We are excited to announce the workshop and panel sessions for the Biannual Conference. The sessions cover a wide range of issue areas, highlighting critical human rights struggles and victories on-going across the United States. Sessions will introduce participants to frontline, cutting edge work that communities around the country are engaged in to promote human rights for all.
Workshops and panels will include the conference tracks, the immigration system and migrant justice, the criminal system and mass incarceration, economic justice and workers' rights, environmental and climate justice, as well as the human right to housing, to health, to political participation, to education, to family, among other rights issues.
We thank the National Planning Committee members for their time, enthusiasm and energy in helping to select conference workshops.
The list of workshops and panels for each concurrent session can be found at the following links:
Please see the full listing below.
Concurrent Session: Saturday, December 7, 1:15pm – 2:45pm
Dignity Not Detention: Challenging Expansion and Human Rights Violations in the Immigration Detention System
This will be a two-part workshop, including an interactive timeline of the historical and current context of the immigration detention system in the U.S., and panel discussion on strategies and best practices for addressing human rights violations that detained immigrants face in government custody. Attendees will gain knowledge on laws and policies at the national and local level that are fueling the expansion of detention, and become familiar with the most pressing issues facing people in detention, including widespread misuse of solitary confinement, lack of access to counsel and adequate medical care, and abuses particular to vulnerable populations, such as the mentally ill and LGBT individuals. Attendees will also learn about ways in which organizations and communities are challenging unjust policies and human rights abuses in detention systems.
Catalina Nieto, Field Director, Detention Watch Network
Madhuri (Madhu) Singh Grewal, Legislative Associate, Detention Watch Network
Jennifer Chan, Associate Director of Policy, Heartland Alliance National Immigrant Justice Center
Azadeh Shahshahani, National Security/Immigrants' Rights Project Director ACLU of Georgia and President of the National Lawyers Guild
I Always Feel Like Somebody's Watching Me: Surveillance, Political (IN) security & Communities of Color
Surveillance has a purpose! Concerns about who owns data in digital spaces, location tracking, data mining and government surveillance are only a handful of the issues that impact our privacy, and deserve our attention. What is the relationship between race and social control, and what does it actually mean when our communities are the targets of the State’s surveillance system? Join this informative and interactive session which will explore the intersection of social justice and surveillance, and the impact it has on organizing and political dissent.
Joe Torres, Free Press (author "News for All the People, the Epic Story of Race in America)
Kung Li, Consultant and former Executive Director, Southern Center for Human Rights
Dr. Seeta Pena Gangadharan, Senior Research Fellow, Open Technology Institute
Amalia Deloney, Associate Director, Center for Media Justice
Dhoruba Bin-Wahad, Leader, Black Panther Party
USA Political Prisoners: Is a Truth and Reconciliation Commission the Solution
The workshop will review the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), as proposed by Dr. Mutulu Shakur. Participants will discuss effective ways to advocate with U.S. state and federal governments, and appropriate UN governing bodies, to review the cases of, and to set free, those individuals who remain incarcerated for participation in the liberation movements of the 1960s, 70s and 80s. Panelists will share successful efforts to obtain releases and provide an overview of current advocacy utilizing UN mechanisms and treaties. Participants will identify ways to advance founding of the Commission using U.S. and UN mechanisms.
Efia Nwangaza, Director, Malcolm X Center for Self Determination
Susan Rosenberg, former COINTELPRO/Civil Rights Era Political Prisoner
Masai Eloheme, former Black Panther Party member and a former COINTELPRO/Civil Rights Era Political Prisoner
Identifying Solutions to Mass Incarceration
This session will consider next steps in reducing mass incarceration through the lens of policy advocates. Speakers will discuss criminal justice policy reforms that must be implemented to move beyond mass incarceration, or alternatively pivotal litigation opportunities that will facilitate systemic criminal justice reform. Alternative measures different organizations are pursuing from different perspectives -- policy reform, public messaging, and litigation -- to solve the problem of over incarceration in the United States will be highlighted. Participants will explore the trajectory and limitations of each of these approaches.
Jessica Eaglin, Counsel, Brennan Center Justice Program
Jin Hee Lee, Senior Counsel, NAACP Legal Defense Fund
John Maki, Executive Director of the John Howard Association
Right the Wrong of Poverty! An Oxfam Story of Human Rights Impacts in North Carolina Tobacco Fields
Across the globe, thousands of people face daily threats to their human rights by irresponsible foreign investment practices associated with dams, gas and mining, industrial projects and privatization schemes. Participants will be introduced to Oxfam America’s Community Based Human Rights Assessment Initiative, which assists activists in identifying human rights impacts, proposing responses, and engaging government and corporate actors to take action. They will receive a tutorial on the Getting it Right impact assessment tool and learn about the pilot to assess migrant worker rights in North Carolina tobacco fields.
Gabrielle Watson, Manager, Policy Advocacy Evaluation, Oxfam
Climate and Environmental Justice – Two Sides of the Same Coin
International climate negotiations have made no progress in achieving emission reduction commitments beyond 2014. Scientists expect temperatures to rise, while extreme energy fossil fuel developments are expanding, particularly hydraulic fracturing worldwide. False Market Solutions are being pushed, such as using forest, agriculture and soils of the global south as carbon sponges, creating human rights abuses for forest dwelling peoples, particularly Indigenous peoples. Meanwhile, other extreme energy developments are taking place such as the nuclear power industry building the first two nuclear reactors in the U.S. in 30 years in rural Georgia, already home to 4 nuclear reactors. New nuclear development is currently being proposed that pose additional Environmental Justice issues for people of color in the Southeast. Presenters will address these issues, from a local-to-global perspective of extreme energy developments resulting in on-going environmental justice and human rights concerns. Continued fossil fuel, biomass and nuclear development are being pushed by government and corporations with lack of acknowledgement of Climate Justice and Environmental Justice concerns.
Courtney Hanson, Director of Organizing and Outreach, Georgia WAND
Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director, Indigenous Environmental Network
Defending the Human Rights Defenders: Strategies to Counter Opposition
Human rights are hard-won and need protecting. This is the role of human rights defenders: those who stand up, even at great personal risk, to protect rights we all enjoy. Human rights defenders include anyone who works for human rights, such as activists, labor leaders, student organizers, government whistleblowers, investigative journalists or healthcare providers. Unfortunately, defenders around the world are sometimes targeted for who they are and what they do. The U.N. system has a mechanism to respond to such threats—the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders—who receives information from defenders, monitors trends across regions, and works with government to strengthen protection mechanisms. This workshop will introduce the human rights defender framework to U.S. human rights activists and provide case studies of how those in the U.S. [and around the world] have used it to call for accountability, promote visibility of human rights, and build an enabling environment for human rights work. Participants will receive training in concrete ways to engage with the Special Rapporteur and other international mechanisms as part of their ongoing advocacy campaigns.
Sunita Patel, Staff Attorney, Center for Constitutional Rights
Katrina Anderson, Human Rights Counsel, Center for Reproductive Rights
Lucy Félix, Coordinator of the Texas Latina Advocacy Network, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health
Lori Johnson, Staff Attorney, Farmworker Unit, Legal Aid of North Carolina
Saladin Muhammad, Coordinator, International Worker Justice Campaign, and Member, Black Workers for Justice
Using New Media & Ethnic Media to Break the Silence in Communities & Courts
This session will feature presentations from Silicon Valley De-Bug, New America Media, and WITNESS. Each organization will share case studies and discuss how they use new media to break taboos in ethnic communities; shift perceptions around those entangled in the criminal justice system; and use this as a strategic advocacy tool for human rights defenders. Workshop attendees are encouraged to contribute to the conversation around the benefits, challenges and strategies of using new media in human rights work.
Jackie Zammuto, Engagement Associate, WITNESS
Raj Jayadev, Executive Director, Silicon Valley De-Bug
Jacob Simas, Editor and Director Youth Media, New America Media
Sharing the Human Rights Message: Children, Family, and Community
This session addresses the importance of grassroots organizing and social media in building a rights-based campaign for the realization of human rights “close to home” through brief presentations and interactive discussions. Presenters will speak from their experiences as organizers and educators, and outline the relevance of the right to family and its intersections with children’s rights and the right to participate within community and beyond to shape just policies, laws, and programs. They will highlight the rights of family and diverse family models, as well as rights-based approaches to mobilizing on related issues of family-based violence, children’s rights, and community-based action.
Justyn Hintze, Deputy Director of Operations, Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance
Shirley Gatenio Gabel, Faculty Member, Fordham University
Ricci Joy Levy, Executive Director, Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance
Kathryn Libal, Associate Professor in the School of Social Work and Associate Director Human Rights Institute University of Connecticut
Jane McPherson, LCSW, Doctoral Candidate Florida State University
Donald Mowry, Professor and Chair Department of Social Work, University of Wisconsin Eau Claire
Reclaiming the Tech
Historically people of color have made huge contributions to human technology, yet "techie" culture is overwhelmingly white and male. We must deconstruct the ways in which oppression is built-in to the ways we teach, use, design, and talk about technology, while building alternative models. Participants in May First/People Link's people of color in technology invite you to a discussion on hacking the power dynamics within technology communities and re-imagining the role of technology within our movements. Join participants in May First/People Link's People of Color Techie Training program to discuss the impact of racism on technology in the movement.
Alfredo Lopez, Founder and Leadership Committee member of May First/People Link
Ross Glover, May First/People Link
Tomas Aguilar, The Progressive Technology Project
Rita Mendez, The Florida Immigrant Coalition
Concurrent Session: Saturday, December 7, 3:00pm – 4:30pm
Organizing to End "National Security" and Profiling as a Tool of Social Control
The workshop will present a brief history of national security policies here in the United States, as well as the emergence of similar policies in other regions. The workshop will present stories of how communities have been impacted, the intersections with work on immigration, mass incarceration, and surveillance, and highlight organizing efforts and opportunities to end such policies. Speakers will include human rights activists and directly affected community members. Expected outcomes will be heightened awareness about challenges faced by Muslim, migrant, and workers communities as well as successful strategies to resist state repression.
Monami Maulik, Founder/Executive Director, Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM)
Azadeh Shahshahani, National Security/Immigrants' Rights Project Director ACLU of Georgia and President of the National Lawyers Guild
Fahd Ahmed, Legal and Policy Director, Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM)
Facing Deportation: Domestic and International Human Rights Advocacy in the U.S. and Latin America
This session will address advocacy efforts both domestically and before international human rights bodies, such as the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the United Nations, as well as the human rights implications of immigrants’ experience pending deportation and the adversity they face within immigration systems throughout the Americas. Panelists will also address the efforts of U.S., Latin American, and Caribbean civil society groups to halt deportations, with a particular focus on deportations to post-earthquake Haiti in light of the humanitarian crisis and particularly the horrific detention conditions in Haiti. Panelists will also invite conversation about how human rights advocacy efforts on behalf of Haitians might create opportunities to advocate for alternatives to deportation for other immigrant groups.
Carrie Bettinger-López, Associate Professor of Clinical Legal Education and Director of the Human Rights Clinic at the University of Miami School of Law
Marleine Bastien, Founder and Executive Director of Fanm Ayisyen Nan Miyami (FANM)/Haitian Women of Miami
Sunita Patel, Staff Attorney, Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR)
Rose Dominguez, Paralegal with the Human Rights and Immigration Clinics at the University of Miami School of Law
Katherine Caldwell, Lawyering Process Professor at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law
Kelleen Corrigan, Practitioner-in-Residence/Lecturer and Supervising Attorney at the University of Miami School of Law Human Rights Clinic
Affected Communities Driving Criminal/Juvenile Justice Reform
This workshop will be interactive and begin with panelists briefly framing their work within local, regional and/or nationwide community driven criminal/juvenile justice reform. Interactive dialogue will address some of the following questions: What is community driven criminal/juvenile justice reform? What does it mean to be “family-driven?” What works and what are some of the barriers? How do we make change/transformation and be “truth-tellers” at the same time (being direct and not tip-toeing around issues for incremental change)? What is the most effective way to mobilize and organize around these issues and not work within silos (i.e. not being single-issue groups)? The workshop will conclude with a strong “action/next-steps” piece specifically on maintaining and strengthening supportive networks of action, resources and wisdom.
Steven Renderos, National Organizer, Center for Media Justice
Khalilah Brown-Dean, Political Science Professor, Quinnipiac University
Lex Steppling, National Organizer, Equal Justice USA
Jed Oppenheim, Senior Advocate, Southern Poverty Law Center
Working at the Bottom: Invisible Workers in the Shadows of the United States' Sub-Minimum Wages
This workshop will introduce participants to human rights violations that are rampant across the U.S. among workers. Presenters will discuss their experiences organizing and advocating with disabled workers in Wisconsin and restaurant workers in New York and Florida. Presenters will discuss and facilitate group dialogue about the impact of subminimum wages, occupational segregation and discrimination, union busting and powerful lobbying interests that have kept these unsustainable and inhumane policies legal and widespread. Links will be made between the worker rights, disability rights and food justice movements, in order to introduce participants to a holistic vision of health, workplace justice, environmental sustainability, economic justice and human rights. Participants will leave the session with specific actions they can take to improve the wages and working conditions of the most marginalized workers in the U.S.
Patricia Williams, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Wisconsin
Hnin W. Hnin, National High Road Coordinator, Restaurant Opportunities Centers United
RJ Thompson, Miami High Road Coordinator, Restaurant Opportunities Centers United
From Our Shores to Yours: The Impacts of US Militarism at Home and Abroad
This presentation will combine the work of several interests concerned with the social, cultural, economic, and environmental impacts of US Militarism. The work of the New South Network of War Resisters chronicles the expansion of the Military Industrial Complex (MIC) across the Southeast U.S, depicting the scope of the MIC’s social, economic, racial and cultural injustices & accommodations thrust upon Southern communities in the name of War and National Sacrifice. The combined interests of the Center for Constitutional Rights, the National Lawyers’ Guild, and Iraq Veterans Against War synthesizes the legacy of U.S. militarism abroad and particularly highlights how communities most affected by the intentional bombing, chemical warfare, and attacks by the U.S. military are seeking to hold the US government accountable for egregious human rights violations. This panel explores how U.S. based allies have been engaged to re-ignite outrage over the preemptive military destruction of communities and countries, highlighting organizing tactics, transnational solidarity work and international human rights principles that have shaped these struggles.
Maggie Martin, Organizing Director, Iraq Veterans Against the War
Clare Hanrahan, Organizer, New South Network of War Resisters
Coleman Smith, Organizer, New South Network of War Resisters
Stepping Up an Accountability Agenda: How to Make the Human Rights System Work for You
This session will share key information on how to promote a human rights agenda that the government can be held accountable for in the United States. The session will feature speakers who have worked effectively with human rights mechanisms - the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), the Convention Against Torture and all forms of Cruel and Degrading Treatment (CAT), and the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) - to promote human rights accountability and concrete wins at home. The session will also discuss a strategy for strengthening domestic structures at the federal, state, and local levels to ensure accountability to human rights obligations as advanced by the Human Rights at Home (HuRAH) Campaign.
Jamil Dakwar, Director, Human Rights Project, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
Nasrina Bargzie, National Security and Civil Rights Attorney, Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Asian Law Caucus
Antonio Ginatta, Advocacy Director U.S. Programs, Human Rights Watch
Marcia Johnson-Blanco, Co-director, Voting Rights Project, Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
Joshua Cooper, Director, Four Freedoms Forum
Human Rights and Trafficking in the United States
This panel will provide an overview on human rights and trafficking in the United States, with a specific focus on legal standards applicable/sex trafficking/labor trafficking/pitfalls to implementation of protections for victims of trafficking. The session will be useful to activists, lawyers, educators and anyone who wants to learn more about these important issues.
Chandra Bhatnagar, Senior Staff Attorney, Human Rights Program, American Civil Liberties Union
Sunny Slaughter, Criminal Consultant/SME/Instructor, NAACP
Cindy Soohoo, Director, International Women's Human Rights Clinic at CUNY Law School
Dan Werner, Supervising Attorney, Southern Poverty Law Center
Charter School Expansion and the Right to Education
This session will involve a short, multi-media presentation of Program on Human Rights in the Global Economy (PHRGE)'s perspective on the contradictory relationship between the national trend toward charter school expansion and efforts to advance the right to education for all students. The presentation will seek to engage participants--hopefully including teachers, students, parents and others with a stake in the public education system--in a discussion of issues including: (1) Complex experiences of communities of color with charter schools; (2) Record of charter schools serving English Language Learners and Special Needs students; (3) Corporate involvement in the charter school movement; and (4) Charter schools and teachers' unions. The session will make a special effort to provide a forum for exchange of experiences and deepening of connections among people working on these issues in different areas of the country.
Kevin Murray, Executive Director, Program on Human Rights in the Global Economy at Northeastern Law
Using Culture to Bring Human Rights Home
Breakthrough, Urban Justice Center’s Human Rights Project and Fuel | We Power Change will lead a workshop on using creative tools + techniques to frame human rights issues in accessible and inspiring ways. The workshop will provide a historic overview of how the arts and social change have intersected, lead participants through contemporary case studies and demonstrate strategies for harnessing the power of media, art and community mobilization to create agents of social change. In the second part of the workshop, participants will be divided up into groups of 2-3 and asked to develop and present their own ideas for using media/art /culture to inspire people to support human rights and take action for change. Panelists will give the participants feedback on their ideas and encourage them to form alliances and partnerships that could enable the ideas to become a reality in the near future.
Bridgit Antoinette Evans, President and Founder, Fuel Change
Shani Jamila, Director, Urban Justice Center’s Human Rights Project
From the Local to the Global: How Local Activists Have Used International Human Rights
This session will provide information on how local groups in the U.S. have utilized the collective work of legal professionals, academic institutions, and grassroots groups to elevate human rights in their institutions, communities, local government, and their field. Presentations will cover such topics as ethnic cleansing in New Orleans post –Katrina; torture in Chicago and how utilizing human rights started the process of justice for victims; how grassroots groups have begun to enforce the human right to housing in Chicago and beyond; how youth are demanding a human right to healthcare to save lives and are fighting for trauma centers in violent communities; and, how universities are answering the call for the community to get involved.
Endesha Juakali, Survivors Village
Kali Akuno, Malcolm X Grassroots Mechanism
Susan Gzesh, University of Chicago Human Rights Program
Stan Willis, National Conference of Black Lawyers and Black People Against Police Torture
Willie “JR” Fleming, Chicago Anti Eviction Campaign/Chicago Independent Human Rights Council
Veronica Morris Moore, Fearless Leading by the Youth (FLY) - STOP
Concurrent Session: Sunday, December 8, 11:00am – 12:30pm
Coming to America: Stories of Diverse African Migrants Seeking Justice and Integration through the American Immigration System
This workshop will uncover common stories of migration through the socio-political and economic reasons that necessitated them. We will address tensions faced by various groups in process of navigating the American immigration system and suggest solutions that will make this experience beneficiary to both immigrants and citizens. Some of the anticipated outcomes are an increased understanding of history and the drivers of immigration, a sharpened political analysis of the current debate on immigration reform, and an increased commitment and activity by those who engage the workshop.
John Adewoye, Courage Nigeria: Serving the needs of African LGBTI immigrants
Terence Courtney, Black Alliance for Justice Immigration
Promoting Children's Human Rights in the Justice System
The workshop will provide an overview of the causes and consequences of the criminalization and incarceration of youth in the U.S. and discuss relevant human rights standards. The session will address the disproportionate criminalization of poor youth and youth of color and consider how sex, gender identity and sexual orientation create unique risks of rights violation. Participants will gain a better understanding of the policies and practices that lead to the adultification, imprisonment and human rights violations of youth in conflict with the law in the U.S. and the potential for advocacy at the U.N. and Inter-American human rights system.
Deborah LaBelle, Director Juvenile Life Without Parole Initiative, American Civil Liberties Union, Michigan
Cindy Soohoo, Director, International Women's Human Rights Clinic at CUNY Law School
Applying a Human Rights Perspective to Macroeconomic Policy
An understanding of the overall impact of macroeconomic policy on human rights can be an effective tool in feminist and social justice activism. As feminists advocating for the full realization of human rights and the achievement of gender equality, the Center for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL) believes that to fully comprehend systemic issues of inequality one must have in-depth knowledge of the impact of economic policies. At this workshop, U.S. based activists will gain a better understanding of macroeconomic policies and the ways in which it relates to human rights.
Radhika Balakrishnan, Executive Director, Center for Women's Global Leadership
James Heintz, Associate Director and Associate Research Professor, University of Massachusetts Amherst
U.S. Toxics Policy & Community Health: Holding U.S. Based Corporations Accountable to Human Rights
The legally-permitted production, storage, and export of banned toxic pesticides by the U.S. demonstrate the failure of federal laws to ensure corporate responsibility, environmental justice and protection of human rights. The lack of accountability by corporations and States results in devastating health impacts. In this workshop, participants will be introduced to this pressing human rights issue; learn what communities are doing to stop these abuses; and be introduced to relevant United Nations mechanisms that can be utilized to protect environmental rights.
Andrea Carmen, Yaqui Indian Nation, Executive Director, International Indian Treaty Council
Monique Harden, Co-Executive Director, Advocates for Environmental Human Rights
Using Human Rights Framing and Strategies to Advance Reproductive Justice in the U.S.
This workshop will provide an introduction to the reproductive justice movement, describing its historical roots in human rights and relationship to other social justice movements. Presenters will share two case studies showing how human rights strategies and frameworks can be used to further reproductive justice in the United States, including a campaign to draw attention to lack of affordable reproductive health care for Latinas in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas and an analysis of the unintended consequences of health care reform for certain communities. The workshop will draw on the experience of all participants to explore intersections between reproductive justice and other sectors of the U.S. human rights movement.
Katrina Anderson, Human Rights Counsel, Center for Reproductive Rights
Lucy Felix, Coordinator of the Texas Latina Advocacy Network, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health
Malika Redmond, Executive Director, SPARK
Tonya Williams, Member of Board of Directors, SPARK
Heidi Williamson, Member of Board of Directors, SPARK
The Obama Administration and Human Rights Violations in the U.S.
This round table will bring together several U.S based human rights defenders who will outline a number of major human rights violations in the USA that occurred in 2013. The panelist will debate the issues and make critical assessments of the administration's responses to the outlined abuses.
Keith Jennings, African American Human Rights Foundation
Charles Fulwood, Media and Communications Strategist
Humanizing Homelessness: A Human Rights Approach to Homelessness
In 2012, the Dept. of Justice condemned criminalization of homelessness as a human rights treaty violation – a first for a domestic agency. While some victories have been achieved housing advocates are increasingly under attack themselves, much more remains to be done to achieve the human right to housing. Participants will learn both about the human rights involved, as well as the strategies, including use of international mechanisms, used to address them.
Eric Tars, Director Human Rights and Children's Rights Programs, National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty
Rob Robinson, Take Back the Land
Anita Beaty, Metro-Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless
Ken Neubeck, Eugene Human Rights Commission
Immigration Policies Impacts in the South and on the Southern Border
Session Summary This session will look at the impact of local and federal laws and the consequences deportations and family separation has had in local communities, with focus on the experiences of the immigrant Latino community in Georgia and Indigenous peoples affected along the Arizona borders. The session will explore the history of immigrant communities in the U.S., the current situation of the “border wall” and the militarization of the Southern border, as well as racial profiling and on-going racist immigration policies. The impact of U.S. trade agreements such as NAFTA will also be addressed. The current conversation surrounding immigrant rights and immigrant legislation will be discussed to get insight into national and local strategies and actions to achieve justice and equality for immigrant and Indigenous communities. The importance of community organizing and actions such as marches and rallies will also be discussed.
Michelle Morales, Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights
Jose Matus, Director, Indigenous Alliance without Borders