FIHRE 2014 Fellows

Meet the 2014 Fighting Injustice through Human Rights Education (FIHRE) follows.  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

Chanravy Proeung, Co-Director, Providence Youth Student Movement (PrYSM)

Chanravy Proeung has served as Executive Director from 2011-2013 for the Providence Youth Student Movement (PrYSM) and is currently the Co-Director for local organizing work. Chanravy began as Volunteer Coordinator and has been a part of the organization for over three years in youth development, grassroots organizing, and campaign work. A local of Providence, RI, Chanravy has pushed forward a local and statewide campaign to end racial profiling of youth of color with the focus of gang profiling of Southeast Asian youth in the city. She is the first American born generation in her family, who are refugees from Cambodia. Her family was resettled in Mobile, Alabama in the early 1970′s and migrated to many states before arriving at Rhode Island. She hopes to bring awareness, change, and consciousness to the Southeast Asian community and communities of color through the social justice lens.

Dua Safaldein Saleh, President, NAACP St. Paul Youth and Collegiate Branch

Dua Saleh is a full time first-year student at Augsburg College in Minneapolis, MN. Dua was born in Kassala, Sudan and immigrated to the United States as a refugee of war. Saleh was exposed to the prevalence of civil rights issues at a young age and hopes to work towards bringing more awareness to social justice issues in the future. She aspires to utilize skills to help marginalized groups advocate for themselves, to resist systematic oppression through political action, and to fight against gratuitous violence against subjugated groups. As the appointed chair of NAACP St. Paul Youth and Collegiate Branch, Dua has been able to mobilize the youth voice through campaigns (such as being the lead organizer for the Unchain Our Children campaign, the Ward 1 voter turnout campaign, etc.) and community activism (protests, community dialogues, etc.). She has taken noteworthy community action through NAACP, as an internship at District 8 of the City of St. Paul, and as a contributor to the COMMUNITY VOICES section of the Twin Cities Daily Planet newspaper. Although Saleh is occupied with activism, she has a strong presence on campus, even going so far as to win the Presidents’ Student Leadership Award because of her work as an officer for The Augsburg Day Student Government, the Secretary for Save The Kids, a main events coordinator for the Pan-Afrikan Student Union's African Week, and for her general community efforts. Dua enjoys reading, browsing the Internet, and watching rain drip down windowpanes in her spare time.

Elizabeth Guerra, Director of Community Mobilization, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health

Elizabeth Guerra is the Director of Community Mobilization at the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health. Elizabeth is responsible for strategic planning, and overseeing the development and implementation of NLIRH's Community Mobilization program. Elizabeth also directs the New York based Community Mobilization team, and all Latina Advocacy Networks (LAN). Elizabeth comes to NLIRH with over six years of organizing experience in the labor movement. Prior to joining NLIRH, Elizabeth worked at the National Nurses United/National Nurses Organizing Committee (NNU/NNOC) on a national campaign for Registered Nurses in Texas, Florida, Missouri and Nevada and was on assignment in McAllen, Texas as a Labor Representative/Organizer. There she organized Registered Nurses to fight for their right to social, economic, and political justice. Prior to that, she worked at the American Federation of Teachers as a Senior Organizer and at the New York Hotel Trades Council/Unite HERE Local 6 as a Lead Organizer. She is currently finishing up her Masters in Labor Studies with a concentration in International & Comparative Social Movements at the University of

Massachusetts-Amherst. Elizabeth graduated from SUNY Stony Brook University with departmental honors in History with a concentration in Latin American & Caribbean History.

Ingrid Romero, Board Member, Restaurant Opportunities Center of NY (ROC-NY) 

Ingrid Romero is a young activista, organizer and worker from New York City by way of Bogota, Colombia. Growing up within an immigrant, low-wage working family, she saw much injustice and knew that she would always be in the front of the struggle. Her life is dedicated to the movement, and believes in the leadership of marginalized peoples. She is a board member of Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York (ROC-NY), facilitator at Sadie Nash Leadership Project, a restaurant worker and a part-time student working towards her BA in Media Arts. 

Luis Larin, Leadership Organizer, United Workers

After spending his youth doing community organizing against free trade in Guatemala, Luis came to the U.S., experiencing poverty as a day laborer. As a leadership organizer with United Workers, he helped secure living wages for hundreds of workers through the Living Wages at Camden Yards Campaign. United Workers extended our organizing to Baltimore's Inner Harbor calling for Fair Development, creating a model for organizing at the intersection of public resources, poverty, and human rights. Luis also led the fight to organize workers from the ESPN Zone at the Inner Harbor on Baltimore City after it closed suddenly; violating the federal WARN act.  After 3 years, the Baltimore ESPN Zone workers were the only ones in the country to win in their lawsuit against Disney for the unlawful closing of the ESPN Zone.

M. Adams, Organizer and Co-Executive Director, Take Back the Land and Freedom, Inc.  

I am a Black-gay-working class-gender-non-conforming wimmin, a community organizer, a scientist, and an activist scholar; I bring a critical perspective to the fight for justice and liberation. My knowledge and investment in revolutionary political leadership, and radical movements of low-income people of color are high and vital. As an activist scholar, I couple my lived experiences with a historical and theoretical framework that sharpens my analysis of identity, power, access, resource and control. As a grassroots organizer in Wisconsin, I have years of experience in addressing the root causes of our oppressions on the ground with organizations such as Action Dialogues, QPOC, Freedom, Inc. and Take Back the Land-Madison and National. My work is based on centering the leadership of those most affected, and building a new society as the means to end our oppressions.

Mayra Griseth Mendoza, Administrative Coordinator, International Indian Treaty Council                

Mayra Mendoza works as the Administrative Coordinator for the International Indian Treaty Council (IITC). This year she is a key community liaison for North-South networking, outreach communications, event organizing and coordination work for IITC’s Food Sovereignty Program. In June 2012 she co-organized the 1st Global Indigenous Women’s Symposium on Environmental and Reproductive Health. Mayra is an Alumna of the School of Unity and Liberation in Oakland, California and has worked on a wide range of community issues including homelessness, immigrant rights, and sexual and reproductive health. From 2005 to 2008 she was a member Colectiva Zapatista Ramona, an immigrant youth collective that worked to increase awareness of human rights violations in Mexico and build transnational alliances to support progressive social movements. She is a graduate of San Francisco State University with a BA in International Relations.

Sean Saifa Wall, President, Advocates for Informed Choice 

Sean Saifa M Wall is an intersex activist, somatic practitioner student and researcher living in Atlanta.  He is originally from the Bronx and grew up during the crack epidemic where he witnessed the devastation firsthand as he lost his father first, to the prison industrial complex and second, to AIDS.  Motivated by grief, he volunteered with the Child Life Program at the Gay Men’s Health Crisis in New York City, which would be the foundation of his career in HIV Prevention at the tender age of 14 years old.

His commitment to social justice began as a student at Williams College, where he came out as gay and was touched by the senseless murders of Matthew Shepard and Amadou Diallo.  He organized protests that sparked conversations about race, gender identity and class inequity.  After graduating from college, he joined the Fellowship of Reconciliation, an interfaith peace organization as a Racial and Economic Justice Intern, where he learned about the antiwar movement.  Inspired by conscientious objection and civil disobedience, he would consciously travel to Cuba with Pastors for Peace and create a short documentary on the Cuban healthcare system.

 Since 2005, Saifa has worked in HIV Prevention with many populations that include the homeless, the mentally disabled and substance users.  He has also emerged as a visual artist creating collages that focus on historically different aspects of the African American experience in the United States.  He is currently board president at Advocates for Informed Choice, a legal rights organization dedicated to the bodily integrity of intersex children and infants.

Stephanie Franklin, President & CEO, The Franklin Law Group, P.C.

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.

SurajKamar Madoori, Coordinator, HIV Prevention Justice Alliance  

Suraj Madoori is the Coordinator of the HIV Prevention Justice Alliance at the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, working at an intersection of human rights and social justice in the domestic HIV/AIDS epidemic.  In his role, Suraj conducts policy analysis and strategic communications to bring to light the number of human rights issues such as HIV criminalization and LGBTQ rights, which drive the epidemic in the most vulnerable communities of the United States.  Additionally, Suraj manages and organizes a 13,000-member network of advocates, activists, and people living with HIV – providing communications support to build network advocacy capacity to respond to emerging human rights issues in the domestic epidemic.

Suraj has earned his Master of Arts in Bioethics & Health Policy from the Loyola University Chicago, Stritch School of Medicine, focusing on public health ethics, social justice, global health and human rights.  As a former journalist, Suraj has previously written for the Public Health Preparedness and Disaster Medicine journal with the American Medical Association.  Suraj earned a Master’s Degree in Public Health from DePaul University in 2010.  He is a 2009-2010 Albert Schweitzer Fellow with Howard Brown Health Center in Chicago, working with HIV-positive youth in an Advocacy & Empowerment Project.

Theresa Martinez, Board Director, Activist, Justice Now    

I began with Justice Now in 1997 as one of the first founding board members. Through my work with Justice Now I have become an accomplished human rights and social justice activist, organizer, and advocate for people in my community, both while imprisoned and since I have come home to LA. I developed an underground network of human rights documenters among my peers inside prison and trained 219 people in human rights law. Since my release, I have spoken at several reproductive justice, racial justice, and antiviolence conferences. I have led this organization from inside and now from outside prison. The opportunity, resources, and skills it has given me have helped me get off parole for the first time in over 23 years. I have now traveled to seven different states to speak about the prison industrial complex, I have become active in my community, and I am known statewide as an abolitionist speaker. I am also excited to be involved in legislative work, helping turn policy into law and ensuring that at all levels, people are hearing the voices of those who are imprisoned and those who have recently returned home to their communities.

Vickie Casanova Willis, Cultural Worker – Activist/Educator, National Conference of Black Lawyers, Trinity UCC Justice Watch Team      

Sali Vickie Casanova Willis, MBA, MAT, and PhD Student in Global and Comparative Education, is a teaching and performing artist/cultural worker with decades of experience as advocate/activist, working with children and families in the Black and Latino communities on Chicago’s South and West Sides.  Her focus is on building capacity for historically marginalized individuals and communities to participate in the decisions that impact their lives and futures. She has spent the last decade collaborating with friends in the legal and activist community utilizing her skills and relationships in business, performing arts, interdisciplinary education, organizing and administration, to bear on a problem that hits very close to home. As a woman of color, mother of two Black Latino males, and teacher/employer to hundreds of primarily African American youth over the last few years, she views the need for transformative action in the criminal punishment narrative as critically urgent. This is truly life or death, and requires a totally new approach.

Ms. Casanova is a founding member of Black People Against Police Torture, the grassroots organization that helped lead a broad based coalition to internationalize Chicago’s police torture issue, while advocating for and winning, state legislative remedies for Burge Torture victims.  She has performed as a dancer and vocalist and has presented papers at national and international conferences, speaking on race and ethnicity from an arts, education, and media perspective. Ms. Casanova serves on the Trinity UCC Justice Watch Team, as African Diaspora Solidarity Chair, and Human Rights catalyst, and is a frequent liaison with the African and Caribbean communities through her work as a community organizer and youth worker. She is a proud member of the US Human Rights network, served on its 2014 USHRN CAT Taskforce selection committee.

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