More Information on our Speakers

Panel I: Defund Means Defund

Andrea Ritchie (she/her) is a Black lesbian immigrant whose writing, litigation, and advocacy has focused on policing of women and LGBT people of color for the past two decades. She is currently a researcher with Interrupting Criminalization, and supports groups across the country working to defund and reduce the harms of policing and increase community safety. She is also the author of Invisible No More: Police Violence Against Black Women and Women of Color, and co-author of Say Her Name: Resisting Police Brutality Against Black Women and Queer (In)Justice: The Criminalization of LGBT People in the United States.

Cece McDonald (she/her) shares profoundly affecting stories from her life as a trans woman of color and hate crime survivor, while inspiring audiences to stand up for acceptance, justice and equality. CeCe is a transgender activist and revered icon of the LGBTQ community. She captured international recognition in 2011 after surviving a white supremacist and transphobic attack, later receiving a second-degree manslaughter conviction and serving 19 months in prison simply for defending herself. She has been profiled in Mother Jones,, and Rolling Stone, the latter praising her as “an LGBT folk hero for her story of survival – and for the price she paid for fighting back.” In 2014, The Advocate included her among its annual “40 Under 40” list. That same year, she received the Bayard Rustin Civil Rights Award by the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club. She is the subject of the acclaimed documentary, “FREE CeCe,” produced by transgender actress Laverne Cox. Since her release, she has graced stages across the country where she uses storytelling to articulate the personal and political implications of being both black and trans. As one of the founders of the Black Excellence Collective and Black Excellence Tour, created with best friend Joshua Allen, she fosters important conversations around mass incarceration, sexuality, and violence. With energy and conviction, she highlights the hope she now fights for – that all LGBTQ people can live their lives free of hate and prejudice and confidently pursue their dreams without fear.

Jamelia Morgan (she/her) is a professor at the University Connecticut School of Law. Her teaching and scholarship focus on issues at the intersections of race, gender, disability, and criminal law and punishment. Prior to joining the faculty at UConn, Professor Morgan was a civil rights litigator at the Abolitionist Law Center and worked to improve prison conditions and end the use of solitary confinement in Pennsylvania state prisons, and an Arthur Liman Fellow with the ACLU National Prison Project, where she focused on the impact of prisons on individuals with physical disabilities.

Kempis “Ghani” Songster (he/him) is a legal worker, organizer, and powerful public speaker. He served 30 years of a death by incarceration sentence in Pennsylvania after being sentenced as a child. Ghani is a founding member of Right 2 Redemption and the Coalition to Abolish Death By Incarceration. He is a staff member with the Amistad Law Project in Philadelphia and serves on the board of the Abolitionist Law Center.

Mimi Kim (she/her) is the founder of Creative Interventions and a co-founder of INCITE! She has been a long-time activist, advocate and researcher challenging gender-based violence at its intersection with state violence and creating community accountability, transformative justice and other community-based alternatives to criminalization. As a second generation Korean American, she locates her political work in global solidarity with feminist anti-imperialist struggles, seeking not only the end of oppression but of the creation of liberation here and now. Mimi is also an Associate Professor of social work at California State University, Long Beach. Her recent publications include “The Carceral Creep: Gender-Based Violence, Race, and the Expansion of the Punitive State, 1973-1983” (2020) and “From Carceral Feminism to Transformative Justice: Women of Color Feminism and Alternatives to Incarceration” (2018).

Mon Mohapatra (she/her) is an organizer, writer, and illustrator from Bangalore, India currently organizing around surveillance, ending jail expansion, and prisoner support programs in NYC. Her work focuses on the reformist aspect of progressive criminal justice institutions and policies, as well as abolitionist feminist practices for ending the carceral state, and Indian-American anti-caste solidarity against fascism. She is a co-author of 8 to Abolition, and a founding organizer of the National No New Jails Network, and Free Them All for Public Health.

Panel II: Abolishing Police Across Intersecting Systems

Deborah Archer (she/her) is the Jacob K. Javits Professor at New York University, and Professor of Clinical Law and Co-Faculty Director of the Center on Race, Inequality, and the Law at NYU School of Law. Deborah is also the President of the American Civil Liberties Union and a nationally recognized expert in civil rights, civil liberties, and racial justice. She is a graduate of Yale Law School, where she was awarded the Charles G. Albom Prize, and Smith College. She previously worked as an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., where she litigated in the areas of voting rights, employment discrimination, and school desegregation. She was also a member of the faculty at New York Law School for fifteen years and an associate at the firm Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett. Deborah is also a former chair of the American Association of Law School’s Section on Civil Rights and Section on Minority Groups. She previously served on the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board, the nation’s oldest and largest police oversight agency, and the 2018 New York City Charter Revision Commission. Deborah received the Otto L. Walter Distinguished Writing Award and the 2014 Haywood Burns/Shanara Guilbert Award from the Northeast People of Color Legal Scholarship Conference. Deborah was recognized by the New York Law Journal as one of New York’s Top Women in the Law.

Jared Trujillo (he/him) is a policy attorney at the New York Civil Liberties Union, where he focuses on advocacy surrounding the inequities and scope of the criminal legal system. Prior to this role, Jared served as the president of the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys (UAW Local 2325), he was a juvenile and criminal defense attorney at the Legal Aid Society, and an adjunct law professor at Hofstra Law. Jared drafts legislation, consults with elected officials, and has also lobbied on issues at the local, state, and national levels. He is particularly dedicated to advocacy surrounding the decriminalization of sex work and the decarceration of sex workers. Jared is a former sex worker, and he strives to center the most marginalized sex workers  in his advocacy. 

Jeanette Orellana (she/her) is a 17-year old high school student from Queens, NY. She is a youth member at Girls for Gender Equity, an intergenerational grassroots organization committed to removing systemic barriers facing girls and non-binary youth of color. Jeanette will speak about GGE’s police-free schools campaign to decriminalize learning environments. Jeanette is also an NYCLU teen activist project organizer. This is her first panel.

Sarah Hamid (she/her) is an abolitionist and organizer working in the Pacific Northwest, US. She leads the policing technology campaign at the Carceral Tech Resistance Network, and co-founded the inside/outside research collaboration, the Prison Tech Research Group.

Tsion Gurmu (she/ her/ እሷ) is an Ethiopian-American attorney, writer, consultant, and researcher on migration, with special focus on gender and sexuality. Tsion is the Legal Director of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI), the first national immigrant rights organization formed in the US to bring Black voices together to advocate for social and economic justice for Black immigrants. Tsion is also the Founder and Director of the Queer Black immigrant project (QBip), a Black radical lawyering initiative which provides comprehensive legal representation to LGBTQIA+ Black immigrants while creating a safe space for clients to regain control over their voices through a storytelling project. QBip’s mission is to create a systemic response to meet the legal and social needs of LGBTQIA+ Black immigrants while elevating narratives that illuminate the global injustices of state-sponsored homophobia and anti-Black racism. Tsion has received recognition for her work at the intersection of international law, immigration, and racial justice by Preet Bharara and CAFÉ 100, change-makers taking action to address some of the most pressing problems in America and around the world. She was also selected as a 2018 Forbes 30 Under 30 Law & Policy honoree, OkayAfrica’s 2019 Top 100 Women honoree, NYU School of Law’s 2019 OUTLaw Alumna of the Year, and NYU School of Law’s 2020 LACA Under 40 Rising Stars. Tsion holds a B.A. in Political Science and History, with a minor in Human Rights from the University of Chicago. She also holds a J.D. from New York University School of Law. She is licensed to practice in New York.

Panel III: Communities Without Police – We Keep Our Communities Safe

Danielle Sered (she/her) envisioned and directs Common Justice, which develops and advances practical and groundbreaking solutions to violence that advance racial equity, meet the needs of those harmed, and do not rely on incarceration.  Before planning the launch of Common Justice, Danielle served as the deputy director of the Vera Institute of Justice’s Adolescent Reentry Initiative, a program for young men returning from incarceration on Rikers Island. She the author of The Other Side of Harm: Addressing Disparities in our Responses to Violence, of Accounting for Violence: How to Increase Safety and Break Our Failed Reliance on Mass Incarceration,and the book Until We Reckon: Violence, Mass Incarceration, and a Road to Repair.

Kelly Savage-Rodriguez (she/her) is the DROP LWOP coordinator for California Coalition for Women Prisoners (CCWP), and an organizer with Survived and Punished. Recently released from prison at 46 years old, Kelly was incarcerated for 23 years. Governor Brown commuted her Life Without Parole sentence in December of 2017, and she was finally released on parole in November 2018. As a domestic violence survivor, Kelly was forced to experience the similarities between domestic violence and the violence of incarceration. She was an inside member of CCWP for 15 years and helped initiate CCWP’s organizing to end Life Without Parole campaign.

Kerbie Joseph (she/her/they) is a first generation Haitian woman from Brooklyn, NY and a community organizer with the ANSWER  (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) Coalition. Kerbie has been organizing since the age of 19 in NYC uplifting struggles for police brutality,  mass incarceration, housing and LGBTQTSTGNC struggles. Kerbie has organized and led the Stop The Cops unity march from the Bronx to Harlem, in solidarity for Trayvon Martin, Ramarley Graham and all police brutality victims. Kerbie is a lead organizer in the Justice for Akai Gurley Family campaign and works with many of the police brutality families in NYC, work that has led to a guilty verdict by a jury against the police officer responsible for Akai Gurley’s killing and a street being named in Akai’s honor in the neighborhood he was killed by the NYPD.  Kerbie has organized alongside many of the police brutality groups and progressive politicians in NYC as well. Kerbie has spoken at Yale University, Fordham University, NYU, Temple, CUNY, and at Adelphi University on these issues. Kerbie formerly worked as a youth counselor at the Ali Forney Center which is the largest LGBTQ homeless housing shelter in NYC and at the Damayan Migrant Workers Association where she housed labor trafficking survivors. Kerbie currently works at the Audre Lorde Project as the Safe OUTside the System program’s coordinator where she teaches de-escalation, safety planning, safe space creation to households, shelters, businesses and to community members to buffer police interaction within marginalized communities.

Lilac Vylette Maldonado (she/they) is a community organizer and culture worker who identifies as a sick & disabled, neurodivergent, Two-Spirit, Chicanx femme. She has been actively organizing since 2009 around many intersectional social justice issues such as racial justice, gender justice, disability justice, LGBTQIA+ issues, and body autonomy and acceptance. They are an avid zinester who has written and created artwork for various academic and social justice-themed DIY booklets. She is a co-founding member of and logistics coordinator for the Los Angeles Spoonie Collective, a grassroots disability justice group connecting disabled activists and artists to community organizing and education opportunities. They are also a part of the education team at the Fireweed Collective.

Zach Norris (he/him) is the Executive Director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, author of Defund Fear: Safety Without Policing, Prisons, and Punishment, and co-founder of Restore Oakland, a community advocacy and training center that will empower Bay Area community members to transform local economic and justice systems and make a safe and secure future possible for themselves and for their families.  Zach is also a co-founder of Justice for Families, a national alliance of family-driven organizations working to end our nation’s youth incarceration epidemic. Zach helped build California’s first statewide network for families of incarcerated youth which led the effort to close five youth prisons in the state, passed legislation to enable families to stay in contact with their loved ones, and defeated Prop 6—a destructive and ineffective criminal justice ballot measure. We Keep Us Safe, released in 2020, has been praised by Forbes, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Boston Globe, and Kirkus Reviews. In addition to being a Harvard graduate and NYU-educated attorney, Zach is also a graduate of the Labor Community Strategy Center’s National School for Strategic Organizing in Los Angeles, California and was a 2011 Soros Justice Fellow. He is a former board member at Witness for Peace, Just Cause Oakland and Justice for Families. Zach was a recipient of the American Constitution Society’s David Carliner Public Interest Award in 2015, and is a member of the 2016 class of the Levi Strauss Foundation’s Pioneers of Justice. Zach is a loving husband and dedicated father of two bright daughters, whom he is raising in his hometown of Oakland, California.

Panel IV: Defunding the Police in Practice

Amna Akbar is an Associate Professor of Law at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. Her research and teaching focus on social movements, critical theory, and policing, race, and inequality. Her scholarship explores the intersections of national security and criminal law, and the potential of social movements to transform our thinking about law, law enforcement, and law reform.

Anthonine Pierre (she/her) is a dynamic community organizer, putting her problem-solving skills to work on everything from building Black power in a gentrifying neighborhood to ending sexualized street harassment in Central Brooklyn. As the Deputy Director of the Brooklyn Movement Center (BMC), Anthonine Pierre provides strategic leadership and daily management of the organization’s organizing, operations and communications efforts. Repping BMC in the police accountability coalition Communities United for Police Reform (CPR), Anthonine has led on several citywide campaigns, including #DefundNYPD, passing the Right to Know Act & the Justice for Eric Garner campaign. She is currently a fellow in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Interdisciplinary Research Leaders program, where she is working with an all Black woman research team to study the health effects of the carceral system on Black fathers and their children in Central Brooklyn. Anthonine’s two-decade long organizing career dates back to her youth organizing beginnings at Brooklyn Technical High School and with the Prospect Park Alliance Youth Council. Her passion for organizing is grounded in her Haitian immigrant upbringing in Giuliani-era New York City and her love of Octavia Butler. When she’s not trying to move dope people together towards the Black Future, you can find her biking around her native Flatbush with her husband, Jeffrey.

Chas Moore (he/him) is an acclaimed activist and community organizer who has dedicated his life to helping Black, Indigenous, and people of color, impoverished communities, and those that suffer the brunt of systemic, institutional oppression. Under Chas’ leadership, AJC has led local reform efforts such as creating the Austin Police Department’s Use of Force policy, successfully fought against a faulty Austin Police Association Union contract, and successfully campaigned for the reallocation of $150 million from the Austin Police Department’s budget to begin the process of creating public safety alternatives to traditional public safety methods. Mr. Moore’s tenacity has garnered much recognition, including multiple awards, the 2019 Nathan Cummings Foundation Fellowship, and the 2019 Unlocked Futures Cohort backed by Academy-award winning artist John Legend. Before devoting his work full-time to the creation and growth of the Austin Justice Coalition, Chas served as a student activist fighting many social issues at The University of Texas at Austin and the rest of the Austin Community.

D’atra “Dee Dee” Jackson (she/her) is an organizer, trainer, big sister, godmother of four, and National Director of BYP100. Born and raised in Southwest Philly, she moved to Durham from Miami. She attended Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, the oldest historically black institution for higher learning, where she obtained her B.S. in Recreation & Leisure Management, and Florida International University to obtain her Masters in Recreation and Sports Management. While attending FIU, she became active at the height of the murder of Trayvon Martin and Zimmerman verdict with an organization called Dream Defenders, founding the FIU chapter. Dee Dee is a trainer, leader, and respected party thrower here in Durham. She is formerly the Co-Director of Ignite NC, which works with mostly Black, mostly queer, young organizers across to state to shift the culture of organizing in North Carolina. She is also Co-Founder of the Durham Chapter of Black Youth Project 100 (BYP100). Dee Dee has had her hand in efforts and actions such as bringing Participatory Budgeting to Durham, #DurhamBeyondPolicing, Justice for Reefa campaign, Black Mama’s/Black August Bail Outs, and some that shouldn’t be named. Now, as the National Director of BYP100, she dreams of freedom, Black worlds, and building a movement of ungovernable and strategic lovers of Black liberation. She is also an aspiring movement DJ, named DJ MerQueen Gangsta for the Revolution. She is moving through the world with Libra sun, Aquarius rising, and Taurus moon. 

James Burch (he/him) Born and raised in Natick, MA, James Burch grew up with the direct impacts of a punitive carceral system within his immediate family; all three of his siblings have been entangled in the criminal justice system for their entire lives. To address this, James became a lawyer after attending Yale University and Georgetown Law School. Upon moving to the Bay Area, James became an active member of the Anti Police-Terror Project (APTP), eventually becoming the Director of Policy and a member of the Black Leadership Team. He also worked as the Policy Director for St. James Infirmary, a peer-based sex worker health and advocacy clinic in San Francisco. James now works as the Policy Director for the Justice Teams Network (JTN), a statewide coalition working to end state violence in California. James is also the current President of the National Lawyers Guild of the Bay Area.

William ( Truth Maze ) Harris (he/him) is a pioneer of the Twin Cities Black Hip Hop culture, movement, & sound with 20+ years of experience as an experiential arts-culture educator. He easily weaves the preservation of black culture, liberation, spirituality, “street” consciousness, and activism into his personal life, classroom, music, and community. He is also an activist working with Reclaim the Block, a Minneapolis-based organization that organizes advocacy around defunding the police.