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Ebonique.jpgDr. Avis Jones-DeWeever

Executive Director
In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda

Marcela Howell is the founder and executive director of In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda, the only national Black women’s RJ organization. The goal of In Our Own Voice is to lift up the voices of Black women leaders at the national, regional and state levels on policies that impact our lives.

Marcela has over 40 years of experience advocating for women’s rights, reproductive health and justice and women’s empowerment. Prior to founding In Our Own Voice, she served as senior policy and communications consultant for Communications Consortium for Media Change (CCMC). She is the former vice president of policy, communications and marketing at Advocates for Youth, a non-profit organization that works on adolescent sexual and reproductive health issues. Marcela is the author of Walk in My Shoes: A Black Activist’s Guide to Surviving the Women’s Movement, a collection of inspirational essays to help young Black women navigate the women’s movement and empower them to become leaders in the fight for Reproductive Justice.

 

 

Ebonique.jpgEbonique Ellis

She has over eight years of experience working with a variety of businesses and government agencies to solve legislative and communication related issues. Ellis has 5 years of experience working with RightNOW Women PAC. She currently sits on the board of directors overseeing Candidate Training.

From 2014-2016 she has served as Campaign Manager & Consultant for numerous congressional and gubernatorial campaigns. She created a small business consulting agency in 2016, assisting over sixty small businesses. Her consulting firm partnered with the Small Business Administration to help award over $70,000 to women-led companies. Her business services and events have been featured in numerous media outlets including YahooNews!, MSNBC, and the Hill.

An Oxford alumna, she has exceptional experience from both the nonprofit and the for-profit business arena having also held positions in business development and marketing. Her non-profit experience includes media engagement and women issues advocacy. She has dealt with legal, ethical, governance, membership, communications, tax, regulatory and numerous other issues affecting small businesses and the professional concerns of entrepreneurs.

 

Valerie.pngValerie Ervin

Valerie believes that politics is aspirational and that government plays an important role in the lives of people.  Her work as a legislator has focused on connecting government, business, education and the safety net to serve the needs of all residents of her community.

As a former member of the Montgomery County Board of Education, and a two- term member of the Montgomery County Council where she distinguished herself as the first African American woman ever elected, she also served as the Council President. Valerie championed the issues that people in Montgomery County care about ranging from raising the minimum wage, promoting local stewardship of taxpayer money through local investment, addressing food insecurity issues, improving childhood nutrition, closing the Achievement Gap, and the many local neighborhood and civic issues that mean so much to her community.

Valerie has been a leader at the National Working Families Party since 2014 and serves as its Senior Advisor.  Her work ties issues that impact working families on the local, state and federal levels, with progressive elected officials in their respective legislative bodies.  This strategy has helped to pass Equal Pay for Equal Work, the $15 minimum wage, Fair Elections, Fair Scheduling and other progressive issues.  She is leading the work on recruiting, training and electing a new generation of progressive candidates for public office with a focus on women and people of color.  She lives in Montgomery County and is involved in local, state and national politics.

 

Valerie.pngMarcela Howell

Executive Director
In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda

Marcela Howell is the founder and executive director of In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda, the only national Black women’s RJ organization. The goal of In Our Own Voice is to lift up the voices of Black women leaders at the national, regional and state levels on policies that impact our lives.

Marcela has over 40 years of experience advocating for women’s rights, reproductive health and justice and women’s empowerment. Prior to founding In Our Own Voice, she served as senior policy and communications consultant for Communications Consortium for Media Change (CCMC). She is the former vice president of policy, communications and marketing at Advocates for Youth, a non- profit organization that works on adolescent sexual and reproductive health issues. Marcela is the author of Walk in My Shoes: A Black Activist’s Guide to Surviving the Women’s Movement, a collection of inspirational essays to help young Black women navigate the women’s movement and empower them to become leaders in the fight for Reproductive Justice.

 

Valerie.pngMichele Jawando

Vice President of the Center for American Progress and the Center for American Progress Action Fund and Co-Host of the podcast “Thinking CAP”

Michele Jawando is an attorney and social justice advocate working at the intersection of policy, political strategy, and media. In addition to her role as Vice President at the Center for American Progress and CAP Action, Jawando recently became a co-host of the highly acclaimed and rated podcast Thinking CAP, a 30-minute weekly news and politics podcast. Jawando is also on the board of In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda, a national organizational initiative designed to amplify and lift up the voices of Black women at the national and regional levels in an ongoing fight to secure reproductive justice for all women and girls.

Jawando has served as chief counsel and senior adviser to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), where she was responsible for a wide-ranging portfolio of policy issues. A New York native she began her career in public service working for Congressional Black Caucus member Gregory Meeks. Jawando, a prolific writer, author and political strategist has appeared frequently in print and on TV including outlets such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Politico, MSNBC, CNN and Fox News. Jawando also serves as a contributing host on Sirius/XM. She has been recognized as one of the “40 Power Young Professionals Under 40” and named one of the top 15 African American women in politics under age 40 and one of 15 national power players who continues to break barriers and foster talent in her industry.

Jawando holds a B.A. with honors from her beloved alma mater, Hampton University, and received her J.D. from the University of North Carolina School of Law. When she isn’t busy working to change the world, she and her husband Will Jawando are busy raising 3 super heroines - Alia, Addison and Ava.

 

Valerie.pngKarine Jean-Pierre

Karine Jean-Pierre's professional experience has ranged widely from presidential campaigns to grassroots activism, to local politics, to working in the White House. Jean-Pierre is the Senior Strategist and National Spokesperson for MoveOn.org. Jean-Pierre previously served as the Deputy Campaign Manager for Martin O’Malley for President.

Prior to joining the O'Malley Campaign. In 2014 she was the Campaign Manager for ACLU's Reproductive Freedom Initiate (RFI). Previously, she managed Tish James’ successful campaign for New York City Public Advocate. 

In 2011, Jean-Pierre served as Deputy Battleground States Director for President Obama's 2012 re-election campaign, managing the President's political engagement in key states while leading the delegate selection and ballot access process.

Before joining the re-election campaign, Jean-Pierre served as the Regional Political Director for the White House Office of Political Affairs. Prior to joining the Obama Administration, she worked on the Obama for America campaign in 2008 as the Southeast Regional Political Director; she served the John Edwards for President Campaign in the same capacity. 

Jean-Pierre's interests demonstrate her concern for integrity and the human condition. In graduate school, she explored her Haitian roots through documentary film. Later, she worked at the Center for Community and Corporate Ethics and pushed major companies like Wal-Mart to change their business practices. While working in New York, Jean-Pierre served as Press Secretary to Congressmen Anthony Weiner, Deputy Chief of Staff  and Director of Legislative and Budget Affairs for two City Council Members respectively in the New York City Council. 

Jean-Pierre joined the Columbia University faculty in 2014, she teaches a course at the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA); she received her MPA from Columbia University's SIPA in 2003. Jean-Pierre appears as a political commentator on MSNBC, CNN, CNNi CSPAN, PBS News Hour, ABC "This Week",  HBO "Real Time with Bill Maher".

 

 

1.pngMaura Keaney

Maura Keaney, First Vice President for Strategic Development, Amalgamated Bank

Maura Keaney manages the Bank’s engagement with Non-Profit clients, including financial service and treasury management offerings, lending and investment. She also works with political organizations and campaigns around the country and provide access to capital to organizations working for social justice.

Her extensive work in New York City government and political campaigns includes serving as Deputy Chief of Staff to the City Council, leading public engagement for the NYC Department of Education and running GOTV and field for several City-wide races. She was NYS Political Director for the garment workers union and has organized and led many issue-based and candidate campaigns across New York state and city.

For nearly a century, Amalgamated Bank has been the most trusted financial institution for progressive people and organizations.. Our extensive experience, financial resources and community of like-minded customers offer labor unions, philanthropies, political campaigns, socially and environmentally responsible corporations, as well as individuals, a unique set of financial services enabling them to lead the charge to improve our communities and our country. Among our political clients: Hillary for American, Our Revolution, the Democratic National Committee, the DSCC, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Chuck Schumer, the Working Families Party and many others. 

 

Atima.pngAtima Omara
Atima Omara is is a seasoned political strategist and advocate working in politics and the larger progressive movement. She is a former campaign staffer, non-profit manager and candidate for public office, who is the founder and president of Omara Strategy Group, a political consulting firm that brings strategic guidance to electoral candidates, campaigns, and organizations. Her firm focus on projects that center women, youth, and people of color to effect progressive change and build political power for underrepresented communities.
Atima has over a decade of campaign and political organizing experience through working for a Governor and as staff on over 9 federal, state, and local Democratic campaigns in Virginia and across the country. She has organized successfully with labor unions and community organizations across the country  in low-income communities of color and immigrant communities.Atima has served at the Democratic Party at the national, state and local levels. Atima served as President of the Young Democrats of America from 2013-2015, the nation’s largest youth partisan membership based organization, and a youth arm of the Democratic Party. As President, Atima not only organized young people in the political process in almost all fifty states but also achieved membership growth, fundraising success, streamlined operations, and increased work with allied progressive organizations.

In 2016, Atima was elected Democratic National Committee Member from Virginia, and was elected Vice Chair of the DNC Women’s Caucus in 2017. She’s additionally has served in leadership in her state and local Party in Virginia. For her work, Atima has received frequent recognition including being listed as one of Ebony Magazine’s 2013 “Power 100”, and Jet Magazine’s 2013 “40 under 40”. Atima was also featured in Essence Magazine in their November 2013 list of “Ten Things We’re Talking About”. 

 

Atima.pngAdrianne Shropshire

Adrianne Shropshire is the Executive Director of BlackPAC, a national Super PAC and it's affiliated c4 the Black Progressive Action Coalition (BPAC).   Both organizations are committed to galvanizing the political power of Black voters through research, issue engagement, advocacy, and mobilization.  Adrianne's movement work began in South LA as a community organizer in the aftermath of the Rodney King beating and subsequent uprising in 1992.  She organized in South LA neighborhoods around police accountability, economic justice, and youth empowerment.  She has used her experience as a community builder to lead labor/community coalitions and work across faith communities.  Adrianne has worked on electoral campaigns from Los Angeles to New York and has helped to build model integrated voter engagement programs across the country.

Adrianne has been a leader in the donor collaboration space, developing shared investment strategies among donor partners and raising and moving tens of millions of dollars to c3 and c4 organizing and civic engagement organizations around the country.  Adrianne has worked as a political consultant and strategist with labor unions, grassroots organizations, and donors, to foster strategic relationships between progressive stakeholders at the national and state level.

 

1.pngSabrina Stratton

Sabrina Stratton currently serves as First Vice President, Commercial Banking for Amalgamated Bank.  Prior to joining the bank, Sabrina took on roles of increasing responsibility at Wachovia Bank (acquired by Wells Fargo), SunTrust Bank, Arvest, and JP Morgan Chase. She holds a BSBA (Accounting) from Old Dominion University.  She is currently the President of Mocha Moms of Manhattan and actively serves as a board member for the Fair Housing Justice Center. Sabrina also chairs the Minority Organization for Leadership and Development for Amalgamated.

 

 

Atima.pngL. Joy Williams

L. Joy Williams is a national political strategist, media thought leader, public speaker, and social justice advocate. She is a trusted strategic adviser to elected leaders and organizations across the country and is sought after by various media outlets for her expertise in politics, civic engagement, and social justice. L. Joy is the Founder and Principal of New York-based consulting firm LJW Strategies, President of the Brooklyn NAACP, National Board Member of PAC+ and founding Chairman of Higher Heights for America. Additionally, L. Joy is creator and host of #SundayCivics, a podcast for the civically engaged. Throughout her career, L. Joy has continued to demonstrate a strong talent as a political planner and tactician, both in campaign and government politics. She has served in several high-impact leadership positions on behalf of some of New York’s most well-known elected officials and continues to be a respected and well sought after voice in local, state, and national politics.

 

Jamia.pngJamia Wilson 
Jamia Wilson is many things: An activist. A feminist.  A storyteller.  A mediamaker. But more than anything, she is a natural-born thought leader. As Executive Director and Publisher of Feminist Press at City University of New York, the former Women, Action, and the Media Executive Director, TED Prize Storyteller, and former Vice President of Programs at The Women’s Media Center, Jamia has been a powerful force in the social justice movement for nearly a decade. As a leading voice on feminist and women’s rights issues, her work and words have appeared in and on several outlets such as New York MagazineThe Today Show, and The Washington Post. She’s also a staff writer for Rookie and has contributed to several books such as Madonna and Me: Women Writers on the Queen of Pop, and I Still Believe Anita Hill. But what we’re most excited about is her own book that she’s currently writing about Beyonce and feminism. (Yes, really.) It’s no surprise she was named in Refinery29’s “17 Faces of the Future of Feminism.”

It may be true that Jamia has spoken alongside feminist greats like Gloria Steinem and Jane Fonda, but we think they’re also lucky to have been alongside her. A true    next generation leader, she has graced the stage at events such as TED Women, Netroots Nation, and Facing Race, and travels across the U.S. and beyond to college campuses to talk about race, feminism, spirituality, leadership, and so much more."-Fresh Speakers

 


 

Past Trainers

5.pngJessica Byrd
Jessica Byrd is a relationship driven political operative working at the intersection of social justice and electoral politics. She is the founder and principal strategist of Three Point Strategies, a D.C. based political consulting firm executing strategic political programming for people of color candidates, campaign staff and organizations.

Having spent nearly five years at EMILY’s List where she founded the first-ever homegrown candidate recruitment program - Jessica has worked on campaigns in 43 states and led national and state based programs to clear the pathway for underrepresented communities to engage in the political process.

In 2016, Jessica was named the January Woman to Watch by Essence Magazine, “12 New Faces of Black Leadership” by Time Magazine, and Rolling Stone named her one of the most influential millennials shaping the 2016 election.

Her personal interests include non-airport traveling, mentorship, and anything with guacamole on it. She is a Peter and David’s sister, a native of Columbus Ohio and a graduate of Chatham College for Women in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

 

1.pngA’shanti F. Gholar
A’shanti F. Gholar is the Political Director for Emerge America, the only organization dedicated to recruiting, training, and empowering Democratic women to run for public office. For 15 years, A’shanti has been a grassroots organizer and activist for women, communities of color, and progressive causes. She has experience in building coalitions, program development, and community and political engagement. Prior to coming to Emerge America, A’shanti served as the National Deputy Director of Community Engagement and Director of African American Engagement for the Democratic National Committee. A’shanti has also served as the Manager of National Partnerships for United Way Worldwide, as a political appointee in the Obama Administration at the U.S. Department of Labor, and as the Director of Public Engagement for the 2012 Democratic National Convention Committee in Charlotte, NC.

A native Nevadan, A’shanti holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and a Master’s of Science Degree in Industrial and Organizational Psychology with an emphasis on leadership development and women in leadership. A’shanti was featured as a political influencer in CQ Roll Call Magazine, named a top woman of color in policy by Walker’s Legacy, and appears on NewsOne Now with Roland Martin as a political commentator.      

 

2.pngJehmu Greene
Jehmu Greene is an award-winning progressive media and advocacy strategist, proud Texan and recent candidate for Chair of the Democratic National Committee. As a Fox News Political Analyst, Jehmu defends progressive values and policies on the network. She co-founded Define American with Jose Antonio Vargas, an initiative that works to elevate the conversation on immigration reform and is a founding board member of VoteRunLead, an organization credited with recruiting and training more than 15,000 women to run for political office. Previously she served as president of WakaWaka, a global social enterprise bringing solar power to people living without access to electricity; president of Rock the Vote, where under her leadership young voter turnout had the highest increase ever recorded in between two presidential electionsdirector of women's outreach and Southern political director at the Democratic National Committee; president of the Women's Media Center and Executive Director of Texas Young Democrats. She has worked on over 20 political campaigns and served as an advisor and national surrogate for Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign.

 

 

4.pngLeila McDowell
Leila McDowell is the Vice President of Communications at EMILY’s List. Leila most recently served as Vice President of Communications at the NAACP. Previously, she co-founded the first African-American woman-owned public relations firm in D.C. committed to social justice issues and had the honor of representing South African President Nelson Mandela during his first U.S. tour after being released from prison.

Leila has served as communications director for a number of non-profits, including the Milton S. Eisenhower Foundation and the Center for Community Change. Her other clients have included Al Gore's Alliance for Climate Change, the NAACP-LDF, Amnesty International, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the American Cancer Society.

McDowell is a former broadcast journalist and radio personality who has reported for CNN, National Public Radio, AP Radio, Inner City Broadcasting, Radio One, Sirius XM, WHUR-FM, WKYS-FM, and WPIX-TV. She also served as the Washington Bureau Chief and senior political correspondent for the London based Arise TV.

Leila earned her BFA at New York University, studying communications and film and television production.

 

3.pngKimberly Peeler-Allen
Kimberly Peeler-Allen has been working at the intersection of race, gender and politics for almost 20 years.  Kimberly is the Co-founder of Higher Heights, a national organization building the political power and leadership of Black women from the voting booth to elected office. A highly skilled political fundraiser and event planner, Kimberly was the principal of Peeler-Allen Consulting, LLC from 2003 to 2014, the only African American full-time fundraising consulting firm in New York State.

After completing the 2002 gubernatorial campaign of H. Carl McCall where she served as the deputy finance director, Kimberly founded her New York City-based consulting firm to help develop capital for clients, organizations, and issues affecting people of color that have historically been kept outside of the mainstream. 

Kimberly served as finance director for Letitia James’ successful bid to become Public Advocate of the City of New York and the first African American woman elected citywide in New York’s history.

In 2010, Kimberly was named to the Crain’s New York Business 40 Under 40 list as well as named one of The Feminist Press’ 40 Under 40: The Future of Feminism.