Updated July 31, 2012
Nancy Ellett Allison
Dr. Nancy Ellett Allison has served in many capacities throughout her life as a minister, currently as pastor of Holy Covenant United Church of Christ in Charlotte. Together, the fellowship lives into its proclamation: “No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here.” During her tenure at Holy Covenant, Dr. Allison has also become increasingly aware of the energy crisis which shapes our nation’s politics, eroding the earth and destroying lives worldwide. She has worked with several environmental groups to pressure Charlotte-based Duke Energy and our political system to increase the use of renewable energy sources. In addition to her activism involving energy issues, Dr. Allison has worked tirelessly on issues of marriage equality. She helped organize the Charlotte Clergy for Equality team which rallied support against North Carolina’s recent Amendment One. She also accompanied church members involved with the national “WE DO Campaign” sponsored by the Campaign for Southern Equality. Dr. Allison earned her B.A. from Baylor University in Waco, Tex., and her M.Div. and Doctor of Philosophy degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Tex. She has edited and written for several publications and is a popular speaker and preacher. She also finds time to plant lots of perennial flowers which she then neglects to weed!
Ashanti Alston Omowali
Ashanti Alston Omowali is an anarchist activist, speaker, and former member of the Black Panther Party and the Black Liberation Army (BLA) and a former political prisoner. Ashanti, grounded in a Hebrew/Baptist family, came of age as the political action of the 1960′s was hitting its peak. He joined the Black Panther Party while still in high school, starting a chapter in Plainfield, and later going underground with the Black Liberation Army. In 1974 he was involved in a Connecticut “bank expropriation,” captured and imprisoned for 12 plus years. Today, Ashanti is learning at-home parenting, with his wife and radical scholar Viviane Saleh-Hanna, of a 2 ½ year old son named Biko Ajani and tries to maintain the all important political work of is the National Jericho Movement to free u.s. political prisoners. “I attribute Jesus Radicals with helping to solidify my passionately growing ‘homecoming’ & regrounding in the revolutionary gift & being of this anti-empire Palestinian called Jesus.”
Leilani Attilio hails from Philadelphia, PA. Go Phillies! She is a summer intern at the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition. She is a registered nurse and is finishing a Masters of Public Health with a focus in Hispanic and border health at the University of Texas at El Paso.
Willie Baptist is a formerly homeless father who came out of the Watts uprisings, the Black Student Movement, and working as a lead organizer with the United Steelworkers has 40 years of experience organizing amongst the poor including with the National Union of the Homeless, the Kensington Welfare Rights Union, the National Welfare Rights Union, the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, and many other networks. Willie serves as the Poverty Initiative Scholar-in-Residence and is the Coordinator of the Poverty Scholars Program.
Hillary spent 20 years in Alabama before leaving the state to work on issues affecting homeless folks in Atlanta, GA and Albuquerque, NM. Her understanding of sexual ethic and consent was influenced by her work as a radical feminist organizer in Alabama, her conversations with homeless sex workers, and her years living in intentional community. She now lives in Asheville, NC where she works with people with developmental disabilities and writes about the church, education, class, queerness, and the places where those topics intersect.
Robert Childs has served as North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition’s Executive Director since 2009 and was just named one of five people who made a difference in HIV in the USA in 2011 by thebody.com. In addition to performing executive functions, he is involved in all program activities including service delivery, program design, innovation and evaluation, resource development and organizing. Prior to joining NCHRC, Robert served as a Public Health Operations Manager and Program Director at Positive Health Project in New York City, where he oversaw the syringe exchange, arts programming, law enforcement relations (between drug users, sex workers and law enforcement), harm reduction programs serving drug users and sex workers and led research on the public health effects of people injecting in the public domain. Robert has worked in harm reduction for over 10 years and is considered an expert on syringe access, harm reduction, law enforcement and drug user interactions, sex work and overdose prevention and has spoken on such at the United Nations, the FDA, New York City Council and the North Carolina, New Hampshire and Oregon Legislatures. He enjoys working on drug policy reform, improving the lives of vulnerable populations and spending time with his wife Paige, his baby Abraham and dog Miss Baylah.
Monica Embrey is the North Carolina Field Organizer with Greenpeace USA (greenpeace.org), based in Charlotte, North Carolina. A Chicago native, she earned a degree in Environmental Justice from California’s Pomona College in 2009 and focuses on drawing connections between issues of social, economic and environmental injustices. Currently, she works to empower local communities who are impacted by coal-fired power plants to put pressure on the nation’s largest utility, Duke Energy to quit coal and invest in local renewable energy solutions. She has worked with local communities fighting coal plants in Indiana, Michigan and Illinois previously. For fun, Monica enjoys going on picnics and watching her turtle, Assata.
Dian Griffin Jackson
Rev. Dian Griffin Jackson was born the sixth of 13 children in Grifton to the late Mr. and Mrs. Earl and Nettie Mae Rogers Griffin. She received her early education in the Pitt County School system and is a graduate of North Carolina Central University, with a B.A. in Sociology. In May 2000, she entered Duke Divinity School and received her Master of Divinity. A consistent Dean’s List student, she also served as student chapel assistant and secretary of the Black Seminarians Union. She also received the prestigious Jameson Jones Preaching Award for excellence in homiletics and preaching. She is currently completing graduate work in the Doctor of Ministry program at Hood Theological Seminary, Salisbury. In May 2000, Rev. Jackson was ordained by the United Church of Christ and she currently serves as Pastor of Mt. Zion United Church of Christ in Rockingham. She enjoys reading, writing, preaching, teaching, and singing, and is currently working on two books: Faces Behind the Pulpit and The Fourth Generation. She also is contemplating writing a book of prayers and meditations as she is led by God’s Spirit.
Katie has been set on God and anti-civ since she was seven. It wasn’t until she was older and involved with a local infoshop in California that she learned that Christianity and anarchism were together an actual movement with an extensive history. Since then, she’s been involved with a Free Skool, through which she taught math and physics classes and lead a Christian anarchist reading group. She’s been traveling the U.S. and parts of Canada for the past year, meeting people, visiting monasteries, working on zines, trying to learn about God and life. She is currently working on a project called wretch, an organizer and resource guide for Christian anarchists/activists, due out by 2013. She is currently interested in prison abolition, industrial collapse, and consentual everything. She likes riding bikes, writing letters, personal conversations, God, and prayer.
Justin is a grassroots organizer in the Southeast with Croatan Earth First! He has spent a decade working on a wide range of issues and campaigns including fighting poverty in DC, shutting down vivisection labs, resisting King Coal, preserving old growth forests and most recently has joined the fight against fracking. He is well versed in the philosophy of deep ecology and direct action activism and has given presentations at various gatherings and conferences. Over the past year he has worked closely with Occupy and provides graphic design for environmental and social justice groups. On his spare time he studies ecology and practices herbalism in Chapel Hill, NC.
Dr. Anthony J. Nocella II is an award-winning author, educator, community organizer and professor at Hamline University in the School of Education. Anthony a Quaker-anarchist activist is a leading scholar in the fields of critical animal studies, disability pedagogy, critical urban education, peace and conflict studies, critical pedagogy, hip hop activism, queer studies, critical race theory, transformative justice and anarchist studies. Anthony has published more than twelve books and twenty-five articles and co-founded five book series and fifteen current political organizations. He is currently the Editor of the Peace Studies Journal, Executive Director of the Institute for Critical Animal Studies, and Director of Twin Cities Save the Kids, which provides weekly workshops in three different juvenile detention facilities.
John Wessel-McCoy is a project organizer at the Poverty Initiative. He is originally from Decatur, Illinois. He earned an MA in Spring 2009 from Union Theological Seminary and was awarded the Charles Augustus Briggs Award, given to graduates who have demonstrated “qualities of conscience, commitment, and courage as exemplified in the life and work of Charles Augustus Briggs.” Prior to entering the MA program at Union Theological and working with the Poverty Initiative, he was a union organizer.
Mark Van Steenwyk
Mark Van Steenwyk is a co-founder of the Missio Dei intentional community in Minneapolis. Mark is a writer, speaker, and grassroots educator; with the support of the Central Plains Mennonite Conference, he has nurtured and networked radical Christian communities around North America. He is one of the editors of JesusRadicals.com and co-host/producer of the Iconocast podcast. Mark has contributed to several books, is the author of That Holy Anarchist and is currently writing the unKingdom of God (published in 2013 by InterVarsity Press). He likes building pirate ships out of cardboard with is four year old son, cooking whatever strikes his fancy, and singing karaoke (badly).
Todd Zimmer is a Rainforest Action Network organizer based in Charlotte, North Carolina. A Charlotte native, he is currently pushing Bank of America to abandon destructive coal financing. In the past, Todd has worked to grow the grassroots with Rising Tide North America, Green Corps, and the North Carolina Coalition Against Corporate Power. He encourages readers to, in the words of Judy Bonds, “get out of your seats, and into the streets!”