2020 Panel: Unifying and Mobilizing for the Work Ahead!

Cat Brooks, Moderator

Cat Brooks is KPFA co-host of UpFront and a long-time performer, organizer, and activist.  She played a central role in the struggle for justice for Oscar Grant, and spent the last decade working with impacted communities and families to rapidly respond to police violence and radically transform the ways our communities are policed and incarcerated. She is the co-founder of the Anti Police-Terror Project (APTP) and the Executive Director of The Justice Teams Network. Cat was also a mayoral candidate in Oakland’s 2018 election, facing incumbent Libby Schaaf.

Maureen Cruise

Maureen Cruise, RN is a former research associate at UCLA’s Neuropsychiatric Institute and a retired public health clinic nurse with the LA County Dept. Health Services.  Currently Director of Healthcare for All-Los Angeles Chapter, Maureen works in solidarity with many social justice organizations and coalition partners including Physicians for a National Health Program and California Nurses/ National Nurses United.  In it’s inception, Ms. Cruise was a member of the California Progressive Caucus Delegates State Health Care Strategy Team and was the Progressive Democrats of Los Angeles Health Care Liaison. Her usual affiliation is now GREEN Party. Grassroots volunteer efforts spanning over 40 years include issues of social justice and human rights, public education, disaster relief, and anti-war activism.  Ms. Cruise organizes and participates in community forums, interviews, and workshops to help educate the public and encourage participation in the movement for single payer universal healthcare. Every body in. No body out.

Manuel Barajas

Manuel Barajas is a professor of sociology at California State University-Sacramento.  He was born in Michoacán, Mexico and raised in Stockton, California. From the age of four to about 20, he worked in farm labor in the San Joaquin Valley during every summer and school break.  Today he teaches and writes about the subjects that shaped his life and specializes in immigration studies, Chicanx Communities, and race, gender, and class inequality. He is author of The Xaripu Community across Borders: Labor Migration, Community, and Family (Notre Dame University Press) that received a Distinguished Book Award Honorable Mention from the Latino Section, American Sociological Association.  Manuel is also active in community service in scholarly, university, and civic communities. He enjoys collaborating with students and the community and believes in producing knowledge/advocacy that makes a difference in improving the lives of all marginalized communities.

Trinity Tran

Trinity Tran is the co-founder and lead organizer of California Public Banking Alliance, Public Bank LA and Divest LA. She led the grassroots campaign which divested Los Angeles from Wells Fargo in 2017. In 2018, she led the Measure B ballot initiative to establish a Los Angeles public bank. In 2019, Trinity mobilized a statewide coalition behind the Public Banking Act, signed into California law on October 2.

Estee Chandler

Estee Chandler is a member of the Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) and Jewish Voice for Peace Action (JVPA) Boards of Directors. In 2010 she founded the Los Angeles chapter of JVP, a national organization promoting solutions based on human rights and international law for both Palestinians and Jewish Israelis that works in broad coalition with other like-minded organizations. Along with Nagwa Ibrahim, Estee hosts and produces KPFK’s long running radio show, Middle East in Focus.

Ben Grieff

Ben is the Campaign Director for Evolve California, a non-profit organization based San Francisco that he help found in 2011. For the last 7 years Ben has led Evolve California’s campaign to restore funding for California’s public schools by reforming Proposition 13. His work has helped change the political narrative around a once untouchable issue that is the root cause for California’s public education system being in the bottom ten in the nation in per student funding. He sits on the Executive Committee of the historic Schools and Communities First initiative that will appear on the November 2020 ballot. This initiative will reform Prop. 13 and reclaim $12 billion a year for California’s schools and communities.

Mari Rose Taruc

Mari Rose Taruc is the coordinator of the Utility Justice Campaign. For 25 years, she has organized environmental justice (EJ) campaigns for clean air, affordable housing, renewable energy and climate solutions in local, state, national and international arenas. She has coordinated important EJ formations under the Southwest Network for Environmental and Economic Justice (SNEEJ), Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN) and California Environmental Justice Alliance (CEJA), including to ensure that multibillion-dollar California climate and energy programs benefit disadvantaged communities. Setting roots in Oakland for two decades, she co-founded a neighborhood group inspired by Hurricane Katrina to cultivate community resilience, and contributed this practice of community engagement in the development of Oakland’s 2012 Energy and Climate Action Plan.