Laurie Morin | Gender Justice Project
Intersectionality in Political Leadership

Intersectionality in Political Leadership

Monica Weeks

Monica Weeks

President, National Organization for Women, DC Chapter

Monica Weeks currently serves as President of the DC NOW chapter. As president, she successfully organized for DC to pass the most progressive paid family leave policy in the US. She was previously DC NOW’s Membership Director and mobilized young women of color to join the organization. Monica has served on NOW’s national board since 2016 and chairs the Immigration Protections Committee.

Raised in Key Largo, FL, Monica is a first-generation Cuban American. She has worked as an administrative assistant at the Council of the Americas, and as a grants and finance coordinator at the World Resources Institute (WRI). She was also an integral member of the Gender Working Group at WRI helping to integrate gender across institutional project plans and policies. Excited by the chance to elect the first woman president, Monica left WRI to join the Hillary Clinton campaign as a fellow in the 2016 Iowa caucuses.  Currently she runs her own photography business.

A first-generation college graduate, Monica holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science specializing in International Relations from the University of Central Florida and a master’s degree in Latin American and Caribbean Studies with a graduate certificate in women’s studies from Florida International University. She received the Tinker Field Research Grant to complete her thesis on the effectiveness of NGOs on the status of women in Nicaragua after the 1979 revolution. Her thesis was then published as a book in June 2012 by Lambert Academic Publishing.

Monica was recently appointed to the Women’s March DC Board. She was appointed to the SheDC task force for the DC Mayor’s Office on Women’s Policy and Initiatives in 2015. She has been featured on Voice of America’s Noticias and International Edition, NPR, and Marie Claire and her work has been featured in the New York Times and ImpactoNY.

GJC 2017 Panel Discussion.  Political Participation: Why We Need Women to Run for Office and the Importance of Intersectionality in Political Leadership.

Moderator: Monica Weeks, President, D.C. NOW
Panelists: Elizabeth Guzmán, Virginia House Delegate for District 31, Jennifer Carroll Foy, Virginia House Delegate for District 2, Jamie Maniscalco, Finance Director for Emerge America, and Chelsea Wilson, Chair for She Should Run Foundation

Women make up over half the population yet only represent 20 percent of Congress, 25 percent of state legislature seats, and 12 percent of governorships. While women have proven that they can raise money and win elections at comparable, if not higher, rates than men, too few women run for office at all.

A new survey, sponsored by POLITICO, American University and Loyola Marymount University, finds that President Donald Trump’s election has mobilized Democratic women to take political action. Democratic women are signing petitions and making donations at much higher rates than they did before the election. But the poll also shows that women in both parties remain significantly less likely than men to have thought about running for office—even after Trump’s victory.

Organizations such as Emerge and She Should Run are working to fix this and helping to elect more women into office every day. And they aren’t just looking for anyone. They are recruiting dynamic women who are intersectional, thoughtful organizers intent on making their communities better.

She Should Run has set a goal to elect 250,000 women to office by 2030. But is this possible and will this new crop of women running for office represent the rich, diverse American population? This panel heard from two candidates currently running for office, two women helping to elect women into office, and our moderator who just ran for office. They discussed how gender, race, and class affect one’s chances of running and the real issues candidates face while running for office.

The following highlights from their talk were prepared from session notes taken by 3L law student Elisa Hawkins Pedrosa.  It is wonderful to be able to announce that both candidates won their seats in the Virginia House of Delegates on November 7th, so their hard work and strategy paid off!

The Challenges of Running for Office

Jennifer Carroll Foy was surprised by the amount of time and sacrifice it takes to run for office. She was pregnant with twins while running in the primary against an incumbent Republican opponent.  The incumbent had name recognition and could afford to campaign full-time, so Jennifer had to work harder — knocking on people’s doors and using the personal touch to reach out to constituents. She won by 14 votes after a recount, so Jennifer emphasized that she is proof that every vote counts.

Elizabeth Guzmán agreed that the amount of work and campaign calls were a challenge. She also emphasized the challenge of fund-raising. Elizabeth and her husband agreed that they would not use personal money for the campaign. That required her to spend a lot of time on the phone telling people her story to get people to support her campaign. During the primaries, she had to raise the funds herself, not through the Democratic campaign. “Campaigning is a full time job,” Elizabeth said, but does not pay.  She had to work two full time jobs: running for office and her regular job.

Running at the Intersection of Gender and Race

Both candidates encountered sexist beliefs on the campaign trail. Elizabeth is one of four siblings in her family. Her father is a feminist and encouraged Elizabeth to accomplish whatever she set her mind to. However, when she started running for office, she was asked how she would balance running for office and taking care of her family. Men were not asked this question. Thanks to her upbringing, Elizabeth was confident she could run for office and have a family just as well as a man.

Elizabeth was also inspired by young Hispanic girls who told her that they looked up to her. Her opponent was extremely vocal about demonizing and profiling Latinx people. Elizabeth felt inspired that she could provide a role model for girls of color and encourage them to run for office in the future.

When asked if she was going to stop running for office because she was pregnant, Jennifer responded “Why can’t I be a politician and a mother?”  Male candidates who were running alongside Jennifer also had newborn kids, and they were not asked this question. Jennifer noted that her husband is supportive and is more than capable of taking care of their kids. She also highlighted that women candidates, who make the same asks, receive fewer donations and lower dollar amounts than men.

The most racist questions Jennifer was asked were how could she afford to run for office and how could she speak so eloquently? Jennifer ignores the stereotypes and acknowledges that she must work even harder as a minority. She was trained to embrace that she will be the only one in the room who looks like her.

Jamie Maniscalco noted that after the Trump election, more women than ever wanted to apply to Emerge America’s training program. The organization had to diversify to meet the need of regional and national members. She Should Run also received a wave of applicants. Chelsea Wilson said that the Incubator had just launched, and the number of women applicants increased from 5,000 women to 15,000 women in response to the election. Research conducted by Name it, Change it, shows that when women candidates fight back by calling negative questions what they are, they receive a positive response in the polls.

The Importance of Electing Women of Color

The panelists all agreed that It is important for women of color to run for office because they bring different backgrounds to the table. Jennifer, having worked in the criminal justice system and seeing the shortcomings first-hand, puts a priority on criminal justice reform. The biggest issue in her district is the school-to-prison-pipeline, something Jennifer will fight to change.

Elizabeth brings to the table the issue of undocumented persons who do not have driver’s licenses and are criminalized because of status. The issue of criminal justice reform is also important to her constituents. Women of color who run for office bring these issues to light and fight to resolve them.

Advice on Getting Involved

Jaimie Maniscalco: The easiest way citizens can become involved is to take the time to host and attend events, such as fund-raisers, that support political initiatives.  She also recommended calling politicians outside campaign season, when they are more likely to answer.

Elizabeth Guzmán: Women should mobilize their communities to act and combat the current administration. You can be involved by simply going out and talking to your neighbors and coordinating community efforts, such as “get out the vote.”

Chelsea Wilson: Consider running for office yourselves. When Chelsea asked young girls if they wanted to run for office and they responded that it was a boy’s job, Chelsea was inspired to take a chance and run for office.

Jennifer Carroll Foy: Vote. Jennifer won her seat because of 14 votes so people going out to vote matters. The second way to contribute and be involved is to donate to candidates, especially women of color. As women of color need to work even harder to raise funds, donating will help advance women of color’s campaign so that candidates can go and meet voters in person.


Elizabeth Guzman

Elizabeth Guzman

Virginia House of Delegates for District 31

On November 7, 2017, Elizabeth Guzman was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates for District 31, unseating a Republican incumbent and making history, along with Haya Ayala, by being the first two Latinas elected to state-wide office in Virginia.

Elizabeth Guzman is a public administrator and a social worker who resides in Dale City. Elizabeth and her husband Carlos have four children and live in Ridgefield Estates. Elizabeth works tirelessly as a Court Appointed Service Advocate for CASA CIS to prevent child abuse, a PTO representative for Penn Elementary School, and as a “Cookie Mom” for her youngest daughter’s Girl Scout troop.

Elizabeth came to the United States from Peru as a single mom, looking for a better future for her oldest daughter. She remembers those early years; working three jobs in order to afford a one-bedroom apartment for her and her daughter. Despite graduating with honors from high school in Peru, Elizabeth’s parents could not afford to send her to college. With her love of learning Elizabeth persevered, and enrolled at Northern Virginia Community College, obtaining her degree in Office Administration and Management. Elizabeth also holds a Bachelor’s in Public Safety from Capella University, a Master’s in Public Administration from American University, and a Master’s in Social Work from the University of Southern California.

Elizabeth is a long time resident of Prince William County, living in the community for more than 15-years. She fell in love with Prince William County because of all of the opportunity the area offered to her as a community leader and homeowner, and her desire to raise her children in a diverse, engaging environment.

Elizabeth has been working in the public sector for 10 years, and currently works as the Division Chief for Administrative Services for the Center for Adult Services for the City of Alexandria. Elizabeth will fight as a strong advocate for the needs of the 31st District, whether that’s legislating for change in Richmond, or attending a community meeting in Catlett.

Jennifer Carroll Foy

Jennifer Carroll Foy

Virginia House of Delegaes for District 2

On November 7, 2017, Jennifer Carroll Foy was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates for District 2.

Jennifer is a criminal defense attorney where she represents some of the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable citizens, the indigent and the mentally ill, in a broad range of criminal matters. She is also an adjunct professor of criminal law at Northern Virginia Community College.

Jennifer was born and raised in Petersburg, Virginia. While at Petersburg High School, she earned a full scholarship to Virginia Military Institute and enrolled in the third class of female cadets to attend the historically all-male college.

Shortly after VMI, Jennifer attended Virginia State University for her Master’s degree where she graduated with honors. She was an adjunct professor at the Virginia State University briefly before enrolling at Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego, California on a full academic scholarship.

Jennifer graduated law school with cum laude honors in 2010 and, shortly thereafter, attained a litigation associate position with the Law Office of Ralph Harrison in Los Angeles, California. After a few years with the Law Office of Ralph Harrison, Jennifer returned to Virginia where she opened her own law practice, the Law Office of Jennifer Carroll.

Jennifer then had the privilege of serving the citizens of Richmond, Virginia as a Magistrate. As a Magistrate, she presided over hundreds of hearings. One of her proudest contributions to the community was creating the Foundation for Foster and Orphan Children, a 501(c) 3 organization, formed to provide tutoring, mentoring, and clothing to disadvantaged foster youth. Jennifer was also a foster parent for eight years. She resides in Woodbridge, Virginia with her husband Jeffrey Foy.

Jamie Maniscalco

Jamie Maniscalco

Finance Director, Emerge America

Jamie Lynn Maniscalco is the Finance Director for Emerge America and a fierce feminist dedicated to electing democratic women. Jamie began her political career as a Field Organizer for President Obama’s 2012 campaign in North Carolina and served the Presidential Inaugural Committee for the National Day of Service. Her path in political fundraising began at Organizing for Action. Through her time at OFA, Jamie was approached to join Senator Jeanne Shaheen’s campaign as Call Time Manager and was promoted to D.C. Finance Director during her time with the campaign.

In 2014 Jamie worked for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in the Mid-Atlantic Region where she raised PAC & individual dollars. In 2015, Jamie joined Governor Terry McAuliffe’s Leadership PAC, Common Good VA, where she advised & raised money for seven state senate races. She was an integral part of the small team that raised over $18 million dollars for state senate races in Virginia. Most recently, Jamie was the Finance Director for the Democratic Party of Virginia during the 2016 election where she raised $1.7 million, making VA the only self-funded democratic state party that year.

Jamie is a native of Long Island, New York, spent a lot of time in North Carolina, and now resides in Washington, DC. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science & a Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy from East Carolina University. Jamie is a on the Board of Virginia’s List, a member of the Women’s Information Network (WIN) in DC & a recipient of the WIN Young Women of Achievement Award in Politics and Campaigns.

Chelsea Wilson

Chelsea Wilson

Chair, She Should Run Frontrunners

In 2014, Chelsea moved from her home in Oklahoma to work on federal Indian policy at the national level. Since then, she increasingly focused her attention to Native American business, specifically tribal efforts in federal contracting. She is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and she currently works in business development for All Native Group, a contracting division owned by the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska. Prior to working at All Native Group, she was the Legislative Director for the Native American Contractors Association.

Chelsea values diversity, empathy, humor and teamwork, both in her professional and personal life. More than anything, Chelsea values results. Her leadership style inspires friendly competition and a strong sense of community in the teams she belongs to, which has proven to ignite her colleagues into action.

Chelsea is dedicated to progressive organizations and causes. She was a fellow in the 2016 New Leaders Council (NLC) DC Institute and currently serves as Finance Chair for the 2018 NLC DC Executive Board. Chelsea is also deeply committed to She Should Run, a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering more women and girls to run for public office. She currently serves as the Chair of She Should Run’s Frontrunners, a group of young professional women living in Washington, D.C. who are dedicated to breaking down barriers precluding women from running for public office.

Fighting for Immigrant Women and Children in Detention

Fighting for Immigrant Women and Children in Detention

Professor Lindsay M. Harris

Professor Lindsay M. Harris

Co-Director, Immigration & Human Rights Clinic

Lindsay Harris is an Assistant Professor and Co-Director of the Immigration & Human Rights Clinic at the UDC David A. Clarke School of Law. Prior to joining UDC, Professor Harris focused on efforts to end the detention of immigrant families as part of the CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project. In her previous practice in the DC metro area, Professor Harris launched and led the African Women’s Empowerment Project at the Tahirih Justice Center, conducting outreach to and representing survivors of gender-based violence. Professor Harris previously taught at Georgetown University in their asylum clinic and also taught a refugee law course at George Mason University School of Law.

In law school, Professor Harris served as a student leader of the California Asylum Representation Clinic, the Boalt Hall Committee for Human Rights, the Boalt Hall Women’s Association, and on the editorial staff of the Berkeley Journal of International Law. She interned with the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies and was a Berkeley Human Rights Center Fellow in South Africa. After law school, Professor Harris clerked on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Professor Harris’ research examines the human outcomes of immigration laws and policies. Her publications address contemporary issues in asylum law and policy, including gender-based and gang-related asylum claims. She is a frequent speaker on issues involving asylee integration, the immigration court system, gender-based and gang-based asylum claims, the detention of immigrant families, and the use of experts in asylum cases.

Makeda Crane

Makeda Crane

3rd year law student

Makeda Crane is a native of Brooklyn, New York and third-year law student at the UDC David A. Clarke School of Law. Ms. Crane graduated from University of Maryland Baltimore County, where she received a B.A. degree in Political Science. Upon graduation she worked in East Baltimore as a Youth Employment Advocate and a Rehabilitation Drug Counselor. Ms. Crane produced multiple publications in the Opinion pages of the Baltimore Sun and traveled to the Democratic Republic of Congo as an independent investigative journalist.  Upon returning to the states, she publicly advocated for a political solution to ending the conflict in Eastern Congo.  Ms. Crane was the co-founder of a DC-based advocacy and direct-action organization, Collective Power, which focused on criminal justice reform and was an instrumental organizer in ensuring the passage of the DC’s Simple Possession of Small Quantities of Marijuana Decriminalization Amendment Act of 2013.

In her first year of law school Ms. Crane collaborated with classmate and founder of the National Association Against Police Brutality, Johnathan Newton to organize the first (NAAPB) Forum. In the Spring of 2017, Ms. Crane served as Student Attorney in the Government Accountability Project (G.A.P.) clinic where she advocated on behalf of my whistleblowing clients.  In March of 2017, she served as a Student Attorney on behalf of families seeking asylum at Karnes Detention Center in Karnes City, Texas.  In the summer of 2017, she interned at the District of Columbia Office of Human Rights (DCOHR) as an Investigations Law Clerk where she worked on employment discrimination cases. Ms. Crane is currently enrolled in the Immigration and Human Rights clinic where she represents asylum seekers.

Ms. Crane, serves as the President of the National Lawyers Guild, John Brittain UDC Law Chapter, Vice President-Elect of the Black Law Students Association, SBA, Academic Chair and a member of the BLSA, Mock Trial Team.

GJC 2017 Panel Discussion: Fighting for Immigrant Women and Children in Detention — A National Volunteer Movement

Moderator: Professor Lindsay M. Harris, Co-Director, UDC-DCSL Immigration &Human Rights Clinic
Panelists: Carmen Jones, Liana Elizabeth Montecinos, and Makeda Crane, third-year law students

This panel provided background on the detention of immigrant children and their parents in the United States, and explained the volunteer response – massive law student and volunteer engagement in “on the ground” advocacy within the detention centers in Texas.

Professor Harris and former clinic students who accompanied her co-director, Kristina Campbell, on a service-learning trip for alternative spring break 2017 shared stories and accounts of working within family detention centers, and provided ideas for engagement in working with detained immigrants more broadly.

The following is a brief summary of their conversation, based on notes taken by third-year law student Farah Faroul.

The ProblemNo Family Detention

Tens of thousands of women and children have arrived in the United States in recent years, seeking asylum from the rampant violence of the Northern Triangle (El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras). Honduras has recently had the highest murder rate in the world, and a high level of violence perpetrated by transnational criminal organizations, known as “gangs” or “maras.” Femicide — the killing of women and girls — is often the highest in the world and impunity for violence against women is widespread. This has created a humanitarian refugee crisis.

Student panelist, Carmen Diaz, explained that immigrants from the Northern Triangle are often called “three times wet,” meaning they are immigrants in Mexico and the United States. They are poorly treated wherever they go because of this status. The U.S. government imprisons them, but they are really the victims of a humanitarian refugee crisis of great proportions.  In an earlier blog post, written after a service-learning trip to the Karnes Family Detention Center, I argued that these mothers should be viewed as “sheroes” going to extraordinary lengths to protect their children from violence.

Under U.S. and international law, the violent conditions faced by women and children should give rise to a legitimate claim for asylum, but the U.S. government has instituted draconian policies to stem the tide of asylum seekers:

  • A public information campaign through radios and TVs to discourage Guatemalans, Salvadorians and Hondurans from leaving the country by warning them that they will be detained and deported if they reached the U.S. and highlighting the dangers of the journey.
  • Increased support for Mexican border authorities to send people back. This is called the “Southern Border Plan.”
  • Increased efforts to intercept women and children at the border and send them to “family” detention centers pending deportation proceedings as a deterrent to others.

According to Professor Harris, this policy started under President George W. Bush and although President Obama ended family detention in 2009, his Administration reinstituted the policy in 2014. President Trump’s anti-immigration rhetoric and policies did not create the problem, but they have certainly exacerbated it.

Current Conditions

Arrests of immigrant women increased by 35% in 2017. In the three months from January to March 2017, 292 pregnant women were detained.

Conditions at the detention centers are abysmal. There is limited medical or dental care, and poor feminine hygiene, especially in the custody of CBP, for women’s reproductive needs. Access to nutritious food and water is poor, education is inadequate, and translation services for indigenous languages are limited. This exacerbates PTSD and other mental health problems.  There have been reports of attempted suicide as well as sexual assault within the detention centers.

Most centers are located in remote areas with limited access to attorneys and resources.  Artesia, New Mexico was a “deportation mill” located in a former custom and border control training barracks. There were no attorneys within a 3 hour drive.  Karnes City Detention Center in Texas is run by a private prison contractor. It holds 1158 women and children. The South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas is another privately run center with capacity for up to 2,400 mothers and children.  Berks County Residential Center in Pennsylvania is run by the county, and holds up to 96 mothers and children.

Service-Learning TRipVolunteers making a difference

Women who are incarcerated are given an opportunity to avoid deportation by undergoing a “credible fear” interview to establish their threshold eligibility for asylum. However, a woman is much more likely to receive a positive credible fear determination if she is prepared and accompanied by an attorney before and during the interview. The legal standards are technical and confusing.

More than 35 law schools, 800 law students, and thousands of volunteers have gone on trips to Dilley and Karnes. Their representation has changed the dynamic for women and children, helping them to establish credible fear and post bond (another process that ICE makes more difficult than it should be) so they can leave the detention center and live with family or friends while awaiting immigration proceedings.

The student panelists who participated in a spring break volunteer trip described it as a transformative exerience. They are keenly aware that Latinos are not properly represented in politics and law.  18% (58 million people) of the U.S. population is Latino.  Approximately 11 million of them are undocumented.  Yet there are very few Latino attorneys or elected officials.  Until that changes, U.S. policy toward immigrants is not likely to improve.

The Visitation Room — A Poetic Reflection on Detention

Makeda Crane was so moved by the experience that she composed a powerful poem, The Visitation Room. It goes like this…

The dim fluorescent lights hang over her head and life

Nothing lives in the four walled corner called a room but dust

And the interrogation must begin again in this private prison

Before the border crossing….. and now in detention she is asked what is your persecution?

Is not a defense in America, in the eyes of our law –we are not blind and neither is our justice, humankind has tiers, here

Your trail of tears will not suffice…. You look indigenous, am I right?

These lands no longer belong to you anymore we won the war

So we make the rules that you have to adhere to

“Remember the Alamo” is still the cry across this land

So…..we need a little more persuasion if you are not Caucasian

If your name is too ethnic to properly pronounce in English, announce yourself before you knock on our doors

Are not open for everyone…so if you wouldn’t mind

Tell me this time?

Why are you here?

Show me your scars in sequential order; tell me the raw story of your family’s slaughter

And I’ll tell you if it can fit inside our box neatly with no fuss

Constructed to filter “you people out” nicely packaged – we have parameters here

Yes, we discriminate in America, Protected Grounds Only

On 6 different occasions you fled in fear?

Is it credible, reasonable?

What was your crime?

Are you indigenous, African, Garifuna, of the Darker- skinned kind?

What is your political opinion? Your party affiliation? Were you the victim of sexual violence or forced gang extortion/initiation?

Isn’t every woman treated like property in your homeland? What makes you different from the next woman?

Without hesitation and too much emotion, were you persecuted since you were a kid?

Is this your first bid?

Where are the marks your husband etched into on your back?

I am trying to help you, get you on the right track

We’re having a problem with your lack of details:

Now, Just a second don’t get indignant……you’re telling me there’s nothing more you can share

And that you can’t return back there

But who told you, you would be welcome here?

Let me be honest:  you shared your trauma but I don’t think the judge will say it is enough

So do your best, pray to your god, and I wish you the best of luck!

Carmen Jones

Carmen Jones

3rd year law student

Carmen is a third year law student at the UDC David A. Clarke School of Law. She was drawn to the law school because of the strong clinical emphasis. In Spring 2017, Carmen worked as a student attorney with Law Students in Court in the criminal law clinic. She also traveled to Karnes family detention center as part of the service-learning program. At Karnes, she used her Spanish language skills to assist immigrant detainees with preparing for their credible fear interviews with asylum officers. This semester, as a student attorney in the Immigration and Human Rights Clinic, Carmen is representing an asylum seeker from Honduras in his application for asylum.

Prior to attending law school, Carmen served in the US Navy for 3 ½ years and as a police sergeant with the Miami-Dade Police Department for more than 14 years. Carmen took an early retirement because she believes that police departments nation wide are becoming too militarized. Based on Carmen’s experience, she believes that the key to safe neighborhoods, and less crime, is the concept of community oriented policing – a partnership between the police and the public.

Carmen was Honduras and immigrated to this country as a young girl. Being an immigrant, and seeing how the rhetoric in this nation has become so anti-immigrant has also awakened a passion in Carmen advocate for her immigrant sisters and brothers. Besides advocating against the militarization of police departments, another of her goals is to advocate for those millions of immigrants that are being currently criminalized by this new administration. Carmen holds close to her at all times the truth that this nation is a nation that was founded and built by immigrants.

Liana Elizabeth Montecinos

Liana Elizabeth Montecinos

3rd year law student

Liana is a Senior Paralegal at Benach Collopy LLP where she assists the attorneys in preparing applications and court filings in all of the firm’s practice areas. She is also a third year law student at UDC David A. Clarke School of Law who aspires to become an immigration attorney. At UDC Law, Liana is the President of the Latino Law Student Association. Liana participated in the Immigration and Human Rights Clinic in Spring 2017, representing a Honduran asylum seeker and her children successfully in immigration court. She now serves as teaching assistant for the Immigration and Human Rights Clinic. Immigration issues are near and dear to Liana’s heart as a Honduran native who came to the United States as a child and was eventually granted asylum.

In addition, Liana is a featured author for Departamento 19, a Honduran newspaper for which she writes in Spanish about immigration and human rights issues, especially those affecting the Honduran community in the U.S.  Departamento 19 has recognized Liana as a five-star Honduran, a prestige bestowed upon the most prominent Hondurans living overseas.  This recognition is due to Liana’s long devotion and passion to help the less fortunate. Liana is the Founder and Executive Director of United for Social Justice (USJ), a non-profit organization devoted to help youth access higher education. Through her work with USJ, she has created and coached soccer teams composed of low-income and at-risk children, tutored, conducted fundraisers to feed the homeless and motivated low-income and at-risk youth to pursue higher education.


Taking Action for Gender Equity

Taking Action for Gender Equity

Professor Jo Tyler

Professor Jo Tyler

Penn State University

Jo Tyler is an educator, storyteller, organizational consultant, and mosaic artist. She has over 20 years as a corporate insider in the Fortune 500, and a doctorate in Adult Learning and Leadership from Columbia University. Now, in her role as Associate Professor at Penn State University, her teaching is focused on adult learning and organizational change. She values action-oriented, participative research that can result in real change in the real world. As a consultant, she sees organizations through a lens of discourse that includes storytelling, visual art, and artifacts.

At the Gender Justice Conference 2017, Professor Tyler led us through two powerful exercises to integrate our personal stories of inequality with the larger themes of the conference. This culminated in a session in which we co-created a “found poem” which expressed our personal and collective intentions to go out into the world and take action to end gender inequality in our lives and in the world.

A Found Poem

From the Closing of the Gender Justice Conference 2017


Women Rock!

You are entitled to autonomy.


*It’s a full sentence.

Be conscious of your triggers.

Get involved.

Look for boards to join.

Legislative advocacy for women.

Run for office somewhere, sometime.

Tell girls: Be brave about school.

Pick your channel.


Take Action.

Reach outside of my network.

Reach out to HIPS.

Figure out my purpose.

Power of 3/More Frees Us.

Contribute: Keep telling stories.

Take action. Write. Share stories.

Use privilege to amplify voices.


Registration Open for Gender Justice Conference October 20

Registration Open for Gender Justice Conference October 20

Moving Beyond Resistance:

Creating an Action Plan for Gender Justice in the New Political Reality

Friday, October 20, 2017, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Networking Reception at 6:00

It has been 9 months since the inauguration. A new movement has been born, based largely on resistance. Resistance is powerful, and it has slowed down the progress of the Republican agenda. Yet resistance alone cannot take us where we want to go. For this movement to grow and flourish, we need a positive agenda, an action plan to move forward with progressive goals and ideas.

The purpose of this conference is to call together activists, policy makers, lawyers, and law students to envision the next stage of the new movement for global gender justice.

Featured Speakers

Conference themes and topics will include: *Intersectionality and representative leadership. Centering women of color, lesbian and transgender women, religious minorities, immigrants, women living in poverty, and women living with disabilities in the conversation. *GET (Gender Equity Talk) Lightning Rounds. Examine the most pressing challenges of the new Administration, including the assault on immigrants, Muslims, working women, health care, and the LGBTQ community. * GET Huddles. Join with our speakers and like-minded people to explore opportunities for progressive change through law, policy, and activism. *

Conference Agenda

Speed Networking. Learn about opportunities for activism and advocacy from local and national organizations. * Action Spotlights. Tools of progressive change, including story-telling and media strategies, political participation and running for office, and innovative legal services.

Register Here

Calling All Activists and Advocacy Groups

Do you have a policy agenda or action strategy to share? Are you looking for volunteers, signatures on your petition, or activists to get involved in your cause? Reserve your space at our Speed Networking hour, where you will have an opportunity to give a 3-minute elevator pitch and recruit people to your cause. Participation is free but you must register in advance.

Reserve Your Space Here

Support Menstrual Equity

As a part of your attendance, please consider bringing a donation of feminine hygiene products — in the form of unopened boxes of tampons, pads, and pantyliners for all ages and sizes — in support of BRAWS: Bringing Resources to Aid Women’s Shelters. BRAWS is a 501(c)(3) organization based in Vienna, VA that has donated thousands of feminine hygiene products and new bras and underwear to over 40 area shelters and approximately 4,000 women and  girls in the DC metro area since January 2015.