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Announcing The 2021-22 National Leading From The Inside Out Yearlong Fellows

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Each year, Rockwood selects a cohort of nationally recognized leaders to participate in a transformative yearlong fellowship. Since 2003, this executive leadership program has emerged as one of the nation’s leading learning laboratories for experienced social change leaders.

National LIO Yearlong fellows must be nominated in order to apply for the fellowship, and the extensive selection process takes into account a great number of factors, including Rockwood’s commitment to building connections between leaders who are diverse in methodology, issue focus, geography, and personal experience, and identity.

The 2021-2022 National LIO Yearlong Fellows are:

Alejandra Ruiz | Executive Director, Youth Engagement Fund

A native of Colombia, Alejandra was raised in Queens, NYC and became an immigrant rights advocate 18 years ago when she first shared her story as an undocumented youth. Alejandra serves as the Executive Director of the Youth Engagement Fund (YEF) where she resources leaders and organizations building the the voice and voting power of youth and young adults of color, primarily in the South and Southwest. Alejandra’s leadership has advanced efforts in shifting white supremacist philanthropic practices towards principles and operations that center the care and voice of communities of color.  Prior to joining YEF, Alejandra was Director of Donor Organizing and Advising at the Movement Voter Project  and served Development Director of United We Dream, the nation’s largest immigrant youth-led network. She coaches youth on fundraising, career, and workforce development. Alejandra is a Philanthropy Forward alum and holds a B.S. in Urban & Regional Studies from Cornell University.

 

Alvina Yeh | Executive Director, Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance

Alvina (she/her/hers) serves as the Executive Director of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA) and Institute for Asian Pacific American Leadership & Advancement (IAPALA).  Originally from Colorado, Alvina comes from a Chinese family who fled from the war in Vietnam. Alvina is a lifelong community organizer with experience in electoral and issue-based campaigns. She is deeply passionate about building a movement where everyone has a fair shot in a thriving society. She has previously served as the Director of State Capacity Building with State Voices, working with state-based coalitions on program management, strategic planning, and organizational development. Her prior experiences include work on several campaigns at the congressional and presidential level and serving as Program Director at Asian Pacific Islander American Vote (APIAVote). Alvina currently serves as the Co-Chair of the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA) and serves the following organizations: Congressional Progressive Caucus Center Advisory Board, National Korean American Service & Education Consortium Action Fund (NAKASEC AF) Board, and the Solidarity Center.  Alvina lives in Washington, D.C. with her partner, Jeff, and child, Mazie. In her free time, you can find her risking friendships over a competitive board game, crafting, trying new food, or just trying to take a nap.

 

Amit Mistry | Deputy Executive Director, Alliance for Youth Organizing

Amit (he/him/his) is the Deputy ED of Network Strategy at the Alliance for Youth Action where he helps to coordinate regular engagement and collaborative work between the network and the Alliance national team. Before joining the Alliance, he was the Later States Data Lead on the Elizabeth Warren for President campaign, overseeing data needs for more than 20 states and coordinating with national staff across multiple departments. Amit also spent time at the Center for Popular Democracy as the Data Director for Civic Engagement, working in support of a network building organizing power to transform the local and state policy landscape through deep, long-term partnerships. Prior to that he was the Data and Analytics Director at NextGen America, managing data needs for the largest youth organizing effort in the nation, which registered over 250,000 new voters in the 2018 cycle.

 

Amol Sinha | Executive Director, ACLU of New Jersey

Amol Sinha is the Executive Director of the ACLU of New Jersey, where he leads the organization’s integrated advocacy, utilizing litigation, policy advocacy, public education, and strategic communications to achieve policy goals across multiple issues. Prior to joining the ACLU-NJ in 2017, Amol was a state policy advocate at the Innocence Project, where he worked to address wrongful convictions and reform the criminal legal system across the country. From 2010-2015, Amol was the director of the Suffolk County Chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union, where he focused primarily on criminal justice and immigrants’ rights. Amol has served as the president of the South Asian Bar Association of New York, where he led efforts to shape the organization’s public interest community and programming. Amol holds a BA from New York University and a JD from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. He has been featured in regional, national, and international news outlets as a commentator on civil rights and liberties, racial justice, and issues facing Asian American and South Asian communities.

 

Avideh Moussavian | Director of Federal Advocacy, National Immigration Law Center

Avideh Moussavian develops and implements NILC’s overall strategy for congressional advocacy and administrative advocacy across federal agencies to advance immigrant-inclusive legislation and policies. She has previously worked as the director of immigration policy and advocacy at the New York Immigration Coalition and directly represented immigrant survivors of gender-based violence, including people in detention, as a senior staff attorney at Sanctuary for Families in New York City. Avideh holds a juris doctor from Boston University School of Law and a bachelor of arts from Columbia University. She is the daughter of Iranian immigrants.

 

Celeste Faison | Campaigns Director, National Domestic Worker’s Alliance

Celeste is the Black Organizing Coordinator at National Domestic Workers Alliance and co-founder of the Blackout Collective. A seasoned organizer, she cut her teeth as a youth organizer in 21st Century Youth Leadership Movement and served as lead organizer at Youth Together. An organizing strategist, Celeste served as assistant director of the League of young voters, training thousands of young people in new electoral organizing strategies that infused community organizing. Many of those methods were adopted by the Democratic party in 2008. During her time as a director of the Ruckus Society, Celeste fell in love with direct action. In 2014 she co-founded the Blackout Collective, an all Black direct action collective that assisted with shutting down the Bart and the topless #SayHerName action. She spends her free time traveling the country developing Black people as direct action trainers and strategist.

 

Claudia Yoli Ferla | Executive Director, MOVE Texas

Claudia Yoli Ferla is the Executive Director at MOVE Texas, a nonprofit organization working to build the social, cultural, and political power of young people in Texas. She is a dedicated community organizer born in Venezuela and proudly raised in El Paso, Texas. Drawing on her power and unique experience as a Dreamer and queer Latina, she advocates on behalf of young Texans everywhere looking to find their voices to affect change in their communities. Claudia has served in multiple roles across the political and advocacy sectors, working with organizational leaders like Battleground Texas, Texas Freedom Network, and United We Dream. Prior to her role at MOVE Texas, Claudia served as the co-Executive Director of Deeds Not Words, training hundreds of young leaders across the state and building chapters across 25 Texas high schools and higher learning institutions. She also formerly worked as the Director of Community Affairs and Media Relations for the Office of Texas State Senator José Rodríguez, a staunch advocate for social justice and civil rights, and an inspirational leader whom she considers to be one of her strongest mentors. Claudia is proud to be part of the generation of young people who won the protections of the DACA program and who unapologetically continue to tell the world that immigrant stories do not belong in the shadows. Over the years, she has worked with other young leaders to help register voters, elect candidates, and support policies that improve our communities. It is because of these experiences that she is committed to developing the leadership of young people, by uplifting their voices, stories and power. As someone who is deeply impacted by the mission of MOVE Texas, Claudia brings her personal experiences and contributes to the impactful team that is powering change across Texas and beyond.

 

Ebony Martin | Co-Executive Director, Greenpeace USA

Ebony Twilley Martin didn’t know she was an environmental activist until her son developed asthma, and her pediatrician said it was caused in part by the environmental racism and inequities of air pollution in America. As a Black mother, Ebony took it upon herself to learn everything she could about the fight for clean air,which led her to a “dream job” at Greenpeace. Ebony is the first Black woman to ever serve as an Co Executive Director in a legacy environmental organization. As Executive Director, Ebony brings together her passion for Environmental Justice, her knack for recruiting and developing talent, and her acumen to implement management practices that embed Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion goals into every aspect of the organization. Under Ebony’s leadership, Grenpeace has seen an increase of over 300% in BIPOC staff. She has blazed this trail because she believes deeply in the power of a diverse, multiracial environmental movement to win a stable climate, fresh air, and clean water for all people. Ebony has been heralded as a leader for equity in the environmental movement, and often speaks with the media and environmental audiences about the journey of “embedding justice” in the culture at Greenpeace. Ebony holds a Masters in Human Resources Management from the University of Maryland. A classically trained vocalist, she also holds a BA in music from Immaculata University. Ebony’s faith is deeply connected to her pursuit of justice, and she is an active leader in her church. Ebony lives in Washington, DC with her partner, two sons, and a mischievous puppy.

 

Jessica Byrd | Founder & Director, Three Point Strategies

Jessica Byrd founded Three Point Strategies in 2015 to provide a home for electoral strategy that centers racial justice and is transformational rather than transactional. Jessica is a nationally renowned political strategist known for her unapologetically people-powered approach to campaign strategy and is a relentless capacity builder for the independent Black Political Ecosystem. Having worked in 43 states, you can find her at the side of the most exciting races to elect Black women in the country, training hundreds of leaders, and building tools to serve the Movement. She is one of the architects of the Movement for Black Lives Electoral Justice Project and the Black Campaign School and has raised nearly $10 million for Black electoral strategy and Movement building. Jessica has served behind the scenes of the groundbreaking Democracy in Color project and the first-ever Women of Color Presidential Forum, She The People. She made history while serving as a chief strategist for Black women US Senate Candidates, Congresswomen, Mayors of major metropolitan cities, and serving as the Chief of Staff to Georgia Gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams. In 2016, Jessica was named the January Woman to Watch by Essence Magazine, “12 New Faces of Black Leadership” by Time Magazine, and Rolling Stone named her one of the most influential millennials shaping the 2016 election. Jessica is made up of Ohio winters, working class parents, Toni Morrison novels, Leslie Knope idealism and anything with guacamole on it.”

 

Justin Myers | Executive Director, Blue Leadership Collaborative

Justin Myers is the founder of Uplift Strategies and the Executive Director of Blue Leadership Collaborative. He has led the group’s effort to develop the group’s 2021 program to place high-level and diverse leaders and managers on Virginia legislative campaigns. BLC will help Democrats maintain and gain majorities and also build a talent pipeline that will benefit Democratic campaigns throughout the country. Justin is committed to building the bench of the next generation of diverse and talented campaign managers and creating more equity across the Democratic Party’s leadership. Justin is the former CEO of For Our Future and For Our Future Action Fund, one of the largest, permanent progressive organizing programs across Florida, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin. During his tenure, Justin oversaw the organization’s contribution to sweeping electoral progress, securing progressive victories up and down the ballot. Under his direction, For Our Future helped bring Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to the White House, secure the pickup of 5 gubernatorial seats and 1 U.S. Senate seat, flip numerous congressional and state legislative seats, and enact a string of ballot measures to advance voting rights, environmental protections, and fair wages. Prior to working at For Our Future, Justin managed races at various levels of the ballot and served as the Executive Director of the New Jersey State Democratic Committee. He also served as DCCC’s Northeast Political Director, where he helped flip two seats. Justin grew up as the son of a minister and two long-time union members in Philadelphia. After graduating from Colgate University, he taught history at a Title I high school while attending Fordham University for graduate school. His career in politics began in Harlem, where Justin became a community organizer and City Council liaison. He has been featured in national and local media outlets including, NBC News, POLITICO, AP, ABC News, C-SPAN, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Marketwatch, and New York Magazine. Justin resides in Washington, D.C., with his wife and two children.

 

Kate Davenport | Co-President, Eureka Recycling

Kate Davenport is the co-president of Eureka Recycling, a zero-waste social enterprise that demonstrates zero waste as a strategy to address climate change, local economic development, workforce development and inclusion and social and environmental justice located in the Twin Cities. With key recycling contracts servicing the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul and over 100 employees, Eureka has invested over $20 million in their MRF and recycling collections over the last 17 years. Previous to the role of Co-President, Davenport was the director of business development at Eureka and led on merging Eureka’s mission and values with business development, materials marketing, and operational systems change and efficiencies. Kate is a Bush Leadership Fellow and currently serves on the advisory board of Main Street Alliance and is a member of the Minnesota Women’s Economic Roundtable. Previously Kate co-developed operations for Envirelation, the first commercial organics collection service in Washington, D.C. She worked with Flexcar and the Zipcar, the first car sharing companies in the US. Kate was a Program Director at EcoVentures International with a focus on environmental microenterprise development in East Africa, South Asia, the Caribbean, and the US. Kate has worked on sustainability and waste issues for nearly twenty years, starting with involvement with SustainUS, a youth organization engaged on global and national policy related to sustainability, climate and poverty alleviation. She was elected to be the youth representative and then US representative for a range of United Nations Environment Program negotiations. Many know Kate as Trash Assassin, her name within the roller derby community where she played with North Star Roller Derby for several years. Kate grew up in Richmond, Virginia and now lives with her wife and two boys in Minneapolis. Kate has a B.A. from Tufts University

 

Laleh Ispahani | Co-Director, US, Open Society Foundations

Laleh Ispahani serves as Co-Director of Open Society Foundation for the U.S. (OSUS), the US component of the largest foundation dedicated to advancing justice, democratic governance, and human rights in the United States and globally. Laleh is an expert on protecting and expanding the right to vote, reducing the influence of money on politics, and ensuring that the internet remains an open and secure platform for free expression and civic participation. Last year, she created and co-chaired the Partnership for Safe Voting, a large philanthropic partnership to protect voting in the face of the pandemic, voter suppression, and disinformation which raised over $500 million for front-line organizations. She oversees $300 million in annual investments in efforts to advance racial equality, inclusive democracy, and combatting hate, including major initiatives to combat Islamophobia, protect net neutrality, and challenge corporate consolidation of media and data. Before joining the Open Society Foundations, Ms. Ispahani served as senior policy counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union, where she worked on racial justice and human rights. She previously litigated campaign finance reform issues at the Brennan Center for Justice, serving on the trial team that successfully defended the McCain-Feingold Finance Reform Act. Her recent writings include: It’s Time to Give Essential Workers the Protections They Deserve , Biden Executive Actions Make Unity Possible for Americans, How I explain Trump’s Travel Ban to My Daughter; Shoring Up a Democracy under Siege; What’s Needed Nationally and Fast to Stop Wisconsin From Replicating; Will the Surge in Social Activism Result in More Votes? She is a Fellow at the World Economic Forum, a Board Member at the American Economic Liberties Project, and leads philanthropic associations. Laleh was born and raised in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Iran, through times of war, revolution and martial law. She has made New York City home, with her Finnish partner and their daughter. She received her bachelor’s degree from Harvard College and her law degree from the Georgetown University Law Center.

 

Laura Martin | Executive Director, Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada

Laura Martin, Executive Director, Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, started actively organizing and coalition building in college during the invasion of Iraq. She moved from her hometown of Colorado Springs to Las Vegas to work with SEIU to elect a president committed to health care for all. Laura joined Americans for Democratic Action to organize low income communities of color around kitchen table issues. She joined PLAN first as a volunteer, then organizer, then communications director, and eventually executive director. The first woman, and first Black person to lead PLAN in the organization’s 27 year history. Laura is a graduate of Emerge Nevada, a board member of the Western States Center, Earthworks, and People’s Action. She is the third oldest of 13, enjoys Colorado sports, and all the entertainment opportunities living in fabulous Las Vegas provides.

 

Lecia Brooks | Chief of Staff, Southern Poverty Law Center

Lecia Brooks is the chief of staff for the SPLC, where she provides counsel to senior leadership, assists with strategic planning and works with people from across the organization to ensure the SPLC’s success, whether it is achieving long-term goals or maintaining effective daily operations. Before her current role, Brooks served as the SPLC’s chief workplace transformation officer, where she supported leadership and staff efforts to build a culture of inclusiveness and ensure a continued focus on diversity and equity. Brooks also previously served as the SPLC’s outreach director, where she traveled across the U.S. and abroad to speak about hate and extremism. Earlier, she was director of the SPLC’s Civil Rights Memorial Center, an interpretive experience designed to provide visitors to the Civil Rights Memorial with a deeper understanding of the civil rights movement. Brooks, who joined the SPLC in 2004, has a wealth of experience in diversity advocacy training for corporations and nonprofit organizations, including Walmart, Lyft, Pixar, the Salzburg Seminar, and the Newark Public Library.

 

Marbre Stahly-Butts | Executive Director, Law for Black Lives

Marbre Stahly-Butts works closely with organizers and communities across the country to advance and actualize radical policy. She currently serves on the Leadership Team of the Movement For Black Lives Policy Table and helped develop the Vision for Black Lives Policy Platform. She also is a member of the Steering Committee for the National Bail Out, and is one of the architects of Mama’s Day Bail Outs. Since graduating from Yale Law School, Marbre has supported local and national organizations from across the country in their policy development and advocacy. Following law school Marbre was awarded a Soros Justice Fellowship for work focused on organizing and working with families affected by aggressive policing and criminal justice policies in New York City in order to develop meaningful bottom up policy reforms. While in law school, Marbre focused on the intersection of criminal justice and civil rights and gained legal experience with the Bronx Defenders, the Equal Justice Initiative and the Prison Policy Initiative. Before law school Marbre received her Masters in African Studies from Oxford University and worked in Zimbabwe organizing communities impacted by violence and then in South Africa teaching at Nelson Mandela’s alma mater. Marbre graduated from Columbia University, with a BA in African-American History and Human Rights.

 

Matt Traldi | Managing Director, Indivisible Project

Matt is one of the co-authors of the Indivisible Guide and a co-founder of the Indivisible organizations, previously serving as a member of Indivisible Civics’ board and the Treasurer of Indivisible Project. He is now Indivisible’s Managing Director, coordinating its programmatic work, strategic planning, and finance. Before joining Indivisible, he worked for more than a decade in the labor movement as an organizer, campaigner, researcher, policy director, and Secretary-Treasurer of a local union. Most recently, he led SEIU’s research team on the Fight for $15, a national campaign which won 19 million low-wage workers almost $62 billion in raises across the U.S. In 2017, along with the other founders of Indivisible, he was named one of TIME Magazine’s “The 25 Most Influential People on the Internet.”

 

Meg Wiehe | Deputy Executive Director, Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy

Meg Wiehe is the deputy executive director of the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), a policy organization that works to advance equitable and adequate tax policies at the federal, state and local levels. She leads a team of researchers who provide analyses to advocates and policymakers nationally and in all 50 states, and she is regularly called on to provide current and historical context on state and local tax policy trends. Her work has quantified and helped define for policymakers and the public how progressive tax policies, including refundable tax credits, can reduce income inequality. She also works internally and with partner organizations to provide strategic guidance on tax policy proposals and campaigns. Before joining ITEP in 2010, Meg worked to secure progressive tax victories in her home state of North Carolina. She lives in Durham, N.C., where she enjoys hiking, kayaking, and exploring the state with her family.

 

Michael-Ray Mathews | Deputy Director & Chief Faith Officer, Faith in Action 

Michael-Ray Mathews (he/him/his) brings over 30 years of leadership experience – as a senior pastor, grassroots leader, psalmist and community organizer – to his work as Deputy Director and Chief Faith Officer for Faith in Action (formerly PICO National Network).  He is the host of the Prophetic Resistance Podcast, where he engages multi-faith leaders in conversations about cultivating communities of belonging and sacred resistance to injustice.  Rev. Mathews is president of the Alliance of Baptists, a progressive movement for justice and healing, and co-editor of Trouble the Waters:  A Christian Resource for the Work of Racial Justice.  A senior fellow at Auburn Theological Seminary in New York, he is also co-founder of and public theologian-in-residence with Sympara, a multifaith/interspiritual community of practice, repurposing spiritual assets for the common good.

 

Mimi Marziani | President, Texas Civil Rights Project

Mimi Marziani is the President of the Texas Civil Rights Project, a position she has held since 2016. She has an extensive background in civil rights advocacy and nonprofit management, plus expertise in election law. Prior to her role as President of the Texas Civil Rights Project, Ms. Marziani led voting rights efforts for multiple political organizations, including running the first coordinated, statewide voter protection program for progressive candidates in Texas in 2014. Before moving to Texas, Ms. Marziani worked as Counsel for the Democracy Program of the Brennan Center for Justice in New York City, where she litigated election law cases in federal courts across the country. A nationally recognized expert in election law, Ms. Marziani is regularly featured in the press and as a public speaker. She is a teacher and a mentor for young lawyers, serving as an adjunct professor at the University of Texas School of Law and on the NYU School of Law Board of Trustees. In 2020, she was recognized with an “Austin Under 40” award for her nonprofit service to the community. Ms. Marziani graduated cum laude from NYU School of Law, and received a B.A., magna cum laude, from Vanderbilt University.

 

Rahna Epting | Executive Director, MoveOn

Rahna Epting is the Executive Director of MoveOn, the member-led grassroots progressive organization working to make this country a place where everyone can thrive. Rahna leads both MoveOn Civic Action, which works to advance progressive policies and social change, and MoveOn Political Action, which works to elect candidates who are committed to standing up for an inclusive, progressive agenda. Rahna has led issue and electoral campaigning at MoveOn in the Chief of Program and Election Program Managing Director roles. Previously, she served as Chief of Staff at Every Voice, where she oversaw state and national campaigns to make democracy work for everyone. Prior to joining Every Voice, Rahna worked at the Service Employees International Union in various capacities. In the role of Member Political Programs Director, she designed, developed and managed national programs to engage SEIU members across the country in politics.

 

Rahwa Ghirmatzion | Executive Director, People United for Sustainable Housing, Inc.

Rahwa Ghirmatzion was born in Asmera, Eritrea in the middle of a civil war. She came to Western New York as a refugee at the age of eight with her family, after living in Sudan. She was educated in Buffalo Public Schools and SUNY at Buffalo. In 2018, Rahwa became executive director of PUSH Buffalo, a community organization that works at the grassroots to create and implement a comprehensive revitalization plan for Buffalo’s West Side, with more than $60 million invested in affordable housing rehabilitation, solar installation, green jobs training, weatherization and green infrastructure Ghirmatzion oversees the organization’s programs and day-to-day operations, which have grown to include housing construction, weatherization, solar installation, job training, and a youth center on Grant Street, as well as outreach and advocacy on public policy issues facing urban communities.

 

Roxana Norouzi | Executive Director, OneAmerica

Roxana Norouzi has over 15 years of experience in organizing, advocacy and social justice work with immigrant and refugee populations. Currently, she is the Executive Director for OneAmerica, Washington State’s largest immigrant rights organization, where she has worked for the last decide. At OneAmerica she moved the organization through a transformational process to get further rooted in grassroots organizing, strategic policy campaigns and political power. Under her leadership, the organization has won on issues such as establishing an immigrant worker relief fund, bilingual education initiatives, and expanding voting rights and representation to people of color. In addition to her role at OneAmerica she is also a clinical instructor at the University of Washington in the School of Public Health. In 2010, after earning her Masters in Social Work at the University of Washington, Roxana was awarded the Bonderman Fellowship which allowed her to travel to twenty countries exploring post-conflict regions, migration trends, and identity. Roxana is fluent in Farsi (Persian) and her experience as a first generation American informs her passion and commitment to racial equity and immigrant justice.

 

Sara Haghdoosti | Deputy Director, Win Without War 

Sara Haghdoosti is the Deputy Director of Win Without War. Sara (she/her) helps shape Win Without War’s organizational strategy and supervises the digital and operations teams. Sara specialises in organizational and campaign strategy and has over ten years of experience in digital campaigning, having previously founded Berim.org, an organization that worked to support changemakers in Iran, and worked at the Mozilla Foundation, Change.org and GetUp Australia. When she’s not at work, Sara can be found writing YA Novels, and this year released her debut novel Sunburnt Veils.

 

Tamieka Atkins | Executive Director, ProGeorgia

Tamieka Atkins is the Executive Director of ProGeorgia. In addition to the detailed daily operation, infrastructure building, strategy setting, and fundraising, Tamieka serves on the Board of State Voices, State Innovation Exchange (SiX) and Amnesty International USA. In her spare time, she uses her influence to advocate for Black Women and Women of Color and was voted one of Time Out Magazine’s Women of the Year 2021. Prior to working at ProGeorgia, Tamieka was the Founding Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance – Atlanta Chapter, where she developed a base of African American domestic workers advocating for respect, recognition, and inclusion in labor protections for all domestic workers. She has a Bachelor’s in Multicultural Literature from Hunter College and a certificate in Professional Fundraising from NYU. Tamieka lives in Atlanta, Georgia with the next generation of black women leadership—her two daughters— Layla and Olivia.

 

Tatewin Means | Executive Director, Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation

Tatewin Means is from the Sisseton Wahpeton Dakota, Oglala Lakota and Inhanktonwan nations.  She grew up in her Oglala homelands where her father is from.  An advocate for human rights, survivors, children, and families, she served as Attorney General for the Oglala Sioux Tribe from 2012-2017. In 2018, Tatewin sought the democratic nomination for South Dakota Attorney General—the first Indigenous woman to seek the office of a state attorney general in the US. Tatewin is the Executive Director of Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation, an Indigenous organization in the Pine Ridge Reservation, seeking liberation for Lakota people through language, lifeways, and spirituality.  Tatewin served as a German Marshall Fund Marshall Memorial Fellow in 2015 and is a 2020 fellow in the Ambassadors for Health Equity fellowship program. She holds a BS in environmental engineering, MA in Lakota Leadership & Management and JD with a concentration in Human Rights law.

 

Taylor Isenberg | Executive Director, Economic Security Project

Taylor Jo Isenberg is the Executive Director of the Economic Security Project, an organization committed to building economic power for all Americans. As a part of the organization’s founding team, Taylor Jo first served as the Managing Director and spearheaded the organization’s collaboration with the Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration (SEED) and launched the Anti-Monopoly Fund. She was previously the Senior Advisor to the CEO & President and Vice President at the Roosevelt Institute. Under her leadership, her program received the 2015 MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions, recognizing the Institute’s critical efforts to organize and pipeline the emerging generation committed to reimagining the rules. She serves on the Advisory Board for SEED and Mayors for a Guaranteed Income. She was a Forbes 30 under 30 for Law and Policy in 2015 and Fusion 30 under 30 Women Shaping Politics in 2016 and previously served as Chair of the Board of Directors for Scalawag. She’s a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and former Hebert Scoville Jr. Peace Fellow. She resides between Brooklyn, NY and Bennington, VT.

 

Terra Branson-Thomas | Secretary of the Nation & Commerce, Muscogee (Creek) Nation

Terra Branson-Thomas, a citizen of Muscogee (Creek) Nation, currently serves as the Secretary of the Nation & Commerce. The Secretary of the Nation & Commerce is an appointed and confirmed cabinet position responsible for the Nation’s economic development, intergovernmental relationships, and social welfare policy development. Ms. Branson-Thomas has more than a decade of experience in government relations, Indian policy and tribal legislative history – particularly in the areas of commerce, self-governance and self-determination. Terra served as the key point of contact to her Nation during the acceptance, implementation and reporting for Coronavirus Relief Funding and Fiscal Recovery Funding.  She also is a wealth of knowledge regarding tribal governments, non-profit organization management, federal grant writing and administration, strategic planning and program implementation. Her professional experiences include national tribal non-profit management, federal compacting and negotiations, legislative development and grassroots organizing. Terra has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Native American Studies from Dartmouth College and a Masters of Public Policy from Georgetown University.

 

Val Benavidez | Executive Director, Texas Freedom Network

Val Benavidez is the President and Executive Director for the Texas Freedom Network. She is the chief spokesperson for the organization in all public matters. She is responsible for the development, planning, staffing and implementation of all programs. Val became president in November 2020 and was previously the Texas Freedom Network’s chief program officer. Val has worked for numerous non-profit advocacy organizations including the Texas Immigrant and Refugee Coalition, League of Young Voters, Generational Alliance, as well as serving as Executive Director of ProTex: Network for a Progressive Texas. Val is a member of the Board of Directors for the Workers Defense Project. She is the proud daughter and granddaughter of Mexican immigrants, farmworkers, railroad builders and all around rabble rousers.

 

Vivian Huang | Co-Executive Director, Asian Pacific Environmental Network

Vivian Yi Huang is honored to work at Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN) alongside immigrant and refugee community members to build power and create the world of love and justice we envision.   Being from a Chinese immigrant family, she was raised in a culture of loving your people, living in the world of possibility, and the importance of making ideas tangible.  Over the past 11 years and now as a Co-Director, Vivian has played a leadership role in strengthening APEN’s organizing and leadership development, advancing our collective strategy for just transition and systemic change, catalyzing innovative models, and deepening our embodiment of feminisms and shared power. Prior to working at APEN, Vivian spent a decade working on policy, legislative, and budget campaigns, including model policies to improve health care interpretation, $25 million for health disparities in cancer, and a successful effort to support immigrant parents that made a conservative “top bills to kill list.”  She has also been a facilitator, trainer, and teacher with the Women’s Policy Institute, School of Unity and Liberation (SOUL), and San Francisco State University’s Department of Public Health. Vivian finds joy in dance parties with her threenager and doggy, somatics and healing, masterpieces by Wong Kar Wai and Octavia Butler, and cake, ice cream, or best of all, the combination.

 

Yvette Simpson | CEO, Democracy for America

Yvette is the CEO of Democracy for America, the first woman to serve in this role. In 2018, she served as the Federal Electoral Manager for DFA, helping flip control of the US House with historic victories, including electing the most progressive and diverse coalition of candidates in America’s history. Yvette is also a Political Contributor with ABC News and panelist for NPR. Yvette served six years on Cincinnati City Council, including four years as President Pro Tempore, where she led initiatives focused on income inequality, equity, criminal justice reform, public transportation and housing. Yvette earned undergraduate degrees at Miami University, a law degree from The University of Cincinnati, and her MBA from Xavier University. Yvette has been recognized as a Business Courier’s Forty under 40 and a YWCA’s Career Women of Achievement. She is a Ohio Super Lawyer Rising Star and a Girl Scouts “Woman of Distinction.”

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