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SOLIDARITY COUNCIL on RACIAL EQUITY

Solidarity to Open Hearts and Minds

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s (WKKF) enduring commitment to racial equity envisions a world where communities are spaces of equitable opportunity where all children can grow, learn, and thrive.

The work to transform this vision into a reality is most powerful when done in solidarity across race, culture, language, gender and lived experience. Solidarity enthusiastically affirms the inherent and equal value of each person. It calls us to recognize our shared humanity. Solidarity challenges us to honor each other’s stories and chart a course for a better future.

The Solidarity Council on Racial Equity (SCoRE) draws people to collaboration in pursuit of healing, racial progress, and transformation. Its members work individually, stand collectively, and inspire others to dismantle systemic injustice. Each and every one of us has a role to play this effort. I invite you to draw insights from “Solidarity Works: Vision, Policy and Practice of the Solidarity Council on Racial Equity” and commit to acting in solidarity with people in your community.

All of us at WKKF are honored and deeply humbled to work alongside SCoRE to build the kind of world all our children deserve..

La June Montgomery Tabron
President and CEO
W.K. Kellogg Foundation

 

SOLIDARITY TO ADVANCE RACIAL EQUITY AND INSPIRE COLLECTIVE ACTION

SCoRE members are global change leaders in advocacy, the arts, business, education, faith, and media. Each stand at the forefront of equity in the public arena. Each is celebrated in their professional sphere. Each brings a stirring voice to conversations in the public arena, one that resonates with WKKF’s values and commitment to racial equity.

Together, SCoRE’s chorus of powerful voices reaches beyond familiar circles with opportunities to unite in common purpose. In partnership with the WKKF, SCoRE members contribute insight and creative energy to advance racial equity and build a platform for collective action.

SOLIDARITY COUNCIL on RACIAL EQUITY Videos

SOLIDARITY COUNCIL on RACIAL EQUITY VIDEOS

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SOLIDARITY COUNCIL on RACIAL EQUITY

SOLIDARITY COUNCIL on RACIAL EQUITY

  • David R. Williams
    David R. Williams
    Professor
  • Diane Wolk-Rogers
    Diane Wolk-Rogers
    Parkland, FL Teacher
  • Dr. Hélio Santos
    Dr. Hélio Santos
    Diversity Leader
  • Irma Alicia Velásquez Nimatuj
    Irma Alicia Velásquez Nimatuj
    Anthropologist
  • Jerry Tello
    Jerry Tello
    Author and Leader
  • John Legend
    John Legend
    Singer-Activist
  • john a. powell
    john a. powell
    Professor
  • Jonah Dov Pesner
    Jonah Dov Pesner
    Rabbi
  • Kent Wong
    Kent Wong
    Educator and Kellogg Fellow
  • Kerry Washington
    Kerry Washington
    Actress-Activist
  • Linda Sarsour
    Linda Sarsour
    Activist
  • Megan Davis
    Megan Davis
    Professor
  • Maria Hinojosa
    Maria Hinojosa
    Journalist
  • Manuel Pastor
    Manuel Pastor
    Professor
  • Mayra Santos-Febres
    Mayra Santos-Febres
    Writer and Professor
  • Rachel Godsil
    Rachel Godsil
    Professor
  • Saru Jayaraman
    Saru Jayaraman
    Author-Activist
  • Fr. Timothy P. Kesicki S.J.
    Fr. Timothy P. Kesicki S.J.
  • Valarie Kaur
    Valarie Kaur
    Activist
  • Winona LaDuke
    Winona LaDuke
    Activist, Economist, Author

SOLIDARITY COUNCIL on RACIAL EQUITY Alumni

  • David R. Williams
    David R. Williams
    Professor
  • Diane Wolk-Rogers
    Diane Wolk-Rogers
    Parkland, FL Teacher
  • Dr. Hélio Santos
    Dr. Hélio Santos
    Diversity Leader
  • Irma Alicia Velásquez Nimatuj
    Irma Alicia Velásquez Nimatuj
    Anthropologist
  • Jerry Tello
    Jerry Tello
    Author and Leader
  • John Legend
    John Legend
    Singer-Activist
  • john a. powell
    john a. powell
    Professor
  • Jonah Dov Pesner
    Jonah Dov Pesner
    Rabbi
  • Kent Wong
    Kent Wong
    Educator and Kellogg Fellow
  • Kerry Washington
    Kerry Washington
    Actress-Activist
  • Linda Sarsour
    Linda Sarsour
    Activist
  • Megan Davis
    Megan Davis
    Professor
  • Maria Hinojosa
    Maria Hinojosa
    Journalist
  • Manuel Pastor
    Manuel Pastor
    Professor
  • Mayra Santos-Febres
    Mayra Santos-Febres
    Writer and Professor
  • Rachel Godsil
    Rachel Godsil
    Professor
  • Saru Jayaraman
    Saru Jayaraman
    Author-Activist
  • Fr. Timothy P. Kesicki S.J.
    Fr. Timothy P. Kesicki S.J.
  • Valarie Kaur
    Valarie Kaur
    Activist
  • Winona LaDuke
    Winona LaDuke
    Activist, Economist, Author

SOLIDARITY COUNCIL on RACIAL EQUITY Alumni

  • Ava DuVernay
    Ava DuVernay
    Filmmaker
  • Bryan Stevenson
    Bryan Stevenson
    Activist and Attorney
  • Heather C. McGhee
    Heather C. McGhee
    Senior Fellow
  • Michelle Alexander
    Michelle Alexander
    Author
  • Timothy F. Ryan
    Timothy F. Ryan
    Business Executive
  • Ava DuVernay
    Ava DuVernay
    Filmmaker
  • Bryan Stevenson
    Bryan Stevenson
    Activist and Attorney
  • Heather C. McGhee
    Heather C. McGhee
    Senior Fellow
  • Michelle Alexander
    Michelle Alexander
    Author
  • Timothy F. Ryan
    Timothy F. Ryan
    Business Executive

For more information please contact communications [at] wkkf.org.

David R. Williams
Professor

Dr. David R. Williams is the Norman Professor of Public Health and Chair of the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. He is also a Professor of African and African American Studies at Harvard University. His prior academic appointments were at Yale University and the University of Michigan. The author of over 500 scientific papers, his research has addressed how race, stress, socioeconomic status, racism, health behavior and religious involvement can affect health. The Everyday Discrimination scale that he developed is the most widely used measure of discrimination in health studies. 

He is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences. He was ranked as the Most Cited Black Scholar in the Social Sciences in the world. In 2014, Thomson Reuters ranked him as one of the World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds. Dr. Williams has played a visible, national leadership role in raising awareness levels of the problem of health disparities and identifying interventions to address them.  

He or his research has been featured by some of the nation’s top print and television news organizations and in his TED talk. 

Diane Wolk-Rogers
Parkland, FL Teacher

Diane is a National Board-Certified teacher who taught at the elementary, middle, and high school level for 35 years in the Broward County school system. Currently, as a National Math and Science Initiative Coach, she provides learning support to students and teachers from across the country. By developing culturally responsive materials and integrating social-emotional lessons into learning plans, she inspires high school students from marginalized communities to reach their highest potential in advanced placement coursework. She also provides educational coaching to students impacted by gun violence to help support them in their high school and post-secondary training.  

Following her training with the Center for Mind-Body Medicine, Diane facilitated groups for teachers, parents, and students impacted by the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. As a Stoneman Douglas High faculty member, Diane co-founded the Mind-Body Ambassador Club which supports students in learning and sharing mind-body medicine skills with their peers and community. 

Currently, as a faculty member for the Center for Mind Body Medicine, which is the world’s largest, most effective evidence-based program for healing, Diane leads and trains others both locally and internationally to create communities of hope and healing. She finds great joy in helping others learn the powerful strategies that transformed her grief and trauma into hope and healing.  

Dr. Hélio Santos
Diversity Leader

Former chairperson at Baobá – Fundo para Equidade Racial, leading voice on diversity and inclusion in Brazil and globally

Born in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, Dr. Hélio Santos, Baoba Board Chairman and President, studied and taught extensively in Sao Paulo, where he earned a Doctorate of Business Administration (DBA) from the University of Sao Paulo (USP).

He currently resides in Salvador de Bahia, where he teaches human development at Visconde de Cairu University and runs his own consultancy company focused on business diversity. Dr. Santos is the author of many studies and books, and is also a diversity business strategy consultant for several organizations; among them Itau-Unibanco Bank, Abril Editors, CPFL Power and Electricity and the Ford Foundation. He has been an active member of the Brazilian black empowerment movement for more than 40 years, and was responsible for the creation of the first public policy council for affirmative action there.

Dr. Santos was the speaker at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s 2012 America Healing Conference in New Orleans, and he proudly serves as chairperson and president for the Baoba Fund for Racial Equity, as well as the Brazilian Institute of Diversity.

Irma Alicia Velásquez Nimatuj
Anthropologist

Irma Alicia Velásquez Nimatuj is Maya-K’iche’ journalist, activist, social anthropologist, and professor. She has been at the forefront of the struggles for respect for indigenous rights and culture in Guatemala and in other countries of the region. In 2002 she was instrumental in making racial discrimination illegal in Guatemala. She is the author of the books:  La pequeña Burguesía Comercial de Guatemala: Desigualdades de clasa, raza y género (2003),  Pueblos indígenas, Estado y lucha por tierra en Guatemala: Estrategias de sobrevivencia y negociación ante la desigualdad globalizada (2008) and “La Justicia nunca estuvo de nuestro ladoPeritaje cultural sobre conflicto armado y violencia sexual en el caso Sepur Zarco, Guatemala (2019). Dr. Nimatuj has published two poetry books: Lunas y Calendarios, colección poesía guatemalteca (2018) and Doscientos años que gritan luchan (2021). Dr. Nimatuj writes a weekly newspaper column for elPeriódico de Guatemala. In 2020 she received the LASA/Oxfam America Martin Diskin Memorial Lectureship Award for her scholarly work and activism.

Jerry Tello
Author and Leader

Jerry Tello is a servant community leader, healing practitioner and internationally recognized author and voice for healing and justice. Born from a family of Mexican, Texan and Coahuiltecan roots and raised in the south central/Compton areas of Los Angeles, Mr. Tello is considered an international expert in the areas of trauma, healing, culturally based, trauma informed, healing centered strategies and curricula. men and boys of color, fatherhood, family strengthening, racial justice, racial healing, community peace and mobilization and culturally based violence prevention/intervention issues. He has authored numerous articles, videos and curricula and books including the award winning book “Recovering Your Sacredness.”, A Fathers Love”, a series of children’s books, co-editor of Family Violence and Men and a series of motivational health and healing CD’s.

 For over 40 years he has dedicated himself to the prevention and healing of individuals, families, community and systems by speaking to over half a million people and training 1000’s of facilitators across the nation He is co-founder of the National Compadres Network (established in 1988) and presently is Director of Training and Capacity Building.  

He has received many major awards including in  Maria Shriver’s Annual Advocate for Change award; the White House Champions of Change award; the Presidential Crime Victims Service award, presented by President Bill Clinton and Attorney General Janet Reno; two California Governor’s Awards and the Ambassador of Peace Award presented by Rotary international.  

He is the partner to Susaana, a proud father of Marcos, Renee, Emilio and grandfather of Amara, Naiya, Greyson, Harrison, Vivienne and Elias. 

John Legend
Singer-Activist

JOHN LEGEND is an artist and activist who made history as the first African American man to join the prestigious EGOT club. The 12-time Grammy Award-winner released his eighth studio album, Legend, in 2022. Legend completed his first Las Vegas Residency entitled, “Love In Las Vegas” which ran from April-October 2022 at Zappos Theater at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino. Legend joined the Emmy-nominated show, The Voice, for Season 16 (2019) and most recently wrapped Season 22 as a coach.  

As an activist, Legend initiated the FREEAMERICA campaign to change the conversation surrounding criminal justice policies and to end mass incarceration and HUMANLEVEL, which is igniting systematic change and building racial equity across American cities and communities. In addition to Legend’s signature initiatives, he currently serves on the Board of Directors for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Harlem Village Academies and Governing Board of Management Leadership for Tomorrow. 

john a. powell
Professor

john a. powell is an internationally recognized expert in the areas of civil rights, civil liberties, structural racism, housing, poverty, and democracy. john is the Director of the Othering and Belonging Institute at the University of California, Berkeley, a research institute that brings together scholars, community advocates, communicators, and policymakers to identify and eliminate the barriers to an inclusive, just, and sustainable society and to create transformative change toward a more equitable world.

john holds the Robert D. Haas Chancellor’s Chair in Equity and Inclusion and is a Professor of Law, African American Studies, and Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley. Previously, he was the Executive Director of the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at the Ohio State University where he also held the Gregory H. Williams Chair in Civil Rights & Civil Liberties at the Moritz College of Law. john also founded and directed the Institute on Race and Poverty at the University of Minnesota.

john also served as Director of Legal Services in Miami, Florida and was the National Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), where he was instrumental in developing educational adequacy theory.

john led the development of an “opportunity-based” model that connects affordable housing to education, health, health care, and employment and is well-known for his work developing the frameworks of “targeted universalism” and “othering and belonging” to effect equity-based interventions.

john has written extensively on a number of issues including structural racism, racial justice, concentrated poverty, opportunity-based housing, voting rights, affirmative action in the United States, South Africa and Brazil, racial and ethnic identity, spirituality and social justice, and the needs of citizens in a democratic society. He is the author of several books, including his most recent work, Racing to Justice: Transforming our Concepts of Self and Other to Build an Inclusive Society.

john has lived and worked in Africa, where he was a consultant to the governments of Mozambique and South Africa, and has also worked in India and Brazil. He is one of the co-founders of the Poverty & Race Research Action Council and serves on the board of several national and international organizations, including More in Common, the Institute for New Economic Thinking, and Open Society Foundations. john has taught at numerous law schools including Harvard and Columbia University.

Jonah Dov Pesner
Rabbi

Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner has served as the director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism since 2015 and as senior vice president of the Union for Reform Judaism since 2011. Named one of the most influential rabbis in America by Newsweek magazine, he is an inspirational leader and tireless advocate for social justice.  

Rabbi Pesner’s work focuses on encouraging Jewish communities to reach across lines of race, class and faith in campaigns for social justice. In 2006, he founded Just Congregations (now incorporated into the Religious Action Center), which engaged clergy, professional and volunteer leaders in interfaith efforts in pursuit of social justice. Rabbi Pesner was a primary leader in the successful Massachusetts campaign for health care access, which became a nationwide model for reform. Over the course of his career, he has also led and supported campaigns for racial justice, economic opportunity, immigration reform, LGBTQ equality, human rights and confronting anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and other forms of bigotry. 

Rabbi Pesner has trained and mentored students on all four campuses of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and speaks all over the world. He serves as a board member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, JOIN for Justice, the National Religious Partnership for the Environment and the New England Center for Children and on the leadership team for the Jewish Social Justice Roundtable. He has served as a scholar for the Wexner Foundation, American Jewish World Service, the Nexus USA Summit and Combined Jewish Philanthropies, among others. 

Ordained at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1997, Rabbi Pesner was a congregational rabbi at Temple Israel in Boston and at Temple Israel in Westport, Conn. A graduate of Wesleyan University and the Bronx High School of Science, Rabbi Pesner is married to Dana S. Gershon, an attorney. They have four daughters: Juliet, Noa, Bobbie and Cate. 

Kent Wong
Educator and Kellogg Fellow

Kent Wong is the director of the UCLA Labor Center where he teaches Labor Studies and Ethnic Studies.  The UCLA Labor Center has established a national reputation as a premier labor research and education center to advance labor movement transformation and progressive labor policy.  Under his leadership, the University of California secured $13 million annually from the California State Legislature to strengthen three existing Labor Centers and launch six new Labor Centers within the University of California.   

Before joining the UCLA Labor Center, Kent worked as staff attorney for the Service Employees International Union in Los Angeles, at a time of pathbreaking organizing campaigns involving janitors and home care workers. He also served as the first staff attorney for Asian Americans Advancing Justice in Los Angeles, the largest Asian American civil rights organization in the country.  

Kent served as the founding President of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO, the first national organization of Asian American union members and workers.   

He is currently a vice-president of the California Federation of Teachers, representing education workers in elementary and secondary schools and colleges and universities throughout the state.   

Kent has been at the forefront of global labor initiatives.  He is working with the AFL-CIO Solidarity Center to launch three new Labor Centers in Mexico.  He has also developed relationships between unions and labor scholars in China, Vietnam, Japan, and Okinawa. 

Kent has published more than a dozen books on the labor movement, immigrant rights, popular education, and the Asian American community.  His most recent publications are Asian American Workers Rising, Mike Garcia and the Justice for Janitors Movement, and Revolutionary Nonviolence:  Organizing for Freedom capturing the teachings of Rev. James Lawson Jr., who he has taught with at UCLA for the past twenty years.  

Kent also taught the first class in the country on the issue of undocumented students, and published three breakthrough books on the immigrant youth movement.  He launched “Dream Summer,” the first national fellowship program for undocumented youth that has been in existence for 12 years. 

He is married to Jai Lee Wong, a community and women’s rights activist, and they have two sons, Ryan Lee Wong and Robin Philip Wong. 

Kerry Washington
Actress-Activist

Emmy-winning, SAG and Golden Globe-nominated actor, director and producer Kerry Washington is a versatile and fearless multi-hyphenate who has received high acclaim for her work in film, television and theater. 

Washington is a lifelong advocate and activist. She is dedicated to using her voice to support an equitable and fully participatory democracy by ensuring that all eligible Americans—particularly those who have been historically underrepresented—are engaged and empowered to affect change in their communities. Washington has been involved with many social and political causes, including her service on President Obama’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. She is a co-chair of Mrs. Obama’s When We All Vote campaign and is the Founder of Influence Change, a strategic initiative that partners with high impact, nonprofit organizations to increase voter turnout. In 2021, Washington partnered with Movement Voter Fund to launch the Vision Into Power Cohort to provide 10 grassroots organizations with the resources and knowledge to build civic engagement in their communities through storytelling and collective action.  

In addition to her civic engagement work, Washington is an Angel of Baby2Baby, an organization that provides children living in poverty with diapers, clothing and all the basic necessities that every child deserves. She is also a co-chair of the Black Voices for Black Justice Fund, an organization dedicated to funding and amplifying the voices of Black leaders who are helping build a more equitable America. 

Along with George Clooney, Don Cheadle, Mindy Kaling, Grant Heslov, Eva Longoria and Nicole Avant, Washington is also a founding member of The Roybal School of Film and Television Production. The specialized academy, alongside Los Angeles Unified School District, and housed within the Edward R. Roybal Learning Center in the Westlake area of Los Angeles, launched in Fall 2022 as a magnet school and is part of an effort to drive transformational change across the entertainment industry for students from underserved communities. 

Linda Sarsour
Activist

Linda Sarsour is an award-winning racial justice and civil rights activist, community organizer, every Islamophobe’s worst nightmare and mother of three. She is a Palestinian-Muslim-American born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. She is the co-founder of the first Muslim online organizing platform, MPower Change and co-founder of Until Freedom. Linda was one of the national co-chairs of the largest single day protest in US history, the Women’s March on Washington. She has been named amongst 500 of the most influential Muslims in the world. She was recognized as one of Fortune’s 50 Greatest Leaders and featured as one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world. Linda has been honored by entities across the world for her commitment and human rights work. She is a Senior Fellow at Auburn Seminary and serves on the Solidarity Council on Racial Equity at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. She is the author of, “We Are Not Here to Be Bystanders: A Memoir of Love & Resistance” and “We’re In This Together”, a young reader edition. She is most recognized for her transformative intersectional organizing work and movement building.  

Megan Davis
Professor

Law Professor and Pro Vice Chancellor at UNSW Law, Sydney, Australia

Professor Megan Davis is Pro Vice-Chancellor, Indigenous and Professor of Law at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), in Sydney, Australia. Professor Davis is a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

She is former chair of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, and is acknowledged as one of Australia’s leading constitutional lawyers who was a member of the Prime Minister’s Referendum Council, and the Panel on the Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in the Constitution.

In 2018, Ms. Davis was named Australia’s Most Influential Woman by the Australian Financial Review and was also a recipient of the Qantas Women of Influence Award, for her leadership in achieving the constitutional recognition of Indigenous peoples, which led to the Uluru Statement from the Heart. Davis is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law, and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Social Sciences. Furthermore, she is a Commissioner on the NRL/Australian Rugby League Commission.

Maria Hinojosa
Journalist

As a reporter who was the first Latina in many newsrooms, Maria Hinojosa dreamt of a space where she could create independent, multimedia journalism that explores and gives a critical voice to the diverse American experience. In the early parts of her career it was simply that a dream. When she began as a reporter for NPR, Hinojosa was among the first to report on youth violence in urban communities on a national scale. During her eight years as CNN’s urban affairs correspondent, Hinojosa often took viewers into communities rarely shown on television and continued that work longform on Now on PBS. Additionally, Hinojosa was the first Latina to anchor a PBS FRONTLINE report: “Lost in Detention” which aired in October 2011 and was the first to explore abuse at immigrant detention facilities, garnering attention from Capitol Hill as well as both the mainstream and Spanish-language media.

After Hinojosa’s nearly 30-year career as an award-winning journalist which included reporting for PBS, CBS, WNBC, CNN, NPR, and anchoring the Emmy Award winning talk show from WGBH Maria Hinojosa: One-on-One, she was able to make her dream of an independent, latina lead newsroom a reality. In 2010 she launched Futuro Media, an independent, nonprofit newsroom based in Harlem, NYC with the mission to create multimedia content from a POC perspective.

Futuro is now the home of Latino USA, the longest running Latino american podcast in the world. In The Thick, as Maria says, a direct response to Meet the Press from a POC view. Futuro studios, a podcast creation unit with greats such as LOUD, La Brega, and The Sum of US as highlights. And her brand new Latina lead Investigative unit Futuro Investigates.

In 2019 she became the inaugural Journalist in Residence at her alma mater Barnard College. She is the author of four books, Crews, Raising Raul, Once I Was: A Memoir of Love and Hate in a Torn America, with the Young Adult version releasing 2022. She has won Emmys, The John Chancellor Award, multiple Robert F Kennedy Wards, and Overseas Press Club award, and most recently a Pulitzer Prize for her 30 year long reporting piece “Suave”

She lives in New York with her Husband, their puppy Benito, and cats, Miko and Safiya.

Manuel Pastor
Professor

Dr. Manuel Pastor is a Distinguished Professor of Sociology and American Studies & Ethnicity at the University of Southern California where he currently directs the Equity Research Institute. Pastor holds an economics Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and is the inaugural holder of the Turpanjian Chair in Civil Society and Social Change at USC.  In 2022, Pastor was elected to the American Academy for the Arts and Sciences for his work in Public Affairs and Public Policy.   

Pastor’s research has generally focused on issues of the economic, environmental and social conditions facing low-income urban communities – and the social movements seeking to change those realities. 2021 saw the publication of two new books, Solidarity Economics: Why Mutuality and Movements Matter (co-authored with Chris Benner) and South Central Dreams: Finding Home and Building Community in South L.A. (co-authored with Pierrette Hondagneu-Sotelo). His previous 2018 book, State of Resistance: What California’s Dizzying Descent and Remarkable Resurgence Means for America’s Future, was lauded in a New York Times review as “concise, clear and convincing.”  

Pastor speaks frequently on issues of demographic change, economic inequality, and community empowerment and has contributed opinion pieces to such outlets including the Los Angeles Times, the San Jose Mercury News, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Sacramento Bee, and The Hill, among many others. Pastor received the Liberty Hill Foundation’s Wally Marks Changemaker of the Year award for social justice research partnerships in 2012, and the Champion for Equity Award from the Advancement Project in 2017 for his work with community-based organizations fighting for social change. 

Mayra Santos-Febres
Writer and Professor

Mayra Santos-Febres (born 1966 in Carolina) is an Afro-Puerto Rican author,  professor of literature,  and literary critic and author of children’s books. Her work focuses on themes of race, diaspora identity, female sexuality, gender fluidity, desire, and power. She is a cultural activist  and principal investigator of the Afro Diasporic and Race Studies Program at the University of Puerto Rico. This program is developing the first  concentration on Afro Diasporic and Race Studies in the Hispanic Caribbean and Latin America at undergraduate level. She is also the co-founder of the Afro Latinx Healing Race Project which develops workshops and art events that uses literature and the arts that heal racism within the Afro Latinx community.  She is an author of 32 books. Her writings have been translated into French, English, German, and Italian. 

Rachel Godsil
Professor

Rachel Godsil is co-founder and senior advisor to Perception Institute and a distinguished professor of law and Chancellor’s Scholar at Rutgers Law School. She collaborates with social scientists on empirical research to identify the efficacy of interventions to address implicit bias, racial anxiety and stereotype threat. She regularly leads workshops and presentations addressing the role of bias and anxiety associated with race, ethnicity, religion and gender, focusing on education, criminal justice, health care and the workplace. 

Godsil is on the board of the Poverty and Race Research Action Council. She served as chair of the New York City Rent Guidelines Board in 2014 and 2015. After serving as the convener for the Obama campaign’s Urban and Metropolitan Policy Committee and an advisor to the Department of Housing and Urban Development transition team, Godsil co-directed a report to HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan entitled “Retooling HUD for a Catalytic Federal Government.” Godsil was an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. She was an associate counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, focusing on environmental justice, as well as an associate with Berle, Kass & Case and Arnold & Porter in New York City. Previously, she was Eleanor Bontecou Professor of Law at Seton Hall University Law School and has taught at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and New York University Law School. She received a J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School. 

Saru Jayaraman
Author-Activist

Saru Jayaraman is the President of One Fair Wage and Director of the Food Labor Research Center at University of California, Berkeley. After 9/11/01, together with displaced World Trade Center workers, she co-founded the Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC), which grew into a national movement of restaurant workers, employers and consumers. In 2013, she launched One Fair Wage as a national campaign to end all subminimum wages in the United States. The story of Saru and her colleagues’ work has been chronicled in the book The Accidental American, and the story of the One Fair Wage campaign has been profiled in the documentary films Waging Change and The Great American Lie, by CA First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom. Saru is a graduate of Yale Law School and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She was profiled in the New York Times “Public Lives” section in 2005, named one of Crain’s “40 Under 40” in 2008, was 1010 Wins’ “Newsmaker of the Year” and New York Magazine’s “Influentials” of New York City. She was listed in CNN’s “Top10 Visionary Women” and recognized as a Champion of Change by the White House in 2014, a James Beard Foundation Leadership Award in 2015, and the SF Chronicle ‘Visionary of the Year’ in 2019. Saru authored Behind the Kitchen Door (Cornell University Press, 2013), a national bestseller, Forked: A New Standard for American Dining (Oxford University Press, 2016),  Bite Back: People Taking on Corporate Food and Winning (UC Press, 2020); and One Fair Wage: Ending Subminimum Pay in America (New Press, 2021).  She has appeared on CNN with Soledad O’Brien, Bill Moyers Journal on PBS, Melissa Harris Perry and UP with Chris Hayes on MSNBC, Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO, the Today Show, and NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams.  She attended the Golden Globes in January 2018 with Amy Poehler as part of the Times Up action to address sexual harassment. 

Fr. Timothy P. Kesicki S.J.

Father Timothy P. Kesicki, S.J. works with the Descendants Truth and Reconciliation Trust & Foundation, a first-of-its-kind initiative between the descendants of the enslaved and the descendants of the enslavers. In 1838, 272 enslaved men, women, and children were sold by the Jesuits from plantations in Maryland to plantation owners in Louisiana. Some died in slavery; others lived to see freedom. All bore the torment of racism that plagues our nation to this day.  

Fr. Kesicki served as president of the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States from 2014 – 2021, where he promoted common goals and oversaw international projects for the Jesuits. As president he helped to lead the dialogue between Descendant leaders, Jesuit leaders, and representatives from Georgetown University, the oldest Jesuit university in the United States.  

In 2021 the New York Times published the creation of the Descendants Truth & Reconciliation Foundation, a Descendant led vision for racial justice and atonement. Father Kesicki now works full-time on capitalizing the Trust & Foundation. Prior to this he served as Provincial Superior of the Jesuits in the Midwest, President of Saint Ignatius High School in Cleveland, and worked with Jesuit Refugee Service in Uganda.  

Valarie Kaur
Activist

VALARIE KAUR is a civil rights leader, lawyer, award-winning filmmaker, educator, and author of the #1 LA Times Bestseller SEE NO STRANGER. A daughter of Punjabi Sikh farmers in California, she has led visionary campaigns to tell untold stories and change policy on issues ranging from hate crimes to digital freedom. In Fall 2022, President Biden honored Valarie at the White House in the first-ever Uniters Ceremony, naming her as one of 16 leaders whose work is healing America. Her work has ignited a national movement to reclaim love as a force for justice. Today, she leads the Revolutionary Love Project to inspire and equip people across America to build the beloved community. 

Winona LaDuke
Activist, Economist, Author

Winona LaDuke is an internationally renowned activist working on issues of sustainable development, renewable energy, and food systems. She co-founded and is Executive Director of Honor the Earth, whose mission is to create awareness and support for Native environmental issues and to develop needed financial and political resources for the survival of sustainable Native communities. Her other organizations, Akiing and Winona’s Hemp and Heritage Farm, help communities produce sustainable energy and materials for a restorative and regenerative economy.

Winona lives and works on the White Earth reservation in northern Minnesota and is a two-time vice-presidential candidate with Ralph Nader for the Green Party. A rural development economist and graduate of Harvard and Antioch Universities, she has written extensively on indigenous struggles for environmental justice. Winona is the author of many books, including All Our Relations and, most recently, To Be a Water Protector. She is also the recipient of many awards, including a 2007 induction into the National Women’s Hall of Fame and, in 1994, recognition by Time Magazine in their list of fifty most promising leaders under forty years of age. Her White Earth Land Recovery Project won the prestigious 2003 International Slow Food Award for Biodiversity. Winona was also Co-founder and Board Co-chair of the Indigenous Women’s Network for fifteen years and maintains a significant role in international advocacy for Indigenous people, including numerous presentations at United Nations forums.

David R. Williams
Professor

Dr. David R. Williams is the Norman Professor of Public Health and Chair of the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. He is also a Professor of African and African American Studies at Harvard University. His prior academic appointments were at Yale University and the University of Michigan. The author of over 500 scientific papers, his research has addressed how race, stress, socioeconomic status, racism, health behavior and religious involvement can affect health. The Everyday Discrimination scale that he developed is the most widely used measure of discrimination in health studies. 

He is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences. He was ranked as the Most Cited Black Scholar in the Social Sciences in the world. In 2014, Thomson Reuters ranked him as one of the World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds. Dr. Williams has played a visible, national leadership role in raising awareness levels of the problem of health disparities and identifying interventions to address them.  

He or his research has been featured by some of the nation’s top print and television news organizations and in his TED talk. 

Diane Wolk-Rogers
Parkland, FL Teacher

Diane is a National Board-Certified teacher who taught at the elementary, middle, and high school level for 35 years in the Broward County school system. Currently, as a National Math and Science Initiative Coach, she provides learning support to students and teachers from across the country. By developing culturally responsive materials and integrating social-emotional lessons into learning plans, she inspires high school students from marginalized communities to reach their highest potential in advanced placement coursework. She also provides educational coaching to students impacted by gun violence to help support them in their high school and post-secondary training.  

Following her training with the Center for Mind-Body Medicine, Diane facilitated groups for teachers, parents, and students impacted by the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. As a Stoneman Douglas High faculty member, Diane co-founded the Mind-Body Ambassador Club which supports students in learning and sharing mind-body medicine skills with their peers and community. 

Currently, as a faculty member for the Center for Mind Body Medicine, which is the world’s largest, most effective evidence-based program for healing, Diane leads and trains others both locally and internationally to create communities of hope and healing. She finds great joy in helping others learn the powerful strategies that transformed her grief and trauma into hope and healing.  

Dr. Hélio Santos
Diversity Leader

Former chairperson at Baobá – Fundo para Equidade Racial, leading voice on diversity and inclusion in Brazil and globally

Born in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, Dr. Hélio Santos, Baoba Board Chairman and President, studied and taught extensively in Sao Paulo, where he earned a Doctorate of Business Administration (DBA) from the University of Sao Paulo (USP).

He currently resides in Salvador de Bahia, where he teaches human development at Visconde de Cairu University and runs his own consultancy company focused on business diversity. Dr. Santos is the author of many studies and books, and is also a diversity business strategy consultant for several organizations; among them Itau-Unibanco Bank, Abril Editors, CPFL Power and Electricity and the Ford Foundation. He has been an active member of the Brazilian black empowerment movement for more than 40 years, and was responsible for the creation of the first public policy council for affirmative action there.

Dr. Santos was the speaker at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s 2012 America Healing Conference in New Orleans, and he proudly serves as chairperson and president for the Baoba Fund for Racial Equity, as well as the Brazilian Institute of Diversity.

Irma Alicia Velásquez Nimatuj
Anthropologist

Irma Alicia Velásquez Nimatuj is Maya-K’iche’ journalist, activist, social anthropologist, and professor. She has been at the forefront of the struggles for respect for indigenous rights and culture in Guatemala and in other countries of the region. In 2002 she was instrumental in making racial discrimination illegal in Guatemala. She is the author of the books:  La pequeña Burguesía Comercial de Guatemala: Desigualdades de clasa, raza y género (2003),  Pueblos indígenas, Estado y lucha por tierra en Guatemala: Estrategias de sobrevivencia y negociación ante la desigualdad globalizada (2008) and “La Justicia nunca estuvo de nuestro ladoPeritaje cultural sobre conflicto armado y violencia sexual en el caso Sepur Zarco, Guatemala (2019). Dr. Nimatuj has published two poetry books: Lunas y Calendarios, colección poesía guatemalteca (2018) and Doscientos años que gritan luchan (2021). Dr. Nimatuj writes a weekly newspaper column for elPeriódico de Guatemala. In 2020 she received the LASA/Oxfam America Martin Diskin Memorial Lectureship Award for her scholarly work and activism.

Jerry Tello
Author and Leader

Jerry Tello is a servant community leader, healing practitioner and internationally recognized author and voice for healing and justice. Born from a family of Mexican, Texan and Coahuiltecan roots and raised in the south central/Compton areas of Los Angeles, Mr. Tello is considered an international expert in the areas of trauma, healing, culturally based, trauma informed, healing centered strategies and curricula. men and boys of color, fatherhood, family strengthening, racial justice, racial healing, community peace and mobilization and culturally based violence prevention/intervention issues. He has authored numerous articles, videos and curricula and books including the award winning book “Recovering Your Sacredness.”, A Fathers Love”, a series of children’s books, co-editor of Family Violence and Men and a series of motivational health and healing CD’s.

 For over 40 years he has dedicated himself to the prevention and healing of individuals, families, community and systems by speaking to over half a million people and training 1000’s of facilitators across the nation He is co-founder of the National Compadres Network (established in 1988) and presently is Director of Training and Capacity Building.  

He has received many major awards including in  Maria Shriver’s Annual Advocate for Change award; the White House Champions of Change award; the Presidential Crime Victims Service award, presented by President Bill Clinton and Attorney General Janet Reno; two California Governor’s Awards and the Ambassador of Peace Award presented by Rotary international.  

He is the partner to Susaana, a proud father of Marcos, Renee, Emilio and grandfather of Amara, Naiya, Greyson, Harrison, Vivienne and Elias. 

John Legend
Singer-Activist

JOHN LEGEND is an artist and activist who made history as the first African American man to join the prestigious EGOT club. The 12-time Grammy Award-winner released his eighth studio album, Legend, in 2022. Legend completed his first Las Vegas Residency entitled, “Love In Las Vegas” which ran from April-October 2022 at Zappos Theater at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino. Legend joined the Emmy-nominated show, The Voice, for Season 16 (2019) and most recently wrapped Season 22 as a coach.  

As an activist, Legend initiated the FREEAMERICA campaign to change the conversation surrounding criminal justice policies and to end mass incarceration and HUMANLEVEL, which is igniting systematic change and building racial equity across American cities and communities. In addition to Legend’s signature initiatives, he currently serves on the Board of Directors for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Harlem Village Academies and Governing Board of Management Leadership for Tomorrow. 

john a. powell
Professor

john a. powell is an internationally recognized expert in the areas of civil rights, civil liberties, structural racism, housing, poverty, and democracy. john is the Director of the Othering and Belonging Institute at the University of California, Berkeley, a research institute that brings together scholars, community advocates, communicators, and policymakers to identify and eliminate the barriers to an inclusive, just, and sustainable society and to create transformative change toward a more equitable world.

john holds the Robert D. Haas Chancellor’s Chair in Equity and Inclusion and is a Professor of Law, African American Studies, and Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley. Previously, he was the Executive Director of the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at the Ohio State University where he also held the Gregory H. Williams Chair in Civil Rights & Civil Liberties at the Moritz College of Law. john also founded and directed the Institute on Race and Poverty at the University of Minnesota.

john also served as Director of Legal Services in Miami, Florida and was the National Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), where he was instrumental in developing educational adequacy theory.

john led the development of an “opportunity-based” model that connects affordable housing to education, health, health care, and employment and is well-known for his work developing the frameworks of “targeted universalism” and “othering and belonging” to effect equity-based interventions.

john has written extensively on a number of issues including structural racism, racial justice, concentrated poverty, opportunity-based housing, voting rights, affirmative action in the United States, South Africa and Brazil, racial and ethnic identity, spirituality and social justice, and the needs of citizens in a democratic society. He is the author of several books, including his most recent work, Racing to Justice: Transforming our Concepts of Self and Other to Build an Inclusive Society.

john has lived and worked in Africa, where he was a consultant to the governments of Mozambique and South Africa, and has also worked in India and Brazil. He is one of the co-founders of the Poverty & Race Research Action Council and serves on the board of several national and international organizations, including More in Common, the Institute for New Economic Thinking, and Open Society Foundations. john has taught at numerous law schools including Harvard and Columbia University.

Jonah Dov Pesner
Rabbi

Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner has served as the director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism since 2015 and as senior vice president of the Union for Reform Judaism since 2011. Named one of the most influential rabbis in America by Newsweek magazine, he is an inspirational leader and tireless advocate for social justice.  

Rabbi Pesner’s work focuses on encouraging Jewish communities to reach across lines of race, class and faith in campaigns for social justice. In 2006, he founded Just Congregations (now incorporated into the Religious Action Center), which engaged clergy, professional and volunteer leaders in interfaith efforts in pursuit of social justice. Rabbi Pesner was a primary leader in the successful Massachusetts campaign for health care access, which became a nationwide model for reform. Over the course of his career, he has also led and supported campaigns for racial justice, economic opportunity, immigration reform, LGBTQ equality, human rights and confronting anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and other forms of bigotry. 

Rabbi Pesner has trained and mentored students on all four campuses of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and speaks all over the world. He serves as a board member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, JOIN for Justice, the National Religious Partnership for the Environment and the New England Center for Children and on the leadership team for the Jewish Social Justice Roundtable. He has served as a scholar for the Wexner Foundation, American Jewish World Service, the Nexus USA Summit and Combined Jewish Philanthropies, among others. 

Ordained at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1997, Rabbi Pesner was a congregational rabbi at Temple Israel in Boston and at Temple Israel in Westport, Conn. A graduate of Wesleyan University and the Bronx High School of Science, Rabbi Pesner is married to Dana S. Gershon, an attorney. They have four daughters: Juliet, Noa, Bobbie and Cate. 

Kent Wong
Educator and Kellogg Fellow

Kent Wong is the director of the UCLA Labor Center where he teaches Labor Studies and Ethnic Studies.  The UCLA Labor Center has established a national reputation as a premier labor research and education center to advance labor movement transformation and progressive labor policy.  Under his leadership, the University of California secured $13 million annually from the California State Legislature to strengthen three existing Labor Centers and launch six new Labor Centers within the University of California.   

Before joining the UCLA Labor Center, Kent worked as staff attorney for the Service Employees International Union in Los Angeles, at a time of pathbreaking organizing campaigns involving janitors and home care workers. He also served as the first staff attorney for Asian Americans Advancing Justice in Los Angeles, the largest Asian American civil rights organization in the country.  

Kent served as the founding President of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO, the first national organization of Asian American union members and workers.   

He is currently a vice-president of the California Federation of Teachers, representing education workers in elementary and secondary schools and colleges and universities throughout the state.   

Kent has been at the forefront of global labor initiatives.  He is working with the AFL-CIO Solidarity Center to launch three new Labor Centers in Mexico.  He has also developed relationships between unions and labor scholars in China, Vietnam, Japan, and Okinawa. 

Kent has published more than a dozen books on the labor movement, immigrant rights, popular education, and the Asian American community.  His most recent publications are Asian American Workers Rising, Mike Garcia and the Justice for Janitors Movement, and Revolutionary Nonviolence:  Organizing for Freedom capturing the teachings of Rev. James Lawson Jr., who he has taught with at UCLA for the past twenty years.  

Kent also taught the first class in the country on the issue of undocumented students, and published three breakthrough books on the immigrant youth movement.  He launched “Dream Summer,” the first national fellowship program for undocumented youth that has been in existence for 12 years. 

He is married to Jai Lee Wong, a community and women’s rights activist, and they have two sons, Ryan Lee Wong and Robin Philip Wong. 

Kerry Washington
Actress-Activist

Emmy-winning, SAG and Golden Globe-nominated actor, director and producer Kerry Washington is a versatile and fearless multi-hyphenate who has received high acclaim for her work in film, television and theater. 

Washington is a lifelong advocate and activist. She is dedicated to using her voice to support an equitable and fully participatory democracy by ensuring that all eligible Americans—particularly those who have been historically underrepresented—are engaged and empowered to affect change in their communities. Washington has been involved with many social and political causes, including her service on President Obama’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. She is a co-chair of Mrs. Obama’s When We All Vote campaign and is the Founder of Influence Change, a strategic initiative that partners with high impact, nonprofit organizations to increase voter turnout. In 2021, Washington partnered with Movement Voter Fund to launch the Vision Into Power Cohort to provide 10 grassroots organizations with the resources and knowledge to build civic engagement in their communities through storytelling and collective action.  

In addition to her civic engagement work, Washington is an Angel of Baby2Baby, an organization that provides children living in poverty with diapers, clothing and all the basic necessities that every child deserves. She is also a co-chair of the Black Voices for Black Justice Fund, an organization dedicated to funding and amplifying the voices of Black leaders who are helping build a more equitable America. 

Along with George Clooney, Don Cheadle, Mindy Kaling, Grant Heslov, Eva Longoria and Nicole Avant, Washington is also a founding member of The Roybal School of Film and Television Production. The specialized academy, alongside Los Angeles Unified School District, and housed within the Edward R. Roybal Learning Center in the Westlake area of Los Angeles, launched in Fall 2022 as a magnet school and is part of an effort to drive transformational change across the entertainment industry for students from underserved communities. 

Linda Sarsour
Activist

Linda Sarsour is an award-winning racial justice and civil rights activist, community organizer, every Islamophobe’s worst nightmare and mother of three. She is a Palestinian-Muslim-American born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. She is the co-founder of the first Muslim online organizing platform, MPower Change and co-founder of Until Freedom. Linda was one of the national co-chairs of the largest single day protest in US history, the Women’s March on Washington. She has been named amongst 500 of the most influential Muslims in the world. She was recognized as one of Fortune’s 50 Greatest Leaders and featured as one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world. Linda has been honored by entities across the world for her commitment and human rights work. She is a Senior Fellow at Auburn Seminary and serves on the Solidarity Council on Racial Equity at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. She is the author of, “We Are Not Here to Be Bystanders: A Memoir of Love & Resistance” and “We’re In This Together”, a young reader edition. She is most recognized for her transformative intersectional organizing work and movement building.  

Megan Davis
Professor

Law Professor and Pro Vice Chancellor at UNSW Law, Sydney, Australia

Professor Megan Davis is Pro Vice-Chancellor, Indigenous and Professor of Law at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), in Sydney, Australia. Professor Davis is a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

She is former chair of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, and is acknowledged as one of Australia’s leading constitutional lawyers who was a member of the Prime Minister’s Referendum Council, and the Panel on the Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in the Constitution.

In 2018, Ms. Davis was named Australia’s Most Influential Woman by the Australian Financial Review and was also a recipient of the Qantas Women of Influence Award, for her leadership in achieving the constitutional recognition of Indigenous peoples, which led to the Uluru Statement from the Heart. Davis is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law, and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Social Sciences. Furthermore, she is a Commissioner on the NRL/Australian Rugby League Commission.

Maria Hinojosa
Journalist

As a reporter who was the first Latina in many newsrooms, Maria Hinojosa dreamt of a space where she could create independent, multimedia journalism that explores and gives a critical voice to the diverse American experience. In the early parts of her career it was simply that a dream. When she began as a reporter for NPR, Hinojosa was among the first to report on youth violence in urban communities on a national scale. During her eight years as CNN’s urban affairs correspondent, Hinojosa often took viewers into communities rarely shown on television and continued that work longform on Now on PBS. Additionally, Hinojosa was the first Latina to anchor a PBS FRONTLINE report: “Lost in Detention” which aired in October 2011 and was the first to explore abuse at immigrant detention facilities, garnering attention from Capitol Hill as well as both the mainstream and Spanish-language media.

After Hinojosa’s nearly 30-year career as an award-winning journalist which included reporting for PBS, CBS, WNBC, CNN, NPR, and anchoring the Emmy Award winning talk show from WGBH Maria Hinojosa: One-on-One, she was able to make her dream of an independent, latina lead newsroom a reality. In 2010 she launched Futuro Media, an independent, nonprofit newsroom based in Harlem, NYC with the mission to create multimedia content from a POC perspective.

Futuro is now the home of Latino USA, the longest running Latino american podcast in the world. In The Thick, as Maria says, a direct response to Meet the Press from a POC view. Futuro studios, a podcast creation unit with greats such as LOUD, La Brega, and The Sum of US as highlights. And her brand new Latina lead Investigative unit Futuro Investigates.

In 2019 she became the inaugural Journalist in Residence at her alma mater Barnard College. She is the author of four books, Crews, Raising Raul, Once I Was: A Memoir of Love and Hate in a Torn America, with the Young Adult version releasing 2022. She has won Emmys, The John Chancellor Award, multiple Robert F Kennedy Wards, and Overseas Press Club award, and most recently a Pulitzer Prize for her 30 year long reporting piece “Suave”

She lives in New York with her Husband, their puppy Benito, and cats, Miko and Safiya.

Manuel Pastor
Professor

Dr. Manuel Pastor is a Distinguished Professor of Sociology and American Studies & Ethnicity at the University of Southern California where he currently directs the Equity Research Institute. Pastor holds an economics Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and is the inaugural holder of the Turpanjian Chair in Civil Society and Social Change at USC.  In 2022, Pastor was elected to the American Academy for the Arts and Sciences for his work in Public Affairs and Public Policy.   

Pastor’s research has generally focused on issues of the economic, environmental and social conditions facing low-income urban communities – and the social movements seeking to change those realities. 2021 saw the publication of two new books, Solidarity Economics: Why Mutuality and Movements Matter (co-authored with Chris Benner) and South Central Dreams: Finding Home and Building Community in South L.A. (co-authored with Pierrette Hondagneu-Sotelo). His previous 2018 book, State of Resistance: What California’s Dizzying Descent and Remarkable Resurgence Means for America’s Future, was lauded in a New York Times review as “concise, clear and convincing.”  

Pastor speaks frequently on issues of demographic change, economic inequality, and community empowerment and has contributed opinion pieces to such outlets including the Los Angeles Times, the San Jose Mercury News, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Sacramento Bee, and The Hill, among many others. Pastor received the Liberty Hill Foundation’s Wally Marks Changemaker of the Year award for social justice research partnerships in 2012, and the Champion for Equity Award from the Advancement Project in 2017 for his work with community-based organizations fighting for social change. 

Mayra Santos-Febres
Writer and Professor

Mayra Santos-Febres (born 1966 in Carolina) is an Afro-Puerto Rican author,  professor of literature,  and literary critic and author of children’s books. Her work focuses on themes of race, diaspora identity, female sexuality, gender fluidity, desire, and power. She is a cultural activist  and principal investigator of the Afro Diasporic and Race Studies Program at the University of Puerto Rico. This program is developing the first  concentration on Afro Diasporic and Race Studies in the Hispanic Caribbean and Latin America at undergraduate level. She is also the co-founder of the Afro Latinx Healing Race Project which develops workshops and art events that uses literature and the arts that heal racism within the Afro Latinx community.  She is an author of 32 books. Her writings have been translated into French, English, German, and Italian. 

Rachel Godsil
Professor

Rachel Godsil is co-founder and senior advisor to Perception Institute and a distinguished professor of law and Chancellor’s Scholar at Rutgers Law School. She collaborates with social scientists on empirical research to identify the efficacy of interventions to address implicit bias, racial anxiety and stereotype threat. She regularly leads workshops and presentations addressing the role of bias and anxiety associated with race, ethnicity, religion and gender, focusing on education, criminal justice, health care and the workplace. 

Godsil is on the board of the Poverty and Race Research Action Council. She served as chair of the New York City Rent Guidelines Board in 2014 and 2015. After serving as the convener for the Obama campaign’s Urban and Metropolitan Policy Committee and an advisor to the Department of Housing and Urban Development transition team, Godsil co-directed a report to HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan entitled “Retooling HUD for a Catalytic Federal Government.” Godsil was an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. She was an associate counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, focusing on environmental justice, as well as an associate with Berle, Kass & Case and Arnold & Porter in New York City. Previously, she was Eleanor Bontecou Professor of Law at Seton Hall University Law School and has taught at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and New York University Law School. She received a J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School. 

Saru Jayaraman
Author-Activist

Saru Jayaraman is the President of One Fair Wage and Director of the Food Labor Research Center at University of California, Berkeley. After 9/11/01, together with displaced World Trade Center workers, she co-founded the Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC), which grew into a national movement of restaurant workers, employers and consumers. In 2013, she launched One Fair Wage as a national campaign to end all subminimum wages in the United States. The story of Saru and her colleagues’ work has been chronicled in the book The Accidental American, and the story of the One Fair Wage campaign has been profiled in the documentary films Waging Change and The Great American Lie, by CA First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom. Saru is a graduate of Yale Law School and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She was profiled in the New York Times “Public Lives” section in 2005, named one of Crain’s “40 Under 40” in 2008, was 1010 Wins’ “Newsmaker of the Year” and New York Magazine’s “Influentials” of New York City. She was listed in CNN’s “Top10 Visionary Women” and recognized as a Champion of Change by the White House in 2014, a James Beard Foundation Leadership Award in 2015, and the SF Chronicle ‘Visionary of the Year’ in 2019. Saru authored Behind the Kitchen Door (Cornell University Press, 2013), a national bestseller, Forked: A New Standard for American Dining (Oxford University Press, 2016),  Bite Back: People Taking on Corporate Food and Winning (UC Press, 2020); and One Fair Wage: Ending Subminimum Pay in America (New Press, 2021).  She has appeared on CNN with Soledad O’Brien, Bill Moyers Journal on PBS, Melissa Harris Perry and UP with Chris Hayes on MSNBC, Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO, the Today Show, and NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams.  She attended the Golden Globes in January 2018 with Amy Poehler as part of the Times Up action to address sexual harassment. 

Fr. Timothy P. Kesicki S.J.

Father Timothy P. Kesicki, S.J. works with the Descendants Truth and Reconciliation Trust & Foundation, a first-of-its-kind initiative between the descendants of the enslaved and the descendants of the enslavers. In 1838, 272 enslaved men, women, and children were sold by the Jesuits from plantations in Maryland to plantation owners in Louisiana. Some died in slavery; others lived to see freedom. All bore the torment of racism that plagues our nation to this day.  

Fr. Kesicki served as president of the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States from 2014 – 2021, where he promoted common goals and oversaw international projects for the Jesuits. As president he helped to lead the dialogue between Descendant leaders, Jesuit leaders, and representatives from Georgetown University, the oldest Jesuit university in the United States.  

In 2021 the New York Times published the creation of the Descendants Truth & Reconciliation Foundation, a Descendant led vision for racial justice and atonement. Father Kesicki now works full-time on capitalizing the Trust & Foundation. Prior to this he served as Provincial Superior of the Jesuits in the Midwest, President of Saint Ignatius High School in Cleveland, and worked with Jesuit Refugee Service in Uganda.  

Valarie Kaur
Activist

VALARIE KAUR is a civil rights leader, lawyer, award-winning filmmaker, educator, and author of the #1 LA Times Bestseller SEE NO STRANGER. A daughter of Punjabi Sikh farmers in California, she has led visionary campaigns to tell untold stories and change policy on issues ranging from hate crimes to digital freedom. In Fall 2022, President Biden honored Valarie at the White House in the first-ever Uniters Ceremony, naming her as one of 16 leaders whose work is healing America. Her work has ignited a national movement to reclaim love as a force for justice. Today, she leads the Revolutionary Love Project to inspire and equip people across America to build the beloved community. 

Winona LaDuke
Activist, Economist, Author

Winona LaDuke is an internationally renowned activist working on issues of sustainable development, renewable energy, and food systems. She co-founded and is Executive Director of Honor the Earth, whose mission is to create awareness and support for Native environmental issues and to develop needed financial and political resources for the survival of sustainable Native communities. Her other organizations, Akiing and Winona’s Hemp and Heritage Farm, help communities produce sustainable energy and materials for a restorative and regenerative economy.

Winona lives and works on the White Earth reservation in northern Minnesota and is a two-time vice-presidential candidate with Ralph Nader for the Green Party. A rural development economist and graduate of Harvard and Antioch Universities, she has written extensively on indigenous struggles for environmental justice. Winona is the author of many books, including All Our Relations and, most recently, To Be a Water Protector. She is also the recipient of many awards, including a 2007 induction into the National Women’s Hall of Fame and, in 1994, recognition by Time Magazine in their list of fifty most promising leaders under forty years of age. Her White Earth Land Recovery Project won the prestigious 2003 International Slow Food Award for Biodiversity. Winona was also Co-founder and Board Co-chair of the Indigenous Women’s Network for fifteen years and maintains a significant role in international advocacy for Indigenous people, including numerous presentations at United Nations forums.

Ava DuVernay
Filmmaker

Filmmaker whose credits include Queen Sugar, Selma and A Wrinkle in Time

Academy Award nominee, Emmy, BAFTA and Peabody Award winner, Ava DuVernay is a writer, director, producer and film distributor. Her directorial work includes the Oscar Award winning historical drama Selma, the Oscar-nominated criminal justice documentary 13th and Disney’s A Wrinkle In Time, which made her the highest grossing African American woman director in domestic box office history.

Ms. DuVernay is currently in production on her next project, based upon the infamous crime case known as the “Central Park Five,” while overseeing production of her critically-acclaimed TV series, Queen Sugar. Winner of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival’s Best Director prize, for her micro-budget film, Middle of Nowhere, DuVernay amplifies the work of people of color and women of all kinds through her media distribution collective ARRAY, named one of Fast Company magazine’s Most Innovative Companies.

In 2017, she was featured as one of FORTUNE magazine’s “50 Greatest Culture Leaders,” and was additionally named one of TIME magazine’s “100 Most Influential People.”‎ DuVernay currently sits on the boards of the Sundance Institute, and Film Independent.

Bryan Stevenson
Activist and Attorney

Lawyer, activist, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative

Bryan Stevenson is the Founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) in Montgomery, Alabama. Stevenson is a widely acclaimed public interest attorney who has dedicated his career to helping the poor, the incarcerated and the condemned. Under his leadership, EJI has won major legal challenges eliminating excessive and unfair sentencing, exonerating innocent death row prisoners, confronting abuse of the incarcerated and the mentally ill, and aiding children prosecuted as adults.

Stevenson’s work fighting poverty and challenging racial discrimination in the criminal justice system has won him numerous awards including the ABA Wisdom Award for Public Service, the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship Award Prize, the Olaf Palme International Prize, the ACLU National Medal Of Liberty, the National Public Interest Lawyer of the Year Award, Gruber Prize for International Justice and the Ford Foundation Visionaries Award.

In 2015, he was named to the Time 100 recognizing the world’s most influential people. In 2016, he received the American Bar Association’s Thurgood Marshall Award. He was named in Fortune’s 2016 and 2017 World’s Greatest Leaders list. He received the MLK, Jr. Nonviolent Peace Prize from The King Center in Atlanta in 2018. He also received the American Bar Association Medal, the Association’s highest honor. He is a graduate of the Harvard Law School and the Harvard School of Government, has been awarded 34 honorary doctorate degrees and is also a Professor of Law at the New York University School of Law.

He is the recent author of the critically acclaimed New York Times bestseller, Just Mercy, and in April 2018, opened a new museum, The Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration, built on the site of a former slave warehouse in downtown Montgomery. This is a companion to a national memorial to victims of lynching, The National Memorial for Peace and Justice, which opened simultaneously.

Heather C. McGhee
Senior Fellow

Distinguished Senior Fellow and former president of Demos

Heather C. McGhee joined Demos in 2002 and served as its president from 2014 through June 2018. A recognized thought-leader on the national stage, McGhee is now a distinguished senior fellow, advancing the vision of equal say and equal chance through her writing, public speaking and media appearances.

McGhee is currently authoring a major book to be published in 2019 regarding the personal, economic and societal costs of racism to all Americans. She serves as a frequent contributor to NBC News, appearing on top-rated talk-shows including “Meet the Press”, among others. Her opinions, writing and research have been featured in numerous media outlets, including The New York Times, The Nation and The Hill. She has received New York University’s McSilver Award for Leaders in the Fight Against Poverty, and Citizen Action of New York’s Progressive Leadership Award.

McGhee currently serves on the boards of the Center for Working Families, Consumer Reports and Indivisible. She holds a B.A. degree in American Studies from Yale University and a J.D. degree from the University of California at Berkeley School of Law.

Michelle Alexander
Author

Author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

Michelle Alexander is a highly acclaimed civil rights attorney, advocate, legal scholar and author of The New York Times bestseller, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. The New Jim Crow helped spark a national debate about the crisis of mass incarceration in the United States and inspired racial justice organizing and advocacy efforts nationwide.

Alexander has been featured on national radio and television media outlets, including CNN, MSNBC, NPR, The Bill Moyers Journal, the Tavis Smiley Show, MSNBC, C-Span, and Democracy Now. She has also written for numerous publications including: The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Nation, The Los Angeles Times and The Huffington Post. Alexander has served as a professor at several universities, including Stanford Law School, where she was an Associate Professor of Law and where she directed the Civil Rights Clinics. She also taught at The Ohio State University where she held a joint appointment with the Moritz College of Law and the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity.

Prior to entering academia, Alexander served as the Director of the Racial Justice Project for the ACLU of Northern California, where she coordinated their media advocacy, grassroots organizing, coalition-building, and litigation. The Project’s priority areas were educational equity and criminal justice reform, and it was during those years that she launched a major campaign against racial profiling by law enforcement, known as the DWB Campaign or Driving While Black or Brown Campaign.

In addition to her non-profit advocacy experience, Alexander has worked as a litigator at private law firms, including Saperstein, Goldstein, Demchak & Baller, in Oakland, California, where she specialized in plaintiff-side class action lawsuits alleging race and gender discrimination.

Currently, Alexander is Visiting Professor at Union Theological Seminary in New York City where she is exploring the moral and spiritual dimensions of mass incarceration. She is also an Op-Ed columnist for the New York Times.

Timothy F. Ryan
Business Executive

US Chairman and Senior Partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers, leader of building conversation about diversity and inclusion in the workplace

Timothy F. Ryan is U.S. Chairman and senior partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) after having been elected to a four-year term beginning in July of 2016. Ryan is responsible for leading the corporate culture and setting the tone on quality for the U.S. firm and its approximately 52,000 employees and partners.

Prior to this, he acted as vice-chair and Markets, Strategy and Stakeholders Leader at PwC, having responsibility for the firm’s strategy function and stakeholder relationships; including investor relations, regulatory affairs, public policy, corporate responsibility and human capital. Also, he formerly led PwC’s Assurance Practice.

Ryan serves on the U.S. Board of Partners and Principals, as well as the Network Leadership Team (NLT). He plays an active role in the Center for Audit Quality (CAQ), a non-partisan, non-profit group dedicated to enhancing investor confidence and public trust in the global capital markets. He is a visionary, strategic and results driven leader, known for high quality professionalism in relationships with business, industry and community leaders nationally and globally.

In addition, he collaborated with a small group of CEOs to launch CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion™, a pledge that outlines specific actions that companies can take to advance diversity and inclusion in the workplace. It is the largest ever CEO driven business commitment on diversity and inclusion. A Boston native, he is a graduate of Babson College, where he studied accounting and communications.

Ava DuVernay
Filmmaker

Filmmaker whose credits include Queen Sugar, Selma and A Wrinkle in Time

Academy Award nominee, Emmy, BAFTA and Peabody Award winner, Ava DuVernay is a writer, director, producer and film distributor. Her directorial work includes the Oscar Award winning historical drama Selma, the Oscar-nominated criminal justice documentary 13th and Disney’s A Wrinkle In Time, which made her the highest grossing African American woman director in domestic box office history.

Ms. DuVernay is currently in production on her next project, based upon the infamous crime case known as the “Central Park Five,” while overseeing production of her critically-acclaimed TV series, Queen Sugar. Winner of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival’s Best Director prize, for her micro-budget film, Middle of Nowhere, DuVernay amplifies the work of people of color and women of all kinds through her media distribution collective ARRAY, named one of Fast Company magazine’s Most Innovative Companies.

In 2017, she was featured as one of FORTUNE magazine’s “50 Greatest Culture Leaders,” and was additionally named one of TIME magazine’s “100 Most Influential People.”‎ DuVernay currently sits on the boards of the Sundance Institute, and Film Independent.

Bryan Stevenson
Activist and Attorney

Lawyer, activist, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative

Bryan Stevenson is the Founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) in Montgomery, Alabama. Stevenson is a widely acclaimed public interest attorney who has dedicated his career to helping the poor, the incarcerated and the condemned. Under his leadership, EJI has won major legal challenges eliminating excessive and unfair sentencing, exonerating innocent death row prisoners, confronting abuse of the incarcerated and the mentally ill, and aiding children prosecuted as adults.

Stevenson’s work fighting poverty and challenging racial discrimination in the criminal justice system has won him numerous awards including the ABA Wisdom Award for Public Service, the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship Award Prize, the Olaf Palme International Prize, the ACLU National Medal Of Liberty, the National Public Interest Lawyer of the Year Award, Gruber Prize for International Justice and the Ford Foundation Visionaries Award.

In 2015, he was named to the Time 100 recognizing the world’s most influential people. In 2016, he received the American Bar Association’s Thurgood Marshall Award. He was named in Fortune’s 2016 and 2017 World’s Greatest Leaders list. He received the MLK, Jr. Nonviolent Peace Prize from The King Center in Atlanta in 2018. He also received the American Bar Association Medal, the Association’s highest honor. He is a graduate of the Harvard Law School and the Harvard School of Government, has been awarded 34 honorary doctorate degrees and is also a Professor of Law at the New York University School of Law.

He is the recent author of the critically acclaimed New York Times bestseller, Just Mercy, and in April 2018, opened a new museum, The Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration, built on the site of a former slave warehouse in downtown Montgomery. This is a companion to a national memorial to victims of lynching, The National Memorial for Peace and Justice, which opened simultaneously.

Heather C. McGhee
Senior Fellow

Distinguished Senior Fellow and former president of Demos

Heather C. McGhee joined Demos in 2002 and served as its president from 2014 through June 2018. A recognized thought-leader on the national stage, McGhee is now a distinguished senior fellow, advancing the vision of equal say and equal chance through her writing, public speaking and media appearances.

McGhee is currently authoring a major book to be published in 2019 regarding the personal, economic and societal costs of racism to all Americans. She serves as a frequent contributor to NBC News, appearing on top-rated talk-shows including “Meet the Press”, among others. Her opinions, writing and research have been featured in numerous media outlets, including The New York Times, The Nation and The Hill. She has received New York University’s McSilver Award for Leaders in the Fight Against Poverty, and Citizen Action of New York’s Progressive Leadership Award.

McGhee currently serves on the boards of the Center for Working Families, Consumer Reports and Indivisible. She holds a B.A. degree in American Studies from Yale University and a J.D. degree from the University of California at Berkeley School of Law.

Michelle Alexander
Author

Author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

Michelle Alexander is a highly acclaimed civil rights attorney, advocate, legal scholar and author of The New York Times bestseller, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. The New Jim Crow helped spark a national debate about the crisis of mass incarceration in the United States and inspired racial justice organizing and advocacy efforts nationwide.

Alexander has been featured on national radio and television media outlets, including CNN, MSNBC, NPR, The Bill Moyers Journal, the Tavis Smiley Show, MSNBC, C-Span, and Democracy Now. She has also written for numerous publications including: The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Nation, The Los Angeles Times and The Huffington Post. Alexander has served as a professor at several universities, including Stanford Law School, where she was an Associate Professor of Law and where she directed the Civil Rights Clinics. She also taught at The Ohio State University where she held a joint appointment with the Moritz College of Law and the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity.

Prior to entering academia, Alexander served as the Director of the Racial Justice Project for the ACLU of Northern California, where she coordinated their media advocacy, grassroots organizing, coalition-building, and litigation. The Project’s priority areas were educational equity and criminal justice reform, and it was during those years that she launched a major campaign against racial profiling by law enforcement, known as the DWB Campaign or Driving While Black or Brown Campaign.

In addition to her non-profit advocacy experience, Alexander has worked as a litigator at private law firms, including Saperstein, Goldstein, Demchak & Baller, in Oakland, California, where she specialized in plaintiff-side class action lawsuits alleging race and gender discrimination.

Currently, Alexander is Visiting Professor at Union Theological Seminary in New York City where she is exploring the moral and spiritual dimensions of mass incarceration. She is also an Op-Ed columnist for the New York Times.

Timothy F. Ryan
Business Executive

US Chairman and Senior Partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers, leader of building conversation about diversity and inclusion in the workplace

Timothy F. Ryan is U.S. Chairman and senior partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) after having been elected to a four-year term beginning in July of 2016. Ryan is responsible for leading the corporate culture and setting the tone on quality for the U.S. firm and its approximately 52,000 employees and partners.

Prior to this, he acted as vice-chair and Markets, Strategy and Stakeholders Leader at PwC, having responsibility for the firm’s strategy function and stakeholder relationships; including investor relations, regulatory affairs, public policy, corporate responsibility and human capital. Also, he formerly led PwC’s Assurance Practice.

Ryan serves on the U.S. Board of Partners and Principals, as well as the Network Leadership Team (NLT). He plays an active role in the Center for Audit Quality (CAQ), a non-partisan, non-profit group dedicated to enhancing investor confidence and public trust in the global capital markets. He is a visionary, strategic and results driven leader, known for high quality professionalism in relationships with business, industry and community leaders nationally and globally.

In addition, he collaborated with a small group of CEOs to launch CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion™, a pledge that outlines specific actions that companies can take to advance diversity and inclusion in the workplace. It is the largest ever CEO driven business commitment on diversity and inclusion. A Boston native, he is a graduate of Babson College, where he studied accounting and communications.