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Announcing The 2024 Black and Latino Changemakers Fellows

By February 28, 2024One Comment

 

Rockwood is proud to announce our inaugural 2024 Black and Latino Changemakers Fellowship. This is a brand new Fellowship that was created to build solidarity and leverage the power of Black and Latino leaders working in race equity. The Fellowship will bring together 24 leaders from Delaware, Texas, Virginia, and Louisiana that work on a broad range of issues and represent a diverse set of backgrounds with the purpose of enhancing Black and Latino unity and collaboration to support the movement for race equity. 

The 2024 Black and Latino Changemakers Fellowship Fellows are: 

Raina Allen | Executive Director, Delaware Racial Justice Collaborative

Raina is the Director of the Delaware Racial Justice Collaborative, powered by the United Way of Delaware. The DRJC focuses its efforts on advocacy and engagement to dismantle systemic racism in the fight for racial justice. Allen began her career as former USA Today syndicated columnist DeWayne Wickham’s chief researcher and worked on issues related to race and social justice. She also managed Wickham’s Woodholme Foundation, which helped underachieving high school seniors gain acceptance to college and paid their first-year expenses. Over the past fifteen years, Allen has focused her efforts on nonprofit management, race and social justice. Recently, she served as Legislative and Communications Director for Wilmington (DE) City Council. Allen has a B.A. in Government and Politics from University of Maryland, College Park, and an M.A. in Urban Affairs and Public Policy from University of Delaware. She lives with her three children in Wilmington, DE.

Lizeth Chacon | Executive Director, Workers Defense Project – Dallas

As an immigrant from México who came to the United States at the age of 12, Lizeth experienced the injustices and difficulties many immigrants face. Due to that, she has been committed to building power with communities of color, workers and immigrants for nearly two decades. Lizeth has been at the helm of creating and leading projects that focus on building and winning with those most impacted; she founded Colorado People’s Alliance a member-led and racial justice organization, co-founded the Transformative Leadership for Change Fellowship that serves leaders of color and she currently serves on their Governing Council, and she has led many coalitions and campaigns that have delivered major victories on climate, economic and immigrant justice. Lizeth currently serves as the Executive Director at Workers Defense, a member-led organization that works for worker and immigrant justice in Texas. Lizeth also serves as a board member for the Fair Immigration Reform Movement, People’s Action and New Economy Houston.

Kamyon Conner| Executive Director, Texas Equal Access Fund

Kamyon is a queer Black activist, writer, and social worker with her roots firmly planted in grassroots organizing and medical case management. She serves as the Executive Director of Texas Equal Access Fund, an abortion fund serving West, East, and North Texas. She served as the Vice President of the National Network of Abortion Fund’s Board of Directors until 2021. She serves as the Vice President of PRIDENTON, a Denton-based grassroots organization that celebrates LGBTQ+ folks and hosts Pride annually with a focus on QTBIPOC leadership. She received her master’s degree in social work from the University of Texas in Arlington and her undergraduate degree in social work from the University of North Texas. She enjoys incorporating self-care into her work and spending time with chosen family, her partner, and her dog. She is an advocate for human rights and Reproductive Justice.

Lacette Cross | Executive Director, Diversity Richmond

Rev. Dr. Lacette is a faith leader, non-profit professional, facilitator, and advocate. She works with people in diverse communities and contexts to make connections across difference in service of healing, wholeness and liberation. Her work is intersectional encompassing topics of racial equity, LGBTQ+ inclusion, diversity, belonging, gender, justice, religion and leadership.  Dr. Cross develops models and frameworks to bring people together who are committed to improving their community, transforming their workplace and positively impacting their world.  She has presented locally and nationally at conferences, seminars, and retreats. Rev. Dr. L is the founder/CEO of Will You Be Whole, a co-founder of UGRC/Black Pride RVA, and a co-host/creator for the podcast Black Coochie.  She has degrees in social work and theology. Dr. Cross currently serves as the Executive Director of Diversity Richmond, the LGBTQ+ community hub of Greater Richmond.  Lacette spends her free time traveling, reading and connecting with friends.

Elvira De La Cruz Macedo | CEO, Latinos in Virginia Empowerment Center

As CEO of the Latinos in Virginia Empowerment Center, Elvira, an immigrant from Peru, leads a team providing services for Spanish-speaking violence victims. Since founding the Center in 2018, Elvira launched Virginia’s first 24/7 hotline for these victims, offering bilingual support. Elvira’s efforts include a Spanish/English interpreter bank, aiding service providers and breaking down language barriers for equitable service access. The Center, under her leadership, offers trauma-informed, culturally appropriate services to empower domestic and sexual violence victims. Elvira also focuses on community education and preventative programs to reduce violence. Dedicated to the Spanish-speaking community in Virginia, Elvira’s work, supported by her family, makes a significant impact, demonstrating her unwavering commitment to advocacy and empowerment.

Luis Farmer | Director, U.S Giving Richmond Connections

Luise “Cheezi” is a community leader, business owner, and a minister. She is active in the Richmond community doing supply drives, health and wellness events, and master barber and educator. Cheezi has been featured in local and national press, presented on panels, and is widely known for her community centered advocacy. She is the owner of RVA Clippers, a barbershop that provides safe space for LGBTIA+ community gatherings. She founded Women of Essence, Inc in 1997 to provide social space for LGBTQIA+ women of color. Women of Essence, Inc continues to provide education and resources for Breast Cancer, Domestic Violence and HIV/AIDS. She has served as interim Moderator at MCC Richmond.  She is on the Board of Diversity Richmond where she served as the first black board chair. Luise currently serves as the Executive Director and Co-Founder of Us Giving Richmond Connections (UGRC) who presents Black Pride RVA.

Tyeisha Grier | Civic Engagement and Partnerships Coordinator, Network Delaware

Tyeisha spent most of her childhood overseas before moving to Delaware in her teens. After high school she attended Delaware State University before serving as a Combat Medic in the US Army. Prior to her honorable discharge she gained her first taste of the administrative side of healthcare as the NCOIC of the Internal Medicine Clinic, one of the largest clinics at WRAMC in D.C. Tyeisha’s experience combines over 20 years of various clinical and administrative roles in healthcare and mental health. She prides herself as a passionate advocate for the rights of patients, workers, and students. Currently she’s one of the Co-Coordinators of the new Community Policy Institute, a joint collaboration with Network Delaware and the Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League.

Marsha Jones | Executive Director, Afiya Center

Marsha, a Texas native, is co-founder and executive director of The Afiya Center, the only reproductive justice organization in North Texas founded and directed by Black women. She is a national grassroots organizer, community mobilizer, professional speaker, and health educator with a commitment to transforming women and girls’ lives. She’s pledged to the development of leadership and engagement of activism among women by challenging harmful systemic and political constructs to advance the economic, health, and safety of women and girls. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and is a graduate of the Black AIDS Institute’s African American HIV University (Science and Community Mobilizing Fellowship Program) and Tyndale Theology School. Marsha has served on various boards and capacities as an act of service to honor of Black women.

Dominque Jones-Johnson | Founder, Daughters Beyond Incarceration

Dominque’s life and career reflect the core qualities of a change agent, visionary, and cycle breaker. Over the course of her life as a child with an incarcerated parent, Dominque has made her mark by intentionally uplifting black girls with parents in prison and developing them into advocates, policymakers, and grassroots activists to forever change lives, systems, and communities for good. She is particularly passionate about enhancing the quality of life for girls with a parent in prison. In May of 2018, Dominque, alongside her currently incarcerated dad, Charles Brown, Jr, created Daughters Beyond Incarceration (DBI). DBI is a nonprofit boldly committed to dismantling the stigma against black girls with parents in prison. In under five years, Dominque has raised over $600k in grants, worked with youth ages 8-18 to pass legislation that supports all children in Louisiana impacted by parental incarceration, and provided services to over 150 girls in New Orleans. She is boldly leading DBI’s vision -creating a future where Black girls who navigate parental incarceration become narrative, policy, and practice changemakers within our city, state, and nation.

Sasha Legette | Executive Director, Pure Justice

Sasha is committed to creating community change and has been a fierce advocate of economic justice, racial justice, criminal justice reform, and workplace dignity in our community, which is reflected in her founding of Pure Justice, a local grassroots organization in the fall of 2015 where she serves as the Executive Director for the organization. Sasha’s impact in our community includes sitting on the Harris County Public Defender’s Office Board,  leading negotiations and campaign efforts to get worker protections in municipal contracts,  local hiring requirements in municipal ordinances, indigent defense reforms through the newly formed managed assigned counsel, misdemeanor bail reform, and voter access to residents of Harris County Jail. She has taken her background as a former educator to create a curriculum to teach residents about local government in courses called Local Government and Redistricting 101 to help them understand how local government and politics influence their everyday lives. Sasha is an alumnus of Houston’s New Leaders Council, holds a law degree from the University of Georgia School of Law, and a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Clark Atlanta University. She is a community leader focused on advocating for people in need, educating others, and helping create change.

Ana Mac Naught | Director of Coordination, Houston in Action

Ana is a daughter, friend, wife and mother. Ana was born and raised in Mexico by her mom, uncle, aunts, grandmother and great-grandmother. Ana has had the enormous privilege to study, work and live in different parts of the world, which influences her way of thinking and living. Like 1 out of 4 people that live in Houston, Ana is an adapted Houstonian. Ana, her husband, two children, two dogs, three (sometimes six) cats and chickens live in Southwest Houston- home to the most diverse neighborhoods in the city! Ana likes to dance cumbia,  read fiction, work out, travel, eat, rest and is trying her best to flow with the universe this year. Ana is very high energy, but needs to be in solitude and silence to rest and get at it again. Ana currently works at Houston in Action, which is a collective of organizations working to remove system barriers to civic engagement in Houston.

Karen Marshall | Executive Director, Rethink New Orleans

Karen is an educator, organizer, and coach (of the basketball variety) who currently serves as the Executive Director of Kids Rethink New Orleans Schools (Rethink).

 

Cathy Martinez | Healthcare Director, SEIU Texas

Cathy grew up in Texas around farm workers. She was inspired to join the labor movement because of the injustices she witnessed against Janitorial workers in Houston. She joined SEIU Local 1 in 2010 and took part in the Janitorial strike in 2012 in Houston. She was part of forming SEIU Texas in 2013 when SEIU local 5 and Local 1 merged. Since then, she has served as a union leader for healthcare workers. She is constantly inspired by the strength of workers who sacrifice their time and energy to create a better life for their coworkers and for the future generation. She believes there is no limit to the workplaces, job fields or cities that can organize and look forward to building a better future for all Texas workers.

Mary Moran | Executive Director, Our Voice, Nuestra Voz

Mary is a national leader on issues organizing and Black and Brown coalition building. Mary is recognized by 100 Black Men. Mary’s ultimate commitment is to the freedom of Black and Brown people. She is the co-founder of, and currently leads, Our Voice Nuestra Voz (OVNV), an issues organizing effort in New Orleans. As a political strategist and organizer, she has led campaigns that won the first ever living wage campaign in the state of Louisiana–and the entire South– in 2018, won statewide legislation that keep school districts transparent and accountable, and fought for numerous policies that protect undocumented students, such as securing a sanctuary school district in Orleans Parish in 2017 and eliminating a discriminatory statewide policy that prevented undocumented students from playing high school sports in 2019. Mary was a fall 2016 Pahara Next-Gen fellow. In that same year, she founded the #BlackandBrownGetDown, a movement created to build coalition, create a Black and Brown agenda, and win on shared issues. In 2018, she was appointed by Mayor Latoya Cantell to the New Orleans Public Library Board. She also serves on the boards of Broad Community Connection and IDEA Public Schools.

Luis Oyola | Director of Piedmont Community Land Trust, Piedmont Housing Alliance

Luis has been a community organizer in Virginia since he arrived from Puerto Rico in 2008 to study at the University of Virginia. The stark differences within Charlottesville in race, class, and geography led him to get immediately involved in local issues of housing, immigration, environmental justice, police violence, anti-fascism, and more, under the banners of many local organizations. His organizing work, both grassroots and professional, has taken him from the Wayside Center of Popular Education, to street confrontations with white supremacists in 2017, to immigrant rights organizing at Legal Aid Justice Center, to becoming LAJC’s first Director of Organizing, to his current role as the Director of the Piedmont Community Land Trust with the Piedmont Housing Alliance. Luis seeks to weave his ties to Puerto Rico and its history of anti-colonial resistance with Southern struggles against racism and oppression.

Jalyn Powell | CEO, OUTloud

Jalyn, a native of Sussex County, Delaware, is a passionate community advocate. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Delaware State University and a Master of Arts in Law degree from Regent University School of Law, specializing in Human Rights and Rule of Law. Jalyn is currently pursuing a Transformative Social Change Doctoral program at Saybrook University. She has received numerous awards for her commitment to social justice, including the George Washington Leadership Award and the YWCA’s Genevieve Gore Young Women’s Leadership Award. Jalyn is actively involved in various community organizations, serving on the boards of BASSE, YWCA Delaware, and the Delaware Center for Justice. She is also the founder of OUTLOUD LLC, providing mental health, wellness, and social justice services to youth and young adults statewide. Additionally, she serves as a program development manager for Network Connect, focusing on community well-being and advocacy. Jalyn’s dedication has made her one of Delaware’s Most Influential people for her community impact.

Nicole Caridad Ralson | Senior Director of Education & Programming, Beloved Community

Nicole, Ph.D is the Senior Director of Education and Programming at Beloved Community where she supports the team in strategy, processes and visioning as it relates to Beloved’s content, curriculum, and facilitation services.  In her previous career in higher education, she developed retention and community engagement initiatives, built social justice education programs, taught courses on the white savior complex, and led the undocumented student support committee. Dr. Ralston’s doctoral research focused on how women of color in higher education navigated their identities in their leadership roles. Additionally, she is an adjunct professor at The University of New Orleans graduate school where she teaches, “Diversity in Higher Education”. She is devoted to creating spaces where those who have been pushed to the margins can be centered, seen and heard. As a multiracial Latina, and daughter of Cuban refugees, her dedication to inclusion is personal.

Valerie Slater | Executive Director, Rise For Youth

Valerie leads the RISE for Youth Coalition and advocates for the rights of system involved youth. Previously Valerie was a Juvenile Justice Attorney with Legal Aid Justice Center and coordinated RISE efforts while it was housed in the JustChildren Program of LAJC. Valerie has also worked to protect the rights of children with disabilities in community, residential and juvenile justice facilities throughout the Commonwealth at the disAbility Law Center of Virginia. Valerie earned her Juris Doctor from the University of Richmond School of Law and her Bachelor of Arts from Colorado State University. Valerie has dedicated her life’s work to advocacy in its many forms to preserve and protect our most valuable resource, our youth. 

Fallon Speaker | Director of Youth Justice Program, The Legal Aid Justice Center

Fallon is a feminist, social justice transformer, and movement lawyer. Prior to joining LAJC, she served in academia as Director of The Jeanette Lipman Family Law Clinic at The University of Richmond School of Law and Director of the Mainzer Family Defense Clinic at Cardozo School of Law. From 2013-2019, Fallon served as a Public Defender at The Bronx Defenders where she utilized a holistic interdisciplinary defense skillset to represent community members impacted by surveillance via the family regulation and criminal legal system, and intersectional areas such as substance use, mental health, housing, and immigration. Since, Fallon has utilized policy and community organizing to play an integral role in local and national coalition building, lobbying for family regulation system reform, centering the rights of incarcerated youth and parents, and improving legal outcomes for people with disabilities. Fallon recently co-founded the Virginia Family Preservation Project and serves on the Virginia Bar Association’s Commission on the Needs of Children.

Leon Theodore | Project Director, Texas Center for Justice and Equity

Leon is the Dallas County Project Director at the Texas Center for Justice and Equity, having joined the organization in fall 2019. He is a proponent of youth diversion programs, especially as it relates to youth of color, specifically Black youth and the education system. He launched the P.E.P. (Perception Equals Potential) Initiative in late 2019, seeking to improve outcomes for Dallas-area students, families, and communities; in 2022, Leon was selected as one of 7 people nationally to receive the Canary Impact Fund’s first-ever “10 for 10 Prize” for that work. Leon earned a Master of Social Work from Texas A&M-Commerce in 2019 and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership Policy.

Mercedes Watson | Director of Communications & Engagement, Delaware Center for Justice

Mercedes is a creative with a mission to make change. With over eight years of digital marketing experience, Mercedes Watson has been at the forefront of making change happen. He started his marketing career as the lead content creator for renowned brands like Sneaker Villa and Civil Studios. In 2019, Mercedes took on the role of Community Development Coordinator for Lapstone and Hammer. His efforts resulted in raising an impressive $60,000 to support schools and the Boys & Girls club in the Delaware and Philadelphia area.  Today, Mercedes is the Director of Communications and Engagement at the Delaware Center for Justice, a nonprofit organization. Through his expertise in content creation, social media marketing, community development, Google Analytics, and event planning, he has driven record-breaking growth in fundraising and community engagement.

Sheba Williams | Executive Director, Nolef Turns

Sheba was born and raised in Richmond, VA. She is a Norfolk State University alum with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management, she has professional licenses in Cosmetology and Barbering, and is a Master Instructor. In 2012, Sheba began working exclusively as a mobile barber stylist, traveling to clients anywhere from DC to NC. Meeting so many people from different walks of life and being actively involved in so many community service projects, Sheba found that more people than she realized had at least one thing in common with her… a felony conviction. Her passion for helping others be more than a conviction led to her founding a nonprofit, Nolef Turns in 2016. The organization was born to be a support system for those with justice and court involvement but quickly evolved into a day to day fight for removing the policies and stigmas around a past conviction. Sheba sits on several boards to include Virginia NORML, Maggie Walker Community Land Trust, Richmond Black Restaurant Experience, Cannabis Equity Reinvestment Board, Commonwealth Catholic Charities Housing Development Board and she is the Henrico NAACP’s Criminal Justice chair. She is the owner of Styles by Sheba, the Institute of Forgiveness and Sheba Williams Consulting. Most importantly, she is a mom of three young adults.

Karron Williams | Executive Director, Reentry Mediation Institute of Louisiana 

A Louisiana native, Karron has been serving the New Orleans area for many years. Karron Williams has been married for 18 years with four children. Karron Williams is the Executive Director of Reentry Mediation Institute of Louisiana. Karron Williams has a background in mental health where she has served many clients in resolving crisis, assessing clients and being a support and advocate.Karron Williams is also a professionally trained mediator since 2018. Reentry Mediation Institute of Louisiana mission is to reduce recidivism rates and improve a person’s transition home from incarceration with sustainable support of positive relationships with family and friends.

Boaz Young-El | Organizing Director, New Virginia Majority

Boaz is the Organizing Director at New Virginia Majority (NVM). His professional career has been dedicated to teaching working people how to utilize their strengths to improve their economic, social, and political well-being. He has worked for multiple labor unions, such as AFSCME International, UFCW Local 400, and the Virginia Education Association, and has substantial experience as a grassroots organizer, union representative, lobbyist/political representative, and union contract negotiator. Most recently Boaz, was successful in organizing and leading over 3000 workers in Richmond, VA in a campaign to win collective bargaining rights which resulted in historic collective bargaining agreements and substantial increases for those employees. In addition to being a dedicated husband and father of two, Boaz is dedicated to giving working families the power to change their economic, social, and political conditions to create a more fair world.

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