Board

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Somia Elrowmeim

Chair of the Board

Somia Elrowmeim - Brooklyn, NY - first started organizing with Action Corps in March, 2018, around Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman's visit to New York City. She led a protest for his continued war in Yemen that we organized with her and other Yemeni Americans’ support. Since then she has co-organized various educational and advocacy activities with Action Corps NYC. She is a Yemeni-American organizer, educator, and advocate. Somia’s passion for community organizing, education, and women's empowerment, began as a student leader at Sana'a University in Yemen, where she earned a Bachelor's degree in Physics and Mathematics. Somia speaks truth to power, participating in the Women's March on Washington, protesting Trump's Muslim Ban, holding city council members accountable to their constituents, defending the rights of domestic violence survivors, and protesting the Saudi Crown Prince’s visit to New York City.

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Sapana Thomas

Vice Chair of the Board

Sapana Thomas - Boston, MA - Whether working as a product manager in educational technology, developing social media campaigns to raise concern around human rights violations, or lobbying Congress to ask for support on policies helping those who live in poverty globally, Sapana strives to challenge and inspire others to join her in enacting change and implementing solutions. In addition to her product manager responsibilities in a previous job, she was also a corporate social responsibility ambassador and chapter co-leader of the company's Neurodiversity Employee Resource Group. Outside of work, her passion for fighting for human rights and equality led her to spend almost the last ten years on outreach, advocacy, and campaigning for long-term solutions to global poverty, hunger, and injustice, first as a Boston co-lead of the Oxfam Action Corps, and then as a co-founder and vice chair of Action Corps’ first governing body.

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Elizabeth Norman

Treasurer of the Board

Elizabeth Norman - Brooklyn, NY - is the Director of Budget and Planning for the International Rescue Committee’s International Programs, where she oversees a budget of $530 million. In addition to advising senior leadership on strategic decision making around the budget, she supports IRC country programs with budget training, business development and budget analysis and has completed deployments in over 10 country programs. Before joining the IRC, Elizabeth worked for the New York City Mayor’s Office of Management and Budget for nine years where she managed the budgets for Medicaid and the public hospitals. She also has prior experience serving on non-profit boards: she served as the Board Co-Chair of the New York City AIDS Housing Network (aka VOCAL-NY) as well as Secretary and Finance Committee member of Neighbors Helping Neighbors, where she helped oversee their merger with the Fifth Avenue Committee. She holds an MPA in Public Finance from NYU’s Wagner School of Public Service and a BA in History from Oberlin College. 

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Isaac Evans-Frantz

Secretary of the Board, Executive Director

Isaac Evans-Frantz - New York, NY - Isaac played a key role in passage of the Yemen War Powers Resolution in 2019 to stop unconstitutional support for the Saudi/Emirati-led bombing of the Middle East's poorest country. Currently he is coordinating a network of over 100 U.S. faith-based, humanitarian and trade organizations advocating for global COVID response through the IMF. In the fall of 2020, he played a key role in the House's passage of legislation that would allow the IMF to release over $1 trillion USD worth of emergency resources for developing countries. If enacted, this would significantly improve the hunger crisis and save lives across the world. Isaac holds a B.A. from Oberlin College (Ohio) and Master in Public Administration from the City University of New York with a concentration in non-profit management. He is a Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality and a certified Spanish interpreter.

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Yolande Cadore

Board Member

Yolande Cadore - New York, NY - has spent the last twenty years working with grassroots organizations in New York City and nationally. Early in her career, she worked as an organizer with the Working Families Party, ACORN and New York State Tenants and Neighbors. Recognizing the correlation between degraded environments, including poor quality housing and poor health, led Yolande to WE ACT for Environmental Justice where she was the Director of Community Organizing for six years. As Director, she worked with West Harlem leaders to develop the organization’s outreach, organizing and advocacy campaigns. Additionally, she served as the National Field Director at The Praxis Project. From 2010 to 2015 she was the Director of Strategic Partnerships at the Drug Policy Alliance. Yolande holds an undergraduate degree in Urban Policy and Advocacy, a certificate in Non-Profit Management from Columbia Business School–Institute for Not-for-Profit Management and is a graduate of the School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University. She recently completed a doctoral program at St. John Fisher College.

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Brennan Frazier

Board Member

Brennan Frazier - Albany, NY - graduated from Ohio State University with a B.A. in Political Science and History. After graduation, he worked to develop mediation programs for underserved communities through AmeriCorps VISTA. He is based in Albany, NY and currently works with Mediation Matters to help his community peacefully resolve differences, and with the National Association for Community Mediation (NAFCM) to help develop and support the broader community mediation field. Brennan previously served as a lead organizer of the former Oxfam Action Corps Columbus.

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Kimberly Kiser

Board Member

Kimberly Kiser - Indianapolis, IN - was formerly a lead organizer for Oxfam Action Corps in Indianapolis and is passionate about food security and the rights of people who have been forcibly displaced by violent conflict and climate change. Kimberly enjoys research and has a Master’s degree from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, where she studied non-profit law, management and finance. She works as a data specialist and prospect researcher for Second Helpings - an Indianapolis non-profit that rescues high-quality perishable food, provides hunger-relief to 4,000 people each day, and trains unemployed and underemployed men and women for culinary careers. 

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Brian Rawson

Board Member

Brian Rawson - Berkeley, CA - has extensive advocacy and communications experience with many global justice NGOs. He led grassroots advocacy mobilization for Oxfam America for more than a dozen years, including the creation of a national grassroots advocacy training program with teams in 15 US cities who conducted lobby visit delegations annually in Washington DC and local Congressional offices. This was the precursor to the now independent Action Corps. He currently lives in California where he provides training and facilitation services to mission-driven organizations and supports efforts for refugee and immigrant rights.

Steering Committee Members

Katie Kelshaw

Steering Committee Member & Global COVID Response Campaign Lead

Katie Kelshaw is a graduate of Boise State University with a Masters of Arts in Political Science where she has since taught as an adjunct professor. She is the Action Corps global COVID response campaign lead and has served with HELP International in Tororo, Uganda. She would like to use her degree and experience with Action Corps to work in sustainable development worldwide.

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Sami Esquivel

Steering Committee Member

Sami Esquivel has worked with local NGOs to spread awareness on the importance of oceanic health and forests by leading bay restoration projects and educational hikes for volunteers and the public. She has also coordinated with working communities to advocate for land management and organic farming at community farms for over three years. Sami is focused on amplifying diverse voices to build a healthier community through her involvement in projects involving community outreach as well as arts and cultural partnerships.

 

Nancy Carpenter

Steering Committee Member

Nancy Carpenter is a retired director of operations with more than 45 years of experience in the point of purchase display industry. Starting in 2000, she worked with Oxfam America helping organize volunteers. She attended two training sessions for Action Corps in Washington DC and she’s excited to have the opportunity to work with the new Action Corps. Nancy is a grandmother and now spends her time traveling full-time with her husband. 

Maria Andrea Avendano

Steering Committee Member

Maria Andrea Avendano, based in Miami, is a graduate of Florida Gulf Coast University. She moved to the U.S. from Colombia four years ago, and her experience in Colombia helped form her curiosity about cultural differences and experiences. She organizes with Florida Student Power Network and is involved with a local coalition of workers and Pace Center for Girls.

Neda Saleh

Steering Committee Member

Neda Saleh is a Yemeni-born peace activist located in the Bay Area of California. She is a volunteer with the Yemen Relief and Reconstruction Foundation as well as the founder of the youth organization, Hands Off Yemen. She hopes to take her advocacy work abroad to help achieve peace and stability in Yemen. In addition to organizing for political change, Neda is an advocate for fitness and health education in her community, offering free training sessions and nutritional advice out of her home gym.

Isaac Evans-Frantz, Action Corps' executive director, and Sapana Thomas, the Vice chair of Action Corps' board, are advisory members of the Steering Committee.

Policy Leads

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Taryn Fusco

Advisor

Taryn Fusco was a lead organizer for Oxfam Action Corps NYC from 2012 to 2013, where she mobilized grassroots advocacy activations in the region. She holds a bachelor’s degree in International Relations from Villanova University and a Master in Public Health from Boston University, where she concentrated in International Health. Taryn has played a key role in Action Corps' Yemen solidarity campaign, coordinating and leading meetings with Members of Congress to help stop the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

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Jan Jan Maran

Burma Policy Lead & Virginia Lead Organizer

Jan Jan Maran is a first generation Kachin-American student majoring in Global Affairs at George Mason University (GMU). She is involved in her D.C.-based Burmese Church community and is raises awareness on Burma issues and internally displaced persons. She serves as the Assistant Secretary for the Kachin Alliance, co-lead of the Burma Committee for STAND: The Student-Led Movement to End Mass Atrocities, and is the founder and president of the GMU STAND chapter at her school. 

Organizers

CALIFORNIA

Neda Saleh

Lead Organizer

Neda Saleh is a Yemeni-born peace activist located in the Bay Area of California. She is a volunteer with the Yemen Relief and Reconstruction Foundation as well as the founder of the youth organization, Hands Off Yemen. She hopes to take her advocacy work abroad to help achieve peace and stability in Yemen. In addition to organizing for political change, Neda is an advocate for fitness and health education in her community, offering free training sessions and nutritional advice out of her home gym.

Brenda Kerr

Organizer

Brenda Kerr graduated from Sonoma State University with a bachelor's degree in Political Science. In 2020, she worked as an intern on a congressional campaign. She is deeply passionate about human rights and hopes to establish her career in the field.

Jeremy Neill

Organizer

Jeremy Neil has spent the last two years in the nonprofit sector advocating for ocean plastic mitigation efforts and coastal protection while working on his MS in Public and Urban Policy. His interests center around the intersections of policy and technology, leveraging modern computer technologies to help decision makers and grassroots organizations increase their influence and democratization over public resources.

FLORIDA

Maria Andrea Avendano
Lead Organizer
Maria Andrea Avendano, based in Miami, is a graduate of Florida Gulf Coast University. She moved to the U.S. from Colombia four years ago, and her experience in Colombia helped form her curiosity about cultural differences and experiences. She organizes with Florida Student Power Network and is involved with a local coalition of workers and Pace Center for Girls.

Zehra Baqri
Co-lead Organizer

Zehra Baqri, based in Orlando, is a high school student in Florida passionate about science, technology, engineering and math. She is involved in her Shi’a Muslim community and campaigns for first generation immigrants from Pakistan and Iraq to register to vote. It is important to her to speak out for her community to her central Florida representatives.

 

Shayaan Subzwari

Organizer
Shayaan Subzwari, based in Miami, is a student at Yale University studying global affairs. His family background is Pakistani and Korean which has motivated him to speak out against violent conflicts around the world. He participates in the Dwight Hall Peace Initiative and Students for Yemen.
 

Nonnel Galaviz-Johnson, whose biography is in the Steering Committee section, is also an organizer for Florida.

IDAHO

Tecle Gebremicheal

Lead Organizer

Tecle Gebremicheal is a refugee from Ethiopia living in Idaho. He graduated from Boise State University, is a member of the United States Army Reserve, and was a candidate for Boise City Council. He works with organizations to build bridges between the state and new immigrants in his community.

Brendan Bell-Taylor

Organizer

Brendan Bell-Taylor graduated from Boise State University’s Political Science Program, specializing in international relations.  He recently worked with the Wassmuth Center for Human Rights and is involved with Idaho politics to further human rights. His research has focused on far-right radicalization in the United States. 

Caitlin Yang

Organizer

Caitlin Yang is a Boise resident, high school student, and member of the AAPI community. She hopes to channel her frustration with the current economic, political, and social landscape and fear for the future her generation will face into making a positive impact in the world through her involvement in Action Corps.

Katie Kelshaw, whose biography is in the Steering Committee section, is an organizer for Idaho.

ILLINOIS
Nancy Carpenter

Lead Organizer

Nancy Carpenter is a retired director of operations with more than 45 years of experience in the point of purchase display industry. Starting in 2000, she worked with Oxfam America helping organize volunteers. She attended two training sessions for Action Corps in Washington DC and she’s excited to have the opportunity to work with the new Action Corps. Nancy is a grandmother and now spends her time traveling full-time with her husband. 

KENTUCKY

Eh Nay Thaw

Lead Organizer

Eh Nay Thaw is an ethnic Karen and former refugee from Burma. He holds a bachelor's degree in international affairs with a minor in politics. He is a community organizer and is involved in activism on issues related to international human rights and conflict resolution. 

MARYLAND

Katrina Faulkner

Lead Organizer

Katrina Faulkner received both her BA in Business Administration with a concentration in Workforce Training and Marketing and her MBA from William Carey University. She began a community magazine called Progress Magazine in 1995, aiming to encourage communities to fight for their rights, pay attention to law changes, and take individual responsibility for the community they want to see. As a case manager for a Family Promise affiliate in Biloxi, MS, Katrina began focusing on homelessness for families and advocating for human rights with an emphasis on women’s rights, overcoming domestic violence, small business support, and socioeconomic justice both nationally and internationally.

MICHIGAN

Odile Hugonot Haber

Lead Organizer

Odile Hugonot Haber has been an RN in the US for over 30 years, has worked with the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom since 1983, and is on the board of World Beyond War. She was a delegate for the California Nurses Association, part of the Campaign Against Apartheid at UC Berkeley in the mid 1980s, part of the Women in Black movement, and part of the Long Haul’s project, the Slingshot newspaper.

Leila Maatouk

Organizer

Leila Maatouk is a high school student envisioning a career as a corporate lawyer, American diplomat, and activist. She participated in the Harvard Foreign Policy Inaugural Undergrad program, and is interested in further expanding her knowledge on foreign policy and national politics. As a Muslim, Lebanese-American, Leila is well-versed in Middle Eastern policies and relations with the US, and has sharpened her communication skills through her experiences speaking with Former White House Chief of Staff and CIA Director Leon Panetta, the US Ambassadors of Jordan, Afghanistan, and Iraq, and United States Secretary of State and National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger.

MINNESOTA

Kim Kokett

Lead Organizer

Kim Kokett, based in Minneapolis, is a early childhood educator and family advocate. She has had the opportunity to travel to a number of countries including Rwanda, India, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Columbia, South Africa and Sierra Leone to share her experiences around education and learn about development on a local level. She is also connected to MN 350 and the ONE Campaign.

Savannah Ellison

Organizer

Savannah Ellison is an undergraduate student at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota studying International Economics, Spanish, and Cultural Studies. She is also involved with on-campus organizing through Student for Justice & Peace.

NEW MEXICO

Kathy Chavez

Lead Organizer

Kathy Chavez, a native New Mexican, is a Navy veteran and practicing nurse. She grew up with a strong sense of social justice and was raised to respect the earth and all living creatures. With Action Corps she has lobbied for food aid reform and climate change policies. Her passions include health care and the COVID global response.

NEW YORK

Sami Esquivel

Lead Organizer

Sami Esquivel has worked with local NGOs to spread awareness on the importance of oceanic health and forests by leading bay restoration projects and educational hikes for volunteers and the public. She has also coordinated with working communities to advocate for land management and organic farming at community farms for over three years. Sami is focused on amplifying diverse voices to build a healthier community through her involvement in projects involving community outreach as well as arts and cultural partnerships.

Ekram Alrowmeim

Brooklyn Lead Organizer

Ekram Alrowmeim was born and raised in Yemen currently living in the United States.  She is the Outreach Director of the Women's Empowerment Coalition of NYC and leads the Arab Women’s Advocacy and Leadership Program. 

Joycelyn Berbec

Organizer

Joycelyn Berbec is an undergraduate student in her junior year. After completing her bachelor’s degree in Political Science, Joycelyn plans on pursuing law school to become a criminal defense attorney specializing in wrongful convictions. She is an active member of the NYC Democratic Socialists of America, a member of the LBGTQIA+ community, and part of the electoral working group of the lower Manhattan Democratic Socialists of America

Fatima El-Rowmeim

Brooklyn Organizer

Fatima El-Rowmeim is a high school student originally from Yemen. She was one of the founders of the Green Team at her middle school. Fatima’s passion is to fight for climate justice and immigrant rights. She doesn’t shy away from speaking truth to power, whether at the climate change protest or lobbying the state Senate in DC.

Irene King

Organizer

Irene King has an extensive background in advocacy and activism, and has gained a great deal of experience through her work with the Riverside Church Anti-Racism Task force and with Common Cause/Reclaim Our Vote during the 2020 election.

Ethan Lewis Casey III

Bronx Lead Organizer

Ethan Lewis Casey III has played a key role in the grassroots effort to stop illegal U.S. participation in the war in Yemen. The war has caused the largest humanitarian crisis on earth. He coordinated logistics for the 2019 Action Corps Annual Community Meal with Rep. Eliot Engel, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Yemeni- and Burmese-American leaders.  Ethan is a health and wellness professional.

Julia Meltzer

Organizer

Julia Meltzer is a graduate student in the Environmental Policy and Sustainability Management program at the Milano School of Policy, Management, and the Environment and will be completing her Master of Science in Fall 2021. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, and is interested in climate justice, environmental justice, and political ecology at all scales. She has advocated for environmental policy at the state level and looks forward to expanding her scope to address intersecting global challenges.

Rahaf

Organizer

Rahaf has been living in New York City since 2014. She graduated from Pace University with a BS in Health Science with concentrations in both Health Policy and Advocacy & Global Health as well as a minor in Graphic Design. She strongly believes in the role of NGOs in policy making and social reform.
 

 

RHODE ISLAND

 

David Oppenheimer

Lead Organizer

David Oppenheimer is a retired chef and peace activist from Providence, Rhode Island. He brings students, immigrants and peace activists together for meetings with elected officials. Moreover, he has played a key role in securing commitments from Senator Reed, the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, towards the goals of ending U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia and U.S. participation in the war in Yemen, restoring humanitarian aid to Yemen, and Congress’ passing a U.S. global COVID response.

VIRGINIA

Jan Jan Maran, whose biography is in the Policy Lead section, is the lead organizer for Virginia.

WASHINGTON STATE

 

Eva Cunha Agrawal

Lead Organizer

Eva Cunha Agrawal lives in the Seattle area where she is a supporter of Yemen Relief and Reconstruction Foundation. For the past 20 years, she along with her partner,  did --- and continue to do--- development work in central India. She is an advocate for human rights and dignity.

WASHINGTON D.C.

 

Hannah Margaret Schwarz

Lead Organizer

Hannah is an international development practitioner committed to gender equality, climate justice, and human rights.  Hannah graduated from Willamette University in Salem, Oregon, and worked in sexual reproductive health and food security while serving in the Peace Corps in Nepal.

Founding Organizers

Brennan Frazier, New York

Brian Rawson, California

Clara Herrero, California

Dawn Deransburg, Wisconsin

Desiree Thayer, California

Djeynaba Ba, Ohio

Elizabeth Norman, New York

Elizabeth Tillman, New York

Ellie Baron, New York

Fatmazohra Feknous Ouaaz, New York

Hope Berndt, Indiana

Isaac Evans-Frantz, New York

Jasmine McBeath, California

Jessica Shao, California

Kathy Chavez, New Mexico

Kenny Ruffin, Ohio

Kimberly Kiser, Indiana

Margaret Tran, New York

Megan Nakra, Illinois

Nancy Carpenter, Illinois

Nancy Romer, New York

Richenda Kramer, New York

Sapana Thomas, Massachusetts

Somia Elrowmeim, New York

Taryn Fusco, New York

Yolande Cadore, New York

Yolibeth Rangel, Wisconsin

Brittany Wilson, Georgia

Special Thanks

Action Corps would never have taken root without the tireless efforts of our founding board members --

Megan Nakra, Sapana Thomas, Elizabeth Tillman, Brittany Wilson, and Kimberly Kiser.