At The Opportunity Agenda's Communications Institutes, rising leaders working on issues critical to opportunity develop their communication skills, including framing and narrative development, utilizing public opinion and media research, understanding digital communications and social networking, persuasive writing, and on-camera broadcast presentation. Upon completion, they become Communication Fellows, and get to work shaping the public dialogue in their home communities.

    Miriam Aukerman

    Staff Attorney, ACLU of Michigan

    Miriam Aukerman is a senior staff attorney with the ACLU of Michigan. She also manages the ACLU’s West Michigan Regional Office. Miriam litigates high-impact cases on a broad range of civil liberties issues, with a particular focus on immigrant rights, poverty, and criminal justice.

    Get to know Miriam

    Emily Chatterjee

    Senior Counsel, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and The Leadership Conference Education Fund

    Emily Chatterjee is Senior Counsel at The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and The Leadership Conference Education Fund. The Leadership Conference is the nation's premier civil and human rights coalition, charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States. Emily leads the economic security work of The Leadership Conference.

    Get to know Emily

    Nusrat Choudhury

    Deputy Director, ACLU Racial Justice Program

    Nusrat Choudhury is the deputy director of the ACLU Racial Justice Program, which is dedicated to advancing opportunity and equality for communities of color in the United States by fighting racial bias and drivers of inequality in education, housing, the economy, and the criminal legal system. She leads litigation and advocacy challenging police racial profiling, targeting of people of color for surveillance, and “debtors’ prisons” – the illegal arrest and jailing of people unable to pay money to courts. 

    Get to know Nus

    Brian Erickson

    Border Policy Strategist, ACLU of New Mexico Regional Center for Border Rights (RCBR)

    Brian Erickson joined the ACLU of New Mexico Regional Center for Border Rights (RCBR) in August of 2010 as a Border Servant Corps volunteer to support and eventually lead RCBR community organizing and abuse documentation initiatives. In his current role of Border Policy Strategist, Brian coordinates policy advocacy, communications, and organizing strategies of the RCBR to ensure families live freely, safely and with dignity in border communities.

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    Melissa Franqui

    Communications and Marketing Manager, Drug Policy Alliance

    Melissa Franqui is the Manager of Communications and Marketing for the Drug Policy Alliance. She manages the execution of campaigns with visual components, as well as the promotion of publications and merchandise. Melissa also directs branding and multi-media assets for DPA’s events. She is passionate about social justice and is driven to combat the inequities created by America’s failed war on drugs.

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    Jessica Glynn

    Senior Director of Law and Policy, YWCA Kalamazoo

    Jessica Glynn is a human rights attorney with more than 20 years of experience in community organizing and systems change advocacy. As the Senior Director of Law and Policy at the YWCA Kalamazoo, she provides comprehensive representation to survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking.

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    Teresa Hodge

    Co-founder and Director of Strategy and Innovation, Mission: Launch, Inc.

    A committed champion for people living with arrest and/or conviction records in America, it was a 70-month federal prison sentence that introduced Teresa Hodge first-hand to the criminal justice system. Upon coming home, she co-founded Mission: Launch, Inc. with her daughter, Laurin Hodge.

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    Charon Hribar

    Director of Cultural Strategies, The New Poor People’s Campaign

    Charon Hribar is the Director of Cultural Strategies and Poor People's Campaign Revivals Coordinator for the Kairos Center for Religions, Rights, and Social Justice. Over the past 15 years, Charon has been committed to the work of political education and leadership development. She has particular interest in developing the use of arts and culture for movement building with community and religious leaders across the country. Charon holds a Ph.D. in Religion and Society from Drew University.

    Get to know Charon

    Bassem Kawar

    Advocacy Specialist, The Campaign to TAKE ON HATE

    Bassem Kawar is a community organizer from Chicago, and currently the Advocacy Specialist for the Campaign to TAKE ON HATE, a project of the National Network for Arab American Communities. Bassem graduated with a B.A. in Sociology from DePaul University, where he was a student organizer. He began his career as a community organizer with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) and the Arab American Action Network (AAAN), working predominantly in the Arab American and Arab immigrant communities of Chicago and its southwest suburbs.

    Get to know Bassem

    Carl Lipscombe

    Deputy Director, Black Alliance for Just Immigration

    Carl Lipscombe is the Deputy Director of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI). For nearly 15 years, Carl has organized poor Black and immigrant communities; litigated on behalf of indigent criminal defendants and undocumented immigrants; and worked with grassroots organizations, worker centers, and unions to affect policy change on the local, state, and national levels.

    Get to know Carl

    Janos Marton

    Director of Policy and Campaigns, JustLeadershipUSA

    Janos Marton is the Director of Policy and Campaigns at JustLeadershipUSA. A born and raised New Yorker, Janos attended Dartmouth College and worked on political campaigns and disaster relief before returning home to attend Fordham Law School.

    Get to know Janos

    Tiffany McFadden

    Volunteer, Alliance of Families for Justice

    Tiffany's experience as a foster youth has made her resilient, aware, humble, empathetic, as well as a fierce advocate for children and families who have experienced situations similar to hers. After many years, she ultimately learned that what happened to her goes beyond having a mother with a criminal record and a drug problem, but rather, it is an indication of institutional racism and systemic harm.

    Get to know Tiffany

    Matt Nelson

    Executive Director, Presente.org

    Matt Nelson serves as the Executive Director of Presente.org—the nation’s largest online Latinx organizing group; advancing social justice with technology, media, and culture. Before his work at Presente.org, Matt was the Organizing Director at ColorOfChange.org and prior to that, he co-founded several worker-owned cooperatives in multiple Midwestern cities, including a pizzeria.

    Get to know Matt

    Mary Small

    Policy Director, Detention Watch Network

    Mary Small is the Policy Director at Detention Watch Network (DWN) where she is responsible for leading DWN's research, policy analysis, litigation, and congressional advocacy in strategic ways to dismantle the United States’ detention industry.

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    Nailah Summers

    Co-Founder and Communications Director, Dream Defenders

    Nailah is a co-founder and the new Communications Director for the Dream Defenders. She attended the University of Florida, where she majored in African American Studies with a minor in Philosophy.

    Get to know Nailah

    Caitlin Swain

    Executive Director, Forward Justice

    Caitlin Swain is the Executive Director of Forward Justice, a law, policy, and strategy center dedicated to civil rights, racial justice, and social and economic change in the South. She previously worked for the Advancement Project as a Skadden Fellow, where she supported grassroots efforts to end the over-criminalization of youth and advocated for students' rights to quality education.

    Get to know Caitlin

    Naomi Tsu

    Deputy Legal Director of the Immigrant Justice Project, Southern Poverty Law Center

    Naomi Tsu oversees the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) legal and advocacy work on behalf of immigrants in the Deep South. She represents clients who have experienced wage theft, discrimination, human trafficking, and other abuses. She was counsel for immigrant workers in David v. Signal, one of the largest labor trafficking cases brought in the United States, which resulted in a $14 million jury verdict and for which her team was awarded Public Justice’s 2015 Trial Lawyer of the Year award.

    Get to know Naomi