Surj leadership team report back september 2019
Hey, I'm Carla from Louisville, Kentucky and this is Kari and Erin and we're here at the Highlander Center, which, as many, many of you know is deeply part of the change that’s happened in this country and in the South— 87 years of a commitment to an intersectional approach, to undermining racism, to working for economic Justice, to bringing us a different way of doing this work— popular education and a deep root in all who have gone before us. What all the South brings is Highlander! We’re wanting to bring you greetings from our retreat, from our SURJ Leadership retreat. In Tennessee! And we spent some of our time over the last few days talking about our electoral work and how excited we are about the opportunity to do some intense and amazing work the over the country that different people can participate in. We also talked about the importance of centering the South as a part of that work, and more broadly as a part of the work that we do, we always want to think about the ways that the South is central to what we do. And also centering poor and working-class folks as central to what we do as part of our strategies. This year we brought on five new leadership team members who joined us here at Highlander for the first time. So a lot of what we did was getting to know each other, building with each other, so we have a strong foundation for the year to come. We know that the SURJ base is amazing, is doing incredible things and we are really excited about continuing the partnership that lifts up, supports, and makes visible and stronger that work. So excited about what's coming next! And we gave a big send-off Pam McMichael, who has been with SURJ and a part of SURJ since the very beginning, so we said some kind of goodbye to her during our retreat here at Highlander to thank her for all her many years of brilliant service, vision, action. We appreciate you! We love you! Mad love from Highlander!
WELCOME NEW SURJ LEADERSHIP TEAM
The full SURJ Leadership team is below, however, SURJ is pleased to announce that this round of our leadership team (LT) expansion process is complete. After receiving over two dozen applications and interviewing fourteen individuals, we are delighted to welcome five new members to our team. The LT works closely with SURJ staff to make decisions about strategy, structure, and accountability. We look forward to our continued work to shape transformative change toward our collective liberation.
Corri Frohlich has engaged in social justice organizing for over fifteen years in areas related to prison abolition and decarceration efforts, anti-racism and fat and queer liberation. As a cisgender white queer woman, who does not come from a systems-impacted community, she believes her role is to amplify and listen to people of color and folks from systems-impacted communities leading this work, and call in other white people to racial justice. Corri grew up working class and identifies as working class. She is active in SURJ in the Bay Area. She enjoys watching/reading fairly cheesy sci-fi and fantasy movies and books and cuddling with my pitbull.
Dahlia Ferlito is a white, queer, non-binary anti-racist organizer and co-founder of White People for Black Lives. They believe that white people are responsible for ending the white supremacist system. To do so, white people must: remain organized, challenge white silence about racism, work in solidarity with -- and take the lead from -- people of color-led movements, and acquire the skills needed to interrupt racism on all levels. They’re committed to continuous self-education and showing up in healthy ways without reproducing the harm of white supremacy in activist spaces. They grew up in a working class city outside of Boston, MA and have lived in Los Angeles for 16 years. They have a mixed class background, grew up working class into adulthood, and now in middle class. Their writing can be found on Medium, KNOCK-LA and LA Progressive.
Grace Aheron is an Asian Queer Southerner from Southwestern, Virginia. She is currently studying at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, will be in in Philadelphia starting in September, and identifies as middle class. She organized with SURJ Charlottesville before, during, and after the white supremacist rallies of the summer of 2017. Grace comes to this work by a lineage of prophetic Christian resistance to empire, a familial legacy of boundary-crossing women, and a dream/reality of strong communities that care for each other.
Chanelle Gallant is a long time activist, writer and educator with a focus on sex and justice. She has worked to build the power of people in the sex trade since 2004. She co-founded north america’s first grassroots organization of migrants, sex workers and allies and co-founded the first SURJ chapter outside of the US, in Toronto, Canada. Chanelle is the eldest daughter of a poor single mother, grew up on and off welfare, spent most of her life working class and now has access to middle class resources. She coaches and trains organizers and is working on her first book. You can check out her work at chanellegallant.com
Julia Daniels comes to anti-racist organizing seeing it as key to our collective liberation and the right thing to do. Most of her organizing experience is with young people fighting the schoolhouse to jailhouse pipeline in Miami, and she helped found the Boulder, CO SURJ chapter. She's currently completing a dissertation in education policy and lives in the Bronx, NY. Julia identifies as upper working/lower middle class.
The Leadership Team (LT) is the programmatic and decision-making body of SURJ. This team is responsible for making decisions about the ongoing development, broad programmatic vision and fiscal oversight of SURJ.
- JLove Calderon, JLove & M1 Productions
- Anice Chenault, Louisville SURJ chapter
- Julie Garza-Withers, SURJ Rural NorCal chapter
- Avery Martens, SURJ Northeast Ohio chapter
- Pam McMichael, former ED of Highlander Center
- Hilary Moore, formerly of Catalyst Project
- Jeff Ordower, multiple affiliations
- Kari Points, Triangle SURJ chapter
- Carla Wallace, Louisville SURJ chapter
- Chanelle Gallant, Toronto SURJ Chapter
- Corri Fröhlich
- Dahlia Ferlito, SURJ affiliate White People for Black Lives, LA
- Grace Aheron
- Julia Daniel
Our team of connectors are all people who use their platform - whether that is as an artist, speaker, author, organizer, etc - to help further the mission of SURJ, engaging more white people in our shared work for racial justice. (Names and bios forthcoming!)