New Yorkers of all faiths are compelled by our traditions to seek justice. How do we do so faithfully and effectively in a time of increasing inequality, poverty and ideological division?
September 25-27 join people of faith from across New York in Syracuse to learn and reflect together on how to organize, educate, advocate, and agitate for economic and racial justice in our state.
Over three days of presentations, workshops, and small group reflection, we will:
- Build connections with other justice-seeking New Yorkers from different regions and faiths
- Build knowledge of issues and movements through a moral/faith-rooted lens
- Build the capacity to do justice work through skills training and strategic reflection
- Be energized and inspired to continue working for justice – or to get involved for the first time
Here are a few of the speakers who will be leading us in reflection and discussion:
Onleilove Alston will be our keynote speaker on Sunday evening. As Executive Director of Faith in New York, Onleilove leads a multiracial and multifaith organizing federation of 70 congregations, representing 80,000 New Yorkers who are working to build a city where all God’s children can live in dignity. Onleilove is also a contributing writer for Sojourners magazine, The Black Commentator, Huff Post Religion and NPR’s Onbeing blog, as well as other print and online publications. Having experienced poverty and homelessness, she has developed a compassion for people fueled by her passion for justice, and knows that the gospel is truly “good news to the poor.”
Larry Cox has been working for peace, justice and human rights around the world for more than four decades. A graduate of Union Theological Seminary, he is serving as Co- Director of Kairos: The Center on Religions, Rights and Social Justice. He is also a senior consultant at Public Interest Projects, serving a new collaborative fund supporting human rights work in the United States. Previously, Cox served as Executive Director of Amnesty International USA from 2006 to 2011.
Ron Deutsch is Executive Director of the Fiscal Policy Institute. He has been a tireless advocate for working families for over 20 years in Albany. He led the Statewide Emergency Network for Social and Economic Security, a statewide anti-poverty advocacy organization, for 13 years and was the Director of New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness for 8 years. Deutsch also leads an all volunteer non-profit – The Giving Circle – that works to help improve the lives of families in the Capital District, nationally and internationally.
Rosemary Rivera is the Organizing Director for Citizen Action of New York. She has been an organizer with Syracuse United Neighbors, Metro Justice, and SEIU 1199’s Healthcare Education Project before coming back to Citizen Action in her current role. She has sat on numerous boards and committees in her hometown of Rochester, New York.
Rev. Kirk Laubenstein is the Executive Director of the Coalition for Economic Justice in Buffalo. CEJ’s mission is to unite its member labor, faith, and community organizations to win campaigns that promote economic justice for all through building strong, diverse, sustainable communities. Laubenstein attended Chicago Theological Seminary and graduated in 2014 with his Masters of Divinity. During seminary, he became involved in the UNITE HERE Hyatt hotel boycott and was convinced of the power of labor organizing to change people’s lives for the better.
Rebecca Fuentes is the Lead Organizer of the Workers’ Center of Central New York, a grassroots organization focused on workplace and economic justice. Through community organizing, leadership development, popular education and policy advocacy, the Workers’ Center of Central New York empowers low-wage workers to combat workplace abuses and improve wages and working conditions throughout the community.
Natasha Thompson is the President & CEO of the Food Bank of the Southern Tier in Elmira, NY. She has over 18 years of experience in food banking and started her career as an Americorps*VISTA volunteer at the Rhode Island Community Food Bank in 1997. Natasha holds a BA in Psychology & Religion and an MBA, both from the University of Rochester. She is also the Chair of the Food Bank Association of New York State and a member of Feeding America’s National Council of food banks, representing the Eastern Region. Natasha believes that food brings people to the table, both figuratively and literally, where conversations happen, relationships take root and communities are transformed. She sees every opportunity to talk about the problem of hunger and food insecurity as a gateway to lead people of conscience to grapple with the foundational issues of social and economic inequality.
These are just a few of the visionary leaders who will join us September 25-27 in Syracuse. We hope you’ll be there, too, as we examine how people of faith can articulate a moral vision for economic and racial justice and help build a movement to make that vision a reality.
Emily McNeill is the Acting Director of the Labor-Religion Coalition of New York State, which works with faith communities to advocate for economic justice in New York. Emily holds an M.Div. from Union Theological Seminary in New York City and is a member of Journey United Church of Christ in Albany.
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