Residency Awardees

Spring 2023 Residents Rumi Akong (they/them), Program Coordinator, Audre Lorde Project, Brooklyn, NY Rumi is a Black and mixed race nonbinary andro-queer kid from Queens. They are blessed to spend most of their time lifting up the rich survival auto-theory offered in the stories that comrades at the Audre Lorde Project and scholars of color […]

Spring 2023 Residents

Rumi Akong (they/them), Program Coordinator, Audre Lorde Project, Brooklyn, NY

Rumi is a Black and mixed race nonbinary andro-queer kid from Queens. They are blessed to spend most of their time lifting up the rich survival auto-theory offered in the stories that comrades at the Audre Lorde Project and scholars of color across CUNY institutions exchange in our respective movements. They labor in solidarity with economically disenfranchised, neuro-typical, indigenous / diasporic people of color and centers these communities in their studies and vision for the future of liberatory therapeutic practice for chronically traumatized peoples. They have served as a group facilitator, community liaison, and health and wellness educator for LGBTQIA communities since 2013. They relish in arts-driven, earth-honoring collaborative program development and hosting safer, informed and generative spaces for cross-community mobilization.

Teresa Almaguer (she/her), Environmental Justice Organizer/Land Steward, PODER SF, Daly City, CA

Tere has been an Environmental Justice Organizer with PODER for over 20 years. She previously coordinated the youth leadership program, a hands on organizing and political education program for hundreds of San Francisco youth. Currently, Tere is working with the Urban Campesinx Program to steward Hummingbird Farm and create a space for community to reconnect with land, grow healthy food, practice herbal healing traditions, provide job training, and create community governance structures.

Stephen Coger (he/they), Executive Director, Founder, Lead Attorney, Arkansas Immigrant Defense, Fayetteville, AR

Stephen was born and raised in Danville, Arkansas. From their parents, community and Salvadoran and Laotian refugee neighbors, Stephen learned to care actively for human family. In Arkansas Stephen has worked on the rights of poor folks, particularly women and children who are immigrants. Abroad, Stephen has worked on serving Tibetan refugees. In 2015, Stephen founded a nonprofit law firm, Arkansas Immigrant Defense (AID). AID’s serves children and youth pro bono when possible, while others pay on a sliding scale. Stephen revels in creating music and poetry as Lover Lover.

Amy Cohen (she/her), Organizing Director,  Hand in Hand: the Domestic Employers Network, Philadelphia, PA

An organizer for more than two decades, Amy has lived and worked on both coasts, in the South and Midwest. She has fought for social and economic justice and for a just and caring economy.  Earlier organizing work led her to Hand in Hand: the Domestic Employers Network, where she is inspired by the powerful truth that we all rely on care in different ways throughout our lives. She lives in Philadelphia with her partner and their two daughters. She loves to watch and play sports, see new places, and spend time outside with her family.

Laura Cortez (she/ella), Organizer & Co-Executive Director, East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice, Bell Gardens, CA

Laura lives on occupied Tongva land, in Southeast Los Angeles. Laura is an organizer currently focused on environmental justice and a Spanish-English interpreter/translator. Laura is a member, organizer, and co-executive director at East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice. Laura’s hope is to work toward equity that improves the lives of families of color through community-led leadership in the Southeast cities for current and future generations.


Maribel Cruz (she/her), Associate Director, Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition, Long Beach, CA

Born in Mexico City, Maribel has lived in Long Beach, CA since she was a child. Growing up as an undocumented youth, she has lived through many of the experiences of those in the immigrant community with whom she now works with on a daily basis. As a communicator, her goal is to make policy, advocacy, and organizing accessible to immigrant communities so that communities can dare to envision a world without limitations and full of opportunities.

Sala Cyril (she/her), Lead Organizer, Local and National Security Coordinator, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement and Community Safety Director at Vision Change Win, Brooklyn, NY

Sala Cyril currently oversees the program strategy, team, and funding for community safety as the Community Safety Director at Vision Change Win. As a longtime social justice educator and organizer, Sala has organized with the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM) NY chapter since 2002. Her work ranges from  coordinating security to leading programming such as New Afrikan Scouts, Camp Pumziko, Copwatch, Know Your Rights Trainings, Black August, political prisoner work, and more. She’s a mama, partner, sister and friend that is passionate about the arts, youth, community safety, and liberatory practices, and incorporates creativity into every aspect of her work.

Tiffany Eng (she/they), Interim Co-Director, Programs, California Environmental Justice Alliance (CEJA) , Oakland, CA

Tiffany Eng (she/they) is an organizer, an advocate, and a visual artist from Oakland, California. She is a former Green Zones Program Manager and a current Interim Co-Director at the California Environmental Justice Alliance (CEJA), where she works with coalition members to advance statewide solutions for environmental and climate justice. Prior to CEJA, Tiffany served as a Youth Organizer, a Policy Director, and a Co-Director at AYPAL: Building API Community Power. At AYPAL, she supported the leadership development and community organizing capacity of Asian and Pacific Islander youth in Oakland to win grassroots campaigns for education justice and racial justice.

Sheryl Evans Davis (she/her), Executive Director, San Francisco Human Rights Commission, San Francisco, CA

Since the pandemic, Sheryl has led efforts to center community voice and prioritize equity in addressing the impacts of COVID-19 on vulnerable populations. Davis coordinated the allocation of $120 million to support the Black community in San Francisco, and staffs the San Francisco African American Reparations Advisory Committee. Davis holds a BA from San Francisco State, an MPA from the University of San Francisco, and an Ed.D. program from USC’s Rossier School of Education. She is also a professor at the University of San Francisco.

Nathalie Nia Faulk (she/they), Co-Director of Philosophy, Thought, and Leadership,  Southern Organizer Academy, New Orleans, LA

Nathalie Nia is a self described ebony southern belle born in Lafayette, Louisiana and living in New Orleans for the last nine years. Since her childhood, her work has lived at the intersections of performance, history and storytelling, healing justice, individual and organizational development, and community building. Currently, they serve as a Human Right Commissioner for the City of New Orleans, Co-Director of both the Southern Organizer Academy as well as Last Call Oral History Project, and they work as the Cultural Organizing Programs Coordinator for Alternate ROOTS. They serve as an Advisory Board member for Transcending Women, BreakOUT! and the LOUD Queer Youth Theater. Faulk believes that everyone is inherently valuable and beautiful and collectively, we can manifest Everything. They are a Beyonce Enthusiast.

Maria Noel Fernandez (she/her), Deputy Executive Director, Working Partnerships USA, Gilroy, CA

Maria brings over a decade of organizing experience to the just economy movement. She oversees Working Partnerships USA’s organizing, civic engagement, communications, and operations departments, building coalitions and community power to win groundbreaking change for working families. She is a founding member and campaign director for Silicon Valley Rising, a coordinated regional effort that’s inspiring an inclusive tech-driven economy. She previously worked with the South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council, was district director for a California State Speaker Pro Tempore, and is a board member of the National Partnership for Working Families. She spent three years teaching English and Social Studies in Bogota, Colombia. Maria Noel lives in Gilroy with her husband, two sons Tadeo and Diago and her Newfie, Rocco. 

Dianna Freelon-Foster (she/her), Director, Activists With A Purpose Plus, Grenada, MS

Dianna was born and resides in Grenada, Mississippi.  Dianna’s work as a Community Activists and Organizer is largely shaped by her involvement in the Grenada freedom struggle as one of a number of African American students who integrated the all-white school system in 1966. She is the Founder and Director of Activists With A Purpose Plus (AWAPP), a racial justice organization working to promote equity across all institutional structures. In 2004 Dianna became the first African American and first female Mayor of Grenada.  She is the mother of four children, grandmother of five and great-grandmother of two.

Erica Hardison (she/her), Chair of the Board, One Community Grocery Co-op, St. Petersburg, FL

Erica has worked in St. Petersburg for over 20 years to help develop sustainable change in many areas including food/agriculture, education, healthcare, and housing. She brings her foundational goal – making the lives of all people better through sustainable, cooperative and collaborative development – to every project. Presently she serves as the board president for One Community Food Co-op, a start-up group working to build a cooperatively-owned grocery store in St. Pete’s Southside community and the board of Florida Food Policy Council.

Erica Iheme (e-ham-a) (she/her/sis), Deputy Director, Jobs to Move America, Birmingham, AL

Erica is an educator, organizer and strategic researcher. Erica earned both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Urban Planning from Alabama A&M, a Historically Black University (HBCU) based in Normal, Alabama. Erica spent the past 17 years building unions as an organizer all over America in several industries including hospitals, public sector, head starts, higher education, and home care. During her time in academia, Erica focused her energy on university administration and research. Outside of organizing and research, Erica is a mother, artist, and community builder. Almost four years ago, Erica decided to return to the South to further her career and be a part of the spirit of organizing closer to her hometown of Birmingham, Alabama. Erica has an extensive history of organizing, training, and development in both union and community-building environments.

Vivette Jeffries-Logan (she/her), Founding Partner, biwa Emergent Equity, Inc. Hillsborough, NC

Vivette is a citizen of the Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation (OBSN). She is a mother, Certified Executive Chef, mentor, teacher, leader, and advocate. Vivette’s strength and motivation, as she explains, comes from the power of standing on the land formed from the dust of the bones of her ancestors, since time immemorial, and being fed by the waterways that have always given life to the Yèsah People. Vivette has facilitated and led racial equity work for at least twenty years and is also known across the Indigenous Nations of the Southeast for holding talking circles, addressing historical trauma, and confronting intimate partner violence in its many forms.

Dr. Joi Lewis (she/her), Founder and President, Healing Justice Foundation, Saint Paul, MN

Dr. Joi is a visionary community healer and facilitator of Healing Justice and Black Liberation. As a speaker, author, CEO of Joi Unlimited, and President of The Healing Justice Foundation, she’s on a mission to put healing in the hands of everyone, everywhere. Dr. Joi helps individuals, institutions, and communities heal from oppression-induced historic and present-day trauma, reclaiming our own humanity and each other’s. Her book, Healing: The Act of Radical Self-Care, educates on the Orange Method, using Healing Justice to interrupt historic cycles of oppression through both self and community care. She offers this meditation to all: #MayTheRevolutionBeHealing

Carmen Medrano (she/her), Executive Director, United for a New Economy, Denver, CO

Carmen was born in Mexico and came to the US at the age of 4. Carmen discovered her voice and power through community organizing, and her vocation is to walk with others through this same journey. Carmen worked with the Colorado Faith in Action affiliate, where she was part of a statewide coalition that led to the passage of legislation for instate tuition for undocumented students. She organized at the national level with a Campaign for Citizenship. In 2020, Carmen co-chaired the statewide campaign that successfully passed paid family and medical leave for Colorado workers. Currently, she sits on the board of Partnership for Working Families, Right to the City Action and New Era Colorado. Carmen lives in Denver with her husband, rambunctious toddler, and sweet baby.

Derecka Mehrens (she/her), Executive Director, Working Partnerships, Alameda, CA

Derecka brings more than 22 years of community, labor, and political organizing experience. She served for nine years as the organization’s Executive Director until December 2022. Prior to that, she served as Organizing Director for Working Partnerships and the South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council, and spent nearly a decade doing community organizing with ACORN. She has dedicated her career to building the power of working class people of color to lead and govern through community and labor organizing.

Joey Mogul (they/them), Co-Founder Chicago Torture Justice Memorials, Chicago, IL

Joey is a movement lawyer, organizer, and a partner at People’s Law Office. Mogul represents organizers in their campaigns for justice and liberation. Mogul has sought justice for Chicago Police torture survivors for 25 years, successfully representing Burge torture survivors at the UN Committee Against Torture (CAT) in May of 2006, and co-founded Chicago Torture Justice Memorials, an organization that worked in coalition with other collectives to successfully pass unprecedented reparations for Chicago Police (Burge) torture survivors in Chicago’s City Council. Mogul co-authored Queer (In)Justice: The Criminalization of LGBT People in the U.S.

A’Brianna Morgan (she/her), Strategic Alliances Coordinator, Movement Alliance Project, Philadelphia, PA

As someone directly impacted by over-policing and housing instability, A’Brianna cares deeply about building community power to redistribute wealth and to build trauma-informed institutions that can better provide for and protect Black and queer and poor folks. Coming from an organizing background, A’Brianna has years of experience building and supporting coalitions centered around interrupting mass incarceration and cycles of poverty and violence. Her current work is focusing more on developing narrative strategies to disrupt harmful stories about communities impacted by gun violence.

Susana Sngiem (she/her), Executive Director, United Cambodian Community, Long Beach, CA

Susana is the first second-generation Cambodian-American woman to serve as United Cambodian Community’s executive director. Since assuming her role in 2015, Susana has expanded UCC’s impact by building economic opportunities in the Cambodian community through the Cambodia Town Business Center, youth work force development, and housing counseling program. Susana was born and raised in Long Beach by her Khmer refugee parents. She earned her Master’s degree in social work from USC and has over 13 years of nonprofit experience. During her free time, Susana enjoys hiking with her husband, eating food with friends, and playing with her nephew and nieces.

Markasa Tucker-Harris (she/her), Executive Director, African American Roundtable, Milwaukee, WI

Markasa Tucker-Harris joined the AART, African American Roundtable (AART), a project of Hmong American Women’s Association, a nonprofit that advocates for social justice, in 2014 as a member. She joined the grassroots efforts of Dontre Hamilton’s family after Hamilton was murdered in April 2014 by a Milwaukee police officer. Her grassroots organizing experience aligned her with becoming the co-chair of the AART in 2016.  After helping to develop an initial platform of work and funding opportunities, she was promoted in 2021 to executive director.

Ena Suseth Valladares (she/her), Director of Programs, California Latinas for Reproductive Justice, Glendale, CA

Ena Suseth Valladares has worked on reproductive justice issues for nearly 15 years, primarily working on reducing health inequities and improving access to social and health services through community-informed research and policy.  Ena loves hiking, beach combing with her 7 year old, passion fruit everything and fighting for our collective liberation.

Aisha Wells (she/her), National Care Organizer, Mothering Justice, Farmington Hills, MI

Aisha Wells organizes with Mama’s of color in the community to understand paid leave issues in the workplace and help pass legislation. Before working at Mothering Justice, Aisha interned at the NAACP helping with the freedom fund dinner and monthly membership meetings. Aisha has advocated for her special needs son (Alex) since 2006 and is passionate to advocate for families with children who have disabilities. She is currently working on her Master’s in Public Policy with a concentration in Nonprofit Organizational Management. 

Janvieve Williams Comrie (she/they), Founder and Executive Director, AfroResistance, Bronx, NY 

Janvieve Williams Comrie is a Black Latina human rights strategist, trainer and organizer with a deep commitment to assisting in the building of powerful social movements for racial justice and human rights. She has worked in a variety of fields and for several human rights institutions, including the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights Regional Office Central America, where she coordinated a regional program on race and racism. Janvieve is internationally recognized for her work with Afro-descendent communities. She has recently been awarded a Soros Equality Fellowship (2018-2020). She is a faculty member at New York University and at the New School in New York. She is a mother to two amazing children and lives in the Bronx New York with her life partner.

Windcall Alumni 2013-2022