Thursday, April 5, 2018
How do women of color create and sustain their leadership styles? Going beyond what is visible on the surface, what fuels their drive? How do they navigate the worlds they seek to change? How does their unique insight illuminate a clear path for themselves and others? The women behind the veil are the leaders, change makers and agents renovating the landscape of their communities. The panelists, three executive directors – Vanessa Daniel of Groundswell Fund, Isela Gracian of East LA Community Corporation, and Yin Ling Leung, formerly with Asian Pacific Environmental Network and Asian and Pacific Islanders for Reproductive Health, will discuss their leadership journeys and the external and internal forces that influenced them.
Vanessa Daniel is the founder and executive director of Groundswell Fund, the largest funder of the U.S. reproductive justice movement and of Groundswell Action Fund. This is the largest fund in the country focusing its giving to women of color-led 501c4 organizations. Under Daniel’s leadership, Groundswell has moved nearly $40 million to the field, with a focus on grassroots organizing led by women of color, low income women and transgender people. In 2017, Groundswell received the National Committee of Responsible Philanthropy’s “Impact Award” for challenging issue silos and Daniel was featured in the Chronicle of Philanthropy as one of 15 “Influencers” who are changing the non-profit world. She is also the recipient of a 2012 Gerbode Foundation Fellowship, and the 2017 National Network of Abortion Funds’ Abortion Action Vanguard Award. Prior to Groundswell, Vanessa supported LGBT rights, economic and environmental justice grant-making at Tides Foundation; organized homecare workers with SEIU; helped win a landmark living wage law with the East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy (EBASE); and conducted research to support the organizing efforts of welfare mothers with the Applied Research Center (now Race Forward). Daniel currently serves on the board of directors of Common Counsel Foundation. She has a B.A. in American Ethnic Studies from Smith College and is a graduate of the Center for Third World Organizing’s Movement Activist Apprenticeship Program.
Isela Gracian is president of East LA Community Corporation (ELACC), a social and economic justice community development organization on LA’s Eastside. Growing up, her immigrant parents inculcated strong roots and links to their cultural traditions, which is now a hallmark of her leadership, infusing ELACC’s organizational principles with her cultural practices to forge staff unity and celebrate what binds them to their community. The skills she honed as a young mujer served as a foundation that was further developed through her time at U.C. Davis where she received her B.A. and embarked on her path to working alongside residents for equity in immigrant communities. Recognized for her work at ELACC as a distinguished authority among Southern California community development leadership, Gracian serves on various boards, including Strategic Concepts in Organizing and Political Education (SCOPE) and the California Reinvestment Coalition. She is also a National Advisory Board member to the Strong, Prosperous, and Resilient Communities Challenge (SPARCC).
Yin Ling Leung is the chief strategy officer and the co-founder of Applied Research Works, a Palo Alto-based health technology company, where she works on her passion creating actionable metrics for addressing Whole Person Care (WPC) a framework for addressing health disparities. Her life’s work has spanned organizing for better working conditions for sweatshop workers, preventing toxic exposure for vulnerable communities, reproductive health and justice and advocating for more democratic philanthropy. Leung held key leadership roles at Asian Immigrant Women Advocates, Asian Pacific Environmental Network, Asians and Pacific Islanders for Reproductive Health and the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF). She was one of the original organizers and founding sisters of NAPAWF, the first national organization of its kind born out of the 1995 United Nations’ Women’s Conference in Beijing. In the past, Leung has also served as a strategist to the New World Foundation, Ford Foundation, Social Justice Fund Northwest, Women’s Funding Alliance, Communities for a Better Environment, Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy and the Ms. Foundation for Women. She was recently appointed to the board of the Ms. Foundation for Women. Leung spent her childhood in Hawai’i and is a graduate of Oberlin College and Stanford University.
This conversation is part of the Behind the Veil: Women, Race, and Leadership in the Social Change Nonprofit Sector (“BTV”) speaker series. BTV explores leadership models and perspectives by harnessing the power of first person narrative and storytelling by nonprofit CEOs on the frontlines of social change.
We live in an era in which offensive speech is on the rise. Given its potential for harm, should this speech be banned? Nadine Strossen, professor of law at NYU School of Law and former president of the ACLU, dispels the many misunderstandings that have clouded the perpetual debates about "hate speech vs. free speech." She argues that an expansive approach to the First Amendment is most effective at promoting democracy, equality, and societal harmony and that anti-hate speech laws are not effective in reducing the feared harms, and worse yet, are likely counterproductive by giving enforcement officials the power to suppress vital expression and target minority viewpoints. The solution, maintains Strossen, instead is to promote equality and societal harmony through vibrant "counterspeech."
Nadine Strossen is the John Marshall Harlan II Professor of Law at New York Law School. She has written, taught, and advocated extensively in the areas of constitutional law and civil liberties, including through frequent media interviews. From 1991 through 2008, she served as president of the American Civil Liberties Union, the first woman to head the nation’s largest and oldest civil liberties organization. Strossen is currently a member of the ACLU’s National Advisory Council, as well as the advisory boards of EPIC (Electronic Privacy Information Center), FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education), and Heterodox Academy. When she stepped down as ACLU President in 2008, three Supreme Court Justices (Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Antonin Scalia, and David Souter) participated in her farewell and tribute luncheon.
Strossen is also a prolific author. Her latest book, HATE: Why We Should Resist it With Free Speech, Not Censorship, will be published in 2018. Her first two books are Defending Pornography: Free Speech, Sex and the Fight for Women’s Rights and Speaking of Race, Speaking of Sex: Hate Speech, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. In addition, Strossen has written dozens of articles and book chapters.
Strossen is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School.
Professor Strossen's Athenaeum presentation is co-sponsored by the Rose Institute for State and Local Government.