Speakers and Moderators
Kenneth An, Director, EEOC, Boston Area Office
Kenneth An is the Director of the Boston Area Office of the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). At the EEOC, Kenneth conducts training for new investigators for field offices on topics that include: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender rights; the Genetic Non-Discrimination Information Act; Fact-Finding Conferences; Pre-Determination Interviews; and, Human Trafficking. Kenneth has received awards for his professional and personal accomplishments, including Outstanding Achievement Awards from the Federal Asian Pacific American Coalition; EEOC District Director’s Awards; EEOC Chair’s Organizational/Core Awards; and, Unsung Hero Award from the National Organization of Chinese-Americans. Kenneth received his bachelor’s degree from Boston University and a Jurist doctorate from Suffolk University Law School.
Mary Belen-Bower, Associate Executive Director, Greenroots
Growing up in a bicultural family in Nicaragua, the second poorest country in the western hemisphere in the aftermath of a revolution, coupled with her work as an organizer in migrant communities has informed her understanding of social justice and the need for systemic change. Maria Belen brings over 15 years of experience in organizing with undocumented immigrants, day laborers, and public housing tenants. This experience has deepened her understanding of economic, social and environmental issues.
Maria Belen oversees GreenRoots’ environmental justice campaigns and supports the work of the organizing team. She represents GreenRoots in the Green Justice Coalition of the Greater Boston Area as well as national movements for environmental and climate justice. Maria Belen was awarded the Neighborhood Fellowship and completed her Masters Degree in Public Policy at Tufts University’s Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning Department. Prior to that, she successfully completed a yearlong certificate program in Nonprofit Management and Leadership with the Institute for Non-profit Management and Leadership at Boston University. Maria Belen serves on the Board of Directors of the Student Immigrant Movement.
Nicole Bell, Founder and CEO, Living in Freedom Together
Nicole Bell is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Living in Freedom Together, Inc. (LIFT), a survivor-led, non-profit working to end prostitution and provide viable pathways out of the sex trade. Ms. Bell’s organization runs several programs addressing the ending of systems of prostitution and promoting recovery from trauma, substance use disorder and mental health disorder. Under Ms. Bell’s leadership LIFT opened Jana's Place, the first recovery home for women exiting prostitution with co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders in the nation, as well as HARBOR (Healthcare, Advocacy, Room Board, Outreach and Rehousing) a zero barrier access shelter for survivors of prostitution and sex trafficking, and created the CATI (Creating Alternatives To Incarceration) Program a pre-arraignment diversion program in partnership with the Worcester DA’s Office. She has written trauma-informed curriculum and has created survivor mentoring programs for youth and adult survivors of systems of prostitution. and leads policy and advocacy work to effect social change at the local, state, and national level. Ms. Bell presents both nationally and internationally on the importance of ending all systems of prostitution through the promotion of the Equality Model, which incorporates social change with legislative action, and increased funding for implementing resources and service to assist survivors of the sex trade in exiting prostitution.
Ms. Bell has received recognition for her work with this underserved and marginalized population including Worcester Magazine’s Hometown Hero, Advocate of the Year 2016 WAASE, and Worcester Woman of Consequence 2016, Worcester's Most Inspirational Women for 2019, was named one of Worcester Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 Class of 2019, and awarded a 2020 Outstanding Law Enforcement Award from US Attorney Andrew E Lelling for her commitment to violent crime prevention and intervention.. Ms. Bell sat on the Executive Council for World Without Exploitation and was appointed to The Executive Office of Public Safety's Justice Involved Women's committee.
Meris Bergquist, Executive Director, Massachusetts Fair Housing Center
Meris Bergquist is an attorney and Executive Director of the Massachusetts Fair Housing Center, the oldest fair housing organization in Massachusetts. She specializes in the representation of victims of housing discrimination before administrative agencies and federal and state courts. In 2005, Ms. Bergquist prevailed in a landmark Fair Housing Act case expanding fair housing rights for female victims of domestic violence. She is a frequent guest lecturer at area colleges and the Western New England University School of Law. She has written articles on fair housing issues, including a 2018 law review article, “How the Massachusetts Lead Poisoning Prevention and Control Act Codifies Systemic Discrimination Against Families with Children in Violation of the Federal Fair Housing Act.” In 2011, she received the Paul F. Batch, Jr. award from the Stavros Center for exemplary service to Deaf individuals, and in 2018 she received the Drum Major Award for the Advancement of Civil Rights in Massachusetts.
Erin Boggs, Executive Director, Open Communities Alliance
Erin Boggs has worked on issues of equity, particularly in the context of housing, for almost 20 years. After dedicating six years to a range of fair housing issues, such as the foreclosure crisis, the housing challenges faced by people with disabilities, and housing discrimination based on a range of characteristics such as the presence of children, the use of government housing subsidies, and race and ethnicity, Ms. Boggs recognized the need for an organization specifically focused on the intersection of inequality and geography.
Prior to joining the Alliance, Ms. Boggs served in a range of roles including as Deputy Director of the Connecticut Fair Housing Center. While at the Center she spearheaded the organization’s work on opportunity and race. Ms. Boggs also worked for the CT American Civil Liberties Union as a Staff Attorney and Interim Legal Director and practiced law with a national antitrust firm. Ms. Boggs worked at the Harrison Institute for Public Law at Georgetown University Law School and at the Center for National Policy, both in Washington, D.C.
Ms. Boggs has extensive fundraising experience, successfully obtaining funding from national and local foundations as well as state and federal funding sources. She served as a member of a group convened by the Ford Foundation to explore innovative approaches to sustainable development and housing integration. Ms. Boggs has also participated as a fair housing advisor in two Sustainable Community Initiative grants in the Connecticut region.
These interagency collaborative federal grants are an effort to bring together considerations of sustainable and equitable growth to foster better regional planning. Ms. Boggs has been involved in the production of a range of publications including those addressing zoning, opportunity, equity, and affirmatively furthering fair housing. She made substantial contributions to the Connecticut Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice. Ms. Boggs is a graduate of Wesleyan University and Georgetown University School of Law. A native of Washington, D.C., Ms. Boggs attended the D.C. Public Schools.
Stacey Borden, M. Ed., Executive Director, New Beginnings Reentry Services
Stacey Borden, M.Ed., LADC l, Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling with a Concentration in Addictions and Trauma. She is Founder and President of New Beginnings Reentry Services, Inc. Stacey is an author, performance artist, motivational speaker and an activist. She has been on several panel discussions about the criminal justice system and on how the prison system and mass incarceration has impacted women and families of color. Stacey has also been a guest lecturer at Berklee College of Music and her story inspired students to do their final project on mass incarceration. Stacey is a proponent of Drama Therapy with an empathetic value in the individual suffering from trauma and addictions. She is currently a Board member with OWLL (On With Living and Learning) Productions, a non-profit organization. OWLL works with formerly incarcerated women in dynamic workshops that incorporate reading, writing, storytelling and active listening to build imperative life and job skills. Through storytelling, they work through challenging pasts, creating art that is healing for the individual, while building self-esteem and developing skills that will enable successful reentry to society. Also, Board Member with Families for Justice as Healing, an organization by and for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women and girls and women with loved ones who are locked up. We are working to end the incarceration of women. Stacey Borden, formerly incarcerated is a member of The National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls and a member of the NAADAC (The Association for Addiction Professionals).
Eric Carlson, Directing Attorney, Justice in Aging
Eric has broad experience in many forms of long-term services and supports (LTSS), including home and community-based services, nursing facility care, and assisted living facilities. He led Justice in Aging’s extensive research (funded through The Commonwealth Fund) on Medicaid-funded assisted living and currently is leading a project to assist consumer advocacy on Medicaid managed LTSS in Florida and New Jersey. He counsels attorneys from across the country and co-counsels litigation on consumers’ behalf. Mr. Carlson serves as President of the national Assisted Living Consumer Alliance and is author of the legal treatise Long-Term Care Advocacy (Matthew Bender and Co.).
Nadine Cohen, Managing Attorney, Consumer Rights Unit, Greater Boston Legal Services
Michael J. Doherty, Clerk Magistrate, Western Division Housing Court
Alex J. Grant, Assistant U.S. Attorney and Coordinator, Western Massachusetts Human Trafficking Working Group
Alex J. Grant is an Assistant U.S. Attorney and a coordinator of the Western Massachusetts Human Trafficking Working Group. He has been with the U.S. Department of Justice since 1999, starting in Washington, DC where he prosecuted sex trafficking cases as part of the groundbreaking Innocence Lost initiative during the early 2000s. Mr. Grant has been with the Springfield Branch Office since 2006.
Toby Edelman, Senior Policy Attorney, Center for Medicare Advocacy
Toby S. Edelman has been representing older people in long-term care facilities since 1977. As a Senior Policy Attorney with the Center for Medicare Advocacy since January 2000, Ms. Edelman provides training, research, policy analysis, consultation, and litigation support relating to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. Under two grants from the Commonwealth Fund, she evaluated the federal nursing home survey and enforcement system and its impact on state activities and provided technical assistance to states on effective enforcement practices. In cooperation with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, she recently completed a Commonwealth Fund project to evaluate seven states' deficiency citations for misuse of antipsychotic drugs. Since September 1999, she has written a monthly newsletter on nursing home enforcement issues. Ms. Edelman was the lead attorney for a statewide class of nursing facility residents who successfully challenged the state of California's refusal to implement the federal Nursing Home Reform Law (Valdivia v. California Department of Health Services, Civ. No. S-90-1226 EJG (E.D. Calif. 1993). As a beneficiary representative, Ms. Edelman has testified before Congress and served on federal task forces, technical expert panels, and working groups on nursing home issues. Ms. Edelman received a B.A., Magna cum Laude, from Barnard College (1968), an Ed.M. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education (1969), and a J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center (1974). Ms. Edelman is a member of the Washington, DC Bar.
H. John Fisher
In various ways, John Fisher has been involved with fair housing and civil rights issues for more than fifty years. John directs the Fair Housing Information Program at Way Finders, and has worked in the nonprofit housing sector in various positions on and off since the 1980s. He is the author of Property Management for Massachusetts Rental Owners, now in its sixth edition, as well as many other articles and publications on landlord and tenant issues. John also serves as a private consultant, working with tenants, landlords, and community-based organizations, as well as teaching a property management workshop which is offered throughout the state. He is, himself, a landlord.
In addition to housing issues, John also consults and writes about applied neuroscience technology. He is Managing Director for the Foundation for Neurofeedback and Applied Neuroscience.
Upon graduation, Professor Freeman clerked for Federal District Judge Michael A. Ponsor (D. MA). He was an associate at Lesser, Newman, Souweine and Nasser, in Northampton, MA, where he litigated employment, civil rights, and personal injury claims and was Of-Counsel with Attorney Wendy Sibbison focusing on appellate litigation. For 10 years, he was a Visiting Professor at the Labor Relations and Research Center, University of Massachusetts, teaching labor and employment law. In 2009, Governor Deval Patrick appointed Professor Freeman to the Commonwealth Employment Relations Board, an appellate agency body that oversees public sector labor relations in Massachusetts. Professor Freeman’s writings appear in the Employee Rights and Employment Policy Journal and Working USA: A Journal of Labor and Society. He sits on the editorial board of Working USA and The Second Draft, a publication of the Legal Writing Institute, and is a cooperating attorney for the ACLU of Massachusetts. Professor Freeman joined the law school’s faculty in 1999.
Arlene Germain, Policy Director and Co-Founder of the Massachusetts Advocates for Nursing Home Reform
MANHR, founded in 2000 by grassroots volunteers, is the only statewide consumer group advocating for improvements in the care, dignity, and quality of life for MA nursing home residents. Under her leadership as President from 2004 – 2019, Arlene greatly expanded the scope of MANHR’s advocacy from mentoring family-run councils to advocating for public policies and promoting best care practices to improve the care and lives of nursing home residents. In 2019, Arlene was honored to receive the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care’s lifetime achievement Elma Holder Founder’s Award, and in 2013, their Janet Tulloch Award for her dedication to nursing home resident advocacy. In 2016, the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys-MA Chapter selected Arlene for their Arthur Stavisky Award for promoting elder causes in the community. Arlene retired as Controller of a prestigious venture capital firm in 2011 to devote herself full-time to MANHR. The many injustices to nursing home residents and Arlene’s care experiences with loved ones over the past 20 years are the driving force behind her passionate advocacy efforts.
Sam Giffin, MA, Policy and Data Analyst
Sam Giffin has a master's degree in city planning from UC Berkeley, where he focused on affordable housing, community development and analytical research methods. As a grad student, Sam worked for the Terner Center for Housing Innovation, conducting research on San Francisco's largest public housing redevelopment initiative, HOPE SF, which is the subject of his master's thesis. He also served as a teaching assistant in courses on planning research methods and global economic history. Prior to grad school Sam worked in homelessness services in San Francisco and before that managed several farmers markets in his home "state" of Washington, D.C. He received a bachelor's degree in public policy analysis from UNC - Chapel Hill and graduated from the D.C. public school system.
Katrina Grider, Associate Director – Curriculum, Training and Education, Revolving Funds Division, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Washington, DC
Ms. Grider directs and oversees the development, content, and delivery of the EEOC’s fee-based training and education programs for public and private sector employers; manages training activities provided by the EEOC Training Institute; and establishes and maintains relationships with internal and external stakeholders to identify training needs and develop appropriate training and education to meet such needs.
Ms. Grider’s passion and inspiration for training comes from her deep reservoir of experience and insights. For the past 35 years, she has been doing training, litigating labor and employment law cases before federal and state courts, and administrative agencies; counseling clients on general employment law issues, personnel policies, best practices, and diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) training initiatives; and conducting internal investigations. Her training philosophy is a core component of her development of an overall EEOC educational strategy for the EEOC's Training Institute that is based upon the EEOC's mission, priorities, and strategic plan. Ms. Grider is Board Certified in Labor and Employment, Texas Board of Legal Specialization.
Rahsaan Hall, Director, Racial Justice Program, ACLU of Massachusetts
Rahsaan Hall is the Director of the Racial Justice Program for the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts. In this role Rahsaan helps develop the ACLU of Massachusetts’ integrated advocacy approach to address racial justice issues. Through legislative advocacy, litigation and community engagement, the program works on issues that deeply impact communities of color and historically disenfranchised communities. Rahsaan also manages the ACLU of Massachusetts' What a Difference a DA Makes campaign to educate state residents about the power and influence of district attorneys.
Prior to joining the ACLU of Massachusetts, Rahsaan was the Deputy Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice where his work included policy and legislative advocacy, community outreach, and maintaining a litigation caseload of voting rights, police misconduct and public accommodations cases. Rahsaan headed up the Voting Rights Project that included the coordination of the statewide Election Protection initiatives, voting rights litigation and his prior involvement in community coalitions on redistricting after the last decennial census.
He also served as an Assistant District Attorney for the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office. A significant portion of his work in the DA’s Office included his time in the Safe Neighborhood Initiative and Senior Trial Units where he prosecuted drug, gang, and homicide cases.
In addition to leading the ACLU of Massachusetts’ Racial Justice Program, he also serves on the Hyams Foundation’s board of trustees and is a member of the Massachusetts IOLTA Committee.
Rahsaan is admitted to practice in Massachusetts and the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts. He is a graduate of The Ohio State University (B.A.), Northeastern University School of Law (J.D.) and Andover Newton Theological School (M.Div.). He is an ordained reverend in the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
David Harris, Executive Director of Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice
Taniqua Huguley, Outreach Director, Open Communities Alliance
Taniqua Huguley joined OCA as Outreach Director after completing a Fulbright Fellowship focusing on girls in the criminal justice system in Trinidad and Tobago. A native of New York City, Taniqua also has deep roots in Connecticut as the result of her time as an undergraduate, graduate student, and employee at Trinity College, where she completed a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and a Master of Arts in Public Policy. While studying at Trinity, Taniqua advised students, advanced multicultural recruitment initiatives, and participated in alumni relations. While working as a TRINsition Fellow in Trinity’s Office of the Dean of Students, Taniqua launched the Bantam Network to assist first-year students with their social and academic transition to college. For the last seven years she has coordinated and promoted events for the networking company Small Business Night Out (SBNO). Her experience also includes campaign organizing and work with the New York City Housing Authority. Taniqua serves as a governance board member for NaNa's Youth Learning Academy (NYLA) in New York City and Ida B. Wells Senior Apartments in Hartford.
Dr. Tiffany Manuel, President and CEO, TheCaseMade
Dr. Tiffany Manuel. DrT (as she prefers to be called) is a dynamic speaker, best-selling author and the President and CEO of TheCaseMade, an organization dedicated to helping leaders powerfully and intentionally make the case for systems change. In her role at TheCaseMade, DrT works with hundreds of passionate social changemakers, innovators and adaptive leaders around the United States who are building better, stronger communities that are diverse, equitable and inclusive. By aligning their community stakeholders around the kind of deep systems changes that can improve population outcomes, these leaders are able to grow their impact, scale their programs, and harness the investments they need to improve their communities.
Marvin Martin, Executive Director, Action for Equity
Lauryn Myers, Victim/Witness Specialist, U.S. Department of Justice
Lauryn is the Victim/Witness Specialist within the United States Attorney’s Office who handles all crimes involving child exploitation throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and all human trafficking cases in the Springfield region. With a degree in psychology with an emphasis in forensics and her experiences within the field since 2015, she has helped hundreds of victims through criminal prosecutions in state and federal jurisdictions. Lauryn is an active team member of Project Safe Childhood and Human Trafficking task forces throughout the Commonwealth.
Henry Oostrom-Shah, Student, Boston University School of Law
Henry is a first-year student at Boston University School of Law. Before law school, he worked as a reentry policy advocate at the Shriver Center on Poverty Law in Chicago. Here in Massachusetts, Henry participates in the Hampden County Advisory Committee on Age-Friendly CORIs & Fair Housing; the Building Up People, Not Prisons Coalition; and the Community Engagement Committee of the Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Henry and his former colleagues just published a white paper titled, "Screened Out: How Tenant Screening Reports Undermine Fair Housing Laws and Deprive Tenants of Equal Access to Housing in Illinois.
Sofia Owen, Staff Attorney, Alternatives for Communities and Environment
Sofía is ACE’s Staff Attorney. She works with ACE staff to ensure that the legal rights of people of color and low income residents are protected. She also provides systematic legislative and regulatory advocacy on behalf of environmental justice communities at the municipal and state level. Sofia comes to ACE from Toxics Action Center, where she provided organizing assistance to community groups in Eastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island and built power to address environmental racism, settler colonialism, and other systemic barriers that disproportionately affect communities on the front lines of pollution. Previously, Sofia worked as a Trial Attorney for the Committee for Public Counsel Services. She has a J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law, a Masters in Environmental Law and Policy from Vermont Law School, and a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania. When not at work, Sofia organizes with the Deeper Than Water coalition and volunteers with the Boston chapter of Black & Pink. She enjoys practicing yoga and watching soccer, particularly the US Women’s National Team and the Uruguayan national teams.
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Fair Housing & Civil Rights Conference
Lauren Sampson, Staff Attorney, Lawyers for Civil Rights
Lauren Sampson is a Staff Attorney with Lawyers for Civil Rights, an impact litigation, racial justice nonprofit headquartered in Boston. Lauren advances LCR’s life-changing and law-changing work through litigation, policy advocacy, and community education. Lauren is currently litigating Massachusetts Fair Housing Center v. HUD, the first lawsuit nationally challenging the Trump Administration’s attempt to gut the disparate impact protections of the Fair Housing Act. In 2020, she secured a landmark nationwide preliminary injunction blocking the Trump Administration from implementing changes to the Fair Housing Act. Recently, she also successfully litigated Mussotte v. Peyser, a groundbreaking challenge to Massachusetts’ school funding formula on behalf of children of color and low-income children. Her cutting-edge work is regularly featured in publications such as the New York Times. Lauren coordinates LCR’s Racial Justice & Climate Project, a new practice area focusing on climate resilience and environmental justice in low-income communities of color and immigrant communities. Under her leadership, the initiative recently filed a major federal lawsuit against the EPA for failing to investigate and address national origin discrimination — along with a series of high-profile language access complaints against proposed environmentally-sensitive projects in Boston. Lauren currently serves as the Vice Chair of the Board of Directors of Boston CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), which advocates on behalf of court-involved children, and on the Board of Directors for the Welcome Project, a community-based immigrants’ rights organization. She also serves on the Steering Committee for the Climate Adaptation Forum and the Advisory Board of Alternatives for Community & Environment’s (ACE) environmental justice legal services program. Lauren is a magna cum laude graduate of Duke University School of Law, where she was elected to the Order of the Coif, and served as the editor-in-chief of the Duke Journal of Gender Law and Policy. She also holds a Master’s degree in English Literature from Duke. She is a member of the bars of New York and Massachusetts.