Davis-Putter grantees are committed to the notion that everyone has a right to an education, affordable housing, healthcare and a living wage – that ending U.S. imperialism through international solidarity, striving for equality and creating a peaceful world is possible. And they’re doing the work to make our shared vision a reality.
Kahlil Almustafa, a poet, educator and organizer, uses spoken word against the prison industrial complex and for reparations and recently released his CD, CounterIntelligence while studying Interdisciplinary Arts at Goddard College.
Sandra Alvarez, a U.S. born Colombian activist/scholar, builds solidarity with indigenous Colombian social movements led by farm workers and women, while completing her doctoral degree at UC Santa Cruz.
Veronica Aragon began organizing rallies and protests as an undergraduate with NYU Students for Peace and Justice and now works in coalition, protecting immigrant workers rights, while re-establishing the Loyola National Lawyers Guild Chapter in Los Angeles.
Maria Belman works for passage of the DREAM Act, police accountability and to make Oakland a sanctuary from ICE raids, while organizing and training student activists at UC Berkeley.
O’Connor Scholar Jenny Brown. Jessie Lloyd O’Connor was a labor journalist, organizer and an early member of our Board who is remembered for her lifelong commitment to peace and justice and, with her husband Harvey, opening heart and home to activists. Our Jessie Lloyd O’Connor Scholar this year is Jenny Brown. Jenny has been involved in international solidarity and feminist, peace, labor and anti-racist organizing since 1984. She is the editor of Gainesville Iguana, a radical movement publication and co-founded the Alucha County Labor party. She works on healthcare and returned to school in the UMass/Amherst Labor Studies program to better understand how to create a critical mass of labor, feminist and anti-racist organizations,. Jessie would welcome Jenny as a sister in struggle!
LaTosha Brown is committed to grassroots organizing and the building and transforming of southern communities and the global labor rights movement, while enrolled in the National Labor College.
Jordan Camp connects domestic struggles against racism, gender oppression and poverty to global struggles for justice, while researching prison and urban rebellion and the criminalization of dissent for his doctoral dissertation at UC Santa Barbara.
Kitzia Esteva-Martinez organized support for the rights of domestic workers while in high school and continues solidarity efforts for campus workers at UC Santa Barbara as an undergraduate.
Ari Lev Fornari organizes mass resistance against displacement of low-income communities, works for peace and prison abolition, and builds alliances between Palestinians and Jews in Boston, while continuing rabbinical studies.
Gabriela Garcia leads a grassroots immigrant worker wage recovery effort with La Union del Pueblo Entero in El Paso, Texas, and attends Northeastern to become a public interest lawyer.
Samantha Garcia works against militarization, burgeoning immigrant detention centers, border wall construction and increased CIA presence in the schools of the Rio Grande Valley region while seeking a masters at the University of Texas/Pan American.
Erin Genia uses art as a tool for community organizing, improving conditions on reservations and changing misperceptions of Native people, while organizing international solidarity efforts and completing a tribal governance degree at Evergreen State.
Zaira Hernandez organizes students at UC Berkeley for passage of the DREAM Act and access to education for all students of color, while protesting police brutality in the Oakland community.
Priyank Jindal co-founded a youth collective supporting low wage workers and immigrants, and organizes for community healthcare and better working conditions for nurses, while attending LaSalle School of Nursing in Philadelphia.
Amaha Kassa organized poultry workers in Alabama and health care workers in Silicon Valley before leading a labor-based economic justice coalition in Oakland and enrolling at UC Berkeley School of Law.
ManSee Kong challenges the gentrification of New York’s Chinatown through youth and tenant organizing and creates films that expose the struggles and beauty of underrepresented communities, while completing an MFA at Tisch/NYU.
Anne Braden Award Recipient Mayaba Liebenthal. To honor this long-time civil rights activist and Davis-Putter Trustee, the Fund created an award that recognizes an undergraduate working in the South who keeps racism central to all aspects of their work. This year the Fund chose Mayaba Liebenthal who has organized against the prison industrial complex and for affordable housing and women’s health justice. She was one of the first organizers to return to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, leading the People’s Hurricane Relief Fund and organizing protests to stop demolitions. Mayaba is active with Critical Resistance and plans to be a documentary and political fiction filmmaker after completing her degree in Film and Communications at the University of New Orleans. Anne spent a lifetime fighting racism; Mayaba is well on her way to doing the same.
Felipe Matos, through personal experience with immigration and little access to education, was inspired to build solidarity with Students Working for Equal Rights at Florida International University and the Florida Immigrant Coalition.
Paul Schachter Award Recipient Abraham Medina. Paul Schachter, a 1971 grantee, anti-war and civil rights activist and attorney, served the Fund for over two decades. Paul left the board this year and in gratitude for his steadfast commitment, we have named an award in his honor for a student who best represents Paul’s work for peace and justice– Abraham Mario Medina. Impacted by murders and deportations of family and friends, Abraham co-founded a student group, building solidarity with campus workers, speaking out for immigration and education justice and performing original rap songs for peace and equality. He teaches movement education “as resistance to the oppressors who would keep young people deprived of power through education.” Abraham studies Sociology at UC Irvine and, like Paul, is a leader and agitator in his community.
Fernando Mejia created safer and more just living conditions for immigrants through community campaigns and now seeks a masters at the University of New Mexico, with plans to develop new models for cross-border organizing.
Dirk Struik Award Recipient Susan Melgarejo. Dirk Struik was a renowned mathematical historian, a Marxist who refused to testify before the House Un- American Activities in 1951, and a Fund founder. Dirk’s daughter Ruth Rebekka Struik made a generous gift after his death. We used it to make an award to honor Dirk with a grant to Susan Melgarejo, a founding member of IDEAS at UCLA, a group that supports and educates undocumented students while advocating for changes to state tuition laws. Active in anti-war and anti-police brutality work, she connects issues across struggles and is one of only two bi-lingual high school math teachers in the Urban Education/Math Program at UCLA. Susan sees herself as one of the teacher-activists who will transform the U.S. and inspire resistance in her students. Dirk would be proud!
Melissa Pognon leads campaigns against environmental racism, gentrification and racial disparities in the criminal justice system, while organizing an activist planners group at the University of Illinois /Urbana-Champaign.
Sophia Shank works to strengthen the labor movement, organizing hotel workers with UNITE HERE and the Union of Occupied Factory Workers in Venezuela, while studying Global and Women’s Studies at the University of Minnesota.
Sushma Sheth has led efforts creating a national model for affordable housing policy and practice for over a decade and now seeks a masters at the Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management.
Eric Stanley connects communities challenging racism and heterosexism through direct confrontation with the prison industrial complex and gentrification, while completing his doctorate at UC Santa Cruz, researching the LGBT experience in prison.
Mayuran Tiruchelvam creates “harm free zones” where communities resolve conflicts without calling the police, and founded a child care and movement education program for children of activists, while studying film at Columbia.
Camilo Viveiros challenges economic injustices of working people, coordinating student support for affordable housing, immigrant workers’ rights and homeless and welfare rights unions while in the Labor Studies program at UMass/Dartmouth.
Shunya Wade works to dismantle the school to prison pipeline, organizing and educating her peers on their rights and mobilizing support to defeat racist, sexist and heterosexist ballot initiatives and is a freshman at UC San Diego.