The Class of 2020-2021

Photo of Stephanie Solis.

2019/20 Jesse Lloyd O’Connor Scholar – Stephanie Solis

Each year the Fund selects a grantee who honors the legacy of commitment to peace and justice modeled by Jessie Lloyd O’Connor, a labor journalist, organizer and an early and beloved member of our Board, who with her husband Harvey, opened heart and home to activists seeking respite. Our Jessie Lloyd O’Connor Scholar this year is is Stephanie Solis. Stephanie is rooted in collective liberation and radical love for all. She was born in California to immigrant parents from Honduras and Mexico, and was raised in Kentucky. She has organized with the Student Coalition Against Labor Exploitation USAS Local 13 throughout her four years at the University of Southern California where she majors in NGOS and Social Change. While there, she supported work from Unite Here Local 11 and SEIU Workers West. Last year, she was a Fellow with the Sunrise Movement where she fought to center BIPOC communities in their movement, and this past summer she has worked with Mijente Louisville as part of the Arts and Healing Circle. She also had the opportunity to participate in an Abolition Youth Organizing Institute led by Mariame Kaba where she learned from PIC Abolitionists and Organizers. She continues to organize and build relationships, community, and power wherever she finds herself.

Photo of Mariah George.

Anne Braden Award –Mariah George

The Anne Braden Award was created to honor this long-time civil rights activist and Davis-Putter Trustee. The award recognizes an undergraduate working in the South, keeping racism central to all aspects of their movement work. This year’s recipient is Mariah “Rush” George, a radical black womanist from Savannah, GA where she was born and raised and spends most of her days. She currently attends Fisk University in Nashville, TN studying Sociology. She was introduced to social justice work through the Highlander Center for Research and Education when she attended their Seeds of Fire Living Legacy Tour in the Summer of 2017. Following this political awakening she returned to her home organization Deep Center where she shared her experiences and helped redirect the organization from simply cultural arts to including policy and action within the structure. She  is the acting Fellow for Deep’s Action Research Team, a program focused on using youth participatory action research (YPAR) to build a better Savannah-Chatham County. She now organizes bout the school-prison pipeline/nexus, accessible mental health resources for youth, housing insecurity, healing justice, popular education and political education in the southern grass-roots tradition.

Photo of Michael Saavedra.

Marilyn Buck Award – Michael Saavedra

Marilyn Buck was a political prisoner and poet who worked in solidarity with Black Liberation struggles to end white supremacy. She received grants from the Fund in 2003 and 2004, and died of a rare cancer in 2010. Marilyn supported the Fund with regular donations and supportive notes from her jail cell, and with a generous bequest following her death. To honor her memory and legacy, The Marilyn Buck Award is given to an incarcerated or formerly incarcerated activist working for justice. Michael Saavedra is our Marilyn Buck Awardee this year.

Michael is a Justice Catalyst Fellow with the Youth Justice Coalition. He is working to remove the barriers that block formerly incarcerated individuals from becoming lawyers. Michael was recently released from prison on February 22, 2017 after being inside for over 19 years – with 15 years spent in solitary confinement. During that time, he led and participated in all three California prisoner hunger strikes as part of a successful effort to end the use of long-term solitary confinement in the state. While incarcerated Michael taught himself the law and was able to successfully sue the California Department of Corrections multiple times – as well as teaching and assisting others to do the same. Since his release, Michael has played a prominent role working with organizations such as the L.A. Youth Justice Coalition, Dignity and Power Now, and Justice LA to end mass incarceration and advocate for people of color in his community. He will be attending UCLA in the Fall in the department of American Indian Studies to pursue his undergraduate degree. He plans to go onto law school following his undergraduate studies.

Photo of Rasel Ahmed.

Rasel Ahmed is a community-based filmmaker, queer archivist, and exiled founding editor of the first Bangladeshi LGBT magazine Roopbaan. The magazine sparked a nationwide controversy and Rasel received severe backlash including calls for his arrest immediately after the launch of the magazine in 2014. The following year, he led another major queer project to produce a flashcard-comics featuring Asia’s first Muslim lesbian comic heroine. Rasel fled Bangladesh after an Al-Qaeda-led terrorist attack that killed the publisher of Roopbaan magazine in 2016. Rasel’s work in the US, where he is currently seeking political asylum, comprises remote organizing, filmmaking, theater production, fundraising, and public lecturing. Rasel is doing his MFA in Visual Arts and Moving Image at Columbia University. In his experimental visual practice, Rasel conceptually explores themes like queer migration, state surveillance, citizenship, class disparity, and trauma memory. He worked as an international fellow with the Human Rights Campaign and is the recipient of Royal Commonwealth Society Associate Fellowship and Avijit Roy Courage Award from Freedom From Religion Foundation. Rasel is currently working to set-up a trans-border queer archive and research institute dedicated to knowledge production and preservation of queer memories in the global south.

Photo of Terry Allen.

Terry Allen is a Ph.D. candidate in Education and first-year J.D. student at the University of California, Los Angeles. He received his B.A. degree in Rhetoric from the University of California, Berkeley, and M.A. degree in Education Policy from Columbia University. Over the past decade, Terry has worked in various research and policy capacities dedicated to reshaping criminal justice systems across the United States. In his current work with the Million Dollar Hoods (MDH) research initiative, Terry has produced several policy reports and begun a new foray into oral history research to document the full impact of mass incarceration on families and neighborhoods. His research is concerned with the structural features of the criminal justice system and the political economy that constrain inequalities, particularly for youth. This interest derives in part from his own intersectional identity: being black, being a man, and being raised in San Francisco’s Bayview-Hunters Point.

Photo of Tanya Bernard.

Tanya Bernard began organizing as a high school student in Los Angeles, focusing on racial justice using art and culture. She worked at the LA Labor Community Strategy Center. Tanya contributed to the structuring and branding of Black Lives Matter movement, dreamed the annual BLM Black Futures Month (February) and organized the historic youth caravan from California to Ferguson in the wake of the murder of Mike Brown. She was the lead organizer for the Movement for Black Lives gathering in Cleveland, Ohio in 2015. More recently, Tanya has worked with United We Dream and is working on community health needs, especially those related to food. She is completing a masters in Nutrition and Dietetics at NYU and plans to engage in the fight for food sovereignty in oppressed communities. Her plan is to have an impact on public health policy based on her academic training and 20 years of engagement with marginalized communities.

Photo of Nile Blass.

Nile Blass, a DMV native, studies Government at Georgetown University. There, she has been at the forefront of local organizing against racial injustice and gendered violence. As an organizer for The 272 Advocacy Team, their work in restorative justice received national media coverage, culminating in a university-wide campaign to establish a reconciliation fee to financially support the descendants of those who Georgetown University once enslaved. As an organizer for the Black Survivors Coalition, she worked with other students in a space centered around Black women and Black femme survivors of sexual violence, advocating for more resources and institutional support to maintain student safety and wellness. She has also worked to dismantle symbols of confederacy and slavery across campus as Chair for the Philodemic Society’s Committee on Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation, Georgetown’s oldest student organization. More recently, she has been using her position in Georgetown’s Black Student Alliance to provide support and fundraising for Black Lives Matter DC.

Photo of Zyhana Bryant.

Zyahna Bryant is an award-winning student activist, community organizer, and author who published her first book, a collection of poetry and essays titled, “Reclaim.” in January of 2019. Zyahna founded the Charlottesville High School Black Student Union at the age of 14. In the Spring of 2016, Zyahna wrote the petition calling for the removal of Confederate statues from Charlottesville’s parks, and City Council voted to remove them in 2017. Zyahna was recently appointed as the youngest member of Virginia’s inaugural African American Advisory Board to advise on issues that impact African Americans across the commonwealth. Zyahna also serves as the youngest member of the President’s Council for UVA-Community Partnership where she hopes to amplify the work of student leaders and grassroots organizers who are actively working to bridge the gap between the Charlottesville community and the University. Zyahna attends the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, with a double major in Sociology and Political Science.

Photo of Jeanette Charles.

Jeanette Charles is a proud daughter of the Haitian Diaspora raised by working class Black and Brown Los Angeles. Currently, she is a PhD student  in History at the University of California, Los Angeles. As an activist-scholar her research focuses on the African Diaspora in Latin America and the Caribbean with an emphasis on revolutionary processes, spirituality, and political economy. Jeanette is a long-time member of the Chiapas Support Committee, a transnational solidarity collective founded in Zapatismo and Black liberation struggles. While based in Caracas (2010-2017), Jeanette worked as a grassroots journalist and also pursued her graduate studies at the Bolivarian University of Venezuela (UBV) with the Cátedra Libre África.  In addition, Jeanette designs and leads delegations across the Americas building bridges between African and Indigenous movements around themes of land reform, gender, arts and culture, among other issues.  She is also the founder of Iya Global, a coaching, consulting, and production company rooted in Black internationalism.

Photo of Gerrlyn Gagao.

Gerrlyn Gacao is a Filipinx and Chinese American, born and raised in Stockton, CA, approaching her second year at UCLA’s Master of Urban and Regional Planning program. She spent the majority of her activism in San Diego for nearly a decade, where she organized for border rights, immigrants’ rights, police accountability, and racial justice with the ACLU. She was also involved in efforts with various grassroots AAPI-led organizations around housing justice and boosting voter engagement. Additionally, she spearheaded efforts to fund and increase park space in low-income communities of color to create more vibrant and healthy spaces. Through these experiences, she has specialized in building new organizations, organizing campaigns, and organizing training curriculums. Now living in Los Angeles, she’s been able to intentionally commit herself to working more deeply on her larger passions: advancing tenants’ rights, de-commodifying structures in our economic and housing systems, and advancing community ownership of land.

Photo of Christopher Galeano.

Christopher Galeano (He/Him) In 1998 when he was six years old Christopher’s family moved from South Los Angeles to the Antelope Valley (AV). This move was part of a larger demographic shift the major cities of the area, Palmdale and Lancaster, experienced during 1990s and early 2000s. For many Black, Latinx, and immigrant families of color this move was an effect of Los Angeles gentrification. Despite the AV demographic shifts, the community that became his new home lacked relevant resources and was politically controlled by elected officials who invidiously used the law to unwelcome the community. His experiences living in a Latinx, immigrant household in the AV set him on a path to become a lawyer. Today he is a rising 3L enrolled in the Public Interest Law and Policy and Critical Race Studies Programs at UCLA School of Law.  At UCLA he has interned for the CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project, National Day Labor Organizing Network, Basta, Inc., and the UCLA Voting Rights Project. As a lawyer he plans to support movement building on issues that impact Black, Latinx, and immigrant families of color residents in the AV.

Photo of Benjamin Hall.

Benjamin Hall is from Portland, OR and just returned there in April after serving 22.5 years in prison where he became an activist and a Prison Abolitionist. It was a long road from Reformist to Abolitionist but was solidified for him after taking a course about the history of prisons. Ben could just not bring himself to get behind the ideologies which laid the bricks that built the prisons we see today. Ben did hospice work in prison for nearly three years which profoundly impacted his life more than all his education. He believes in advocacy even when it is only the voiceless speaking for the voiceless. Ben is part of Liberation Literacy, a group that goes into prison, reads and builds community and supports prisoners when they are released and is also one of the founding editors of All Rise Magazine, a new group that is giving a platform to prisoners, and other oppressed communities. Ben plans to study history, social geography and gender. Where prison abolition is concerned he hopes to seize the energy of first and second year young activist students to join in to create the most change.

Photo of Oloth Insyxiengmay.

Oloth Insyxiengmay is a previous grantee, having received his first in 2017 while incarcerated and his second in 2018 upon his release. He has been engaged in an intense activist practice informed both by his experience behind the walls and a sophisticated understanding of neo-liberalism, racism and the marginalization of people of color and immigrants. Oloth’s activism started inside as he agitated for education access. Post incarceration he has focused on keeping youth out of prison and works to stop the construction of a youth jail in Seattle. Focusing on the impacts of incarceration on API communities, he is very intentional in engaging the Abolitionist community to keep them accountable to incarcerated folks. Since his enrollment at UW he has begun the fight for education justice for students of color. He is in his third year at University of Washington, studying History and Law, Societies and Justice.

Photo of Hoda Katebi.

Hoda Katebi is a Chicago-based Iranian-American writer, abolitionist organizer, and creative educator. Her political fashion work has been hailed from the BBC to the New York Times to the pages of VOGUE and featured and cited in books, journals, and museums around the world. Hoda is the host of #BecauseWeveRead, a radical digital book club and discussion series with 20+ chapters globally; founding member of Blue Tin Production, an apparel manufacturing workers co-operative run by working class women of color; a national lead with Believers Bail Out, a bail fund using Zakat to bail Muslims from pretrial & immigration incarceration; and organizer with the No War Campaign. She will be attending Berkeley Law in the Fall of 2020 focusing on public interest and creative/abolitionist lawyering.

Photo of Garrett Lankford.

Garrett Lankford (he/him/his) is an enrolled member of the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians and a descendent of the Gros Ventre Nation. A graduate of MSU-Bozeman, Garrett received a degree in Political Science with a focus on policy analysis. After college, he led the Montana Human Rights Network’s policy efforts during the 2017 and 2019 Legislative sessions. Garrett’s focus included immigration reform, LGBTQ+ equality, and helping negotiate the renewal of Montana’s Medicaid expansion. Garrett is currently a candidate for a Master’s Degree in Public Policy at Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy. He hopes to study health outcomes for Indigenous populations enrolled in Medicaid. Conversation starters for Garrett include political history books, college basketball, French Bulldogs, racial justice, Real Housewives, and the Oxford Comma.

Photo of Chanice McGlover-Lee.

Chanice McClover-Lee is an 18-year-old community organizer, writer, and student at Howard University. Her commitment to social change has been shown through her writing, experience as a community organizer, and global recognition. Her first bestselling book Young Revolutionary: A Teen’s Guide to Activism, was written to give young people the confidence, tools, and resources to become impactful community organizers and leaders who create long-lasting change. Young Revolutionary has since become the tagline for a global movement of young people all over the world speaking up and sparking change within their communities. Chanice is also the Founder and Lead Organizer of the Florida Changemakers Summit, a free one-day event created to teach South Florida youth the basics of activism, community organizing, and how to implement solutions for community issues.

Photo of Adrian Leong.

Adrian Leong was born and raised in Hong Kong. I received my undergraduate degree in environmental science and anthropology from Middlebury College, Vermont. During the past three years, I worked at the Chinese Progressive Association in San Francisco, organizing with working class Chinese immigrant workers. I led labor law outreach efforts in the historical Chinatown, assisted in individual casework and workplace campaigns, and also engaged community leaders in political education as well as worker exchanges. Outside of Chinatown, I am also involved with activists in the Hong Kong diaspora. Together, we sharpen our analyses and reach out to build community with other dissident groups from China. At the moment, I am studying at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley. I am most passionate about the radical Green New Deal, specifically policies pertaining to issues of labor and land.

Photo of Erika Martinez.

Erika Martinez is a youth organizer at Make the Road New Jersey, a community organization that builds the power of immigrant and working-class communities in New Jersey to achieve dignity and justice through community organizing, legal and support services, transformative education and policy innovation. As an undocumented person, she has and continues to advocate for the passage of the clean DREAM Act, the abolishment of ICE, and lobbied for the landmark victory expanding access to state financial aid programs to New Jersey undocumented youth. Most recently, she collaborated with New Jersey immigrant youth to win access to occupational licenses for all New Jersey residents, regardless of their immigration status. She the President of RU Dreamers, the on-campus advocacy organization for undocumented students and a third-year student at Rutgers University majoring in Sociology and minoring in Legal Studies.

Photo of Jayden McClam.

Jayden McClam is an interdisciplinary artist, learning healer, and community organizer from Buffalo, New York. They are in their fourth year at Howard University, where they study Psychology, Creative Writing, and Afro-American Studies. After becoming a member in high school, Jayden currently serves on the Advisory Board of Black Love Resists in the Rust, an abolitionist organization working to reduce the authority of the police and strengthen restorative community power in Buffalo. An alumnus of Black Organizing for Leadership and Dignity (BOLD), Jayden was also a member of the since-disbanded campus organization HU Resist, helping to lead the 9-day student occupation of Howard’s Administration Building in March of 2018. Jayden’s creative, spiritual, and movement work moves so that when this world falls away we have a free, more feeling world beneath it, holding each other safe.

Photo of Brian Moreno.

Brian Moreno is a poor working-class poet, short story writer, playwright, artivist, and radical educator. i was born on un-ceded Tongva land in Brooklyn Heights, Los Ángeles, and raised East of East Los Ángeles más alla por El Monte. As a transfer student in Ourstories (History) from East Los Ángeles Community College, i earned my BA in Hxstory and minor in Latin American Studies from California State University of Los Ángeles. Currently, am writing a series of short stories and play for my MA degree in the Latin America Studies program. The multi-generational story is based on the expulsion and migratory trajectory of an Afro-Indigenous Nicaragüense woman from Miskito, Nicaragua to New Orleans, and centers the multiethnic polyglot community formation as a common built by queer and lesbian Afro-Caribbean, Black, Indigenous, and Native women. Simultaneously organizing against the gendered racist class violences and the neoliberal exclusionary policies from the autocratic administration of CSULA and the CSU system, including defunding and disarming militarized police from CSU campus communities.

Photo of Jennifer Nava.

Jennifer Nava [she/they] is a queer Chicago based organizer with the Brighton Park Neighborhood Council. Nava has been standing up against authority and mobilizing her peers since middle school, agitating adultist systems and advocating for education equity. She is now a freshman at DePaul University where she will use and expand her organizing experiences. Committed to police abolition, equitable community funding, and education equity, Nava has been part of efforts such as #NoCopAcademy Campaign and #PoliceFreeSchools/ #CopsOutCPS.

Photo of Larissa Nez.

Larissa Nez Yá’át’ééh shik’éí dóó shindine’é! Shí éí Larissa Nez yinishyé. Hashtł’ishnii nishłį. Dziłtł’ahnii báshíshchíín. Táchii’nii éí da shicheii dóó Tótsohnii éí da shinalí. My name is Larissa Nez. I am of the Mud People, born for the Mountain Cove People. My maternal grandfather is of the Red Running into the Water People and my paternal grandfather is of the Big Water People. I earned my BA in Art History with a minor in Sociology from the University of Notre Dame. I am currently pursuing an MA in Public Humanities from Brown University which occupies the traditional lands of the Narragansett and Wampanoag People in Providence, RI. My research interests explore the intersections between modern and contemporary art, cultural heritage, repatriation, traditional [ecological] knowledge, [tribal] critical race theory, and public health. I am committed to reclaiming space in cultural institutions by centering Indigenous voices, histories, and epistemologies and actively dismantling the oppressive practices and ideologies upheld by these same institutions. While at Brown, I am interested in exploring the promise of radically transforming interpretative approaches in art and history while also expanding the idea that cultural heritage is a positive determinant health. I am eager to develop an anti-racist and anti-capitalist curatorial praxis, advocate for decolonial and Indigenous pedagogies and methodologies, and practice restorative and reparative justice as part of this necessary and crucial work. Díídígii biniinaa Diné asdzáán dóó ółta’í nishłį. Ákót’éégo hózhó naasháa dóó hojíyá naalnish dooleeł. These are the reasons why, as a Diné woman and student, my existence is meaningful and my work is valuable.

Photo of Andrew Ntim.

Andrew Ntim is a black, queer, low-income student at Yale Law School that focuses his movement and legal work primarily on anti-carceral organizing. The guiding principle of Andrew’s work thus far has been the recognition that any movement aimed at fundamentally transforming the broken system of punishment must directly center the voices of system-impacted people. To this end, Andrew has worked with abolitionist scholars prior to law school to elevate the work of restorative justice and community accountability facilitators, in addition to supporting a national campaign promoting participatory defense aimed at building power among criminal defendants. At Yale, Andrew has helped to organize legal observers for Black Lives Matter protests throughout the state through the National Lawyers Guild, and works towards the dismantling of the Yale Police Department and reinvestment in local restorative justice models with Black Students for Disarmament at Yale. Following law school, Andrew hopes to work as a radical public defender, using his legal training not only to mitigate harm but also building power within communities most targeted by the prison industrial complex in service of movements for BIPOC, queer, and economic liberation.

Photo of Sarah Nunez.

Sarah Nuñez is a 1.5 generation immigrant born in Bogota, Colombia and raised in North Carolina. She’s a cultural worker and healer, weaving storytelling, art, practice, and movement building throughout her work, organizing and activism. She has lived in Louisville for 5 years and is a full time PhD student in Education at the University of Louisville. Some of the community projects she is currently working with are Louisville Latinx Oral History Project, Louisville Latino Education Outreach Project, Mijente Louisville, and the creation and forming of Aflorar Herb Collective. Over the next year, Sarah is excited to continue to work as a mentor for youth activists, lead education initiatives aimed at lifting up the struggles of Black, China[x] and Latinx students in the Southeast, and completing an internship with Las Maestras Center for Xicana Indigenous Thought, Art and Social Practice with Cherrie Moraga and Celia Herrera Rodriguez at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Photo of Citlali Perez.

Citlali Perez [She/her] is an undocumented, abolitionist organizer with Brighton Park Neighborhood Council (BPNC) based in Chicago. She is now a sophomore at DePaul University working with Dissenters, university students working to reclaim resources from the war industry to invest them into life-giving institutions, though she began her organizing in 9th grade. Her work expands from advocating for immigrant rights and economic justice to being part of campaigns such as No Cop Academy and Cops out CPS (Chicago Public Schools), both demanding police disinvestment and community reinvestment. She works with other young revolutionaries to demand accountability from elected officials and build sustainable communities, all rooted in a abolition restorative justice lens.

Photo of Cheyenne Reynoso.

Cheyenne Reynoso is of Cherokee, Choctaw, Creek and Mexican descent. She is a third-generation urban Indian born and raised in Acjachemen Territory, now living with her son in Tongva Territory.  She is an American Indian Studies graduate student at UCLA, an inaugural fellow in the John W. Mack Movement Building Fellows Program, and Director of Movement-Building, Organizing and Community Engagement with Sacred Places Institute for Indigenous People. Cheyenne’s work centers local Native Nations’ perspectives and issues within social and environmental justice advocacy efforts and building long-term relationships with Native communities and communities of color.  For over 10 years, she has worked in California in diverse roles ranging from organizing community and cultural events that celebrate tradition, resiliency, and promote empowerment to environmental and social justice advocacy for cultural wellbeing, representation, and sustainability. Cheyenne’s research interests include Indigenous and Black community healing through collaborative land reclamation efforts. Tikba ish ikhaiyana chike.

Photo of Tyler S.

Tyler S (they/them) is an Urban and Public Affairs graduate student at University of San Francisco. They were raised in Stanislaus County, California and faced the generational struggles of poverty that are a norm in the region. With no economic opportunities and unable to go to college, Tyler regrettably joined the military as a teen. Their experiences with the reactionary culture in the military, and the oppressive occupations abroad led them to radical politics. They eventually joined About Face: Veterans Against the War, where they have committed to actions against police repression and anti-colonial actions.

Photo of Ash Stephens

Ash Stephens (he/him & they/them) is from Georgia and lives on the south side of Chicago. He’s a Criminology, Law and Justice PhD candidate, and Black Studies and Gender and Women’s Studies concentrator at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). The working title of his forthcoming dissertation project is “Concealed Threats: Gender-Policing and Surveillance of Trans, Gender Nonconforming, and Nonbinary People.” The project explores surveillance and policing of transgender, gender nonconforming, and nonbinary people by various state actors. He’s also a co-founding member of the student led abolitionist collective Abolition at UIC, a board member of the Transformative Justice Law Project, and he works at Transgender Law Center. He’s organized with abolitionist collectives focused on racial, gender, and economic justice; including Survived & Punished – NYC Chapter, Love & Protect, and community bail/bond projects in both New York City and Chicago. He also loves his Nintendo Switch.

Photo of Lydia Stolt.

Lydia Stolt has been working against the Trans Mountain Canadian Pipeline project. She has been organizing blockades and other direct-action projects in the fight against the construction of the oil pipelines that are threatening the Indigenous sovereignty of the Nations up north. Lydia fights against the horrible impact of the oil pipelines and has been doing direct action under the lens of climate justice. She is working towards a dual degree in Sociology and Philosophy as a precursor to her Master’s in Education.

Photo of nissa Tzun.

Nissa D. Tzun is a media artist, educator, community organizer, and the co-founder of the Forced Trajectory Project, an award-winning, media, public relations and advocacy organization illuminating the narratives of families impacted by police murder, established in 2009. In 2014 she assisted in forming Families United 4 Justice, a nationwide collective of families impacted by police murder, organizing for collective power.  Currently, Nissa works as a media consultant for the Mass Liberation Project, a decarceration project focused on ending mass incarceration in Nevada and beyond, as a podcast producer for the Hank Greenspun School of  Journalism & Media Studies at UNLV, a Communications Fellow for Community Change and is pursuing her Master’s in Social Work and Master’s in Journalism & Media Studies.  She is a three-time Davis Putter Scholar and was recognized as the  Jesse Lloyd O’Connor Scholar for the academic year of 2019-2020.

Photo of Alexa Vaca.

Alexa Vaca helped form a coalition of faculty, students and staff, alongside the Southern Christian Leadership Conference after KSU was taken over by white supremacists after cheerleaders took a knee in solidarity with demands with the movement for Black Lives. She turned this working coalition into a formal organization called KSU United that works to fight systemic oppression. The coalition changed the culture at KSU by creating a hub for leftist groups to come together and align. She plans to continue building a critical analysis around race, class, gender, and sexuality so that she may strengthen her organizing skills. She wants to study how marginalized folks achieve liberation and is especially interested in Afro-Latinx decolonization struggles. She is seeking a Master’s in African American Studies at Georgia State University.

Photo of Riley Clare Valentine.

Riley Clare Valentine is a PhD candidate at Louisiana State University in Political Science. They are from Athens, Georgia. Their research focuses on building a vocabulary of neoliberalism as a form of reason expressed in political speeches. They argue that care ethics represents a critical alternative to neoliberalism. They have been a street medic for almost ten years, beginning during the Occupy Atlanta movement. As a graduate student they successfully organized for Louisiana State University to have gender-neutral bathrooms and adopt chosen names for student ID cards. They are currently working on adapting street medic work and trainings during COVID-19 and are building peer mutual aid emotional support network for activists. They also teach.