Barbara R. Arnwine
President & Executive Director, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
Barbara 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
Ambassador 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.
Dr. Janet M. Canterbury
Retired Professor of Medicine and Deputy Dean Emeritus of the University of Miami
Dr. Janet M. Canterbury is Professor of Medicine and Deputy Dean Emeritus of the University of Miami. She retired after a distinguished career as a Professor of Medicine and Senior Associate Dean at the UM Miller School of Medicine, where she headed a successful project to enhance the recruitment and professional development of women and minority faculty. She has authored over 100 original scientific/medical articles and is a member of many prestigious professional societies, including the National Academy of Women’s Health Education.
A committed women’s rights activist, Dr. Canterbury has worked with NOW for many years. She was twice elected president of Dade County NOW and Florida State NOW. She served two terms on the National Board as southeast regional director and currently co-chairs the Advisory Committee to National NOW. She chaired the ERA Study Committee that resulted in NOW’s adaptation of a new Constitutional Equality Amendment, co-authored NOW’s 1998 Vision Statement and serves as an adviser to the NOW political committee.
Dr. Canterbury has been repeatedly honored for her tireless work on behalf of women. Among others, she has received a May A. Brunson Faculty Award from the UM Women’s Commission, American Business Women’s Association Woman of the Year Award, American Medical Women’s Association Woman of the Year Award and a Woman of Power award from NOW.
Civil and Women’s Rights Activist
Professor of Law at UCLA and Columbia Law School
Kimberlé 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.
Best known for the role of Danielle “Danny” Sofer in The Shield
Catherine Dent arrested audiences as “Officer Danny Sofer” in The Shield (2002), playing a single woman in a world that understands brutality more than beauty. Born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and trained at the North Carolina School of the Performing Arts, Dent made her film debut in 1994, playing Paul Newman’s daughter-in-law in Robert Benton’s Nobody’s Fool (1994). Since then she has appeared in a number of features, co-starring opposite Greg Kinnear in Paul Schrader’s Auto Focus (2002), starring opposite Jean-Claude Van Damme in Replicant (2001), playing Ashley Judd’s sister in Tony Goldwyn’s romantic comedy Someone Like You… (2001) and appearing with Jim Carrey in Frank Darabont’s The Majestic (2001). Her independent film credits include appearances in A Girls’ Guide to Sex (1993), Jaded (1998), A New Game (2001), The Debutante (1993) and Dangerous Proposition (1998).
When she was based in New York, Dent appeared frequently on East Coast-based based television shows including The Sopranos (1999), Third Watch (1999), Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (1999) and New York Undercover (1994). Since moving to Los Angeles she has guest-starred on such series as Dharma & Greg (1997), The X-Files (1993), Frasier (1993), The Pretender (1996), Chicago Hope (1994) and The Invisible Man (2000). In addition to her starring role on the acclaimed drama series “The Shield”, she also starred in Steven Spielberg’s Taken (2002) on the Sci-Fi Channel. Her theater credits include the title role in “Baby Doll”, Maggie in “Cat On A Hot Tin Roof” and roles in “Bang The Drum Slowly” and “The Street of the Sun” at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles. In New York she starred Off-Broadway in “Amoeba Concerto” and understudied for the Sofya and Yelena roles in “Uncle Vanya” on Broadway.
Immigration Attorney in New Orleans, LA.
Founder of PB&J Pro Bono and Juveniles
Kathleen Gasparian is the founder of “PB&J Pro Bono and Juveniles,” an effort to recruit and match pro bono attorneys with immigrant children who have recently crossed the U.S. Southern border and who cannot afford legal services. She began her career in immigration law working in the International Student Affairs Office of Loyola University New Orleans. Her work with students and scholars led her to law school with the passion and intent to pursue immigration law. She worked her way through the evening program and obtained her J.D. In 2002 from Loyola. She was then selected for the Attorney General’s Honors Program and served as a judicial law clerk for the Executive Office for Immigration Review. She limits her practice to immigration Law.
The founding of PB&J in July 2014 was part of her continuing commitment to helping immigrant children living in the New Orleans area. PB&J recruits, trains and supports attorneys willing to take on cases for immigrant children who recently cross the border. In the first round of the project, pro bono counsel was provided to over 69 children. The project brings hope to children who would not be able to obtain legal representation and would be facing certain deportation back to dangerous and often threatening conditions.
PB&J continues with the New Orleans Pro Bono Project and Kathleen continues to direct and advocate for the project and the children.
Executive Director of Women With A Vision, Inc.
Deon Elaine Haywood is an internationally renowned activist for women’s health and human rights. Born in New Orleans, she has dedicated herself in mind, body and spirit to the long struggle for justice. At the ambitious age of 19, she began doing outreach to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS among New Orleans’ most vulnerable women under the auspices of the burgeoning black women’s health collective, Women With a Vision, Inc. (WWAV). Now more than 20 years later, Haywood serves as the Executive Director for WWAV, and has shepherded the organization into a vibrant locally-rooted international network to improve the lives of marginalized women, their families, and communities by addressing the complex intersection of socio-economic injustices and health disparities in their lives. In her pursuit for justice, she has testified in front of the United Nations Global Commission on HIV and the Law, she has appeared on Melissa Harris-Perry on MSNBC, has rallied to New Orleans’ City Council members, state, and national policy-makers alike, and has done all of this while grounding her work in her relationships and mentoring with the communities most affected.
After Hurricane Katrina, she oversaw the launch of WWAV’s “NO Justice Project,” a campaign to combat the sentencing of women and transgender people arrested for street-based sex work under Louisiana’s 203-yr-old “crime against nature” felony-level law. In 2012, their work resulted in the removal of more than 700 women from the sex offender registry. Since this win, Haywood has continued to work with women across the state of Louisiana to launch the Louisiana Women’s Advocacy Alliance. Together, they are building grassroots leadership at the intersection of HIV/AIDS, harm reduction, LGBTQ rights, reproductive justice, sex worker rights, and criminalization to change the policies and structures impacting their health and wellbeing. Her work has inspired millions, but she remains guided and driven by the individuals she meets every day. Her unique approach to being the change she seeks in the world has earned her numerous awards. Currently, Ms. Haywood sits on the board of BreakOUT!, a youth-led organization fighting the criminalization of LGBTQ youth in New Orleans.
NOW Board Advisory Committee Member; professional attorney
Patricia 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.
Executive Director, SisterSong
Monica 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.”
NOW Board Advisory Committee Member; President of the Feminist Majority and the Feminist Majority Foundation
Eleanor 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.
Associate Provost for Tulane University, focusing on International Affairs.
Tania Tetlow is an Associate Provost for Tulane University, focusing on International Affairs. Her work on violence against women has taken her around the world, providing training and consulting in China, Turkey, Rwanda and Egypt. She was a member of the U.S. delegation to the 2014 U.S.-China People-to-People Exchange held in Beijing. In New Orleans, she trains police to better respond to domestic violence and sexual assault.
A former federal prosecutor with expertise in family law and the use of legal tools for combating domestic violence, she previously directed the Domestic Violence Clinic, and remains active in the Clinic’s policy initiatives. Next year, she also will teach Civil Procedure and Legal Profession.
Tetlow’s scholarship focuses on preventing discrimination by juries against both defendants and crime victims. Her work includes “Discriminatory Acquittal” (William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal, 2009) and “Solving Batson” (accepted for publication in the William & Mary Law Review). She also has published in the Iowa and Duke Law Journals and the Penn Journal of Constitutional Law. Before joining the Tulane law faculty in 2005, Tetlow clerked for Judge James Dennis at the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, practiced commercial litigation at Phelps Dunbar in New Orleans and, in 2000, worked as an Assistant U.S. Attorney, focused on violent crime and narcotics cases.
After Hurricane Katrina, she worked with Women of the Storm, lobbying Congress for recovery aid and coastal erosion assistance. She also chaired the New Orleans Library Board and the Library Foundation, helping to raise $7 million in funding, rebuild two flooded branches and design and implement a new urban library system. In 2009, Tetlow received the Tulane University President’s Award for Excellence in Professional and Graduate Teaching.
Vice President for Strategic Partnerships, Advocates for Youth
Aimee 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.
President, American Federation of Teachers
Randi Weingarten is president of the 1.6 million-member American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO, which represents teachers; paraprofessionals and school-related personnel; higher education faculty and staff; nurses and other healthcare professionals; local, state and federal government employees; and early childhood educators. The AFT champions fairness; democracy; economic opportunity; and high-quality public education, healthcare and public services for students, their families and communities.
Prior to her election as AFT president in 2008, Weingarten served for 12 years as president of the United Federation of Teachers, AFT Local 2, representing approximately 200,000 educators in the New York City public school system, as well as home child care providers and other workers in health, law and education.
Weingarten has launched major efforts to place education reform high on the nation’s and her union’s agendas including efforts to end the overuse and misuse of standardized tests and to fix, not close, struggling schools. AFT also has developed a partnership with First Book to provide free and reduced-price books to children, with a goal of distributing 5 million books in one year.
She holds degrees from Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations and the Cardozo School of Law. She is an active member of numerous professional, civic and philanthropic organizations.