La Convivencia's 2nd Annual Social Justice & Interfaith Leadership Conference
Bring your family for an enlightening experience at La Convivencia’s annual “Together We Rise” Conference. Leading activists, educators, clergy, police, professors, elected officials and nonprofit leaders from our community will join us to offer workshops in activism, bias, diversity, social justice, empathy, and empowerment. A keynote panel will energize us to learn from those who are taking action now and there will be opportunities to network with other concerned citizens. Plus, a Youth Workshop for tweens and teens. You will leave informed, connected and inspired!
SPECIAL GUEST SPEAKER Rachel Wainer Apter, Director of the NJ Division on Civil Rights
Rachel Wainer Apter became the Director of the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights on October 15, 2018. She previously served as Counsel to the Attorney General, advising on civil rights and immigration matters and leading the New Jersey team that defeated a preliminary injunction motion by Texas and seven other states to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Prior to joining the Attorney General’s Office, Rachel worked at the American Civil Liberties Union on cases concerning the right to be free from discrimination, reproductive freedom, voting rights, and other federal constitutional questions. She served as counsel inMasterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which considered whether a baker who refused to sell a wedding cake to a same-sex couple on religious grounds was exempt from Colorado’s anti-discrimination laws. Rachel also argued and won a disability discrimination appeal and led a task force regarding investigations of sexual harassment and sexual assault on college campuses. Prior to the ACLU, Rachel worked in the Supreme Court and Appellate practice at Orrick, Herrington and Sutcliffe, where she briefed and argued cases in federal and state courts. She was also a leader of the firm-wide Women’s Initiative. Rachel, who grew up in Rockaway, New Jersey, graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and received her law degree from Harvard Law School. After law school, Rachel served as a law clerk for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the United States Supreme Court, Judge Robert Katzmann on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and Judge Jed Rakoff on the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. Rachel lives in Englewood with her husband and three children.
Dr. Jonathan Golden is Director of the Center on Religion, Culture and Conflict at Drew University, an interdisciplinary center focused on global peacebuilding and interfaith leadership. http://www.drew.edu/crcc/ He also directs the program in Conflict Resolution and Leadership at Drew. Golden, who won the Thomas Kean Scholar/Mentor Award (2016), is Assistant Professor of Comparative Religion and Anthropology at Drew where he has served since 2000. Golden has a B.A. from Brandeis University and a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania. He teaches courses on interfaith leadership, peace and conflict studies, and the Middle East. Golden is author of two books and numerous articles and is currently working on a third book based on interviews with ex-combatants and victims of conflict that become peace activists. He holds several certificates in conflict resolution and works closely with interfaith and peace organizations in NJ and around the world. Golden lives in Florham Park, NJ with his wife, Priscilla and daughter, Lyla.
Reverend Andrew Wilkes has built his career on community development, civic action, and economic justice. As principal of Wilkes Advocacy Group, he has been actively involved with the Double Love Experience in Brooklyn and Greater Allen AME Cathedral of New York, where he served on the pastoral staff. In 2015, he became executive director of the Drum Major Institute (DMI), an organization founded by Dr. Martin Luther King . Rev. Wilkes focuses on economic justice, dismantling structural racism, and advancing civil rights. Among Wilkes’ many accomplishments is the establishment of the Beloved Community Initiative, a national resource on spirituality and social justice for faith communities. He is also responsible for the relaunch of the Marketplace of Ideas Forum, which promotes progressive policy ideas. He currently serves on the board for the New York State Labor-Religion Coalition. Wilkes was a faith & community relations associate at Habitat for Humanity. A PhD candidate in political science, Rev. Wilkes teaches courses in public policy. He is a public speaker and writer for such media outlets as The Guardian, The Huffington Post, and Sojourners Magazine. He promotes the well-being of black women and girls through liturgy, policy options, public action, and digital engagement.
Suzy Ismail is the founder and director of Cornerstone. A nonprofit, international faith-based communication center, Cornerstone focuses on providing women with empowerment and education and also helps youth and families strengthen their relationships. Suzy previously taught for more than a decade in the Communication departments of Rutgers and DeVry universities and served for many years as a student advisor and board member of a local private school. She has written many books, including Modern Muslim Marriage, 9 to 5, and When Muslim Marriage Fails. At Cornerstone, Suzy presents a range of workshops, lectures, and programs both nationally and internationally. She is often featured on talk shows, radio and television broadcasts, and podcasts regarding her work. She has presented on the topic of marriage and family at numerous universities around the world and at the World Meeting of Families during Pope Francis’s first visit to the United States. She has traveled to Syria to work with refugee women, families, and orphans and continues her work with the International Rescue Committee. She has served as an executive officer and director on several nonprofit boards, commissions, and organizations. Suzy’s humanitarian work has garnered her numerous awards, including the Visionary Muslim Award and being named an Ambassador for Peace. She is currently a doctoral candidate in Marriage and Family Intervention and resides in Princeton with her husband and three children.
Since 1965, Bob Harris has been active in movements that promote peace, justice, and the unification of people and communities. He has worked with organizations in 15 countries to empower youth leadership, advance the role of women in society, and connect the efforts of faith communities to collaborate and build friendships with the goal of serving the underserved. With careers in journalism and local healthcare access, Bob has focused on “service” as the ethic that drives community action and progress. Service to others becomes a true joy when it is energized by the unshakable belief that the human race is “one family.” Bob has collaborated with Baha’i communities in the Americas since 1975 as a volunteer advisor, promoting community development, the education of children and youth, and exploring the positive force that friendships that transcend all boundaries can exert. Since he retired one year ago, he has never been busier.
Keynote Panel Moderators
Barbara Ingram-Edmonds has spent over twenty-five years working for District Council 37. She has worked in various capacities supporting trade union, human rights and working people’s issues. Ms. Edmonds is currently the Director of Field Operations. In this position, Ms. Ingram-Edmonds oversees the six divisions and Safety and Health Department which provide the day to day servicing and representation of members employed by New York City government, libraries and cultural. She also oversees the internal organizing and coordination on a range of issues impacting the membership with labor unions, community organizations and political allies. She is the coordinator for the health care initiative involving the unions that make up the workforce of 30,000 union represented employees of the NYC Health & Hospitals Corporation called the Health Care Education Activist TEAM (HEAT). Ms. Edmonds has a bachelor of science degree from Cornell University and a Juris Doctorate from New York Law School. She is married and has three children who have all attended the WW-P School District. She has lived in the school district for over a decade and is active in the African-American Parent Support Group and a number of community and civic organizations.
The Rev. Cornell Edmonds is the interim pastor of the Church of the Covenant, a Presbyterian congregation in New York City. Cornell earned a B.S. degree in developmental psychology from Cornell University and a J.D. degree from New York Law School and an M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary. Prior to entering ordained ministry Cornell practiced law in New York and New Jersey, served as chief of staff for a New York state legislator, was a staff attorney for the Legal Aid Society, and an adjunct professor at Nassau Community College. In ministry Cornell has served in the Presbytery of New York City as the Interim Associate Executive Presbyter, Interim Coordinator for Disaster Relief, and Stated Clerk. Cornell has been active in a variety of civic and community activities, including the New York State Guard, the Jarvie Commonweal, Presbyterian Senior Services, the former Bronx Legal Services, the New York Metropolitan Martin Luther King Center for Nonviolence, the Cooperative Committee on Examinations of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.); the Eastside Clergy in Midtown Manhattan and “ARK” (Architects-Relationships-Knowledge) a global interfaith peacemaking organization. His service has earned him various awards, honors, citations and decorations including: New York State Commendation Medal; the New York Guard Commendation Medal; the Abraham Heschel-Martin Luther King, Jr. Award for Interfaith Social Witness; the Samuel L. Blizzard Award for Social Ministry from Princeton Theological Seminary; and investiture into the Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem as a Knight Commandeur. Cornell has been the featured in Parade Magazine, Inspire Magazine, Positive Community Magazine and other publications. Throughout his life and career Cornell has been passionate about faith, family, social justice, community engagement and peacemaking.
Workshops and Presenters
Taking a Step Forward for the Community; A Conversation on Sparking Dialogue as Youth (Recommended for youth)
In this session, youth will work on some key skills in order to serve their community. Youth will learn to craft questions and answers and apply them in activities. There will also be a part about facilitating youth discussions and making the right decisions in order to keep flow. Youth will also participate in a variety of activities that will incentivize them to take risks in order to learn something more about their fellow peers. In addition, we will talk about unspeakable truth, youth for change, and how youth can play a role to bring a positive change in their communities.
Presenters:Bilal Sultan and Jack Tironi
Bilal Sultan is the co-founder and co-president of the La Convivencia youth board. He is a sophomore at WW-P High School North. From a young age, he has had a tremendous passion for social justice. As a co-founder of La Convivencia he wants to develop better relationships between people of different ethnicities and religions and resolve serious issues in our community and throughout the world. He is driven by his sense of responsibility of making the world a better place. His primary goal is to advocate for social issues, give back to community in every way that he can, and empower the youth to realize that their age should not limit the effect of their voice. When he isn't helping his community, you'll can find him participating in extracurricular activities such as Model Congress, Future Problem Solving, Business Club, volunteering at TASK, and spending time with his family, reading a book, or watching Shark Tank.
Jack Tironi is a New Jersey native and a sophomore undergraduate student at Drew University. His primary studies are sociology and religion in the Bachelor of Arts program, and he plans to eventually attend Drew’s Theological School for a Masters in Divinity. He hopes to utilize these studies in a future career of ordained ministry in the Christian United Methodist denomination. Since coming to Drew he has become a core member of the Center for Religion, Culture and Conflict, and works with other Drew students to promote a diverse campus with interfaith connections and community-building for people of all backgrounds.
Building Greater Understanding about Native American History
Through learning the greater historical context, the impact of that historical legacy, and the challenges that NJ Natives currently face, citizens will gain greater understanding and empathy for North America's original residents while also fostering awareness of ways to decolonize ourselves.
Presenter, Arla Patch
Arla Patch is a teaching artist, author, and social justice activist. Originally from Bucks County, Pa., she spent 30 years in Maine, where she became involved in the Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission. This commission represents the first effort in the country to address what happened to Native American children in the child welfare system. Her role as community engagement coordinator for Maine Wabanaki REACH (Reconciliation, Engagement, Advocacy, Change, and Healing) created opportunities for educating the non-Native Maine population about the need for the truth commission. Since returning to Pennsylvania, she has partnered with the Kidsbridge Tolerance Center in Ewing, N.J., to create a Native American History in NJ educational program through a grant from the New Jersey Council for the Humanities. It was developed in concert with tribal leaders from New Jersey, with Pastor John Norwood,( Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape), as her primary consultant. As an educator, Arla has spent her career using art as a tool for healing and has worked with incarcerated women and youth, at-risk teen girls in a therapeutic boarding school; and with survivors of breast cancer, sexual abuse, domestic violence, and addictive illness. www.arlapatch.com
21st Century Policing
How local police departments have changed the law enforcement landscape by utilizing social media and technology to connect with the local community and their families around the world.
Presenters:Chief Robert Garofalo (WWPD) and Chief Robert Nicholas (PPD)
Chief Robert Garofalo is a 28-year veteran of the West Windsor Police Department. He has a master’s in Criminal Justice and is a doctoral candidate. He is also an adjunct professor at Mercer County College and has lectured in West Windsor and across the state to schools and parent groups on Internet safety and cyber violence. Robert Garofalo has presented at the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences in Washington, D.C., and the highly regarded Eastern Analytical Symposium. He developed and deployed Operation Lighthouse, an extension of the police department to reach residents through social media. In 2014, Robert was declared an expert in computer forensics by the N.J. Superior Court. He is a recipient of his department’s Meritorious Service Award and earned the New Jersey Chiefs Association ACE Certification for Accreditation of Command Executives and Excellence in Policing. He is also the recipient of the Honor Award fromN.J. Public Safety Accreditation Coalition.
Chief Nicholas Sutter has served as Chief of Police with the Princeton Police Department since 2014. He served as the Officer In-Charge of the department during 2013. Prior to his service with the Princeton Police Department, he served 18 years with the Princeton Borough Police Department. Chief Sutter has served in and supervised every command of the department including Patrol Officer in the Patrol Bureau and Community Policing Bureau, Patrol Sergeant, Detective Sergeant, Patrol Lieutenant, Detective Lieutenant and Captain. Chief Sutter is a graduate of the West Point Command and Leadership Program as well as a graduate of the 231st session of the Federal Bureau of Investigation National Academy. He is a member of the New Jersey Chapter of the FBI National Academy Associates, the New Jersey State Chiefs of Police Association, the International Association of Chiefs of Police as well as the New Jersey Honor Legion. He holds a B.A. in Economics and a B.S. in Finance from Kean University and has pursued graduate level degrees at the University of Virginia and Fairleigh Dickinson University. Chief Sutter holds certifications in numerous law enforcement related disciplines including major case management and incident command and holds instructor level certifications in firearms and special weapons, physical fitness and the prevention of domestic violence. Chief Sutter is a native of Hillsborough Township and currently resides in Lawrenceville with his wife and three sons.
"Cultivating a Faith that Shapes our Understanding of Social Justice" From Poor People's Campaign to Criminal Justice Reform and Immigrant/Refugee Resettlement.
And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Come and meet some of the leading social justice voices in the New Jersey and in the nation as they share how their faith guides and gives them strength to fight for justice. In this plenary session, we will be discussing the impact that faith groups have in social justice movements such as the Poor People's Campaign, Prison Reform and Immigrant Rights. You will learn ways in which you and your faith tradition can organize for advocacy and how to engage with government officials to enact public policy improvements. This will also be a great opportunity to learn more about The Poor People's Campaign, Salvation and Social Justice, The New Jersey Prophetic Agenda, and Faith in New Jersey.
Presenters: Rev. Dr. Charles F. Boyer, Rev. Robin Tanner, Rev. Sammy Arroyo, Rev. Eric Dobson, Jorge Torres
TheRev. Dr. Charles Franklin Boyer is the pastor of Bethel AME Church in Woodbury, N.J.; and founder of Salvation and Social Justice. He is also the co-convener of The N.J. Black Multi-Faith Alliance, the N.J. Prophetic Agenda, and the United Black Agenda. He holds a B.S. and a Master’s in Business Administration from Franklin University and holds a Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry from Payne Theological Seminary. Rev. Boyer has led successful campaigns to have the AME Church formally recognize mass incarceration as a major priority. He co-authored The Covenant Project to Eradicate Mass Incarceration an AME Strategic Response to Mass incarceration. He has represented the Social Action Commission of the AME Church in the U.S. Senate regarding solitary confinement, and in the House of Representatives, regarding gun violence. Rev. Boyer led the campaign in New Jersey to require racial impact statement legislation to counter racial disparities in criminal justice laws and practices. He is a leading prophetic voice in the campaign to abolish the War on Drugs and the criminalization of black people.
Reverend Robin Tanner is the Minister of Worship and Outreach at Beacon Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Summit, NJ. She is a founding partner in Launchpad, a learning collective powering progressive faith communities. Rev. Tanner has a M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School and is pursuing a Doctorate in Ministry at the Pacific School of Religion. She organizes with Repairers of the Breach and co-convenes the NJ Prophetic Agenda.
LatinX Faith Outreach Coordinator Rev. Sammy Arroyo grew up in Puerto Rico and received a B.A. in education from the University of Puerto Rico. Sammy received his M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary in 2009 and is currently working on his doctoral dissertation in Christian thought at the Interamerican University in Puerto Rico. There, he studies the first stages of the development of an anti-African slave theology in the Caribbean during the 16th and 17th centuries. By analyzing sermons, letters, books, and Inquisition trials, Sammy investigates leading historical figures who opposed African slavery. Sammy serves as part of The United Methodist Church of GNJ Board of Church and Society and is part of the Immigration Task Force for the same denomination's conference. Last spring, he co-chaired the Faith Communities Outreach Committee of the Poor People's Campaign in New Jersey. Sammy advocates for society’s oppressed and has been speaking at rallies and conferences throughout New Jersey, promoting immigrant rights and opposing family separations, both at the border and the interior of the country. One of Sammy's goals is to help faith leaders formulate a social moral argument for the poor and oppressed in their communities.
The Rev. Eric Dobson is outreach coordinator for Fair Share Housing Center. The Center’s mission: End discriminatory housing patterns. Such patterns have deprived the poor—particularly those in inner cities—of the opportunity to reside in safe, decent, sanitary environment close to school and work. Eric is a community organizer, outreach specialist, and social entrepreneur. He has extensive experience working with diverse audiences and communities and specializes in interfaith outreach. He is cofounder of Open Communities LLC, a racial integration consultancy firm that works to resolve simple and complex conflicts involving race, ethnicity, and socio- economics. In 2006 Eric was recognized by the Camden County Board of Chosen Freeholders with the highly regarded Community Service Award. He received the Champion of Diversity Award from the Courier Post South Jersey in 2007. He founded a nonprofit focused on youth development and education called Planting Seeds of Hope. In 2008, he joined the Organizing for America staff to serve as the Pennsylvania black clergy outreach director for the Obama campaign.
Jorge Torres was born in Quito, Ecuador, where he had his first experience seeing inequality, particularly in the way indigenous people were treated. He came to the United States at the age of 16 with his parents, and has lived here for 17 years. He lived undocumented for 9 years of his life, during which he learned about the frustration of lacking access to school, work, and travel. He began to organize with Unidad Latina en Acción in New Haven CT, a community organization that works against wage-theft, provides educational and leadership opportunities, and community empowerment. He founded Unidad Latina en Acción in New Jersey, an organization that empowers the community against the deportation machine. For over 10 years Torres has worked hand in hand with families at risk of deportation. In 2012, he was part of the Undocubus, a ride for justice, which was a bus traveling from Arizona to North Carolina with over 30 undocumented families that risked deportation and were unafraid to seek justice. Torres also has done community radio, and makes films and documentaries related to migrants and social justice. He founded a transnational project with members of the Staten Island community and Puebla, Mexico to reunite families separated by forced migration through cultural and social economic projects. Jorge Torres has developed a migrant protection project for the Embassy of Ecuador in the United States, which was implemented nation-wide as a permanent program. Currently he works for Faith in New Jersey a multi-faith and multi-racial network of faith leaders and faith communities working together to advance an immigration, racial, economic and human justice agenda at the local, state and federal level.
Contemplation and Action
…and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8). To do the work of justice requires action, but it also calls for contemplation. We will take a look at the important role contemplation plays in supporting, empowering and renewing those who work for justice. We will also explore specific life-giving spiritual practices.
Presenter: Pastor Dale Selover
Pastor Dale Selover is the director of Living in Grace Ministries, a ministry of spiritual formation, based at the House Next Door in Princeton Junction, New Jersey. For nearly ten years Dale has been a spiritual director, accompanying individuals on their faith journeys. She is also a retreat leader. For twenty years she has been guiding congregational women’s groups, councils, families, and spiritual formation teams. Dale currently serves as an instructor for Oasis Ministries for Spiritual Development, where she earned her Certificate in Spiritual Direction. Dale has served as a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America for thirty years, serving congregations in Budd Lake, Oldwick and Kendall Park, New Jersey. She is a graduate of the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg and Gettysburg College. Dale is married to the Reverend Peter Froehlke, pastor of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Princeton Junction. They are the proud parents of two daughters.
LGBTQIA +: What does it all mean?
We’re seeing and hearing new terms to talk about people’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The language is constantly evolving and so can our understanding. Come and meet a panel of the people behind the labels, hear their stories, and learn how everyone can be an ally and engender respect for all no matter how each person names and claims their sexual identity or gender identity.
Presenters: Carol Watchler and Kelsey Marziale and panel
Carol Watchler is a retired high school educator who continues to strive to achieve a safe and welcoming climate in K-12 schools in regard to sexual orientation and gender identity. She has worked with the National Education Association, New Jersey Education Association, GLSEN Central New Jersey, and schools districts in New Jersey over 30 years providing consulting and professional development on gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues, In addition she has co-led in the organizing of the annual Gay Straight Alliance Forum and the Trans Youth Forum conferences for middle and high school students. She is currently taking on new challenges as board member and community outreach coordinator for the Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice.
Kelsey Marziale is a senior at Rider University, studying Sociology and Gender and Sexuality Studies. She is an intern at the Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice in Princeton, NJ. She also interns for the Alcohol/Drug & Sexual Assault Prevention Coordinator at Rider. She is an advocate for the LGBTQIA community and is a member of related clubs on campus. In addition, she is very active in her greek organization, mentorship programs, and serves as the Vice Chief Justice for the Values Board at school. She wishes to use her experience in the community, as well as the knowledge she has gained along her journey to educate others on these issues. Kelsey is graduating in May of 2019 and plans to continue her passion for activism to better this underrepresented community.