I’ve spent most of my life organizing, training and writing for racial justice and feminism. Today, I’m the former President and Executive Director of Race Forward, the Center for Racial Justice Innovation, where I also served as the Publisher of the award-winning news site Colorlines. Race Forward generates the awareness, leadership and solutions required for racial equity, and has recently merged with the Center for Social Inclusion to expand its work. Today I serve as a Senior Strategist to the organization.
Race Forward has generated some of the most impactful racial justice successes of the last decade. I am especially proud of the groundbreaking Shattered Families report, which changed the immigration debate with investigative research on how record deportations of parents were leading to the placement of thousands of children in foster care, often separating them permanently and legally from their families. We also ran Drop the I-Word, a campaign for media outlets to stop referring to immigrants as “illegal,” resulting in the Associated Press, USA Today, LA Times, and many more outlets dropping the i-word, affecting millions of readers every day.
Before Race Forward, I served in leadership roles at the Center for Third World Organizing (CTWO), where I trained organizers of color and crafted public policy campaigns. My first book Stir it Up, written on commission from the Ms. Foundation for Women, laid out a model of community organizing that integrates analysis and education on race, gender, class, poverty, sexuality, and other systems. My second book The Accidental American: Immigration and Citizenship in the Age of Globalization told the story of Moroccan immigrant Fekkak Mamdouh, who co-founded the Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York in the aftermath of September 11.
I was a child immigrant coming to the U.S. with my family when I was five, and I learned to speak English in a two-room schoolhouse in rural New York state. I’m also a fabric artist, better known as avid knitter.