Dorothy Roberts, an acclaimed scholar of race, gender and the law, has joint appointments at the University of Pennsylvania in the Departments of Africana Studies and Sociology and the Law School where she holds the inaugural Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander chair. She is also the founding director of the Penn Program on Race, Science & Society in the Center for Africana Studies. Her path breaking work in law and public policy focuses on urgent social justice issues in policing, family regulation, science, medicine, and bioethics. Her major books include Torn Apart: How the Child Welfare System Destroys Black Families–and How Abolition Can Build a Safer World (Basic Books, 2022), Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-first Century (New Press, 2011); Shattered Bonds: The Color of Child Welfare (Basic Books, 2002), and Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty (Pantheon, 1997). She is the author of more than 100 scholarly articles and book chapters, as well as a co-editor of six books on such topics as constitutional law and women and the law.
Dave Rini is the director of the Incarcerated Survivor Support Program at the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, where he is responsible for ensuring that survivors of sexual assault in Massachusetts prisons and jails have access to healing and supportive services. Dave’s work has revolved around sexual and domestic violence prevention for over ten years – in the past, he has served as BARCC’s staff attorney, as the clerk for the Gay Men’s Domestic Violence Project, and as the legislative director for the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Organization for Women. Dave holds a BS from Boston University and a JD from Northeastern University.
Desseray Wright is an impacted parent of the family regulation system and the criminal justice system and is very passionate about abolishing both systems that affect the black and brown communities. She graduated at the top of her class from Hostos Community College, receiving her AA In criminal justice. She plans on furthering her education in the criminal justice field, dedicates her life to giving back to her communities, and is the founder of Blessings In Transformation, an organization that informs youths about their rights within the family regulation and criminal justice systems. Desseray is also a community advocate, and her work includes collaborating with the Parent Legislative Action Network and JMacForFamilies, as well as two internships with Movement for Family Power. Desseray is an active fighter, and as she says all the time, “I will remain the voice for the voiceless.”
Erin Miles is the Co-Director and Co-Founder of Movement for Family Power, an abolitionist organization that works to end the policing and punishment of families. For nearly a decade, I had the privilege of being a family defense attorney at the Bronx Defenders where I worked to defend parents from one of our most violent carceral systems, child protective services. Often exempted from our analysis of structural violence, I came to learn that our foster system is one of the most profoundly racist institutions in America. As a supervising attorney and then team leader at Bronx Defenders, I met children who grew up in the foster system, only to be later judged as parents by the institutions that “raised” them. I tried to fight the civil death penalty– termination of parental rights– but for Black and Latinx families this seemed an impossible battle to win. The challenges my client’s families faced were ones that many of our own families face: substance use, intimate partner violence, and mental illness etc., however because of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, the response to these social issues was always punishment. I actually recall a student in my externship class at Columbia quickly making this connection after one day in family court. She said, “families everywhere struggle, but only the low-income, Brown, and Black find themselves at the mercy of the child welfare system.” Like many others, CPS has become involved with my family. Also, like many others, I have not seen this system heal or protect my family members. I believe that movement theory is an integral component to radical shifts in thinking and policy that may give us the possibility to be better, do better, and end the punishment and policing of families.
Miriam Mack is the Policy Director for The Bronx Defenders’ Family Defense Practice and is passionate about issues of racial justice and reproductive justice. She received her J.D. from Boston University School of Law, and clerked for the Honorable Solomon Oliver, Jr., in the Northern District of Ohio, and then the Honorable Justice Geraldine S. Hines of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts. Miriam holds a B.A. in History from Columbia University.
Rahul Rao has research interests in international relations, postcolonial and queer theory, and the politics of South Asia. Much of his research concerns the global politics of gender, sexuality, race and caste. He is the author of two books – Third World Protest: Between Home and the World and Out of Time: The Queer Politics of Postcoloniality, both published by Oxford University Press. He is currently writing a book on the politics of statues as terrains for the assertion and contestation of racial and caste supremacy. For this academic year, he is a fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences. Rahul completed his first law degree from the National Law School of India University, Bangalore, subsequently pursuing an MPhil and DPhil in International Relations from the University of Oxford.
Joyce McMillan is a thought leader, advocate, activist, community organizer, and educator. Joyce led child welfare family engagement and advocacy efforts at Sinergia, Inc. Prior to that, she was the Program Director at Child Welfare Organizing Project (CWOP), where she created a community space to educate the community about restorative practices to empower, affirm, transform and heal communities of color that have been traumatized by systemic injustices. She is also an active member of The West Harlem Democrats, a board member at Families Together NYS, Women’s Prison Association (WPA), and Movement for Family Power, Co-chair of W134th Community Association, a NYC County Committee Member, a Supreme Court Judicial Delegate and an Advisory Committee member at The Center for New York City Affairs (CNYCA) at The New School, where she also has a visiting fellowship. In addition, Joyce has a Fellowship with Law4BlackLives, and is a former fellow with The National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls, and is the Founder of Parent Legislative Action Network (PLAN), a coalition that won monumental change to New York’s State Central Registry. Joyce has also given lectures and participated in panel discussions at Columbia University, NYU, Hunter College, Montclair University CUNY Law School, Cornell University, Harlem Hospital, New York City affairs at The New School, and many other institutions.
Olivia Burton is the Director of Quality Enhancement for Parent Representation at the New York State Office of Indigent Legal Services, where she leads the state’s efforts to improve publicly funded legal representation for parents involved in family law proceedings. She is a Special Advisor to the NYS Office of Court Administration’s Commission on Parental Legal Representation, a Commissioner on the NYS Permanent Judicial Commission on Justice for Children, and a member of the NYS Bar Association’s Committee on Families and the Law and the American Bar Association’s Family Justice Initiative. In addition, Angela is affiliated with a number of organizations and coalitions devoted to eliminating the harms of the family regulation system. She earned her B.S. in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University and her J.D. from New York University School of Law. After law school she clerked at the New York State Court of Appeals and worked at the New York City law firm of Debevoise and Plimpton. In the two decades prior to her current position, Angela taught lawyering practice, family law, and children’s rights at New York University School of Law, Syracuse University College of Law, and the City University of New York (CUNY) School of Law.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, LaShyra “Lash” Nolen is a writer, activist, and third-year student at Harvard Medical School where she is serving as student council president of her class, the first documented black woman to hold this leadership position. She is a published author and fervent advocate for social justice whose commentary has been featured in outlets such as Nature, the New England Journal of Medicine, and Teen Vogue. She is the Founding Executive Director of “We Got Us”, a grassroots community empowerment project with the goal of bringing vaccine education and access to marginalized communities in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Her work has earned her the honor of being named the 2020 National Minority Quality Forum’s youngest “40 under 40 Leader in Minority Health”, a Boston Celtics “Hero Among Us”, a Rock Health “Top 50 Leader in Digital Health”, one of AfroTech’s “Top 50”, and a Forbes “30 Under 30” in healthcare honoree. Lash attended Loyola Marymount University where she graduated with a BS in Health and Human Science. In the fall she plans to pursue a Masters in Public Policy degree to enhance her ability to create structural change through policy and structural change as a physician activist.
Susan Maze-Rothstein seeks societal justice informed by ancestral wisdom. She is a co-director of the Center for Restorative Justice at Suffolk University. Trained at Cornell University and Boston College Law School, she has 22 years’ experience in social justice education and 17 years’ experience in restorative justice. A lawyer, a judge and then law professor, at Northeastern University School of Law, for two decades, professor Maze-Rothstein directed its signature social justice course and program, Legal Skills in Social Context, Social Justice Program. Among some 300 social justice projects that she managed during her tenure, six involved restorative justice. The six led to her founding a juvenile court diversion non-profit, Our Restorative Justice that successfully diverted young people, pre-arraignment to reparative practices averting a juvenile record. Professor Maze-Rothstein co-chairs the Restorative Justice Coalition of MA, that helped to advance and shape Mass. G.L. c. 276B that promotes the use of restorative justice here in the Commonwealth. She trains, coaches, consults, presents and counsels in restorative justice.