Profiles of the Fellows

Charlene Carruthers
Charlene Carruthers

Charlene Carruthers is a leader and activist from Chicago who organizes through a Black queer feminist praxis. The national director of the Black Youth Project 100 (BYP100), with a 12-year history as a social justice activist, community organiser, teacher and writer on issues such as developing young leaders, building capacity within marginalized communities, migrant rights, and economic justice. Charlene will use her Fellowship to strengthen and develop relationships between the food justice and land struggle movements in the US and Brazil. Through travelling to Brazil, she will establish strong working relationships and broaden her current network of leaders, scholars and activists. Charlene will lead training on these issues in the US, training at least 100 food justice activists in core organizing skills. To strengthen her own skills, she plans to attend university courses in food studies and undertake an intensive Portuguese language course.

Becky Keshet
Becky Keshet

Becky is an Israeli lawyer who runs the “Rights-based Community Practice Centres” in the towns of Sderot and Ofakim. This work focuses on community building, empowering disenfranchised populations through access to knowledge regarding their rights and the development of advocacy tools to promote policy change. She is also the lawyer for the NGO “Rabbis for Human Rights” She -founder of the southern branch of “Itach Maaki,” an organization providing help to women suffering from discrimination and lack of rights. Becky will use her Fellowship too undertake training and study visits to Northern Ireland, Canada and the US to study and learn about approaches to involving disadvantaged communities in social activism, with a particular emphasis on working in areas of conflict.

Craig Dwyer
Craig Dwyer

Craig is an experienced communications professional in the Irish NGO sector, previously working with the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN) to harness social media as a driver of communication and engagement with LGBT people and communities, and with the wider public. He was the Social Media Director for the Yes Equality campaign for civil marriage equality in Ireland. Craig will use his Fellowship to examine and document this innovative and highly effective social media campaign. He will critically examine social media strategies for other social movements, create a guide for activists on designing and implementing a social media strategy and develop an online resource for activists and campaigning groups. This will include resources and a toolkit to equip activists to create and execute an effective social media strategy.

Rob Bell
Rob Bell

Rob is an experienced Foundation executive with over 10 years’ experience as a grant maker in two of the UK’s most prominent charitable trusts (The Paul Hamlyn Foundation and The Carnegie United Kingdom Trust). He is known for leading engaged and collaborative funding approaches to address ‘tricky’ social justice issues, including: excluded young people; mental health service reform; migration and integration; criminal justice reform. By looking at examples in the US and Europe, he will analyse the ways that foundations engage with social change movements. The work will focus primarily on the issue of migration, though learning from other fields will also feature. It will concentrate on the productive relationships that are the basis on which social movements emerge, adapt, and grow their influence. Particular attention will be given to the role that foundation staff play in building relationships with the activists and NGOs who drive the creation of social movements. The study will share learning as it progresses, and aims to draw out practical lessons for foundations seeking to improve their strategic, operational and human relations response to fast moving, complex social challenges.

Alice Mogwe
Alice Mogwe

Alice is an experienced activist from Botswana who has led that country’s Centre for Human Rights (Ditshwanelo) for over 20 years. Alice’s activism has seen her campaign on issues such as violations of the indigenous peoples, sexual orientation and gender identity, the organising of domestic workers and challenging the use of the death penalty. She plans to use the fellowship to reflect on and document her and other activists’ experience and learning of social change work in Botswana and southern Africa. In particular, she wishes to develop an understanding of models of African leadership in the human rights field. Some of the work she has been involved in has been very successful and in some other cases less so but she has never had the time and resources to undertake critical reflection and document the lessons. Added to this she wishes to examine the intersection between academia and activism which was an important element in the anti-apartheid struggle but, she feels, is much less visible now. Alice will produce a report “Leadership Lessons for Social Change” with an analysis of leadership styles and their effectiveness in bringing about social change. This will form the basis for a series of leadership training events for civil society organisations

Brad Brockman
Brad Brockman

Brad is a young activist from South Africa who previously led Equal Education, a movement of students, parents, teachers, and community members campaigning for quality and equality in the education system. He has worked on campaigns for textbooks, libraries, sanitation, transport and school infrastructure standards, as well as against corporal punishment, illegal exclusions and school closures. Brad is using his fellowship to research and write about youth activist movements in different parts of the world. He will produce a set of seven case studies, each focused on a different organisation, for use by other activists, focusing on how these movements are organised and utilize strategy and tactics. In addition, Brad will build connections between the activists and movements he studies, and will facilitate opportunities for them to learn and share from each other. A result of this work will be a greater understanding of youth activist movements, the creation of a training resource to guide others who wish to become youth activists, and a network of youth activist organisations.

Palika Makam
Palika Makam

Palika Makam is an activist and media maker, utilising participatory film and photography as tools for change at the community level. She is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of The Babel Project, a youth media non-profit organisation that teaches young people from marginalised communities around the world how to use media as a tool for change. Through The Babel Project, Palika has worked with youth activists and organisers from New York, Ferguson, Cape Town and The West Bank, engaging over 400 young people. Issues addressed include: immigration policy and undocumented youth, institutionalised racism within the education system, police violence and community response, and life within a refugee camp. Through the Social Initiative Change Fellowship, Palika will share her skills and experiences in youth media work with four organisations in the US, Europe, Africa and the Middle East, and develop her own skills as an organisational leader. All of the outputs will be documented and shared through case studies via a multimedia platform. The platform will function as a guide for other activists, organizers, media makers, development workers, etc. to use participatory video in the field. Palika is particularly interested in using her work to demonstrate how media can be used not only for fundraising and promotion, but also as a tool for building trust, strategic information gathering and dissemination, and most importantly, empowerment.

Saket Soni
Saket Soni

Saket is a leading community and labour organiser who has spent over ten years working at the intersection of racial justice, migrant rights, and workers’ rights. He has testified in the U.S. Congress, authored reports, built coalitions and led acclaimed campaigns on issues of structural racism, migration, and economic inequality. Saket is the founding Executive Director of the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice, which was formed in the midst of humanitarian crisis after Hurricane Katrina. In the post-Katrina Gulf Coast, the Center played a critical role in bridging, and building common ground, between African American communities locked out of work, and arriving migrant communities locked into exploitative conditions. He is also the co-founder and Executive Director of the National Guestworker Alliance, a social movement vehicle for international migrant workers seeking to win dignity amidst conditions of forced labour and severe exploitation. Recently, Saket has been a leader in, and a convener of, key conversations across the U.S. about the future of work and the need for a new social contract that is updated to the needs of a 21st century workforce shaped by demographic shift and migration patterns. Saket is leading new organizing and policy efforts that respond to the rise of contingent work and the prospect of long-term unemployment.

Gary Mason
Gary Mason

Gary is a Methodist minister who has spent almost 30 years working in Belfast in areas at the heart of the conflict. He played a key role in the Northern Irish peace process through his engagement work with loyalist paramilitaries as a voice for them to choose non-violent means to achieve their designated political objectives. He has facilitated negotiations between them, the government and republican paramilitaries. He remains a close and trusted advisor to Protestant ex-combatants and is heavily involved in efforts to support them civilianize. Gary has lectured in political, religious and academic forums globally seeking to engage, mentor and share lessons from the Irish peace process. A particular interest of his is the role of faith in activism. Gary will use the fellowship to respond to requests – locally and internationally – to share his insights and experiences in enabling conflict transformation amongst armed groups and to counter rising religious fundamentalism. The fellowship will enable Gary to share his expertise and learning in range of conflict and post-conflict settings and he will host a number of international groups from areas of conflict in Belfast over the fellowship period. Gary will also publish a series of reflective pieces on conflict transformation.