Causes in Common: National Coalition Meeting 2008 Presenter, Panelist & Moderator Bios
CAUSES IN COMMON: REPRODUCTIVE JUSTICE & LGBT LIBERATION
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA
JUNE 11 – 12, 2008
PRESENTER, PANELIST & MODERATOR BIOS
Katrina Anderson is a Human Rights Attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights, a non-profit legal organization based in New York City, where she works to incorporate international human rights law and strategies into domestic legal advocacy. Most recently, she spearheaded the Center’s advocacy on racial disparities in sexual and reproductive health in the United States, which culminated in testimony before the U.N. Committee charged with monitoring states’ efforts to eliminate racial discrimination. Prior to joining the Center in 2006, she was a fellow at the War Crimes Research Office in Washington, D.C., where she provided legal analysis to international tribunals prosecuting sexual violence as war crimes. Her commitment to promoting the sexual and reproductive rights of marginalized populations began in 1998 while documenting human rights abuses perpetrated against ethnic minority groups in Burma. Since then, she has spent several years living in Thailand and Cambodia, working with local human rights organizations.
Ikeita Cantú Hinojosa earned both her JD and MSW degrees from the University of Michigan and was a steering committee member of Law Students for Affirmative Action, a defendant-intervenor in the admissions suit against her law school. She was also a Women’s Law and Public Policy Fellow at the National Women’s Law Center, a member of the Americans for a Fair Chance consortium. She is currently the Assistant Director of Government Relations for Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
Maxwell Ciardullo has been working with SIECUS, the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, for over three years and has worked in both the DC and NY offices. As the Information Coordinator, he coordinates SIECUS’ Community Advocacy Project and monitors controversies around the country related to sexuality education as well as providing assistance to local advocates. In addition, he is responsible for SIECUS’ domestic opposition monitoring and research tracking. While in Washington, D.C. he volunteered at HIPS, a community organization that conducts HIV prevention outreach to sex workers in the DC area and currently works with the Door doing outreach to LGBTQ young people in Manhattan.
Michelle Denney, Community Organizer for Planned Parenthood of Louisiana and the Mississippi Delta, works to increase awareness about Planned Parenthood’s mission and the work they are doing in the community providing health services, education and advocacy. She was raised in Louisiana and has been a resident of New Orleans since 1998. She lived briefly in Berkeley, CA following Hurricane Katrina where she worked as a Community Outreach Director for Environment California, a non-profit organization.
Michelle has recently returned to New Orleans with a focused passion to improve the community.
Kenyon Farrow is a writer and activist living in New York City. He is the co-editor of Letters From Young Activists: Today's Rebels Speak Out (Nation Books 2005), and his work has appeared in publications such as Utne Reader, Black Commentator, Left Turn, POZ, The Indypendent, City Limits, and in the anthology, Spirited: Affirming the Soul of Black Lesbian and Gay Identity (Red Bone Press 2006). Kenyon writes about race and gender, pop culture and progressive politics.
In addition to writing, Kenyon lectures at colleges and universities, and provides organizational trainings and consulting. As an activist, Kenyon has worked with Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP), Critical Resistance, FIERCE!, New York State Black Gay Network, and is the new National Public Education Director of Queers for Economic Justice. He blogs at www.kenyonfarrow.com.
Shana Griffin is radical black feminist, mother of a thirteen year-old male child, social justice organizer, graduate student, and researcher. Shana grew up in a racially and economically segregated public housing development in downtown New Orleans, where she became acutely aware of economic, racial, and gender disparities fueled by violence and the over-policing of communities of color. Shana received two undergraduate degrees in History and Sociology from the University of New Orleans in 2000 and is currently completing her Masters degree in Sociology. Shana is a member of the national advisory collective of INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence, and is currently serving as the Interim Director of the New Orleans Women’s Health Clinic and Project Coordinating of the Sexual & Reproductive Justice Advocacy Project, a New Orleans-based strategic planning and participatory action research initiative. Shana is co-founder of New Orleans Women’s Health & Justice Initiative.
Paris Hatcher is a passionate, radical feminist activist dedicated to working for justice and liberation. As a life long Southerner, Paris has been organizing for over 10 years, on the community, campus, and international level. Her activism is rooted in an intersectional approach which validates the lived experience of individuals and communities and works to challenge all systemic oppression. Paris’ activist interest focuses on gender liberation, in particular movements, such as reproductive justice, gender and racial justice and equity, ending sexual violence, LGBTQ communities of color, the South, and research that explores historical legacy as a motivator for current social movements. She has her Master’s in Africana Women’s Studies and is currently the Co-Executive Director of SPARK Reproductive Justice Now (formerly Georgians for Choice). When not grinding hard for justice, she loves to dance, read, laugh, give, cook, honor warrior women, the outdoors, home renovation, doggies, and to spend time with her family and community.
Lonna Hays works in the Policy unit at Ipas, an international women’s reproductive health and rights organization based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Her work involves advocating for local, national and international policies that support women’s ability to make safe reproductive choices. She co-developed Mapping Our Rights (mappingoutrights.org), a project that compiles US Policies on reproductive rights and sexual rights in a web based format. She serves as co-chair of Ipas’ Mobilization Committee, which seeks to link reproductive rights issues with other progressive efforts. Lonna is a 2002 graduate of the Gloria Steinem Leadership Institute and graduated from Warren Wilson College in 2004 with a degree in History, Political Science, and Women’s Studies.
Deon Haywood is the Executive Director of Women With A Vision, Inc. – a community-based grassroots organization of black women dedicated to providing HIV/AIDS and substance abuse prevention services and resources to communities of color to address individual risk behaviors and social vulnerabilities. Deon is a longtime activist in the city of New Orleans with a history of organizing low-income women of color around Reproductive Health, Social Justice and Women’s Rights. Deon currently serves as a board member of the New Orleans Women’s Health and Justice Initiative Clinic, and represents WWAV Inc. as a member of the Sexual and Reproductive Health Advocacy Project, a strategic planning and participatory action research project. She has represented the city of New Orleans on the State’s Community Planning Group. She provides Outreach/Harm Reduction trainings and consultation to CBO’s in the south.
Mia Herndon is the Program Director at Third Wave, and had been with the organization since 2001. She currently serves on the board of directors for Funders Concerned About AIDS and advisory boards of EMERJ and Causes in Common. Before Third Wave, she facilitated networks of support and exchange between activists, funders and artists with the Active Element Foundation and Funders for Lesbian and Gay Issues. She also worked with many community based organizations focusing on women’s leadership, international worker solidarity, counter military recruitment, and the criminalization/imprisonment of diasporic African communities. She graduated from Columbia University with an interdisciplinary major in African-American Studies. Mia is a mother and doula, loves acting and dancing, and was born and raised in Atlanta, GA.
Kierra Johnson is the current Development Director, and incoming Executive Director (July 1, 2007) of Choice USA. Coming from a background organizing around racial justice, student’s rights and access to education, she began organizing around choice issues at the University of Colorado in 1999 at the age of 22. Kierra served as the co-chair of the Campus Coordinating Committee of the Campaign for Access and Reproductive Equity (CARE2000) and received a 2002 Young Women of Achievement Award from the Women's Information Network. Kierra most recently served as a member of the Board of Medical Students for Choice from 2003 - 2006. In her spare time, she is likely to be found at Tryst or Bukom, two of her favorite DC hangouts.
Margo Kaplan, JD, MPA, is a Staff Attorney at the Center for HIV Law and Policy (CHLP). Before joining CHLP, she was a Staff Attorney Fellow with the American Civil Liberties Union. Margo also assisted with the research and drafting of the sixth edition of Professor Derrick Bell's text, Race, Racism, and American Law. Previously, she clerked for the Honorable Judge Julio M. Fuentes in the Third Circuit and the Honorable Judge John G. Koeltl in the Southern District of New York. She has worked for numerous human rights organizations, including the Center for Economic and Social Rights, the International Center for Transitional Justice, and the Carr Center for Human Rights. Margo is also a published author on the use of international law and cooperation to address human rights violations and end conflict. She is a former Teaching Fellow on the subject of international trade at Harvard University and a former Junior Fellow at the Center for International Studies for New York University School of Law.
Ricardo Martinez-Rodriguez currently works as the Public Policy Associate at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center in New York City. In this role he coordinates New York City outreach for Promote the Vote, The Center’s national voter registration, education, and mobilization project which aims to create a visible LGBT voting constituency. While working towards his undergraduate degree at Fordham University in International Political Economy, Ricardo was awarded the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s Vaid Fellowship. Through the National Science Foundation’s Research Experience for Undergraduates grant, Ricardo returned to the land of his birth, Mexico, to conduct research on the nutritional effects of the North American Free Trade Agreement and the study the effects of migration in the lives of townspeople in a small rural community in central Mexico.
Alison Mehlman, JD, is the Director of Planning and Policy Research at the Center for HIV Law and Policy (CHLP) and has been an HIV advocate for nearly a decade. Before joining CHLP, Alison was a senior policy analyst for the HIV/AIDS Bureau at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. There she was involved in several initiatives, including the development of HIV testing policy, and protocols for privacy and confidentiality of client information. She also oversaw the development and implementation of a statewide system of community coalitions dedicated to improving services for people living with HIV. She is especially interested in health care policy related to women and HIV, as well as state polices on criminalization of HIV exposure and transmission. Prior to her work at the HIV/AIDS Bureau, Alison was the director of a small legal services organization in western Massachusetts that provides free legal services and referrals to people living with HIV. During that time, she was an active participant in five Ryan White Title II consortia and served on several bylaws and evaluation committees.
Mia Mingus is a queer disabled woman of color, South Korean transracial adoptee, organizer and one of the Co-Executive Directors of SPARK: Reproductive Justice Now! (formerly Georgians for Choice) in Atlanta, Georgia. She believes that reproductive justice is crucial in the struggle for social change and the fight to end oppression. Through her work on disability, race, reproductive justice, gender, sexuality, and transracial adoption, she recognizes the urgency and barriers for oppressed communities to work together and build alliances for liberation. Though her activism changes and evolves, her roots remain firmly planted in ending sexual violence.
S. Mandisa Moore is a 22 year old black radical feminist and black dyke. While she was born in the South Bronx, she has lived in New Orleans for more than twelve years and spent even more time learning and loving in New Orleans. Mandisa’s primary organizing work is with INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence, and the New Orleans Women’s Health & Justice Initiative. Mandisa is a New Voices Gulf Coast Fellow with the Institute for Women and Ethnic Studies, and in 2006 completed her undergraduate degree in History at Loyola University. S. Mandisa plans to attend law school, but first plans on staying in New Orleans to help render visible the needs and experiences of women of color and their communities. She is interested in addressing intersectional forms of oppression and ways to collectively fight them, actively choosing not to engage her time and energy in fighting monocausal strategies to end oppression.
RJ Thompson, Esq., is a queer human rights activist with deep southern roots and twelve years of experience in the LGBT liberation movement. RJ began his grassroots activism as a student leader at the University of South Florida in Tampa, where he earned his B.A. in Africana Studies and Political Science. During his undergraduate studies, RJ participated in USF’s Washington Semester through the Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars, as an intern in the Legislative Lawyering Program of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. He also worked as Youth Organizer with Equality Florida, the statewide LGBT political advocacy organization, during which time he organized Florida’s first LGBT Youth Lobby Day in Tallahassee. After college, RJ worked as a staff member with the Southern Regional Office of Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) in Atlanta, as well as AIUSA’s Program to Abolish the Death Penalty in Washington DC and as a Volunteer Leader with AIUSA’s OUTfront Program for LGBT Human Rights. RJ studied public interest law, with a clinical emphasis on indigent “criminal” defense, at the City University of New York (CUNY) School of Law, where he earned his J.D. After law school, RJ served as the National Program Coordinator at the Coordinating Center of the US Human Rights Network in Atlanta, the national network of U.S.-based social justice organizations cutting across movements and using a people centered human rights framework to build a human rights culture in the U.S. RJ has experience with community organizing, fundraising, research, lobbying, anti-oppression training, legal advocacy and human rights education. He currently works as the National Campaign and Advocacy Manager in the Public Policy Department of The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center in New York City, and in that capacity, serves as the staff coordinator for Causes in Common, the national coalition linking reproductive justice and LGBT liberation movements. RJ is happily and nonmonogamously partnered with the amazing activist and human being, Jeremy Rye, whom he will be marrying in June 2009 in RJ’s favorite city on earth – New Orleans.
Aimée R. Thorne-Thomsen, MPA, brings her passion as a social justice activist and her extensive experience in organizational development, leadership and communications to her role as Executive Director of the Pro-Choice Public Education Project (PEP). Her work at PEP focuses on creating spaces for and elevating the voices of young women in the reproductive justice movement. Ms. Thorne-Thomsen’s work with Latino college students and graduates, led her to co-found the National Association of Latino Fraternal Organizations (NALFO), where she served as Chair for four years. Prior to joining PEP, she held senior management positions in several non-profit organizations, and served as Account Manager at Prime Access, Inc., a full-service advertising agency targeting African-American, Latino and LGBTQ markets. A former National President and Board member of Alpha Rho Lambda Sorority, Inc., Ms. Thorne-Thomsen also served on the Selection Panel for the New Voices Fellowship. She also sits on the Center for American Progress Women’s Health Leadership Network, the Board of Directors for Law Students for Reproductive Justice, the Editorial Board of Our Truths/Nuestras Verdades, and the National Advisory Council of Exhale. Ms. Thorne-Thomsen earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Yale University and a Master of Public Administration from Baruch College, City University of New York.
Tonya M. Williams is a New Voices Fellow and Research Associate at the U.S. Human Rights Network. She also serves as the Campaign Coordinator for the U.S. Human Rights Network’s HOLD THE U.S. ACCOUNTABLE: Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Human Rights Campaign. This campaign calls on the U.S. government to acknowledge Gulf Coast residents displaced by Hurricane’s Katrina and Rita as internally displaced persons and develop policies and best practices consistent with international human rights law and international standards, particularly the “Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement.” Ms. Williams is also a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Political Science at Clark Atlanta University whose research interests includes international human rights, the ethnic/racial dimensions of human-made and natural disasters, and human and intrastate security. Prior to obtaining her present position, Tonya formerly served as a Senior Fellow at the U.S. Human Rights Network and as an intern in the Constituency Building Unit at CARE USA and held a number of graduate assistantships. Ms. Williams has also held adjunct teaching positions at Clark Atlanta University and more recently Spelman College in the Department of Political Science.