Movers & Thinkers: Speakers Bureau


Across New York City, there are many diverse and remarkable thinkers on a range of critical issues; yet, too often, the same few voices are heard. Explore our Speakers Bureau to find people who can speak from their own experience on a variety of critical issues. We offer this as a forum through which we can promote original thought-leaders and community voices.

  • Afaf Nasher

    Council on American-Islamic Relations, New York

  • Afua Atta-Mensah

    Community Voices Heard

  • Amaha Kassa

    African Communities Together

  • Angy Rivera

    New York State Youth Leadership Council

  • Carl Lipscombe

    Black Alliance for Just Immigration

  • Chhaya Chhoum

    Mekong NYC

  • Cidra M. Sebastien

    Brotherhood/Sister Sol

  • Cory Greene

    How Our Lives Link Altogether!

  • Daniel Gross

    Brandworkers

  • Danielle Sered

    Common Justice

  • Darnell Benoit

    Flanbwayan Haitian Literacy Project

  • Donald Anthonyson

    Families for Freedom

  • Eddie Bautista

    NYC Environmental Justice Alliance

  • Fiona Kanagasingam

    Community Resource Exchange

  • Frank Antonio Lopez

    The Brotherhood/Sister Sol

  • Gabriel Sayegh

    Katal Center for Health, Equity, and Justice

  • James Schaffer

    The Advocacy Institute

  • Javier Valdés

    Make The Road New York

  • Jill Eisenhard

    Red Hook Initiative

  • Joan Byron

    Neighborhoods First Fund for Community Based Planning

Afaf Nasher

Council on American-Islamic Relations, New York

Key Topics:

Islamophobia, civil rights/discrimination against Muslims in schools (bullying), the workplace (employment discrimination), public venues (hate crimes), and in government (policies unconstitutionally targeting Muslims), Know Your Rights workshops (varied)

Bio:

Afaf Nasher currently serves as the Executive Director for the New York Chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations, “CAIR-NY.” Prior to accepting the role of Executive Director, she served as Board President for the organization. Before shifting her focus to civil rights advocacy, she worked as an associate for the Law Firm of Rossi and Crowley, LLP, performing work in commercial litigation. Ms. Nasher continues to serve as a volunteer with several religious and secular organizations in various capacities. Her involvement with CAIR–NY stems from an enthusiasm to challenge discrimination in all its forms, promote positive activism, and foster an understanding of the Muslim American identity. Ms. Nasher obtained her Juris Doctor from St. John’s University School of Law and has a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice.

Afua Atta-Mensah

Community Voices Heard

Key Topics:

Affordable housing, immigration reform, criminal justice, community organizing, campaign strategies

Bio:

AFUA (Ah-Fee-Ah) ATTA-MENSAH

Afua Atta-Mensah is a champion litigator, a fierce advocate and a veteran community organizer in the global fight for racial, social and economic justice.

A graduate of Fordham Law School, and a Fulbright Scholar, Atta-Mensah was appointed Executive Director of Community Voices Heard (CVH) this past September.  CVH is a leading New York non-profit that develops and guides civic leaders, grassroots organizations and neighborhood activists as they take powerful, concrete steps to improve their lives and communities.

From United States to Ghana, Atta-Mensah has worked to empower women, improve the quality and quantity of fair and equitable housing, defend women’s rights and galvanize support for programs benefiting low-income families.

She was awarded the Fulbright Fellowship in support of her work at the International Federation of Women Attorneys advocating on behalf of indigent women in Ghana. She represented women in court, helped draft proposed legislation to criminalize marital rape and was a visiting university lecturer. She also worked with area lawyers to develop proposed legislation for a marital rape law, and served as a visiting lecturer at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), where she taught a course on women’s rights in the context of Ashanti-tribal law.

Between 2012 and 2016, Atta-Mensah was the Urban Justice Center’s Director of Litigation for the Safety Net Project. During her tenure, the project filed a federal lawsuit that pressured former Mayor Michael Bloomberg to abandon a proposal to demolish Public Housing playgrounds and community centers so developers could build high-priced apartment towers. Under Atta-Mensah, the Safety Net Project also challenged mayoral candidates to stay overnight with host families in public housing to experience firsthand the deplorable conditions. That innovative strategy brought a media spotlight and government attention to residents’ plight.

Atta-Mensah is a member of the Board of Trustees at St. Barnabas Hospital, the Board of Governors of the Healthcare Trustees of New York State, and African Communities Together.   She currently resides in Central Harlem with her husband and 4 year-old daughter.

Amaha Kassa

African Communities Together

Key Topics:
Race, Immigration (particularly black immigrants), Community organizing, Social change

Bio:
Amaha Kassa is the founder and Executive Director of African Communities Together (ACT). Amaha is an Ethiopian immigrant with 20 years of professional experience as a labor and community organizer, nonprofit director, and social entrepreneur. For nine years, Amaha directed East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy (EBASE), a workers’ rights nonprofit in Oakland, California, growing it from a startup to one of the leading organizations in its field.

Prior to launching ACT, Amaha earned his law degree from the University of California, Berkeley and a Master’s in Public Policy from Harvard Kennedy School. In 2012, Amaha received a Black Male Achievement Fellowship from Echoing Green and Open Society Foundations to support the launch of ACT.

Experience:

  • “Let Us Breathe” conference on black-led organizing
  • PolicyLink Race & Equity Conference
  • Immigrant Learning Center Workshop on Immigrant Integration
  • USC Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration conference on black immigrants in California
  • Neighborhood Funders Group

 

Angy Rivera

New York State Youth Leadership Council

Key Topics:
Immigration, sexual assault, immigrant youth and media, and film screenings. Can present in both English and Spanish.

Bio:
Angy Rivera, a Colombian immigrant who was previously undocumented, is the Co-Executive Director at the New York State Youth Leadership Council, an undocumented youth led organization fighting for immigrant justice through leadership development and community organizing. Rivera graduated from CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice, obtaining a degree in Culture and Community Studies while minoring in Human Services. Rivera created Ask Angy, an award winning undocumented immigrant online advice column. In 2012, Rivera met documentary maker Mikaela Shwer who filmed her and her family for the film No Le Digas A Nadie (Don’t Tell Anyone). The Peabody Award winning documentary, which aired on PBS in 2015, navigates the difficult reality and double silence Rivera experiences as an undocumented immigrant and survivor of sexual assault.

Experience:
Rivera has spoken at universities, high schools, and middle schools across the country, also at community events, rally, actions and events like The Women’s March NYC, WeDay NYC, and more.

Carl Lipscombe

Black Alliance for Just Immigration

Key Topics:
Immigration policy including interior and border enforcement; the intersection between criminal and immigration law; family-based and diversity visas; temporary protected status; state and local immigration enforcement; sanctuary cities; immigration bond reform; Black immigrants; immigrant integration; mass criminalization including policing, mass incarceration, bail reform, and criminal procedure; grassroots organizing and civic engagement; cross-racial alliance-building

Bio:
Carl Lipscombe is the Deputy Director of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI), a national organization that brings together Black immigrants and refugees and African Americans to fight for racial justice, migrant rights, and economic equality.

For nearly fifteen years, Carl has organized poor Black and immigrant workers, voters, and communities; litigated on behalf of indigent criminal defendants and undocumented immigrants; and worked with grassroots organizations, worker centers, and unions to affect policy change on the local, state, and national levels. Additionally, Carl has worked as a public defender in the Bronx where he represented over 400 indigent defendants in criminal court and related proceedings and has served as President of the NYC Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild.

He’s published numerous articles and opinion pieces on immigration enforcement, policing, mass incarceration, and detention, is a co-author of BAJI’s recently released report, The State of Black Immigrants, and a widely recognized expert on issues impacting Black immigrants.  A native New Yorker, Carl studied public policy at NYU and has degrees in philosophy and law.

Experience:

  • 2017 Color of Surveillance Conference, Georgetown University. June 2017
  • “The State of Black Immigrants in NYC,” NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. March 2017
  • “What’s at Stake: Immigration,” Free Speech TV. February 2017
  • Panelist, “Perspectives on the Fight for Black Lives,” CUNY Law Review Symposium. November 2016
  • Panelist, “Issues Affecting People of African Descent in the U.S.” Hearing conducted by the United Nations Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent January 2016
  • Guest Lecturer, “Race & Public Policy,” Columbia University – SIPA. January 2016 and January 2016

 

Chhaya Chhoum

Mekong NYC

Key Topics:

Inter-generational organizing, Healing and organizing through the lens of the Southeast-Asian experience.

Bio:

Chhaya Chhoum was born in Cambodia in 1978 during the fall of the Khmer Rouge Regime. Chhaya and her family sought refuge in refugee camps in Thailand and the Philippines before making their way to the United States. After a refugee resettlement program abandoned her extended family along with thousands of other Cambodians and Vietnamese in urban poverty in the Bronx she began to organize her community against institutionalized oppression. When Chhaya was 16, she became a tutor in a pilot program run by CAAAV, one of the first organizations in America to mobilize Asian immigrant communities against the institutionalized violence of urban poverty, worker exploitation, police brutality, INS detention and deportation. Her summer internships soon turned into a full-time job as she became staff director of CAAAV’s new Youth Leadership Project (YLP). Taking on slumlords, overcrowded classrooms and cutbacks in translation services at public assistance centers and local health clinics, Chhoum harnesses the energy of the young in a community that has lost much of its adult generation. They would also begin to organize the adults as well as other youth to fight for justice.

In 2012, Chhoum co-founded Mekong, a community-based organization in the Bronx empowering the Cambodian and Vietnamese community through arts, culture, community organizing, and advocacy. She is currently the Executive Director of Mekong. She is also a mother of three – ages 13, 9, and 4. She was awarded Ford’s Leadership for a Changing World and awarded the Petra Foundation Award for unsung heroes in 2006. She has also received the 2013 Neighborhood Leadership Award from The New York Women Foundation.

Experience:

 

  • Brown University.
  • New York Women Foundation Gala.
  • Khmer Student Coalition Conference.
  • Petra Foundation.

 

Cidra M. Sebastien

Brotherhood/Sister Sol

Key Topics:
Non-profit leadership, Youth leadership development, Youth activism, Community organizing, Rites of passage, Study abroad.

Bio:
Cidra M. Sebastien was born in Puerto Rico to a social worker and musician educator. She developed her community organizing and leadership skills from the love and encouragement of her family, travel experiences and academic studies. She is a graduate of Hampton University (BA, English Arts) and is currently completing her Masters work at NYU’s Gallatin School, focusing on the connections between education, social justice and the arts.

As the Associate Director of The Brotherhood/Sister Sol, she is committed to nurturing young people to become critical thinkers and social change agents. A staff member since 2001, she is a Chapter Leader of the Rites of Passage program for young women; co-facilitates the Liberation Program for youth activists; and co-facilitated International Study Programs in Ghana, South Africa, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic. In 2005, Cidra was a co-awardee of the Ford Foundation Leadership for a Changing World Award. She then participated in an eighteen-month cooperative inquiry documented in a report called, “Taking Back the Work: A Cooperative Inquiry into the Work of Leaders of Color in Movement-Building Organizations”. This resulted in her participation in the 2008 Centre for Action Research in Professional Practice/CARPP conference in Stroud, UK and the 2009 World Social Forum in Belem, Brazil as a presenter discussing the report and issues of leadership and race in the US. She was a fellow of the 2010 Council of Urban Professionals 2010 Fellows Program and the Community Resources Exchange 2012-2013 Leadership Caucus.

Experience:

 

Cory Greene

How Our Lives Link Altogether!

Key Topics:
Youth Development, Radical Healing, Mass Incarceration, Grassroots Community Organizing, Healing Justice Movement, Participatory Action Research (PAR), From Criminal Justice to Human Justice

Bio:
Cory Greene is a formerly incarcerated Co-Founder and Healing Justice Organizer with How Our Lives Link Altogether! Cory is currently invested in developing and supporting the development of an inter-generational youth led city-wide Healing Justice Movement. Cory is a father to a fourteen-year-old prince. Cory is a 4th year doctoral candidate in the critical social personality psychology program in the Graduate Center, CUNY where he engages in participatory action research and study’s healing-centered youth leadership development.

Experience:
The Center for NuLeadership On Urban Solutions, The College Initative, From Prison to NYU, 13th-The Documentary, Beyond the Bars Conference, Princeton University, Columbia University, My Family Reunion, My Son’s High School, New York University, The Black Arts Movement, The American Psychological Association, The Allied Media Conference

Daniel Gross

Brandworkers

Key Topics:
Alternative workplace organizing and organizing innovation, Workers’ rights, Food justice, Local food production and regional food systems, Food chain workers, Organizing with immigrant workers, Grassroots campaign strategy, Non-profit start-ups.

Bio:
Daniel Gross is a nationally recognized workers’ rights organizer, attorney, and strategist. He is a leading proponent of workplace organizing innovations which position rank and file workers at the center of change efforts. While a barista at Starbucks, Daniel helped launch a groundbreaking union campaign that has grown across the country and features strategic innovations which have significantly impacted the broader labor movement.

His experience with insecure fast food employment and intense hostility to worker organizing propelled Daniel into law school to further explore alternative organizing models. Convinced that traditional methods of change were falling flat for workers, he started laying the groundwork for Brandworkers in his last year of law school to provide workers with a unique space to build and lead their own campaigns and develop as powerful social change leaders.

In the early days of Brandworkers, a friend asked Daniel to meet with a few immigrant workers from New York City’s local food production sector. Those workers opened his eyes to severe problems, and compelling opportunities for change, in a part of the food chain he had never paid attention to. Not long after, Brandworkers was fully committed to helping workers in the the City’s food factories join together for dignified jobs and a better food system for everyone. Since 2007, Brandworkers mostly immigrant members have won dramatic gains in wages and working conditions and recovered large sums of unlawfully held wages with worker-led campaigns that avoid the pitfalls of traditional labor organizing.

Daniel writes widely on alternative organizing approaches including Labor Law for the Rank & Filer: Build Solidarity While Staying Clear of the Law and Solidarity Unionism at Starbucks, both co-authored with Staughton Lynd. He represented Brandworkers as a founding member organization of the Food Chain Workers Alliance and previously served on the National Lawyers Guild National Executive Committee.

Experience:

  • Labor on the Edge: Workers and The Globalizing Marketplace, New York University
  • Closing Speaker, Strategic Corporate Research Summer School, Cornell School of Industrial and Labor Relations
  • Plenary: Organizing for Health and Dignity in the Food System, Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems Funders

 

Danielle Sered

Common Justice

Key Topics:
Equity in victim services/underserved victims of crime, Young men of color harmed by crime.

Bio:
Danielle Sered directs Common Justice, a demonstration project of the Vera Institute of Justice, which is both victim service program and alternative to incarceration for serious and violent felonies.

Before planning the launch of Common Justice, Danielle served as the interim deputy director of Vera’s Adolescent Reentry Initiative, a program for young men returning from incarceration on Rikers Island. Prior to joining Vera, she worked at the Center for Court Innovation’s Harlem Community Justice Center, where she led its youth programs.

Danielle received her BA from Emory University and her master’s degrees in poetry and European literature from New York University and Oxford University (UK), where she studied as a Rhodes Scholar. She is a Stoneleigh Fellow.

Experience:

  • National Center for Victims of Crime Conference (Phoenix, AZ).
  • National Network of Hospital-Based Violence Intervention Programs conference (Philadelphia, PA).
  • Stoneleigh Symposium Plenary (Philadelphia, PA).
  • New York Capitol Region Restorative Justice Conference Plenary (Saratoga, NY).
  • National District Attorneys Association (San Diego, CA).

 

Darnell Benoit

Flanbwayan Haitian Literacy Project

Key Topics:
English Language Learners, immigrant education in NYC public schools, newcomer immigrant students, high school immigrant students, immigrant girls in the public schools, students with interrupted formal education (SIFE), immigrant programs in the public schools, immigration for youth and families in the public schools, immigrant education reform, special school programs for immigrant students, high school choice, high school enrollment, college access for immigrant students

Bio: Darnell Benoit is the Executive Director of Flanbwayan Haitian Literacy Project (Flanbwayan) Darnell Benoit was an adult ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher for over 15 years. In her classes, she noticed many young adults completed years of high school without graduating or being English proficient. She recognized the cause was poor English Language Learner (ELL) student support in the public schools and inadequate placement in high schools without supportive programs for immigrant students. As a teacher and an immigrant herself, she felt obliged to find a solution.  In 2005 she founded Flanbwayan Haitian Literacy Project to advocate for immigrant education reform and to improve educational outcomes for newcomer immigrant students citywide.

Experience:
Immigrant Kids in School: Challenges, Progress and Potential- Philanthropy New York, April 2018

City Legislative Breakfast- Immigrant Education Panel, New York City, February 2018

Donald Anthonyson

Families for Freedom

Key Topics:

The “Criminal” Justice System and Immigration

Bio:

Donald Anthonyson, Executive Director at Families for Freedom, was born in Antigua, and migrated to the US in 1979. He got involved in various social justice issues ranging from police brutality (Elenanor Bumphus Justice Committee) and anti-racial responses (NYASA) to immigration. He lives in Harlem, NY.

Donald became a member and later an organizer and now Executive Director at Families For Freedom (FFF) after he was detained and placed in immigration removal proceedings for a decades old misdemeanor conviction. He has led FFF’s efforts of the International Deportee Justice Campaign, co-facilitated 2 Consular Roundtables and produced FFF’s monthly radio show, the War on Immigrants Report, on 99.5 FM WBAI.

Founded in September 2002, Families for Freedom is a New York-based human rights organization, by and for immigrants facing and fighting deportation.

Experience:

  • City College, Organizing Among Marginalized Communities
  • CUNY Law, Detention and Deportation Policies and Realities
  • Detention Watch Network, strategy meeting in DC.

Eddie Bautista

NYC Environmental Justice Alliance

Key Topics:
Climate justice, NYC-EJA’s agenda addressing environmental justice issues in NYC, EJ and solid waste, energy and brownfields policies, EJ & PlaNYC 2030, EJ & politics/policy-making broadly, NYC-EJA’s Waterfront Justice Project’s research on potential hazardous exposures in industrial waterfront neighborhoods in the event of severe weather, Opportunities & challenges affecting the planning/implementation of recovery efforts following Superstorm Sandy in NYC, Sandy Regional Assembly Recovery Agenda and its analysis of official recovery efforts and recommendations to government task forces.

Bio: Eddie Bautista is the Executive Director of the NYC Environmental Justice Alliance (NYC-EJA), a network of community-based organizations advocating for the empowerment and just treatment of environmentally overburdened neighborhoods. Previously, Eddie served as Director of the NYC Mayor’s Office of City Legislative Affairs – where he spearheaded efforts to pass several landmark laws, including NYC’s 20-year Solid Waste Management Plan – and Director of Community Planning for NY Lawyers for the Public Interest, where he organized coalitions blocking the siting of polluting infrastructure in overburdened communities, while revising public waste and energy policies.

An award winning urban planner and community organizer, Eddie has been interviewed by local and national media outlets. Several books feature Eddie’s work, including The Battle for Gotham: New York in the Shadow of Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs, by Roberta Brandes Gratz (2010); Noxious New York: The Racial Politics of Urban Health and Environmental Justice, by Julie Sze (2006), and We Won’t Move: Community Planning in “The Real Estate Capital of the World” by Tom Angotti (2008).

Eddie is also a Visiting Professor at Pratt Institute’s Graduate Programs for Sustainable Planning and Development.

Fiona Kanagasingam

Community Resource Exchange

Key Topics:
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion especially racial equity, talent management, leadership development and coaching.

Bio:
Fiona has over 18 years of experience facilitating change at the individual, organizational and community level. She supports nonprofit and public sector groups on various components of organizational development from strategic planning and leadership development to talent management and equity and inclusion. At Community Resource Exchange, she built the organization’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) and human-centered design-based Innovation practices.

Before joining CRE, Fiona was Acting Dean of International and Professional Experience and Director of Leadership at Yale-NUS, a liberal arts college partnering Yale University and the National University of Singapore. In that role, she introduced Inter-Group Dialogue, a structured program, and methodology to explore racial/ethnic group identity, conflict, community, and social justice – a first in a country with a heavily circumscribed discourse on race, politics, and identity. Previously, Fiona was a Managing Consultant with the Gallup Organization, where she advised global organizations in situating human development, emotions, strengths, and wellbeing at the heart of organizational change.

Fiona received her BA from Columbia University in Comparative Politics with a concentration in Gender Studies, magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, her Masters in Counseling from Monash University in Australia, and her Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Georgetown University. She is also a certified executive coach, and adjunct professor at Teachers College, Columbia University.

Experience:
Facing Race (conference), First Monday’s Executive Meeting on Undoing Racism, Wagner School of Public Policy ‘Race in Organizations’.

Frank Antonio Lopez

The Brotherhood/Sister Sol

Key Topics:
Fair policing, Arts & activism.

Bio:
Frank graduated in 2010 from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and is a Spoken Word/Teaching Artist. A BHSS Alumnus, Frank currently works as the Fair Policing Media Outreach Coordinator, working to document the advocacy and speaking engagements of our members and alumni. Frank has worked as an arts and social justice educator at El Puente Academy for Social Justice. He has filmed documentaries all over New York City as well as internationally with a focus on social justice issues, in such places as Mexico City, South Africa, Cuba, and Tanzania. His film, “Black Boys Don’t Cry: Manhood in Urban America” screened in an international film festival in Ghana, at the historical Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and at New York University. This 17-minute documentary focuses on The Brotherhood Rites of Passage program and is based on interviews with current and alumni members. Frank has also taught video production workshops in the Dominican Republic, his parents’ native country.

In 2006 and 2009, he was nominated for the Oliver Stone Screenwriting Award for over-achievement in the field of storytelling. Frank has been an associate facilitator for NYU’s film program at both the University of Havana in Cuba and in Singapore. Frank is also an Urban Word NYC Mentor and facilitates writing workshops all over New York City’s high schools and community centers, creating a safe space for teens to explore themselves and the prominent issues that affect their lives.

He is an alumnus of The Brotherhood/Sister Sol’s Lyrical Circle and the International Studies Program to South Africa in 2005 where participants studied the AIDS pandemic and the role of youth in the anti-Apartheid movement. His work is published in Off the Subject: The Words of Lyrical Circle of The Brotherhood/Sister Sol (2006), which has an afterword from Nikki Giovanni and an introduction from Sekou Sundiata.

Frank is fully bi-lingual (Spanish/English) and was raised in Washington Heights.

Experience:

  • Performances in NYC, nationally and internationally.
  • Guest on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and FoxLatino.

 

Gabriel Sayegh

Katal Center for Health, Equity, and Justice

Key Topics:
War on Drugs, Drug Policy, Marijuana Policy, Criminal Justice, New Jim Crow, Mass Incarceration, Public Health, Racial Justice, Drug Treatment and Healthcare Reform.

Bio:
Gabriel Sayegh is co-founder and co-director of the Katal Center for Health, Equity, and Justice. For nearly 20 years, Sayegh has worked on campaigns to end mass incarceration the war on drugs, promote fair economies and racial equity, and more. From 2003 – 2015 he worked at the Drug Policy Alliance, in many capacities, including as Managing Director of Policy and Campaigns. At DPA, he led numerous policy reform campaigns in cities and states around the country, including the coalition effort to roll back the Rockefeller Drug Laws in New York, campaigns to reform New York’s marijuana arrests laws and pass medical marijuana legislation, and efforts to reduce overdose fatalities through health-based approaches to drug policy. In each campaign, Sayegh managed three strategic areas: policy advocacy and grassroots engagement; communications; and affiliated c4 and PAC political engagement activities. He has appeared in a wide range of broadcast, online, and print media, including The New York Times, NY1, MSNBC, CBS, NBC, Fox News, Fusion, NPR, Washington Post, Newsweek, Vice, NY Daily News, NY Post, Associated Press, Huffington Post, The Village Voice, Gawker, BBC, and more. He lives in Brooklyn.

He is the author of numerous articles and several reports, including Blueprint for a Public Health and Safety Approach to Drug Policy (the subject of a New York Times editorial) and From Handcuffs to Healthcare: Putting the Affordable Care Act to Work for Criminal Justice and Drug Law Reform.

Experience:

  • Leading the Way: Toward a Public Health & Safety Approach to Drug Policy, DPA and University at Buffalo (Buffalo, NY).
  • And the Ground Shifted: the war on drugs and the future of drug policy in the U.S., Center for Addiction Research Institute for Medical Humanities (Galveston, TX).
  • Histories of the Drug War – Challenging Punishment 2013 Conference, Institute for Research in African-American Studies at Columbia University (New York, NY).
  • NYS Attorney General Eric Schneiderman – Stop & Frisk: A Presentation and Discussion on the NYS Attorney General Report on Stop and Frisk Pratices, New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Legislative Caucus Weekend (Albany, NY).
  • TEDxBinghamtonUniversity – Drugs, “thugs,” and other things we’re taught to fear (Binghamton, NY): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjEGycmSPs4

 

James Schaffer

The Advocacy Institute

Key Topics:
Curriculum Design & Development. Developing visual tools and data visualizations. Developing strategy, tactics and organizational systems.

Bio:
Driven by a love of data, spreadsheets and infographics, James directs our operations, management systems and product/tool development. He brings a popular education approach to the curriculum team and facilitates tech trainings.

James serves on the Board of Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ), also a proud alum of its Grace Paley Organizing Fellowship, and has organized within movements for migrant justice and domestic worker rights. Prior to co-founding the Advocacy Institute, James spent eight years helping small businesses, funders and non-profits strengthen their financial management and strategic planning.

Born and raised in New York City, he is a graduate of Harvard College, a student of Karate, Aikido and somatics, and lives in Brooklyn, NY with two wonderful humans and two wonderful cats.

Experience:

  • New York State Health Foundation — Conversation With Event.
  • Jews for Racial and Economic Justice.
  • North Star Fund.
  • Resource Generation.
  • Wildfire Project.

 

Javier Valdés

Make The Road New York

Key Topics:
Immigration, Civic engagement, Civil rights, Education, Housing, Environmental justice, Economic justice, Grassroots organizing, Policy innovation

Bio:
Javier H. Valdés is Co-Executive Director of Make the Road New York (MRNY), the largest community based immigrant organization in New York State with over 23,000 members. Javier oversees MRNY’s work in the areas of civil rights, education, housing, environmental justice and immigration. He supervises MRNY’s youth program as well as its administrative and operations functions. Javier was critical in securing new policies that limit the local presence of federal immigration enforcement, improve the quality of affordable housing, expand translation and interpretation services at government offices, decrease biased policing and dramatically expand guaranteed paid sick days for low-wage workers.

Previously Javier was the Director of Advocacy at the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), where he helped lead successful campaigns to address poor housing conditions and improve translation services in New York City. Before that, he was the Program Officer for Latin America at the Synergos Institute where he worked extensively in the US-Mexico border region, Dominican Republic and Ecuador. He is the Vice-Chair of the Board for the Center for Popular Democracy, and sits on the boards of the Association of Neighborhood and Housing Development (ANHD) and Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM). He holds a Master’s Degree in Urban Planning from New York University and has three sons.

Experience:

  • Javier was honored with the Cesar Chavez Champion of Change award by President Obama and spoke at the White House about the need for comprehensive immigration reform.
  • Javier has presented to many audiences, has had multiple Op-Eds published and is regularly quoted by prominent media outlets.

Jill Eisenhard

Red Hook Initiative

Key Topics:
Community hiring practices, Youth development programming.

Bio:
Ms. Eisenhard is the Founder and Executive Director of the Red Hook Initiative in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Under her leadership this grassroots organization has developed a model for social change and youth development that empowers youth and community members to become agents of change in their own lives and within their own neighborhood. RHI currently employs over 80 residents of Red Hook, thereby keeping the majority of financial resources within the neighborhood.

Ms. Eisenhard has over 16 years of direct youth work experience and has worked in the field of women’s health for the last 18 years. Formerly a Program Implementation Manager with the Carrera Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program at the Children’s Aid Society, she oversaw four after school youth programs in the South Bronx and Washington Heights and provided training and technical assistance to the national programs. Ms. Eisenhard worked for five years with Long Island College Hospital and was instrumental in launching the Center for Women’s Health, a comprehensive medical center for women, the first of its kind in Brooklyn, NY.

Ms. Eisenhard and the Red Hook Initiative received a Union Square Award in 2007 in recognition for their fight for social justice in Red Hook. They also received the 2012 “Building Brooklyn Award” in the community development category, granted by the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. In 2009 Ms. Eisenhard received the Bank of America Local Hero Award and in 2011 she was given a “Brooklyn Women of Distinction” award from CNG Courier Life. She is a graduate of the Coro Leadership New York program, 2010. In 2012 she received the Coro Alumni Leadership Award for Civic Engagement. She was featured in the July 2012 issue of More Magazine under their “Job Genius” series. In 2012 the Red Hook Initiative received the Gold Medal for Excellence in Nonprofit Management from NPCC and the New York Magazine. Ms. Eisenhard holds a BS from Cornell University.

Experience:

  • Independent Sector National Conference, 2013.
  • Nonprofit Coordinating Committee Panel on Best Fundraising Practices, 2013.
  • Alfred University Student Leadership Recognition Dinner (Keynote), 2012.

 

Joan Byron

Neighborhoods First Fund for Community Based Planning

Key Topics:
Social justice in the built environment of cities, including housing affordability and displacement, equity in transportation, open space, the Sheridan Expressway campaign and the reclamation of the Bronx River, Bus Rapid Transit as a transportation equity strategy, inclusion of marginalized groups in planning of urban infrastructure and development, and how philanthropy can support organizing for that inclusion.

Bio: Since 2015, Joan Byron has worked to design, launch, and lead Neighborhoods First, a philanthropic collaborative that supports the engagement of low-income communities in the planning processes that are reshaping their neighborhoods.

Previously, Joan was Director of Policy at the Pratt Center for Community Development, where her work included the Transportation Equity Atlas, mapping racial and economic disparities in transit access across New York City neighborhoods and advocating for a citywide Bus Rapid Transit network; support of the Bronx River Alliance’s work to restore the Bronx River and build an 8-mile greenway along its banks; and with the Southern Bronx River Watershed Alliance, the campaign to replace the Sheridan Expressway with waterfront housing and open space. From 1989 through 2003, Joan directed the Pratt Center’s nonprofit architectural practice in the design and construction of over 2,000 units of affordable housing, as well as community health, childcare, and cultural facilities.

Joan is a registered architect, holds a Master in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and in 2012, won a fellowship from the German Marshall Fund for research on equity in the public realm. She is a member and past chair of the board of the Bronx River Alliance. In 2013, Joan received the Paul Davidoff Award for Leadership in Housing and Equal Opportunity from the New York Metro Chapter of the American Planning Association.

Experience:

  • Panel on Equity and Resiliency, RAMP [Recovery, Adaptation, Mitigation and Planning], a post-Sandy initiative of Pratt Institute Programs for Sustainable Planning and Development.
  • Presentation of Transportation Equity and Equitable Transit-Oriented Development, The Funders Network for Smart Growth, Los Angeles.
  • Plenary presentation on the Sheridan Expressway Campaign and Environmental Justice at Toward Carfree Cities VI, Bogotá.

Writing:

 

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