Tarsha began organizing around prison reform in 2003 when her 11-year-old, mentally ill son was sentenced and served over three years in the Texas Youth Commission for a class C misdemeanor. In her work as an organizer with Grassroots Leadership Texas Reconciliation Project, the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, and the Houston chapter of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, Jackson has become a leading local activist who engages communities in the struggle to halt anti-immigrant policies and reform the juvenile and criminal justice systems. Jackson’s reconciliation efforts to unite black and brown communities on shared issues – particularly criminal justice, police brutality, and immigration – helped to prevent the City of Houston from implementing the 287(g) program, which deputizes local law enforcement officers to do federal immigration enforcement duties. She spearheaded the Texas Families of Incarcerated Youth partnership with the Texas Youth Commission to develop a Parent‘s Bill of Rights and helped push the Texas legislature to reduce incarcerating nonviolent youth and increase family-focused, evidence-based interventions and sentencing options. Jackson is a 2011 Soros Justice Fellow, an active participant and co-chair in the Annie E. Casey Foundation‘s Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative in Houston, and sits on the Texas Task Force for Youth with Special Needs board.
Maria has been a strong voice and activist in social justice issues for the last thirty-nine years. She is currently the Special Projects Coordinator of CRECEN/America Para Todos, her direct responsibility is for the design and overall implementation of new projects. She develops programs for immigrant workers, providing concrete support to their fight for social justice, and voices immigrant rights concerns in community and political processes already at work locally, nationally and internationally for social justice and change. In the last year, she has been the lead organizer for the establishment of leadership development program for day laborers and immigrants. In September of 2008, she joined the research team directed by Dr. Maria E. Fernandez of the University of Texas School of Public Health that for the first time in Houston‘s history began to explore the multiple issues faced by day laborers in the city. Currently, she holds a part-time position with the University Of Texas School Of Public Health as Research Coordinator for the study Hypertension in Mexican-Americans: Assessing Disparities in Air Pollutant Risks with Principal Investigator Dr. Elaine Symanski.
Jose Eduardo Sanchez
José Eduardo Sanchez first came to the Worker Center in the summer of 2009. He began as a volunteer and intern, and went on to become the Houston Organizer for the statewide Build a Better Texas Campaign, where he helped form and cultivate a coalition of workers, construction industry leaders, faith and labor leaders to advocate for improved construction industry conditions in Texas. In the fall of 2011, he was hired full-time to head the Center’s first-ever local grassroots campaign. As Campaign Organizer, José Eduardo coordinates the Center’s Down with Wage Theft Campaign, ensuring the development and implementation of collective campaign strategies, creating a broad communications, outreach, and organizing effort, and directing the research and political work to build worker power and create policy change on the local level.
José Eduardo comes from a small town in Guanajuato, Mexico, where he grew up with stories of his mother’s experiences as a domestic worker. At age 9, along with his mother and younger siblings, José Eduardo migrated to Houston to join his father, who has been working as a construction worker for most of his life. Through his parents, he learned about the struggles and hardships of making a living, but most importantly, discovered the unequivocal value and dignity of work.
Kemi is co-founder of Dreamactivist.org and a member of the National Immigrant Youth Alliance (NIYA). She has organized around immigrants‘ rights issues since 2007, soon after realizing that she herself was undocumented, and has been an advocate for the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act and comprehensive immigration reform. She has helped coordinate national symbolic graduations for undocumented youth in D.C., provided resources for national calls to action, participated in lobby efforts, marches and rallies, and attempted to build bridges across the undocumented experience through her writing. Recognizing the privilege she has – residing in a state where undocumented youth qualify for in-state tuition – Kemi graduated from the University of Houston in December 2010 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Economics. Armed with an awareness of the unique and multi-faceted challenges undocumented youth face, she is now interested in finding creative and dynamic ways to amplify their voices and share the collective stories of their experiences. As a woman of color, she is also eager to increase awareness of the experiences of non-Latino undocumented youth.
Jamin is a community activist with The Venus Project advocating the complete reconstruction of society and eliminating the need for money. Mr. Stocker has been full throttle with attempts at doing just that. When Occupy Houston was forming back in late September, Mr. Stocker received information about GAs taking place at Market Square Park and decided to officially devote his efforts to the Occupy Movement. Since joining with Occupy Houston Jamin has participated in many actions such as The Bank Divestment March, Bank of America Flash Mob, NDAA street theatre and is presently one of the organizers for the ((www.facebook.com/m1walkout) in Houston, TX. Passionate about abundance for all and dedicated
to the task of creating dynamic equilibrium among humans, the environment and technology, Jamin Stocker continues to exemplify the ability to be both leader and pupil.
Jannell Robles received her B.A. in Anthropology with a minor in Mexican American Studies in 2009 from the University of North Texas, where she was recognized for her leadership as an undergraduate and honored as the first recipient of the James Carl Matthews Award in 2008. Upon graduating from college, Jannell pursued her passion for human rights by working with community-based groups in Houston, including a grassroots coalition for immigrant rights, Houston United. In 2010, Jannell interned with the Houston Interfaith Worker Justice Center as an organizer for the Build A Better Texas campaign to improve the harsh working conditions for Texas Construction Workers; the campaign resulted in the successful passage of a law against wage theft in the Texas Legislature. Shortly after, Jannell became the Youth Organizer for the Central American Resource Center, where she advocated for the rights of immigrant youth and immigrant truck drivers. In 2011, Jannell became the Immigrant Rights Outreach Coordinator for MALDEF, helping to prevent over 80 anti-immigrant proposals, including Arizona SB 1070 copycat bills, from being passed during Texas’ 82nd Legislative Session. Beginning in late 2011, Jannell served as the lead staff member of the Harris County Reconciliation Project team, aimed at reconciling African American and Immigrant communities of Houston while simultaneously advocating for solutions to criminal justice, juvenile justice, and immigration practices that overwhelmingly impact these communities. Currently, Jannell leads TCJC’s criminal justice advocacy work in Harris County. Her future plans include attending law school and graduate school, yet maintaining a commitment to community organizing, political engagement, and human rights advocacy.
Liana is the producer and co-host of Nuestra Palabra: Latino Writers Having Their Say on 90.1 FM and www.KPFT.org (Pacifica-Houston Radio.) The weekly broadcast highlights authors, playwrights, composers, activists and artists, keeping the Latino literary renaissance alive and thriving in the fourth largest city in the country. Lopez is a freelance writer, reporter and photographer whose work has been published in the Houston Press and Phoenix New Times (Village Voice Media), 29–95.com (Houston Chronicle), Aztec Muse Magazine, Democracy Now, Free Speech Radio News and others. She is also the recipient of a Houston Arts Alliance Emerging Artist grant for a multimedia/photography project based on her travels through post-revolutionary Nicaragua. She has most recently worked as Social Media Consultant for the Gulf Coast Fund. She is also Cohort Teacher for Fotofest International‘s Literacy Through Photography program. She has curated and exhibited her work, and the works other artists, in Houston Artz (2011), Roots of Rebellion (2010), Houston Vanguard (2010) and was part of the bi-annual Fotofest International exhibition in 2010.
Perri Kathryn McCary aka “P. K. McCary”
P.K. is a professional storyteller and journalist with more than 30 years‘ experience in anti-violence programming for youth. For more than two decades, she has been a presenter at various youth conferences, including the annual .Stop the Violence Conference. in Houston, Texas, several ELCA Youth gatherings, and has taught nonviolence in summer peace camps around the country. She is a program developer, helping to create a 7-day interfaith peace conference for youth in India in 2008 with 16 countries represented. In Houston she developed storytelling training for police officers working with juvenile delinquents. For six years, she hosted a radio broadcast on Pacifica Station called .The Peace Hour. where she also had a successful youth program called ‘Think Peace Radio’. Currently, she is co-founder of the ‘Think Peace Media and Communications Network’ in Walnut Creek, California, a multimedia training and
educational organization where she hosts writing and broadcasting workshops for teenagers in disenfranchised areas of society. She is also the founder of Think Peace International, a network of artists, teachers, and social activists sharing models of peacemaking for young people. Ms. McCary is a certified mediator and nonviolence communication facilitator and specialist. She is the author of several books.
Francisco Javier Garcia
Francisco is the Founder of Unified HOODS (Helping Out Others During Struggles). Francisco mobilizes young adults to improve their local community and that promotes civic engagement within the young generations. Unified HOODS and Texans Together
successfully advocated to the Houston City Council to increase resources at the Alief Community Center and bring more services to Alief Youth. Francisco spearheaded a pilot project with the City Of Houston that works to civically engage, equip and empower residents in modest income communities with the skills and resources needed to interrupt inter-generational patterns of poverty, low educational attainment and crime. He has successfully opened a resource center at the Mint apartments in Houston, TX that served families in job placement, youth workshops and self-sustained projects created by the residents.
Ivory is the CEO/Founder of Community Connection Launch Point. The Launch
Center Houston provides model programs for youth, family and community development. These programs provide community awareness and education, community service projects and project-based activities for promoting safe, healthy, educational and drug-free environments for learning. The Launch Center is a subsidiary of Launch Point CDC, Inc. which was created in 1985 to establish growth opportunities for underserved youth, families and communities with partners and stakeholders in educational and humanity building activities. Since 1993, Mr. Mayorn has provided educational activities to build better minds, skills and inspiration for higher performance in all areas. The future is now and we must advance ourselves in new ventures for a secure, stable and prosperous future for all of America‘s youth, families and communities
Yolanda is Community Outreach Coordinator for Greater Hunter Memorial Church in Houston, Texas. She has over ten years promoting improvement in areas of health care, poverty, and education in Houston TX. GHMC provides hard working people the opportunity to implement real change by organizing their own neighborhoods, investing their time and energy in causes relevant to their respective communities, and collectively taking ownership over the GHMC’s agenda, strategy, and direction. Her outreach also included food banking and providing clothes to needy community members.
Mary Jane Martinez
Mary Jane has been a Community Activist for over 20 years. Her work included criminal and juvenile justice reform and she’s the lead organizer for the Coahuilteca Borrado tribe in Texas.
Gloria has been a community activist since the 1960s in Oklahoma where she participated in the civil rights movement and was one of the editors of The Different Drummer, the “underground” newspaper at Oklahoma State University. Rubac participated in the anti-war movement during the Vietnam War both in Oklahoma and in Houston after she moved there in 1968. In the 1980’s Rubac expanded her work with prisoners to include those on death row and attended the protest at Texas’ first execution after the death penalty was restored in Texas in 1976. In the later 1980s she was part of the Coalition to free Clarence Brandley, an innocent man who was framed for rape and murder by racist law cops in Conroe. A victory was won when Clarence walked out of death row in 1990. She then was a leader of the Gary Graham Justice Coalition which fought for a decade to free graham from death row. He was executed in 2000. She has witnessed two friends be put to death, one of them an innocent man, Carlos Santana. Today Rubac is a leader of the Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement and visits death row prisoners every week. She is now involved in organizing the families of those on death row and the new organization will have its second meeting in March of 2012.
Joy Jackson is a Howard University alumnus from Houston, TX. After 7 years in Washington, DC she returned to Houston ready to inspire young minds to Re-Think Unique. In 2010 she founded the organization, ITS 4 Learning with one belief in mind: Knowledge is the key to the world, and exposure to the world and involvement with its people is the door to education and one’s future success. ITS 4 Learning is a network with the mission to combat the prison pipeline by addressing Houston communities that are considered “at risk“. ITS 4 Learning addresses Houston’s “at risk” communities through utilizing collaboration of tutoring, professional development, and other social programs provided by local area organizations and individuals so that each community can become self-sustaining environments which produce their own diverse examples of success.
Angelica is a Molina Community activist and grew up in NYC in East Harlem in the heart of the Puerto Rican community. From the Independence of Puerto Rico, to lifting the embargo imposed on Cuba…from freeing Mumia (she spoke at a rally in Philly representing Antioch students who attended), Geronimo or other Political Prisoners to boycotting companies who had an interest in South Africa during apartheid – Angelica and her family have always been involved in organizing.