Solidarity Summer School 2015: Featured Guests

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Below are short profiles of guest presenters at our Summer School who are not members of Solidarity. We’re very grateful to all of these special guests for participating in our event, and for all the great work they do!

Rafael Bernabe has been active in Puerto Rico’s labor and social movements since the 1980s. He is the former president of the Puerto Rico University Professors Association (APPU), spokesperson for the Puerto Rico Socialist Front 1990-2008, and spokesperson and gubernatorial candidate for the Working People´s Party (Partido del Pueblo Trabajador) in 2012. Bernabe is the author of several books on Puerto Rican history, literature, and labor struggles including Puerto Rico in the American Century: a History since 1898 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press).

Amisha Patel serves as Executive Director of Grassroots Collaborative and Grassroots Illinois Action, affiliated non-profit organizations working to win racial and economic justice in Chicago and statewide. Both organizations educate and mobilize Illinois residents to build real power for working families, by fighting for living wage jobs, quality public schools, affordable housing, and safe streets, and by connecting these fights to the voting booth. This follows six years at Service Employees International Union Local 73, where Amisha organized hospital employees and Head Start workers, and worked in coalition with community organizations to fight against school closings. She worked for five years doing arts-based violence against women prevention programming in communities of color in the Bay Area. The documentary that her youth created, Young Azns Rising! Breaking Down Violence Against Women, screened in numerous film festivals and won the Asian Emmy for best documentary.

Steve Williams is the National Coordinator of LeftRoots, a national effort to empower social movement leftists and spark the emergence of a radical and audacious Left. He cut his teeth as an organizer with the Philadelphia Union of the Homeless and the San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness in the early 1990s. From 1997 to 2012, Steve served as Executive Director of POWER (People Organized to Win Employment Rights), a community-based organization of low-income and working class tenants, transit riders and workers— an organization he co-founded. Steve teamed up with NTanya Lee from 2012 to 2013 to interview more than 150 organizers and activists across the country as a part of the Ear to the Ground project. In addition to his professional organizing experiences, Steve has been an active volunteer in various local, national and international social movements through his involvement with the World Social Forum process, Grassroots Global Justice, the Right to the City, San Francisco Rising, Left Wing Football Club and Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement (STORM).

Lucia Lin is currently based in Oakland, California and has a background working with immigrant communities, worker centers, and Asian Pacific American grassroots organizations. She currently coordinates Grassroots Asians Rising and is a member of LeftRoots.

Viviana Moreno is a Community Resiliency Organizer at the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization. Her role at LVEJO focuses on community engagement and stewardship of newly transformed brownfields-to-greenfields. She identifies as an Undocu-Feminist Venenolanx. She is a recent avid gardener, cross-stitcher of histories, and the co-founder of Fuerza y Maiz Screenprinting Collective.

Jason Tomkins is committed to building power, safety and liberation for Black Queer Lives. They are honored to organize with Black Lives Matter Chicago, and the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists. They are striving for the day that they’ll be known as a reluctant and ambivalent film/video content creator, producing moving images that matter.

Mike Siviwe Elliott is originally from Detroit, MI and is a 3rd generation member of the United Auto Workers (UAW) since 1978. As a teenager, he participated in demonstrations against police brutality, supported the work of General Baker and Detroit Revolutionary Union Movement (DRUM) and sold Black Panther newspapers. At Oakland University, he served as Chair of the Association of Black Students, where he participated biweekly sessions with the great James and Grace Boggs. He was laid off and transferred to Chicago in 1986 and immediately became a member of Chicago’s Anti-Apartheid community and soon joined the steering committee of the Illinois Labor Network Against Apartheid. Mike currently serves as Chair of the Labor Committee of Chicago Alliance Against Racist & Political Repression with a central focus on involving labor unions and labor support groups in the movement to establish an elected Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC) in Chicago.

Kelly Collings has been a Philadelphia public school teacher for 15 years. Prior to teaching she was a community and parent organizer for over a decade in cities across the country including New York, Dallas, Baltimore, and Philadelphia. She and her colleagues at Feltonville School of Arts & Sciences helped fuel the local movement against high-stakes testing in Philadelphia this spring when they publicly organized 40% of the families at their school to opt out of testing. Kelley is a founding member and current Co-chair of the Caucus of Working Educators of the PFT, as well as a leader in the Teacher Action Group of Philadelphia.

Lisa Lubow is an historian with a UCLA PhD, history instructor at Glendale College, trained mediator, and lifetime activist. In addition to anti-war, labor, social, and community justice, she has spent a decade focused on the converging crises of energy, capitalism, and environment (including climate change). She is a leader in
the Converging Storms Action Network, originator of Building Blocks against Climate Change campaign,
and helped develop the cutting-edge study series, “Converging Storms: the Crises of Energy, Capitalism,
and Environment,” presented to hundreds of SoCal activists in 2006, ’08, ’09, ’10, ’14, and again in 2015.
Lubow also designs flyers and newsletters, writes articles and publicity, designs and sells posters and other
political materials, helps organize programs for various groups, facilitates discussions at public programs,
speaks at public events, sings at fundraisers, helps mediate conflicted organizations, and spends as much
time as she can talking with ordinary Americans out on the street.

Jose Cordova is a writer from Panorama City, CA. He is co-chair of the Socialist Party USA Los Angeles Local and co-chair of the People of Color Commission of the Socialist Party USA.

The rest are coming soon!