2016 Sunday International Plenary:
People Power Around the World
The “People Power Around the World” panel brought together domestic U.S. and international human rights and policy activists from around the world.
Esam Boraey, Human Rights Activist
Esam Boraey is a human rights activist working for freedom and democracy in the Middle East. This passion led him to play a key role in the Egyptian revolution of 2011, which helped overthrow dictator Hosni Mubarak. Esam taught classes and studied for his Master’s degree in international relations at Cairo University. During the Mohamed Morsi presidency, Esam worked for USAID and later left the country after being sentenced in Egypt’s criminal court to two years in prison for his work for human rights and democratization in the Middle East. Esam then moved to Washington D.C. where he continued his work for human rights, working for USIP.
Having worked over the years with a number of Civil Society organizations (CSOs) in both the Middle East and the U.S., fostered close professional relationships with political leaders throughout the region, and advised policy makers in the U.S. and European Union, Esam brings a nuanced perspective to an understanding of Egyptian, Middle Eastern, and Islamic affairs that takes into account the concerns of stakeholders at various levels, both in the Middle East and beyond its borders.
Frances Bagotlo Laminero, Executive Director, InPeace, Philippines
Frances Bagotlo Laminero is the Executive Director of Initiatives for Peace in Mindanao (InPeace), Philippines. He has held this position since the organization’s founding in 2003. InPeace was founded as a response to heightened “war on terror” rhetoric in the southern Philippines, which is home to the majority of the country’s Muslim population. Under Frances’s leadership, the organization has grown into an important and leading voice for genuine peace based on justice and human rights across the Philippine archipelago. Frances has been instrumental in the creation of numerous advocacy organizations addressing the root causes of conflict in the country, including the formation of the Union of Peoples Lawyers in Mindanao, Barug Katungod (Stand Up for Rights) human rights defenders network, Panalipdan! Mindanao (Defend! Mindanao) Environmental Alliance, Kalumaran Indigenous Peoples’ Alliance in Mindanao, and BALSA Mindanao Citizen’s Disaster Response Network.
In his decades of organizing and advocacy for indigenous communities in the Philippines, Frances has developed extensive knowledge about the impacts of globalization on indigenous people, peasants and agricultural workers, and on the environment. Most recently, Frances and InPeace have been instrumental in mobilizing indigenous peoples in efforts to oppose the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) and attempts by the administration of President Benigno Aquino III to change the Philippines’ constitution so that the country may be included in the TPP. With its central focus on the Asia Pacific, the TPP, which includes some of the Philippines’ largest trading partners and neighboring countries, has the disproportionate potential to destroy the indigenous Lumad populations through a combination of the massive take-over of land, unbridled extraction of natural resources, and environmental destruction rendering their communities more vulnerable to disasters like super-typhoon Haiyan.
Samantha Master, #BlackLivesMatter Movement Activist
Samantha Master is a Black, queer, feminist activist, advocate and educator. She is a prominent voice in the multifaceted and national Black Lives Matter Movement. Samantha is a member of the Black Youth Project 100 whose policy agenda, The Agenda to Keep Us Safe, provides restorative and transformative justice solutions to facilitate prison abolition and end mass incarceration.
Samantha has worked extensively within communities of color to organize and build analyses around LGBT and gender justice issues. As an undergraduate student at Morgan State University, she was a lead organizer in creating Pride and Soul Week, the first LGBTQ history and awareness week at a historically Black college or university. Her work at the intersections of racial, gender and LGBTQ justice has been chronicled in several publications including TheRoot, Swerv Magazine, Diverse Issues in Higher Education, HBCU Digest, and most recently in the multi-award winning film, The New Black. She has also been named a National Black Justice Coalition Emerging Leader.
Samantha is currently the African American Leadership and Engagement Specialist at Planned Parenthood Federation of America where she works to build organizational and institutional capacity to engage racial and reproductive justice partnerships.
Conrado Olivera, Director, Joining Hands Peru
Conrado Olivera is the Director of Presbyterian Hunger Program’s Joining Hands Peru (JH-PERU). The mission of JH-PERU is to improve the quality of life of the most economically disadvantaged and vulnerable sectors of society. They do do this by identifying root causes of poverty and injustice and addressing them through advocacy campaigns and the promotion of human and environmental rights. And, in the context of a widening gap between the wealthy and the poor, and a growing number of social conflicts in the country, JH-PERU also envisions itself to be a network which contributes to the construction of alternative models for sustainable and harmonious development and to the empowerment of civil society, as they work together globalizing their solidarity.
Rev. Traci D. Blackmon, Acting Executive Minister, UCC Justice and Witness Ministries
Blackmon also is the 18th installed and first woman pastor of the 156-year-old Christ The King United Church of Christ in Ferguson, Mo. She became nationally recognized as a prominent voice for social change when Michael Brown was shot in Ferguson, just miles from her church. She immediately worked to help organize the Black Lives Matter movement, effectively assisting and collaborating with people in the community working for justice.
The committed civic leader, gifted preacher, and much-loved pastor is the founder of the Sista SOS Summit, an intergenerational symposium designed to assist women toward spiritual and sexual wholeness. She also co-founded “When Women Gather …,” a monthly ecumenical gathering committed to facilitating the spiritual growth and development of women by studying the Word of God through the unique lens that is womanhood.
Initially ordained in the AME Church, Blackmon holds a B.S. degree in nursing from Birmingham-Southern College (1985) and a Masters of Divinity degree from UCC-related Eden Theological Seminary (2009). She is a graduate of Leadership St. Louis, and has served on numerous boards, including the St. Louis Effort for AIDS, The Kidney Foundation, Magdalene House St. Louis, St. Louis Minority Business Council, and Planned Parenthood St. Louis, among others.
Blackmon “treasures the privilege” of being mother to Kortni, Harold II, and Tyler Blackmon.