Harry Belafonte has been honored many times by such diverse groups as the American Jewish Congress, the NAACP, the City of Hope, Fight for Sight, The Urban League, The National Conference of Black Mayors, the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, the ACLU, the State Department, the Boy Scouts of America, Hadassah International and the Peace Corps. He has received awards such as The Albert Einstein Award from Yeshiva University, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Peace Prize, the Acorn Award from the Bronx Community College for his work with children, and, in 1989, he received the prestigious Kennedy Center Honors for excellence in the performing arts. He was the first recipient of the Nelson Mandela Courage Award and was honored at the White House with the 1994 National Medal of Arts from President Clinton for his contributions to our nation's cultural life. He has received honorary degrees from City University of New York, Spellman College in Atlanta, Tufts University, Brandeis University, Long Island University, Bard College and most recently Doctor of Humane Letters from Columbia University and many others. And he is the 2013 recipient of the Spingarn Medal, the most prestigious award bestowed by the NAACP.
Born and raised in New York City, Gina Belafonte has spent her life in the arenas of entertainment and activism where her professional work thrives today. As the youngest child of Julie and Harry Belafonte, whose impact in these fields is among the most influential and progressive in the world, Gina’s passions come as no surprise. Gina was the lead producer on the internationally acclaimed documentary film, SING YOUR SONG, exploring the extraordinary life and legacy of Harry Belafonte that was selected as the opening film for the Sundance Film Festival in 2011.
A native of Chicago and graduate of Temple University, Jesse began his professional career teaching American, African and African-American History in low income Philadelphia public charter schools. From there Jesse moved to Brooklyn, New York and, after working in Manhattan law firms, began his professional acting career.
Ayo Roach launched her company GROW Philanthropies, a donor advisory and consulting firm, in 2018. She advises philanthropists, NPOs and NGOs in portfolio management, strategic planning, organizational development, and leadership strategy and is focused on developing solutions via a diversity/equity/inclusion (DEI) lens. She has subject area expertise in justice reform, environment and sustainability, indigenous peoples rights, reproductive health and justice, economic justice, civic engagement, youth-led activism, and the arts. She has extensive domestic and international grant making experience in the Caribbean and Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Middle East.
Donna Hylton has been deeply involved in movements for social justice around the country. She draws upon her experience imprisoned in a women's correctional facility for 27 years, with some of that time spent in solitary confinement. Now released, Donna emphasizes the importance of building communities through economic, racial and gender justice. Donna encourages systems to recognize how the trauma of sexual violence and abuse are often root causes that result in victimization and that 90% of women who have been abused are being incarcerated, especially women of color.
Dr. Colin Greer has been the President of the New World Foundation since 1985. Formerly, he was a Professor at Brooklyn College, CUNY. Dr. Greer participated in and directed several studies of US Immigration and urban schooling policy and history (at Columbia University and CUNY). He wrote briefing papers on philanthropy and government for First Lady, Mrs. Hillary Clinton, and on education policy for Senator Paul Wellstone. He chaired the President’s White House Internship Financial Aid Committee (1992-4) and chaired the Funders Committee for Citizen Participation (for 10 years).
Kerry Kennedy is the president of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights. For more than thirty years, Ms. Kennedy has devoted herself to the pursuit of equal justice, the promotion and protection of basic rights, and the preservation of the rule of law. She has worked on a range of issues, including children’s rights, child labor, disappearances, indigenous land rights, judicial independence, freedom of expression, ethnic violence, impunity, and the environment.
Michelle Alexander is a highly acclaimed civil rights lawyer, advocate, and legal scholar. In recent years, she has taught at a number of universities, including Stanford Law School, where she was an associate professor of law and directed the Civil Rights Clinics. In 2005, she won a Soros Justice Fellowship, which supported the writing of The New Jim Crow, and that same year she accepted a joint appointment at the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity and the Moritz College of Law at The Ohio State University. Since its first publication, The New Jim Crow has received rave reviews and has been featured in national radio and television media outlets, including MSNBC, NPR, Bill Moyers Journal, Tavis Smiley, CSPAN, and Washington Journal, among others. In March, the book won the 2011 NAACP Image Award for best nonfiction.
Vincent Warren is the Executive Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR). He oversees CCR's groundbreaking litigation and advocacy work which includes using international and domestic law to hold corporations and government officials accountable for human rights abuses; challenging racial, gender and LGBT injustice; and combating the illegal expansion of U.S. presidential power and policies such as illegal detention at Guantanamo, rendition and torture. Prior to his tenure at CCR, Vince was a national senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), where he litigated civil rights cases, focusing on affirmative action, racial profiling and criminal justice reform.
Maria Cuomo Cole has worked as an advocate for the homeless and Chairman of HELP USA since 1992. Under her leadership, the New York based non-profit organization founded in 1986 by her brother, Governor Andrew Cuomo, has expanded nationally to become a leading provider of homes and services for homeless and low income populations in the United States.
Connie Rice is a civil rights lawyer who engineers systemic fixes to entrenched inequality and injustice. California Law Business Journal twice designated her one of the top ten most influential attorneys in California. Through impact litigation, campaigns and inside bureaucratic maneuvering, she has led coalitions and clients to win more than $30 billion in damages, bonds and policy changes. Bus riders, death row inmates, folks abused by police, school kids, whistleblowers, cops and sufferers of every stripe of discrimination, (sex, race, disability, age) have sought her counsel. But so have her opponents, like the Los Angeles Police Department she sued for 15 years but which now reserves a parking space for her at their new headquarters.
Michael Skolnik is a businessman and a 21st century Civil Rights organizer. Michael is the President of GlobalGrind.com, a multi-million dollar news website founded by hip-hop impresario, Russell Simmons, that attracts over 8 million people a month. This platform has given Michael a leadership role in the new social justice movement, where he has led national conversations about America’s relationship with race, the death of Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown and Eric Garner, the Boston Marathon bombings, the rise of violence in Chicago and the Obama presidency, amongst many other topics.
Danny Glover has been a commanding presence in the entertainment industry for more than 30 years. From the blockbuster Lethal Weapon franchise in film to hit television shows such as ER, Glover has distinguished himself as one of his generation’s most consummate actors.
Jonathan S. Abady is a founding member of Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP (ECBA), one of the leading civil rights firms in the country. Mr. Abady has more than 25 years of experience litigating a broad spectrum of civil rights cases, including those involving police misconduct, voting rights, prisoner rights and the First Amendment. Most recently, Mr. Abady represented the family and estate of Tamir Rice, the 12 year-old boy shot and killed by Cleveland police in 2014. Mr. Abady was also one of the lead lawyers in two historic class action cases that have led to major institutional reform in jail conditions at Rikers Island in New York. He and his firm litigated important voting rights cases in the Bush-Gore and Obama-McCain presidential elections.