Fall 2022 Residents
Sheerine Alemzadeh (she/her), Co-Director, Healing to Action, is the proud daughter of Iranian immigrants. Sheerine has worked to transform responses to gender-based violence in low-income communities of color as an activist, litigator, educator and organizer. Her career has focused on building bridges between social movements, applying intersectional approaches to human rights activism, and promoting shared leadership as a path to sustained social progress. She is the co-founder and co-director of Healing to Action, a Chicago-based grassroots organization whose mission is to end gender-based violence through building the leadership and collective power of the communities most impacted – low-income people of color, people with disabilities, immigrants, and LGBTQ+ survivors.
Dunya Alwan (she/her), Co-Founder & Facilitation Team Member, Eastlake United for Justice (EUJ),. Dunya is a community based architectural designer, cultural worker, and educator. She is a co-founder of the International Women’s Peace Service and Birthright Unplugged/Re-Plugged both in Palestine. She is a co-founder of Street Cred, a guerilla public art and culture jamming collective whose work has been installed, distributed, and exhibited internationally. Dunya’s recent architectural work includes designing Critical Resistances’ newest home, teaching architecture and silkscreen at San Quentin Prison and being a member of the prisons mural crew, co-founding the E. 12th Street Coalition agitating for and designing affordable housing on Oakland CA public land, and being on the architectural team for Homefulness, a project that supports under-housed and formerly homeless people to design and build their own housing.
Karla Altmayer (they/she), Co-Founder/Co-Director, Healing to Action, is a mixed-race, queer, life-long Chicago-based community organizer working to address the root causes of gender-based violence. Her experiences with survivors at home and in her work helped her imagine a world where survivors are seen as powerful individuals, and have the resources and support to lead solutions towards ending gender-based violence. In 2016, Karla stopped practicing law and co-founded Healing to Action with Sheerine Alemzadeh to focus on building survivor power. As co-director of HTA, Karla leads organizing efforts, practicing healing and transformative justice to build the political power of survivors to achieve gender liberation.
Angeline Echeverría (she/her and they/them), Director of Partnership, NC Counts Coalition. Prior to joining NC Counts, Angeline served as the executive director for El Pueblo and supported different projects for women’s and immigrant worker organizations in the southeast and beyond. Angeline’s roots are in Cuba, upstate New York, and South Carolina and they have lived in Raleigh since 2012. Outside of work, Angeline enjoys Zumba, soccer, and spending time outdoors.
Amy Herzfeld-Copple (she/her), Deputy Director of Programs and Strategic Initiatives, Western States Center. Raised in Idaho, Amy has deep roots in social justice activism. She started volunteering for LGBTQ rights campaigns at the age of 14 and never looked back. She has been active in progressive movement building in the West for over 20 years and her past roles have included Executive Director of the Idaho Human Rights Education Center, Oregon State Director for Working America, and Co-Executive Director for Basic Rights Oregon. Amy first connected to Western States Center as a young human rights organizer in Boise, and remained an active volunteer leader for over 18 years.
Daulton Jones (they/he), Central Valley Lead Organizer, Youth Organize California / People’s Budget Bakersfield. Daulton was born and raised in Yokuts Territory (Bakersfield). The Central Valley is their home and they do this work to ensure that this beautiful place that held and raised them up is given the support it needs to flourish! During his time in movement work, Daulton has focused on restorative justice with Black and brown youth and families, housing eviction protections, economic justice and the fight for defunding and reinvesting in community revitalization with the People’s Budget Bakersfield. As an Afro-Indigenous person, the only reason Daulton is here today is because of their ancestors’ understanding that the fight for freedom lives in not just the body, but in the spirit as well.
Sara Leaverton (she/her), Development & Operations Director, Coleman Advocates for Children & Youth, Sara hails from a working class family in rural Oregon. Finding a passion for economic and racial justice in her youth, Sara has worked with community-based organizations for years. After originally interning at Coleman during college and assisting with the Solutions Not Suspensions campaign and the re-approval of the Children’s Amendment, Sara joined the Coleman family permanently in 2015 as the Director of Administration. Utilizing her different skill sets, she has been able to support Coleman’s work in events and fundraising, now as the Development & Operations Director. When not hustling to raise money, Sara can be found wandering in the trees or cooking up random acts of deliciousness.
Sarah Lee (she/her) is a Senior Community Organizer with the Immigrant Legal Resource Center. Sarah is the daughter of Chinese migrants from Hong Kong, Venezuela, and Canada. For the past 10 years she has organized alongside student, faith, AAPI communities, and multi-racial coalitions on immigrant justice. Most recently, she spearheaded local coalition work to end sheriff collusion with ICE, led over a dozen deportation defense campaigns, and anchored the ICE out of CA coalition’s campaign to pass the VISION Act (AB 937), a bill that would disrupt the prison-to-deportation pipeline in California. Sarah previously worked as an community advocate with Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus, and Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity.
Darlene Luca (she/her), SoCal Program Manager of Career & Reentry, Defy Ventures, Darlene assists individuals in their reentry journey and finding meaningful careers. Darlene has worked in reentry for the past 15 years, she previously worked as the Life Coach with the Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC) and was on the leadership team when it was first created. As a youth, Darlene fought a life sentence and ended up serving 3 years. As an advocate, Darlene spoke to and shared her story with CA Legislators in order to secure the passage of SB260, SB261, Prop 57, and SB 395.
Bianca Mikahn (she/they), Co-Director of Arts & Education/Executive Director, Creative Strategies for Change/ Check Your Head. Bianca is an emcee, poet, digital composer, cultural activist and educator. She is Executive Director of youth mental health-based organization Check Your Head and a Partner Artist with Creative Strategies for Change and Youth on record. A TEDx alum, Bianca has shared stages at Regis University, Denver University, Wyoming University, La Napoule’s renowned Chateau in Nice France and Stockholm Sweden’s historical Fylkengin Theatre. Currently Bianca is honing social emotional learning and art-based facilitation to encourage trauma informed care and Mental Health First Aid for adults and youth in marginalized communities.
Darryl Molina Sarmiento (she/her), Executive Director, Communities for a Better Environment (CBE), Darryl embodies CBE’s transformative organizing model, having first encountered CBE at the age of 18, when she took a CBE Toxic Tour. She has been on staff since 2005 and has served in the roles of Youth Program Coordinator and Southern California Program Director before becoming Executive Director. Darryl serves on the steering committee of the California Environmental Justice Alliance and the board of the Climate Justice Alliance. She is a mother of 2 daughters.
Olivia Montgomery (she/her), Organizing Manager, The Chisholm Legacy Project. Olivia is a trauma-informed writer, advocate, and equity practitioner with a passion for Black liberation, especially concerning the health and safety of Black femmes. She has been recognized in her community as an emerging leader and Black connector. Olivia enjoys researching, writing, spending time in community – especially outdoors, and finding stillness with her hundred-pound pups, Kane and Hazel.
Laura Peniche (she/her), Hotline Manager, Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition (CIRC) Laura is a DACA recipient from Mexico. Her documentary film debut, “No One Shall Be Called Illegal”, premiered at the 2011 Denver International Film Festival. In 2018, she co-produced the documentary film: “Five Dreamers” (RMPBS and National PBS). Laura has also worked with Motus Theater, as Project & Engagement Manager for the launch of the UndocuAmerica Project, in which she still participates as a monologue writer/performer. She has been an active advocate and community organizer for immigrant rights, and is currently a member of Together Colorado’s immigration committee, a statewide interfaith grassroots network. Laura is currently on the steering committee of the national coalition: Communities 4 Sheriff Accountability, and works full time documenting ICE activity for the Colorado Rapid Response Network Hotline.
Moonlite Phillips (they/them/she/her), Healing Justice Organizer, BreakOUT! Moonlite is a self identified Black Witch next door. Their work lives at the intersections of healing justice , community organizing, arts , culture building & serving as a reminder to beautify and adorn ourselves . Moonlite has spent years developing programming in service to the liberation of Black and Brown people, particularly queer & Trans folk. This includes serving as HART coordinator at BreakOUT!, healing and safety lead for Black Youth Project 100 . A small herbal business that helps folks with chronic pain & recently in the film and creative community. In their off time, you can find Moonlite spending time in meditation, at a body of water, doing crystal work, collecting dead stuff , eating a pickle, or cuddling with Garcia (beloved feline companion ). Moonlite believes in the power of magic as a tool to reach a world that serves us all.
Bruce Reilly (he/him), Deputy Director, Voice of the Experienced and Voters Organized to Educate. Throughout his journey from jailhouse lawyer to Tulane Law graduate, and beyond, Bruce served a central role in many policy and electoral victories, including winning his right to vote in two states, a ballot amendment to end non-unanimous juries, reformed Louisiana housing policies, and deposing a corrupt sheriff who had been in power for three decades. He is the proud dad of one teenager, two cats, and many many plants.
Dr. Melissa Rosario (she/they), Founder and Co-Coordinator, Center for Embodied Pedagogy and Action/Healing Justice Movement, Meli is a writer / healer / educator. Meli is a mixed race queer nonbinary femme who rematriated to Boriken three generations after her family left the island. Drawing on their training as an anthropologist and her own journey of self-healing, they are co-creating a culture of reclamation that transforms inheritances and patterns which inhibit our collective liberation. Meli offers guidance to others on their own healing path, designs and facilitates collective learning spaces and is a trauma informed, autodidactic somatic practitioner. She is a student of difficult emotions, la tribu yuke, plantcestors and her own womb.
Thenmozhi Soundararajan (she/her, they/them), Executive Director, Equality Labs, THenmozhi is a Dalit American Artist, Author and Activist. She is the Executive Director of Equality Labs and the author of The Trauma of Caste. Through her work, she uses community research, cultural and political organizing, popular education, and digital security to build power to end caste apartheid, white supremacy, gender-based violence, and religious intolerance.
Laura Valdéz (she/they/ella), Executive Director, Dolores Street Community Services, Laura was born and grew up in El Paso, Texas on the U.S./Mexico border. Her social justice framework is rooted in the struggles she witnessed growing up as a daughter of Mexican immigrants and queer Xicana. Laura brings over 20 years of leadership experience in nonprofit administration, public health, public policy and grassroots organizing. As a human rights activist, she has led several social justice organizations including organizations working for immigrant and LGBTQ rights. Laura believes that long-term social change in this country requires sustained commitment and leadership from those most closely impacted by pervasive inequity and injustice.
Tré Vasquez (he/him/el), Collective Member/Co-Director, Movement Generation Justice & Ecology Project, is an organizer, artist, visionary, poet and comedian of mixed Indigenous and european descent. Raised by working class parents in rural southern Arizona, his culture along with growing up systems impacted as a trans youth grounds his life commitment to collective liberation/healing for frontlines communities and the planet. He comes from a background of 15 years in community organizing around climate, transformative justice, youth organizing, and healing justice. He is currently a collective member/co-director at Movement Generation Justice and Ecology Project. Tré loves his family, working with horses, making people laugh, cooking as a love language, and growing food.
Fawn Walker Montgomery (she/her), CEO & Co-Founder of Take Action Mon Valley/Take Action Advocacy Group. Fawn is a Mother, wife, longtime community activist/organizer (20+ years) and consultant. Born and raised in McKeesport, PA, Fawn is a former two term McKeesport councilwoman and past candidate for State Representative in the 35th District. She was the first Black person & woman to run for a State seat in the Mon Valley and win a Council seat in McKeesport without the endorsement of a major political party. From here, Fawn went on to start her passion project “Take Action Mon Valley (TAMV)/Take Action Advocacy Group.” TAMV advocates for social justice & racial equality in small communities and promotes Black liberation. Fawn has a strong belief in community organizing and sees the power in Black liberation.
Crystal Walthall (she/her), Executive Director, Faith in New York, Yonkers, NY, has been committed to the work of education, youth empowerment, and faith-rooted social justice for over 18 years. She began in college, serving on her campus chapter of the NAACP, and later with the National Latino Evangelical Coalition (NaLEC). Crystal’s passion for justice centers the work of liberation and healing for Black and Latinx communities. She uses her love for music and poetry to intersect social justice movement building with the creative arts. Hailing from Brooklyn, NY, Crystal is a former NYC high school history teacher, and has been the Executive Director of Faith in New York since 2019.
Maurice Weeks (he/him), is a corporate campaigner, organizer and economic and racial justice leader. Maurice Weeks works with community organizations and labor unions on campaigns to create equitable communities by dismantling systems of wealth extraction that target Black and Brown communities. Maurice has many years of community organizing experience on issues such as housing, revenue and budgets, policing and incarceration, corporate accountability and education justice.
Elizabeth Yeampierre (she/her), Executive Director, UPROSE. Born in NYC into a working class family , Elizabeth Yeampierre is Puerto Rican environmental/climate justice leader of African and Indigenous ancestry. Elizabeth was the 1st Latina Chair of the USEPA National Environmental Justice Advisory Council and opening speaker for the first White House Council on Environmental Quality Forum on Environmental Justice under Obama. Elizabeth has been featured in the NY Times as a Climate Justice visionary. She was named by Apolitical as Climate 100: The World’s Most Influential People in Climate Policy , featured in Vogue as one of 13 Climate Warriors in the world, Oprah’s list of Future Rising and a recipient of the Frederick Douglass Abolitionist Award FD200. Recently, she has spoken at Oxford University, the Ethos Conference in Brazil and the Hague. She is dedicated to building BIPOC intergenerational power.