PLENARY | 9:00 AM – 10:30 PM (PT)
As the country makes decisions about future leadership; talk about bold moves that can and need to be made to end sexual violence.
Alexis is a queer Black feminist DC girl whose heart pumps to the beat of “the Pocket” that holds down DC go-go music and culture. She is a cultural worker, writer, artist, healer, and organizer working at the intersection of art and activism in the DC Metropolitan Area. Alexis has led programs and organizations working to end sexual and intimate partner violence for more than a decade, most recently serving 5 years as the Assistant Director of HopeWorks, a comprehensive sexual assault and domestic violence program in Columbia, MD. Now, Alexis dedicates herself to deepening practice and embodiment of liberation and transformation within communities she loves. Alexis was a Movement Maker in NoVo Foundation’s Move to End Violence Program and is enjoying her current evolution as the bass line of the jazz ensemble that is the Resonance Network staff team.
Alicia sanchez gill is a queer, Afrolatinx survivor and advocate with nearly twenty years of experience in intersectional anti-violence and harm-reduction work with organizations and collectives that center survivors who have often been left out of mainstream anti-violence movements. The belief that we will never end interpersonal and state gendered violence if we don’t end the carceral state is central to her approach. After years of working in mainstream domestic violence and sexual assault organizations, Alicia created DC’s first queer and trans people of color-led Transformative Justice incubator for survivors of gendered violence. Her writing has been published and referenced in national media, academic journals, and a variety of digital outlets. Alicia holds a masters of social work but other survivors have been her best teachers.
Amita Swadhin has been an educator, storyteller, and strategist for twenty years. Their work to end interpersonal and institutional violence stems from their experiences as a queer, non-binary femme, daughter of Indian immigrants, and survivor of incestuous childhood rape and domestic violence. In 2016, Amita founded Mirror Memoirs, a national nonprofit uplifting LGBTQI+ people of color who survived child sexual abuse. In 2009, Amita co-created Secret Survivors, a theater project featuring child sexual abuse survivors, with Ping Chong + Company. Amita is also a published writer. They hold an MPA from NYU, where they were a Reynolds Social Entrepreneurship Fellow.
Claudia Lopez Is a visual facilitator and strategic illustrator focused on supporting & collaborating with visionary organizations who are up to transforming this world into an equitable one where we all thrive. She uses visuals as intentional tools to foster the connection, understanding and collective sense-making needed to move us towards transformative change. As a witness and scribe of people’s ideas and truths she works with humility and care, attending to diversity and difference of race, gender, ability, language and power in ways that seek to support a more equitable world and disrupt dominant/oppressive narratives. She also holds fostering creativity and making people feel heard and seen through her work as an important and healing part of it. Originally from Mexico, she is based in Brooklyn NY. To see some of her work you can visit: Claudia Lopez PORTFOLIO
Dee Ross-Reed, MA, is a data explorer and storyteller living and working in Albuquerque, New Mexico. They received their formal training in behavioral science research and evaluation at Penn State University and are currently employed by the University of New Mexico. Dee has more than ten years of experience evaluating policies and programs and has worked in the field of sexual violence prevention since 2014. Dee is passionate about reducing health inequities in vulnerable populations and works to empower underserved communities through meaningful engagement in the research and evaluation process.
Denise Beek is a communications strategist who has worked in the nonprofit sector for over a decade. She is a Caribbean-American performance writer, improv artist, and board member of the BlackStar Film Festival. As Chief Communications Officer for ‘me too.’, she oversees external communications, engages with its stakeholders, and creates strategies to raise the visibility of the organization and center survivors. She works primarily to change the way people talk about sexual violence, this movement’s work, and survivorship. Denise’s professional trajectory is undergirded by her passion for gender equity and racial justice. Her experience is a mix of arts administration, cultural production and community engagement at organizations like the Painted Bride Art Center, the Black Lily Film & Music Festival, and the Union Square Awards. From 2013-2018, she served as Communications Director for the Leeway Foundation, a regional grantmaker that supports women, trans, and gender nonconforming artists in Greater Philadelphia.
Ejeris Dixon is an organizer, consultant, and political strategist with twenty years of experience organizing within racial justice, LGBTQ, transformative justice, anti-violence, and economic justice movements. She is the Director of Vision Change Win Consulting where she partners with organizations to build their capacity and deepen the impact of their organizing strategies. Her essay, “Building Community Safety: Practical Steps Toward Liberatory Transformation,” is featured in the anthology Who Do You Serve, Who Do You Protect? Police Violence and Resistance in the United States.
Flannery is the Director of Programs for Rise. She comes to Rise with an eclectic background in modern dance and choreography, immigration law, grassroots activism, hospitality, and sports and events marketing. In 2016, she joined Rise as a volunteer and helped write and pass the Sexual Assault Survivors Bill of Rights in both California and New York. She holds a Master’s degree in Political Science from Long Island University Brooklyn and a Bachelor’s degree in Contemporary Dance from University of North Carolina School of the Arts. She is originally from New York City.
Grisel Ruiz is a Supervising Attorney in San Francisco where she focuses on the intersection between immigration law and criminal law. This includes advising attorneys and advocates on the immigration consequences of criminal offenses, training on removal defense, and supporting local and statewide campaigns to push back on immigration enforcement. In addition to technical assistance, training, and campaign support in these areas, Grisel also helps lead the ILRC’s state legislative work. Grisel is currently the Board Chair for Freedom for Immigrants (formerly CIVIC), a nonprofit that advocates for detained immigrants.
Prior to working with the ILRC, Grisel was a litigation associate at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP and a Stimson Fellow housed at the UC Davis Law School Immigration Clinic and California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation. As a legal fellow, she co-founded “Know Your Rights” programs at local immigration detention centers, for which she received an award from Cosmo for Latinas.
Grisel is an immigrant herself and earned her law degree from the University of Chicago where she received the Tony Patiño Fellowship. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Notre Dame, where she dual majored in Political Science and Spanish Literature. Grisel is admitted to the bar in California is fluent in Spanish.
Jessica Huerta developed her passion to end violence against women from a personal to a professional interest. As a Right to Know peer educator at the University of California, Irvine, she obtained training on crisis intervention and provided resources to survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. In 2014, Jessica joined CHIRLA and as a Community Education Coordinator, she informs immigrant survivors about resources available to them regardless of their immigration status. In 2017, she received the DOJ accreditation on Immigration Law. Her job includes providing information about Know Your Rights and Labor Laws which gives her the opportunity to better assess and inform members on one-one and group basis about potential immigration reliefs, worker’s rights and social services.
Before coming to CHIRLA, she completed her Bachelor Degree in Psychology and Sociology from the University of California, Irvine in 2011. In addition, she pursued her MA in Public Policy at the Central European University in Budapest, Hungary in 2013. She collaborated as a policy researcher with the Roma Initiative Project at the Open Society Foundation in Hungary. As part of her advocacy effort to provide resources to survivors, in 2017 she formed part of the Trauma Justice (TJ) cohort from the Women’s Policy Institute which allowed her to develop and advance an intersectional policy agenda that centers the needs of historically marginalized communities that had been impacted by gender-based oppression, violence, and discrimination. The TJ cohort joined forces and collaborated with community service providers to push for legislation that would allow incarcerated women have access to free and confidential outside hotlines crises for emotional support services related to domestic violence, sexual assault, and mental health. The same year as a team, we advocated for legislation to create the California Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Prevention Fund. Her ability to connect with survivors and immigrant women has helped the immigrant community to empower themselves, demand their rights and social recognition with dignity and respect.
Jo is a survivor with a 20 year career in social justice and labor organizing, building progressive infrastructure and winning critical policy fights at the national and state level. Prior to Survivors Know, she was Senior Director of Survivor Justice Programs and Campaigns at UltraViolet where she was responsible for corporate campaigning and the survivor justice issue area, including long term policy objectives and cultural shifts. Jo also spent eight years at the Center for Popular Democracy wearing many hats, but always focusing on building grassroots power. Her passion is organizing workers while at AFSCME, UNITE-HERE, California Nurses Union and UNI Global she led campaigns centering the dignity of all workers. Jo lives in Chicago with her daughter and sweet pup.
Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha is a queer disabled femme writer, organizer, performance artist and educator of Burgher/Tamil Sri Lankan and Irish/Roma ascent. The author of Tonguebreaker, Bridge of Flowers, Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice, Dirty River: A Queer Femme of Color Dreaming Her Way Home (ALA Above the Rainbow List, short-listed for the Lambda and Publishing Triangle Awards), Bodymap (short-listed for the Publishing Triangle Award), Love Cake (Lambda Literary Award winner), and Consensual Genocide, with Ching-In Chen and Jai Dulani, she co-edited The Revolution Starts At Home: Confronting Intimate Violence in Activist Communities. Beyond Survival: Stories and Strategies from the Transformative Justice Movement, which Leah co-edited with Ejeris Dixon, is forthcoming January 21, 2019
Mimi Kim is the founder of Creative Interventions and a co-founder of Incite! She has been a long-time activist and advocate challenging gender-based violence at its intersection with state violence. As a second generation Korean American, she locates her. political work in global solidarity with feminist anti-imperialist struggles, seeking not only the end of oppression but of the creation of liberation here and. now. Mimi is also an Associate Professor of social work at California State University, Long Beach.
Nathalie Meus is the Outreach & Policy Associate for Futures Without Violence, where she builds partnerships and online engagement efforts designed to enhance and further the goals of FUTURES’ initiatives and campaigns. Nathalie has a deep background as an advocate and community educator and organizer for social justice, community health, and youth leadership initiatives. She received her Bachelor’s in Public Health & Urban Studies from Barnard College of Columbia University.
Nithya Nathan-Pineau is a policy attorney & strategist based in Washington, D.C. She focuses on federal legislative advocacy at the ILRC. Her work is focused on policies combatting criminalization of immigrant communities. This includes developing and cultivating partnerships with community-based organizations and elected officials, and providing legal education and training.
Nithya brings nearly a decade of experience providing legal services to immigrants in Texas, Virginia, and Maryland. Prior to joining the ILRC, Nithya served as the Director of the Children’s Program at the Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights (CAIR) Coalition. She also worked at the Tahirih Justice Center and the South Texas Pro Bono and Asylum Representation Project (ProBAR). Nithya focused on removal defense and humanitarian-based immigration relief including affirmative and defensive asylum, special immigrant juvenile status, protection under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), DACA, and U and T visas.
Nithya obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Spanish and Political Science from Tufts University and she earned her law degree from Brooklyn Law School. Nithya is admitted to the bar in Texas and New Jersey. She is fluent in English and Spanish and conversational in Tamil.
Ms. Nubia Peña is the Director for the Utah Division of Multicultural Affairs where their mission is to promote an inclusive climate for Utah’s growing diverse community through training, outreach and youth leadership development. Ms. Peña is immensely grateful for the extensive experience acquired during the past 15 years working as a community organizer, advocate, and ally for marginalized populations. Ms. Peña also designs and implements various workshops on creating inclusive, culturally relevant, and gender-specific programming for at-risk communities, specifically when working with youth and adolescents. Ms. Peña has actively sought to bring awareness to issues of violence and systemic oppression through her professional endeavors and personal faith-based initiatives. She has a decade of experience assisting survivors of domestic abuse, sexual assault, human trafficking, and violent crimes as a Law Enforcement Victim Advocate. Since 2007, Ms. Peña has served as the Training and Prevention Education Specialist at the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault (UCASA) where she developed trainings on Youth Advocacy for Trafficked Survivors, Social Justice in Prevention Efforts, and Sexual Harassment in the #MeToo Era. In addition, she is also the founder and director of Royalty Rising Youth Ministry, a culturally relevant and gender specific outreach initiative for at-risk and marginalized young adults.
Quentin is an anti-violence activist and educator, specializing in engaging men and boys in ending gender-based violence. He is Co-Executive Director of CONNECT, a New York City nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing interpersonal violence.
Raven (pronouns: they/them) is a queer cultural change worker living, organizing, and loving on unceded Manahoac land (Virginia). As a savvy southern dissenter they find joy in the southern energy to lead the decolonization of our future. In this effort, Raven offers healing and holds space as a full spectrum doula, therapist, community educator, anti-violence movement advocate, organizer, and storyholder/teller.
S. Renee Smith has over 20 years of experience in leadership, talent, branding, and business development. A nationally recognized strategist and workplace expert, she has worked with some of the nation’s top organizations and distinguished leaders, including Cigna, Merrill Lynch, Walmart, and the Society for Human Resources (SHRM). She is the author of six self-development books on leadership, branding, and communication. As RALIANCE’s Chief Corporate Responsibility Officer, she is responsible for developing and implementing RALIANCE’s Business strategic business, branding and marketing plans.
Associate Director at Black Women’s Blueprint. She is a birthworker through Ancient Song Doula Services and the Doula Project. She dedicates her work to the survival strategies that Black women build from rituals, sacred truths and the ways they honor the intergenerational narratives of their reproductive herstories. Her organizational affiliations include Spirit of a Woman Leadership Development Institute and Standing in Our Power: A Women of Color Transformative Leadership Institute. Most recently Sevonna received the ELLA Fellowship through the Sadie Nash Leadership Program where she brings reproductive justice to young women of color through grassroots organizing. As a survivor she seeks to bridge the connections between reproductive justice and anti-sexual violence advocacy through her cultural work, human rights lens and womanist frameworks. She believes in every community’s right to holistic healing, as well as radically freeing and unconditionally loving themselves.
Shira Hassan is the former executive director of the Young Women’s Empowerment Project, a movement building project led by and for young people of color that have current or former experience in the sex trade and street economies. A lifelong harm reductionist and prison abolitionist, Shira has been working on community accountability for nearly 25 years and has helped young people of color start their own organizing projects across the country. She is the founder and principle consultant for Just Practice, a capacity building project for those work- ing at the intersection of transformative justice, harm reduction and collective liberation. Shira’s work has been discussed on National Public Radio, the New York Times, e Nation, In ese Times, Bill Moyers, Scarleteen, Everyday Feminism, Bitch Media, TruthOut and Colorlines.
sujatha baliga’s work is characterized by an equal dedication to crime survivors and people who’ve caused harm. A former victim advocate and public defender, sujatha spent the past 15 years practicing and co-creating restorative justice solutions to mass criminalization, most recently as the director of Impact Justice’s Restorative Justice Project. She speaks publicly and inside prisons about her own experiences as a survivor of child sexual abuse and rape and her path to forgiveness. sujatha was named a 2019 MacArthur Fellow. sujatha’s faith journey undergirds her justice work. A long- time Buddhist practitioner, she’s a lay member of the Gyuto Foundation, a Tibetan Buddhist Monastery in Richmond, CA, where she leads meditation on Monday nights. She makes her home in Berkeley, CA, with her life partner and their fourteen year old child.
Tai Simpson is “The Storyteller” in the indigenous language of the Nez Perce Tribe of Idaho. She believes indigenous “old ways” need to come back in style. They are the principles on which many indigenous communities build their social and political narratives. As an antiracism activism and community leader, she uses contemporary and traditional Indigenous storytelling to depict the lens of “old ways” and how it is used to protect the sacred, build strength in the community, and keep nature in balance. Tai studied Political Philosophy & Public Law at Boise State University. In the community, she serves as a social justice activist & organizer for the Indigenous Idaho Alliance. She works as a Social Change Advocate at the Idaho Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence.
Theresa H. Cruz, PhD, is an epidemiologist and research associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of New Mexico, and serves as Deputy Director of the UNM Prevention Research Center. Her expertise includes community-engaged research for the primary prevention of injury and violence. Her current work includes studying prevention strategies at multiple levels of the social ecology and their effects on sexual violence. She focuses her work on ways to address inequities in marginalized communities including Hispanic, Native American, rural and LGBTQ populations. She completed her doctoral studies at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill.
Timike Jones is a Primary Prevention Program Specialist at the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Timike earned her Master of Science in Human Services and Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice & Criminology. Timike has held positions within state government and the not-for-profit sector, including in child abuse prevention, criminal justice, and juvenile justice. Throughout the various platforms, Timike has worked to decrease risk factors and increase protective factors for populations of people that have been marginalized by promoting equity and inclusion for system reform.