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2006 ALSTON / BANNERMAN FELLOWS 

Federico Azcarate

Washington, DC
Growing up in an extended Pilipino immigrant family, Federico Azcarate saw what a difference organzing made for those who were fortunate enough to have union jobs. He began organizing as a student and was the first Asian American President of the United States Student Association. In 1992, Fred became Executive Director of Jobs with Justice, a national social justice network of labor, faith-based, community and student organizations. Under his leadership, the network has grown to 43 local coalitions in 29 states waging workplace and community campaigns that have secured workers rights, living wages, accountable development and improved access to health care.

EDWARD BENTON

Hayward, WI
In 1971, as director of the St. Paul chapter of the American Indian Movement, Edward Benton responded to parents' concerns about racism in the public schools by establishing the Red School House, one of the first alternative schools for Native American children. Edward has been at the forefront of indigenous culture-based education ever since as an activist, author, teacher and curriculum specialist. In 1980, he founded the Three Fires Culture and Education Society dedicated to the revival and teaching of Ojibwe history, language, traditions and spiritual practices. The Society is now established in 13 communities in the U.S. and Canada.

ROBERT COWARD, JR.

Washington, DC
The barriers he encountered after a disabling spinal cord injury spurred Robert Coward, Jr. to activism in the early 1990s. As a national leader of the disability rights organization ADAPT, he is equally at home providing testimony to Congress or leading demonstrations. As Chair of ADAPT's Capitol Area Chapter, Robert headed successful campaigns to make subway cars and public housing more accessible. In 2002, he founded DIRECT Action in his hometown, Washington, DC, to organize people with disabilities to reform long-term care services and replace institutional segregation in nursing homes with independent living.

THO THI DO

San Francisco, CA
As a high school student recently arrived from Vietnam, Tho Thi Do discovered community activism at the Vietnamese Youth Development Center in San Francisco. After working there for 11 years as a youth employment counselor and tenant organizer, Tho joined the staff of UNITE-HERE Local 2 in 1989. In addition to leading organizing drives, contract fights and strikes, she has developed an internship program for rank and file members and strengthened the union's relations with immigrant community organizations. As Secretary/Treasurer of Local 2, Tho is one of the first Southeast Asian women to hold a leadership position in the U.S. labor movement.


ANA GARCIA-ASHLEY

Chicago, IL
Born in the Dominican Republic, Ana Garcia-Ashley is motivated by her experiences and her faith to make congregation-based organizing her life's work. She began in 1981 with the Metropolitan Organization for People in Denver and since 1992 has worked with the Gamaliel Foundation. Ana was lead organizer of MICAH in Milwaukee and of Racine Interfaith Coalition, and then executive director of WISDOM in Southeast Wisconsin. Currently, she is Gamaliel's Co-Director for the East Coast and Co-Director of its National Civil Rights of Immigrants Department, a leading voice for comprehensive immigration reform.


MAY LOUIE

Roxbury, MA
A child of Chinese immigrants, May Louie became involved in Asian American student and community activism in 1971. Over the next two decades, she played a leading role in progressive political organizing in Boston's Chinatown and in building multi-racial coalitions locally and nationally, including serving as chief of staff of the National Rainbow Coalition. Since 1994, May has worked at the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI), a nationally recognized model for resident-led neighborhood revitalization. She created DSNI¹s Resident Development Institute, which employs popular education methods to develop strong collective leadership.


BEATRIZ MAYA

Toledo, OH
A student activist in the movement against the Argentine dictatorship, Beatriz Maya brought her commitment to justice to the U.S. and her work with the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC). Since 1992, she has played a variety of roles in the union including directing leadership development, education, contract administration and organizing. Recently, Beatriz heading the successful national boycott of the Mt. Olive Pickle Company. She also initiated the union's Associate Membership program to organize new immigrants employed in industries other than agriculture, and she is a leader of local and national coalitions for immigrant rights.

SALADIN MUHAMMAD

Rocky Mount, NC
Since the 1960s, when he organized youth in Philadelphia to oppose police brutality and resist the draft, Saladin Muhammad has been active in the Black Freedom Movement. He co-founded Black Workers for Justice (BWFJ) in 1981, helping K-Mart workers in Rocky Mount organize community support against discrimination in the workplace. BWFJ continues to initiate and support campaigns with the goal of building a broad-based labor movement in the South and interntional labor solidarity. Recently, Saladin has been involved in the statewide effort to win collective bargaining rights for North Carolina's public sector workers.

JERI SUNDVALL WILLIAMS

Portland, OR
A member of the Klamath tribe, Jeri Sundvall Williams began organizing her fellow hotel workers in 1994 around the dangers of toxics in the workplace. With the Workers Organizing Center she went on to organize injured workers statewide and a union of parking attendants in Portland. In 2000, Jeri became Director of the Environmental Justice Action Group , a grassroots organization of mostly low-income women in Portland focused on issues of air quality and public health. EJAC's successes include stopping the expansion of a freeway through their community and holding a steel mill accountable for its violatins of the Clean Air Act.


MARTIN YANEZ

Zillah, WA
For Martin Yanez, growing up in a migrant farmworker family set the stage for a lifelong commitment to social justice. Throughout the 1970s, he was a volunteer organizer for the United Farm Workers Union in California, Oregon and Washington. Taking on a new role at the union's urging, Martin spent nearly a decade enforcing the laws he helped to enact to protect agricultural workers in Washington state. In 1999, Martin founded the Northwest Social & Environmental Justice Institute to develop young leaders and address issues including pesticide use and contamination from the Hanover nuclear facility.

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