Climate Justice: The Challenges of the Global Majority
Introduced by: Juan Cartagena
October 3, 2019
Elizabeth Yeampierre is an internationally recognized Puerto Rican attorney and environmental and climate justice leader of African and Indigenous ancestry. She is the co-chair of the Climate Justice Alliance and Executive Director of UPROSE, a Latinx community-based organization driven by an inter-generational, multi-cultural, and community-led vision. She serves on the Solution Project’s steering committee.
Prior to assuming her position at UPROSE, Ms. Yeampierre was the Director of Legal Education and Training at the Puerto Rican Legal Defense Fund; Director of Legal Services for the American Indian Law Alliance; and Dean of Puerto Rican Student Affairs at Yale. She founded the NYC Climate Justice Youth Summit, a space where young people of color learn to engage their communities in climate justice work. She created the Climate Justice Center, NYC’s first bottom-up climate adaptation and community resiliency planning project. She is a long-time advocate and trailblazer around just, sustainable development, environmental justice, and community-led climate adaptation and resiliency in Sunset Park. In 2015, she helped lead the People’s Climate March Mobilization—a march of over 400,000 people—ensuring that the frontline was made up of young people of color. She is a co-founder of the BEA-I (Building Equity & Alignment for Impact).
Ms. Yeampierre has received numerous accolades for her work. She was named one of the top 100 Green Leaders by Poder Hispanic Magazine and has received such awards as the 2015 Earth Day New York & NRDC Advocate of the Year Award; 2011 National Alliance for Hispanic Health Vision, Innovation, Dedication, and Advocacy Award; American Bar Association Commission on Hispanic Legal Rights and Responsibilities 2011 Award; and the La Federación Nacional de Pioneros Puertorriquenos Award 2010. She was the first Latina Chair of the US EPA National Environmental Justice Advisory Council. She was the opening speaker at the first White House Forum on Environmental Justice in 2008. In 2015, she was one of the opening speakers at Pope Francis’s Climate Change Rally.
Survived and Punished
Introduced by: Joey L. Mogul
September 27, 2018
Mariame Kaba grew up in New York City, the daughter of immigrants from Guinea and the Ivory Coast. Her parents encouraged empathy for oppressed people and action for change. In 1995 she moved to Chicago and for more than two decades was, in the words of Chicago Magazine, “a linchpin of virtually every important activist effort in the Windy City.”
Kaba founded and directs Project NIA, a grassroots organization working to end youth incarceration. She founded multiple other organizations, including the Chicago Freedom School, which provides training and education for young people and adult allies to create a just world, the Chicago Taskforce on Violence Against Girls and Young Women, the Chicago Alliance to Free Marissa Alexander, and the Rogers Park Young Women’s Action team. Her blog, Prison Culture, is an essential resource for anti-prison activists. Kaba is a founding advisory board member of the Chicago Community Bond Fund, a revolving bond fund that supports individuals whose communities cannot afford to pay bonds themselves and who have been impacted by structural violence. Kaba is a 2016-17 Soros Justice Fellow, where she expanded her work to end the criminalization of survivors of violence.
Kaba helped launch the We Charge Genocide campaign, which in 2014 presented evidence of police brutality in Chicago to the United Nations. On May 6, 2015, the Chicago City Council unanimously passed unprecedented legislation providing reparations to the Chicago Police torture survivors and their family members, becoming the first municipality to provide systemic redress for racially motivated police violence. Both Kaba and Joey L. Mogul were critical leaders in that historic effort.
Kaba co-founded her current organizing and political home, Survived and Punished (S&P), in 2015. S&P organizes to de-criminalize efforts to survive domestic and sexual violence, support and free criminalized survivors, and abolish gender violence, policing, prisons, and deportations.
Maria Elena Durazo
Vice President, UNITE HERE
Introduced by: John Wilhelm
October 16, 2017
Maria Elena Durazo is vice president for UNITE HERE international labor union, which represents more than 270,000 hospitality workers in the hotel, gaming, food service, manufacturing, textile, distribution, laundry, transportation, and airport industries in the US and Canada. Under her leadership in 2016, UNITE HERE and its Las Vegas local, the Culinary Union, led an unprecedented citizenship drive, helping more than 2,000 residents apply for citizenship. This campaign launched the union’s large-scale door-knocking campaign in Nevada, the only swing state to go blue. In Phoenix, Maria Elena and UNITE HERE helped lead the campaign in which voters defeated the anti-immigrant Sheriff Joe Arpaio. She has served as Democratic National Committee vice chair since 2013.
Maria Elena started organizing with Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union Local 11 in 1983 and was elected its president in 1989 after she launched a campaign to transform the local into an accountable democratic organization. In 1996, Maria Elena was the first Latina to be elected to the executive board of HERE international union, and in 2003, she led the national the Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride. From 2006 through 2014, she was the first woman secretary-treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, representing the interests of more than 300 local unions and over 600,000 workers. Maria Elena secured allies on the Los Angeles City Council and County Board of Supervisors to push through a minimum wage law that requires large Los Angeles hotels to pay workers at least $15.37 an hour—one of the nation’s highest base wages. In 2010, Maria Elena was elected vice president of the National AFL-CIO Executive Council.
Maria Elena has been elected to numerous national positions within the Democratic Party. She served on several City of Los Angeles commissions. Maria Elena is a graduate of Saint Mary’s College of California and earned a law degree from Peoples College of Law in 1985.
Maria Elena Durazo is the proud daughter of Mexican migrant farmworkers.
What Now? Building an Intersectional Resistance Post-Election
Columbia University Criminal Justice Initiative,
Supporting Children Families and Communities
President, Democracy Alliance
LGBT Activist and CEO, The Vaid Group
Executive Director, Center for Constitutional Rights
January 30, 2017
Executive Director, Arab-American Association of New York
October 26, 2016
Linda Sarsour is a Brooklyn-born Palestinian-American Muslim racial justice and civil rights activist, community organizer, and mother of three. She is the Executive Director of the Arab American Association of New York, and is widely recognized among American Muslims for her focus on intersectional movement building.
Linda has worked tirelessly to increase the civic empowerment of Muslim Americans. In New York, she was a co-founder of the Muslim Democratic Club of New York City, which seeks to support responsible Democratic candidates and increase the number of registered and active American Muslim Democratic voters in New York city. Nationally, she is the co-founder of the first Muslim American online organizing platform, MPOWER Change, an organization dedicated to building American Muslims’ grassroots political power while advancing social, spiritual, racial and economic justice for all people.
Linda has been at the forefront of major civil rights campaigns including calling for an end to unwarranted surveillance of New York’s Muslim communities and ending police policies like stop and frisk. She co-founded Muslims for Ferguson to build solidarity amongst American Muslim communities and encourage work against police brutality, and is a member of the Justice League NYC.
Linda was instrumental in the Coalition for Muslim School Holidays. In 2015, New York City became the largest school system in the country to officially recognize two Muslim high holy holidays in its academic calendar. Linda has received numerous awards and honors including “Champion of Change” by the White House, YWCA USA’s Women of Distinction Award for Advocacy and Civic Engagement and the Hala Maksoud Leadership Award from the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.
Senior Policy Counsel at Streetwise and Safe
Introduced by: Urvashi Vaid
November 3, 2015
Andrea Ritchie is a civil rights attorney who has led groundbreaking research, litigation, and advocacy efforts to challenge profiling, policing, and physical and sexual violence by law enforcement against women, girls and LGBTQ people of color for the past two decades. In her work, Ritchie confronts the role played by police as the front lines of the criminal punishment system, building and sharing knowledge, skills, and strategies for resistance within communities targeted by the police.
Ritchie helped found and coordinate Streetwise & Safe, a leadership development initiative for LGBTQ youth of color that educates youth about their rights and helps them develop strategies for safety and for long-term change. She now serves as Senior Policy Counsel. She is on the Steering Committee of Communities United for Police Reform, a citywide campaign challenging discriminatory policing practices in New York City, and is also a member of the LGBT Advisory Panel to the NYC Police Commissioner, playing a leadership role in its effort to revise the NYPD Patrol Guide to give officers greater guidance and training in interactions with LGBTQ New Yorkers.
Ritchie coauthored A Roadmap for Change: Federal Policy Recommendations to Address the Criminalization of LGBT People and People Living With HIV (Ctr. for Gender & Sexuality Law at Columbia Law, 2014), Queer (In)Justice: The Criminalization of LGBT People in the United States (Beacon 2011), Stonewalled: Police Abuse and Misconduct Against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People in the United States (Amnesty Int’l, 2005), Education Not Deportation: Impacts of New York City School Safety Policies on Immigrant Youth (Desis Rising Up and Moving, 2006), and consulted for Caught in the Net: The Impact of Drug Policies on Women and Families (ACLU, Brennan Center for Justice & Break the Chains, 2005).
Ritchie is a 2014 Senior Soros Justice Fellow, and graduated magna cum laude from Howard University School of Law in 2000.
Founder Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) and Co-Director of Caring Across Genereations, Presents "Waking Up the Caring Majority: Why We All Need to Care About the Aging of America"
Introduced by: Gara LaMarche
April 8, 2015
Ai-jen Poo is the Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) and Co-Director of Caring Across Generations. Founded by Ai-jen in 2010, NDWA is the leading organization working to build power, respect, and fair labor standards for the 2.5 million nannies, housekeepers, and elderly caregivers in the U.S. She began organizing immigrant women workers in 1996 as an organizer at CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities in New York City, and in 2000, she co-founded Domestic Workers United (DWU), a city-wide organization of domestic workers. DWU led the way to the passage of the nation’s first Domestic Workers Bill of Rights in 2010.
Realizing that the rapid aging of America — what she calls the Elder Boom — would require all of us to take action on care issues, Ai-jen helped launch Caring Across Generations in 2011. A movement to unite all caregivers and those they care for to create the systems and supports that allow all of us to live and age with dignity and independence, Caring Across Generations now counts more than 200 partners in their work to build the Caring Majority and support the Care Force.
Winona LaDuke (Anishinaabe) is an internationally acclaimed author, orator and activist who has devoted her life to protecting the lands and life ways of Native communities. LaDuke is founder and Co-Director of Honor the Earth, a national advocacy group encouraging public support and funding for native environmental groups. With Honor the Earth, she works nationally and internationally on issues of climate change, renewable energy, sustainable development, food systems and environmental justice. In her own community in northern Minnesota, she is the founder and Executive Director of the White Earth Land Recovery Project, one of the largest reservation-based non-profit organizations in the country, and a leader on the issues of culturally-based sustainable development strategies, renewable energy and food systems. Her work includes efforts to protect Indigenous plants and heritage foods from patenting and genetic engineering.
In 1994, Time magazine named LaDuke one of America’s fifty most promising leaders under forty years of age, and in 1997 she was named Ms. Magazine Woman of the Year. Other honors include the Reebok Human Rights Award, the Thomas Merton Award, the Ann Bancroft Award, the Global Green Award, and the prestigious International Slow Food Award for working to protect wild rice and local biodiversity. In 2007, LaDuke was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame. LaDuke also served as Ralph Nader’s vice-presidential running mate on the Green Party ticket in the 1996 and 2000 presidential elections.
LaDuke, a graduate of Harvard and Antioch Universities with advanced degrees in rural economic development, has written extensively on Native American and environmental issues, and is the author of six books, including The Militarization of Indian Country (2011), Recovering the Sacred: the Power of Naming and Claiming (2005), All Our Relations: Native Struggles for Land and Life (1999), and Last Standing Woman (1997).
Director, Criminal Justice Initiative: Supporting Children, Families and Communities, Columbia University School of Social Work
Introduced by: Chesa Boudin
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Founding Principal, Khalil Gibran International Academy
Introduced by: Donna Nevel
Dolores C. Huerta
Co-Founder and First Vice-President, United Farm Workers of America, AFL-CIO (UFW)
President, Dolores Huerta Foundation
Introduced by: Christina Rodriguez, Professor, NYU School of Law
Anthony "Van" Jones
Senior Fellow, American Center for Progress
Policy Advisor, Green For All
Introduced by: Gara LaMarche
Programmes Director, Women's Link Worldwide
Introduced by: Janet Benshoof, President, Global Justice Center
Tracie L. Washington
President & CEO, Louisiana Justice Institute
Introduced by: Julia Beatty, Program Officer, The Twenty-First Century Foundation
Eva Jefferson Patterson
President and Co-Founder, Equal Justice Society
Introduced by: Drucilla Ramey, Executive Director, National Association of Women Judges
Ellen M. Barry '78
Founder, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children
Introduced by: Lynn M. Paltrow, Founder and Executive Director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPAW)
Esther Chavez Cano
Founder & Director, Casa Amiga in Juarez, Mexico
Introduced by: Eve Ensler, Author of The Vagina Monologues
Constance L. Rice '84
Co-Director, Adancement Project
Introduced by: Professor Anthony G. Amsterdam
Baroness Helena Kennedy
Introduced by: Michael Ratner
Executive Director, MADRE
Introduced by: Monica Aleman
Judge La Doris Hazzard Cordell
Superior Court of Santa Clara County, California
Introduction by: Jean E. Fairfax, Activist and Philanthropist
Judge Constance Baker Motley
Senior Judge in the Southern District of New York
Introduced by: Leroy D. Clark
Dr. Julianne Malveaux
Economist and Journalist
Introduced by: Marcia Ann Gillespie, Editor in Chief of Ms. Magazine
Professor Dessima Williams
Introduced by: Kimberle Crenshaw, Columbia University Law School
Executive Director, International Human Rights Law Group
Introduced by: Ruth Messinger, Manhattan Borough President
Director, Children and Family Justice Center at Northwestern University School of Law
Introduced by: Haywood Burns
President, Mexican American Legal Defense Fund
Introduced by: Sally Hernandez-Piñero