Meet the team
Elandria Williams is on the Education team at the Highlander Research and Education Center, a social justice and movement leadership, strategy and cultural center, where she has worked since 2007. Elandria helps co-coordinate the Economics and Governance program at Highlander and is a co-editor of Beautiful Solutions. Beautiful Solutions is a project that is gathering some of the most promising and contagious stories, solutions, strategies and big questions for building a more just, democratic, and resilient world. Elandria also serves on the boards of the Southern Reparations Loan Fund (SRLF), US Solidarity Economy Network, Appalachian Studies Association, and on the Movement for Black Lives Policy Table.
Detroit-based artist/ community advocate Halima Cassells occupies a myriad of roles that are unified by a devotion to fostering community inter-connectivity. In practice she designs spaces for authentic engagement and collaborative artistic expression, as well as projects that engender new economy practices. She works as an independent artist and assumes roles at Oakland Avenue Artists Coalition, O.N.E. Mile project, Incite Focus Fab Lab, the Center for Community Based Enterprise, and the Free Market of Detroit.
Julieta Vitullo is a Seattle-based bilingual writer who has spent most of her life teaching youths and adults about language and literature. She holds an MA in English and a PhD in Latin American Literature from Rutgers University. She’s a proud member of Parley, a Seattle Playwrights’ Group whose mission is to develop and produce new plays that are accessible to everyone. Her involvement in direct action and service within the communities in which she’s lived is rooted in the belief that arts and culture can be used as weapons to resist and fight against injustice and exploitation. She’s thrilled to be offering her professional experience and work ethics as a lifelong writer, scholar and educator in order to advance PeoplesHub’s vision as an online movement school.
Dante Garcia is Seattle artist, designer, and organizer exploring social and interpersonal transformation. He is a co-founder and current strategist of a design cooperative called Digital Manatee, which is dedicated to standing behind grassroots organizations and making transformation irresistible. He values justice, creative self-expression, health, accountability, dignity, the long game and joy. You can find him biking across Seattle hills from meeting to meeting and geeking out about a post capitalist world.
Melissa Rosario is a scholar, radical educator and healer who lives and works in Puerto Rico. She received her PhD in Anthropology and Latino Studies in 2013 from Cornell University, going on to serve as a postdoctoral fellow at Bowdoin College and visiting assistant professor at Wesleyan University, her alma mater. During that time, she studied social movements and political currents in Puerto Rico, particularly interested in the process through which people transform. Committed to collective methods and dissatisfied with the options available to her in a contracting academic labor market she moved to Puerto Rico in September to launch CEPA—a physical space of praxis which nurtures our collective and individual capacity to heal from the legacies of colonialism and capitalism. CEPA’s purpose is to build an intellectual and political home that honors our earth, ancestors and the differences between us. It offers a place where Puerto Ricans—from island and diaspora—and their allies can construct an alternative together.
Jess Grady-Benson is a trainer, organizer, and artist living and adventuring in Seattle, WA. Jess has roots in the climate justice movement, and has organized for indigenous sovereignty, racial justice, and economic democracy. Jess began organizing as a student, when she co-founded a multi-college fossil fuel divestment campaign that became one of the first victorious campaigns in the country. She went on to help launch the Divestment Student Network, an organization focused on training, strategy coaching, and leadership development for college students, and served as the director of training for three years. In recognition of her leadership in the youth climate justice movement, Jess was a recipient of the Brower Youth Award. Jess has collaborated with training networks including the Wildfire Project, Training For Change, Ayni Institute, and Movement Generation. Jess is honored to join the advisory board as someone who believes deeply in the power of learning together to transform our relationships, ignite our creativity, and grow our collective power.
Sarah van Gelder
Sarah van Gelder is co-founder and columnist at YES! Magazine, a public speaker, and author of the book, The Revolution Where You Live: Stories from a 12,000 Mile Journey Through a New America (Berrett Koehler, 2017). The Revolution Where You Lives tells the story of Sarah’s solo road trip around the United States, interviewing people who are making change happen — change that is deep enough to transform the crises of our time into opportunities for new ways of life that are more sustainable and just. This road trip was the inspiration for PeoplesHub, which she founded in April 2017. She also edited Sustainable Happiness: Live Simply, Live Well, Make a Difference, and This Changes Everything: Occupy Wall Street and the 99 Percent Movement (both with Berrett Koehler). She speaks internationally, and works in her own community in partnership with the Suquamish Tribe.
Linda is an activist and a visionary working against injustice within her world, her country, and her community. She is the founder and executive director of the Piedmont Peace Project, an organization committed to drawing leadership from poor and working-class communities. She also founded Spirit in Action, which seeks out transformative tools, models, and resources for building a powerful and visionary progressive movement. Linda is the author of two books, Bridging the Class Divide and Collective Visioning. She has given over 600 lectures, sermons, and workshops in the last 30 years in an effort to use her voice to unite change-makers and create a just world.
Jeanne Rewa is an experiential trainer, facilitator, and organizer. As a consultant in online training and facilitation for social change organizations, Jeanne is passionate about helping people actualize their goals and values in an online space. Jeanne has years of experience building, delivering, and evaluating various types of online training programs for social change, and in training and supporting others to do the same. She was trained by Training for Change, served on their Board of Directors, and is currently leading a TFC online training series about training and facilitation online. She served as the Training and Development Specialist at Greenpeace USA and organized at Equal Justice USA. When not at “work,” Jeanne is usually organizing with her partner in her local community for economic, racial, and environmental justice, or working on their homestead.
Peter Block is an author and active citizen of Cincinnati, Ohio. He is a partner in Designed Learning, a training company that offers workshops for learning about stewardship, building community, and consulting. He is the author of nine books, including Flawless Consulting, Stewardship, The Answer to How Is Yes, Community: The Structure of Belonging, The Abundant Community, with John McKnight and most recently co-author of An Other Kingdom: Departing the Consumer Culture. Peter is part of the Economics of Compassion Initiative of Greater Cincinnati and is a member of his local neighborhood council. He serves on the boards of Elementz, an urban arts center, and LivePerson, a provider of online engagement solutions. His work is in the restoration of common good and creating a world that reclaims our humanity from the onslaught of modernism.
Medea Benjamin is the founder of the women-led peace group CODEPINK and the co-founder of the human rights group Global Exchange. She has been an advocate for social justice for more than 40 years. Described as “one of America’s most committed — and most effective — fighters for human rights” by New York Newsday, and “one of the high profile leaders of the peace movement” by the Los Angeles Times, she was one of 1,000 exemplary women from 140 countries nominated to receive the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the millions of women who do the essential work of peace worldwide. She is the author of nine books, including Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control and Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the U.S.-Saudi Connection, and her articles appear regularly in outlets such as The Guardian, Politico, The Huffington Post, CommonDreams, Alternet and Nation of Change.
Heather Booth is one of the leading strategists on progressive issues and electoral campaigns. She has been an organizer since the civil rights, anti-Vietnam war and women’s movements of the 1960s. She was the founding Director and is now President of the Midwest Academy, training social change leaders and organizers. She has been involved in and managed political campaigns and was the Training Director of the Democratic National Committee. In 2000, she was the Director of the NAACP National Voter Fund, which helped to increase African American election turnout by nearly 2 million voters. She was the lead consultant, directing the founding of the Campaign for Comprehensive Immigration Reform in 2005. In 2008, she was the director of the Health Care Campaign for the AFL-CIO. In 2009, she directed the campaign passing President Obama’s first budget. In 2010 she was the founding director of Americans for Financial Reform, fighting to regulate the financial industry. She was the national coordinator for the coalition around marriage equality and the 2013 Supreme Court decision. She was strategic advisor to the Alliance for Citizenship (the largest coalition of the immigration reform campaign). She is now a consultant to a variety of social change organizations.
Siko Bouterse is co-founder and coordinator of Whose Knowledge?, a global campaign that aims to correct the skewed representations of knowledge on the internet, through creation, collection and curation of knowledge from and with marginalized communities. Siko is former Director of Community Resources at the Wikimedia Foundation, where she led a team of grantmakers and community organizers supporting the sharing of free knowledge on Wikipedia and its sister projects. She co-created projects and online spaces aimed at supporting plural participation, like the Wikipedia Teahouse, WikiWomen’s Collaborative, IdeaLab, and gender-focused Inspire Campaigns. Siko has worked in localization, community organizing, and product management with cross-language and cross-cultural online communities like Meedan and hi5. She has also worked offline in institutions like the Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology at UC Berkeley. She holds a master’s degree in Middle East History from the American University in Cairo.
adrienne maree brown
adrienne maree brown is the author of Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds and co-editor of Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction from Social Justice Movements. She is a facilitator, pleasure activist, coach, healer and doula. She facilitates the Detroit Narrative Agency (DNA), supporting Detroiters to shift the narratives of the city towards justice and liberation, and is part of the Black Organizing for Leadership and Dignity team. She facilitates the internal healing and visionary development of organizations throughout the movement. In the past few years she has been a co-facilitator for the Detroit Food Justice Task Force, facilitator for Detroit Future, and the Detroit Digital Justice Coalition. She has been a part of the faculty for the Center for Whole Communities. adrienne was the executive director of The Ruckus Society from 2006-2010 and was a National Co-Coordinator for the 2010 US Social Forum. She was a co-founder of the League of Pissed Off/Young Voters.
Puanani Burgess is a community building facilitator, trainer and consultant in Hawai’i, the US and the Pacific. She is also a poet and cultural translator. She has been a lecturer with the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Hawai`I, and was the Miles and Zilphia Horton Chairholder for Highlander Research and Education Center. In 2000 she was ordained as a Zen Buddhist priest in the International Daihonzan Chozen-ji. She helped develop several community-based organizations including: Ka’ala Farm, Inc. (taro and land- based cultural learning center in Wai’anae); Hoa’Aina O Makaha (land-based cultural and agricultural learning center in Makaha); Hale Na’au Pono (Wai’anae Coast Community Mental Health Center); Pu’a Foundation (the only Native Hawaiian Foundation in Hawai’i); Legal Services for Children; Wai’anae Coast Community Alternative Development Corporation. In 2009 she was among five people named as Hawai’i’s Living Treasures.
Since 2001, Matt has worked with the church-based nonprofit On Earth Peace, which offers leadership development for faith-rooted efforts to stop violence and build reconciliation. He is actively involved with Training for Change and previously worked as co-coordinator of training for Christian Peacemaker Teams, preparing people to carry out nonviolent direct action and unarmed accompaniment in conflict zones. Matt consulted with both Greenpeace USA and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), providing skill-building resources on topics including facilitation and nonviolent direct action. Matt is a member of the strategy team for Bus Riders Unite’s Campaign for a Fair Transfer, an initiative of OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon, a low-income and people of color-led organization.
LeeAnn Hall is co-executive director of People’s Action and People’s Action Institute, a national grassroots organization with member organizations in 30 states fighting for economic, environmental, racial, and gender justice. A leader in social and racial justice organizing for more than 30 years, Hall has influenced and affected national reforms in health care, immigration policy, and fair pay. She has guided and inspired hundreds of young organizers into careers in social justice work. She was previously the founder and executive director of the Alliance for a Just Society, and is co-chair of the board of Race Forward, the Center for Racial Justice Innovation. LeeAnn was the recipient of the prestigious Leadership for a Changing World Award from the Ford Foundation, the Advocacy Institute, and the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University and the Prime Movers Award. Hall lives in Seattle, Washington.
Akaya Windwood is president of Rockwood Leadership Institute, the nation’s largest provider of transformative leadership trainings for nonprofit and philanthropic organizations. Akaya leads trainings nationally and internationally, and has been a featured speaker at the Stanford Social Innovation Institute, the Independent Sector Conference, and Grantmakers for Effective Organizations. She is recognized for elevating the effectiveness of leadership and collaboration in the nonprofit and social benefit sectors, and is the recipient of an Ella Award from the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, and a Transformative Leadership Award from the Seasons Fund for Social Transformation. Akaya’s vision for our global community includes infusing a sense of purpose, delight and wonder into everything we do. She has a life-long commitment to working for a fair and equitable society.
Mary Joyce has worked at the intersection of digital media, strategy, and social change for the past ten years. She currently serves as Impact Strategist at Harmony Institute, a social impact media incubator and creative lab. Previously, Mary was the new media operations manager for President Obama’s 2008 campaign, co-founder of the Digital Activism Research Project at the University of Washington, and founder of social change strategy firm Do Big Good. She is the author of Digital Activism Decoded and has traveled globally to speak and give workshops on digital activism. Mary splits her time between New York and Seattle.
Marcia Lee seeks to create a more just and compassionate world through individual and collective healing. She is a co-founder of Taproot Sanctuary, an intentional community and center in Detroit, Michigan, that invites people to live at the intersection of spirituality, right relationship with the earth, and social justice. Marcia practices and teaches tai chi, restorative justice, peacemaking circles, and is a facilitator of Courage and Renewal retreats. She is a co-founder of Healing by Choice, a group of women of color offering healing in their communities and the Detroit Area Restorative Justice Center. She has worked for over twelve years with the Capuchin Franciscans, first co-leading Cap Corps Midwest (a full-time volunteer program), and then supporting the friars in justice, peace, and integrity of creation work. She holds a masters degree in Dispute Resolution from Marquette University and an undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies from the University of Michigan.
Adela Nieves is a Nuyorican who has called Detroit home for the past 11 years. She is a naturopathic community health and healing arts practitioner and community organizer, who is deeply committed to her Taino (indigenous peoples of the Caribbean) roots. Adela is founder of Homemade Healing, a neighborhood wellness center in Southwest Detroit, and Healing by Choice!, a circle of women of color healers and health practitioners. She was the National Communications Coordinator for the 2010 US Social Forum in Detroit, an editor for the southeast Michigan magazine Critical Moment, and a core organizers for the SPEAK! Women of Color Media Collective. She collaborates with health practitioners and justice organizers to create community-modeled practice spaces, mobile clinics, and collectives.
Mateo Nube is one of the co-founders of Movement Generation: Justice & Ecology Project. He was born and grew up in La Paz, Bolivia. Since moving to the San Francisco Bay Area, he has worked in the labor, environmental justice and international solidarity movements. Popular education, union organizing and cultural work have been foundational pillars of his political formation. Mateo is the son of Barbara and fortunate father of Maya and Nilo. He is also a member of the Latin rock band Los Nadies.
Ma. Teresa "Mayté" Penman
Ma. Teresa “Mayté” Penman is currently the Director of Resident Engagement for Southwest Solutions in Detroit, Michigan and holds a Master’s degree in Arts and Humanities. A native of Durango, Mexico, Mayté has lived in Michigan for over 25 years, during which she has championed Latina women’s rights and social justice for underserved and underrepresented communities in Wayne & Macomb Counties. In her 16 years working with Vistas Nuevas Head Start/Matrix Human Services, Maytê was instrumental in launching the Detroit Día de los Niños-Día de los Libros, the largest children’s bilingual literacy event in Michigan. She is currently a member of the Riverwise collective, a Detroit based community magazine, as well as Huehueyolotl, a Mexika women’s ceremonial drum group.
Starhawk is the author or coauthor of 13 books, including the classics The Spiral Dance, her visionary novel The Fifth Sacred Thing and its sequel, City of Refuge and her book on social permaculture: The Empowerment Manual: A Guide for Collaborative Groups. A lifelong activist, Starhawk has been training activists since the early ‘80s in nonviolent direct action, facilitation and decision-making, organizing, strategy and building welcoming, diverse groups and communities. She is a co-founder of Alliance of Community Trainers, which offers trainings is all aspects of activism and community empowerment, and directs Earth Activist Training teaching permaculture design grounded in spirit and with a focus on organizing and social permaculture. She holds a double diploma in teaching and design from the Permaculture Institute of North America. On her 40-acre ranch in Northern California, she integrates planned grazing perennial food forests and medicinal herbs in an evolving model of carbon ranching.