Economic Human Rights and the Dignity of Working People

October 27-28, 2016, San Jose State University


 San José State University (SJSU)

On behalf of San José State University administration, the SJSU Human Rights Program, and the SJSU MOSAIC Cross Cultural Center, we would like to welcome you to our campus.  SJSU offers an affordable, world-class education to one of the most ethnically and racially diverse student populations in the country.  The Annual Human Rights Lecture series represents our efforts to establish SJSU as a premiere urban university campus that serves as a laboratory to investigate local social problems, and as an engine and incubator for solutions to the pressing challenges facing our communities. Further, we seek to promote SJSU’s proud legacy as a site for historical civil rights struggles and contemporary movements for economic justice. This year, we focus our efforts on the broad issue area of “economic human rights” to reflect many overlapping issues of local and statewide concern:  a housing crisis that has captured national attention, the specter of systemic racism and implicit racial bias in our local and broader economies, the need to address the rights of those working in marginalized employment sectors—such as sex work or new forms of “flexible” labor, the fight for a national living wage, and the ongoing struggle of farmworkers who often suffer deplorable working and living conditions in order to feed us all.

We want to also acknowledge some of the recent and disturbing incidents on our campus related to antisemitic sentiments as well as racially polarizing efforts to divide our Asian American and African American communities. However harmful and destructive these incidents can be, it also creates an opportunity for all of us to deeply engage in critical dialogue and solution oriented conversations about how to eradicate hate and discrimination in our society, which our events seek to do.


California Association of Human Relations Organizations (CAHRO)

CAHRO is a statewide network of human relations commissions and related organizations working to promote full acceptance of all persons in all aspects of community life without regard to any arbitrary definition of differences.  CAHRO engages in activities designed to protect the basic human and civil rights guaranteed by our constitution and our laws; to provide an advocating resource in the development of public policy supporting human rights; and to serve as a resource in the resolution of inter-ethnic and intergroup conflicts.


Santa Clara County Human Relations Commission (SCC HRC)

The SCC HRC is proud of our role as serving as an advocate for human rights within Santa Clara County, and as an advisory body to the Board of Supervisors.  This lecture and conference are in line with the development of our priority to establish Santa Clara County as a “Human Rights County.”  We look forward to working with our community partners and conference participants to address the human rights needs of all members of the community.


Santa Clara County Office of Human Relations (SCC OHR)

The County of Santa Clara’s Office of Human Relations is devoted to peace-keeping, mediation, conciliation, ombudsmanship, and the facilitation of the most sensitive and difficult conversations of our day. The United Nations Declaration of Human Rights sets forth certain precepts, aimed at the advancement of a more empowered, deliberate, and tolerant society. Freedom of speech, promotion of peace, the development of friendly relations, engagement with others in a spirit of brotherhood, and the free expression of ideas and opinions are the principles explicitly referred to in the Declaration upon which the Programs of the Office of Human Relations operate. The Dispute Resolution Program, the Juvenile Welfare Office of the Ombudsman, and the Jail Observer Program protect the space to engage in these pursuits by validating every speaker, by acting as a conduit for effective communication, and by brokering the dialectic.





CAHRO Award Recipients:


Rusty Kennedy

CAHRO is honoring Rusty Kennedy, Executive Director of the Orange County Human Relations Commission, serving there for over 40 years.  Motivated by a passion and commitment to ensure that all people live free of prejudice, discrimination and harassment, Rusty has brought people together from all walks of life and ages to learn the value of diversity, respect for others and equality for all. Over the past several decades, Orange County has quietly become one of the most diverse communities in California, belying the misconception that Orange County is a bastion of wealthy white people. As demographics were dramatically shifting, few resources were being dedicated to creating unity amid the rapidly changing population, but Rusty, and the OCHRC has met this challenge.

Kennedy’s vision of a broad-based organization unifying these emerging communities into an empowered voice grew out of his work as a former United Farm Workers community organizer in the 1970’s. As an extraordinary community builder, Kennedy has led his team to successfully develop and implement cutting-edge approaches to some of society’s most entrenched challenges, often in the face of wide-spread opposition by those intent on keeping the status quo. Through years of relationship building, Kennedy’s organization has become THE trusted and respected institution to address Orange County’s human relations issues, trusted by both police and community groups to mediate and peacefully resolve police-involved shootings and community violence.  Rusty is regularly called upon by community and political leaders, police chiefs, business leaders, religious leaders, representatives from various racial or ethnic groups, educators, universities and many others to share his expertise and perspectives on current human relations issues and strategies for bringing people together.

Kennedy also has played a pivotal role as a long-term member of the Board of Directors of the California Association of Human Relations Organizations (CAHRO), helping establish protocols, developing networks, and serving in an advisory role to public entities and community organizations seeking to build human relations organizations throughout the state. He also has served as a mentor to many young leaders at other nonprofits, helping them to create equitable and respectful work environments.

To exist and thrive as a society, we must learn to embrace our diversity as a strength and resolve our differences in safe and productive ways. This is at the heart of Kennedy’s work in our communities.  Rusty has dedicated his professional and private life to this work to create a safer, more equitable and inclusive community for everyone.


George Lippman

CAHRO is honoring George Lippman, a Commissioner with Berkeley’s Peace and Justice Commission, for a lifetime of fighting for social justice and human rights.  Since he was a teenager, George has worked on human rights campaigns with the anti-Vietnam War, civil rights and 1960s  youth empowerment movements, and in anti-racist struggles against the Ku Klux Klan, mass incarceration of people of color, and apartheid South Africa, and for the release of all political prisoners including those held by the U.S.

Since 2000, George has worked with Berkeley’s Peace and Justice Commission, serving as Commission Chair or Vice-Chair since 2010.  Under George’s leadership, the P&JC has persuaded Berkeley’s city council to end collaboration with federal immigration authorities, to develop regional cooperation against sexual trafficking, and to create a moratorium on the use of CS gas and less-lethal munitions for crowd control.

In 2010, George co-directed the drafting of a report to the United Nations on Berkeley’s compliance with two international human rights treaties, adopted and submitted by Berkeley’s city council, making Berkeley the first city in the country to do so.  George has also served as the executive director of the Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute, a national think tank devoted to local compliance with international human rights standards.

George is also a member of the Berkeley Police Review Commission where he has worked hard to hold police accountable to the community they serve, promoting racial and social justice. Recently, George has worked with CAHRO to build a network of Northern California CAHRO chapters.  George believes that by working together, NorCal CAHRO chapters can become an effective voice for socially just policing, fair treatment of the homeless and immigrants, and against displacement and the polarization of wealth.


SCC HRC Award Recipients:


Working Partnership USA

Working Partnerships USA (WPUSA) brings together the power of grassroots organizing and public policy innovation to drive the movement for a just economy. WPUSA strives to build the capacity of workers, low-income neighborhoods and communities of color to lead and to build an inclusive economy where workers thrive and have an equal voice and share in the regional prosperity.

Since its founding in 1995, WPUSA has tackled the root causes of inequality and poverty by leading collaborative campaigns for quality jobs, healthy communities, equitable growth and a vibrant democracy. Some of their accomplishments include expanding health coverage to over 160,000 kids through the Children’s Health Initiative, passing the most comprehensive living wage policy in the nation at the County of Santa Clara, spearheading the movement to raise municipal minimum wages, and convening a first-of-its-kind Transportation Justice Alliance. Our community is fortunate for the vision, leadership and commitment of Working Partnerships USA.


Salvadaor “Chava” Bustamante

Salvador “Chava” Bustamante has worked to improve the lives and working conditions for California workers since 1979 when he quit working in the fields to become a full-time organizer. Throughout his organizing career he has worked with organizations such as the UFW, California Rural Legal Assistance, the Mental Health Advocacy Project, and Clinica de Salud del Valle de Salinas which he co-founded and that eventually expanded to 11 clinics serving more than 130,000 farm workers. He was also a key organizer for the 2006 pro-immigrant mega march in San Jose that is estimated to have included 150,000-200,000 marchers.

As Vice President of SEIU local 1877 he worked to improve the working conditions and quality of life of thousands of janitors in Silicon Valley. He has also been actively involved in working across ethnic communities to help hundreds of immigrants to develop their leadership skills and to promote the importance of civic engagement, voting and active involvement in community issues such as the Healthy Kids Initiative, the Living Wage Ordinance, workers rights, immigrant rights and affordable housing. We thank Salvador for his unyielding leadership, his strong heart and his commitment to achieving a just and equitable community for us all.



Thursday, October 27th, 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 pm (doors open at 6:30 p.m.)

Morris Dailey Auditorium, San José State University


Day 1 features the Annual Human Rights Keynote Lecture presented by the Human Rights Program at San José State University. This year’s Keynote Speaker is Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) President, AFL-CIO Executive Council member, MacArthur Fellow, and internationally recognized organizer, Baldemar Velásquez. The Keynote talk will be held at 7:00 p.m. (doors open at 6:30 p.m.) in Morris Dailey Auditorium, and is open to all with a free ticket.


Keynote Speaker:

Baldemar Velasquez

President, Farm Labor Organizing Committee

[FLOC] AFL-CIO Executive Council Member

MacArthur Fellow (https://www.macfound.org/fellows/381/)

Born in 1947, Baldemar grew up in a migrant farmworker family based in the Rio Grande valley of Texas. Every year, his family would migrate to the Midwest and other regions to work in the fields. They traveled in trucks and old cars, and often lived in barns and converted chicken coops. The family eventually settled in Ohio, and Baldemar worked in the fields seasonally through his high school years to help support the family. In 1969 he became the first member of his family to graduate from college, graduating from Bluffton College with a BA in Sociology.

In 1967, incensed by the injustices suffered by his family and other farmworkers, Baldemar founded the Farm Labor Organizing Committee which has grown into one of the most successful unions in the Country. Under his leadership FLOC has set international precedents in labor history, including being the first union to negotiate multi-party collective bargaining agreements, and the first to represent H2A international guest workers under a labor agreement. Baldermar is an internationally recognized labor leader and a MacArthur Fellow and was recently elected to the AFL-CIO Executive Council.

For more information on Baldemar and the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, see the FLOC Website: http://www.floc.com/wordpress/.




Friday, October 28th, 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (registration begins at 7:30 a.m.)

Student Union, San José State University


Day 2 features CAHRO’s Bi-Annual Human Relations Conference, including workshops, plenary talks, awards luncheon, and a lunch Keynote presentation by the Kirwan Institute’s Robin A. Wright, a nationally recognized researcher and expert on how to address implicit bias in the public sector.


Registration and Continental Breakfast

(7:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m., Student Union Ballroom B)


CAHRO Annual Meeting

(8:00 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., Student Union Ballroom B)


Conference Welcome and Opening Remarks

(8:30 a.m. to 8:50 a.m., Student Union Ballroom B)


Workshop 1: Translating Youth Movements to Policy

(9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., Student Union Ballroom A)

Highlighting and uplifting young people, this workshop will consist of a youth-led discussion on social and racial justice campaigns developed for and led by young people. Youth will share their feedback and experience as student organizers and the ways in which they have been able to effect policy.




Deja Slade, Youth Making a Change (YMAC) Organizer

Deja, aged 17, recently graduated from Phillip & Sala Burton High School in San Francisco, CA. She is a Youth Justice Corps Intern at Coleman Advocates for Youth & Children (Coleman). Deja joined Coleman her sophomore year of high school and has been going there ever since. She did not know about Coleman’s mission until she attended one of their citywide events, and once she learned more about the organization over time, she knew she wanted to be a part of it.


Rosie Balberon, Youth Making a Change (YMAC) Organizer

Rosie is currently a Youth Coordinator at Coleman and a recent graduate of Independence High School. She began youth organizing during her freshman year at Balboa High School and has continued to work with the community ever since. She became involved in a club at Balboa High School called the Solidarity Organizing Project which focused on developing student’s knowledge of their rights in school and skills and support in order for them to make changes in their school and community. The club influenced her to begin organizing outside of the school space, so she became a youth member of Youth Making a Change, the youth branch of Coleman.



Leah LaCroix, Coordinator of Community Outreach and Civic Engagement, San Francisco Youth Commission

Leah is the Coordinator of Community Outreach and Civic Engagement for the San Francisco Youth Commission. Prior to becoming staff, Leah served as chair of the Youth Commission where she led the commission’s early work on Free MUNI for youth and the prior Youth Lifeline pass. Leah aims to support young people’s participation in the public policy discussions and governmental decision making processes as an adult ally.


Workshop 2: Moving from a Minimum Wage to a Living Wage

(9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., Student Union Ballroom C)

In most Californian communities, workers earning the minimum wage cannot reasonably support themselves and their families.  Focusing on the living wage movement, this workshop will highlight successful examples of communities that are moving from a minimum wage toward a higher, living wage standard.  It will also provide tools for participants to pass living wage policies in their own communities.



Dr. Scott Myers-Lipton, Professor of Sociology, San José State University

Dr. Scott Myers-Lipton is a Professor of Sociology at SJSU, and is the author of Ending Extreme Inequality: An Economic Bill of Rights Approach to Eliminate Poverty (Paradigm 2015),Rebuild America: Solving the Economic Crisis through Civic Works (Paradigm 2009) and Social Solutions to Poverty: America’s Struggle to Build a Just Society (Paradigm 2006). He co-founded the successful effort to raise the minimum wage in San Jose from $8 to $10, and the Gulf Coast Civic Works Campaign, an initiative to develop 100,000 prevailing wage jobs for local and displaced workers after Hurricane Katrina.
Caitlyn Sullivan, B.A. Student, San José State University, CAFÉ J

Caitlyn Sullivan is a Sociology student at SJSU. Studying Sociology with a focus on Community Change, and a minor in Human Rights, she was able to apply her skills as a leader in past and current social change campaigns. She is currently working on is the Campus Alliance for Economic Justice 2016 or CAFÉ J 2016. Founded in 2012, CAFÉ J successfully pushed for the initial increase of minimum wage from $8 to $10 an hour in San Jose. Currently this group is pushing for $15 by 2019 without any carve-outs. Caitlyn is a recipient of the Smith-Carlos Social Action Award for her work. Caitlyn hopes to take her studies into the non-profit field in regards to human rights and economic justice after her graduation in 2017.
Maria Noel FernandezDirector of Organizing and Civic Engagement, Working Partnerships USA

Maria joined Working Partnerships in 2013 and leads its Silicon Valley Rising campaign as well as its community organizing and civic engagement model. Previously, she worked with the South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council on successful local issue campaigns to raise the minimum wage, pass a general tax for county safety net services, and more. She was district director for the previous California State Speaker Pro Tempore and joined that office after spending three years as a community organizer through Sacred Heart Community Service’s policy and organizing department.


Plenary Session: Applying Human Rights in Our Communities

(10:10 a.m. to 11:40 a.m., Student Union Ballroom B)

This plenary session will examine how a human rights framework can transform policy and practice at the state and local levels. Drs. Armaline and Kinney will present examples and strategies that social justice advocates, policymakers, and public officials can employ toward solving pressing social problems and achieving human rights practice in their communities. Strategies will include the formal paths available for municipalities to become a “human rights city” or a “human rights county” as well as strategies to accompany grassroots social movements in order to address human rights abuses and structural inequalities.



Dr. William Armaline, Ph.D.

Dr. Armaline is the Founding Director of the Human Rights Program and an Associate Professor in the Department of Justice Studies at SJSU. Formally trained in sociology, education, and human rights, Dr. Armaline is an interdisciplinary scholar whose interests, applied work, and scholarly publications address social problems as they relate to political economy, environmental sustainability, critical race theory and anti-racist action, critical pedagogy and transformative education, inequality and youth, mass incarceration, and drug policy reform.


Dr. Edith Kinney, Ph.D., J.D.

Dr. Kinney is an Assistant Professor of Justice Studies and Coordinator of SJSU’s Legal Studies minor. Trained as a lawyer and an interdisciplinary scholar of Law & Society, Dr. Kinney’s academic and applied work explores the gap between law on the books and law in action. Her research interests focus on the roles human rights advocates and social movements play in criminal justice and policy reform efforts around human trafficking, sexual violence, sex offending, and corrections. 


Pick up Lunches

(11:40 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., Meeting Room 4A-4B)

Awards Luncheon

(12:00 p.m. to 12:30 p.m., Student Union Ballroom B)

Hosted by SCC HRC

Luncheon Keynote Speaker: Implicit Bias in Public Service

(12:30 p.m. to 1:45 p.m., Student Union Ballroom B)
Hosted by SCC HRC

Robin A. Wright is a noted expert on the impact of implicit bias in public service. She is a Researcher and Facilitation Specialist at the Kirwan Institute at Ohio State University. Through her work and lectures she strives to expand our understanding of the ways in which unconscious cognitive forces influence our behavior and contribute to systemic racism and racial inequality. Prior to her work with Kirwan, Robin has worked for non-profit grassroots organizations and policy institutions at all municipal levels for the expansion of opportunity, racial justice and inclusive policy making. Ms. Wright will also lead a conference workshop on this topic.


Keynote Speaker:

Robin A. Wright, M.P.A, Researcher & Facilitation Specialist, Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, Ohio State University

Robin is a passionate advocate for inclusive policy-making and equitable community development. As a Researcher and Facilitation Specialist, Robin works to expand our understanding of the ways in which unconscious cognitive forces influence our behavior and contribute to racial disparities in our society. She has facilitated sessions with institutions across the country including educators, police officials, court personnel, health care providers, social workers, corporate executives and more. Additionally, Robin is the co-author of the most recent editions of the State of the Science: Implicit Bias Review — a comprehensive review detailing the real-world implications of implicit racial bias. Prior to joining the Kirwan Institute, Robin worked with non-profit grassroots organizations and policy institutes at all municipal levels for the expansion of opportunity, racial justice, and inclusive policy-making. She attained her Master’s in Public Administration from the John Glenn College of Public Affairs at The Ohio State University as well as a B.A. in Pan-African Studies from Kent State University.

Website (Kirwan Institute): http://kirwaninstitute.osu.edu/.


Workshop 3: Implicit Bias Reduction Tools

(1:55 p.m. to 2:55 p.m., Student Union Ballroom B)

Throughout our lives, we are exposed to millions of messages about the world around us – messages that shape our perceptions of people, places, concepts and ideas. As a result, all humans process a range of implicit associations that operate unconsciously outside our awareness and often times in conflict with our explicit beliefs. Using an engaging and participatory structure this session equips attendees with deeper understanding of our unconscious mental processes and the way in which implicit associations impact outcomes across a variety of domains. Lena Tenney and Robin A. Wright are Researchers and Facilitation Specialists at the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity. As part of the Race and Cognition unit, they work collaboratively to conduct research on and facilitate workshops, presentations, and trainings about implicit bias and structural racism.



Robin A. Wright, M.P.A., Researcher & Facilitation Specialist, Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, Ohio State University

See biography above.


Lena Tenney, M.Ed., M.P.A., Researcher & Facilitation Specialist, Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, Ohio State University

Lena Tenney joined the Race & Cognition Program at the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in 2016. As a Researcher and Facilitation Specialist, she works collaboratively to conduct research on and facilitate workshops, presentations, and trainings about implicit bias and structural racism. A trained intergroup dialogue facilitator, Lena is interested in continually identifying and implementing strategies that encourage active engagement with topics that are often considered difficult to discuss. Lena graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a Masters of Education and a Masters of Public Administration. She also holds a Bachelors of Arts in Religious Studies and History from OU.


Workshop 4: Vulnerable Workers and Human Trafficking

(3:05 p.m. to 4:05 p.m., Student Union Ballroom A)

In our economy, a large segment of the population is not making a living wage, receiving sick leave or other benefits, and vulnerable to economic catastrophe and exploitation. Some of these workers are trafficked, making no wages. This workshop will focus on one such group of workers, restaurant workers, and their innovative fight for better wages and working conditions. The workshop will also discuss efforts to combat sex and human trafficking. We will focus on how attendees, in their roles as human relations commissioners and human rights advocates, can support this work.

Featured Short Film:

A ten minute segment from the upcoming documentary by award winning filmmaker Abby Ginzberg, The Tipping Point will be screened to focus on challenges faced by workers who depend on “tips” and other “off the books” cash exchanges.



Saru Jayaraman, Co-Founder and Co-Director, Restaurant Opportunities Committee United (ROC)

Saru Jayaraman is the Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC United) and Director of the Food Labor Research Center at University of California, Berkeley.  After 9/11, together with displaced World Trade Center workers, she co-founded ROC, which now has more than 18,000 worker members, 200 employer partners, and several thousand consumer members in a dozen states nationwide.  The story of Saru and her co-founder’s work founding ROC has been chronicled in the book The Accidental American. Saru is a graduate of Yale Law School and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Saru authored Behind the Kitchen Door (Cornell University Press, 2013), a national bestseller, and her most recent book is Forked: A New Standard for American Dining (Oxford University Press, 2016).

Jessica Stender, Senior Staff Attorney, Equal Rights Advocates

Jessica Stender is a Senior Staff Attorney with Equal Rights Advocates (ERA), responsible for leading ERA’s Women at Work Initiative by developing ERA’s litigation and other gender justice-related advocacy work, with a focus on employment-related cases. Prior to joining ERA, Jessica served as Legal Director of Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, Inc. (Center for Migrants Rights), a Mexico-based transnational migrant workers’ rights organization.  Jessica advocated on behalf of low-wage migrant workers and worked with advocates in the U.S. to facilitate representation of migrant worker clients in Mexico. She is a graduate of U.C. Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall).   Before law school, Jessica worked as a paralegal at Friends of Farmworkers in Philadelphia, providing assistance to migrant farmworkers.

Antonia Lavine, SF Collaborative Against Human Trafficking

Antonia Lavine is Coordinator of the San Francisco Collaborative Against Human Trafficking (SFCAHT), a public-private coalition of government agencies, non-profit organizations and individuals representing law enforcement and administration, local victim service providers and advocacy groups, educators, legislators and businesses involved in the Bay Area effort to end modern-day slavery. Antonia is a lawyer with over 20 years experience in criminal prosecution, litigation and oversight with masters in International Legal Studies and U.S. legal studies from Golden Gate University Law School. As a public prosecutor and criminal law expert in Europe, she specialized in law enforcement, justice reform and legislative action in the areas of human rights protection and combating complex crime, including human trafficking. In her current positions as SFCAHT’s Coordinator, Chair of the Jewish Coalition to End Human Trafficking and Member of the San Francisco Mayor’s Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force, Antonia utilizes her legal expertise and project management skills in social justice reform and advocacy action.


Abby Ginzberg, “The Tipping Point”

Abby Ginzberg has been producing and directing award-winning documentary films for nearly three decades.  She recently completed AGENTS OF CHANGE, co-produced with Frank Dawson, which features actor/activist Danny Glover, sociologist and sports expert, Harry Edwards, among many others. AGENTS tells the untold story of the civil rights movement on college campuses, which challenged the status quo creating demands for black studies programs and increased minority representation on campus.  Her feature-length documentary, SOFT VENGEANCE:  Albie Sachs and the New South Africa, won a Peabody Award, four audience awards and has been screened on U.S. public television.


Workshop 5: Transgender Issues in the Workplace

(3:05 p.m. to 4:05 p.m., Student Union Ballroom C)

Until recently, the experiences of transgender individuals were, all too often, hidden from public view. Despite California’s reputation as a progressive leader, transgender people face barriers to productive employment and hostile work environments.  In this workshop, activists and public officials will discuss current civil and human rights issues of concern to the Trans Community, and provide policy and strategy recommendations that extend dignity to all workers.



Danielle Castro, Project Director, University of California, San Francisco TRANS Center of Excellence for Transgender Health

Ms. Castro is a passionate transgender community advocate who seeks to create positive change through her work. Her work co-founding multiple trans serving organizations and coalitions including Trans Advocates for Justice and Accountability (TAJA) Coalition inspires others to promote a society devoid of transphobia. She is currently Project Director of Community Based Research for the Center of Excellence for Transgender Health at the University of California, San Francisco, and an international capacity building assistance provider for various organizations delivering HIV prevention and care as well as behavioral health services. She is also co-chair for a trans health empowerment work-group of the SF Human Rights Commission’s LGBT Action Committee, and also for the UCSF National Transgender Health Summit mental health track.


Police Officer Broderick (Brodie) Elton, San Francisco Police Department

Officer Broderick (Brodie) Elton has been a police officer with the San Francisco Police Department for almost 10 years. He has also been the transgender liaison to the department and community for over three years. The position of TRANS liaison has entailed training new recruits at the Police Academy, providing training updates to senior officers throughout the SFPD, outreach to the LGBTQI community by facilitating a LGBTQI forum and targeted community engagement outreach to local transgender community groups in San Francisco. Officer Elton is a recognized expert on the interaction between the criminal justice system and the TRANS community.


Theresa Sparks, Senior Advisor, TRANS Initiatives, Office of Mayor Ed Lee, San Francisco

Theresa Sparks is the Senior Adviser, Transgender Initiatives, to San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee. As such, she serves as the senior transgender consultant to City leadership and represents San Francisco regionally, nationally and internationally on TRANS issues and policies. Ms. Sparks is known globally as an authority on transgender equality, most notably in the development of public policy to protect transgender individuals from discrimination in health care, law enforcement and working “on-the-ground” with TRANS communities of color.  She was a co-founder of the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance, San Francisco TRANS March, Transgender Political Caucus and TRANS Thrive. She was the first out transgender to be appointed to both the Human Rights and Police Commissions, elected president of any commission and appointed Department Head of a major City agency, anywhere in the United States.


Workshop 6: Ban the Box Campaign and Successful Re-entry to Work

(4:15 p.m. to 5:15 p.m., Student Union Ballroom C)

Join the San Francisco Human Rights Commission in a conversation with formerly incarcerated students from San Francisco State and San Jose State University. The discussion will focus on the challenges of students and how municipalities have begun to address those challenges.



Jared Walker, San Francisco State University, Project Rebound

Jared is a recent graduate of San Francisco State University and Project Rebound. He is currently an intern in the Office of the City Administrator at San Francisco City Hall.

Michael Mendoza, San Francisco State University alumni, Project Rebound

Convicted to a 15-to-life sentence at 15, Michael is now a full-time student at San Francisco State University earning a bachelor’s degree in political science to eventually focus on policy. He is also a clinical case manager at the Center for Juvenile and Criminal Justice working with youth on probation as an advocate for change. His goal is to change the world’s view on how our kids are raised and groomed into our future generations.



Alejandra Martinez, SFSU Student, Project Rebound

Alejandra is a San Francisco Mission District native and aspires to be a civil rights lawyer. Her greatest passion is to positively make an impact in society for underrepresented and undeserved communities.
Workshop 7: Innovative Strategies for Reducing Islamophobia

(4:15 p.m. to 5:15 p.m., Student Union Ballroom A)

One of the most pressing responsibilities for human relations organizations today is to address widespread Islamophobia in our communities.  This panel will help CAHRO conference attendees to understand Islamophobia, and (more importantly) share innovative ideas, strategies, actions, tools and resources for leaders in government, communities, schools and media to counter the negative messaging and imagery about Muslim communities that have become so prominent in these times. Workshop attendees will also be invited to share their experiences in this area of work.

Featured Short Film:

Not In Our Town’s 7-minute film, “Shajee’s Story: Middle School Students Learn About Islam,” will be screened as part of a discussion about proactive strategies and resources to help create safe, inclusive school environments.



Zahra Billoo, Executive Director, Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), San Francisco Bay Area

As the executive director of CAIR San Francisco Bay Area (CAIR-SFBA), Zahra Billoo strives to promote justice and mutual understanding. Zahra joined CAIR-SFBA in 2009, and she frequently provides trainings at mosques and universities as part of CAIR’s efforts to empower the community, while building bridges with allies on civil rights issues. Zahra also represents victims of discrimination and advocates for policy changes that uphold civil rights for all. While in law school, Zahra was awarded the Peggy Browning Fund Fellowship to work with the National Employment Law Project. Zahra graduated Cum Laude from CSU Long Beach with degrees in Human Resources Management and Political Science. She earned her J.D. from UC Hastings College of Law, and was admitted to the California Bar in 2009.


Dr. Becki Cohn-Vargas, Director, Not In Our School

Dr. Becki Cohn-Vargas is the Director of Not In Our School (NIOS). She has spoken on the subject of how to combat bullying at conferences, schools, and universities across the United States. Becki’s new book, “Identity Safe Classrooms: Places to Belong and Learn,” co-authored with Dr. Dorothy Steele, was published by Corwin Press. Prior to working at Not In Our Town/The Working Group, she spent over 35 years in public education in California. She was a preschool director in Healdsburg, teacher and principal in the Oakland Unified School District, Elementary Curriculum Director for the Palo Alto Unified School District, and Superintendent of the Luther Burbank School District. While serving in Palo Alto in 2003, Becki initiated Not In Our School: Palo Alto, one of the first NIOS initiatives, which was featured on KQED public television.


Harjit Kaur, Community Development Manager, Sikh Coalition

Harjit Kaur is the Community Development Manager at the Sikh Coalition, the largest Sikh civil rights organization in the nation.  Harjit has dedicated her career to promoting the advancement of social justice and especially the needs of the South Asian community. For the last three years, she has been leading National Day of Seva (community service) to commemorate the tragic Oak Creek, Wisconsin shooting, and has organized more than 15 other projects each year.  Harjit also planned innumerable events in support of California Sikh Awareness and Appreciation Month in November and has given numerous Sikh awareness and anti-bullying prevention presentations across the state.  Harjit was the lead California advocate in the campaign for the accurate inclusion of Sikh, Dalit, and Muslim history in the California curriculum framework. She also successfully advocated and lobbied for stronger anti-bullying prevention laws in California. Harjit received her law degree from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law and her undergraduate degree from Sonoma State University.


Closing Remarks

(5:20 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., Student Union Ballroom B)



We would like to thank the following individuals, businesses and organizations for their support of this conference.


Supporting Sponsors:                                                     

SCC Board of Supervisors                 County Employee Management Association (CEMA)


Community Sponsors:

                           Cam Vu                                      Japan Town Dental

Friends of Human Relations