2016 Conference Speakers

Karissa Moreno

Karissa Moreno is a bilingual native of the North Bay Area and lifelong advocate of minority advancement. She earned her BA in Cultural Anthropology from UC Santa Barbara and her Master’s degree for the University of Chicago. After spending years working with at-­‐risk youth and as an educator, she found her passion fighting to eliminate health disparities and improve access to care. She worked at Santa Rosa Community Health Centers for over 7 years, and in spring 2015, she joined Livingston Community Health as their Chief Operations Officer. From the Merced Sun-­‐Star: “Livingston Community Health has opened its first dental clinic in Hilmar, expanding access to dental care in the area. The dental clinic is at 7970 Lander Ave., next door to Livingston Community Health’s medical clinic in Hilmar. The dental  clinic  opened  its doors to the general public during a soft opening Monday. Livingston Community Health officials said they opted for a slow rollout, taking only a small group of patients initially,  to help the new staff adjust and because there’s still some construction taking place at the site. Livingston Community Health officials plan an official ribbon-­‐cutting ceremony during the summer. But those interested in dental services can start scheduling appointments now. Karissa Moreno, the chief operating officer at  Livingston  Community Health, said the Hilmar dental clinic will serve patients regardless of their ability to pay. In addition to insurance, the dental clinic will take Denti-­‐Cal, Medi-­‐Cal’s dental program, and will offer fee arrangements to those who qualify. Moreno said services primarily target the uninsured and low-­‐income residents. This group of people, she said, usually avoids dental services because they can’t afford out-­‐of-­‐pocket costs. The dental clinic has an enrollment counselor on-­‐site who can help those who qualify sign up for health insurance. Moreno said that once insured, patients tend to seek more preventive care. Dr. Remya Niranjan is the Hilmar clinic’s only dentist at this time. Niranjan, who is originally from San Francisco and previously worked in Gustine, said   she decided to continue her work in a rural community because of the need for such services by the area’s underserved population. “There’s a lot more need (for services) here,” Niranjan said. “A lot of places don’t take (Denti-­‐Cal) and some people have to wait months for an appointment.” Moreno said the dental clinic is looking for a second dentist to help Niranjan with patient flow. “It’s important to hire the right fit,” Moreno said. “Someone committed to working in rural communities.” Niranjan said she is currently focusing on preventive and restorative services, and can see about eight to 10 patients  per day. Once the dental clinic is up to full speed, she expects to add more invasive and extensive dentistry and see up to 22 patients per provider, per day. The dental clinic also has space for urgent walk-­‐ins.  Moreno said Livingston Community Health’s next goal is   to build a similar dental clinic at its Livingston site. The nonprofit health system would need to seek grants to make this happen, she explained.”  Merced Sun-­‐Star (May 6, 2015)


Nigel Hatton

Nigel Hatton is Assistant Professor of Literature in the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts at UC Merced. He has also taught classes at Central California Women’s Facility and as an adjunct instructor with the Prison University Project at San Quentin State Prison, where he facilitated literature, writing and journalism courses and consulted with staff for the prison newspaper, The San Quentin News. He received his Ph.D. in both Modern Thought & Literature and the Humanities, with a minor in Political Science, from Stanford University, and completed postdoctoral studies at the Søren Kierkegaard Research Centre in Copenhagen, Denmark. He also holds Master’s degrees  in Latin American Studies and Journalism from the UC Berkeley. A former Du Bois fellow at Harvard University, his published work includes articles on human rights and cosmopolitanism, and on writers and thinkers such as Søren Kierkegaard, Martin Luther King, Jr., Jose Martí, Ivan Klíma and Louise Erdrich. Research and teaching interests include the interrelated histories of the development of classical, modern and contemporary fictional narrative and human rights discourses, and aesthetics as a response to and means for preventing and interrogating cultures of violence. He is also a member of the governance council for the Center for Collaborative Research for an Equitable California.


Frank Johnson

Frank Johnson is President of NAACP Modesto/Stanislaus Branch 1048. He has served as a tireless advocate for racial justice and critic of institutional practices and policies promoting or conserving social inequities in the distribution of resources and support for economic, educational, and community health and safety initiatives.


Tanya Golash-­‐Boza

Tanya Golash-­‐Boza is Associate Professor of Sociology at UC Merced and author of five books:  1)  Deported:  Policing  Immigrants,  Disposable  Labor,  and  Global  Capitalism (2015), which explains the connection between mass deportation and global capitalism; 2) Due Process Denied (2012), which describes how and why non-­‐citizens in the United States have been detained and deported for minor crimes, without regard for constitutional limits on disproportionate punishment; 3) Immigration Nation (2012), which provides a critical analysis of the impact that U.S. immigration policy has on human rights; 4) Yo Soy Negro: Blackness in Peru (2011), the first book in English to address what it means to be black in Peru; and 5) Race and Racisms: A Critical Approach (2015). She has also published many articles in peer-­‐reviewed journals on deportations, racial identity, U.S. Latinos/as and Latin America, in addition to essays and chapters in edited volumes and online venues such as Al Jazeera, The Nation, and Counterpunch. Her innovative scholarship was awarded the Distinguished Early Career Award from the Racial and Ethnic Minorities Studies Section of the American Sociological Association in 2010. In 2013, she was awarded the UC Merced Academic Senate Award for Distinguished Scholarly Public Service. Tanya’s most recent work is on the consequences of mass deportation. With funding from a Fulbright-­‐Hays Faculty Research Abroad Award, she completed over 150 interviews with deportees in Brazil, Guatemala, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic in 2009 and 2010. This research forms the basis of her recent book Deported (New York University Press: 2015).


Gautam Jagannath

Gautam Jagannath is founding director of the Bay Area’s Social Justice Collaborative (SJC). His skills as a trial lawyer and appellate advocate support SJC’s main services. He attended Northeastern University School of Law, the nation’s leading public interest law school, with the goal of becoming a public defender. However, after noticing the impact of criminal law on low-­‐income immigrants, Gautam was drawn to  the intersection between criminal and immigration law. Struck by the lack of access to counsel for immigrants he believed that forming SJC was a natural next step toward alleviating the lack of legal services for low-­‐income noncitizen. Through effective advocacy, SJC provides significant support as an immigration public defender, striving to increase representation for both detained and non-­‐detained individuals. Gautam teaches administrative law and sits on the Board of Directors for the Bay Area chapter of the National Lawyer’s Guild and the South Asian Bar Association. He is active in several progressive legal movements. He will speak on the challenges of advancing the rights of immigrants and their families, with attention to how these challenges may be transforming in the aftermath of the recent election.


Leng Power and Joseph Homer

Drawing on their extensive advocacy and interviews conducted with public agencies, churches, civic groups and individuals who serve our local homeless populations, Leng Power and Joseph Homer (Modesto Peace/Life Center) will discuss the impressive, complex grassroots system of support provided to local homeless populations, and provide information on how local residents can become involved to help address the challenges of homelessness. Leng has partnered with John Lucas to co-­‐ produce a feature-­‐length documentary on local area homeless populations, based on interviews conducted and filmed on the streets of Modesto. Their project, launched by the Modesto Peace/Life Center, is dedicated to providing helpful and inspiring information on homelessness, through a collection of homeless video interviews, collected poems and stories from local community members, by identifying local homeless services, homeless advocacy campaigns and homeless issues facing the community, and by bringing attention to the causes of homelessness. Their goal is to humanize the community’s experience of its homeless population by putting a public, human face on the homeless experience.


Faculty Panel Discussion

Stanislaus faculty Aletha Harven, Kilolo Brodie, Vickie Harvey, John Kincaid, and Alfred Perez will participate in a panel discussion of “Social Justice  and the New Political Climate: Aftermath of an Election.” With research interests spanning the disciplines of Child Development, Social Work, Communication Studies, and Sociology, these faculty are actively committed to social justice education as  a component of personal, professional and civic training. Aletha Harven will facilitate the discussion and pose some questions to the panel on where we go from here as a culture, to help students and faculty make sense of their feelings and trepidations regarding what is to come under the new administration. Aletha  is Assistant Professor  of Child Development at California State University, Stanislaus. Her research studies the impact of school-­‐related risk factors on the mental health and academic functioning of Black and Latino students, while also discussing the psychological and social environmental factors that might help students to stay resilient  in  the  face  of  adversity. Her research examines educational implications, including Black and Latino student mental health, motivation, and academic achievement, providing insight on the promotion of a college-­‐going culture among Black, Latino, and other underrepresented groups of students in the Central Valley.


Robin DeLugan

Robin DeLugan is Associate Professor of Anthropology at UC Merced. She is interested in community building, collective identity and belonging. Her research on postwar nation building in El Salvador traces new attention to historical exclusions, past state violence, and how globalization (including migration) and neoliberalism affect the meaning of national belonging in the 21st century. Her research also looks at indigenous people and nation-­‐state dynamics including contemporary migration from Latin America to California. Dr. DeLugan is co-­‐chair of Community University Research and Action for Justice (CURAJ), a multidisciplinary regional research network that emphasizes engagement with grassroots organizations and local communities in California’s Central Valley. Dr. DeLugan received her Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley. Her current research includes projects in support of the Partnership for the Assessment of Communities: Disparities, Inequality, and Civic Engagement in the San Joaquin Valley. She is involved with UC Merced’s Community-­‐University Research & Action For Justice (CURAJ) Demonstration Project, providing research in the service of local communities in the San Joaquin Valley (cf. Environmental Justice (vol. 6/no. 2— 2013, 62-­‐70). Robin earned the 2007 -­‐ Helping Hands Award for  Community Engagement from the Community Partnership Alliance (United Way Merced). She is the author of Reimagining National Belonging: Post-­‐Civil War El Salvador in a Global Context (University of Arizona Press: 2012).


Maria de Jesus Martinez Mora

Maria de Jesus Martinez Mora is a doctoral student at UC Merced conducting research on immigrant rights in the Central Valley, with specific focus on the outcomes of immigrant rights mobilization efforts. Maria was recognized in 2015-­‐16 by the UC Merced Resource Center for Community Engaged Scholarship for conducting socially engaged research addressing issues of critical interest to the San Joaquin Valley community. Her Mesoamerican research activity focuses on issues of indigenous culture, immigration, social activism and social memory.


Pablo Rodriguez

Pablo Rodriguez brings twenty-­‐one years of experience developing successful mass civic and electoral participation campaigns throughout the United States. Pablo is based in Sacramento and oversees the Communities for a New California (CNC) Education Fund’s integrated leadership development and mass voter engagement efforts in Riverside, Imperial, Fresno, Tulare, Merced and Sacramento Counties. The integration of CNC Education Fund's grassroots leadership development and mass non-­‐partisan voter engagement creates an environment allowing CNC Education Fund to be a trusted messenger and build relationships with families living in the San Joaquin and Coachella Valleys. Since 2011, the CNC Education Fund’s year-­‐round non-­‐partisan Civic Engagement programs have interacted with over 150,000 voters via live phone calls and directly at their homes. Prior to joining Communities for a New California, Pablo served as a Public Policy Consultant and Communications Director at a Sacramento political strategy firm. His responsibilities included the development and implementation of Federal political strategy, issue research, communications, and national community organizing projects. Pablo previously served as Director of the Dolores Huerta Community Organizing Institute, where he developed trainings for mass base building and direct political action campaigns for organizations throughout California. In addition he developed service-­‐learning programs with San Jose State University, the National Association of Social Workers, and Loyola Marymount University (LMU). In partnership with LMU, he initiated development of the first micro-­‐finance program focusing exclusively on farm workers in the United States. Pablo currently serves as Board Chair with the Americans for Democratic Action Education Fund, a nonprofit advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C. The ADA Education Fund is committed to promoting public policy education and citizen empowerment. He previously served  on the Boards of the Chicano Latino Youth Leadership Project in Sacramento and the La Pena Cultural Center in Berkeley, CA.


Keynote Panel Discussion

A Keynote panel featuring Devonte Jackson, Taharee Jackson and Pablo Rodriguez and moderated by Aletha Harven will conclude our Friday afternoon sessions, focusing on Social Justice Concerns in the Aftermath of the Election. At the conclusion of the panel’s presentation, we anticipate there will be opportunity for questions and comments from the audience.


Dixie Salazar

Dixie Salazar, an award-­‐winning artist, author, activist, and educator, has been a working artist and writer for more than forty years. Her work is alive with the passion of life, and rich in the color and iconography of her Spanish heritage. Her paintings are a delicate combination of flowing forms, vivid color, and provocative abstraction, tempting fantasies that stimulate the imagination. Her work has been shown extensively,  including exhibits in San Francisco, Las Vegas, New York, and numerous galleries throughout the Central Valley. Dixie is also an accomplished writer, having published two novels, including CARMEN AND CHIA MIX MAGIC (2014), and five volumes of  poetry, including REINCARNATION OF THE COMMONPLACE (a national poetry award winner published in 1999), BLOOD MYSTERIES (2003), FLAMENCO HIPS AND RED MUD FEET (2010) and ALTAR FOR ESCAPED VOICES (2013). The latter contains poems written in the voices of inmates she met while teaching and writing at men’s and women’s prisons, including Corcoran State Prison. Her current installation — in the University Art Gallery — is entitled “…and homeless near a thousand homes I stood.”

Dixie has spent a lifetime forging her identity out of two cultures: “On one side was my father’s world: Spanish speaking from las montanas. On the other side was my mother’s world: a deep Southern drawl wafting from the magnolia and chinaberry trees.” Her poems examine her identity as a product of both cultures, never completely at home in either one, always navigating the alienation of her cultural in-­‐between-­‐ness and comfortable with her status as “outsider,” free to decide where her own “borders” begin or end. “Dixie works at the tense points of the ordinary and unlocks the extra-­‐ordinary,” writes our current national Poet Laureate, Juan Felipe Herrera. “Here, the city, the shores, the streets, the display windows, the family rooms—and those that inhabit these spaces— are all cast in hard light and raw truths. Yet, she is singing. All comes back to life in this manner, the text seems to say. An incandescent and brave voice for our times.”

Her recent projects include a photographic exhibit of a homeless encampment in Fresno (included in our current Gallery installation) and serving on the board of the Eco Village Project and the Dakota Eco Garden, facilities providing sustainable, green housing for the homeless in a community environment. “In 2009,” she writes, “I accompanied a friend who was making a film, set in the homeless encampments of H Street, at that time a huge mass of makeshift dwellings patched together from blue tarps, scraps of wood and odd pieces of junk, by the railroad tracks downtown, with about two to three hundred homeless residents. I was so taken with the visual tableau that I came back with my camera and ended   up   with   a   photography   show   at   City    Hall.    It    was    fascinating    how   they  put  together  living  spaces with  scavenged   metal, wood, tarps, and all manner of discarded detritus.... Some years later, a friend bought a big house with half an acre and opened up a transitional living shelter for the homeless. Immediately, I jumped on board and it’s been quite a ride. I’ve met remarkable people, those who are truly at the bottom of the pile, both physically and metaphorically. And they’ve shared their stories and many of their voices have crept into my poems.... I didn’t ever feel that making artwork was a choice for me and being involved in activist work that is meaningful is also not a choice. And it’s not complicated, it’s what I have to do because it’s who I am.” Her current exhibition of photos and paintings on homelessness will remain in the University Art Gallery through Dec 23rd.