Nico's involvement in social justice work stems from a deep passion for racial justice and a motivation to support transformation and empowerment in people of color, queer, and trans communities. He got his start as an organizer working with students to respond to racial profiling, increased militarism, incarceration and detention of immigrants, and policies like the USA Patriot Act in the aftermath of 9/11.
Daniel Hunter is a Training Elder with Training for Change, focusing on strategy development and training trainers in popular education. The breadth of his work is wide – a recent month included training union locals on organizing and economic class, Algonquins on direct action strategy, a capstone weekend of a semester-long intensive for Philadelphia community organizers and Quakers on building campaigns to stop mountaintop removal.
Andrea Parra is a Colombian attorney and law professor who has worked for over 15 years on issues related to gender-based violence, sexual and reproductive rights, disability justice and immigrant rights. She has conducted numerous trainings to activists, public officials, survivors, students and academics. She has trained in Spain, United States, Morocco, Turkey, Mexico, Nicaragua, Argentina, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Switzerland and Colombia
Andrew Willis Garcés works with organizations seeking to transform their practices to become more powerful through coaching, strategy support for leaders, curriculum development, nurturing of new practices, and trainings for the organization as a whole. He's trained hundreds on creative direct action, civil disobedience, and campaign strategy and enjoys working with Southern organizations, folks with roots in Colombia, and Spanish-speaking immigrant groups around the country, in addition to organizations in Colombia, Ecuador and Mexico.
Celia Kutz has been with Training for Change since 2009 and is both Trainer and Director for this dynamic grassroots-led training organization. Born in rural Western, NY Celia has led student boycotts in Montreal, healing justice at the Republican National Convention Protests, direct action trainings protesting the Keystone XL Pipeline and numerous other trainings with grassroots movement groups in the U.S. and sometimes internationally!
Naomi Long has dedicated her career to working for social justice organizations that focus on building power with people on the margins. She currently develops the vision and strategy for Wellstone Action in their southeast regional work, supports partnerships around ending sexual violence, reproductive justice, abortion access, and leads the grassroots organizing team for Camp Wellstone. In her spare time she works as a training associate for Training for Change where she can follow her calling to support the leadership development of trainers and organizers of color.
Matthew Armstead is a community builder, facilitator, and organizer in Philadelphia, PA, and he is a trainer with Training for Change. He has worked with diverse groups of people from Occupy Wall Street activists to Ivy League university students, and led sessions on a variety of topics, such as anti-oppression, strategic planning, community outreach, peer counseling, nonviolent direct action, training of trainers, and organizational development.
Erika Thorne has been a progressive activist, writer, facilitator and cultural worker since 1974. She focuses on anti-racism work with other whites, coalition-building, and diversity work. She also loves to facilitate strategic planning, training of trainers, hate-crimes response, board development, conflict waging, ethical grassroots fundraising, and meetings - especially real sticky ones!
George Lakey, 76, was co-founder of Training for Change with Barbara Smith, and directed the group for 15 years before retiring. He has led 1,500 workshops on five continents, taught peace studies at colleges and universities, and authored seven books on nonviolent social change, peace, and organizational development.
Betsy Raasch-Gilman facilitates meetings and teaches groups about group process, consensus decision-making, and productive conflict. Training for boards of nonprofit organizations and cooperative businesses is a particular strong point for her. Additionally, she helps activists involved in campaigns to think strategically about their next moves.
Judith C. Jones, Ph.D. grew up in Philadelphia, received her doctorate in Political Science from Atlanta University and has taught at Penn State University since 1985 and at Philadelphia University for the past three years. Judith is also co-author of Two Voices from the Front Line: A Conversation about Race in the Classroom, an article found in the award winning anthology Race in the College Classroom, published by Rutgers University Press.
Omi (full name is Omowale) is a youth worker, facilitator, and organizer living in Philadelphia, and is a quiet, Midwest queer at heart. Prior to joining the Training for Change team, they were an instructor for an after-school bike program, facilitating spaces where students developed leadership and bike mechanic skills. In this work, they focused on the bridge between biking and social justice, while supporting the leadership and skill development of young people.
Shreya D. Shah, MPH is based in Philadelphia and Michigan. She is the founder of Saltwater Social Justice Training & Consulting and has facilitated workshops and group processes for over 10 years across the States.
Karen Ridd is an instructor in Conflict Resolution Studies at Menno Simons College, an affiliate of the University of Winnipeg, Canada, where her courses include "Introduction to Conflict Resolution Studies" and "Violence and Nonviolence". She is the former training coordinator for Mediation Services, a conflict resolution program in Winnipeg.
Katey Lauer is an organizer, facilitator and trainer in Central Appalachia, with a deep love of place and passion for environmental justice. She has worked with grassroots groups in and outside of the mountains for eight years, as the former coordinator of the Alliance for Appalachia, co-convener of Appalachia Rising, organizer with Advocates for a Safe Water System and mentor to the national Divestment Student Network.
Office Manager - Ali is an organizer and storyteller living in Philadelphia. She’s worked towards environmental justice, racial justice, and queer liberation through running campaigns, designing exhibits, and planning workshops.
Co-Director - Celia Kutz has been with Training for Change since 2009 and is both Trainer and Director for this dynamic grassroots-led training organization. Born in rural Western, NY Celia has led student boycotts in Montreal, healing justice at the Republican National Convention Protests, direct action trainings protesting the Keystone XL Pipeline and numerous other trainings with grassroot movement groups in the U.S. and sometimes internationally!
Co-Director - Zein is a organizer, trainer, and media maker based in Philadelphia. He's organized around environmental justice, worked with community media organizations in Philly, and is in political community with LeftRoots and the Maypop Collective. He has been connected to Training for Change for over seven years through trainings and coaching and joined as Co-Director in 2017.
Bookkeeper - Betsy Raasch-Gilman facilitates meetings and teaches groups about group process, consensus decision-making, and productive conflict. Training for boards of nonprofit organizations and cooperative businesses is a particular strong point for her. Additionally, she helps activists involved in campaigns to think strategically about their next moves.
In 2008 Jen moved to Philadelphia and got involved in the immigrant rights movement. Thorugh that work Jen participated in several TfC trainings and help create the New Leadership School, a leadership development program for immigrant leaders in Philadelphia. She is passionate about socio/economic and environmental justice, working from a human rights framework, and enjoys fundraising to support work that promotes a better world.
Janée is the Director of Organizational Culture for the William Caspar Graustein Memorial Foundation, whose mission is to achieve equity in education by working with those affected and inspiring all to end racism and poverty. She also has several years of experience as a facilitator and trainer of grassroots organizers and community coalitions seeking to create change by addressing racism, economic injustice, early childhood education, and food security. She writes about social justice issues on her blog What Matters.
Sonia Silbert is originally from New York City and has lived in Washington, DC for the past ten years. Since 2008, she has served as Executive Director of the Washington Peace Center, providing education, resources and action for activists in DC working for social justice and a world free from oppression. She has personally led trainings for groups up to 400 on Nonviolent Direct Action, Grassroots Fundraising and more.
Hilary is an educational administrator and diversity practitioner who has worked for nineteen years in independent schools. Her approach to anti-bias/anti-oppression education in privileged communities is deeply informed by intersectionality, non-violent communication, and her own identity as a black biracial transracial adoptee.
Vega is a professional coach focusing on social justice/ social change activists and nonprofit staff. Past involvements include, Executive Director of Chaya, an anti-domestic violence organization serving South Asian women and their communities; a co-founder of the Rainbow Dragon Fund, an AAPIP Giving Circle promoting philanthropy in and benefiting D.C. Metro Area LGBTQ AAPI community.
Naomi Doerner is a first generation Latina American feminist. Born in Chicago, she and her then single and undocumented mother traversed the city together, her mother constantly seeking economic opportunity and upward mobility. Naomi and her family's lived experiences have shaped her career as a social justice and racial equity organizer, urban planner and strategist working within the national transportation community.
AG is a movement organizer and trainer focused on working at the intersections of racial and economic justice. They are an Atlanta-native, but have spent the last few years invested in growing community power across the state of Florida with the Dream Defenders. This includes campaigns like Kids Not Criminals, focused on ending the school-to-prison pipeline in Hillsborough and Pinellas County.
Nico Fonseca is a gender variant disabled fat femme nuyorican from Brooklyn. They're a cultural worker and brujx with deep commitments to ancestral work, legacy and knowledge and connecting those to political strategies towards liberation. Their pronouns are they, them and papi. They practice healing, resilience and resistance through laughter, dancing and learning from their peoples in struggle.
Rachel Gilmer is a Black feminist organizer with nearly 10 years experience in advocacy, programs, leadership development, research and writing on issues of racial and social justice. Rachel has been with the Dream Defenders since 2015.
Nicole Ektnitphong is an educator, organizer, youth worker, and trainer based in Minneapolis, Minnesota with roots in Thailand and Laos. She dreams of intergenerational building and ways to continue centering healing in movements.
Cleopatra (aka Cleo aka Cleopatra From The Bronx) is an African-American Femmeboiant Queer who was born, raised, and lived in The Bronx, New York for 28 years. As a first-generation born child of Ghanaian immigrants, education and access has always been a huge focus in Cleopatra's life and she aims to make both priority issues in all areas of her life.
Nikki Shaffeeullah is a Toronto-based facilitator, director, performer and community-engaged artist who supports people in telling their own stories and facilitates the development of creative communities. Nikki believes art should disrupt the status quo; centre the margins; engage with the ancient; dream of the future; and be for everyone. Her current projects include serving as artistic director of The AMY Project, a devised theatre and arts mentorship program for young women and non-binary youth; associate artistic director of the community arts company Jumblies Theatre, and half of the community-engaged puppetry and music duo Sea Lettuce.
Heidi Maria Lopez is a first generation, queer, Quiskeyana who believes in people and our power to shape our lives, heal and create new possibilities. Heidi Maria builds relationships that change this world so that Black and Brown people, particularly poor Black and Brown people, take back was has been taken from us, (re)claim our history and shape our own lives without the intervention of racist and oppressive systems.