ADVANCING HUMAN RIGHTS 2013: Featured Speakers

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The US Human Rights Network is excited to begin our rollout of the featured plenary presenters for our biannual national conference ADVANCING HUMAN RIGHTS 2013: Dignity. Justice. Action.

We are honored to have activists and advocates fighting to stop human rights abuses on the frontlines of struggle present at the conference. These amazing people will share their experiences and struggles, raising our collective awareness of the on-going abuses faced by people and peoples across the U.S.  The following presenters will offer their experiences in the four conference thematic track issue areas during our Saturday morning plenary sessions.  Through their shared stories conference participants will gain a deeper understanding of the human impact of human rights violations, the great cost of inaction, and effective organizing and advocacy strategies to ensure that we all live with dignity and realize our human rights.  We hope to see you on December 6-8 in Atlanta.

MS. DOROTHY FELIX is Vice President of Mossville Environmental Action Now, Inc. (M.E.A.N.). Ms. Felix is a resident of Mossville, a historic African American community located in southwest Louisiana and founded in the 1790’s. Ms Felix chose to become a prime participant in the battle for Mossville when she recognized that the fourteen industrial facilities that plague the Mossville community were causing sickness and death amongst residents and the facility’s continuous dumping of toxic wastes was being executed without consequence. Her struggle has encompassed many battles against Governmental agencies, which include but are not limited to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH), and Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). In addition, she partnered with Advocates for Environmental Human Rights (AEHR) to file a Human Rights Petition in Washington D.C. This document marked a huge accomplishment for M.E.A.N. It is the first document of its kind to be accepted in the United States. Also, Ms. Felix appeared recently in a CNN documentary that featured the plight of the Mossville community. Ms. Felix is proud to be a leader of an organization that is driven to make a change. And, she will remain a part of this fight until she sees justice served.

TOM GOLDTOOTH is the executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network based in Bemidji, Minnesota. He has been awarded with recognition of his achievements throughout the past 35 years as an activist for social change within the Native American and environmental justice community. From his participation and leadership in the First National People of Color Environmental Justice Leadership Summit in 1991 in Washington D.C.; to the 2010 World Peoples’ Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Cochabamba, Bolivia; to co-facilitating the Climate Space assembly at the World Social Forum in Tunis, Tunisia in April 2013; he has become an indigenous leader, both locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. From the strength of his community organizing experience he has brought the local issues of environmental, economic, energy, climate, water and food justice and the rights of Indigenous peoples to the international level through United Nations treaty making bodies and conventions, social forums and indigenous bodies.

JARIBU HILL is Founder and Executive Director of the Mississippi Workers’ Center for Human Rights. She is a human rights attorney and a veteran community organizer.  Hill also serves as Municipal Judge for the City of Hollandale and Special Master in the Washington County Chancery Court.  Jaribu Hill is a Skadden Fellow and a recipient of a Thurgood Marshall Fellowship.   She is an international human rights spokesperson and a frequent writer and commentator on human rights themes. Hill is the recipient of numerous awards and accolades, including the coveted “Gloria” Award, the R. Jess Brown Award (the highest award given to a lawyer by Mississippi’s Magnolia Bar Association).

VIVIAN NIXON is Executive Director of College and Community Fellowship (CCF), an organization committed to removing individual and structural barriers to higher education for women with criminal record histories and their families. She started at CCF in 2001 believing that lack of access to education severely impedes one’s ability to escape the cycles of poverty and criminal recidivism.  Rev. Nixon is also an ordained local deacon in the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AMEC) and currently serves as an associate minister at Mt. Zion AMEC in New York City. She has received multiple honors and her leadership activities include serving on the board of directors of Just Leadership USA, and co-founding the Education Inside Out Coalition (EIO), a collaborative effort to increase access to higher education for justice involved students. Rev. Nixon holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the State University of New York Empire College.

A spirit–centered activist, advocate and social entrepreneur, AQEELA SHERRILLS is the Southern California Strategist for Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice initiative with Californians for Safety and Justice, a newly formed state-wide initiative aimed at providing smart solutions to criminal justice reform.

CATHERINE TACTAQUIN is Executive Director and one of the founders of the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (NNIRR). Since 1986, NNIRR has worked to promote the rights for all immigrants, regardless of immigration status, through national advocacy campaigns, coalition-building, and support for immigrant community organizing and empowerment. The daughter of an immigrant farmworker from the Philippines, Catherine was involved for many years in grassroots organizing and advocacy in the Filipino community on issues of discrimination and foreign policy. In 1994, Catherine helped to found the global advocacy network, Migrant Rights International, and most recently, the Women and Global Migration Working Group. She sits on the board of Poverty, Race and Research Action Council in Washington, D.C., and on the steering committee of the Global Coalition on Migration.

ALY WANE is an undocumented human rights activist out of Syracuse, NY.  He was born in Senegal.  He has worked with the American Friends Service Committee in their Economic Justice program, and is now working with the Syracuse Peace Council, the oldest grassroots antiwar organization in the country.  He is a graduate of Lemoyne College.

REPRESENTATIVE OF THE COALITION OF IMMOKALEE WORKERS (CIW) a worker-based human rights organization internationally recognized for its achievements in the fields of corporate social responsibility, community organizing, and sustainable food.  The CIW is also a leader in the growing movement to end human trafficking due to its groundbreaking work to combat modern-day slavery and other labor abuses common in agriculture.


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