The Board of AFGJ is an activist board meeting once a year for a retreat but taking part monthly in conference calls and regularly contributes by e-mail in working with the staff and volunteers at furthering AFGJ’s mission.
Tom Baker’s background as an Iowa farmer and worker has influenced his world-view. He graduated from the University of Iowa with a BA in secondary education with concentrations in history and economics. He was drafted from his teaching position as the Audio Visual Director at a high school in the northwest suburbs of Chicago and served two years in the Vietnam War where he was a combat photographer for the US Army 1st Aviation Brigade. Witnessing the extensive imposition of foreign capital and politics upon the indigenous people, he resolved to work toward total change of political and economic systems. Tom discovered Nicaragua in 1985-86, and began work with the Nicaragua Solidarity Committee of Chicago. He has organized numerous conferences and events, has written many newsletters, and maintains active outreach for and development of the total change he seeks.
Mark Burton is a lawyer in private practice where he specializes in criminal defense and civil rights. He graduated from Colorado College with a degree in romance languages and graduated from the University of Denver School of Law with a juris doctor. Mark has been involved in social justice movements which began with his work in the British Trade Union movement where he was a rank and file organizer for low paid hospital workers where he helped organize wage and conditions campaigns. More recently, Mark has been involved in immigrant rights, social justice, and anti-war movements. As an active member of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) International Committee Mark has organized a joint AFGJ/NLG delegation to Colombia. In his law practice Mark specializes in indigent defense, freeing the wrongfully convicted, and the human and civil rights of people in the face of government repression.
Charlie Delaney Megeso, has worked as a master mason for thirty years. He is currently an elected citizen judge in Chittenden County, Vermont. As a member of the Abenaki tribe, he has been involved in the indigenous movement for twenty-five years. He was a legal researcher for the tribal judge and served as tribal ambassador to Washington, DC. He wrote two bills that became law, concerning state recognition of indigenous tribes in Vermont. He is also a former chair of the Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs. Over the past eighteen years he has done reconstruction work with the Miskito people on the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua. He works with the Miskito official representative to the US, and he serves as the North American representative of the Miskito to the United Nations and the US State Department. In 2002-2003 he was a delegate to the United Nations, representing both the Abenakis and Miskito; and he served on a committee working on the International Declaration of Indigenous Rights, ratified into international law in 2007.
Katherine Hoyt was the National Co-Coordinator of Alliance for Global Justice and its Nicaragua Network program. She lived eighteen years in Latin America – two years in Chile and sixteen in Nicaragua. She holds a Ph.D. in political science from Rutgers University and has authored numerous academic and activist publications including The Many Faces of Sandinista Democracy from Ohio University Press. She has taught at Wayne State University, Rutgers University and Whitman College. In the mid-eighties she served as the Michigan coordinator of the Pledge of Resistance as director of the Michigan Interfaith Committee on Central American Human Rights (MICAH) in Detroit.
At Alliance for Global Justice, she has worked on campaigns to support Nicaragua’s garment workers and on campaigns against IMF mandated privatization and user fees. In the 2000s, she actively represented the Nicaragua Network in the Stop CAFTA Coalition. In 2016 Kathy retired and joined the AfGJ board.
John Ocampo is a labor organizer. He has done international accompaniment work with campesino organizations in Guatemala, participated in solidarity campaigns with Colombian workers and political prisoners, and served as an electoral observer in El Salvador and Honduras. He is honored to have been an interpreter on several AfGJ delegations in recent years. John has also worked in the telecommunications and hospitality industries.
I V Rodriguez first became active in the immigrant rights movement as a child when the ranch hand where she was a caretaker had been deported twice. After witnessing the human rights violations committed against him, she has spent a lifetime attempting to expose many forms of injustices.
She was educated in the areas of Psychology and Spanish and as a graduate student in Education and Ethnic Studies. She recently resigned as a teacher of Special Education-of students who experience their own class of injustice-to devote full-time to social justice work. She strives to accomplish this is as an independent radio and online journalist. Through that role she works to give space to those voices that have been underrepresented, marginalized, suppressed, or repressed, an opportunity to express their positions. Reporting from on location is an important element of this reporting. She sees much of the reporting done by dominant media as interpretations from inexperienced sources and not from those who have interacted with sources in any significant way. For example, in 2013 she accompanied the Immokalee Farm workers in their 200 mile walk from Fort Myers, to Lakeland, Florida to expose the slavery conditions that the farm workers still face, and the 200 mile Peace Walk against Drone Warfare with the organization Voices for Creative Nonviolence from the Rock Island Arsenal in Illinois to the Des Moines Air National Guard Facility at the Des Moines International Airport to raise awareness of the facility’s conversion to a drone command center in 2014. We also reported from the Sonora desert from the annual 75-mile long Migrant Trail organized by Coalicion de Derechos Humanos. Reporting from less accessible areas such as North Korea, Cuba, and Iran plays a significant role in giving a space for voices that have had less of an opportunity for expression.
She is a sheep farmer and is now fighting fracking in the county where her farm is located. She hopes to return to the farm when the area has been liberated of the pollution that has permeated the air and water of the once more pristine areas of the nation.
Shelly Scribner has a master’s degree in special education from San Francisco State University. For over 25 years she taught babies with disabilities, ranging from newborn to three years old; and she has worked with homeless children for over 12 years. She is active with a sister-city project linking Merced, California, with Somoto, Nicaragua; and she serves on the Norcal board which represents sister cities in northern California. She has been co-chairperson of the Modesto Peace/Life Center, organizing vigils for Modesto and San Francisco.
Banbose Shango has a long history (since 1967) of struggle in the nationalist, peace, student, socialist, solidarity and pan-Africanist movement. He was born in Jamaica, grew up in Chicago, and has a background in electrical & plumbing. A student of Shaw University (NC) and UICC, he has participated in organizing for six months in Conakry, Guinea with the PRPAG (Pan-African Revolutionary Party of Guinea); the 5th ALBA (The Bolivarian Alternative for Our America’s) conference in April 2007 held in Barquisimeto, Venezuela, and took a Venezuela Solidarity Network’ (VSN) delegation in July 2007 to Caracas and Barlovento. He is co-chair-at-large of the National Network on Cuba (NNOC). He served as a International Election Observer at the victorious Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional (FMLN) presidential elections in El Salvador in 2009. He was also a delegate to the People’s World Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth held in Cochabamba, Bolivia in April 2010. He participated as a member of the initial Plumbers Brigade to Cuba in August 2010, which in coordination with the CTC (Cuban Trade Union), helped to build community apartments in the Plyer municipality of Havana. He has spoken for and represented the A-APRP/A-APRP (GC) on numerous campuses, conferences, delegations, seminars, community meetings and at international manifestations. Banbose was formerly the Region Co-Coordinator of the Venezuelan Solidarity Network.
Bob Siegel is an investment manager in private practice in New York City. He received his A.B. in International Relations from Brown and his M.B.A. from Harvard. Bob serves on the Boards of three other prominent national progressive organizations: 1) North American Congress on Latin America ( NACLA ), which publishes a widely respected journal on Latin America affairs.; 2) Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting ( FAIR ), which, since its founding in 1986, has been the nation’s leading media watchdog group documenting and attempting to counter the right-wing bias and censorship of the U.S. mainstream media; 3 ) The New York State branch of Peace Action. In 2006, he received New York State Peace Action’s highest award in recognition of his work on behalf of that organization.
Donna Leist’s first experience with political activism was during the 1960s at the University of Louisville, taught her the contradictions of simultaneously joining a sorority and the civil rights movement. She dropped out of school after two years to help care for her terminally ill mother. In the 1980s, while working at the Cincinnati Zoo and University of Cincinnati Medical Center, she became coordinator of the Cincinnati Central American Task Force, co-founded the local group People in Solidarity with Cuba, and attended the University of Cincinnati on a part-time basis. Donna served as Chair of the Board of the Alliance for Global Justice from 2003-2011. Prior to that she was chair of the Executive Committee of the Nicaragua Network, a country she first visited in 1985 and where she and her husband will be moving in early 2012.
Dr. Arnold Matlin traveled to El Sauce, Nicaragua with five other people (including my daughter, Sara Matlin) and returned to the United States to co-found the Rochester-El Sauce Ciudad Hermana Organization (now Ciudad Hermana Task Force) in 1988. He served as Corresponding Secretary of Ciudad Hermana (“Sister City”) Task Force for approximately 10 years. Since 1989, Arnie traveled to Nicaragua on 36 additional visits most recently to give the keynote closing speech at the Primer Congreso Internacional de Hermanamientos in Managua, Nicaragua [First International Congress of Sister Cities] on July 16, 2016. He has given several presentations and lectures on varies topics related to solidarity work with Nicaragua. Since 2006 Arnie has been a member of the Steering Committee of Rochester Committee on Latin America and is currently the Secretary.