woman to win election to the U.S. Senate. As a senator, Braun tackled many issues, including women’s rights and civil rights. She served as the first permanent female member of the powerful Senate Finance Committee. Moseley Braun served as Ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa. Ambassador Braun is a former candidate for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States. After nearly 30 years of public service, Ambassador Braun transitioned to the private sector and started an organic foods company called Good Foods Organics.

Kaolin
Feminist Activist

Kaolin HeadshotIn 1991 Kaolin moved to Seattle and legally adopted her present name but was born Patricia Anne Graham in Brooklyn, NY in 1951, Kaolin married George Allen Williams, an African American gentleman, in 1970 and they have two adult children. Over her career, Kaolin has worked in the Arts, politics and taught in pre-schools. She has been a substitute teacher in elementary, middle and high schools and she has worked in a residential treatment center for children and young adults ages seven thru twenty-two. Kaolin received her B.A. degree summa cum laude from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 2000. Her second book, Protocol: Welcome to Paradise, Watch Your Step co-authored by Henry White will be launched in the Fall of ’14.