We are excited to announce our 2016 FIHRE Fellows:
Erika Almiron, Executive Director, Juntos
Erika Almiron is the Executive Director of Juntos, a Latino immigrant community led human rights organization based in Philadelphia dedicated to fighting for the rights of our community on issues like education, immigration, and workers rights. She has been working on social justice issues for almost two decades including immigration, education reform, youth organizing, women’s health, gentrification and poverty. Born in South Philadelphia to immigrant parents from Paraguay she spent most of her youth in Philadelphia or New York and after college she went on help start the Media Mobilizing Project while working at the American Friends Service Committee with the Mexico/US border program. In 2013 she was named one of the Most Influential Latino Leaders in the Delaware Valley and under her leadership Juntos has received numerous awards including the Hispanic Choice Awards Community Impact Award for 2013, Organization of the Year by Norristown Men of Excellence and Organization of the Year by GALAEI in 2014. In her spare time she is a freelance photographer and her pictures have been published and exhibited over the last several years in Philadelphia and beyond. She has documented prison conditions in South America, mountain top removal in West Virginia, homelessness in Harlem, and most recently she received the prestigious Leeway Foundation award to document agricultural reform, land distribution and the landless movements in Brazil and Paraguay.
T Banks, Community Organizer, Freedom Inc.
T Banks 28, from Madison, WI is a community organizer with Freedom Inc, a mental wellness advocate, poet and playwright. After graduating with a degree in English Creative Writing from UW-Madison, Banks has successfully used his art through plays and poetry to address Racism, Transphobia, and Ableism. As a Black Trans, Queer person with a disability, T believes the movement for Black Lives must be intersectional and deeply connected to the struggle to end Patriarchy, specifically as it manifest as violence against Black Trans folks. His work addresses the need for the Black liberation movement to be accessible to those with mental wellness challenges and or physical disabilities as well fight for the ability of these populations to regain their autonomy in a capitalistic society.
Krystal Brown, Founder, United 4 Justice
Krystal Brown is a native of Deland, Florida. She received her A.S. degree in Occupational Therapy in 1998 and a Certificate in Practical Nursing in 2003. She is the mother of three, DeAndre, Armani and Marlon and the Wife of the late Marlon Brown Sr. On May 8, 2013 the life of her family was forever changed when Marlon Sr. was killed by Deland rookie police officer, James Paul Harris. She believed in the Judicial System and was confident that justice would prevail since there was a dash cam video and multiple eye witnesses. The case was presented to a grand jury and the result was “NO INDICTMENT!” Krystal immediately formed a team that began collecting and dissecting the evidence and it was clear that the justice system was unjust. She has been traveling and meeting families that are fighting police brutality, researching and learning about policies and procedures that are in place and aid in the corruption of the system, speaking out on behalf of Marlon Brown Sr. and pursuing the opportunity for him to receive justice. She is the founder of, United 4 Justice, an organization that serves to bring awareness to individuals and families throughout the globe on police brutality and personal rights. She is committed to helping her community obtain equal and fair treatment by city administration and law enforcement. She ran for City Commissioner in Deland, Fl in 2014. Despite not being voted in she used her voice and platform to convey the concerns of the community and its citizens. Her voice has definitely been amplified by her ability to stand firm on the facts. In January 2016, Krystal spoke before the Expert Working Group from the United Nations on the disrespectful dehumanization and criminalization of the victims of police brutality and their families by the United States and the lack of transparency and conviction of the crimes being committed against people of African descent. She was heard and Marlon’s name appears in the preliminary report written to the United States. She is a 2016 award recipient of “Divas on Fire, All Women’s Award Show” for being a Community Activist.
Carl Lipscombe, Black Alliance for Just Immigration
Carl Lipscombe is BAJI’s Policy and Legal Manager and a Bronx-bred policy advocate, organizer, and attorney. Throughout his career, Carl has organized poor Black and immigrant communities; litigated on behalf of indigent criminal defendants and undocumented immigrants; and worked with grassroots organizations, worker centers, and unions to affect policy change on the local, state, and national levels. Most recently, Carl worked with the National Guestworker Alliance where he provided research, policy development, and capacity building assistance to worker associations nationwide seeking to expand labor protections low-wage immigrant workers. Previously, at Right To The City, Carl coordinated policy working groups focused on affordable housing, environmental justice, and urban development. Carl began his career at Jobs with Justice, whereas organizing director, he mobilized poor black and immigrant community residents, low-wage workers, and students to support labor and economic policy campaigns. While at JWJ, he also led NY VOTE, a five year initiative that built the capacity of local grassroots organizations to engage voters in their communities. In addition, Carl has worked as a trial attorney at The Bronx Defenders, where he represented over 400 indigent defendants in criminal and related proceedings and as a legal advocate at the Cardozo Immigration Justice Clinic, Carl won a successful challenge to an illegal ICE home raid, helped an undocumented immigrant obtain administrative relief, and wrote a guide for groups seeking to fight immigration detention centers in their communities, while working at Cardozo’s Immigration Justice Clinic. Carl received a B.A. in philosophy from Brooklyn College, studied public policy at New York University, and received a law degree from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, where his coursework focused on criminal and immigration law.
Esther Calhoun, President of Black Belt Citizens Fighting for Health and Justice
Esther was born and raised in Uniontown and spent the majority of her adult life in Indiana working in the medical field. Esther moved home to take care of family only to find Uniontown in a terrible situation with poverty, unemployment, and severe environmental burdens. After her family suffered an experience of police brutality, she has been an active voice in community development, human & civil rights, and an activist for justice at all levels of life. Esther dedicates her love and kindness to her community and everyone fighting for freedom and justice.
Dr. Maha Hilal, Executive Director, National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms
Dr. Maha Hilal is the Executive Director of the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms, an organization dedicated to addressing civil and human rights abuses related to preemptive prosecutions and thoughts crimes in the War on Terror. She is also an Adjunct Professor at George Mason University, where she teaches classes on Muslims and Muslim American responses to the War on Terror. Concurrent with both positions, Dr. Hilal is also an Islamophobia consultant for the Team Baluchi Defense Team and supports research on anti-Muslim bias in the legal system. Dr. Hilal earned her doctorate in May 2014 from the Department of Justice, Law and Society at American University in Washington, D.C. The title of her dissertation is "Too damn Muslim to be trusted": The War on Terror and the Muslim American response. She received her Master's Degree in Counseling and her Bachelor's Degree in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has worked at a number of human rights/social justice organizations including the Center for Victims of Torture, the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, and the Government Accountability Project. Maha was previously a Christine Mirzayan Fellow at the National Academy of Sciences as well as a recipient of the Department of State's Critical Language Scholarship for Arabic study in Morocco.
Eric Jackson, Founder and Servant-Director, Black Yield Institute
Eric is founder and Servant-Director of Black Yield Institute, an emerging Pan-Afrikan institution based in Baltimore, Maryland. Black Yield Institute endeavor to build independent power by establishing an action network and incubator of and for black people and entities, in pursuit of Black Food Sovereignty. Since 2013, Eric has been contributing to educating future change agents, as an Adjunct Professor teaching community organizing and macro social work practice. From 2013 to 2016, Eric was employed by University of Maryland, School of Social Work, Social Work Community Outreach Services (SWCOS), where he served as a Community School Coordinator at Harlem Park Elementary/Middle School. Eric worked with students, families and the school community to support school climate and culture, attendance and family engagement, including cooperative economic development and food/environmental justice work. Additionally, from 2011 to 2013, served as a Community Health Organizer with the Baltimore City Health Department’s Baltimarket program, where he established an initiative called Neighborhood Food Advocates and worked to organize residents to improve access to healthy food in Baltimore City. Eric has received Bachelor’s and Master’s Social Work degrees from Morgan State University & University of MD, School of Social Work, respectively. Ultimately, Eric’s vision is to organize and develop leadership within Black and poor communities with the goals of dismantling racism, building greater social, political and economic power, and establish self-determination though institution and national building. Outside of his work, Eric, a life-long resident of Baltimore, Maryland, enjoys teaching, reading, connecting with good people and eating good food. He is supported and loved on his journey by his three beautiful children and great Queen, Diara.
Randi Ashley Jackson, Programming Board Member for the LGBT Institute of the Center for Civil and Human Rights
R. Ashley Jackson is an activist, advocate, fiber artist and program management consultant. Ashley assists the LGBTQ+ community in the South by designing, planning and organizing campaigns to shape public policy affecting the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) community. She works with community members, business owners, elected officials and stakeholders to raise awareness of issues affecting LGBTQ+ people including racial justice; intersections of communities and youth led organizing. Ashley served as the first Alabama State Director for the Human Rights Campaign and the first LGBT Community Advocate for the Southern Poverty Law Center. Ashley has Business and Marketing degrees from Hinds College and attended Auburn University Montgomery for Sociology and Political Science. Ashley has written for and been featured in CNN’s Gay in America series, and autostraddle.com. She’s featured in Queer Embodiment: A Portrait of Queer Life in America, the film Mississippi: I Am and PhotAmerica.com. Ashley co-founded the Mississippi Safe Schools Coalition and served as the director for three years and co-founded QYLTS (Queer Youth Leading the South) Activist Summer Camp. She served as a board member for the Alabama Safe Schools Coalition, Equality Alabama, the National Safe Schools Roundtable and was a member of Race Forward’s first ever Better Together Southern Cohort - a coalition working towards racial justice in LGBTQ+ communities in the south. Ashley was recently named a New Civil Rights Leader: Emerging Voice in the 21st Century by the L.A. Times. She is also the Jr. VP of Programming for the Atlanta Knitting Guild. She’s a Mississippi native currently residing in Atlanta, GA.
Cephus “Uncle Bobby” Johnson, Love Not Blood Campaign
Cephus Johnson, aka Uncle Bobby, is the Uncle of Oscar Grant. He has become known as, ‘The People’s Uncle’. He was the Founder and CEO of The Oscar Grant Foundation (OGF) until July of 2014, when he transferred OGF to his sister, Oscar Grant mother, Wanda Johnson. On that same date, Uncle Bobby and his wife, Beatrice X Johnson, aka Auntie B, Co-founded, The Love Not Blood Campaign Organization, as a continuation of the work done in the Oscar Grant Foundation. Uncle Bobby, Love Not Blood Campaign, is also a member and active with the US Human Rights Network. The LNBC vision: Is a world where no one has the right to take the life of another and be protected/ insulated from the consequences of doing so by a system of structural racism, obfuscation and propaganda. Cephus Uncle Bobby Johnson is an alumni of SF State Ethnic Studies program and a System Engineer in Silicon Valley. He was the recipient 2015 Gene Young Award at the 35th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Ceremony. He was a consulted in the production of the acclaim movie Fruitvale Station. He has appeared on Katie Couric- “Race in America” episode; MSNBC - “Caught on Tape”; CNN; KGO 7Live and radio stations around the country. He has delivered presentation at London University, Howard University, Florida A&M, Albany University of NY, Cleveland University, Cal Berkeley, Stanford, SF State, East Bay State of Hayward, San Jose State, many other Universities, College's and high schools throughout country. He participated in the 2010 Congressional Black Caucus involving Criminal Justice Reforms and the 2013 Congressional Black Caucus, as a panelist on “Beyond Survival- Strategies for African American Male Success”. He assisted in the creation of the Citizen Review Board with an Independent Police Auditor for accountability of Bart Police Department oversight after the murder of his nephew, Oscar Grant, by BART Police Officer Johannes Mehserle. Uncle Bobby has been a resource for families suffering from police violence. He has connected families together to build bonding, support, and strength in unity. Uncle Bobby has built an international connection with United Families and Friends Coalition in London, UK. Uncle Bobby has been the voice of Justice for his family and police victims’ families, nationally and internationally.
Dorin Matthews, Executive Director, Fostering Progressive Advocacy (FPA) Foundation
Dorin became a involved in the system when her nephews were placed in foster care. She became a advocate to help people affected by child welfare. She became a foster parent to help young people in foster care system..The eleven year experience has motivated her to reach out and help children & families, by providing support, education and empowerment. While working as a foster parent advocate within a foster care agency, she observed that services was not being adequately provided to the children and families. She decided to start a advocacy organization to make changes and break that cycle. Dorin has a Bachelor's in Human Services and a Masters in Social Work from Touro College. She is a determined, dedicated advocate, adoptive foster parent, activist, social worker. Dorin has worked in preventive, foster care and school base program. Dorin has been organizing and protesting for the rights of foster youths and parents affected by child welfare system. Dorin wanted to make a change and break that cycle. Dorin encourages the community to stand up and speak out about injustices in order for changes to be done. We must not be silent Our voices will be heard. That is the only way change will happen.
Ramon Montano, Restorative Pipeline to Success Campaign
Ramon Montano comes from the Kickapoo, Kumeyaay and Pa'Ipai Tribal Nations and is a future educator currently working towards his B.A. and Multiple Subject Teaching Credential. Ramon previously worked for the San Diego Unified School District as an Aide at a Elementary School and for the Parent Outreach and Engagement Department for the Title VII Indian Education Program as the Program Community Assistant. He now works for a local charter school as the Restorative Justice Coordinator where he is working on the full implementation of Restorative Practices for his school site outside of his day to day role Ramon is an advocate for education, indigenous human rights and juvenile justice. Ramon is a Youth Panel Member of the International Education Commission, Commissioner for Indigenous Youth Affairs for the Indigenous Democracy Defense Organization and a Youth Advocate for the Global Campaign for Education - US, He is an incoming Fellow for RESULTS Educational Fund. He is also currently involved in the Restorative Pipeline to Success Campaign where he currently advocates for a full implementation of RJ/RP for all San Diego County Schools. Ramon hopes to teach middle school history and hopes to become a Principal in the near future.