Two years ago we named Liberty Hill's Leaders to Watch for the first time. What we wanted to do was show people how amazing community organizers were, the people behind the strategy, endless meetings, the issues and the victories. Like Cesar Chavez said: "It's never about lettuce or grapes, it's always about people," and I was eager to remind us of the people behind the work.
But in the last year I felt like Liberty Hill had outgrown the focus just on organizing. So this year we've included leaders from across Liberty Hill's work: organizers, donor-activists, coaches from the Leadership Institute and folks who sit on our community braintrust and advise our grants.
You can find more information about each of them on our website. Our 2012 Leaders to Watch are John Manulis, Eileen Ma, Esthephanie Solano, Damon Azali-Rojas and Jan Robinson-Flint. Over the last two months I've gotten to spend a lot of time with them and I hope you find their work as inspiring as I do. 2012 will present lots of opportunities to meet them. If you're not already on our email list and haven't liked us on Facebook, do it now. That's the best way to stay in the know. Here are quick blurbs on each of them. There's lots more including video on our website.
Esthefanie Solano, a student activist with Liberty Hill grantee InnerCity Struggle, is working to change punitive school disciplinary policies that push youth into the “school to prison pipeline.” She's a freshman at Pasadena City College and looks forward in 2012 to see the passage of a Dream Act that would provide a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrant youth.
Eileen Ma, executive director of API Equality-LA is bringing her decades of experience as a labor organizer to the cause of equality for the County’s 52,000 LGBT Asian/Pacific Islanders.
John Bard Manulis is a donor-activist with a 20-year-track record of rolling up his sleeves and investing his time, money and creative chops in campaigns for change.
Janette Robinson-Flint (in pink, right), co-founder of Black Women for Wellness, is a grassroots organization determined to improve Black women’s health and self-esteem.
Damon Azali-Rojas (on right) is a community organizer turned strategist and mentor for campaigns designed to turn the tide for L.A.’s low-income Black, Latino and Asian youth.