Tarso Luís Ramos (Executive Director) has been investigating and challenging the U.S. Right for 25 years. Under his leadership, PRA has launched major initiatives on Islamophobia, antisemitism, misogyny, authoritarianism, White nationalism and the Alt Right, and other emerging threats to democracy. He collaborates closely with immigrant and racial justice groups, social justice feminists, LGBTQ advocates, and worker organizations to provide analysis and strategic advice. Ramos is a sought-after public speaker and the author of numerous articles and reports. Before joining PRA in 2006, Ramos served as founding director of Western States Center’s racial justice program, which resists racist public policy initiatives and supports the base-building work of progressive people of color-led organizations. As director of the Wise Use Public Exposure Project, he monitored the Right’s anti-union and anti-environmental campaigns. Ramos is currently an activist in residence at the Barnard Center for the Study of Women and a Rockwood Leadership Institute National Yearlong Fellow for 2017-2018.
Sarah Burzillo (Finance Manager) has over 15 years experience working with small business owners and the management and Boards of non-profit organizations. She is the owner of Clarity Business Consulting, Inc. which provides accounting, bookkeeping, payroll and business consulting services to a wide variety of small business clients. Prior to starting Clarity in 2008, Sarah was employed as Controller for a Boston-based consulting firm. where she managed an integrated system of accounting services for various clients. Ms. Burzillo received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Computer Science and Philosophy from Trinity College (CT) in 1985 and, in 1988, her M.S. in Mathematics from Tufts University.
Frederick Clarkson (Senior Research Analyst) has written about politics and religion for more than three decades. His work has appeared in a wide range of publications from Mother Jones, Church & State, and Ms. Magazine to The Christian Science Monitor, Salon.com and Religion Dispatches. He has worked as an investigative editor at Planned Parenthood Federation of America; as Communications Director at the Institute for Democracy Studies; and co-founded the group blog, Talk to Action. He is the author, co-author or editor of several books including Dispatches from the Religious Left: The Future of Faith and Politics in America, and Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy. Follow Frederick on Twitter @fredclarkson. Read articles by Frederick Clarkson.
Cloee Cooper (Research Analyst) holds a master’s degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism, specializing in social justice and investigative reporting. Cloee tracked, monitored and organized against anti-immigrant organizations with ties to white nationalism with the Center for New Community from 2009-2012. Her work can be seen at Chicago’s local PBS affiliate – WTTW, Alternet, Social Justice News Nexus, Imagine2050 and Hard Crackers. She currently serves on the Editorial Board of Hard Crackers, a journal documenting the everyday life of those striving to overturn the mess we are in. Follow Cloee on Twitter @cloeefcooper. Read articles by Cloee Cooper.
Steven Gardiner (Program Area Lead for the Racial and Immigrant Justice Program) started researching and writing in opposition to the politics of bigotry, violence, and authoritarianism in the early 1990s. Working for the Portland, Oregon-based Coalition for Human Dignity (CHD), he did some of the first analyses of the Religious Right in the Northwest and his work supported the years-long fight against anti-LGBTQ ballot measures of the Oregon Citizens Alliance. As editor of CHD’s newsletter, The Dignity Report, and principal writer and analyst on a series of articles and reports he helped to shape understanding and arm the resistance to antisemitism, Holocaust denial, the Patriot and militia movements, anti-immigrant xenophobia and anti-LGBTQ politics. In 2004 Gardiner received a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from Cornell University for his work on military masculinity and conscientious objection in the German military. Since earning his doctorate, he has taught more than twenty different courses as eight universities in the United States, Pakistan, and the UAE. Selected publications include “In the Shadow of Service: Veteran Masculinity and Civil-Military Disjuncture in the United States” (North American Dialogue, 2013), “Behold the Man: Heroic Masochism, Militant Christianity, and Mel Gibson’s Passion” (Cultural Analysis, 2013), and “White Nationalism Revisited: Demographic Dystopia and White Identity Politics (Journal of Hate Studies, 2006).
Heron Greenesmith (Senior Research Analyst) has worked in LGBTQ advocacy for over a decade with the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, the Movement Advancement Project, Family Equality Council, and the National LGBTQ Task Force. They specialize in advocacy for bisexual and pansexual people. Heron is a graduate of the University of New Hampshire and American University, Washington College of Law. Heron is admitted to the New York and Massachusetts bars. They are a board member of the Massachusetts LGBTQ Bar Association, a former board member of the National LGBT Bar Association, a former Rockwood Leadership Institute Fellow, and a returned Peace Corps Volunteer. Follow Heron on Twitter @herong. Read articles by Heron Greenesmith.
Amanda Hukanović (Operations Manager) received her MA in Public Policy and International Law from The American University of Paris, and her BA from Simmons College in International Relations, Political Science and Economics. Her operations experience includes several years at Boston After School & Beyond, America Reads, and the BU School of Public Health. As a former refugee and activist in the Bosnian community, she serves as a project volunteer with various nonprofits focused on promoting Bosnian culture and heritage within the diaspora. She has completed a court analysis of the Mladić trial at The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the Oxford International Human Rights Law Programme. Amanda was a Senior Leader with the State Department’s Initiative “Women: Changing the Face of Leadership”, was a student organizer of the Gender, Justice and Social Entrepreneurship Conference, and the Simmons World Challenge addressing: “At the Edge of Poverty: Empowering Women to Change their Lives and their Worlds”. Amanda is multi-lingual, speaking English, Bosnian, and French (proficiently).
Gabriel Joffe (Editorial Manager) serves as a key content strategist on the Communications team and manages the production of all publications at PRA. They liaise with contributing writers and artists and manage PRA’s website and social media presence. Gabriel joins PRA with a background in media/publishing and social justice organizing, particularly around LGBTQ justice. Contact Gabriel at email@example.com.
Kathryn Joyce (The Public Eye Editor) is an author and journalist based in New York City. She is author of The Child Catchers: Rescue, Trafficking and the New Gospel of Adoption (PublicAffairs, 2013), and Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement (Beacon Press, 2009). Her freelance writing has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Highline, Pacific Standard, The New Republic, Mother Jones, The Nation, and many other publications.
Olivia Lawrence-Weilmann (Program Coordinator) has a background in research and activism around reproductive, LGBTQ+, immigrant, and environmental justice issues. She holds a BA from Mount Holyoke College in Anthropology and Latin American Studies. She is a former member of the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Student Group, worked as a Research Assistant with Dr. Serin Houston on immigrant sanctuary, and received an honorable mention from the Association for Feminist Anthropology for her writing on abortion in Mexico.
Isabelle H. Leighton (Development Director)comes to PRA with 15 years of strategic fundraising and nonprofit management experience with a strong emphasis on social, immigrant, and economic justice. Most recently, Isabelle was founding director of Equality Fund, a philanthropic advocacy project launched by Asian Americans for Equality to address the growing need for intergenerational, cross-class, and multi-ethnic forums to combat inequality in NYC. Through her various positions, Isabelle has created successful strategies and campaigns to engage diverse audiences including youth, seniors, corporate employees, local businesses, educators, film and media makers, foundations, government officials, and private philanthropists.
Greeley O’Connor (Communications Director) is a writer and strategist who brings more than 15 years of experience helping non-profit organizations and progressive candidates. Her primary focus has been creating feminist civic spaces and advancing economic justice and reproductive freedom. At PRA, Greeley works to maximize the impact of the organization’s research, publications, and other core activities. For media inquiries or other communications requests, contact Greeley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Aidan Orly (Development Coordinator) comes to PRA with a background in community organizing around environmental justice, public education, and Palestine/Israel where they witnessed the power of moving resources in emboldening the work of grassroots activists. They have since raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for small, grassroots organizations, focusing primarily on building relationships with funders for Jewish organizations who would open more space for expansive engagement with Palestine/Israel, antisemitism and white supremacy. Aidan is a graduate of the JOIN for Justice Organizing Fellowship, holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Pomona College, and is also a consultant for Jewish American organizations around Palestine/Israel on the side.
Teddy Wilson (Research Analyst) has nearly a decade of experience reporting on social justice movements, with a special focus on investigating and reporting on the organizations, networks, and activities of the conservative movement and the Religious Right. Prior to joining PRA, Wilson was a Staff Reporter for Rewire.News, where he reported on issues related to reproductive justice including reproductive health care policy, access to abortion care, and racial disparities in health care. Previously he worked as reporter for Free Speech Radio News, where reported on politics, immigration, and reproductive rights from Texas. He was also previously a reporter for the American Independent New Network, where he covered higher education, politics, and other issues for the Texas Independent.
Cathy Albisa is the Executive Director of the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative (NESRI). She co-founded NESRI along with Sharda Sekaran and Liz Sullivan in order to build legitimacy for human rights in general, and economic and social rights in particular. She is committed to a community-centered and participatory human rights approach that is locally anchored, but universal and global in its vision. Cathy has a background in constitutional and human rights, and significant expertise in reproductive justice, corporate accountability and economic and social rights. She has published extensively and served on boards as diverse as the Center for Constitutional Rights, the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, the International Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Network, and the Center for Social Inclusion, among others. She clerked for the Honorable Mitchell Cohen in the District of New Jersey. She received a BA from the University of Miami and is a graduate of Columbia Law School.
Saqib Bhatti is the Co-Executive Director of ACRE and the Director of the ReFund America Project. He works on campaigns to rebalance the relationship between Wall Street and local communities. He was previously a fellow at the Nathan Cummings Foundation, and spent 10 years working on corporate accountability campaigns at the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and UNITE HERE prior to that. Saqib is a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute and serves on the boards of the Americans for Financial Reform Education Fund, the Midwest Academy, and Political Research Associates. He graduated from Yale University. Twitter: @snbhatti
Ellen Gurzinsky founded WindowBox Coaching and Consulting with more than 30 years of organizational leadership and a wealth of experience in non-profit management. She deeply believes in the ability of leaders to transform themselves and organizations with the right kind of support. Ellen offers help with meeting facilitation, staff retreats and strategic planning and with fundraising from individuals. In her coaching she supports all leaders, new and experienced, to be more strategic, more engaged and more effective. Ellen’s organizational experience reflects her commitment to racial, social, economic and gender justice. Her work has been focused on workers rights and labor education; women’s advocacy; violence against women; LGBT rights and movement building.
Hamid Khan is the coordinator with the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition, a broad coalition whose primary goal is to raise public awareness, participation, mobilization, and action on police spying and surveillance and to sustain long-term intersectional movement building. Hamid immigrated to the United States from Pakistan in 1979. As founder and former Executive Director of South Asian Network (1990 – 2010), Hamid helped create the first grassroots community-based organization in Los Angeles committed to informing and empowering thousands of South Asians in Southern California to act as agents of change in eliminating biases, discrimination and injustices. Hamid is also the founding member of the Los Angeles Taxi Workers Alliance, on the board of the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, and on the board of Generation 5, whose mission is to end child sexual abuse within 5 generations by advancing transformative justice.
Jenny Levison (Chair) has worked for over 20 years at the nexus of the arts, media, justice, and equity. She is the Senior Vice President of Development and Partnerships at Race Forward, and is also a writer, filmmaker, theater artist, and on-the-ground activist, focusing over the years in the fields of reproductive rights and gender justice, labor organizing and economic justice, immigrant and refugee rights, racial equity, disability rights, LGBTQ rights, foster care, progressive Jewish activism, and counter-white nationalism. She is a long-time member of Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, and she grows a prolific garden under the hashtag #antifa/rmer.
Scot Nakagawa is Senior Partner of ChangeLab, an Asian American-led racial justice laboratory. Scot started his career in social justice at18, and has kept at it ever since. Along the way, Scot served as an organizer of the Coalition for Human Dignity, an Oregon-based organization conducting research and counter-organizing campaigns against vigilante white supremacist and religious right wing groups; Fight the Right Organizer of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force; Associate Director of the Western Prison Project (now the Partnership for Safety and Justice); Education Co-Coordinator of the Highlander Center; and Executive Director of Social Justice Fund Northwest, and of the McKenzie River Gathering Foundation.
Mohan Sikka has had a non-profit career spanning two decades, working for and with social change organizations, campaigns and initiatives. At heart his organizational development work is about supporting mission-driven groups and leaders align their efforts with a compelling vision for change. For over a decade he worked as senior staff at Community Resource Exchange, NYC’s largest non-profit consulting firm focused on anti-poverty groups. He continues an affiliate relationship with several regional and national consulting teams, such as RoadMap, that are dedicated to advancing the power and effectiveness of social justice organizations. Mohan is also an award-winning writer.
Zeke Spier is the Executive Director at Social Justice Fund, where he has been working for eight years. Over that time, he has engaged hundreds of people as donors and helped to move millions of dollars to grassroots organizing in the Northwest. He is currently working to help other social justice foundations replicate Social Justice Fund’s Giving Project model. Zeke has experience both as a manager in the corporate sector and as a community organizer, working on issues from the just reconstruction of New Orleans to criminal justice issues in Philadelphia. Nationally, he sits on the board of Resource Generation in addition to Political Research Associates. In Seattle, he serves on the steering committee of Rainier Valley Corps, a new project to build the capacity of refugee and immigrant community-based organizations. Zeke was born in Portland, Oregon, and enjoys reminiscing about his cross-country bicycle trip on his 6-mile ride to work.
Carla F. Wallace was born in Louisville, KY and grew up on a farm in Oldham County, and in Amsterdam, Netherlands, where her grandmother hid people fleeing the nazis under her floorboards. Carla’s activism includes anti-KKK work in response to cross burnings and klan on the police force, the Southern Organizing Committee’s environmental justice organizing, coordinating efforts to pass Louisville’s Hate Crimes Law, its motor voter law, mobilizing community against police abuse, and organize solidarity delegations to Nicaragua, Palestine, Colombia and Cuba. In 2005, Carla helped establish the Audre Lorde Chair in Race, Class, Gender and Sexuality at University of Louisville. Carla has founded the Fairness Campaign and co-founded the national Showing Up for Racial Justice and its Louisville affiliate. Carla’s work has recently been included in the anthology of progressive change making, Toward Collective Liberation by Chris Crass.
Susan Wefald has been a social justice activist and funder for more than thirty years, consistently working at the intersection of race, class and gender to help build the capacity of organizations and movements to affect change. She is the Vice President of Programs at the Ms. Foundation for Women. Previously, Wefald served as the executive director of the Discount Foundation, a small foundation that supported worker organizing aimed at making economic opportunity a reality for all; it spent down its endowment and closed its doors in 2015. Before leading the Discount Foundation, Wefald was the executive vice president & COO of the Ms. Foundation for Women, and held other positions there, including vice president of programs. Wefald was also the staff director and lead organizer of the Naugatuck Valley Project in Waterbury, CT and the assistant director of the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board in New York City. In addition to PRA’s, Wefald serves on the boards of the Labor Institute, the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, and the Highlander Research and Education Center.
Cassandra Overton Welchlin is co-convener of MS Black Women’s Roundtable (MS-BWR) an intergenerational civic engagement statewide network of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation (NCBCP) at the forefront of championing just and equitable public policy on behalf of Black women and girls. Prior to joining MS BWR, Cassandra cofounded and launched an ambitious and progressive MS Women’s Economic Security Initiative (MWESI), founded as a project of MS Low Income Child Care Initiative. MWESI is rooted at the intersections of race, gender and poverty. It prioritizes women’s rights, equity, economic security; created an intentional and explicit racial and gender framework; and engage women, particularly low-income women of color, with deep connections to grassroots organizing to create a leadership infrastructure setting the stage for long-term movement-building.
PRA’s Founder and President Emerita
Political Research Associates was founded by Jean V. Hardisty, a political scientist with a Ph.D. from Northwestern University and seven years’ teaching experience. She founded PRA (formerly Midwest Research) in 1981 in Chicago. She has been an activist for social justice issues for over 25 years and is a well-known speaker and widely published author, especially on women’s rights and civil rights. In 1999 her book, Mobilizing Resentment, Conservative Resurgence from the John Birch Society to the Promise Keepers, was published by Beacon Press. She has served on the boards of the Sister Fund, the Highlander Center, and the Women’s Community Cancer Project, and is the education consultant to the Ms. Foundation Democracy Funding Circle. She remained involved in the work of PRA until her death in March of 2015.
Chip Berlet is an investigative journalist and photographer, and has been documenting social and political movements that undermine human rights since the 1960s. Nevertheless, he claims both sanity and optimism. Chip’s byline has appeared in scores of publications, including The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Progressive, and Amnesty Now. He has been a guest expert on ABC’s Nightline, TheToday Show, NPR’s All Things Considered, Fresh Air with Terry Gross, Democracy Now with Amy Goodman, and many other radio and television programs. From 1981 to 2010, he served as senior analyst at Political Research Associates. He currently coordinates the online Building Human Rights Network and Social Movement Study Network.