Read about the Tenacious Women Project.

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 21 @ 7:00 PM on Zoom

Tenacious Women in Conversation:
Disability Justice

This conversation will feature activists and advocates Anita Cameron, Luticha André Doucette, and Stephanie Woodward as they unpack the nuances and intersectionality of disability justice and share their work and revelations as relentless voices for change.

Moderated by Jeiri Flores.

This event has ended. Please enjoy the video!

THURSDAY, APRIL 22 @ 7:00 PM on Zoom

Tenacious Women in Conversation: Environmental & Climate Justice

On Earth Day, join us for a vital conversation about climate justice. Sit in with Kristen Walker and Tonya Noel Stevens (Co-Founders, Flower City Noire Collective), and Chandra Maracle, an inspiring leader in Indigenous foods, language, arts, and education, as they discuss their community-based work and steps we can all take to strive towards equity and justice.

Moderated by Dr. Kathryn A. Mariner.

This event has ended. Please enjoy the video!

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 28 @ 7:00 PM on Zoom

Tenacious Women in Conversation:
Anti-Racism & Inclusion

For our third and final discussion, join us for a critical conversation on confronting and disrupting racism and bigotry. Advocates, activists and changemakers Rachel DeGuzman, Sady Fischer, and Wanda Martinez-Johncox will share their learnings from their life’s work, best practices for individuals and organizations, and their visions for a brighter, more equitable world.

Moderated by Dr. Irma McClaurin.

This event has ended. Please enjoy the video!

Thank you to our panelists, moderators, and all of you who attended this compelling series. Join our mailing list to hear about future engagement programs.

Meet the Panelists

Part I: Disability Justice

ANITA CAMERON (she/her/hers) has been Not Dead Yet’s Director of Minority Outreach since 2017. She has met with national and state policymakers and was published in the National Council on Disability’s report on the dangers of assisted suicide as public policy. As a Black Disabled Lesbian, Anita has used her experience of discrimination to promote understanding among groups of disenfranchised people in terms of social justice. In this realm, she worked with the LGBTQIA2S+ community, which included organizing the first Pride March in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and serving as a national representative at the 1993 March on Washington. She also serves on the NDLA’s Steering Committee and its Racism Taskforce.

Among her many other accomplishments, Ms. Cameron has been arrested 139 times for civil disobedience and was invited to the White House on two occasions. She has been honored with multiple awards including: The Autistic Self Advocacy Network’s “Service to the Self Advocacy Movement” award and the “Lead On” award for her work with ADAPT (American Disabled for Attendant Programs Today).

LUTICHA ANDRÉ DOUCETTE graduated from the Rochester Institute of Technology with a degree in Bioinformatics where she developed protein surface prediction algorithms. After graduating, she was a Fellow at the University of Rochester where she worked in a genomics lab that focused on analyzing the venom of parasitoid wasps to develop new drug therapies for various diseases. In 2017 she authored a report on wage disparities across race, gender, and disability in Rochester and Monroe County in conjunction with the Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative, and in 2018 Luticha authored a follow-up report on employment barriers for disabled people in Rochester and Monroe County. She is a graduate of the Leadership and Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) Fellowship program and an AUCD Emerging Leader. She is the owner of Catalyst Consulting, which helps organizations examine equity across race, gender identity, and disability in policies, practices, procedures, and relationships.

STEPHANIE WOODWARD is an attorney and founder of Disability EmpowHer Network, an organization dedicated to empowering disabled girls and women to live to their fullest potential and have the confidence to lead. Stephanie is passionate about seeking justice for marginalized communities – and has an arrest record to show for it. She has been an organizer with the disability rights group ADAPT for over a decade and has worked to enforce and expand the rights of people with disabilities nationwide. As a proud disabled woman and civil rights activist, Stephanie is committed to bringing more women and girls with disabilities to the forefront through mentoring and activism.

JEIRI FLORES is a strong, passionate Puerto Rican disability rights activist from Rochester, NY. She earned her Bachelors’s Degree in the study of Sociology and African-American Studies at SUNY Brockport in 2014. She is currently pursuing her Master’s Degree in Human Development at the University of Rochester. Jeiri serves as a resource for residents in her community by connecting them to existing services and supports. As a disability advocate, Jeiri shares her unique perspective at various colleges and conferences, where she introduces attendees to the struggles and invisibility people with disabilities face. She provides insight regarding inclusion, citizenship, disability intersectionality, and challenges that remain unaddressed by society. She hopes to influence young disabled people to fulfill their purpose and create a new narrative for what it means to be disabled.

Part II: Environmental & Climate Justice

KRISTEN R. WALKER (Kris/She/They) is an avid reader, grassroots organizer, and a student of Black Feminism. A graduate from Franklin High School, Monroe Community College, and The College of Brockport, Kristen uses an intersectional lens to examine the root causes of social and educational issues. Using imagination and proximity Kristen works outside of the traditional classroom model to address and mitigate the effects of systemic oppression through mentorship for youth and family support in the City of Rochester. Kristen is inspired by Marva Collins and a personal legacy of Black educators.

Kristen is currently the Young Adult Minister at Spiritus Christi Church, the second Black Woman to be hired by the church in a leadership capacity in its over 20-year existence. They work at Spiritus part-time and are a vessel of change and revolution, Kristen is most proud of the work that Flower City Noire Collective does in the community to “impose beauty on our future-Lorraine Hansberry” as FCNC centers Black Joy in their work and programs, to build and sustain meaningful relationships that change people and communities. Kristen is the co-founder of Flower City Noire Collective and facilitates a seasonal Book Club where they read the texts of Black Women (Trans, Cis, Non-Binary, and Gender Non-conforming) across the diaspora. Kristen is currently working to open Noire Reading Room, an intersectional independent Bookstore and Tea room that features Black, Feminist and Radical texts with local tea blends to fill the void of Black and Queer operated 3rd spaces in the Rochester area.

TONYA NOEL STEVENS A Rochester native and mother of two Tonya Noel is a self-described Planeteer, Black Joy and revolutionary love enthusiast. As co-founder of Flower City Noire Collective(FCNC585) whose mission includes elevating women of color in their communities using a holistic approach; organizing with imagination, respect, and sisterhood; Tonya focuses on creating an intergenerational garden-based healing space in the community she serves.

As a community activist Tonya has worked on social justice campaigns that have shaped our current political scene; including organizing with B.L.A.C.K(Building Leadership And Community Knowledge), The Movement for Black Lives(M4BL), Fight for $15 and currently Rochester’s City-Wide Tenants Union and environmental justice movement. Since founding CauseN’ FX Greenspace an Urban Farm located at the corners of Jefferson Avenue and Flint st in 2015, Tonya has been feeding and planting seeds of change in the community. Where there were once zero gardens on Jefferson now there are 5 including JeffSun a community healing and learning space created in 2019. Tonya Noel’s passion for community, food and land justice is why she is one of RMSC 2020 Change Makers, 2020 Anna Marie Douglas Award recipents, 2019 Beyond this Moment Activist of the Year and what propels her to keep on growing.

CHANDRA F. MARACLE was born and raised on the West side of Buffalo and is the mother of four daughters. She studied at SUNY Cortland College, University at Buffalo, NY and University of Salamanca, Spain. She has worked as Youth Leader at Native American Community Services in Buffalo, Graduate Assistant in Native American Studies at UB and Cultural Resource Specialist at the Native American Magnet School #19. She was a Diversity Educator with the National Conference for Community and Justice, co-founder of the Indigenous Women’s Initiatives and has certifications in Eating Psychology, Massage, Reiki and Yoga. Chandra is co-founder and Nutrition Motivator of Skaronhyase’ko:wa Tyohterakentko:wa tsi Yontaweya’tahkwa/the Everlasting Tree School. She was a collaborator on the Healthy Roots committee at Six Nations and developed the Haudenosaunee Food Guide for the Community Challenge. Chandra is founder of Kakhwa’on:we/Real People Eat Real Food, exploring links between people, food, mothering, homemaking, art, language, technology and land. She is a graduate of the Onkwawen:na Kentyohkwa adult Mohawk language immersion program, and is currently a PhD student at York University in the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change. Chandra is a Collaborator on The Earth to Tables Legacies Project, a group of intergenerational and intercultural folks transforming the food system. She lives on Six Nations of the Grand River Territory.

KATHRYN A. MARINER (she/they) is the Wilmot Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Visual and Cultural Studies at the University of Rochester, where she teaches courses on race, kinship, and urban space. As a cultural anthropologist and clinical social worker, Kathryn examines the relationship between social inequality and intimacy in the postindustrial urban United States. She is the author of Contingent Kinship: The Flows and Futures of Adoption in the United States, and her work has appeared in several academic journals including American Anthropologist, Public Culture, and Cultural Anthropology. Her current research explores the relationship between race and placemaking in Rochester, New York.

Part III: Anti-racism & Inclusion

RACHEL Y. DeGUZMAN is the award-winning founder and executive director of 21st Century Arts Inc., which is based in The Black House, where she serves as managing curator. The focus of her work is decentering whiteness in arts/culture by centering the art, narratives, and voices of people of color – especially women & marginalized LGBTQ+ communities. In fulfillment of that vision, she established the “At the Crossroads: Activating the Intersection of Art and Justice Long Table Conversation and Installation Initiative.” Her current work came out of a traditional career in professional arts with the intention to produce work that is more rooted in both art and community that values experimentation, innovation, and creativity in all its forms, as well as social justice and equity.

Among her past positions, she was director of development/external relations at Rochester City Ballet, marketing manager at Nazareth College Arts Center, director of development/communications at The Commission Project, and director of development at Garth Fagan Dance. Ms. DeGuzman was the recipient of the 2016 Essie Calhoun Diversity in the Arts Award presented by Geva Theatre Center.

SADY FISCHER (she/her/ella) is a highly sought-after, award-winning Queer, feminist, Latina changemaker known for her energy and passion around social justice issues.

Ms. Fischer has founded and supported many community initiatives, including:
· Co-founding Ambush Rochester, a social space for Queer Women and their Allies
· Leading the redesign of the United Way’s Pride Leadership Development Program and serving as its first Chair
· Serving as one of 21 Commissioners on the inaugural Racial and Structural Equity Commission
· Co-founding and co-chairing the Latinas Unidas Soy Unica Soy Latina Rally
· Serving on the Board of the Greater Rochester Health Foundation

Sady is a two-time winner of the Diversity Leader award from Profiles in Diversity Journal; 2020 Democrat & Chronicle Storyteller; Dale Carnegie “Highest Award for Achievement” and “Outstanding Performance” Award Recipient; 2017 Leadership Rochester Alumna and Class Representative; the 2016 Recipient of Latinas Unidas “Reconocimiento Volunteer Service” Award; a 2013 Democrat & Chronicle’s “Woman to Watch”; a 2009 “Latina to Watch” in La Voz; and the 2008 Recipient of the NYS Commissioner’s “Distinguished Service Award” for her work around HIV/AIDS.

Sady is the Corporate Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at Excellus BlueCross BlueShield.

WANDA MARTINEZ-JOHNCOX is an activist born and raised in San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico. Wanda was employed at the Canandaigua Veterans Affairs (VA) MedicalWorked for almost 11 years . An advocate for the LGBTQ* Veterans during don’t ask don’t tell.

Wanda was the first LGBT Special Emphasis Program Manager and LGBT Veterans Care Coordinator for the Canandaigua, Bath and Rochester Outpatient Veterans Affairs. Travel across the country and PR to help others VA to start their LGBTQ* Veterans group.

In 2020 Begins her own Financial Marketing Business, while helping with the covid at Trillium Health and realize others needs in families and the importance for your family to have life insurance. Wanda is the founder for a not for profit Re-lief Corp. helping  people affected by natural disaster. Wanda’s also a member of the LGBTQ* Community Advisory Board. Member of the board of director of The Partnership Ontario County, Inc. During her time at the VA Wanda has received the following awards: Nurse of the Year, Caregiver of the Year, the Phenomenal Woman Award and the I CARE award for advocate for LGBT Veterans. Volunteer of the Susan B. Anthony Museum and House. She lives in Canandaigua, NY with her daughter, her son, her wife, and their dog, Toy.

DR. IRMA McCLAURIN, Black Feminist Speaker, is a woman of many talents who believes profoundly that you must “change minds, change hearts, change behavior to achieve transformation.” She is an activist bio-cultural anthropologist who studies the social construction of inequality. McClaurin is the founder and senior consultant of Irma McClaurin Solutions (IMS), a business that is focused on leadership and organizational development; diversity and change strategies; authentic community engagement practices; and research and evaluations. McClaurin seeks to find immediate and sustainable solutions to emerging and urgent issues, and offers support informed by past experiences as a president of Shaw University and Chief Diversity Officer at Teach For America. Dubbed an “academic entrepreneur,” she has held numerous executive positions that include grant making and fundraising. She has a background in policy and was a senior faculty at the Federal Executive Institute (FEI) teaching leadership education to senior federal executives. Vision, passion, clear values, and a deep commitment to social justice have guided Dr. McClaurin through a successful journey as a leader, and now as a consultant she gives back by leveraging what she’s learned in her work with clients. She is an effective coach who focuses on leadership development and helping individuals navigate career and life changes, a public speaker and TV-Radio commentator, and also conducts workshops on a variety of topics related to social justice, black feminism/feminism, organizational change and transformation, leadership and resilience, diversity, community engagement, ethnographic research and methods, public writing, cultural/bio-cultural anthropology, poetry, and literature.