Friday, July 19th (In order of appearance)

Christian F. Nunes, President of the National Organization for Women

Christian F. Nunes, MBA, MS, LCSW, is a dynamic advocate who made history when she assumed the role of President of the National Organization for Women in August 2020. Before this, she served as Vice President, appointed by the board in May 2019. As the organization’s second African American president and the youngest person of color to hold the position in over 40 years, Christian leads NOW’s intersectional mission, rallying grassroots activists against structural sexism and racism.

Bear Atwood, Vice President of the National Organization for Women

Bear Atwood is the Vice President of the National Organization for Women.   Prior to becoming Vice President, she was a civil rights lawyer in Jackson, Mississippi specializing in representing LGBT clients.  She is the former Legal Director for the ACLU of Mississippi and was the Executive Director for the Southern Poverty Law Center’s youth justice project.  Prior to moving to Mississippi, Bear was a Deputy Attorney General in New Jersey working for the State’s Division on Civil Rights.  She has also worked for Planned Parenthood of Central New Jersey.

Bear is the current President of Mississippi NOW and a former President of NOW-NJ.  She was a member of the NOW National Board and has served on the PAC.

Kris Mayes, Arizona General Attorney

Kris Mayes is one of Arizona’s strongest consumer advocates and an attorney who has distinguished herself as a fighter for the people in a lifetime of public service.

Born and raised on a tree farm in Prescott, Kris Mayes attended Arizona public schools with her brother and sister. Her mom was a teacher and her dad worked as a pharmacist. 

Kris studied political science and journalism at Arizona State University and went to work as a reporter. She later earned a Masters of Public Administration from Columbia University and her law degree from ASU. 

Kris served in a senior role with the Napolitano Administration in the early 2000’s before being appointed to the Arizona Corporation Commission. She went on to win two statewide elections and served as a Commissioner from 2003 – 2010 and was the Commission Chair from 2009 – 2010. Kris was admitted to the Arizona State Bar on January 10, 2005. 

During Mayes’ time on the Arizona Corporation Commission, her leadership helped create tens of thousands of high-paying jobs, saved Arizona consumers billions of dollars, and required utilities to produce more clean and efficient energy — including solar and wind. She also worked to preserve Arizona’s water resources.

Prior to her election as Attorney General, Mayes worked as a professor at ASU’s School of Global Sustainability and taught a course on energy law for the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at ASU. She is honored to serve as Arizona’s 27th Attorney General, becoming the first mom and second woman ever to be elected to the office. She looks forward to continuing working on behalf of Arizonans as the top law enforcement official and consumer guardian in the state. A Lawyer for the People.

Nancy Davis, Founder of the Nancy Davis Foundation

Nancy Davis was denied a medical pregnancy termination at her local hospital in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, her fiance’ and her was forced to travel nearly 1,500 miles to access the healthcare she and her family deserved. This ordeal highlighted the critical need for reform in reproductive healthcare and maternal rights, especially in regions like Louisiana, where access to reproductive services is restricted.

Nancy’s journey served as a catalyst for her to share her story and transform her pain into action. She organized rallies, testified at legislative sessions, and conducted numerous interviews with media outlets, raising awareness of the struggles women face in accessing essential healthcare. Her advocacy and determination led to the creation of the Nancy Davis Foundation.

Joycelyn Benson, Michigan Secretary of State

Jocelyn Benson is an academic administrator, attorney, and politician serving as the 43rd Secretary of State of Michigan since 2019. A member of the Democratic Party, she is a former dean of Wayne State University Law School, a co-founder of the Military Spouses of Michigan, and a board member of the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality. Benson is the author of State Secretaries of State: Guardians of the Democratic Process.

Anna Eskamani, FL State House (Orlando)

Anna is a bold and unapologetic fighter for Florida families and every day people. Born and raised in Orlando she’s the daughter of working class immigrants who came to Florida from Iran in search of the American Dream. Anna went to Orange County Public Schools and then to the University of Central Florida. She earned dual degrees as an undergrad and graduate student, works as a nonprofit professional and is now getting her PhD in Public Affairs.

A bridge builder, Anna flipped her legislative seat in 2018 and won her re-election by an overwhelming majority in 2020 and 2022. She made history as the first Iranian-American elected to any public office in Florida and has championed critical issues like economic justice, environmental protection, equality for all, funding for public schools, human trafficking and sexual assault prevention, and support of arts and culture funding. A track record of kind sacrifice, endless hard work, and iron-clad values, Anna is known across the state and nation as a leader who is unbothered, unbossed, and committed to the people of Florida.

Anna is bringing her passion for helping people to Tallahassee and you can learn more about her and her work below.

Dr. Rani Shakar-Brown

Rajni Shankar-Brown, MA, M-MA, MBA, PhD, is an internationally award-winning and community engaged Professor and the Jessie Ball duPont Distinguished Chair of Social Justice Education at Stetson
University, as well as the recipient of Stetson’s most prestigious awards — the McEniry Award for Excellence in Teaching and the Hand Award for Distinguished Faculty Achievement. She has dedicated her life to advancing intersectional equity and economic, social, political, and educational change as a feminist social justice leader, educator, activist, writer, and artist.

Dr. Shankar-Brown is also the President of the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH) Board, the Founder and the Executive Director of the Institute for Catalyzing Equity, Justice, and Social Change (ICEJSC), a steering member of the National Environmental Justice Institute (NEJI), the Co-Chair of Equity and Justice for the International Society for Teacher Education and Information Technology, the Director of the Acts of Kindness and Justice Movement, curriculum designer and coach for the Racial Equity Action Lab, and a faculty member for the International Society of Experiential Education Academy. She also serves as the Director for Asian Studies, Co-Director for the Peace Corps Certification Program, and a member of the Gender Studies program at Stetson University.

Senator Kristen Gillibrand

Kirsten Elizabeth Gillibrand is a lawyer and politician serving as the junior United States senator from New York since 2009. A member of the Democratic Party, she served as member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 2007 to 2009. Born and raised in upstate New York, Gillibrand graduated from Dartmouth College and from the UCLA School of Law.

Saturday, July 20 (In order of appearance)

Candidate Missy Smasal, VA-2

After serving as a Surface Warfare Officer in the U.S. Navy and deploying aboard the U.S.S. Trenton during Operation Enduring Freedom, Missy chose to build her home in Hampton Roads. She opened a small business, a local Rita’s Italian Ice, which she owned and operated for more than a decade. She is now the Executive Director of a nonprofit organization that honors service women through running events, and is an adjunct professor. 

Missy also serves as the Virginia Citizen representative on the Chesapeake Bay Commission, a bipartisan, multi-state commission focused on Bay restoration and the health of those who live in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. She and her husband, Bryan, who served as an Army Officer, have lived in Virginia Beach for more than 20 years, and are the proud parents of two great kids who attend Virginia Beach Public Schools. She takes pride in volunteering in her community, from coaching youth sports, to leading Girl Scouts, to Clean the Bay Day cleanups. Missy was proud to lead a charge for school safety in Virginia Beach, and to advocate for the city’s ERA resolution. Missy is running to ensure that kids and families across coastal Virginia have the opportunities they need to succeed. Missy is a steadfast champion for families, military families, and our veterans, and she will stand up for Hampton Roads’ values.

Dr. Kimberly S. Adams

Dr. Kimberly S. Adams is an accomplished political scientist and activist with more than 15 years of experience in academia and the private sector. She has a track record of success in publication and public speaking and served as a political analyst on national and local news programs. She has presented research and given over 95 talks across the world on women, race, and politics. Dr. Adams serves on NOW’s board of directors and is a member of NOW’s political action committee (NOW PAC).

Quiana Dickenson, NOW PAC Director

Quiana serves as the political director with the National Organization for Women. Quiana has worked with both for profit and non-profit organizations, facilitated seminars for government agencies and officials and is frequently called to advise in matters of effective communication and community conflict strategies. Quiana served as an adjunct instructor for Northern Arizona and many local and national institutions. She is a member of several national community service and advocacy organizations. 

Quiana has worked with well over 40 federal, state, and local campaigns during her time as the Political Director of the Arizona Democratic Party and Arizona List which recruits and trains women candidates.  Quiana also served as the Chair of the Arizona African American Caucus. 

Representative Gloria Johnson, TN-90

Gloria Johnson is an American politician and Democratic member of the Tennessee House of Representatives currently representing District 90 and formerly District 13, based in Knoxville. In April 2023, she and two other state representatives faced expulsion votes from the Tennessee General Assembly after taking to the floor of the State House unrecognized to protest gun violence. Johnson was the only one of the three legislators not to be expelled.

Margaret Huang, President and CEO of the Southern Poverty Law Center

An advocate for human rights and racial justice for nearly three decades, Margaret Huang is the President and CEO of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which serves as a catalyst for racial justice in the U.S. South and beyond. Throughout her career, Margaret has championed social justice and human dignity, advocating an end to discrimination and oppression in all of its forms.

Prior to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Margaret served as the Executive Director of Amnesty International USA, where she was responsible for leading campaigns to protect the human rights of migrants and refugees, torture survivors, gun violence victims, and activists and protestors across the globe. Ms. Huang received a Master of International Affairs from Columbia University and a B.S.F.S. from Georgetown University.

Ruth Ben-Ghiat, Professor of History and Italian Studies at New York University

Ruth Ben-Ghiat is a Professor of History and Italian Studies at New York University. She writes about fascism, authoritarianism, propaganda, and democracy protection. She is the recipient of Guggenheim and other fellowships, an advisor to Protect Democracy, and an MSNBC opinion columnist. She appears frequently on CNN, MSNBC, PBS, and other networks.

Her latest book, Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present (2020; paperback with a new epilogue, 2021), examines how illiberal leaders use corruption, violence, propaganda, and machismo to stay in power, and how resistance to them has unfolded over a century.

She is also a consultant for businesses, civil society organizations, and television and film productions, including Guillermo del Toro’s Academy Award-winning 2022 movie Pinocchio and the 2024 Netflix docuseries Hitler and the Nazis: Evil on Trial.

Representative Wiley Nickles, NC-13

Wiley Nickel is currently serving his first term in Congress as the U.S. Representative of the 13th District of North Carolina which includes Wake, Wayne, Johnston and Harnett Counties.

Wiley lives in Cary with his wife, Caroline, and their two kids. Wiley earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Tulane University and later graduated from the Pepperdine University School of Law.

Prior to being elected to Congress, Wiley served as a North Carolina State Senator, attorney, small business owner and worked for two White House administrations.

Having served in a divided legislature, Wiley understands the importance of reaching across the aisle and finding common ground while defending fundamental North Carolina values. As a state Senator, Wiley fought for the issues that matter most to North Carolinians: lowering the cost of living, expanding access to affordable health care, and protecting voting rights and women’s reproductive health rights.

Wiley is a pragmatic problem solver who is focused on finding solutions and delivering results for the people of North Carolina’s 13th Congressional District. Wiley is committed to representing every constituent in North Carolina’s 13th District and delivering bipartisan results as their voice in Washington.