Members of the second cohort of the Community Activists Fellowship are:
Oakland, California Fellows:
Kelly seeks to move nutrition through the community in ways that elevate the cause of urban hunger, especially in children, and be supported in accessing and executing the simple solutions that can alleviate it in the areas of Oakland that are most hard hit. She has used environmental activism and food justice as a connector for activism in other social justice issues such as workforce development for formerly incarcerated men and women.
James’ activism focuses on the links between housing, labor, human rights, environmental, social and economic, LGBQT, gender, and racial justice all together, so that ALL women are represented and accounted for. During the grant year, she wants to create a cooperative for single mothers who need quality child care and experience food insecurity.
Yohana is a young activist squarely focused on building her capacity as a leader. For the grant year, she wants to the political activity of the east African immigrant women in her community. She believes that helping to educate the women in her community on social service, reproductive health rights, voter registration, immigrant status and immigrant rights, as well as other issues will create healthier adjustments for the families in her community to this new American way of life.
Iris is a long- time health activist who focuses on providing meaningful information to her community so that they can take control of their health care. She hopes to establish a way for patients, hospitals, and physicians to counsel, and share much needed information to all regarding the benefits of healthy eating, having knowledge of agencies available in their communities to support them before and after facing health challenges.
Washington D.C. Fellows:
Liane is a long-time activist and the founder of Grassroots DC, an organization that trains individuals from DC’s under-resourced communities in journalism and video production. She also uses video journalism to advance progressive social change in her community by educating the public and policy makers about vital community concerns. Her film screenings and discussions connect activist and social change organizations with individuals from the under-resourced and traditionally oppressed communities of the District. In the last year she has produced two documentaries. The first, Triggered, has been used to promote the Street Harassment Prevention Act which is under consideration by the D.C. Council. The second documentary, Incompatible Allies, has spurred meaningful dialogue and left audience members with ideas about how to curb gun violence on a local level where they have the most influence. For the grant year, she will work on a I documentary focused on affordable housing in the Congress Heights neighborhood of SE DC. She will also work on a campaign with a series of short videos in which District of Columbia residents describe their experience with the police. These will be used to support legislation that will help curb police brutality and misconduct.
Chioma is a native of Liberia and has two sons with special health care needs. When she came to the US, she was set to focus her Ph.D. studies on marginalized communities abroad. However, she soon reset her focus on the needs of her children, as she quickly learned that many systems in the city were not well set up to serve her family. This led her to become an advocate and activist not just for her family, but for other children in the city as well. For the grant year, she seeks to create a caregiver's cooperative called Mothering Hands Cooperative that will provide education, resources and advocacy platforms for caregivers of children with special needs. Through her work, she hopes to bring lived experience and the necessary testimonies for lawmakers, educators and employers in understanding their constituents, students and their families and the labor force.
Yolanda is a parent activist focused on expanding her own impact through professional development. She currently works with two DC based education advocacy groups, PAVE and PALS. She has a larger goal of becoming a part of her community’s Advisory Neighborhood Commission, as well as run for Ward 7 State Board of Education Representative.
Focused on developing community conversations that bridge the gap between law enforcement and the community. Jeronda wants to work with young people specifically and teach advocacy and activism skills to create solutions for greater and more positive youth/police relationships.
Siobhan uses videography as an activism tool. Her goal in the grant year is to create a documentary that tells the story of Relisha Rudd, a young girl that went missing from the DC General Homeless shelter and remains missing today. She also seeks to bring to light, what the “housing crisis” means for poor people in DC. Her ultimate goal is to uplift the voices of homeless families through videography.
Rylinda’s focused on creating spaces for her community to be self-advocates across a wide array of issues with a specific focus on sexual harassment and domestic violence. She has also worked with returning citizens, and the Re-Entry Task Force to formulate the Incarceration to Incorporation Entrepreneurship Program. Through this work a bill was passed to provide funding to organizations that teach returning citizens the benefits of entrepreneurship and business development.
Yvonne’s grandson, Zaire, was killed by gun violence, adding his name to the list of over 170,000 young people who have been killed by gun violence in the United States. Her family, including Zaire’s twin brother Zion, still suffer from PTSD as a result of his murder. However, she has used to tragedy to spur her activism against community violence and substance abuse.
Nkechi is an activist through DC’s Fair Budget Coalition. She believes that mainstream media and policy advocate often paint a false or distorted narrative of the social injustices of low- income communities. Her goal is to use data to create a different narrative for these communities. The demonstration would be recorded by mobile devices and posted to personal profiles on social media. Stories would be recorded and posted on sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, and YouTube utilizing the 3 hashtags created for the campaign. She will then focus on using the stories for a direct-action campaign.
Zakiya Sankara-Jabar, Silver Spring, MD
Zakiya came to this work organically as she began to organize as a response to my then 3-year-old son being pushed out of preschool. She reached out to other black mothers who were having similar issues with their children’s schools, and then became one of the co-founders of Racial Justice NOW in November 2011. Racial Justice NOW! (RJN!) brings together parents, children, families and community members to achieve systemic social change through racial justice and human rights approaches to impact public education and promote community healing. RJN! takes a bottom-up, parent-led community organizing approach, which includes strategies for: 1) Building organized grassroots leadership and a sustainable, community-led organization that addresses parents’ needs and promotes healing; and 2) Organizing around parent-defined issues that challenge the status quo and ineffectiveness of public education in low-income communities of color. Zakiya plans to use the fellowship year to lift of the work of parent organizing across the country as well as build up her own professional development as a leader in the field.
Lashawn Robinson, Hartford, CT
Lashawn is a staunch advocate for parents and students in her community. She comes to this work based on her own experience of fighting for the best education for her own children in her hometown on Hartford, Connecticut. At the time her teenage son wasn’t being challenged in his neighborhood school, so Lashawn started to process to enroll him in a magnet school that focused on science and engineering. However, he remained on the waiting list because the school had already reached its maximum number for minority students at 75%. Lashawn sought legal assistance for this and is fighting against a policy in the state that she believes is discriminatory. Lashawn’s work will focus on educating parents and students in her community so that they are equipped to so that they are empowered to tackle issues that affect them directly. She wants to amplify her own voice as well as the voice of other parents who just want the best for their children. As a proud black woman and mom, she is determined to be a game changer in her community and beyond.
Nia Weeks, New Orleans, LA
Nia is an attorney who has focused her post law school career on addressing a variety of systemic issues that marginalized community members in her home state of Louisiana. She is currently the founder and Director of Citizen SHE United, which mobilizes Black Women around the state to actively participate in changing the system so that it begins to work for them and their children. Citizen SHE United is creating a place where the intersection of our communal and familial commitments can coexist with the interpersonal issues that women face. Her vision is of Citizen SHE United as a part of the answer to righting the wrongs of systemic oppression in Louisiana. As a part of the fellowship, Nia will build the work she is undertaking with Citizen SHE United, as well as focus on her own growth and professional development. Nia is also the mother of four children and is a fierce advocate who fights for them every day.