Forward 2017 Presenters

Ali Abunimah is a prominent Palestinian-American journalist and is editor of Electronic Intifada, a popular blog covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Abunimah has been described as "the leading American proponent of a one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict." He regularly appears on television discussion programs on CNN, MSNBC, PBS, and other networks. Ali will be speaking about the attempted "Muslim ban," and on how to build an immigrant rights movement in the US today.


M Adams is a leading figure in the national movement for Black Lives. M is the co-executive director of Freedom Inc, which organizes low-income communities of color in Madison, and was a co-founder of Young Gifted and Black. In 2014, M was a U.S. delegate to the United Nations' Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, held in Geneva, Switzerland, and was recently named one of Wisconsin's most influential African-Americans for the second year running. M has written a book, "Forward from Ferguson," with the Center for Pan-African Development. M will be speaking at Forward about prison abolition, the movement for black lives and how to build "a movement of movements" for justice in America today.


Kali Akuno is an activist, writer and proponent of workers cooperatives based in Jackson, Mississippi. Kali is co-founder and co-director of Cooperation Jackson, a leading member of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement. He was central to the election of the late Chokwe Lumumba, a radical black nationalist who served as mayor of Jackson, MS in 2013-14. Kali also served as the Co-Director of the US Human Rights Network and the Executive Director of the People's Hurricane Relief Fund (PHRF) based in New Orleans, Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina. At Forward, Kali will analyze the current political and economic crisis.






Heather DuBois Bourenane is the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Public Education Network (WPEN), a statewide public education advocacy group. She teaches English at Madison College. She will be speaking in the workshop "Navigating the Education Storm: Budgets, Strategy, & Local Activism."






William Greendeer is an activist and member of the Ho-Chunk nation. He was one of the original walkers that trekked over 400 miles for 33 days to bring awareness to the dangers of Pipeline 61 and the plans of Enbridge to expand their tar sands pipeline. The world's largest pipeline carries toxic tar sands oil right through Wisconsin, including Dane County. Bill will be speaking in the workshop, "From Standing Rock to Wisconsin: Treaty Rights & Water Defense."


Angie Holecko is Public Affairs Organizer for Planned Parenthood Wisconsin. She will be leading the skillshare session on "Empowering Communities Beyond Elections: Ward Captains, Precinct Programs, & Grassroots Mobilization."





Z! Haukeness is a local activist involved in numerous campaigns. These include "Operation Welcome Home," a community of homeless people and their allies; "Groundwork Madison," a local grassroots group working for racial justice; and "Take Back the Land Madison," a housing liberation organization. Z! was the recipient of the 2016 Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award, awarded jointly by the city of Madison and Dane County. Z! will co-facilitate a skills session on Direct Action for Expanding Sanctuary.







Crystal Ketterhagen is a member of "Indivisible," an organization that made headlines recently for organizing militant grassroots lobbying to resist the attempt to repeal Obamacare. Indivisible replicates the tactics of the Tea Party by targeting individual Members of Congress. Crystal will leading a skillshare on how to do grassroots lobbying.





Dylan Bizhikiins Jennings is a tribal member from the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe. An alumnus from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, he is the Director of Public Information for the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, which is an inter-tribal organization consisting of eleven member Ojibwe bands located throughout Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. GLIFWC works to preserve and implement treaty reserved resources and rights. Mr. Jennings is also an elected Tribal Council member for the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe.


Kim Kaukl is the executive director of the Wisconsin Rural Schools Alliance (WiRSA) and a member of Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Midwest's Rural Research Alliance. Kaukl spent 34 years as a teacher and then as a high school administrator, mostly in rural communities. His main goal is to be a voice for rural Wisconsin schools, which often have different needs to schools in urban and suburban districts. Kim will be leading the workshop on "Navigating the Education Storm: Budgets, Strategy, & Local Activism."






Rebecca Kemble is the President of the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives, and sits on the executive committee of CICOPA, a branch of the International Cooperative Alliance that promotes worker cooperatives. Kemble also serves as President of CICOPA North America and Vice President of CICOPA Americas. She is a member of the Madison Common Council, serving as Alder for district 18.








Kim Kohlhaas is the President of the American Federation of Teachers - Wisconsin (AFT-W). Previously, Kim served as President of Local #202 in Superior, Wisconsin, which currently maintains an 80% membership rate. In 2011, Kim ran for her current position as state president of AFT-W.






Mike Konopacki is a political cartoonist, specializing in labor issues. Konopacki has created comics on a number of topics, including union organizing, welfare reform, the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization. He animated the 1998 video Global Village or Global Pillage, narrated by Ed Asner. In collaboration with Howard Zinn and historian Paul Buhle, he co-wrote and illustrated A People's History of American Empire, a graphic novel adaptation of Zinn's A People's History of the United States. Mike will be leading a workshop on how to build cultural forms of resistance.






Dan Kortte is a local labor activist with the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, Transportation Workers, Local 565. At Forward, Dan will be leading a skill share explaining how to organize a workplace from scratch.

Deepa Kumar is Associate Professor of Media Studies at Rutgers University and President of Rutgers AAUP-AFT. She is the author of Outside the Box: Corporate Media, Globalization and the UPS Strike and Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire. She has written dozens of articles that have appeared in scholarly journals as well as independent media. She has shared her expertise in numerous media outlets, such as the BBC, The New York Times, NPR, USA Today, The Philadelphia Enquirer, the Danish Broadcasting Corporation, Telesur, and many others. Deepa will be taking part in the workshop on gender equality. She will be discussing whether or not we are witnessing the birth of a new feminist movement.




José Oliva is the Associate Director of the Food Chain Workers Alliance, a multi-sector, multi-stakeholder coalition dedicated to transforming our food system from one that puts profits before people and the planet, to one that puts our health, environment, agriculture, and labor first, and avoids the collapse of our planetary ecosystems. José will be speaking on the final plenary on how we can build a movement of movements for social justice.



Zon Muas started volunteering with Freedom Inc six years ago to start the dance troupe Viv Ncaus. Now she is one of the core staff, leading the Hmong girls' group. Zon will be speaking in the workshop "Gender Equality: The Birth of a New Movement?"





Leland Pan is a member of the Teaching Assistants Association (TAA), AFT local 3220, and has been a labor and racial justice activist and organizer. He is also a former Dane County Board Supervisor, where he focused on collaborating with grassroots activists to reduce racial disparities in the criminal justice system and end mass incarceration.






John Peck has been the Executive Director of Family Farm Defenders for the last two decades, and is also a part-time instructor of Economics and Environmental Studies at Madison Area Technical College (MATC). He attended the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 and participated in global justice events surrounding the WTO meeting Seattle in 1999, as well as FTAA meetings in Quebec in 2001 and Miami in 2003.  He has been part of solidarity delegations to Ainaro, East Timor in 2005 and Oaxaca, Mexico 2008, and also participated in the 2007 Nyeleni Food Sovereignty Conference in Selengue, Mali, the Fifth Conference of La Via Campesina in Maputo, Mozambique in 2008, as well as the 2009 U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark.


Charlie Post is a prominent socialist activist and author who teaches at the City University of New York. He is the author of The American Road to Capitalism (Haymarket 2012), and is a regular contributor to Jacobin, International Socialist Review and many other publications. At Forward, Charlie will be analysing the current crisis on the opening plenary, and will debate Joel Rogers about Strategy, Tactics, Parties, & Movements in the Saturday afternoon plenary.

Mary Cathryn Ricker is the Executive Vice President of the American Federation of Teachers. She was overwhelmingly elected to that position in July 2014 at the AFT's biennial convention in Los Angeles. Ricker served as president of the Saint Paul (Minn.) Federation of Teachers, AFT Local 28, since 2005, as an AFT Vice President since 2012, and a member of the AFT K-12 Teachers program and policy council since 2006.




Nino Rodriguez is an activist with Racial Justice Tipping Point. Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice (WNPJ) launched the Racial Justice Tipping Point campaign to engage 3.5% of WI's population. Grassroots strategies are used to bring people together, and to take the steps to make WI a more racially equitable state. Nino will be speaking in the workshop on Prison Abolition & Community Control of the Police.






Joel Rogers is an academic, political activist and a founding member of Our Wisconsin Revolution (OWR). Rogers is a contributing editor of The Nation and is a professor of law, political science, public affairs and sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is the director of the Center on Wisconsin Strategy. At Forward 2017 Rogers will be debating the strategies and tactics the left should use in the current period.







Charity Schmidt is a local trade-union activist and an organizer for the South Central Federation of Labor. Charity will be leading the workshop on developing the cooperative movement, "Building the Alternative: Cooperative Power in the Rust Belt."





Jesse Sharkey is Vice President of the Chicago Teachers Union. In 2004, Jesse played a leading role in a campaign that mobilized hundreds of parents, launched a website, put a ballot initiative up in the 48th ward, and built relationships with dozens of community organizations and religious groups to oppose the takeover of Senn by a military academy. At Forward, Jesse will be speaking on the opening plenary about how to analyze the current political and economic crisis.






Jessica Williams is a staff member of Freedom Inc. 

Dan Wang is a writer, artist, organizer, and printer. Dan's constant concerns are the relationships between art and politics, critical reflection and social action, and place and history. His research includes inquiries into the postindustrial cultural politics of the Midwest, letterpress printing as an archaeology of obsolescence, race and difference in the theater of crisis capitalism, and the cultural landscape of postsocialist China.









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