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Announcing The 2023 National Leading From The Inside Out Yearlong Fellows

By January 18, 2023April 20th, 2023No Comments

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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 2023 National LIO Yearlong Fellows are:


Alejandra Gomez  | Executive Director, LUCHA

Alejandra has dedicated her life to social justice and building community through power grassroots organizing. While at LUCHA, Alex helped lead the effort to raise Arizona’s minimum wage and turn Arizona blue in 2020. She comes to LUCHA following the Adios Arpaio campaign in 2010, which culminated in 2016 with the defeat of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. And, rooted in her family’s immigration struggle, she led the organizing efforts for DAPA and expanded DACA at United We Dream National Network as the National Deputy Organizing Director. She also was a Regional Field Director for Organizing for America.


Arash Azizzada | Executive Director, Afghans for A Better Tomorrow

Arash Azizzada is a filmmaker, journalist, and community organizer based out of Los Angeles, CA. The child of Afghan refugees who fled in the wake of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Arash is deeply committed to social justice and building communities. In 2016, he co-founded the Afghan Diaspora for Equality and Progress (ADEP), which was formed to elevate and empower changemakers within our Afghan American community. In early 2021, he co-founded Afghans For A Better Tomorrow (AFBT) and has focused on evacuation and rapid response coordination efforts in the wake of America’s military withdrawal from Afghanistan. Since then, he has been the co-director for AFBT, leading the way in grassroots advocacy efforts within the Afghan community as the United States has welcomed 80,000 new arrivals. He has written for the New York Times and Newsweek, while also being featured on National Public Radio (NPR), Vice News, and other outlets.


Bex Ahuja | Managing Director, Rockwood Leadership Institute

Bex is a seasoned strategist, facilitator, and executive with 20 years’ experience working at the intersections of movement building, leadership development, and race and gender justice. Bex began this blessed journey as an organizer building political power for young people of color and LGBTQ people. Most recently, Bex served as Managing Partner at The Management Center, spearheading TMC’s work on racial equity. At the end of the day, Bex is a teacher, healer, and engineer at heart, always working towards helping people be more connected and designing systems that foster that.


Christine Cordero | Co-Executive Director, Asian Pacific Environmental Network

Raised by a Filipino immigrant family in the working class town of Pittsburg (no “h”), CA, Christine acts from the deep belief that we are stronger together and can go farther together than we ever could alone. She is Co-Director of Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN), organizing with immigrants and refugees for a healthy environment and thriving economy for all communities. For over 20 years, Christine strategized, organized, and built coalitions across environmental health and justice, workers rights, and economic and racial justice issues. Previously, she was Executive Director at the Center for Story-based Strategy, training 2,000+ people and working with 200+ groups to reinvigorate narrative strategies for social justice. Christine is an ordained priest of the Chozen-ji line of Rinzai Zen, and trains in Oakland, CA and Kalihi Valley, HI. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Linguistics from Stanford University, with a focus on language and power.


Corrine Sanchez | Executive Director, Tewa Women United

Corrine, of San Ildefonso Pueblo, holds a doctorate in Justice Studies from Arizona State University. Corrine has contributed to building Indigenous Knowledge through her work with Tewa Women United for the past 30 years, including co-creation of TWU’s research methodology and the Theory of Opide, a braiding of practice to action. She has extensive training and experience in the fields of sexual assault prevention, educational awareness, advocacy, and trauma informed care. Dr. Sanchez has presented at many national conferences on Sexual Assault in Indian Country, Advocacy Needs of Native Sexual Assault Survivors, Forensic Interviewing of Native Children, and Child Witness to Violence. Corrine currently serves on the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s Advisory Council and is a Board member of the Attach Your Heart Foundation. Most recently, she has been selected to serve on the Governor of New Mexico’s Advisory Council on Racial Justice. 


Danielle Alvarado | Executive Director, Fair Work Center & Working Washington

Danielle has more than a decade of experience working in movements for racial and economic justice across the country. As Executive Director, she provides leadership on organizational strategy, advocates for public policy that puts workers first, and fosters collaboration between our campaigns, legal, and education teams to build worker power in Washington state and beyond. She previously served as our Legal Director, overseeing the Legal Clinic’s efforts to recover $1.5 million in stolen wages and expanding representation of low-wage workers in wage theft, harassment, and retaliation cases. Before coming to Working Washington & Fair Work Center, Danielle was an Immigrants’ Rights Staff Attorney at Takeroot Justice, where she provided direct representation, policy and technical assistance, and strategic campaign support to grassroots immigrants’ rights organizations and worker centers in New York City. She serves on the Board of Directors for Detention Watch Network, a national organization dedicated to ending immigration detention in the United States. She speaks Spanish, attended Whitman College and Northeastern University School of Law, and is a proud past recipient of the National Lawyers Guild C.B. King Award. Danielle is admitted to practice law in Washington and New York. When she’s not working, Danielle enjoys taking her puppy out on walks and making pottery.


Dima Khalidi | Executive Director, Palestine Legal

Dima is a Beirut-born, Chicago-raised Palestinian American lawyer and advocate. She founded and directs Palestine Legal, an organization that engages in legal advocacy to protect the constitutional and civil rights of people speaking out for Palestinian freedom. She has co-counseled, volunteered and interned at the Center for Constitutional Rights on various cases involving Palestinian rights, and at the People’s Law Office, assisting in the acquittal of a Palestinian-American on politicized criminal charges. Dima has a JD from DePaul University College of Law, an MA in International and Comparative Legal Studies from the University of London – SOAS, and a BA in History and Near Eastern Studies from the University of Michigan. Prior to law school, she headed a research project at Birzeit University on informal justice mechanisms in the Palestinian legal system. She has also worked as a youth educator at several Chicago community programs.  


Emmett Schelling | Executive Director, Transgender Education Network of Texas

Emmett is a trans South Korean immigrant by way of foreign adoption and currently serves as executive director of Transgender Education Network of Texas (TENT). Emmett serves on the Community Council for Transform Houston and as a board member of Deeds Not Words, along with being a 2020 Trans Justice Funding Project (TJFP) Grantmaking Fellow, a member of Transgender Law Center’s (TLC) BIPOC Trans cohort, a strategic planning committee member for Transgender Legal Defense Education Fund (TLDEF), and is a Co-Director for the TransFORWARD, a statewide trans powered research collective in Texas with Texas Health Institute and Equality Texas. Emmett has had the honor of receiving a myriad of awards from local, state, and national organizations in recognition of his work including Equality Texas’s 2019 annual “Monica Roberts Trans Advocacy” award, 2020’s “Trans Advocate of the Year” from Transgender Legal Defense Education Fund (TLDEF), Texas Diversity Council’s annual “Trans Advocate of the Year” (2022), is this year’s Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ+ Equality (GLMA’s) Achievement Awardee. He happily resides in Houston with his fiancé, child, and two adopted pups who are essentially child. He is a Guggenheim Fellow and a member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.


Hannah Sassaman  | Executive Director, People’s Tech Project

Hannah is a leader with over twenty years of experience organizing for community power and tech justice.  As the campaign director at Prometheus Radio Project, Hannah fought the powerful national broadcasters’ lobby, and led the community and legislative strategy that helped pass the Local Community Radio Act, a federal bill that allowed thousands of communities to build their own local radio stations.  As the longtime policy director at Movement Alliance Project (MAP), Hannah spearheaded myriad groundbreaking campaigns, including the CAP Comcast campaign, which helped thousands of Philadelphians win affordable internet for themselves and their communities, and served as a model for community accountability campaigns on telecommunications companies nationwide.  At MAP, Hannah helped build and shape coalitions and networks working across issues of injustice, particularly around bail, policing, electoral accountability, and prosecution. Hannah and her team have worked for years building local and national coalitions focused on resisting biased algorithmic decision-making in criminal legal systems. She is an experienced strategist at the intersection of local community organizing, and technology, race, and inequality. Hannah was a Soros Justice Fellow focused on risk assessment algorithms in pretrial decision-making, and is a nationally recognized commentator and author on these issues.  She is a member of the board of directors of Fight for the Future and a member of Leftroots. She lives with her family in Philadelphia.


Jane Kim | California Director, Working Families Party

Jane served on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, representing a diverse district in San Francisco, including the lowest-income residents and the wealthiest zip code in the City. She is a member and top vote getter for the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee in 2016 and 2020. Her landmark initiatives include leading San Francisco to be the first city in the Nation to make Community College free for all residents; passing the strongest and most progressive minimum wage law in the nation; securing full-time nurses for homeless shelters and establishing a medical respite shelter for aging and sick homeless residents. Jane also led the single largest investment any US city has made towards childcare- a tax on multi-million commercial real estate raising $140M+ annually to make universal affordable childcare a reality. Jane also fought to increase the affordable housing requirement from 12% to 25% and has won an unprecedented 40% affordable housing requirement in two major development projects in her district. She is proud to have authored the strongest tenant protection ordinance in the country. Jane served on the National Political Team for Bernie 2020 as the California Political Director. She is currently the California Director for Working Families Party and serves on the Board for Close the Gap California, a statewide initiative to achieve gender balance in the California Legislature by recruiting progressive women to run. Prior to being a Supervisor, Jane was a community organizer at Chinatown Community Development Center, a civil rights attorney at Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, and served as President of the San Francisco Board of Education. She received a dual B.A. in Political Science and Asian American studies from Stanford University and J.D. from the U.C. Berkeley School of Law.


Jenn Stowe | Executive Director, National Domestic Workers Alliance

Jenn is the Executive Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA), the leading national voice for dignity and fairness for domestic workers in the United States. Jenn is the granddaughter of a domestic worker, a progressive operative, and a sought after strategic visionary with years of experience leading national, progressive organizations. Jenn is also a Senior Advisor for NDWA’s sister organization, Care in Action. Previously, Jenn was the Chief of Staff at NDWA where she led organizational development and operational strategy, and served as top advisor to Ai-jen Poo, President of NDWA. She has years of experience in leadership in progressive spaces, specializing in managing rapidly expanding and changing organizations with inclusivity and equity at the center. Prior to joining NDWA, she was Deputy Executive Director at Priorities USA, the primary presidential super PAC working to defeat Donald Trump. While at Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Planned Parenthood Action Fund, she led strategic creative direction for numerous of the organization’s campaigns including its popular “Stand With Black Women” framework and branding. A natural coalition builder, Jenn is committed to making a better world alongside and for Black women, immigrant women, and women of color. Jenn currently serves on the boards of Priorities USA Foundation and Run for Something. An enthusiastic Southerner, she is originally from Atlanta, GA and now resides in Richmond, VA with her family.


Jocelyn Frye | President, National Partnership for Women and Families

Jocelyn is the current president of the National Partnership for Women & Families, an organization that works to improve the lives of women and families by achieving equality for all women. Prior to taking the helm at the National Partnership, Jocelyn served as a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress (CAP) where she shaped and advocated for policies focused on women’s economic security, women’s employment, and women’s rights. Before her time at CAP, Jocelyn spent four years working in the White House under President Obama — serving as deputy assistant to the president and director of policy and special projects for Michelle Obama. Jocelyn first worked for the National Partnership as a staff attorney, and eventually was named general counsel. She also served on the National Partnership’s board.


Joey Mogul | Co-Founder of Chicago Torture Justice Memorials and partner at the People’s Law Office

Joey is a movement lawyer, organizer, co-founder of Chicago Torture Justice Memorials (CTJM) and a partner at People’s Law Office.  Joey works with and represents organizers in their campaigns for justice and liberation. Joey has sought justice for Chicago Police torture survivors for 25 years, successfully representing survivors in their criminal and civil rights litigation, and at the UN Committee Against Torture (CAT) in Geneva, Switzerland. Mogul drafted the original City Council ordinance providing reparations for the Chicago Police (Burge) torture survivors. CTJM worked in coalition with other organizations to successfully pass unprecedented reparations for Chicago Police torture survivors in Chicago’s City Council making it the first municipality to provide systemic redress for racially motivated police violence. Joey is also a co-author of Queer (In)Justice: The Criminalization of LGBT People in the U.S. (Beacon Press 2011).


Jose Lopez | Co-Executive Director, Make the Road New York

Jose is one of the three Co-Executive Directors of Make the Road New York. For two decades, Jose has demonstrated his commitment to Make the Road New York and the communities which we serve. Prior to being named Co-Executive Director, Jose served as Deputy Director and Co-Director of Organizing where he helped to shape and deliver on impactful projects and policies in the arenas of housing, education, labor and police reform. His commitment and policy expertise on affordable housing and renters rights helped to secure the strongest rental protections passed in Albany in a generation. Outside of providing campaign support to our team of 44 organizers, Jose sits on the board of Communities United for Police Reform Action, a coalition committed to ending discriminatory and abusive policing in New York State. In December 2014, Jose was appointed to President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing and since has published pieces on changing youth attitudes towards policing. Jose is a graduate of Hofstra University and dad of Amelie Soleil and Marquez Rio.


Joseph Phelan | Cofounder and Executive Director, ReFrame

Joseph is a creative strategist grounded in modern social movements for justice and liberation. With over two decades of experience – from big-puppet strewn direct actions in the 90’s global justice movement, to the multi-racial hip-hop beat infused mobilizations against police brutality at the City University of New York, to the deep power building organizing of the Miami Workers Center and Florida New Majority – Joseph finds inspiration in the simple moments of a shared story and excitement in big strategy. He is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of ReFrame. You can find him on Twitter @JTPspeaks.


Julia Barnes | Chief Executive Officer, The Movement Cooperative

Julia has worked in progressive politics, advocacy, and community engagement for almost 20 years. She has held leadership roles on statewide, gubernatorial, and presidential campaigns across the country. Notably, Julia served as the National Field Director for Bernie 2016, helping to earn over 13 million votes nationally. Prior to this, she was the State Director for New Hampshire for Bernie, winning the heralded “First in the Nation” Primary by the largest margin in history. Since 2016, she served as the Executive Director of the Association of Democratic Committees, completed her MBA in Sustainability and Innovation at the University of Vermont, and launched a consulting firm focused on helping Democratic candidates, as well as national advocacy groups using smart electoral organizing to affect positive change for criminal justice reform, climate justice and healthcare for all. Her projects included scaling Medicare-for-All advocacy group Be a Hero from start-up to advocacy powerhouse, overseeing ranked choice voting primary contest implementation in five states in 2020, running independent expenditures for movement partners, and advising on the successful underdog campaign of Congressperson-elect Becca Balint. She currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of The Movement Cooperative, an organization dedicated to providing shared data and tech solutions to the progressive movement and answering core infrastructure needs for TMC members. Julia lives in Burlington, Vermont.


Julie Collier | Deputy Chief of Staff, American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations

Julie is the deputy chief of staff of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrialized Organizations under the Shuler-Redmond Administration.  In this capacity, she is responsible for the alignment of mission and focus around the Federation’s issue agenda and operations.  In this capacity, she is responsible for helping to activate unions, their workers and allies in fights for higher wages, decent benefits and a voice at work so all working people can enjoy a better life.  Julie has over 16 years of experience in various roles with the AFL-CIO, including running its political and mobilization member apparatus. Prior to her appointment as deputy chief of staff, Julie served in the Biden Administration in the Executive Office of the President at the United States Trade Representative’s office as assistant United States trade representative for public engagement.  In that capacity she was primarily responsible for executing Ambassador Katherine Tai’s vision of moving forward worker-centered trade policy and focus among external stakeholders. Julie has also held several senior level positions at the Democratic National Committee including, Director of the Office of the Secretary which was responsible for the certification and roll call of states of the 2016 Democratic Convention’s 8k delegates; and Director of the Office of DNC leadership working in close coordination with the Committee’s national officers.   With a professional background rooted in the grassroots, Julie has spent a dedicated amount of time working in the field at every level including working on campaigns, running national campaign trainings for allies. Julie is a native of Cleveland, OH and remains a die-hard Cleveland sports fan.


Justine Lucas | Executive Director, Clara Lionel Foundation

Justine is the Executive Director of Rihanna’s Clara Lionel Foundation which focuses on climate resilience and climate justice, both in the Caribbean and United States. Justine is also currently a term member on the Council on Foreign Relations. Previously, Justine was the Global Director of Programs for Global Citizen where she oversaw events, programs and strategic partnerships and was a Producer of the 2012 – 2015 Global Citizen Festivals. Justine has worked extensively on grassroots program development around human rights issues, particularly in Cameroon. She began her career at Safe Horizon, an organization providing advocacy and support for survivors of all forms of violence. Justine has an M.A. in Global Affairs and Nonprofit Management from New York University. She serves on the Board of Directors of One for Democracy and as a Strategic Advisor to 100Kin10 and Future BARBADOS. Justine resides in New York City and is an avid traveler, runner, writer and connector of people.


Marion Gee | Co-Executive Director, Climate Justice Alliance

Marion grew up in Southern California, watching her aunt stand with striking workers as a labor attorney and acting as a bridge between sets of grandparents who came from very different cultures, world views, and upbringings – from small villages alongside rice paddies in Southern China to the rural farms surrounding Bridgeton, New Jersey. As the Managing Director at Climate Justice Alliance since 2015, she supported the Executive Director and Board in expanding staff from seven to twenty-one, increasing the budget from $1 to $5 million, and developing the systems and staffing to implement an ambitious Four Year Strategy. Prior to joining CJA, she served as a fundraising, events, and communications consultant for social and environmental justice organizations, the Development & Communications Director at Rose Foundation, and Interim Climate Program Director at Sierra Nevada Alliance. She holds a Masters in Environmental History and Policy from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. In her spare time, she likes to read fantasy novels, collect too many indoor plants, and play with her niece and nephew.


Nahal Zamani | Senior Vice President, State Innovation Exchange

Nahal serves as the Senior Vice President of State Strategy & Services at the State Innovation Exchange (SiX), a national resource and strategy center for state legislators working to move bold public policy that will build an equitable, resilient and prosperous country for all. She currently oversees the organization’s program teams. In 2022, Nahal was awarded a “Top 20 in 2022 Advocacy Professional” by the Advocacy Association. Before SiX, Nahal was the Director of Movement Building at Demos, a progressive think tank that powers the movement for a just, inclusive, multiracial democracy. At Demos, Nahal served on the senior leadership team, oversaw the partnerships and campaigns teams, and represented the organization as a senior leader in external coalitions and tables. Previously, Nahal was an Advocacy Program Manager for the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) for over a decade, leading impactful campaigns and advocating regularly before elected officials, the UN, and the public. Nahal’s work included challenging the NYPD’s abusive stop-and-frisk practices and other discriminatory policing practices; criminal justice; economic and gender justice; immigrants’ rights, and government abuse of power. Nahal also served on the Steering Committee of the Communities United for Police Reform campaign in New York City. Before that, Nahal led human rights advocacy and campaigns at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) national headquarters.  Nahal’s work has been covered in The New York Times, City and State New York, MSNBC, Al Dia and BRIC TV. Nahal holds an M.A. in Human Rights from Columbia University, and a B.A. from Rutgers University.


Nicole Melaku | Executive Director, National Partnership for New Americans

Nicole brings over a decade of experience working on immigrant and refugee issues at the local, state, and national level. As NPNA’s Executive Director where she works to harness the collective power of the NPNA network of 60 of the nation’s largest immigrant and refugee rights organizations with reach across 40 states to advance immigrant integration efforts through advocacy, organizing campaigns, and policy initiatives. She is the former Executive Director of NPNA member organization, the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition and it’s C4 sister organization CIRC Action Fund. Ms. Melaku led the expansion of the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition to over 95 immigrant and refugee serving organizations and helped pass some of the country’s most notable and affirmative immigrant integration policies, led scaled naturalization and civic engagement campaigns including NPNA’s Citizenship Now!, Cities for Citizenship, and America is Home naturalization campaigns at the state and local level. Nicole is a first generation New American whose mother and grandparents hail from Chihuahua, Mexico and who naturalized as a result of the Immigration Reform and Naturalization Act (IRCA) of 1986. Nicole’s career trajectory draws on the strength and perseverance of her family’s own immigration story-she is an advocate, organizer, and movement leader who is dedicated to building a more inclusive and fair democracy. She is a Welcoming America White House Champion of Change (2014), a Hispanic in Philanthropy Fellow (2018-19), a Transformative Leadership for Change Fellow, a New American Leaders alumni, and a former co-chair of NPNA’s sister coalition the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM).


Paromita Shah | Co-Founder & Executive Director, Just Futures Law

Paromita is the founding Executive Director of Just Futures Law. She has worked at the intersection of racial justice and immigrant justice for over two decades. As a leader in the immigrants’ rights movement, Paromita specializes in strategies to combat immigration detention, enforcement, and criminalization. She has created or helped produce dozens of resources and reports for immigrant communities impacted by policing and immigration enforcement, including Deportation 101, detainer policies, know your rights, gangs, and technology surveillance. Previously, Paromita served as the Associate Director of the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild for 14 years and as a Detention Project Director at Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights (CAIR) Coalition in Washington, DC where she represented detained immigrants. She also worked as a staff attorney at Greater Boston Legal Services representing individuals seeking asylum, VAWA and other relief. She is a graduate of Suffolk Law School and McGill University.


Priti Krishtel | Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director, Initiative for Medicines, Access & Knowledge

Priti is a health justice lawyer and co-founder and co-executive director of I-MAK, a non-profit building a more just and equitable medicines system. She has spent nearly two decades exposing structural inequities affecting access to medicines and vaccines across the Global South and in the United States. That includes advocating for equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines across the globe to ensuring that the Biden-Harris administration is prioritizing equity in the Patent and Trademark Office. To improve equity in the patent system, she and I-MAK have developed a new tool called Participatory Changemaking that will provide an assessment of the patent system and bring together stakeholders from across the spectrum, from patients to investors and policymakers, to drive sustainable, long-term change into what has long been an exclusionary process. Priti and I-MAK’s work is highlighted in the New York Times Editorial Board’s recent endorsement of patent reform. She is a MacArthur FellowTED speaker, Presidential Leadership Scholar, and Ashoka Fellow, and a frequent contributor to leading international and national news outlets on issues of domestic and global health equity.


Rachel Gilmer | Co-Director, Dream Defenders

Rachel is Co-Director of the Dream Defenders, a membership-based organization of diverse youth, young adults and students fighting for a better future across the state of Florida. Rachel has over 10 years experience in grassroots organizing and social change. She has worked in a variety of settings including community organizations, schools, prisons and government. Prior to Dream Defenders, Rachel served as the Associate Director of the African American Policy Forum under the leadership of acclaimed legal scholar Kimberle Crenshaw. There, Rachel developed various campaigns to advance the needs of women and girls of color, including Say Her Name, focused on sharing the experiences of black women and police violence and Black Girls Matter, focused on raising awareness of the specific ways Black girls experience the school to prison pipeline. You can follow Rachel on twitter: @Ragilmer


Ramón Cruz | President, Sierra Club

Ramón has over 20 years of experience intersecting the fields of sustainability, environmental policy, urban planning, energy and climate change. He has worked in the public sector in his native Puerto Rico as the Deputy Director of the Environmental Quality Board, the state environmental regulatory agency and as Commissioner of the Puerto Rico Energy Commission.  He has also worked in the non-governmental sector in senior positions at the Environmental Defense Fund, the Partnership for New York City and the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy. He has been a consultant for the World Bank, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Greenhouse Gas Management Institute and the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ).  In May 2020, he was elected President of the Sierra Club, the nation’s oldest and largest environmental organization.  Ramón is a graduate of American University in Washington D.C. and Princeton University in New Jersey.


Shiloh Kantz | Executive Director, Oklahoma Policy Institute

Shiloh’s background isn’t conventional for a nonprofit or public policy organization. Her early career years were spent in restaurant operations, accounting, and administration, not public or nonprofit administration. But that experience grounds her in how she does this work, and Shiloh believe it makes OK Policy’s work better. Shiloh has a proven track record as a strong manager and administrator; she’s not a policy wonk, and I believe that is her strength. Throughout her whole working life, from early days in restaurant management to her current tenure on the Oklahoma PTA Board and, of course, her role at OK Policy, Shiloh has learned you can’t lead a diverse team without personal accountability and emotional intelligence. Shiloh has been instrumental in helping OK Policy navigate changes in political climate, the creation of new programs and areas of expertise, and significant organizational growth while maintaining our reputation for integrity and accuracy.


Tatenda Musapatike | Founder & CEO, Voter Formation Project

Tatenda has spent over a decade working on digital programs and in tech to support progressive causes. She was most recently a senior advisor at ACRONYM, where she built a $12.5M program from the ground up to expand the electorate. This program worked to reach, register, and mobilize Black and Latina voters across 8 states in the 2020 general election and the Georgia Senate runoff elections, closely engaging with over 200,000 new and infrequent voters. Previous to her time at ACRONYM, Tatenda was the Client Solutions Manager for Democratic Politics at Facebook, where she supported Democratic independent expenditures and progressive leaning non-profits in their platform strategies, while acting as the voice of the industry to the company and the voice of the company to the industry. She attended Davidson College (it’s always a great day to be a wildcat!), and has her masters in Public Administration from American University


Thenjiwe McHarris | Co-Executive, Blackbird

Thenjiwe has spent her entire political and professional career challenging the injustices that imprison people and their communities in a life of poverty and/or one behind bars. That commitment has led her to campaign on human rights issues in the United States and around the world. She honed her human rights campaign development and organizing skills while working for international organizations and has played key roles in helping lead high profile mobilizations around the country. Thenjiwe began her political career calling for an end to policies and practices that contributed to acts of torture committed by law enforcement. She went on to help organize efforts that addressed the human rights violations that occurred during and after Hurricanes Katrina & Rita. She worked on a number of campaigns including those that addressed the illicit and illegal trafficking of small arms around the world, solitary confinement, capital punishment, maternal deaths, excessive use of force by law enforcement, and poverty. She has worked for a number of human rights organizations including Amnesty International. Most recently, Thenjiwe worked for the U.S. Human Rights Network where she helped coordinate efforts to hold the U.S.G accountable for its human rights violations when the United States was up for review by specific UN Mechanisms. Thenjiwe currently works with a team called Blackbird, which is focused on movement building in this current historical moment. Blackbird provides communications, organizing as well as policy/advocacy support to a growing field committed to ending racism in the United States. She is also currently working with a number of social justice organizations and movements in the US and is helping to establish a collective for organizers engaged in movement building work around the world.


Varshini Prakash | Executive director, Sunrise Movement

Varshini is the Executive Director and co-founder of Sunrise, a movement of young people working to stop climate change, take back our democracy from Big Oil, and elect leaders who will fight for our generation’s health and wellbeing. As an undergrad at the University of Massachusetts, she took on the fossil fuel industry by pushing her university to stop investing in coal, oil, and gas. She lead the campaign to victory after a 2-week long escalation involving thousands of students, alumni, and faculty. Prakash has been a leading voice for young Americans, including last fall when she helped lead a mass demonstration for the Green New Deal that went viral and put climate change on the map for Congress. Prakash’s work has been featured in the New Yorker, Democracy Now, TeenVogue, BBC, Washington Post and more. She was recently named to the Grist Top 50 Fixers for “people cooking up the boldest, most ambitious solutions to humanity’s biggest challenges”. Varshini currently lives in Boston, MA.


Zelalem Adefris | Deputy CEO, Catalyst Miami

Zelalem is the Deputy CEO of Catalyst Miami, where she oversees the implementation of the organization’s critical programs, policy agenda, and strategic plan. Zelalem joined Catalyst Miami in 2016, first directing the organization’s climate justice work. She holds an MPH in Global Environmental Health from Emory University and a bachelor’s degree in Community Health from Brown University. In addition to her role at Catalyst Miami, Zelalem serves as a co-chair of the Miami Climate Alliance and as a philanthropic trustee of the Solutions Project.

Rockwood Community Call

Kris Mereigh,  MPH, CWP.

public health and wellness strategist

June 27 | 12 PT / 3 ET