December 8 Conference Speakers and Workshop Presenters—Brief Biographies

Glenn Greenwald: a columnist on civil liberties and US national security issues for the Guardian. A former constitutional lawyer, he was until 2012 a contributing writer at Salon. He is the author of With Liberty and Justice For Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful and one of the most important public intellectuals opposing indefinite detention.


Sahar F. Aziz: Associate Professor at Texas Wesleyan School of Law. Professor Aziz’s scholarship focuses on the intersection of national security and civil rights law with a focus on the post-9/11 era. Professor Aziz incorporates critical race theory, feminist theory, and constitutional law into her examination of the disparate impact of post-9/11 laws and public policy on ethnic, racial, and religious minority groups in the United States.


Shahid Buttar is Executive Director of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee. He is a constitutional lawyer, grassroots organizer, independent columnist, musician, and poet. Since graduating from Stanford Law School in 2003, Shahid’s litigation career included a 2004 lawsuit seeking marriage equality for same sex couples in the State of New York, and a 2009 FOIA case that revealed previously secret FBI investigative policies. Beyond litigation, Shahid has also organized several mass mobilizations, and political arts collectives, active across the country.


Steve Downs: Executive Director, National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms and attorney and a member of Project SALAM, a group dedicated to defending victims of pre-emptive prosecution. Downs was also a lawyer for FBI victim Yassin Aref, and former Chief Attorney for the New York Commission on Judicial Conduct.


Nancy Murray: has been Director of Education at the ACLU of Massachusetts since 1987.  She also taught at the University of Nairobi (Kenya) for 7 years and directed a nationwide program to combat racism in the media at London’s Institute of Race Relations.  After 9/11, she helped get 53 Massachusetts cities and towns to pass resolutions against the PATRIOT Act and most recently distinguished herself by protesting the conviction of Tarek Mehanna for “thought crime.”


Ruth Wilson Gilmore: Professor of geography in the doctoral program in earth and environmental sciences, is known as an activist as well as an intellectual and is currently president of the American Studies Association (ASA). She examined how political and economic forces produced California’s prison boom in Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis, and Opposition in Globalizing California (University of California Press, 2007).  Gilmore’s wide-ranging research interests also include race and gender, labor and social movements, uneven development, and the African diaspora.  She also co-founded, with Angela Davis, the prison abolition organization Critical Resistance.


Lorella Praeli: an undocumented American from New Haven, CT, where she directs Connecticut Students for a DREAM, a statewide organization of DREAMers and allies that seeks to empower undocumented students and their families. Originally from Ica, Peru, Praeli immigrated to the United States when she was 10 years old to receive medical treatment. After advocating for anti-bullying measures to be adopted at the legislative and community levels, she joined the student immigrant rights movement and came out as “undocumented and unafraid.” This year, she graduated from Quinnipiac University with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Sociology, summa cum laude. Her passions in these disciplines are education, the law, public policy, and politics. She was recently elected onto the United We Dream National Coordinating Committee as New England representative, and helps lead the Dream Educational Empowerment Program.


Shamshad Ahmad: Borne and raised in India. Obtained PhD in Physics from the Australian National University, Canberra, Australia, in 1979. Joined Department of Physics at SUNY, Albany in July 1979 and is still teaching physics there. Founder and President of Masjid As-Salam mosque in Albany. Recipient of Jim Perry Progressive Leadership Award, 2007. Member of Project SALAM and the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms. Author of book Rounded Up: Artificial terrorists and Muslim Entrapment After 9/11.


John Woodruff: an International Representative for the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE). He has over 20 years of experience working in organized labor, as a Shop Steward and Trustee, Vice-President of his local shop, President of UE Local 222 and as a UE Field Organizer.


Fahd Ahmed is the Legal and Policy Director at DRUM. Fahd Ahmed came to the United States as an undocumented immigrant from Pakistan in 1991, and joined DRUM in 2000 when he had a brother facing deportation, and a cousin facing an entrapment case.  Within DRUM, Fahd led the work with Muslim, Arab, and South Asian immigrant detainees before, and immediately after 9/11, by coordinating the detainee visitation program.  Fahd runs the End Racial Profiling Campaign, working to hold law enforcement, including the NYPD and FBI, accountable and transparent. He is also developing a community law practice focusing on the same issues.

Kazi Fouzia is a designer and seamstress at a retail sari shop in Jamaica, Queens. She has been a member of DRUM since 2009 fighting for better rights as an undocumented Muslim immigrant worker. In Bangladesh, Kazi was a member of a street vendors union, a community theater group, an organizer for free community health clinics, taught young children from the slums, and comes from a long history of struggles for justice. In addition she has worked as a member for the Women Watch Bangladesh, a national small and cottage industry in Bangladesh. Currently she is the Adult Organizer for the Workers Center.

Muneer Awad is the executive director of the New York Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NY). He started working with CAIR in 2010 as the Executive Director of the Oklahoma Chapter where Muneer was the lawyer and plaintiff that filed the landmark lawsuit to stop that state from implementing an anti-Sharia bill promoted to defame and demonize Muslims. The court case gained international media attention and allowed various national organizations including the American Jewish Committee, the Interfaith Alliance, the New York City Bar Association, and the American Constitutional Society to weigh in with reports and opinions in support of his stance.


Mongi Dhaouadi is possibly the most visible advocate for Muslim civil liberties in CT. He studied electrical engineering at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. He has criss-crossed the state presenting Know Your Rights sessions to the Muslim American community, dealing especially with FBI and law enforcement encounters. He served as Executive Director of the CT Chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations for 3 years and recently helped drive forward state legislation to rein in police racial profiling in CT. Served as an observer to the Tunisian elections in October 2011. This summer he spent about 2 months in Tunisia observing the political transition underway and engaging in dialogue with various civic and political leaders.


Marwa Elbially:  is a 2010 graduate of Albany Law School, where she was student editor of the Government Law and Policy Journal. As President of the Muslim Law Students Association, she organized to help raise awareness on issues related to Muslims and civil liberties. As a volunteer researcher with the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms (NCPCF) she worked on compiling the extensive NCPCF database of pre-emptively prosecuted defendants. She is currently the NCPCF Secretary.


Michael Figura:  2012-2013 legal fellow at the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, is a recent graduate of City University of New York School of Law (CUNY), where he served as Executive Articles Editor of the New York City Law Review and was awarded several fellowships, including the Haywood Burns Fellowship for Civil and Human Rights and Charles H. Revson Law Student Public Interest Summer Fellowship. Since graduating from Wesleyan University in 2006, Michael’s student internship and prior experiences including serving with the Center For Constitutional Rights, CLEAR (Creating Law Enforcement Accountability and Responsibility) Law Clinic, Office of the Appellate Defender of New York, and the New York Civilian Complaint Review Board.


Emma Roderick is the grassroots campaigns coordinator at the Bill of Rights Defense Committee. A 2007 graduate of Smith College. Emma has been active in social justice organizing since she was fourteen years old, and in college was a national leader in United Students Against Sweatshops. She spearheaded several labor rights campaigns at Smith, including a successful effort to end Coca-Cola’s exclusive contract with the college because of the company’s involvement in labor and human rights abuses. Emma joined BORDC in 2008 and has worked to coordinate and support campaigns to restore civil rights and liberties in local communities. She also coordinates BORDC’s work with educators and youth. Currently, Emma is enrolled part time at the University of Connecticut School of Social Work, where she is concentrating in the community organization method of social work and expects to get her MSW in 2014.


Andrew F. March is Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, Yale University. He works on political theory, Islamic law and religion and politics. He is the author of Islam and Liberal Citizenship (Oxford, 2009) and multiple academic articles in political theory and Islamic studies. His article for the New York Times Sunday Review, “A Dangerous Mind?” (April 21, 2012) discussed his experiences as an expert witness for the defense in the Tarek Mehanna case and the threat to free speech raised by the Mehanna prosecution.


Jeff Napolitano runs the Western Massachusetts Program of the American Friends Service Committee, with offices in Northampton and Springfield. His AFSC program covers an array of issues, from anti-war organizing to immigration policy. Last year, AFSC and its coalition partners won opt-outs from SComm in Springfield, Northampton, and Amherst. Our program is in the process of compiling a comprehensive report of local police and jail policies in the four Western Massachusetts counties since the implementation of Secure Communities in the state.


Marlene Jenkins is the mother of Tarik Shah, a famous jazz bass player and also a victim of preemptive prosecution who was held for many months in solitary confinement.  Marlene has been a community activist all her life in many different capacities, and presently resides in Albany NY, where she is a member of the Muslim Solidarity Committee, Project SALAM, and Treasurer of the Albany Chapter of NCPCF.


Kathy Manley: an Albany, NY criminal defense attorney specializing in appeals, and is one of the attorneys for Yassin Aref, who was entrapped in an unfair FBI sting operation. Long an advocate for peace and social justice, Kathy is involved in a number of groups, including the Muslim Solidarity Committee, Project SALAM, the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms, and the NYCLU.


Lynne Jackson of Albany, NY is a co-founder of Project SALAM (Support and Legal Advocacy for Muslims).  Her involvement with the issue of preemptive prosecution began when two Muslim men in Albany, Yassin Aref and Mohammed Hossain, were sentenced to fifteen years in prison after being entrapped by the FBI.  In 2010, Lynne organized the campaign for the Albany Common Council to pass the Albany Resolution, which urges the U.S. Justice Department to implement the recommendation of its own Inspector General and establish an independent panel to review the convictions of Muslims who have been preemptively prosecuted to ensure their fair treatment under the Constitution and Bill of Rights.


Sharmin Sadequee: an Anthropology PhD student currently conducting my ethnographic dissertation research that examines the impact of national security laws, subjectivity, subject formation, and state repression, centering on political prisoners, their families and court cases and the way communities are addressing and challenging these laws and policies through social justice and advocacy work.  In 2006 when I was preparing for my PhD Candidacy Exam, my 19 year old brother Shifa Sadequee was kidnapped at the behest of the US government and charged with providing ‘material support’ for translating and publishing Islamic and Arabic literature in an online publication website, Tibyan Publication, and making trips to Canada and Washington, DC.  He is currently serving his 17 years sentence in the Communication Management Unit (CMU) at the Federal Prison in Terre Haute, IN. My family’s experiences with my brother’s case have given me an additional lens through which to understand the War of Terror. I am also the Director of Prisoners and Families Committee of the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms (NCPCF).


Linda Lancz has functioned as a facilitator of New London County Against Racial Profiling.  She was an activist in the civil rights movement in the 60’s desegregating Baltimore and went to jail on the Eastern Shore of Maryland for demonstrating against racist attacks on the black community. She was coordinator of the Boston Mobilization Committee Against the War in Vietnam. She has been a lifelong community activist, a tenant organizer, a trade unionist, a feminist and an artist and writer. She is a member of the NAACP and the Green Party of CT and a founder and past President of The Ecological Health Organization in CT (ECHO).


Isa Mujahidfirst became interested in civil liberties while active duty with U.S. Army. The fact that soldiers take an oath and sometimes give their life to defend the Constitution but do not enjoy some of the most basic civil liberties such as freedom of speech and expression did not sit well with him. Upon discharge and returning to Connecticut, he began working in a small law firm and learning how to advocate. Soon after, he was doing community organizing in Bridgeport with the grassroots organization ACORN. He’s since been involved in many social and political movements in Connecticut. He’s a board member of the CT Working Families Party and had has been organizing with the ACLU of CT for the last year.


Sandy Staub is the Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Connecticut, where she directs a complex legal docket and advocates for the protection of civil rights and civil liberties. She served as Chief of the first Domestic Violence Prosecution Unit for the Northwestern District Attorney’s office and was Coordinator in Provincetown for improving the community’s response to domestic violence, under a community policing grant. For many years Sandy volunteered as a board member, including as President, of New England Learning Center for Women in Transition, an agency providing shelter and services to women and children transitioning from violent homes.  Most recently, she has helped to organize a CT effort to end racial profiling.


Christopher Hutchinson is the head of the Youth for Socialist Action group at CCSU and headed up the campus organizing for this civil liberties conference. Hutchinson is a long time activist in the antiwar, anti-racism, and Palestine Solidarity Movements.  He participated in the Gaza Freedom March in Cairo, Egypt in 2010 and recently helped organized a demonstration at CCSU to Break the Siege of Gaza.  He is also a visual artist whose illustrations can be found in the new book from PM Press called Robin Hood: People’s Outlaw and Forest Hero.


Joe Lombardo is the co-coordinator of the United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC).  He is a founding member of Project Salam and Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace.  He recently retired after 25 years as a New York State worker, but continues to be active as  a member of CSEA and the Troy Area Labor Council.  Lombardo recently returned from Pakistan where he met with the families of the innocent victims of the U.S. drone war.

Henry Lowendorf: A peace activist since the 1960¹s U.S. war on Vietnam, Henry Lowendorf chairs the Greater New Haven Peace Council, which works for peace on global, national and local levels. He a member of the executive committee of the US Peace Council and a representative to the World Peace Council, an NGO of the United Nations. The US Peace Council is a multi-racial, anti-imperialist organization committed to peace, economic and social justice and to international solidarity with the peoples of the world. Henry co-organized two international conferences – in New York in 2010, calling for abolition of nuclear weapons and this year in Chicago calling for the dissolution of NATO. In the recent election, the Peace Council helped place a referendum on the New Haven ballot calling for a reduction in the military budget, converting from military to civilian production and funding human needs. Citizens mobilized to support the referendum voted 85% “yes.”


Tim Craine is a founding member of the Greater Hartford Coalition on Cuba, which has been working since 1993 to end the embargo against Cuba.  He will be helping to organize a New England tour of “Humor from My Pen,” an exhibit of cartoons drawn by Cuban Five prisoner Gerardo Hernández taking place in early 2013.


Nancy Kohn is a representative of the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban Five.


Don Wilson is President of the New London chapter of the NAACP. He was instrumental in having the state and local chapters of the NAACP call for federal intervention into two different cases of alleged discrimination in the New London fire and police departments in New London.


Cornell Lewis was born in Detroit, Michigan and earned a BA in theology and an M.Ed in Rehabilitation Therapy. He taught Social Work / Community Organizing at Capital Community College in Hartford and organized The Men & Women of Color Initiative to help North End children get to school safely. Lewis started community patrols in apartment complex on Vine & Albany Street to rid it of drug dealers and organized weekly Freedom Rides to suburbia to homes of persons convicted of buying drugs in Hartford, making the connection about how suburbs contribute to a criminal urban economy.


Jason Wright has been an active leftist since 1988, initially with the Democratic Socialists of America, but subsequently with the International Bolshevik Tendency. Jason has been active in the campaign to free Mumia Abu-Jamal for over two decades and was a co-author of “The Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal” a detailed study of the judicial frame-up of America’s leading political prisoner.


Shahina Parveen is a leader of DRUM-Desis Rising Up & Moving, and the mother of Shahawar Matin Siraj, who was targeted and entrapped by the NYPD and is now serving a 30 year sentence. As an undocumented Muslim immigrant, Shahina has active in speaking out about the surveillance of Muslim communities in the broader context of policing of communities of color. She has also been a vocal leader in the immigrant rights struggle, and the anti-war movement, making the links between the wars abroad and the war at home.


Roksana Mun is a Youth Organizer at DRUM. Roksana Mun is an immigrant New Yorker who was born in Bangladesh. She has been a member of DRUM YouthPower! since 2003 when she graduated the Youth Power! Summer Community Organizing Institute. She has served as a Youth Organizer from 2007-9 and rejoined staff in 2011, and is currently the Dignity in Schools Campaign Organizer building youth leadership to win educational justice.


Christine Gauvreau is an organizer with the CT Coalition to Stop Indefinite Detention and with CT United for Peace. She also serves on the administrative committee of the United National Antiwar Coalition. She came to focus on civil liberties work after seeing the way in which the pre-emptive prosecution, FBI entrapment, and the treatment of speech as material support to terrorism, i.e. the elements of the “war at home,” were being used to cripple the antiwar movement in the US and justify ever more murderous wars abroad.  Gauvreau has been active for forty years in the movements for social change.


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