MEET THE CARAVANISTAS
Meet the incredible folks who are pledging resistance on the It Takes Roots to Change the System People’s Caravan!
Monica Chan, Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN), Oakland CA
In high school I learned an organization existed that worked for environmental justice in API communities, and then it became my dream to work there, and now I'm a summer intern at the Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN)! I do communications research to help strategize the placement and telling of our narratives, and work with the state policy team on civic engagement programming. A lot of this work, though, is me learning from APEN to keep developing myself as an organizer. As the child of immigrants from Guangdong and Vietnam, I feel like I was born into a life of resistance that became activated as my political consciousness was developed by spaces that have invited and challenged me.
Quote: “My love for the community that raised me motivates me to join the caravan to mobilize, connect, and learn from other movement builders and bring the lessons back to places I'm (re)learning to call home.”
Personal twitter: @jadeplantdreams | Organization twitter: @APEN4EJ
Timmy Lu, Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN), Oakland CA
Timmy Lu is the State Organizing Director with the Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN) where he leads the organization's statewide voter outreach programs and climate justice coalitions. This includes building a powerful base of Asian American voters in California that can be the tipping point for progressive issues like environmental justice, workers' rights, and increasing funding for social services and education. Through his work at APEN, APEN Action, and as a frequent volunteer, Timmy has contributed to progressive electoral struggles and governance in the Bay Area for over 10 years.
Quote: “Elections are where the most number of people in the country engage in politics and debate a vision for our collective future, I'm proud to be a part of the GGJ Caravan where we will be bringing attention in this election to key struggles in grassroots communities that have been ignored for too long!”
Personal twitter: @timmyhlu | Organization twitter: @apen4ej
Leticia Arce, Causa Justa::Just Cause, Oakland, CA
My name is Leticia Arce and I’ve been a tenant rights counselor & organizer with Causa Justa :: Just Cause since April 2013. I work specifically in our tenant rights clinic supporting folks in defending their right to a safe and habitable housing. Many folks come in our tenant rights clinic in moments of crisis and, through our Serve the People Model, we not only support them in defending their housing but also support folks in connecting their individual issue to the larger systemic problems of displacement and recruit folks into our organization to continue to build people power and a stronger movement.
Quote: “I’m really excited to be participating in the caravan because we are in a critical moment in history where it is clear that there has to be fundamental change to the systems of power; this includes moving beyond a two-party system and the dismantling of a system based on the exploitation of people and the planet.”
Organization Twitter: @CausaJusta1
Gloria Esteva, Causa Justa::Just Cause, Oakland, CA
Gloria Esteva was born in Oaxaca Mexico and is the fifth child of a family of 12 children. She participated in the struggle for change since he was a teenager. In San Francisco, Gloria has been a leader in immigrant rights and feminist grassroots movements for more than a decade. She helped to build the Women Workers Project at POWER, and has played leadership roles in national mobilizations including the Undocubus during the 2012 Democratic National Convention, as well as several national actions with the National Domestic Workers Alliance. Currently she is an immigrant rights organizer with Causa Justa::Justice Cause.
Quote: "I'm going because our caravan is reflecting the thirst for justice of our communities as working poor people of all colors. Our unit of Latin@s, African descent communities, poor whites, LGBTQ communities want our flags braiding unity with our sisters around the world. We demand a halt to militarism and the killing of our people, both the US and in the world and especially in Honduras.”
Organization Twitter: @CausaJusta1
Lucia Lin, Chinese Progressive Association, San Francisco, CA
As the Senior Movement Building and Alliance Coordinator, Lucia is responsible for leading CPA’s participation and engagement in key alliances and movement building efforts with local, regional, and national partners. This includes coordination of the SF Workers’ Rights Community Collaborative as well as the Progressive Workers’ Alliance in San Francisco. Nationally, Lucia also coordinates the Grassroots Asians Rising alliance of base-building organizations rooted in low-income, refugee, and queer communities on the forefront of developing racial justice efforts.
Quote: “I am going on the caravan because as grassroots communities of color I believe that we need each other in order to resist the growing tide of violence and build stronger movements together.”
Personal Twitter: @luululin || Organization Twitter: @cpasf
Mauro Barrera, Communities for a Better Environment (CBE), Los Angeles, California
I fight against environmental racism through community organizing and education. I help in creating curriculum and facilitating workshops that are presented to the youth of South East LA. I've worked on various campaigns against chronic polluters in my community and, along with Communities for a Better Environment, have been successful in their shut down.
Quote: I am in the It Takes Roots Delegation because system change is urgently needed through grassroots organizing.
Personal twitter: @NoMauro_ | Organization twitter: @CBECal
Rossmery Zayas, Communities for a Better Environment (CBE), Los Angeles, California
Rossmery Zayas is a grassroots organizer with Communities for a Better Environment (CBE) in Los Angeles, California. She has been organizing with the youth division of CBE, Youth for Environmental Justice for over four years. At just nineteen years old, she advocates for the organization’s local, regional, and statewide campaigns out of both Southern California and Oakland. As an environmental justice advocate, Rossmery has worked on several campaigns to push out toxic facilities and practices that go on in her community including the recent shutdown of Exide Technologies (one of the world’s largest producers and distributors of batteries) and challenging the expansion of the 1-710 freeway, an 18-mile freeway expansion project from the Pomona Freeway to the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles.
Quote: “As a young person, I find it necessary to participate in the caravan to exemplify the local organizing youth are doing back home to build people power; as a womyn of color, I am reclaiming my roots.”
Personal twitter: @i_rossmery | Organization twitter: @CBECal
Laura Yolanda Zuñiga Cáceres, Civil Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations (COPINH), Honduras
Laura was born in 1993 in La Esperanza, Intibuca, Honduras. She is the third daughter of the Lenca indigenous leader Berta Cáceres Flores and grew up alongside the process of organizing the Civil Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations (COPINH). She has been a youth activist in several organizations including COPINH, in which she participated as a grassroots correspondent for the organization's community radios and also is part of the youth movement Let's Do the Impossible in Argentina. She is currently studying in the area of obstetrics at the University of Buenos Aires.
Quote: “Our struggle joins with struggles around the world to defend life in the face of weapons that try to quiet us, in the face of men in uniform who repress us, who assassinate us, in the face of those for whom our lives our disposable as people with many bodies, with indigenous, black and rebel spirits.”
Organization Twitter: @COPINHNONDURAS
Rosalina Dominguez Madrid, Civil Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations (COPINH), Honduras
Rosalina was born in 1970 in the indigenous Lenca community of Río Blanco, Intibucá, Honduras. She is a mother of seven daughters and three sons. She has stood out as a community leader defending Lenca territory and especially defending the Gualcarque River where the DESA corporation is trying to build the Agua Zarca hydroelectric project. As a result of the struggle against this project and her joining COPINH she has received a series of threats from the DESA corporation. Currently she is in the charge of finances for the Indigenous Council of Río Blanco and is the treasurer on the board of the community's women's group.
Organization Twitter: @COPINHNONDURAS
Sara Mersha, Grassroots International
Sarah Mersha has been Director of Grantmaking and Advocacy at Grassroots International since 2010, working to build and maintain long-term relationships with partner organizations and social movements led by peasants, Indigenous Peoples, women, and youth in the Global South. Sara also coordinates Grassroots’ advocacy work, collaborating with other US allies as part of the US Food Sovereignty Alliance, the Climate Justice Alliance, and the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance (of which she serves as a board member). In 2014, Sara joined the Planning Committee of the Movement Generation Justice and Ecology Project. Born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Sara has spent the majority of her life in the United States and brings years of experience connecting local community organizing (such as with Direct Action for Rights & Equality in Providence, RI) with broader movement building efforts.
Quote: “I'm honored to take action with other members of GGJ and with leaders of COPINH, to demand an end to white supremacy, patriarchy, and militarism, and to stand up for racial justice, women's rights, and Mother Earth!”
Personal twitter: @SaraMersha
Alberto Saldamando, Indigenous Environmental Network
I work with the Indigenous Environmental Network primarily as a technical inside person at the annual Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of Parties. I also work on International Indigenous Rights and Human Rights in the climate change context. I represent IEN in various capacities, including the California Air Resources Board (Jurisdictional REDD Program) and as an IEN delegate on an international delegation to Honduras to investigate the assassination of Berta Cáceres, and to honor her memory.
Quote: “I am going on the caravan to lend some of my technical background, as well as to protest the racism inherent in our society and to promote systems change.”
Organization Twitter: @IENearth
Matt Howard, Iraq Veterans Against the War
Matt Howard is the Co-Director of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) a member-led Post-9/11
veterans organization focused on ending militarism. He has worked with IVAW in various capacities since 2011 including as Chapter president in the Bay area, local organizer in Texas with the Operation Recovery campaign, and as Communications Director. Howard served in the Marine Corps as a helicopter mechanic from 2001 to 2006 and deployed twice to Iraq where he became stridently opposed to the occupations and discovered a commitment to social change work. Howard is presently based in New York City.
Personal twitter: @MattWHoward || Organization twitter: @IVAW
Ramon Mejia, Iraq Veterans Against the War
Born in Dallas, Texas, Ramon’s father is originally from a small village in Michoacán, Mexico and his mother is from a small town in South Texas. Enlisting in the U. S. Marine Corps in July 2001 out of economic necessity, he was part of the invading force and attached to the first CSSB unit to cross into Iraq in 2003. As a result of his experience in Iraq, he felt the need to learn more about the history of Islam, and what Islam signifies. He made his shahada, declaration of faith, on August 29, 2008 in Dayton, Ohio. While working on his BA in History & Religious Studies at The University of Texas at Austin, he joined Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW). As an anti-Militarism activist, and member of IVAW, Ramon strives to end militarism by transforming himself, military culture and American society. He is part of an interfaith organizing committee that opposes local manifestations of hate and racism in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. He also helps build awareness and opposition to the gentrification of his neighborhood causing the further marginalization and forced displacement of poor, people of color, working class, and immigrant communities. He has traveled to the Philippines to learn from the Bangsamoro, the Indigenous Muslim community, about their struggle for self-determination and has learned about human rights violations committed by the Filipino government, as well as U.S. military operating in the area. He works as a Middle School Social Studies teacher and aspires to return to graduate school to gain a deeper understanding of Stokely Carmichael and SNCC grassroots organizing efforts in the South during the Civil Rights Movement.
Personal Twitter: @MejiaRDZinn | Organization Twitter: @IVAW
Clare White, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth
Kentuckians for the Commonwealth puts power in the hands of regular people like me. I'm a 25-year-old nanny who likes cats and Harry Potter, but with the Scott County chapter of KFTC, I'm a news writer, a lobbyist and advocate for voting rights, and a leader in Georgetown, Kentucky's first efforts to organize Pride events in our small community. Around the state, KFTC members have helped raise the minimum wage in Lexington, pass fairness ordinances, and battle mountaintop removal and strip mining in Eastern Kentucky. We love our state, and we love making it a better and better place to call our own.
Quote: “My heritage is one of civil disobedience; I've heard the stories since I was small, and now it's my turn to get my hands dirty.”
Toby Fatzinger, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth (KFTC)/FFOYA House
I will be representing the grassroots organization Kentuckians for the Commonwealth (KFTC) on the People’s Caravan. I am also the director of a local non-profit organization called FFOYA House that focuses on connecting artists to use their work as a voice for advocacy. As a member of the SOKY Chapter of KFTC I serve on the Finance and Economic Justice committees. My personal focus is on the myriad of issues related to wealth divide and I work to include the arts as part of the labor struggle.
Quote: I am joining the People’s Caravan as a representative of KFTC because I believe that though change takes place on the local level, we are sitting on the precipice of a much larger movement fueled by the work of grassroots organizers and activists across the country and the world that are focused on the pursuit of equity and fairness.
Organizaton Twitter: @SoKyKFTC || @ffoyaHouse
Margaret Kwateng, LeftRoots/Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson, Poughkeepsie, NY
I work at Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson, which is an organization of people in Poughkeepsie, NY who are fighting to make their gas and electric utilities more affordable. I am an organizer with the group and spend most of my time working with members on storytelling, thinking about strategy, and knocking on many doors in the neighborhood to talk about the issues people are facing. I am also one of the leaders of the Hudson Valley Black Lives Matter Coalition and work with other organizations who believe that fighting for a world where Black Lives Matter means reshaping all institutions that disproportionately harm black communities, from schools, to utility companies to police and prisons.
Quote: “Finally, as a person who believes that there is an alternative to the systems we have now, which is why I am joining this trip as a member of LeftRoots, I want to build relationships with movement activists working around the country so that we can sharpen our vision for a different world and better strategize how to get there.”
Personal twitter: @margaretkwateng || Organization twitter: @leftroots
Nay’Chelle Harris, Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment (MORE), St. Louis, Missouri
Nay’Chelle Harris is a member of Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment (MORE), a St. Louis-based organization working at the intersections of economic, climate, and racial justice in the region. As a member she’s volunteered on a variety of campaigns, from coordinating Ferguson Jail Support and the St. Louis Legal Collective to exposing local prison profiteers and municipal court corruption with Decarcerate St. Louis. Under MORE’s Power Behind the Police campaign, Nay’Chelle’s most recent work involves ensuring fossil fuel corporations like St. Louis based Peabody Energy are held accountable to workers and impacted communities in the wake of bankruptcy and divestment, as the world transitions from fossil fuels to truly clean energy.
Quote: "I'm excited to join the It Takes Roots caravan because if 2016 has taught us anything, it's that when people assert their right to break free from racism, sexism, transphobia, extractive economies, or any other oppression, the pushback will be hard and painful. We need to build within and among our communities in order to continue declaring that we're in this together and we won't be deterred."
Personal Twitter: @chellenayrenae | Organization Twitter: @organizemo
Maria Morales, Mujeres Unidas y Activas
Maria Morales was born in Mexico and immigrated to the United States in 1990 searching for a better future for her family. She is a mother of two daughter and has a grandson, and is a survivor of domestic violence. Maria has been a member of Mujeres Unidas y Activas for the past 5 years. She is the teasurer of the Board of Directors and is part of the committee of “Consejeras, Corazon y Manos Carinosas, She is a defender of civil rights and she has participated in several marches, civil disobedience, the march with 100 women for 100 miles and has organized the political work of MUA. Maria is a domestic worker that fights for justice, equality and labor rights. As a domestic worker, she knows the importance that her work is valued and respected.
Quote: “I am participating in the It Takes Roots to Change the System People’s Caravan because it is time to make changes in this country’s political system and only by organizing and being in the struggle can we make the changes we want. It is time to stop the violence caused by racism towards immigrants and people of color. We need to raise our voices to be heard and seen with respect and dignity.”
Neira Ortega, Mujeres Unidas y Activas
An immigrant from Mexico, Neira joined Mujeres Unidas y Activas as a member in 2010, participating in many actions to advocate for women and immigrants rights such fasting, civil disobedience and walking 100 miles with 100 women and volunteering to support women suffering domestic violence. She is a mother of two, a feminist and activist who advocates for women, immigrants and people of color and she is a psychology student and advocate for social justice. As an immigrant woman, she’s suffered many injustices, abuse and exploitation due to her undocumented status. She is currently the President of the Board of Directors of MUA. During this time she has taken a leadership role in key local, and statewide immigrant rights campaigns, such as the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. She’s advocated for protection for immigrant women in the Violence Against Women Act. Neira is working actively to develop her leadership in MUA, which has helped thousands of immigrant women discover their own strength, overcome discrimination and domestic violence, and develop skills as community leaders in the struggle for immigrant rights and social justice.
Quote: “I am participating in the Caravan It Takes Roots to Change the System because I believe the only way to change these social injustices is fighting hard for our rights, and women’s voices are necessary to hear. Women are the base of families. The patriarchal system has limited women’s participation in politics; this is causing violence and abuse against women and people of color. The only way to change this is to unite and make sure that our voices are heard, and we need to center the needs of women and immigrants families and people of color.”
Drew Christopher Joy, Southern Maine Workers' Center
Drew Christopher Joy is the director of the Southern Maine Workers' Center--a membership organization committed to creating a grassroots, people-powered movement that improves the lives, working conditions, and terms of employment for working class and poor people in Maine. Drew is a white, mixed-class, queer and trans* carpenter and organizer. After many years of “living away,” Drew moved back to their home state of Maine with a political commitment to multi-racial organizing in majority white, working-class communities, as part of a broad vision of movement building. Drew is honored to to this work with SMWC and it's members.
Quote: “In the current political climate it is essential for grassroots community and labor organizations to build a strong network across differences of geography, gender, race, employment sector, and focus issues in order strategically counter the politics of division and scarcity, this caravan is an opportunity to do just that.”
Personal twitter: @dcjsmwc | Organization twitter: @maineworkers
Ronald Flannery, Southern Maine Worker's Center
I am a recent hire of the Southern Maine Worker's Center charged with outreach and organising across the state for our ongoing 'health care is a human right' campaign. Having recently returned to the United States from abroad, my aim is to help transform the damaging norms that have taken hold here. As life for the American working class is increasingly characterized by suffering and powerlessness, my goal is to create lines of solidarity that will shift democratic power back to common people.
Quote: “I am participating in this campaign because I believe that It Takes Roots to transform ideas regarding what is normal, what is harmful, and what is possible.”
Samia Assed, SouthWest Organizing Project, Albuquerque, NM
Samia Assed is a Palestinian-American activist who has strong family roots in New Mexico. She is a wife and mother to nine children, as well as a local business owner and is currently the Board President at the Albuquerque Center for Peace & Justice. As President, she has advocated and organized with humanitarian and community groups such as the Islamic Center of New Mexico, Friends of Sabeel, Jewish Voice for Peace, UNM Students for Justice in Palestine, Red Nation, and Con Mujeres - SouthWest Organizing Project, where she has worked to dismantle Islamophobia, xenophobia, and racism. She was awarded the “Jeanne Gauna Social Justice Spirit Award” for her leadership in many communities. She was a lead organizer with 49 human rights organizations of the Stop Hate Rally in Albuquerque, NM, with over 1000 people in attendance in early in 2016. Her additional work involves being a part of the Friends Of Khuza’s Albuquerque campaign to fundraise to build a kindergarten and a water filtration system in Khuza’s village in Gaza, Palestine and works on solidarity building with Native, Chicano, and African American community in New Mexico. Samia prides herself on being a Muslim Palestinian-American and New Mexican, and recognizes that local struggles are intertwined with national and international struggles.
Quote: “As a Muslim Palestinian-American feminist. I believe honor, respect, and dignity are at the core of what feminism means to me. I joined this caravan to stand with my sisters, and indigenous communities all over the world, to uplift our struggles for self-determination.”
Organization Twitter: @swopista
Stefany Olivas, SouthWest Organizing Project (SWOP), New Mexico
[photo coming soon]
Stefany Olivasis a chicana from Bernalillo, New Mexico. She is a leader, organizer and artist with SouthWest Organizing Project's food justice program, Project Feed the Hood. Stef can be found with a bunch of students huddled around her planting seeds or harvesting knowledge, fruits and vegetables in school gardens across the city. She is a Chican@ Studies major at the University of New Mexico and hopes to build and share knowledge through Agroecology- growing food in a way that increases the health of the land and of those who consume the harvest. It honors traditional farming practices and values modern scientific understanding. Agroecologia is not just a way of working with the land, but a path for our communities to organize and regain Sovereignty over our land, water and food.
Organization Twitter: @swopista
Daryl McElveen, Vermont Worker's Center
Since last summer I have been organizing music events in collaboration with the Vermont Worker's Center, fundraising and helping to build membership. I recently was asked to be on the statewide steering committee representing Windham County and am spearheading the Brattleboro Organizing committee's goal to organize the artist in our area.
Quote: “I am going on this caravan to help give a loud voice to the oppressed in our country and the people who have been forgotten and marginalized because of this election.”
Personal Twitter: @deemacspry | Organization Twitter: @vtworkerscenter
Will Bennington, Vermont Worker’s Center
I am on the Coordinating Committee of the Vermont Workers' Center, a democratic, member-run organization dedicated to organizing for the human rights of the people in Vermont. As a volunteer member, I participate in community organizing efforts through canvassing, political education and solidarity actions for allied organizations. Our current focus is on inequality, access to universal healthcare and the right to work with dignity. I also help coordinate the Vermont Human Rights Council, a multi-issue coalition of grassroots organizations from across the state.
Quote: "The working class in Vermont - and everywhere - is struggling with economic inequality, access to healthcare, racism, homophobia, sexism and anti-immigrant sentiment, and we know that neither party offers real solutions to these injustices. Our only hope is in the movement of the grassroots, from Vermont to Honduras, from Cleveland to Philadelphia."
Organization Twitter: @vtworkerscenter