Meet the 2014 Fighting Injustice through Human Rights Education (FIHRE) faculty. The FIHRE program seeks to develop the human rights leadership capacity of USHRN grassroots membership and other social justice movements in the United States by grounding the educational program in an intersectional analysis and an understanding of economic, social, cultural rights (ESCR) and the interdependence of rights.
Avery Book,Vermont Workers’ Center
Avery Book is based in Burlington, Vermont. He is a member of the Vermont Workers' Center education committee, the People's University for Learning and Liberation (PULL). As a PULL member, he has developed curriculum and facilitated trainings on human rights, social justice and organizing, the Vermont Workers' Center's Solidarity School training, a training developed by the Catalyst Project on Anti-Racism for Collective Liberation, and Music and the Movement: Song Leader Training. He has worked professionally as a musician and as a paid community organizer, and is now a full-time musician.
Ejim Dike, Executive Director, US Human Rights Network
Ejim Dike is Executive Director of the US Human Rights Network. Ms. Dike has worked on social policy issues for over fifteen years and in the domestic human rights arena for the past ten years. Her human rights work focuses on addressing poverty and discrimination using a human rights framework. Previously, she was Director of the Human Rights Project at the Urban Justice Center. Under her leadership, the Human Rights Project launched an annual report card on the human rights record of New York City Council members; coordinated a shadow report on racial discrimination with 30 local groups for submission to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD); organized a New York City visit by the UN Special Expert on Racism; and developed a toolkit on and coordinated participation for social justice activists in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process. She has been cited in articles appearing in Harper’s Magazine (by Naomi Klein), The Daily News, Gotham Gazette, and City Limits. Ejim has contributed to articles published by the Center for American Progress and the Columbia Law School Human Rights Institute. She has co-chaired the CERD Taskforce, a joint project of the US Human Rights Network and the Human Rights at Home Campaign. Ms. Dike worked for several years on programs aimed at increasing access to employment in low-income neighborhoods. She received her undergraduate degree from Berea College and a Masters of Urban Planning from the Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service at New York University.
Cathy Albisa, Executive Director, National Economic and Social Rights Initiative (NESRI)
Ms. Albisa is a constitutional and human rights lawyer with a background on the right to health. Ms. Albisa also has significant experience working in partnership with community organizers in the use of human rights standards to strengthen advocacy in the United States. She co-founded NESRI along with Sharda Sekaran and Liz Sullivan in order to build legitimacy for human rights in general, and economic and social rights in particular, in the United States. She is committed to a community-centered and participatory human rights approach that is locally anchored, but universal and global in its vision. Ms. Albisa clerked for the Honorable Mitchell Cohen in the District of New Jersey. She received a BA from the University of Miami and is a graduate of Columbia Law School.
Max Rameau, US Human Rights Network & Take Back the Land
Max Rameau is a Haitian born Pan-African theorist, campaign strategist, organizer and author.
After moving to Miami, Florida in 1991, Max began organizing around a broad range of human rights issues impacting low-income Black communities, including Immigrant rights (particularly Haitian immigrants), economic justice, LGBTQ rights, voting rights, particularly for ex-felons and police abuse, among others.
As a result of the devastating impacts of gentrification taking root during the housing "boom," in the summer of 2006 Max helped found the organization which eventually became known as Take Back the Land, to address 'Land' issues in the Black community. In October 2006, Take Back the Land seized control of a vacant lot in the Liberty City section of Miami and built the Umoja Village, a full urban shantytown, addressing the issues of land, self-determination and homelessness in the Black community.
Standish Willis, Attorney, The Law Office of Standish E. Willis, Ltd.
"Stan” Willis of The Law Office of Standish E. Willis, Ltd., is a Chicago attorney/activist specializing in personal injury, criminal defense, and federal civil rights cases. Much of his practice challenges police violence and civil abuse. He has tried numerous federal jury trials, state jury and bench trials, argued many cases before the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, and litigated hundreds of civil rights lawsuits. Stan chairs The National Conference of Black Lawyers (NCBL) Chicago chapter, is a Federal Defender Panel member, and was named one of Chicago’s “Tough Lawyers” (Chicago Magazine, 2002).
As a young bus driver, Stan helped organize several wildcat strikes, including the largest in Chicago's history.He speaks frequently on the criminal justice system, death penalty, police brutality, community-control of police, prison-industrial complex, U.S. political prisoners, racism and the American legal system, and International Human Rights. Stan was a member of the Durban 400, African-Americans participating in the UN Conference on Racism (South Africa, 2001) who secured a declaration of the Atlantic Slave Trade as a crime against Humanity. Atty. Willis' leadership galvanized international pressure against Chicago police torture, presenting evidence to the Organization of American States Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (2005) and the UN Committee to Eliminate Racial Discrimination (2008) which led to the conviction of Jon Burge, and a reparations effort. Stan remains active in the US Human Rights movement, also authoring the stakeholders’ report on COINTELPRO Political Prisoners which was submitted to the 2010 UN Periodic Review of the United States.
Susan Williams,Co-Coordinator, Education Team, Highlander Research and Education Center
Susan is coordinator of the Highlander Library/Resource Center. Susan grew up in East Tennessee, and before coming to Highlander she worked for ten years as a community organizer for Save Our Cumberland Mountains. In 1979 she was a researcher for the Appalachian Land Ownership Study.
Susan came to Highlander in 1989 to coordinate the Environmental/Economic Program and worked with the Tennessee Industrial Renewal Network, organizing around fair trade and coordinating worker-to-worker exchanges between Mexico and Tennessee factory workers. In the 1990s, she led economy schools and coordinated Highlander’s Across Races and Nations project. Susan has served on the steering committee of the Economic Literacy Action Network and the Board of United for a Fair Economy. She is currently working on a historical timeline book about Highlander, helping with efforts to build language justice in the region, encouraging economic education and organizing, supporting youth leadership and adult allies in the Seeds of Fire program and providing popular education and participatory research workshops for groups at Highlander and elsewhere.
Yolande Tomlinson, Ph.D., National Education Coordinator, US Human Rights Network
As National Education Coordinator, Yolande supports our members and partners in building and strengthening their capacity in human rights education, organizing, and advocacy. Yolande brings a wealth of experience as a college-level instructor, community educator, researcher, project manager, mentor, and program coordinator to the Network. She has worked with a variety of organizations on human rights issues related to race, gender, sexuality, green jobs, and community development.
For her extensive work in mentorship and community building at Emory University, Yolande was recognized by the university with its Community Builders’ award and the Transforming Community Project Champions’ award. Most recently, she served as the project coordinator and community liaison for the James Weldon Johnson Institute for the Study of Race and Difference’s national Working Group on the Civil Rights and Black LGBT Rights Movements. Yolande also writes and publishes as an independent scholar on issues of gender, race, violence, and culture. She received a BA from the University of Pennsylvania and a Ph.D. in American Studies and a certificate in Women’s Studies from Emory University.