Plenary and Keynote Speakers
The two days of Power Shift 2016 Northeast will each open with a plenary conversation featuring leaders from across the movement for climate justice in the Northeast. Read our speakers' bios here!
Opening Plenary // Saturday, 7/23
The opening plenary at Power Shift 2016 Northeast will open dialogue about the past, present, and future of power shifting in our movement. The plenary will provide a space for young activists to speak to and draw connections between climate change and other fights for justice.
Angela Vogel, EDGE
Angela Vogel is an organizer for the all-volunteer grassroots group EDGE Philly (Encouraging Development of a Green Economy). She is well known for dancing on the desks of fossil fuel executives, sneaking climbing gear into NFL stadiums, and generally being a thorn-in-the-side to corporate lackeys and politicians, and anyone with power getting in the way of justice. In addition to organizing disruptive artful activism withe EDGE, she is currently working as an organizer and strategist for The Fair Ride Philly Coalition, a group of disabled people and taxi & Uber drivers fighting for civil rights in the transportation industry. Her past experience includes organizing unions in three states after years of public relations work with some evil corporations. She can also sometimes be found practicing her monkey-wrenching on bicycles in East Mt. Airy at Philly Electric Wheels where she specializes in proselytizing about the wonders of folding bikes.
Dominique Mobley, Aramark Philly
Dominique Mobley has worked for Aramark at Citizens Bank Park (CBP) for 7 years, currently in the Retail Merchandise Department. She is an Executive Board Member of UNITE HERE Local 274 and chairs the UNITE HERE Philly Contract Enforcement Committee at the Stadiums. Dominique has been on the Union Committee since 2010 and currently sits on the Union Negotiating Committee that is fighting for a new contract with Aramark at CBP. That contract expired in March of this year. She recently led a successful NO Vote 455-13 rejecting Aramark’s last contract offer. She was one of the featured speakers at the Poverty Summit in Philadelphia and the June 19 th delegation to the Aramark GM with over 100 Aramark workers. Dominique was born and raised in West Philly. She is the mother of 3 girls and has 7 grandkids. It is the reason why she is a fighter today.
Ryan Nissim-Sabat, Unite Here! Philly
Ryan Nissim-Sabat has been a Union Organizer with UNITE HERE for 16 years. He is currently leading the food service organizing program in Philadelphia, which comprises of all 3 stadiums and the PHL Airport. UNITE HERE is the hospitality worker’s union. Before joining the union, Ryan received his MA in Black Studies form the Ohio State University, where he wrote on the Black Panther Party’s activities in Cleveland, Ohio. His research was published in the book Comrades: A Local History of the Black Panther Party. He was born in Philadelphia and raised in Virginia. He is married and is the proud father of two young children, Isaac and Sasha.
Jeannine Kayembe and Alex Epstein, Urban Creators
Jeannine Kayembe and Alex Epstein are Co-founders and Co-Executive directors of the Urban Creators, a North-Philadelphia based non- profit transforming blighted landscapes into dynamic safe-spaces that cultivate connectivity, self-sufficiency, and innovation. In 2009, Jeaninne moved to Philadelphia to perform spoken word poetry where she met Alex, who had moved to North Philadelphia to attend Temple University, but was warned never to leave campus because the surrounding neighborhoods were “too dirty and dangerous”. Together, they ventured out to learn the narratives of the community for themselves. In 2010, Alex & Jeaninne teamed up with a diverse group of students, artists, entrepreneurs, hustlers, and creators in North Philly to establish the Urban Creators. Motivated by their differences, they set out to transform a 2-acre garbage dump into “Life Do Grow” Farm, and since then, have transformed nearly 4 acres of vacant land into a thriving network of community gardens, safe public spaces, and hubs for hyper-local entrepreneurship. Jeannine hopes to spread her knowledge on community organizing through artistic event curation to organizations around the world while creating visual and literary art of her own. Alex strives to build bridges between isolated communities and promote social justice through community organization.
Germán Parodi, ADAPT
Germán L. Parodi has achieved an impressive number of victories in his short career as an organizer and has proven that the fight for worker’s rights won’t be won with workers alone. His hard work helping to establish the Consumer Workforce Council ensures that the voices and input of people with disabilities who employ home care workers are included in the collective bargaining process. Originally from Puerto Rico, Germán Parodi has lived in the Juniata Park section of Philadelphia since 2004. Germán is a college student and a former Vice Chair of Disabled in Action of Pennsylvania, a Bread & Roses’ Racial and Economic Justice Fund grantee. He also serves as the chair of the Pennsylvania Consumer Workforce Council. The Consumer Workforce Council is comprised of seniors and people with disabilities who employ their own attendants. The Council was created by an Executive Order authored by Governor Rendell and was the result of a coalition of consumers and providers of homecare services. Germán played a key role in the creation of the Council, including organizing press conferences, rallies, visits to legislators and educational forums for both providers and consumers. Germán served as the lead negotiator for the Council in its negotiations with the United Homecare Workers of PA, a partnership of AFSCME and SEIU, which ratified a contract in April of this year; a key step to guarantee better benefits for homecare workers, and consequently consumers. Germán has also been a leader with Philly ADAPT—a group of disabled rights activists—which is working to strategically close the Philadelphia Nursing Home and to provide wheelchair accessible taxis in Philadelphia. Germán is particularly proud of his role in forcing the Philadelphia Housing Authority to provide vouchers for accessible housing and successful negotiations with SEPTA to implementing an ADA complaint phone line.
Evening Solidarity Salon Special Performance // Saturday, 7/23
What's a Solidarity Salon? Read more about it here.
Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, Earth Guardians
Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, (his first name pronounced ‘Shoe-Tez-Caht’) is a 16 year old indigenous climate activist, hip-hop artist, and on the front lines of a global youth-led environmental movement. At the early age of six, Xiuhtezcatl began speaking around the world from the Rio+20 United Nations Summit in Rio de Janeiro to addressing the General Assembly at the United Nations New York. He is the Youth Director of Earth Guardians an organization of young activists, artists and musicians from across the globe stepping up as leaders and working together to create positive concrete action in their communities to address climate change. He is the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit against the Obama administration for their failure to protect the atmosphere and their future. He has worked locally to get pesticides out of parks, coal ash contained and moratoriums on fracking in his state.
He has traveled across the nation and to many parts of the world educating his generation about the state of the planet they are inheriting and inspiring them into action to protect the Earth. His movement has grown to over 1,500 youth lead Earth Guardian crews globally working on the frontline to combat climate change. His work has been featured on PBS, Showtime, National Geographic, Rolling Stones, Upworthy, The Guardian, Vogue, CNN, MSNBC, HBO and many more. In 2013, Xiuhtezcatl received the 2013 United States Community Service Award from President Obama, and was the youngest of 24 national change-makers chosen to serve on the President's youth council. He is the 2015 recipient of the Peace First Prize and the recipient 2015 Nickelodeon Halo Award. Bill Mckibben of 350.org calls Xiuhtezcatl "an impressive spokesman for a viewpoint the world needs to hear.”
(em)Power Vote Plenary // Sunday, 7/24
This town hall introduces us to frontline leaders that know how to (em)Power Vote! They have come to highlight how building power to scale can strategically move politicians and policies to amplify local, regional and national fights. Elections can be tough, but they can also be empowering. Ahead of a critical election cycle for our democracy and our climate, our panelists will offer attendees ways to recharge—and join in on the action!
Elaine Colligan, 350 Action
Elaine Colligan works for 350 Action organizing students and youth to hold candidates accountable to a fossil free future. She spent seven months of the 2016 presidential primary supporting youth to execute over 100 birddogs in New Hampshire. Her team exposed Republicans’ ties to the fossil fuel industry and pushed Hillary Clinton to oppose offshore drilling and support a moratorium on extraction on public lands. Elaine recently moved to Virginia to work with the Virginia Student Environmental Coalition on the 2016 presidential race and local congressional fights. Elaine graduated from Georgetown University in 2015 where she organized for divestment, with day laborers and for a diversity requirement.
Giselle Hart, University of New Hampshire '17
Giselle was introduced to environmental organizing at PowerShift 2013 in her first semester at college. Since then, she has organized at UNH for zero waste, fossil fuel divestment, womyn's empowerment, and electoral politics. Last summer, Giselle worked for 350Action to make climate justice a deciding issue in the New Hampshire primaries, bird-dogging presidential candidates and organizing community members to engage with the 2016 election.
Curt Ries, Democracy Spring
Curt Ries is the Operations Director for Democracy Spring. He has organized for the last three years fighting to get big money out of politics and to guarantee the right to vote. He believes in the power of popular nonviolent movements to bring about systemic change in society. He is a gardener, thinker, worker, writer and partner.
Jasmine Rivera, Philly Organizer
Jasmine Rivera has been community organizing in the Philadelphia area for seven years. Growing up in Arizona she became involved in social justice movements at a young age, earning the Presidential Service Award and a Rotary scholarship her senior year. She studied at Sarah Lawrence College concentrating in history, economics and environmental science. Her senior year she was the co-chair of the Latino Identity group UNIDAD, while also holding positions in various social justice groups. She began her organizing career with NJPIRG working with students at Camden Rutgers on health care reform, hunger and homelessness, student debt and environmental issues. She later joined ACTION United organizing in Germantown and North Philadelphia on issues ranging from street flooding and blight to public education and bank accountability, celebrating the passage of the Philadelphia Paid Sick Leave bill, a campaign she played a key role in for five years. She became the Lead Organizer with Juntos in 2013 working with the Latino immigrant community in Philadelphia and Norristown. In her time with Juntos she played a role in ending police/ICE collaboration in both Philadelphia and Norristown, was a part of the national movement for executive relief from deportations (DAPA), fought for the release of community members detained by ICE in Pennsylvania and continues to fight for the closure of the Berks County Detention Center, a prison incarcerating immigrant parents and children. She organizes in her free time on worker rights, environmental and reproductive justice while continuing to be active in the immigrant rights movement. She now joins Pennsylvania Voice as the Data and Targeting Manager, is a new board member of Planned Parenthood of Pennsylvania and a steering committee member for Philly for Change.
Lynn Hua, NextGen PA
My name is Lynn Hua and I am a proud millennial, aspiring polymath, and revolutionary. I was born and raised a Californian and am now 22 years old. As the oldest child of an immigrant family, I assumed a great deal of responsibility and awareness. When I began learning about various issues, the familial obligation I experienced transmuted into a moral commitment to take care of humanity and address the problems our world face today. I began volunteering, organizing, and participating in collective action with other community leaders who sought to be agents of change themselves. I often times found my niches in either student leadership or grassroots activism, places where my passions for social justice and political advocacy grew. I placed my education on hold to join the political revolution in Burlington, Vermont on Bernie Sanders' Campaign as a National Digital Field Manage where I learned about distributed organizing and had the immense opportunity to work with thousands of fellow revolutionary compatriots and pursue my passions in full. Dropping out of college never felt so right. Now, I continue this work in NextGen Climate Action as the Operations Director for Pennsylvania; together, our organization's campaign is striving to inspire and register millennial voters in swing states for this 2016 election cycle in order to stop Trump's reign of terror and advocate for progressive environmental policies and state representatives who support them. Together, I believe we can continue creating the change we wish to see in the world.
Benjamin O’Keefe, MoveOn
At only 22 years old, Benjamin O’Keefe is already taking the world by storm as a speaker, Internet personality, and one of the leading youth voices in progressive politics. Ben gained international acclaim after beginning a global movement against the clothing company Abercrombie & Fitch over that company’s size-based discrimination, and he went on to launch body-positive campaigns with some of the largest clothing and beauty companies in the world. Since then, he has continued advocating to lift up the voices of marginalized communities and create systemic change. Ben currently works as the Social and Cultural Producer at MoveOn.org, the largest progressive nonprofit in America, where he is the youngest employee ever. Ben hosts the popular MoveOn web series "The O'Keefe Brief," is an MTV News guest host, and writes for MTV's "Decoded." Ben is passionate about starting conversations—especially with young people—about the power of our voices to create change in our lives and in the lives of others.
Alicia Kolar Prevost, Defend Our Future, Environmental Defense Fund
Alicia Kolar Prevost leads Defend Our Future, an initiative of Environmental Defense Fund that aims to mobilize young people around climate action. Before launching Defend Our Future, Dr. Prevost was Deputy Director of the Climate Action Campaign, a nationwide coalition of environmental groups that helped secure the first-ever carbon pollution standards from power plants, a major step toward fighting global warming. Her experience also includes work at the Democratic National Committee, John Kerry for President and John Dingell for Congress. She has also worked for the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, the Harvard Institute of Politics and American University's Campaign Management Institute. Dr. Prevost holds a PhD in political science from American University, an MPP from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and a BA from the University of Michigan-Dearborn.