Lourdes Hunter has been a healer, educator, orator and academic, for over 20 years. Lourdes Ashley Hunter has served as a transformative thought leader and change agent of grass-roots initiatives that supports the socio-economic growth and leadership development of communities disproportionately impacted by structural oppression. Lourdes pronouns are Goddess, Queen Sister. Lourdes' research, curriculum development, organizing and activism centers healing and restoration as a catalyst of social justice change.
Originally from Detroit, Michigan, Lourdes is currently based in Washington D.C. and is the co-founder and National Director of Trans Women of Color Collective (TWOCC). TWOCC is a grass-roots global initiative that works to uplift the lived narratives, experiences and leadership of trans and gender non-conforming people of color, their families and comrades while building towards collective liberation for all oppressed people.
Lourdes is also the Chief Operations Officer of Casa Ruby Multi-cultural LGBT Center. Casa Ruby is the only LGBT Community Center in the United States founded and led by trans women of color. Casa Ruby offers a vast portfolio of opportunities for our community members to engage in healing, restoration, fellowship and action.
Natalie A. Collier is the director of youth initiatives for the Children's Defense Fund - Southern Regional Office and the Southern Rural Black Women's Initiative for Social and Economic Justice, where she is responsible for all the office's youth activities and programs. The premiere program is the Unita Blackwell Young Women's Leadership Institute, the only program of its kind, and the Septima Clark Education Advocacy Leadership Program. Collier is dedicated to seeing women and young people learn life lessons quicker than she did, as she looks to help them recognize their strengths and lead with them while growing from their weaknesses.
Before working in the world of non-profits, Collier made her living for several years as a writer, editor and stylist. When she chose to leave that world, it was a shift in focus but not passion. She wanted to spend less time reporting about people who were making a difference and join them.
Rather professionally or personally, her true fervor is always obvious: serving people. She is a Millsaps College alumna, has studied at Reformed Theological Seminary and Poynter University, and has had fellowships at Northwestern University, the National Juvenile Justice Network and U. S. Human Rights Network, among other board appointments, guest lectureships and freelance projects.
Stephanie S. Franklin, Esq. is the founder, President & CEO of the Franklin Law Group, P.C., a law firm that has provided legal representation to over 4,000 children who have been abused and neglected in five counties in the state of Maryland, and Mecca's Place, Inc. an empowerment center that provides education, policy advocacy & reform, and healing and empowerment services for women and children.
Franklin received her Juris Doctor degree from the University Of Baltimore School Of Law in 1994, and her Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminology from the University of Maryland – College Park in 1990.
Franklin has worked exclusively in the area of child welfare for fifteen years and has worked with communities of color, primarily African-American, for over twenty years. She is a member of the state of Maryland's Legislative and Outreach and Programming Subcommittees with the Foster Care Court Improvement Project of the Maryland Judiciary; presented at several national conferences on the intersections of child welfare, criminal and juvenile justice, education, mental health , psychotropic medications, and human rights. Franklin has facilitated legal custody and empowerment workshops in prison for women, girls, men and boys. She most recently wrote and implemented the "Building Literacy While Building Identity" program for Black girls involved in the juvenile delinquency system. Franklin is published on issues pertaining to child welfare and criminal justice and has two upcoming publications this year regarding Black girls; school zero tolerance policies, and the school to prison pipeline.
Catherine 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 is the executive director of and 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.
Samantha Ames joined NCLR in August 2012 as a Policy Fellow in the Washington, D.C. office, during which time she created advocacy materials for NCLR's federal policy work, legislation, and court cases. In 2013, she moved to San Francisco to work as a Staff Attorney in NCLR's national office, focusing on conversion therapy cases and youth issues. In 2014, she joined the Youth Project and became the founding Campaign Coordinator for #BornPerfect: The Campaign to End Conversion Therapy. She has testified on the harms of conversion therapy and the constitutionality of efforts to end it before both state and federal bodies, as well as at the United Nations Committee Against Torture in Geneva, Switzerland.
Prior to joining NCLR, Samantha worked with the DC National Lawyers Guild as a pro bono law clerk, assisting lawyers on cases involving political demonstrators and progressive social issues, and providing trial preparation and materials for protestors demonstrating in support of efforts to pass the DREAM Act, repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell, and end the war in Iraq. In 2011, she served as a Holley Law Fellow at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, where she developed legislative and regulatory protections addressing employment discrimination. Prior to that, she was a legal intern at the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, working towards repeal of "Don't Ask Don't Tell" and providing free legal counsel to service members facing anti-LGBT discrimination. During law school, she served as a Dean's Fellow and was the Senior Articles Editor on the Federal Circuit Bar Journal. In 2012, Samantha's research for George Washington University Law School on the state of Title VII protections for transgender plaintiffs in employment law earned her the Justice Thurgood Marshall Civil Liberties Award.
Samantha received her B.A. from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 2008, where she graduated cum laude with a major in theatre arts and honors in psychology. She received her J.D., with honors, from George Washington University Law School in 2012.