Meet the People at PeoplesHub
System Administrator and PeoplesHub Trainer
Dante Garcia is a graphic designer, strategist, and co-founder at Story 2 Designs — a PoC lead, design cooperative dedicated to making transformation irresistible. Born in Seattle, he is a long time local activist. In 2015 he was part of the organizing core of Seattle’s resistance to Arctic drilling in the ShellNo campaign. Today he is a trainer-in-training at the Center for Story-based Strategy. 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.
Questions 1: 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.
Questions 2: 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.
Questions 3: Elandria helps co-coordinate the Economics and Governance program at Highlander and is a co-editor of Beautiful Solutions.
Questions 4: 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.
Questions 5: Elandria helps co-coordinate the Economics and Governance program at Highlander and is a co-editor of Beautiful Solutions.
Interim Executive Director, and PeoplesHub Trainer
Elandria Williams is the Interim Executive Director at PeoplesHub. She also provides development support to cooperatives, mostly in the Southern United States, and is a co-editor of Beautiful Solutions, 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. Beautiful Solutions has a web platform, trainings and a book soon to be released. For the last eleven years Elandria worked at the Highlander Research and Education Center, first as the youth/intergenerational programs director and then helping co-coordinate Economics and Governance programs such as the Mapping Our Futures Curriculum and the Southern Grassroots Economies Project. She served on the board of the Southern Reparations Loan Fund (SRLF), and currently serves on the boards of the US Solidarity Economy Network, Appalachian Studies Association and the Movement for Black Lives Policy Table, and is one of the Co-Moderators of the Unitarian Universalist Association.
- What’s the main inspiration for your activism or organizing work? I am inspired by my ancestors who came before me, and all of what they went through and the work they did to get us to the place we are now. I come from a family of movers and shakers, from people who started Youth Negro Baseball Leagues, to some of the first NAACP chapters in Florida, to folks who ran away from slavery and started their own town. I am also inspired by the domestic workers, cooks, concrete layers and aircraft mechanics who molded my parents and molded me to be the person I am today. They believed in unions and workers rights, along with civil rights, and pushed social activism in all aspects of life. I am also inspired by all of the young people who I have organized, worked with, hung out with and am family with over the last 18 years. They are who have changed me the most and who I am trying to always live up to.
- When and why did you first start organizing? I was one of those kids who always went to meetings, events and rallies with their families, but I think the first time I started organizing was around zero-tolerance policies and confederate flags at my high school. There were tons of fights, and in my mixed school, a black kid got expelled for having a “weapon” locked in the trunk of his car. This weapon was a sword for a martial arts tournament he was attending right after school. Zero-tolerance policies started my first year of high school, and we realized that we had to push back. We also had to organize against racist behaviors, policies and practices at my high school, and we won some serious fights that year.
- What was the single most successful campaign or action you were ever a part of? Wow!! What determines success? I helped start a union in college at the University of Tennessee that is still moving today, and they have had some incredible wins. I helped change policies around policing, environmental protections, education, housing, economic possibilities and others. What I sense the most success around is when people feel like they are important and powerful enough to band together to stand up for themselves and their communities. That is the long-term win that will enable one to hold firm regardless of what comes at you.
- Why do you love training, and what makes you excited about leading trainings online? I love people taking over and making something theirs, and I believe that working yourself out of a job is essential in movement work. That means leadership development and training so that people have the political education and skills they need to actually run the organizations, communities and institutions that are in their lives. What makes me excited about leading trainings online is that no matter where people are, I get to learn from them and make myself better. I am honored to be a part of people’s transformation processes. When people have “aha” moments and are blown away by some piece of knowledge or wisdom that they had in their bodies and souls, that is the most beautiful experience to be a part of. Being able to experience it with people 500 miles from me without having to even leave my home is just miraculous. Online technology gives us the ability to learn from others in real time across the country and the world, and that is powerful.
- Where do you see hope, possibility and life? What keeps you healthy and grounded? I see hope, possibility and life in my nephews, niece and all of the children in my life that I know, and others I see around. I see possibility in the music of Tank and the Bangas, which I’m listening to as I write. I see hope in the earth that grounds us and holds strong no matter what we as humans do to her. I see possibility in the people that have been rising and are building and creating beautiful solutions all over this world, and have been rising since there was something to rise against. I have possibility in knowing that I am the child of people that suffered through things that we can never even imagine. I am the child of people who were whipped on their backs and hid in the swamps and made schools, foster care homes, banks, towns, beauty parlors, hospitals, and so much more to not only survive but thrive. We are their children, we are their legacy, and that is what grounds me to the bone. We are carrying their dreams and are the embodiment of their hopes. Prayer, movement, yoga, meditation, dancing, being vegan, exploring places I have never been to, reading, constantly reading, watching murder mysteries, playing with kids, hanging out with my baby who is now 19 keeps me healthier than anything else. Shawn, Nevyn, Niyah, Grant, Garret, and Inara/Bacon and then all of the other youth that are now so grown are who keep me healthy and grounded.
Training Team, Workshops Lead, and PeoplesHub Trainer
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.
- What’s the main inspiration for your activism or organizing work? I organize my life with the inspiration that my children offer me. I strive to align my thoughts and actions with co-creating a better world for them. As far as organizing I start with what hits close to home: people who I know and care about, and places my energy can make a difference in the lives of those who are closest to me, with the hope and intention of causing ripple effects to folks that I may not know yet.
- How did you first start organizing? I first started organizing in high school, although I wasn’t calling it that. I began hosting community art classes and facilitating co-creation with students younger than myself. That thread of organizing has continued over the past 20 years, and many folks remind me that making art together has empowered them in other ways as well.
- Where do you see hope, possibility and life? I see hope and possibility all around me. I am sometimes called an “optimist,” but I think I am pretty practical and realistic. I am thankful that my life allows me time to move slowly and have conversations with people regularly. And I am constantly amazed at how ingenious and kind and loving people are. I think that we need to share more; we are totally able to re-create the superstructures that sustain us in a way to allow for more daily creativity, beauty, and time for ourselves.
- What keeps you healthy and grounded? My friends and family inspire me daily and help keep me grounded. I have a gratitude practice (or a collection) that helps keep me aligned and moving forward even when I feel a case of the “blahs” or encounter a challenge. One practice is keeping a jar and filling it with scraps of paper that have specific gratitude statements written on them… later I put my hand in the jar and read them. Another practice is laying in bed for a few moments every morning and thinking about the way I want to feel, asking myself “what can I do today to feel this?,” mindfully doing something that day, and then, reflecting in gratitude that evening.
Director of Development & Communications
Jardana Peacock is a writer and a spiritual activist. She is the author of Practice Showing Up: A Guidebook for White People Working for Racial Justice. Over the span of her career she has worked with thousands of changemakers globally through coaching, consulting, healing and facilitating to address trauma from a healing and anti-oppression foundation. She is founder and co-coordinator of Liberation School South, a healing and spirituality school for changemakers. Her writings on the intersection of resilience and social justice have been featured in the SouthWrit, Mother, Huffington Post, Feminist Wire, Elephant Journal and other online and print publications.
She has helped to found seven social justice organizations including the U.S. based network, Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) and has worked as a cultural organizer and in development and communications at the Highlander Research and Education Center and the Anne Braden Institute for Social Justice Research.
She often travels to other worlds through her imagination and in her car, and prefers to be barefoot. She’s entirely way too serious, but is practicing slowing down and being silly. She is happiest by water, in the mountains or desert, listening in to spirit, and playing in the sun with her kids. She lives in Louisville, KY.
Training Team, Technology Lead, Core Development Team, and PeoplesHub Trainer
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.
- What’s the main inspiration for your activism? For me, being involved in activism is about my personal integrity. It’s about being an active co-creator in the world I believe in.
- How did you first start organizing? As a teenager I became very focused on intersectionality. I thought if I could understand how different forms of oppression interact and overlap, I could figure out how to end all oppression. While trying to figure this all out, I was living in a community that houses federal death row. An upcoming high-profile execution made intersectionality very real. I started organizing to stop the death penalty – just one life-and-death example of how racism, classism and other forms of oppression show up in public policy.
- What was the single most successful campaign or action you were ever a part of? I feel lucky that through my work with Equal Justice USA I was able to play a small part in the grassroots campaign that won a historical legislative victory in New Jersey, ending the death penalty. I learned so much from seeing first hand how it is possible to connect people across political boundaries and make positive change through a state legislative campaign.
- Where do you see hope, possibility and life? The world of justice and peace I want to live in is not something that can just be handed down or handed over from someone who holds the power to give it to the rest of us. It requires that we all participate, and that together we learn how to live compassionately and creatively with each other. Those moments when I feel connection, synergy and true collaboration with others in this work give me the hope that that future is possible.
- What keeps you healthy and grounded? I’m best able to sustain myself and this work when I don’t wait for everything to be “fixed” in the world to live and enjoy life. For me that means connecting and spending time with my partner, with the Earth, and with my human and non-human friends and family. It also means being actively creative, like making art and growing food.
- Why do you love training and what makes you excited about leading trainings online? Powerful trainings have been key catalysts and turning points for me in my activism. There have been so many times when I left a good training feeling new energy, new hope, and new clarity, and that has kept me going. My hope is that as a trainer I can support the work of other activists the way that other amazing trainers have created spaces that have helped me. Training online is exciting because it allows special opportunities to connect trainers and community members who might not otherwise be able to connect due to distance or time constraints. Connecting with people in this way can be really inspiring and strengthens our movements.
Training and Community Engagement Lead
Jess Grady-Benson is an artist, organizer, and facilitator living in Seattle, Washington. Jess has been a member of the PeoplesHub team since the beginning, now serving as the Training and Community Engagement Lead and a member of the Interim Leadership Team. Jess has roots in the climate justice, racial justice, youth organizing, and popular education leadership development. As a student, Jess launched and co-led Claremont Climate Justice – one of the first victorious fossil fuel divestment campaigns in the country. She went on to support racial, economic, and environmental justice campaigns, and helped launch the Fossil Fuel Divestment Student Network as the Director of Training. In recognition for her leadership in the youth climate justice movement, Jess was a recipient of the Brower Youth Award. Jess is curious about how we can build more sustainable, creative, and transformative movements, and make the tools for revolution more accessible. She believes deeply in the power of learning together to transform our relationships, ignite our creativity, and grow our collective power.
- What inspires you? The powerful women and queers in my blood and chosen family ground me and inspire my commitment to justice. Coming from a long line of nurses, teachers, spiritual leaders, and subsistence farmers – many of whom are survivors of domestic and sexual violence, I draw strength from their stories and perseverance. My mom has modeled for me what it means to be courageous in the midst of complacency, to trust your gut, and to stay in it for the long haul. She brought me to my first protests, and gave me tasks in her community organizing projects since I was little. Now that my mom, my little sister, and I are all organizing in our own communities, I love how we get to learn together, push each other to grow, and support one another to heal.
- When and why did you start organizing? I began organizing in high school around environmental issues. I helped organize a club that took on a range of projects like assessing the environmental impact of our school, reducing food and water waste in the cafeteria, and starting a community garden. The first campaign I was a part of was in my first year of college when a neighboring college was threatening to build a parking lot on Tongva Tribal land and some of the last remaining undeveloped land in San Bernardino. We worked in solidarity with the Tongva to put pressure on the colleges to halt construction plans and protect the tribe’s right to their land, and to preserve the ecosystem. We were able to put a hold on construction, but the fight to protect Tongva Tribal land continues. I began organizing — and keep going — because of the relationships and community I’ve found, the transformation I’ve experienced in collective action, and a deep spiritual responsibility I feel to defend what is sacred and fight for our collective humanity.
- What was the single most successful campaign or action you were ever a part of? Immediately following the devastation of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, two other students and I launched a five-college campaign for fossil fuel divestment and reinvestment. After two years of base building, direct action, and culture shift on campus, we won divestment and reinvestment at Pitzer College. This win was significant because it was the first time an institution divested from the fossil fuel industry as a result of student organizing. Hearing the news that we had won while our team was attending the second national student divestment convergence was one of the most powerful moments of my life. Sharing the moment of our victory with hundreds of other student organizers was deeply motivating and inspiring for our movement.
- Why do you love training? What excites you about training online? I love the way that learning together has the potential to transform groups and individuals in the way they relate, the way they see themselves, and the way they understand the world. Witnessing and supporting moments when people recognize their own power, confront self-limiting beliefs, and support each other to take bold action is magical. I’m excited about the possibilities that online training creates for connecting across geographies and making training more accessible.
- What keeps you healthy and grounded? Investing in my work as a ceramic artist, somatic practice, adventuring with my partner, spending time outside, giving our foster dogs lots of love, making music, and learning how to cook new things keeps me healthy and grounded.
Training Team, Core Development Team, and PeoplesHub Trainer
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 Spirit in Action, which seeks out transformative tools, models, and resources for building a powerful and visionary progressive movement. She was the Executive Director of the Peace Development Fund, a public foundation supporting social justice organizations, and the Founder and Executive Director of the Piedmont Peace Project, an organization committed to drawing leadership from poor and working-class communities. 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 35 years in an effort to use her voice to unite change-makers and create a just world.
- What’s the main inspiration for your activism or organizing work? I grew up in poverty, the daughter of a farmworker. I also am 13th generation Quaker. I believe in equity, peace, and justice and hold a vision for a better world for generations to come.
- When and why did you first start organizing? I first became involved in the early ‘70s when my mentor, civil rights leader Septima Clark, took me under her wing. It was through the strong women in my life that I was able to find my voice and my power to organize.
- What was the single most successful campaign or action you were ever a part of? When I built Piedmont Peace Project, a multi-racial poor people’s organization in 1984, we were able to train around 5000 leaders and to mobilize 44,000 people over a period of five years. Through using the ballot box and holding elected officials accountable, we were able to make dramatic changes. For example, our congressman, who sat on the Defense Appropriations Committee and chaired the New Military Construction Subcommittee, changed his voting record from 0% to 87% on peace issues, and from 33% to 98% on social justice issues. Through empowering low-income people to take on leadership roles, we were awarded the National Grassroots Peace Award.
- Why do you love training and what makes you excited about leading trainings online? I love teaching people how to organize and build power. I’m so excited to offer these trainings online to make these opportunities more accessible to larger groups of activists.
- Where do you see hope, possibility and life? I see so much hope and possibility in young leaders today and have been thrilled to see Black Lives Matters and the March for Our Lives leaders reflecting diversity and calling for a new revolution. Their sophistication and understanding of politics is awesome! I believe more in revolutionary change today than I ever have.
Nico Amador joined PeoplesHub in 2019 with over fifteen years’ experience as a community organizer, activist trainer, and movement worker. Between 2008-2015, he served as the Director for Training for Change, where he founded a fellowship program for trainers and facilitators of color, led over 300 workshops and trained over 7,000 organizers on four continents. In 2013, he was honored as “Educator of the Year” by the Peace & Justice Studies Association for his work to promote skills and analysis among people using direct action and other grassroots strategies to create social change.
His prior work has also included efforts to fight mass incarceration, win a living wage, establish sanctuary policies, and end a public transportation system policy that discriminated against trans and non-binary passengers in Philadelphia. In addition to his role with PeoplesHub, Nico supports leadership and organizational development as a coach for grantees of the Fund for Trans Generations and is working on his first full-length collection of poetry.
- What’s the main inspiration for your activism or organizing work? A spirit of defiance coupled with a desire for the extraordinary. Refusal to accept the status quo. Irreverence as a response to authority and decorum. People who value experimentation in the service of winning, over the need to hold to a posture of idealogical purity. The care that I’ve been shown and learned to show others in the course of committing to work that is difficult, confronting, and, at its best, transformational.
- When and why did you first start organizing? I started organizing as a student in California, following the 9/11 attacks in 2001. We opposed the invasion of Iraq, and we also wanted to challenge how increased militarism was being played out on communities of color at home; from the USA Patriot Act and surveillance culture, to the targeting of Muslim Americans and immigrants, to the presence of military recruiters in high schools populated by young black and brown people. Organizing was a new concept to me at that time. Previously, my understanding of social change was limited to electoral politics and civil rights litigation. When I came to understand that there are actual frameworks for creating grassroots campaigns and mass movements, I was like, oh, that’s so much more exciting than waiting on a politician or a lawsuit to produce political and cultural change.
- What was the single most successful campaign or action you were ever a part of? From 2010-2013 I helped to lead a direct action campaign aimed at changing a policy on Philadelphia’s public transportation system that caused harassment and discrimination against trans and non-binary riders. It was a scrappy little campaign, and we did it on a shoe-string. I think in the entire three years of organizing we maybe spent $500. We won, and the victory was especially meaningful given the risks that people took in being visible during a time when trans identity and trans right were only just beginning to register in mainstream conversation. The campaign also tested me in ways I’m grateful for: I learned — through my mistakes and successes — what was required to build trust with trans women in my community, what of my own internalized oppression as a trans person I needed to address, and how too stay in it when things were hard and when I didn’t have answers about what to do.
- Why do you love training and what makes you excited about leading trainings online? Training allows people a space to step out of the grind of their day-to-day as organizers and whatever pressures come along with that, and engage in the kind of reflection that is necessary for their growth and sustainability in those roles in the long haul. I love getting to support the opportunity for leaders I respect to invest time in themselves and whatever they need to learn to be effective in what they do, whether that’s skill-building, political analysis, or uncovering important personal insights. I’ve spent the past few years living rurally and it’s become so clear to me that much of the resource and training that’s available to activists in progressive urban centers never reaches the people doing the front-line work outside those places. Online training provides some of that resource and opportunity for cross-pollination that not everyone has access to in-person.
- What keeps you healthy and grounded? Holding a stance of mystery and wonder toward the universe. Tacos. Getting dirty. Taking naps.
Sarah van Gelder
Steering Committee Chair
Sarah van Gelder is a founder and consultant with PeoplesHub and chair of its steering committee, and founding editor of YES! Magazine. She recently began full-time work with the Suquamish Tribe on communications strategy following nearly 20 years of collaborative work with the Tribe. She is a writer, 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). 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).The Revolution Where You Lives tells the story of Sarah’s solo road trip around the United States, from Detroit to the Northern Cheyenne reservation in Montana, from rural Kentucky to Newark NJ interviewing people working for economic, racial, and environmental justice. This road trip was the inspiration for PeoplesHub. Sarah’s columns have appeared in The Guardian, Huffington Post, YES! Magazine, Truthout, and Common Dreams, and she has been a guest on Democracy Now, Marketplace on PBS, the Thom Hartmann show, and the Tavis Smiley show. Sarah has two adult children and she lives on the traditional lands of the Suquamish people across Puget Sound from Seattle.
PeoplesHub Trainer and Advisor
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.
PeoplesHub Trainer and Advisor
Marcia Lee seeks to create a more just and compassionate world through individual and collective healing justice. She is a co-founder of Taproot Sanctuary, an intentional community in Detroit that strives to live in right relationship with the earth and our neighbors. She is a restorative justice/peacemaking circle keeper and trainer; facilitates Circles of Trust(c) through the Center for Courage and Renewal; teaches tai chi; leads workshops on healing, anti-racism, and strategic planning; and is a core member of Healing by Choice, a women of color healing collective. Marcia worked with the Franciscans for Justice, Peace, and the Integrity of Creation and co-founded the Detroit Area Restorative Justice Center. She loves to laugh, craft interesting/useful questions, and make Appalachian brooms.
1. What’s the main inspiration for your activism or organizing work? I practice living at the intersection of spirituality and activism because I believe that everyone, in the context of other humans, the earth, and history, deserves to have access to what they need for their spirit, body, and mind to thrive.
2. When and why did you first start organizing? The moment when I realized that I had to organize was when the planes crashed into the World Trade Center on 9/11/2001 in New York City. I had just begun my first year of college. The people that I thought of as the ‘leaders’ of organizing on campus did not take immediate action; so, I became involved. In the United States, we had an incredible opportunity, at that time, to look at who we are as a people, who does or does not have access to power, and what actions we could take to transform the ways we interact with each other and the world. Although as a country, after 9/11/2001, we ultimately chose war over peace, the experience of people coming together to create a different way of being with each other became a seed for organizing for me that has continued to grow in a multitude of ways over the years.
3. What was the single most successful campaign or action you were ever a part of? EmergentSee was a majority women of color team that led and trained individuals and groups in racial healing and anti-racism work. We led with the belief that inner work is necessary in order to change external community and institutions. Therefore, all workshops included reflection on our own individual histories and responsibilities; education on issues of systematic racism; interactive practices towards transformation of spirit, body, and mind; and action steps to address systemic racism in our local and national context.
4. Why do you love training and what makes you excited about leading trainings online? I love when people and groups are able to tap into what they deeply care about and bring to life that which most aligns with their own passion and the needs of their community. I am very excited at the potential for cross-pollination that can happen with online trainings.
5. What keeps you healthy and grounded? What keeps me healthy and grounded is my community, tai chi, meditation, gratitude, and keeping a connection with the sacred within all people and the rest of nature.
PeoplesHub Trainer and Advisor
Matt is director of church and community organizing with On Earth Peace, which offers leadership development for faith-rooted efforts to challenge violence and build reconciliation. He is also involved with Training for Change, as a co-designer and co-facilitator of webinars about online facilitation. Matt 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 has consulted with both Greenpeace USA and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), providing skill-building resources on topics including facilitation and nonviolent direct action. He was a founding member of the Kingian Nonviolence Coordinating Committee, which provides in-person and online training in the philosophy and methodology of Kingian nonviolence conflict reconciliation. Matt is part of the Oregon coordinating committee for the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, and he supports Oregon PPC’s training program to prepare for Nonviolent Moral Fusion Direct Action. He lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife and two sons.
- What’s the main inspiration for your activism or organizing work? I grew up in a church tradition that focused on justice, reconciliation, and nonviolence. That formation led me toward a lifetime commitment to social change organizing and training. The early values I got there, and the calling I felt to this work, sustains and inspires me still.
- When and why did you first start organizing? During the boycott of Shell Oil and during the first Gulf War, I felt stifled in my conservative high school and started to find my voice with small acts of education with my classmates. This led to later campus and community organizing and activism around human rights, peace, the death penalty, military recruitment, racial justice, fossil fuels, and systemic poverty.
- What was the single most successful campaign or action you were ever a part of? A successful action: A seven-day presence around the International Monetary Fund in 1999, in which we circled the IMF every day and called for the cancellation of the debt of seven of the poorest countries of the world. On the final day, we entered the IMF to perform a social exorcism, casting out the “demons” of racism, greed, fear, and domination. This was during the same time that debt cancellation came to seem more like common sense (at least for some), through the work of the Jubilee 2000 movement. I like to think we contributed to that long struggle in some small way.
- Why do you love training and what makes you excited about leading trainings online? I love trainings because I get to see the brilliance of groups emerge, as they face their own problems and find their own solutions. I’m excited to facilitate online because it’s possible to connect with widely different people (geographically or culturally), to go deep and do good work, and to still sleep at home that night!
- Where do you see hope, possibility and life? Connecting with other people working for change, learning what they bring to the work, and building together. My two sons and their expanding sense of themselves and the world. The righteous indignation of so many who are stepping up in these movement times!
Founding Advisory Board
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.