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.

    Kat Evasco

    Program Director of Artist Leadership, Center for Cultural Power

    Kat Evasco is a queer, Pinay immigrant writer, theater artist, and content creator committed to honoring and celebrating the experiences of immigrants, women, and LGBTQ communities. In 2020, Kat was awarded the Kenneth Rainin New & Experimental Works (NEW) Program Grant towards the premiere of her new play “Be Like Water”, which examines the mental health impacts of anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies on undocumented families. Building on the success of her autobiographical one-woman show “Mommy Queerest”, co-written by John Caldon, Kat collaborates with artists to create autobiographical solo shows. Her current solo theater projects include directing “Prieto” by Yosimar Reyes and “#Resist" by Cesar Cadabes. She is a 2018 Lambda Literary Fellow in Playwriting and her works have been featured on Deadline, IndieWire, Vice, Shondaland, Bustle, The Advocate, Out Magazine, and NBC News Asian America. Kat currently serves as the Program Director of Artist Leadership at the Center for Cultural Power and sits on the Jr. Executive Board at Young Entertainment Activists (YEA! ). She holds a B.A. in Asian American Studies from San Francisco State University. 

    Get to know Kat

    Venkayla Haynes

    Digital Communications Manager, Black Voters Matter

    Venkayla Haynes is the Digital Communications Manager for Black Voters Matter Fund, an organization dedicated to expanding Black voter engagement and increasing progressive power. She is responsible for developing, implementing and managing all online communications for the organization. An award-winning organizer and public speaker, Venkayla has been committed to the social justice movement for years fighting against sexual violence, police brutality, voter suppression, homelessness, gentrification, and more. 

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    Eunisses Hernandez

    Executive Director and Co-Founder, La Defensa

    Eunisses Hernandez is the Executive Director of La Defensa. A native of Los Angeles, she is a policy advocate and campaign strategist with nearly a decade of experience in working with communities most devastated by criminalization, the war on drugs, and mass incarceration. Eunisses has been a leader in helping develop and implement sentencing reforms. Her efforts have led to the repeal and reform of frequently-used sentence enhancements in California. Most recently, she has been a leader within JusticeLA, a coalition that was successful in stopping Los Angeles County's $3.5 billion jail plan. She has extensive experience in developing alternatives to incarceration and advancing successful budget advocacy campaigns. Most recently, she co-chaired the successful Measure J, a historic ballot initiative that will move millions of locally generated tax revenue into community reinvestment and alternatives to incarceration. Currently, she sits as the Chair of the Los Angeles Gender Responsive Advisory Committee and as a voting member of the Los Angeles County Measure J Advisory Committee. Eunisses is an alumnus of the Women’s Policy Institute Local Government and State Policy fellowship programs, and currently sits on the Board of the Women's Foundation of California. In 2017, she was named one of the 40 Under 40 Emerging Civic Leaders by the Empowerment Congress and the Office of Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas. She holds a B.A. in Criminal Justice from California State University, Long Beach and currently resides in Los Angeles. 

    Get to know Eunisses

    Robert Saleem Holbrook

    Executive Director, Abolitionist Law Center

    Robert Saleem Holbrook is the Executive Director of the Abolitionist Law Center, a law project dedicated to ending race and class-based discrimination in the criminal justice system and all forms of state violence. ALC has offices in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Prior to being named Executive Director of ALC, he was its Director of Community Organizing, responsible for expanding ALC into Philadelphia. He also led ALC’s campaigns against Death By Incarceration (Life Without Parole), Solitary Confinement and State Violence. He has worked with Center for Constitutional Rights to end Death By Incarceration sentences in the United and the National Unlock The Box Campaign to End Solitary Confinement. He is a co-founder of the Human Rights Coalition, an organization with chapters in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh that is composed of family members of prisoners. HRC advocates on behalf of the civil and human rights of prisoners. He is also a co-founder of the Coalition to Abolish Death By Incarceration in Pennsylvania, an advocacy group fighting to end Life without Parole Sentences. He sits on the advisory boards of the Amistad Law Project and Youth Arts and Empowerment Project. While incarcerated, he wrote extensively on prison abuse, social injustice, state violence and juveniles charged and sentenced as adults. His writings were featured in Truthout, The Appeal, San Francisco Bay View, and Solitary Watch. He was released from prison in 2018 after spending over two decades incarcerated for an offense he was convicted of as a child offender.

    Get to know Robert

    Josephine Kalipeni

    Executive Director, Family Values @ Work

    Born in Malawi, Josephine has seen inequities in one of the poorest countries in the world and in one of the richest. As a social worker, she saw firsthand the systemic challenges families experienced. As a result, she’s committed to transforming systems and policies, including dismantling racism and toxic narratives of individualism, scarcity and “the deserving.” She leads with the belief that those most impacted by the problems are closest to the solutions, and has worked in policy advocacy, organizing, and strategy development for two decades, centering those most marginalized because that’s how we’ll get to an economy that works for all of us. She holds a Bachelor’s in Sociology and Political Science and a Master’s in Social Justice and Community Development. She is a connector that catches a vision and executes it. Her life banners are joy and truth centered in prayer and fasting. She is loved by her Mother, is the oldest of six, a novice gardener, and enjoys a glass of wine with friends. 

    Get to know Josephine

    Barbara Lopez

    Director, Make the Road CT

    Originally from California, Barbara Lopez is a first-generation American. Barbara learned about the importance of her community from her Guatemalan parents, who came to the United States in search o a better life. Deeply invested in social justice, Barbara organized with Service Employees International Union locals in CT, MA, RI, MN and CA. There, Barbara was able to empower thousands of health care workers, home care workers, and child care providers to form unions and secure contracts. Barbara received an Associate Degree of Liberal Arts from Santa Monica College, Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of California, Santa Barbara and a Master of Science in Labor Studies from University of Massachusetts, Amherst. In 2015, Barbara became the second co-founding organizer and built Make the Road CT. Her first undertaking was to organize the first parent committee where they launched their first successful campaign, In Our Language Please. Then as lead organizer, Barbara strategized, supported and implemented campaigns with members to fight for dignity, respect, and a better quality of life. As Director, Barbara will take Make the Road CT to the next level of its work as a statewide multi-issue and multi-generational organization. 

    Get to know Barbara

    Brenda Lozano

    Executive Director, Dream Action Oklahoma

    Brenda Lozano is the older daughter of Mexican immigrant parents, and uses she/her/they/them pronouns. She was born and raised in Oklahoma City and has a younger brother. Her greatest passion is community organizing, a skill that she first learned at home. Her mother, who was a single mother due to the inhumane carceral system and deportation pipeline, taught her children  that people power is the prevailing power. It was at home that Brenda learned to fight for her community against oppressive systems. In turn, her community has given her strength and support in continuing to live her dreams. Brenda currently serves as the Executive Director of Dream Action Oklahoma, the only youth and queer-led immigrant rights organization in the state. She is also in her second semester  at OCU LAW. Her favorite pastime is drinking lots of coffee with her fellow freedom fighters & having conversations on creating a more just society. She also enjoys spending time with dogs, even though she doesn't actually have one. 

    Get to know Brenda

    Tania Mattos

    Policy & Northeast Monitoring Manager, Freedom for Immigrants

    Tania Mattos is an Aymara descendent, Bolivian born, Queens-based organizer, activist, and strategist. Currently, she is the Northeast Policy and Monitoring Manager for Freedom For Immigrants (FFI). She focuses on assisting community-based visitation and human rights monitoring programs in detention centers and supports policy and advocacy efforts at the federal and state level throughout the northeast region. She joined FFI after 13 years of working as an immigrant and worker rights organizer and advocate at an international, national and local level. Prior to working for immigrant rights, she worked on environmental and Indigenous peoples rights within the United Nations. Tania was then the Legislative Coordinator for the New York State Youth Leadership Council, the first undocumented-led organization in New York State and helped organize the first Education Not Deportation program in New York that stopped the deportation of numerous undocumented youth people. She is also co-founder of Queens Neighborhoods United, a grassroots anti-gentrification collective that fights against undemocratic use of land, police abuse and ICE in the immigrant-welcoming borough of Queens. She has received several awards from the New York City Council for her work in the Latinx and immigrant community, and has been profiled in several national and New York City wide publications. Tania was a DACA recipient from 2012 to 2019. She credits her culture and upbringing in Queens for her fierce passion to organize, build leadership and works towards a vision of freedom for all immigrant and marginalized communities.

    Get to know Tania

    Juanita Monsalve

    Senior Marketing and Creative Director, United We Dream

    Juanita A. Monsalve is a cultural, creative, and digital strategist working for the freedom of all communities of color. As Senior Marketing and Creative Director of United We Dream (UWD) and United We Dream Action, she leads the network’s digital engagement of members, communication strategies, and narrative and culture change strategies to build the power of undocumented people in the U.S.. Juanita was the lead digital strategist for the Home is Here campaign, which led to the win of DACA at the Supreme Court. Previously, as UWD’s Creative and Digital Director, she ensured that the voices and leadership of UWD members were seen and heard in online spaces. Her work has catapulted the creative voice and digital presence of UWD – more than doubling UWD’s online membership. Juanita manages UWD’s team of social justice innovators and creatives, and has built vibrant online communities, raised millions of dollars, and created iconic designs which have motivated people to action on everything from t-shirts to a Times Square billboard. 

    Get to know Juanita

    Ricardo J. Negron-Almodovar

    Legal Services Coordinator, LatinoJustice PRLDEF

    Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Ricardo obtained a Master’s Degree in Education, a Juris Doctor and is a licensed attorney in the Island. In 2015, Ricardo moved from Yauco, Puerto Rico to Orlando, FL. During his first year in Florida, he taught English to adults and became involved in civic engagement efforts to register new voters. After the Pulse Tragedy on June 12th, 2016, of which he is a survivor, Ricardo has worked to empower the LGBTQ+ Latinx community and has advocated against discrimination and gun violence. Ricardo currently serves as the Legal Service Coordinator for LatinoJustice, where he’s had the opportunity to assist those transitioning from Puerto Rico to Florida after Hurricane Maria devastated the island and led election protection efforts to ensure access to the ballot box for Spanish-dominant voters. Ricardo also obtained a Master’s Degree in Non-Profit Management and helped launch the community organization “Del Ambiente”, which is an effort led by LGBTQ+ Puerto Ricans to build up the LGBTQ+ Puerto Rican community in Florida. 

    Get to know Ricardo

    Olivia Peña

    Deputy Program Director, Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights

    Olivia Peña is a Deputy Program Director in the Young Center for Immigrant Children's Rights Harlingen office. She oversees the Harlingen, Houston, and San Antonio teams where staff are appointed as the independent Child Advocates for unaccompanied and separated children in immigration custody. In addition to supporting and guiding her teams, Olivia helps develop the organization’s national Child Advocate program, advocate for the rights and best interests of children in collaboration with the policy team and collaborate with nonprofits and activists across the Rio Grande Valley. She is a 2019 Fellow of the Shriver Center’s Racial Justice Institute and one of H&I’s Real Heroes. To advance the rights and protections for immigrant children, Olivia has spoken with members of Congress, the press, and at national and international conferences. Before joining the Young Center in 2014, Olivia served as a Student Attorney in the Immigration Clinic at the University of Houston Law Center, where she worked on humanitarian parole, asylum, Special Immigrant Juvenile status, Deferred Action for Childhood arrivals, and Adjustment of Status applications. Olivia earned her Juris Doctor from the University of Houston Law Center and her Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from the University of Texas in Brownsville/Texas Southmost College. 

    Get to know Olivia

    Maritza Perez

    Director, Office of National Affairs, Drug Policy Alliance

    Maritza Perez, Esq. is the Director of the Office of National Affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance in Washington, DC where she leads the organization’s federal legislative agenda and strategy to end the war on drugs. Previously, she was a Senior Policy Analyst for Criminal Justice Reform at the Center for American Progress (CAP) where her portfolio included marijuana policy, policing, and prison and sentencing reform. Prior to joining CAP, Maritza was a Legislative Staff Attorney at the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), where she began her legal career as a Soros Justice Fellow advocating for policies to end mass incarceration. A criminal justice policy expert, Maritza has been featured in various media outlets including The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, Politico, The Boston Globe, Latino USA, and more. Maritza earned her J.D. at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law and her B.A. from the University of Nevada, Reno, graduating with double majors in Journalism and Spanish and double minors in Political Science and Economic Policy. The proud daughter of Mexican immigrants, she is the first in her family to receive a higher education and earn a professional degree. She is originally from Elko, Nevada. 

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    Angelina Rosado

    Founder and Executive Director, Returning Hope Inc.

    Angelina Rosado is a product of Manhattan’s Lower East Side. She attended New York City public school and became a mother as a teenager. At an early age, Angelina witnessed domestic violence and unhealthy relationships at home and in her community. Later on, she would become a survivor. On her journey to surviving and escaping a toxic and abusive relationship, she sought help from countless organizations to no avail. Instead of giving up, she decided to return hope and founded Returning Hope - an organization dedicated towards empowering survivors and educating the next generation. 

    Get to know Angelina

    Katherine Sastre

    Campaign Strategist, New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice

    Katy Sastre is the Campaign Strategist for the New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice (NJAIJ), responsible for coordinating and supporting the NJAIJ’s campaign priorities, ensuring members and partners are actively engaged. Prior to joining the NJAIJ, Katy worked as the Program Coordinator for the Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights, providing programmatic support to both the legal services and education programs. Katy’s professional experience includes working for a legal recruitment firm in NYC and as a Program Coordinator for the Middle East North Africa region at the International Center for Transitional Justice. She has held various roles at the International Rescue Committee, including Program Manager for the CASAMENA Region and Syria Regional Response in NYC, Senior Grants Manager in Erbil, Iraq, and then Grants Coordinator for the Ebola Response Consortia Coordination Unit in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Katy is a graduate of Cornell University (B.A., Sociology & Government) and SOAS, University of London (M.A., Gender Studies, focus on migration and the intersections of gender, class, and race). 

    Get to know Katherine

    Adrianna Torres-Garcia, MSW

    Program Coordinator, Free Migration Project

    Adrianna Torres-Garcia, MSW obtained a Master of Arts in Social Work, Concentration on Social Administration, from The University of Chicago in 2018, and a Baccalaureate of Arts in Psychology from Universidad de Puerto Rico, Río Piedras in 2012. Originally from Puerto Rico, she has an extensive background in social and scientific research, as well as experience in policy and advocacy in nonprofit organizations. She began her involvement in the field of immigration as a Child Advocate for the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights in Chicago; and as a volunteer for The University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration’s End Family Detention Project and the Dilley Pro Bono Project at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas. She is interested in the intersections of policy advocacy, law, research, and community organizing as a tool for the empowerment of the immigrant community. 

    Get to know Adrianna

    Bianca Tylek

    Founder and Executive Director, Worth Rises

    Bianca Tylek is the Founder and Executive Director of Worth Rises, a national criminal justice organization working to dismantle the prison industry and end the exploitation of those it targets, namely Black and Brown people. Bianca is one of the nation’s leading experts on and advocates against the prison industry. She led the first successful campaign in the country to make jail phone calls free, blocked a major merger in the prison telecom market, and denied prison profiteers millions of investment dollars. Every year, under her leadership, Worth Rises publishes the innovative research about the prison industry, including the nation’s largest dataset of corporate prison profiteers. In just three years, her work has cost the industry and its investors over a billion dollars, and saved communities tormented by incarceration millions. Bianca is a Draper Richard Kaplan Entrepreneur and has previously been awarded fellowships by TED, Art For Justice, Equal Justice Works, Harvard University, Ford Foundation, Paul & Daisy Soros, and Education Pioneers. Before committing her career to justice, Bianca worked in financial services at Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, and Goldman Sachs. Bianca holds a B.A. from Columbia University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. 

    Get to know Bianca

    Aisha Wells

    Paid Family Leave Organizer, Mothering Justice

    Aisha Wells is the Paid Family Leave Organizer for Mothering Justice. In this position, Aisha organizes with mamas of color in the community to understand the paid leave issues in the workplace to help pass legislation. Before working at Mothering Justice, Aisha interned at the NAACP helping with the freedom fund dinner and monthly membership meetings, and has advocated for her special needs son, Alex, since 2006. Aisha plans to start her Master’s in Public Administration with a concentration in Nonprofit Organizational Management in the fall of 2021. Her passion is to support and advocate for families with special needs children. She believes that the key to life is to follow your passion and purpose and the success will follow! 

    Get to know Aisha

    Cheryl Wilkins

    Associate Director, The Center for Justice

    Cheryl Wilkins is the Co-Founder and Associate Director at Columbia University’s Center for Justice (CFJ), where her work is committed to ending the nation’s reliance on incarceration, developing new approaches to safety and justice, and participating in the national and global conversation around developing effective criminal justice policy. She directs CFJ’s Women Transcending, is the co-chair of the Women’s Community Justice Association (WCJA), advisory member of the Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act, and co-convener of the Justice 4 Women’s Task-Force. She is the recipient of the Brian Fischer Award, Davis Putter scholarship, the Sister Mary Nerney Visionary Award and the Citizens against Recidivism Award. 

    Get to know Cheryl

    Pamela Winn

    Founding Director, RestoreHER US.America

    Pamela Winn is known as "The Face of Dignity for Incarcerated Women". She is an activist from Atlanta, GA that studied Biology at Spelman College, obtained three post-secondary degrees in Nursing, and worked more than 10 years as a Registered Nurse specializing in Women’s Health prior to serving a 78-month federal sentence for a white-collar crime while pregnant. She is the founder of RestoreHER US.America, a policy advocacy organization dedicated to enhancing the lives of justice-involved women and work in partnership with those women to end the mass incarceration of women of color and pregnant women. She led RestoreHER to spearhead the unanimous passage of HB345, #DIGNITY For Incarcerated Women GA. RestoreHER is a core movement partner of the Southern Black Girls and Women Consortium. Pamela is also co-founder and board member of the Formerly Incarcerated College Graduates Network (FICGN) which promotes higher education of convicted people. She also serves as National Advisory Council for the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, the Women’s Advisory Board with Human Impact Partners, and the National Anti-Shackling Advisory Board where she developed a Bill of Rights for Incarcerated Pregnant People. Pamela is the Board Vice President with the Association for Justice-Involved Females and Organizations (AJF0) and is also a board member of Motherhood Beyond Bars.

    Pamela is a US Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Peer Reviewer. She has provided written and oral testimony for the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Briefing: Women In Prison: Seeking Justice Behind Bars.

    Pamela is a 2017 Leading with Conviction Fellow of JustLeadershipUSA, 2018 Erin J. Vuley Fellow with Feminist Women’s Center, 2019 Community Change Women’s Leadership Fellow, and 2019 Soros Justice Fellow. 

    Get to know Pamela