2019 Fellows

 

Callie jayne

Community Organizer & Activist

Callie Jayne's desire to fight for justice began in the 8th Grade, protesting against inequitable dress code policies. Callie went on to finish an undergraduate degree in business, overcoming the challenges of being a single mother who bounced from job-to-job for a period of time. While completing her Masters in Nonprofit Management, she interned at a human services organization, which later hired her full-time. She built capacity, increasing the number of families who were able to access food. She also increased individual giving and community engagement. But Callie’s success in providing emergency services also came with the realization that she wasn’t doing enough to change the existing systems of oppression. Her life, work and educational experiences led her to confront the institutionalized barriers that were preventing her and many others - from all walks of life - from achieving a quality standard of living. Her desire for change comes from the belief that all people deserve a basic standard of living, and if we could all come together and hear many differing perspectives, we can use our struggles to achieve collective greatness.


Ibrahim Asad Siddiq

Spoken Word Artist, Activist and Philosopher

Ibrahim Asad Siddiq (aka P.O.E.T) is not your average spoken word artist, more so an activist and philosopher rooted in poetry. P.O.E.T is an acronym for Putting Out Eternal Thoughts. In addition to performing, he is the artistic director of a grassroots arts program known as The FREE ART Project, through which he facilitates workshops and hosts open mics and showcases throughout NYC and Westchester. He conducts workshops for incarcerated youth, working with various ATI programs in the Bronx and Westchester. Ibrahim recently founded Earth’s Pantry, a line of skin and hair care products made from organic plant-based ingredients. The proceeds of this company go towards funding his art program and hopes to build the company in order to expand his arts program, as well as sponsor similar programs around the world. He sees himself as a light for today’s youth to realize their potential.


Jabin Ahmed

Community Organizer, Writer, Artist & Activist

Jabin Ahmed is a community organizer, writer, artist and activist in Hudson, New York. She is a Muslim American woman of Bangladeshi descent who is passionate about creating spaces and communities that support and nourish diverse families and youth. She leads interfaith gatherings, speaks and educates the community on Islamophobia, racism and women's rights. Her work aims to create spaces for Muslim women to take on leadership roles in faith/community spaces and advocates for women to take charge of the issues that matter to them. She co-founded Hudson Muslim Youth, a project aimed at empowering young Muslims living in Hudson. Through the Raising Places project, she and 10 other community leaders focused on building family and child-friendly communities. Jabin is a strong supporter and ally of the Columbia County Sanctuary Movement. She also participated in a 2-year long project that resulted in the development of a mobile grocery truck that provides fresh organic locally produced foods to underserved communities. She serves on the board for Long Table Harvest, Hudson Area Library, and was a major supporter of WiseBodies a sexual empowerment and educational program aimed to heal, teach and nourish the sexual identities of young people and adults.


Tonia Conner-Mitchell

Tonia Conner-Mitchell is the founder of 100Sistas based in Westchester NY. Tonia began her community organizing work in July 2016 in order to bring attention to police brutality and the lack of access and resources for Black, LGBTQI, and house less communities in Westchester NY. 

Before 2016 Tonia Conner-Mitchell spoke out against shackling in jail and prison of pregnant mothers during child birth In New York state. Eliminating shackling of mothers during childbirth while incarcerated remains an issue for 100Sistas.

100Sistas feeds the house less in Yonkers every weekend, and Tonia diligently works to ensure that the house less in Westchester have access to food and shelter. Under 100Sistas, Tonia created a mentorship program for Black girls in the Yonkers community known as 100Gurlz. 100Gurlz reaches black girls within the Yonkers community. A mentoring, engagement and learning program, created to provide black girls a vision to create their own definition of what it means to be Young, Black and Female.

In 2018 Tonia Mitchell-Conner in collaboration with Hudson Valley Black Lives Matter organized Black Women’s March Continuing the Legacy of Harriet Tubman on April 7th, 2018. This was the largest march outside of NYC, since the Tawana Brawley case in 1987, with demands and issues focusing on racial disparities in the Hudson Valley impacting Black women.


Zeltzyn Sanchez Gomez

Activist and Youth Community Organizer

Zeltzyn Sanchez Gomez is a 19 year-old Mexico-born DACA-mented activist who has resided in Port Chester, NY for the past 12 years. Fueled by curly fries and iced coffee, she is a highly motivated community organizer/activist working for Sustainable Port Chester Alliance and, more recently, for Wespac as the Youth Organizer/Coordinator.  Zeltzyn has worked on a variety of issues ranging from affordable housing advocacy, the adverse effects of the war on drugs, voter and immigrant rights. Whether as a speaker, panelist, volunteer, translator, or advocate, she wouldn’t be able to do this without the support of her friends, family, and community.


Past Fellowship Participants

Marcela Briones­–Levin

Parent Coordinator and Leader

As a native of Chile, Marcela witnessed cruel oppression under the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. For the past 20 years, she has lived in the US.  During this time she has been a community leader and organizer in the Hispanic immigrant community in Ossining. Marcela has been consistently engaged on behalf of poor and undocumented immigrants: supporting children’s education; a pathway to immigration reform; affordable housing; access to higher education; equal rights between men and women; LGBT rights, and rights for persons with disabilities. Marcela has been a parent coordinator in the Ossining school district for nearly ten years. She is the voice of the Hispanic Parents Association in her school district and fervently works in support of immigrant parents in their efforts to navigate the school system. She has been involved with Envisioning Westchester in their struggle to bring change and social justice to Westchester County. At her local church, she runs informative meetings in support of Hispanic children’s religious education.


LaMont Badru

Economic Development Strategist and Community Organizer

LaMont is a professional community organizer, community economic development strategist, and a lifelong South Yonkers resident. In 2006, LaMont launched a youth program out of the recreation room of his building - teaching history and community responsibility to high-risk youth from his neighborhood. As a student at Lehman College, LaMont was the founder and president of the Black Student Union and a Student Senator. He led the initiative to create Lehman’s new minor in Urban Community Development - the first student-initiated academic program at Lehman college in over 30 years. The minor was designed to give students, regardless of their major, the tools necessary to use their career skills towards the development of their neighborhoods. LaMont went on to become an organizer for Picture The Homeless (a housing policy organization in the Bronx) before deciding to dedicate his energy and passion for community development to his native community, South Yonkers.


Cornell "Lord Judah" Carelock

Artist, Social Justice Leader and Founder

Cornell “Lord Judah” Carelock is the one-and-only professional Hip-hop teaching artist in Westchester New York. He has been working with the Westchester Martin Luther King Jr. Institute for Non-Violence since 2006, building bridges between youth, adults, and law enforcement.  In 2017, he founded True He(ART) Academy, specially designed for artists, teachers, law enforcement and other community members to teach self-healing and resilience strategies using the arts as a catalyst. Lord Judah is on a mission to share heart with the world by engaging in creative humanitarian projects and collaborations. He credits his course training with Mindful Schools with enabling him to present his workshops in a more coherent teaching style. Besides working with innumerable arts agencies across Westchester, Lord Judah also directs a group called Highly Intelligent People Healing Our Planet, providing social justice presentations to youth and underserved communities.


Tarin Gonzales

Activist, Community Organizer and Assistant Director

 

Tarin is an Activist and Community Organizer.  Her parents fled oppression in Chile under the Pinochet regime and came to the Bronx where Tarin grew up in the 80s and 90s, exposing her to the conditions and experiences that have informed her unique perspective on grassroots organizing. In high school, she struggled until she met a teacher who mentored her regarding her own culture and taught her to understand society through a systemic lens. Tarin became radicalized.  A few years ago, Tarin moved to Westchester County and worked as the Community and Family Services Coordinator, as well as the Community Organizer and Facilitator of a Food Justice Committee. She currently serves as Assistant Director of the Connie Hogarth Center for Social Action at Manhattanville College, Purchase N.Y. Tarin holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and a master’s degree in Organizational Leadership. 


Juanita O. Lewis

Community Organizer and Trainer

Juanita is currently is the Hudson Valley Organizing and Training Director, for Community Voices Heard.  Community Voices Heard (CVH) is a member-led multi-racial organization, principally women of color and low-income families in New York State that builds power to secure social, economic and racial justice for all.  Juanita develops community members into leaders that work on strategic issue-based campaigns that bring the issues of low-income people to the forefront. She was born and raised in Saint Paul, MN. She graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with a B.A. in History and Political Science, and with her Masters of Advocacy and Political Leadership Degree from the University of Minnesota-Duluth. Juanita began her work as a community organizer with the Minnesota chapter of ACORN in 2004. Since 2004, she has worked on numerous electoral campaigns at the city, state and federal level in different staffing capacities. 

 

Christina Ortiz

Holistic Teacher and Activist

 

Christina grew up with Rheumatoid Arthritis.  Yoga and holistic healing became part of her ongoing recovery and prevention process. In 2013, after 8 years of remission, she enrolled in a Masters Degree program at Manhattanville College.  While completing her degree, she had a vision to bring education into local jails. Today, through her non-profit, the QuanYin Institute, she is partnering with the Westchester County Department of Corrections and the Westchester County Department of Mental Health to bring healing arts and holistic practices to an underserved community.

 

Jalal Sabur

Farmer, Organizer and Educator

 

Jalal grew up in Greenburgh, New York. He led the Black Student Union at SUNY Purchase and organized students to distribute clothes and food to homeless people in NYC.  Jalal co-created Potential 2 Power Project in East New York, Brooklyn, where he taught young people gardening, cooking, nutrition and know-your-rights skills. In 2011, he began growing produce at South Bronx’s Wassaic Community Farm where he started a CSA and a gleaning project. While at Wassaic, Jalal co-founded the Freedom Food Alliance, in Millerton, New York - a collective of small rural and urban farmers, activists, artists, community folks and political prisoners who use food as an organizing tool.  Through the VROOM Cooperative and Victory Bus Project, Jalal connects urban and rural communities and provides transportation for people visiting family members in prison in the Hudson Valley. At the Sweet Freedom Farm in Germantown, which he co-founded, Jalal conducts farm education, a maple syrup operation, and is helping to build the Farms Not Prisons movement.

 

Myra Hidalgo salazar

Board President and Program Officer

 

Originally from Naranjo, Alajuela, Costa Rica, Mayra came to the United States when she was six months old. Her journey through high school and college as an undocumented immigrant laid the groundwork for her commitment to social justice. In 2010, at age 17, she served as a project manager for the Trail of Dreams, a walk for immigrant justice from Miami to the nation’s capital. She coordinated actions and arranged legal representation for four demonstrators walking through the southeastern United States. A former board member and community organizer for the Florida Immigrant Coalition, Mayra led efforts on the We Are Florida! and ¡No Somos Rubios! campaigns and traveled to Alabama to organize against anti-immigrant legislation. Most recently, Mayra served as the executive director of the Hudson Valley Community Coalition, a grassroots group organizing for immigrant rights. She currently serves as the board president for United We Dream Action.  In 2017 Mayra was hired by North Star Fund to be their Hudson Valley Program Director. Mayra leads North Star Fund’s grantmaking and donor organizing in the Hudson Valley.

 

Diana Sanchez

Founder and Community Organizer

 

Diana Sanchez came to the US at four from Tehuitzingo, Puebla, Mexico. As a young teen, she was the first student to speak at a Yonkers Town Hall against budget cuts to public schools. In 1999, her parents organized buses to Washington D.C and New York City where she participated in rallies, marches, and gave speeches in support of immigration reform. In 2016, she participated in a bi-national program with the US-Mexico Foundation, which gave her an opportunity to learn about Mexico’s economy, culture and government.  Diana is one of the founders of the Yonkers Sanctuary Movement.   She is a Board Member of Hudson Valley Community Coalition and has completed a fellowship with United We Dream, a national organization. These organizations focus on deportation defense and advocating for legislation in favor of the undocumented community. She serves on North Star’s Hudson Valley Grantmaking Committee while earning a degree in sociology at Lehman College. Diana is also one of the directors of Espiritu De Mexico, a Mexican folk-dancing group. 

 

Julia Solow

Community Organizer and Co-Creator

 

Julia Solow has been the Westchester County Community Organizer at Community Voices Heard since November of 2013.  Julia was inspired to build a life in pursuit of justice by her grandparents who were union organizers and community activists. She started organizing with the Virginia chapter of DREAM Activist while still an undergraduate at James Madison University. Before coming to CVH, she had the privilege to work with students, labor leaders and community activists through positions at John Carroll University's Center for Service and Social Action, the AFL-CIO National Campaigns Department and the East Harlem-based Latino Leadership Institute. Julia has helped build CVH Yonkers into a Westchester County-wide chapter. She is a member of the national training team at People's Action and is a co-creator of CVH's Ella Baker School of Community Organizing.