A little more about us…
Willie Baptist is a formerly homeless father who came out of the Watts uprisings, the Black Student Movement, and working as a lead organizer with the United Steelworkers has 40 years of experience organizing amongst the poor including with the National Union of the Homeless, the Kensington Welfare Rights Union, the National Welfare Rights Union, the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, and many other networks. Willie serves as the Poverty Initiative Scholar-in-Residence and is the Coordinator of the Poverty Scholars Program.
Farhad Ebrahimi is an activist, philanthropist, musician, lover of film and literature, hipster, and bicycle snob who lives in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. He is the founder and trustee chair of the Chorus Foundation and a member of the Boston-based organizing collective Simorgh.
Harmony Goldberg is a founder and former Co-Director of SOUL: the School Of Unity andLiberation, a social justice movement training center based in Oakland,California. After leaving SOUL, Harmony has focused on providing political education and writing support to emergent national alliances of grassroots organizations based in working class communities of color, primarily the Right to the City Alliance, the National Domestic Workers Alliance and the Excluded Workers Congress. She is also a founding editor of Organizing Upgrade (www.organizingupgrade.com), an online strategy journal for left organizers in the United States.
Naomi Klein is an award-winning journalist, syndicated columnist and author of the international bestsellers, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs The Climate (2014), The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (2007) and No Logo (2000). She is a columnist for The Nation magazine and the Guardian newspaper and is a contributing editor at Harper’s magazine. She is a Puffin Foundation Writing Fellow at The Nation Institute and is on the board of directors for 350.org, the global grassroots movement to solve the climate crisis.
George Lakey is a writer, trainer, and lifelong activist. His first arrest was in the civil rights movement, his most recent for climate justice. He’s led over 1500 workshops on five continents and was a co-founder of Movement for a New Society and Earth Quaker Action Team.
Raquel Lavina has been an activist and organizer for over 20 years. She has been drawn to many social justice issues from reproductive rights to educational justice to work against the prison industry. As an organizer, she helped to build some of the nation’s most influential youth organizations, some of which are reaching their 10 year anniversaries. She has served as the National Program Director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights; the Executive Director of the Youth Empowerment Center, which housed 5 youth groups including SOUL, the School of Unity and Liberation; and as the Interim Executive Director of FIERCE!, a nationally recognized LGBT youth organization.
Brooke Lehman is Co-Director of the Watershed Center, a social justice resource and retreat center in Millerton NY. She is a faculty member at Institute for Social Ecology and spent many years helping to run Bluestockings Bookstore and Activist Center in NYC. Brooke was deeply involved in the Global Justice Movement and the Occupy Movement, where she focused on helping activists build healthy democratic organizational structures, connect to their own sense of purpose, and become more effective leaders. She offers workshop and retreats on meditation, yoga, leadership, facilitation, communication, democratic decision-making, and organizational development.
Carinne Luck is an organizer and trainer from Israel, the UK and most recently New York City. Currently a Grassroots Campaign Director at MoveOn.org, Carinne has organized nationally on a range of issues, including human rights, affordable housing, Israel/Palestine, and in support of domestic worker rights. She was a co-founder of J Street.
Sharon Lungo is the daughter of immigrant parents from Cuzcatlan (also known as El Salvador). Born and raised in Los Angeles, her activism was sprouted from the movement for open space in her community. Sharon has been engaging in and training Non Violent Direct Action since the age of 18. She also serves as a local coordinating committee member of the Global Women’s Strike, an international network demanding pay equity for women with a presence in 80 countries. Sharon is currently the co-director of The Ruckus Society.
Since early 2012, Rafael Navar has served as the National Political Director for the Communication Workers of America (CWA), the largest Telecommunications union in the world. As one of only two current Latino National Political Directors within organized labor, he is committed to building one of the most progressive rank and file led political programs in the country.
Raj Patel is a writer, academic and activist. He is an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, in Durban, South Africa and lectures at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System, and the international bestseller, The Value of Nothing. He has also published widely in the academic press, with articles in peer-reviewed philosophy, politics, sociology and economics journals. He is currently working with director Steve James on a book and film about the global food system.
Born in Chennai, South India, and brought up in the United Arab Emirates, Sumitra Rajkumar arrived in New York in the mid 90’s and cut her movement-building teeth in the vibrant racial justice organizing against police brutality of that era. Sumitra has 12 years of experience as a trainer in critical thinking, popular education, political analysis, leadership development, media literacy and documentary storytelling. She has worked with both youth and adults across the ideological, geographical, racial, class, gender and sexuality spectrums and on a broad array of social justice issues. She is currently the Political Education Coordinator at Social Justice Leadership.
As a trainer, strategist, and organizer with efforts such as Occupy Wall Street and organizations including Students for a Free Tibet, Amazon Watch, and Rainforest Action Network, Han Shan has served for 20 years on the front lines and behind the scenes of movements for social, environmental, and economic justice. In addition, Han is a producer for the award-winning independent production company Rikshaw Films and a bon vivant who enjoys convening conspiracies over cocktails. He is based in New York City.
Jonathan Smucker is the Training Director for Beautiful Trouble. A long-time participant, organizer, trainer, and theorist in grassroots movements for social, economic and ecological justice, Smucker has trained thousands of change agents in campaign strategy, framing and messaging, direct action, and other grassroots organizing skills. He is co-founder and Director of Beyond the Choir, a strategy and training organization. He spent most of the past year in New York City working full-time with Occupy Wall Street. Smucker plans to begin a sociology PhD program this coming fall (2013). To read more of his writing, visit beyondthechoir.org.