2016 Windcall Awardees

Tanzila “Taz” Ahmed is an activist, storyteller, and politico based in Los Angeles.  Taz is currently a Campaign Strategist at the Asian American new media organizing group 18MillionRising.  As an electoral organizer, she’s mobilized thousands of Asian American & Pacific Islanders to the polls in over 17 different languages in the past 15 years.  In 2004 she founded South Asian American Voting Youth and has recently worked at Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles. Their Your Vote Matter campaign employed in-language culturally competent tools to mobilize hundreds of volunteers resulting in 48,000 voter contacts. While pursuing a Master in Public Policy degree with a concentration on Racial Justice from UCLA, she took part in a student-led initiative to bring Critical Race Theory into public policy. Also an essayist, poet and podcaster, her media content creates a counternarrative for youth, Muslim, South Asian, and counterculture communities.  She is cohost of the #GoodMuslimBadMuslim podcast that has been featured in O Magazine, Wired, Mother Jones and NPR. Her third poetry chapbook was published in early 2016. Additionally, Taz is an editor and curator for the South Asian American music website Mishthi Music where she co-produced Beats for Bangladesh: A Benefit Album in Solidarity with the Garment Workers of Rana Plaza. A mixed media artist, her annual #MuslimVDay Cards have been featured in Colorlines, and on NBC News. In May 2016, she was at the White House in Washington, DC as one of ten individuals from across the country who was recognized as a “White House Champion of Change for Asian American and Pacific Islander Art and Storytelling.”  (www.18millionrising.org)

Frank Barragan is the South Alabama Regional Organizer at Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice (ACIJ). ACIJ is a grassroots, statewifrankde network of individuals and organizations that works to advance and defend the rights of immigrants in Alabama. The coalition consists of seven non-profit organizations, 15 grassroots immigrant community organizations, and hundreds of individual members. A Latino community leader in Mobile, Alabama, Frank first became active with ACIJ after the passage of HB56 (Alabama’s statewide anti-immigrant legislation)  and hasn’t stopped educating, organizing and mobilizing southern Alabama ever since. In 2012, he founded the Coastal Coalition for Immigrant Justice. Prior to his work with ACIJ, Frank had a long history of community service and leadership in Mobile, organizing events such as the Mobile Special Olympics, Deep Sea Fishing Tournaments, and annual fundraising events for variety of charitable organizations. Frank has worked tirelessly for the last few years and as been invaluable in building connections both in south Alabama and statewide among local elected officials, business leaders, and civil rights groups. http://www.acij.net/

claudiabautistaphotoClaudia Bautista is the Regional Campaign Coordinator with the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) for the Los Angeles Region. Born in Zacatecas, Mexico, and having worked alongside her farmworker parents in the avocado groves of Southern California during middle and high school, Claudia became highly interested in social justice during her college years at the University of California, Los Angeles. After graduating in 2009, she moved to Phoenix, AZ to work as an organizer with Unite HERE during the early years of SB1070 (Arizona’s statewide anti-immigrant legislation). She then worked with the United Farmworkers Legal Department as a paralegal and came back to Los Angeles in 2014 to work with NDLON, where she built a workforce development project for indigent day laborers that includes a partnership with local community colleges and unions to create a pipeline for workers to gain more stable job opportunities. She also works in local efforts to combat the criminalization of immigrants by police and sheriffs in Los Angeles. Claudia also coordinates Chant Down the Walls, a series of concerts outside of immigrant detention centers and prisons to bring attention to the injustices happening inside of these centers and challenge the good immigrant/bad immigrant narrative while bringing music to the people inside those walls to express our commitment to not forget about them and continue fighting until everyone is free. Music becomes a tool for liberation because although this world was created without borders and without walls, when those walls and borders are built, sound can travel, when people can’t. http://www.ndlon.org

Strela Cervas PhotoStrela Cervas is the Co-Director of the California Environmental Justice Alliance (CEJA), based in Los Angeles, California.  She coordinates the Energy Equity Program, Civic Engagement Program, and Organizational Development for CEJA. Strela helps communities across California chart their own vision of a clean energy future, empowers people to speak for themselves, and to develop their own policies to transition off of dirty energy. Part of her passion for environmental justice started while visiting a Dole banana plantation in the Philippines and witnessing that not only were the bananas genetically modified, but the workers and poor local communities were being sprayed overhead by toxic pesticides. Strela then learned that deforestation and heavy fossil fuel development rapidly led to health impacts and climate change in the Philippines and in other Global South countries and low-income communities. This experience propelled her to a life-long commitment to social justice work. She became an organizer with the Pilipino Workers’ Center for 8 years in LA where she organized low-wage Pilipino domestic workers and caregivers to fight for meal breaks and wage theft. Strela helped launch the first California Household Worker Bill of Rights campaign as part of a statewide coalition. She joined CEJA in 2008 determined to fight for communities suffering from asthma and other health issues due to environmental injustice. She is most inspired when community leaders are empowered enough to take on corporate polluters. Strela says, “I am a mom to the smartest kid on the planet, Iskra, so I need a daily dose of quality coffee, I sneak chocolate treats, and secretly binge watch cooking shows and NBA basketball games.” (www.caleja.org)

coleypictureBrenda Coley is a Wisconsin based activist. Besides working for the Milwaukee Water Commons as their point person for community engagement, she currently runs Brenda Coley and Associates where she presents on diversity issues, conducts project management, and does executive coaching of non-profit managerial staff. Brenda worked in HIV Behavioral Research at the Medical College of Wisconsin where she led projects focusing on women, young men and gay men of color. She was the former Associate Executive Director at the Milwaukee LGBT Center before joining the staff at Diverse and Resilient Inc. as the Director of Adult Services. Brenda is the past chair-person of the Wisconsin Minority Health Leadership Council and the Wisconsin HIV Prevention Council. She is currently the Chair-person of the Milwaukee Reproductive Justice Collective Board of Directors. She has extensive experience in HIV prevention and research, empowerment programs for Transgender individuals, and in leadership development for Lesbian and Bisexual Women. Brenda has been given several awards, including the 2006 Equality Award from the Milwaukee LGBT Community Center, the 2013 Women’s Empowerment Award by the YWCA of Southeastern Wisconsin and most recently the 2016 Reviving the Dream; Bayard Rustin Award. http://www.milwaukeewatercommons.org/

vickigaubecaVicki B. Gaubeca joined the ACLU of New Mexico in January 2009 to become the director of the ACLU-NM Regional Center for Border Rights, based in Las Cruces, where she helped develop and implement its mission of addressing civil and human rights violations that stem from border-specific immigration policy and enforcement. The Center stands with border communities to defend and protect America’s constitutional guarantees of equality and justice for all families to live freely, safely and with dignity. Vicki is also the co-chair of the Southern Border Communities Coalition, a network of rights organizations along the U.S.-Mexico border from Brownsville, Texas, to San Diego, California. She has more than 20 years of experience in policy advocacy, community organizing, public affairs, communications, and public health, but immigrant, border and LGBTQ rights are close to her heart. Born and raised in Mexico City, Vicki joined ACLU-NM most recently from Tucson, Arizona. She was a member of Las Adelitas, a group that aims to improve the quality of life for Latinas and their families through political empowerment, and part of the steering committee for Adelante, Nuestro Futuro. She also participated in numerous university and community LGBT groups and committees, including Wingspan, Equality Arizona and the University of Arizona OUTreach group, where she helped obtain domestic partner health benefits for state employees. In addition, she took leadership roles in campaigns that aimed to defeat anti-LGBT legislation in Arizona. https://www.aclu-nm.org/what-we-do/regional-center-for-border-rights/

AraceliHernandezphotoAraceli Hernandez is Program Director at Casa Latina in Seattle, Washington. Its mission is to support Latino immigrants through education, employment, empowerment, and community involvement. Since Araceli arrived in Seattle, Casa Latina has truly been her home (casa)! Her first contact was as an ESL student and volunteer 20 years ago. Since then, she has held different positions in the organization from bookkeeper to Program Director. She is a native of Mexico who emigrated in 1996 and has been advocating for the Immigrants Workers Rights Movement since 2000, organizing Domestic Workers and Day Laborers.  Araceli has been a board member for different organizations including National Day Laborers Organizing Network NDLON (Treasurer) for 8 years and currently serves on the board of the National Domestic Workers Alliance (Treasurer) since 2010.  Araceli loves to take time off with her son Eduardo and practice meditation, Reiki and Bio Magnetic. These practices help her do her job with love and compassion.  (www.casa-latina.org)

katelyn-johnsonKatelyn Johnson is the Executive Director of Action Now in Chicago, IL. Action Now’s mission is to build power in low-income Black communities so that individuals and families can work together to fight for justice. Katelyn grew up in a small, rural town in western Pennsylvania, and her humble roots drive her to fight for people who have historically been marginalized. She began her community work shortly after graduating from North Park University in 2004, as the primary organizer in the successful fight to save nearly 1,000 units of affordable housing on the west side of Chicago. Following this success, Katelyn worked to help educate minority and faith-based communities on organ and tissue donation with the Center for Organ Recovery and Education in Pittsburgh, crafting the inaugural “Communities for Life” program. In 2009, she came back to her organizing roots in Chicago as the Grow Your Own Teachers (GYO) Cohort Coordinator and Education Director for Action Now.  Katelyn was named Executive Director of Action Now Institute in 2010 and now helps African-American leaders toward taking public stances on issues that concern their communities. When she isn’t engaged in the fight for racial justice, she is off somewhere being a Sci-Fi fanatic, collecting Doctor Who and Star Wars memorabilia. http://www.actionnow.org/

myrnaorozco-150x150Myrna Orozco De La O works as the Associate Director and United We Dream Network (UWD), the largest immigrant youth-led organization in the nation. The nonpartisan network is made up of over 100,000 immigrant youth and allies and 55 affiliate organizations in 26 states. UWD organizes and advocates for the dignity and fair treatment of immigrant youth and families, regardless of immigration status. Originally from Ciudad Juarez, in Chihuahua, Mexico, Myrna immigrated to the United States with her family at the age of 4. She has been organizing locally and nationally for the past 8 years and began her journey with UWD as part of the first-ever elected leadership body of the network, the National Coordinating Committee. Since then Myrna has held several roles within UWD including Organizer, Field Director and Deputy Director of UWD’s implementation campaign, “Own the Dream.” Myrna serves as Board President for the Immigrant Justice Advocacy Movement, the only immigrant-led, interfaith community organization that is solely focused on immigration issues in the Kansas City metro area. She is a recipient of various awards including the prestigious Ohtli Award presented by the Mexican Consulate as well as the First Annual John Backer Award from Church World Service for outstanding advocacy for immigrants’ and refugees’ rights. Myrna currently resides in Houston, TX. www.unitedwedream.org

maxresdefaultWhitney Richards-Calathes is co-founder of Sweet River Consulting in New York City and is a member of the Youth Justice Coalition in Los Angeles. Sweet River Consulting is an organization dedicated to building a transformative and restorative justice practice in schools in NYC that is led by youth and communities of color, and that is deeply connected to larger organizing movements. The Youth Justice Coalition is a direct-action community-based organization on the border of Inglewood and South Central, led by system-impacted people, that addresses the mass lockup of Black and brown youth. Whitney works on issues of transformative justice and building alternatives to mass incarceration and other institutions of state violence. Additionally, she is a doctoral candidate at the City University of New York, writing her dissertation on transformative justice organizing and Black radical imagination. Whitney has done organizing work at the intersection of educational justice, prison abolition, gender justice and youth leadership for over a decade. Most importantly though, she was born and raised in the Bronx. http://www.youth4justice.org/

EricRodriguezphoto2Eric Rodriguez is a Senior Organizer at Latino Union of Chicago.  He started with the organization in 2003 and was Executive Director from 2008 to 2015. Eric is the son of undocumented Mexican immigrants whose father worked as a day laborer and his mother as a domestic worker.  He was born and raised in Chicago and first started organizing at the age of 12 with other youth of color on issues of environmental justice using the arts. He uses many principles and values of his Native American heritage (the Yaqui tribe is found on both sides of the US/Mexican border near Arizona) along with the popular education methods of Paulo Fierre for teaching, learning, reflecting and organizing.  As Senior Organizer, Eric mentors new staff, oversees legislative campaigns, and runs the immigration and anti-wage theft program. He has co-founded projects and initiatives such as the Day Labor hiring hall in 2004 (the Albany Park Workers Center), Cafe Chicago (a coffee roasting coop that is a social enterprise experiment), the Chicago Coalition of Household Workers (domestic worker organizing program), and the Raise the Floor Alliance (a non profit organization started between all 8 worker centers in Chicago) – just to name a few.  Throughout the 13 years at Latino Union, Eric has participated, represented and learned much from the National Day Labor Organizing Network and the National Domestic Workers Alliance. (www.latinounion.org)

Mark Tonetoneyactionshoty has been involved in social movements since organizing campaigns for student rights and founding an underground newspaper while in high school. In college he was involved in anti-nuclear, as well as South African and Central American solidarity campaigns. In 1982, Mark was hired as a community organizer for Workers Association for Guaranteed Employment in Rhode Island, organizing welfare moms to fight for basic needs. In 1986, he founded Direct Action for Rights & Equality and served as its executive director for eight years, organizing low income Black and Latino communities to fight for neighborhood playgrounds, police accountability, health insurance for home daycare providers, utility service, and multi-cultural curriculum in public schools. For four years starting in 2000, Mark served as executive director at Center for Third World Organizing. Mark has served as executive director of TURN–The Utility Reform Network since 2008, promoting affordable green energy and phone service through legal advocacy, grassroots organizing, and policy campaigns.  His leadership defeated an anti-consumer statewide initiative despite being outspent $46 million to $120,000, expanded LifeLine discounts to wireless phones, and included diverse communities in policy making. He has served as a board member of the National Organizers Alliance, ACLU of Northern California, National Whistleblower Center, and the Haymarket Peoples Fund. His leadership has been recognized nationally as a Kellogg National Leadership Fellow, an Echoing Green Fellow, and a Mother Jones Unsung Hero. http://www.turn.org/

isabel-vinentIsabel Vinent is the Deputy Director of the Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC), based in Miami. FLIC a statewide coalition of more than 65 member organizations and over 100 allies who envision a new Florida based on inclusion and equality, without racism and exclusion, where immigrants can live and love without fear. Isabel was born in Honduras and has lived in the U.S. intermittently since 1983. In almost 30 years of social justice work, she has experience working with grassroots organizations of youth, indigenous, immigrant, women, and rural people in the U.S. and Central America. She earned a Ph.D. in Education in 2001 in Spain. Her areas of expertise include popular education, gender training, participatory research and project evaluation. She has also taught university graduate and postgraduate courses. Isabel and her husband founded a popular education team called “La Tapizca” in Central America and “Popular Education Consultants” in the U.S. to assist social organizations in creating and implementing educational and organizational capacity building processes. Isabel is also a Board member of the Palm Beach County Coalition for Immigrant Rights (PBCCIR). She joined FLIC in 2008. http://floridaimmigrant.org

andrea-williamsAndrea Williams is a seasoned social justice advocate with 25 years of experience developing and executing projects and strategic initiatives; conducting leadership training; coaching rising community leaders; and executing strategic advocacy campaigns.  Her particular interest is in sustainable, interdisciplinary, community-based social justice initiatives.  Andrea holds a JD degree from the Rutgers School of Law and has worked for the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund and the HIV Law Project. She currently works with previously incarcerated women at the Correctional Association of New York where she directs the ReConnect program, a leadership development and advocacy training program for women transitioning from prison. She is also an artist, avid reader and music aficionada. http://www.correctionalassociation.org


Sondra Youdelman has worked both in the United States and abroad to achieve social and economic justice through organizing. She has over 20 years experiencesondra-at-pie-off as an organizer and activist with grassroots groups including farm workers, Native Americans, public housing residents, and low-income workers in the United States, and abroad for various populations throughout Latin America and in several African countries. She has worked with the grassroots organization Community Voices Heard (CVH) in New York since 2000, and served as CVH’s Executive Director from March 2007 until July 2016. While at CVH, Sondra has focused extensively on welfare and workforce development policy, public housing improvement and preservation, and civic engagement and participatory democracy. She has written and researched numerous reports for CVH on these issues. Under Sondra’s leadership, CVH grew from a one city, one issue shop into a multi-chapter, multi-issue organization. CVH now has chapters in NYC, Westchester, Orange and Dutchess Counties. CVH also has established an affiliated 501c4 organization, CVH Power Inc., to take its political work to the next level. http://cvhaction.org/