Carmen Perez has been an activist nearly her entire life. After the death of her 19 year-old sister when she was just 17, Carmen began to restore herself by dedicating her life to transforming the lives of young people. After graduating from UC Santa Cruz with a degree in Psychology in 2001, Carmen was dedicated to the pursuit of advocating for young men and women, and providing comprehensive leadership training and opportunities for individuals in and out of the criminal justice system.
Her work in Santa Cruz became well-known in the community and across the country. Carmen is the founder of the youth leadership group R.E.A.L. (Reforming Education, Advocating for Leadership) and Co-Founder of The Girls Task Force, which is dedicated to improving gender-specific services to better support all girls in our communities. She created and supported the “Youth Summit” concept where young people came together to discuss solutions on serious topics such as drug and alcohol reform, detention alternatives, gangs, and violence. Recommendations that came out of the group discussion were often presented and adopted by community and state-wide policy makers throughout California
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 2005, while working for Barrios Unidos, Carmen met the man who would influence the next decade of her life – Harry Belafonte. Mr. Belafonte was forming The Gathering for Justice, and was organizing huge masses of marginalized communities in non-violent settings across the country – and he invited Carmen to be a part of it. Through her work at Barrios Unidos, and a member of The Gathering, Carmen served both organizations while continuing to build her own programs focused on young girls and youth justice. In 2006, Carmen went to work for the Santa Cruz County Probation Department as a bilingual Probation Officer. With an all-female intensive caseload, Carmen worked tirelessly to provide appropriate programs and re-entry services for young women in the juvenile justice system.
In 2008 Carmen became the National Organizer of The Gathering for Justice and in 2010 she was promoted to Executive Director of the organizer. As Executive Director of The Gathering, Carmen has crossed the globe promoting peace, interconnectedness, and alternatives to incarceration and violence while collaborating in national policy presentations. In 2011, after moving her base of operations to New York, Carmen was tapped to help 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. For two years she directed Purple Gold’s operations and program development across the boroughs of New York City.
Carmen has been featured on several TV programs and in numerous articles, and is the 2008 recipient of United Way’s “Community Hero Award,” and Santa Cruz County Women’s Commission “Trailblazer’s Award in Criminal Justice.” She was presented a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition for Outstanding and Invaluable Service to the Community, and received the “Zaragoza Award” from the Committee for the Mexican Culture at D.V.I. Prison in Tracy, for her contribution and dedication to bringing hope to incarcerated men. In May of 2014, she had the opportunity to share her life’s work and delivered her 1st TEDx Talk inside Ironwood State Prison hosted by Richard Branson and produced by Scott Budnick. She has recently been accepted into the Women’s Media Center Progressive Women’s Voices Class of 2014.
After attending NYU, Julianne began her producing career at Naked Angels, a NY theater company where she produced over 30 plays and events and served as the company's Producing Director from 1997-1999.
In 1997, when her best friend and producing partner Jenifer Estess was diagnosed with ALS - a fatal, untreatable neurological disease (known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) - Julianne co-founded Project A.L.S., a non-profit organization that raises awareness and funds for ALS research. During her 6 plus years as Director of Operations and Executive Producer, the organization raised tens of millions of research dollars and considerable attention for the misunderstood disease, and produced three films – Jenifer, a CBS movie-of- the-week; HBO’s feature documentary Three Sisters: Searching For A Cure; and the award-winning short film Project A.L.S.. After Jenifer's death in the fall of 2003, Julianne limited her role at Project A.L.S. to Board member. Soon after, she produced a national celebrity book tour for Jenifer’s posthumous memoir Tales From The Bed, produced a number of special events for a variety of NY charities, and consulted with the NY Academy of Sciences and Columbia University Film Festival, among others.
Working with noted political theater company Culture Project beginning in the fall of 2006, Julianne fused her passions of theater and politics, first as producer of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Lawrence Wright’s My Trip to Al- Qaeda - which became a highly acclaimed 2010 documentary by Oscar-winner Alex Gibney featuring the stage play Julianne produced. The following year she was delighted to produce a 7-week impeachment series - a "trial by theater" of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, which included actual articles of impeachment brought forth by Constitutional lawyers for the prosecution. Her most successful venture with Culture Project was developing and producing the critically-acclaimed Betrayed by New Yorker writer George Packer, directed by Pippin Parker, which won the 2008 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Play. Julianne later brought the original cast together for a special benefit performance at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC hosted by Sarah Jessica Parker and Matt Dillon for Refugees International. Other projects included producer of Culture Project’s “Working the Dark Side” at the Times Center in May 2009 hosted by Rachel Maddow – a multi-media presentation exploring war crimes prosecution with Liev Schreiber, Ron Suskind and others, and the follow-up “Blueprint for Accountability” with Valerie Plame, Robert Kennedy, Jr., Rose Styron, James Spader and Lt. General Ricardo Sanchez.
As a producing consultant, Julianne spent much of late 2009 and 2010 working with director and filmmaker Fisher Stevens on a number of projects including the post-production activism surrounding the Academy Award-winning documentary The Cove, and Fisher’s peacekeeping documentary for the United Nations, War Against War. Beginning in March 2010, Julianne worked for Andrew Karsch and Fisher’s new film company, Insurgent Media, and was the production coordinator for several Insurgent films including Beware of Mr. Baker, winner of the SXSW 2012 Grand Jury Award, and the 2014 Netflix Original Mission Blue, about TED Prize-winner Sylvia Earle. Since the fall of 2012, Julianne has been a production consultant for Harry Belafonte and Belafonte Enterprises, and was named Director of Operations for The Gathering for Justice in April 2014. Julianne proudly sits on the Advisory Board of SAY, an artistic home for children who stutter.
Tamika D. Mallory is a nationally-recognized leader, currently being heralded as a next-generation champion of the Civil Rights movement. A fiery and outspoken champion for social justice, Ms. Mallory has been called the “Sojourner Truth of Our Time” by JET magazine and publicly applauded as “a leader of tomorrow” by Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama, Valerie B. Jarrett. Ms. Mallory is the President of Mallory Consulting, a strategic planning and event management firm based in New York City, as well as the Community Affairs Director at Radio 103.9 FM - a Cumulus station. In 2014, Ms. Mallory was selected to serve on the transition committee of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and served as co-chair of the NYC initiative, Gun Violence Awareness Month. Most recently, in her role as Board Member for The Gathering for Justice, Ms. Mallory has been supporting the efforts of Justice League NYC to reduce racial disparities in policing. She has been featured on CNN, TV One, MSNBC, News One and many other mediums as a leading voice on key social justice issues. On 10-10-15, Tamika served as Co-Director of the 20th Anniversary of The Million March, JusticeOrElse.
Michael Skolnik is a 21st century civil rights leader. As the Political Director to hip-hop pioneer Russell Simmons and President of GlobalGrind.com, an online destination founded by Simmons with over 6.5 million viewers per month, Michael is a leading voice for young America. A trailblazer of social media with 120,000 followers on twitter, Michael has led national conversations about the death of Trayvon Martin and the subsequent trial of George Zimmerman, the Boston Marathon bombings, the rise of violence in Chicago, America’s relationship with race and the Obama presidency, amongst many other topics. Michael regularly discusses the aforementioned topics, current events, and how they affect his generation on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, NPR and HLN, to name a few media outlets.
In his role as Political Director, Michael and Russell focus their work around three core themes: gun violence, entrepreneurship and education. As President of GlobalGrind, Michael leads a website that serves a multi-racial segment of the 18-34 population, covering entertainment and celebrity news, lifestyle content, fashion, style, music and politics.
Michael serves on the Board of Directors for The Trayvon Martin Foundation and the Drug Policy Alliance. He is also active on the Leadership Council of Gen44, the Democratic Party’s group for young professionals, and was an official surrogate for the 2012 Obama campaign.
Michael is the founder of Dot2Dot, an annual summit of one hundred of the millennials most important leaders, who gather to engage in a conversation about the future of the generation. Prior to his work for Russell Simmons, Michael spent over a decade as an award winning film director and producer. He is a graduate of the UCLA School of Film, Theater and Television. He is proud father of Mateo Ali.
Alida Garcia is a political & public affairs strategist for electoral & issue advocacy campaigns with an expertise in Latino civic engagement, and Latino infrastructure building in non-Latino institutions. She currently is the Director of Coalitions & Policy for FWD.us, a tech advocacy organization founded by Mark Zuckerberg focused on passing comprehensive immigration reform and spurring innovation in technology to increase citizen participation in the legislative process. She served as the National Latino Vote Deputy Director for President Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign whereby she focused on developing the national Latino vote program in the 11 priority battleground states, which ultimately produced the highest Latino voter turnout in Presidential campaign history. Some of Alida’s portfolio included: a primary focus on Colorado, which had the highest support level from the Latino community in a battleground state (87%); launching Latino strategies in nontraditional states such as Iowa and New Hampshire; and developing innovative digital strategies specifically geared towards engaging Latino youth on Obama for America digital platforms. Alida was extensively involved in Los Angeles politics as the right hand for Austin Beutner, Deputy Mayor and founder of Evercore Partners, where she worked in economic development for Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa’s Office of Economic and Business Policy. Additionally, she chaired California Attorney General Kamala Harris’ Young Professionals, Latino efforts and vote count efforts, and was the California Latino Vote Deputy Director for President Obama’s 2008 Campaign. Prior to LA politics, Alida was an associate at K&L Gates LLP where she focused on commercial disputes and employment litigation. She is a graduate of Stanford University and Columbia Law School.
Jesse L. Martin is an actor, writer and producer, most noted for his starring roles in the Broadway and film version of Rent, as well his 10 seasons as Det. Ed Green on NBC’s long running Law & Order, and memorable roles on Ally McBeal and NBC’s Smash. Jesse now stars on the CW’s cult hit show The Flash and is currently editing a film that he wrote and directed, The Letter Carrier. Jesse sits on the Board of Trustees of the Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation.
Daniel “Nane” Alejandrez, Founder and Executive Director, Barrios Unidos
Harry Belafonte, Artist and Activist, Founder of The Gathering for Justice
Marvin Bing, National Director of Art for Amnesty, Amnesty International USA and Co-Founder, Justice League NYC
Mike de la Rocha, Social Entrepreneur, Artist and Inspirational Speaker
Bart Lubow, Senior Consultant, Annie E. Casey Foundation