Carmen Perez, Executive Director
Carmen Perez is something of a Renaissance woman in modern-day activism. She has dedicated 20 years to advocating for many of today's important civil rights issues, including mass incarceration, gender equity, violence prevention, racial healing and community policing. As the Executive Director of The Gathering for Justice, a nonprofit founded by legendary artist and activist Harry Belafonte, Carmen has crossed the globe promoting peace through civil and human rights, building alternatives to incarceration and violence, and providing commentary and guidance for state and federal policy creation.
In 2002, Carmen went to work for Barrios Unidos in Santa Cruz – an organization dedicated to providing non-violence training and re-entry services for the incarcerated, and establishing an Institute for peace and community development in Santa Cruz and across the country. In 2011, Carmen helped develop Purple Gold, a young worker’ s program that engages and cultivates the membership of 1199SEIU’s 35-and-under members, while setting the future for the Labor Movement. Her work providing cultural, spiritual and educational events as well as individual support to incarcerated youth inside of juvenile detention centers and prisons in California and New York has led Carmen to prisons in El Salvador and Venezuela.
Carmen is the co-founder of Justice League NYC and founder of Justice League CA, two state-based task forces for advancing juvenile and criminal justice reform agenda. She has organized numerous national convenings, including Growing Up Locked Down conferences on juvenile justice, and led the March2Justice, a 250 mile march through 5 states from New York City to Washington, DC which drew Congressional attention to key legislative reforms to confront the national crisis in police violence. A respected expert in the field of juvenile and criminal justice and system accountability, Carmen was invited to testify before the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, was a featured speaker and Co-Convener of the 20th Anniversary of the Million Man March, Justice Or Else, and have been featured in numerous media and TV outlets.
Carmen’s most recent work is her role as the National Co-Chair of the Women’s March on Washington, drew over 5 million people across the globe who marched in resistance of hatred and bigotry, affirming women of all identities’ rights as human beings. Carmen received the Justice, Peace, and Freedom Award at the 2016 AFL-CIO Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Civil and Human Rights Awards and has been a featured speaker at Harvard University, Columbia University, and the University of California - Santa Cruz. In 2017 Carmen was named one of Fortune’s Top 50 World Leaders and one of TIME’s most influential people.