We are a team of grassroots organizers, political strategists, and movement educators, with decades of cumulative experience in labor unions, community organizing, electoral campaigns, issue campaigns, and creative direct action.
Julia Berkman-Hill, Field Director, Lancaster Stands Up. Julia was first politicized through the fossil fuel divestment movement, where she was a student organizer for three years and learned the importance of both leadership development and momentum. She also has held a number of roles in the anti-occupation movement IfNotNow, including launching its college organizing program. After graduating from Bowdoin College with a BA in Sociology in 2017, she moved to Lancaster, PA to work with Lancaster Stands Up and has helped to develop the organization’s electoral field program.
Eliza Booth, Community Outreach and Administrative Coordinator, Lancaster Stands Up. Eliza was inspired by the Bernie Sanders’ primary campaign to get involved in activism in her local community to affect positive change. She started out as a volunteer for Bernie Sanders’ campaign and after the general election in 2016 she got involved in Lancaster Stands Up and joined the leadership team in January 2017. She currently holds a seat on the Lancaster City Democratic Committee where she represents her home precinct. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration & Political Science from Bloomsburg University.
Jessica S. George, Operations Assistant. Jessica has an eclectic background, having worked in various offices and libraries, in retail, in publishing, in theater and film production, and as manager of her own freelance business. She’s a writer, musician, and mother of two small boys. In this critical moment of history, she is thrilled to serve Beyond the Choir in an administrative support role.
Michelle Hines, Campaigns and Communications, Lancaster Stands Up. Michelle is a former molecular biologist and biochemist who left her career in science to dedicate her life to social movement work. She has organized in her home community of Lancaster, PA, advocating for economic and racial justice. As a leader of Lancaster Stands Up, she has played a key role in campaign strategy, communications, political training, direct action, and field strategy. Her organizing work has been featured in The Nation, The Intercept, and Observador.
Alexander McCoy, Communications Strategist. Alex served for six years in the Marine Corps, including three years in Saudi Arabia, Honduras, and Germany in support of the U.S. Department of State. Following his service, he worked in communications and veteran organizing for state and national political campaigns. He helped craft the legislative strategy to successfully pass the Fairness for Veterans Act of 2016 through a gridlocked Congress. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Foreign Policy, Reuters, Huffington Post, and others, and he has been featured on MSNBC, CNN, BBC, NPR, and TEDx Mile High.
Perry O’Brien, Director of Veteran Campaigns. Perry has over ten years experience as an organizer and strategic communicator in the labor and antiwar movements. He is an Army veteran who served in Afghanistan, and was Organizing Director of CIR/SEIU, a national physicians’ union. His writing has appeared in publications like The New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, and Huffington Post, and his first novel is forthcoming from Random House.
Marisol Ocampo, Director of Partnerships. Marisol has over 15 years of experience as a popular educator and community organizer in various grassroots organizations in Mexico and the United States. Marisol has trained thousands of people on campaign strategy, base-building, leadership development, direct action, fundamentals of organizing, and movement building. She has served as the lead trainer for The Praxis Project and The School of Unity and Liberation. As an organizer, Marisol has been involved in local and national campaigns on a range of issues including education justice, immigration rights, racial justice, privatization of public resources, and environmental justice.
Jonathan Smucker, Co-founder and Executive Director. Jonathan has worked for two decades in grassroots movements for social, economic and ecological justice, as a grassroots organizer, campaigner, and strategist. He has trained thousands of change agents in campaign strategy, framing and messaging, direct action, and other skills. He also researches collective action, identity, and politicization processes as the focus of his doctoral work in the sociology department at UC Berkeley. His writing has appeared in The Guardian, The Nation, The Huffington Post, New Internationalist, VICE Magazine, The Sociological Quarterly, Berkeley Journal of Sociology, and he is the author of Hegemony How-To: A Roadmap for Radicals.
Jose Vasquez, Training Director, Veterans Organizing Institute. Jose is the former Executive Director of Iraq Veterans Against the War. He served fourteen years in the U.S. Army and was honorably discharged in 2007 as a conscientious objector. He worked as the Program Officer at the North Star Fund overseeing grantmaking to grassroots organizations in New York City and coordinating the Movement Leadership Program. He is currently pursuing a PhD in Cultural Anthropology at the CUNY Graduate Center, conducting research on militarization and the politics of veteran status in contemporary American society.
Trainers and Associates
Michelle Crentsil has worked on numerous social justice campaigns for the past decade, focusing on racial and economic justice as well as leadership development for young people of color. After six years with SEIU (training staff and worker leaders in organizing and coordinating worker-led majority actions), Michelle has recently transitioned to work with Open Philanthropy, focusing on the criminal justice reform portfolio to support campaigns taking on mass incarceration. Michelle was also a co-founder and active participant in Occupy Wall Street’s People of Color Working Group.
Anika Fassia has worked at the local, state, and national level as a policy analyst, communication strategist, and trainer since 2008. She has worked with hundreds of advocates, elected officials, students, and community organizers to advance the role of the public sector in racial justice as the former Director of Outreach at Public Works. Previously, she was part of the inaugural class of policy fellows for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Anika is also a trainer for Mothering Justice and a senior consultant for the Insight Center on Community Economic Development. In her commitment to remain grounded and connected to service delivery in her policy advocacy work, Anika completed her nursing degree in 2016 and is also a Pediatric ICU nurse.
Charon Hribar has been working with the Poverty Initiative since its founding in 2004. She currently serves as the Poor People’s Campaign Program Coordinator of the Kairos Center. Over the past 10 years, her work has focused on political education, leadership development, and the use of arts in culture for movement building with community and religious leaders across the country. Charon is a candidate for the PhD in Religion and Society at Drew University where she also serves as the coordinator of Drew University’s PREP (Partnership for Religion and Education in Prisons) Program at Northern State Prison in Newark, NJ.
Scott Roberts is an organizer and strategist with a focus on racial justice and dismantling mass incarceration. A native of Emporia, VA, he credits his passion for organizing and racial justice to his upbringing in a family that has been engaged in the local civil rights struggle in Southside Virginia for four generations. In addition to his current work on mass incarceration, Scott has worked as an organizer and strategist on electoral and issue campaigns including the 2008 Obama campaign and efforts for worker’s rights, healthcare, voting rights, educational justice, marriage equality, immigrant rights and democratic reform. In 2013, Scott co-founded Freedom Side, a national network of youth of color organizers focused on racial justice issues.
Ange Tran is a creative director and designer with over seven years’ experience working with social movements, nonprofits, and community organizations. Her expertise includes design strategy, storytelling, visual design, and brand, product, and experience design. Ange has worked with a range of groups to develop high profile campaigns, including: Not An Alternative, Strike Debt, Greenpeace International, New York Communities for Change, amongst others. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts specializing in Visual Communications from Pratt Institute.
Board of Directors
Richard Healey is Executive Director and Founder of the Grassroots Policy Project.He has served as Director of the New American Movement, and subsequently as Director of the Institute for Policy Studies and the Preamble Center. He has served as the director of the Coalition for a New Foreign and Military Policy, Nuclear Times magazine, and was a founder of the Study Circle Resource Center. Richard received his PhD in mathematics from UCLA and a Masters in Public Health from Harvard. Richard also serves on the boards of the See Forward Foundation, the Center for Social Inclusion, the Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity, the Angelina Fund, and the Commonwealth Institute.
Judith Le Blanc is the Director of the Native Organizers Alliance, a national network providing support for local organizing in Indian Country. Judith’s lifelong commitment to racial equity and social justice began during the emerging American Indian movement, in Oklahoma in the 1960s, and on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in the 1970s. She serves as the United Nations representative for the Indigenous World Association, and is an enrolled member of the Caddo Tribe of Oklahoma.
Rain Phoenix is an activist/actress/musician and the Lifestyle editor for Origin Magazine. Rain has worked with numerous fellow artists and musicians to support social change efforts, including a collaboration with Beyond the Choir to organize musicians in support of the Bernie Sanders 2016 campaign.