Chrissy is a native of the rust-belt town of Youngstown, Ohio. Chrissy devotes her passion for social justice to her union-laborer father and concern for Latin America to her mother, who moved to the US from Medellin, Colombia during the height of the civil war in the 1980s. Chrissy received her BA in International and Financial Management from Hiram College and her MA and MEd in Higher Education Administration and Counseling from Kent State University. At Kent, she worked in Student Affairs, coordinated experiential education, civic engagement and service learning trips, taught Student Development and Leadership courses and served on Sustainability, Equity and Professional Development committees. While studying at Hiram she helped in the initial creation of the 501c3 Hiram Farm Living and Learning community for people with Autism Spectrum Disorders, and was co-founder of the Olive Branch fair trade store in Hiram, OH.
Since 2013, Chrissy has been the Co-Executive Director of the InterReligious Task Force on Central America and Colombia. She serves on the Executive Committee of the Disciples Peace Fellowship, the National Council of the Fellowship of Reconciliation and as the Chair of the Ohio Fair Trade Network. Her previous board experience includes serving as the Secretary for the Christian Church in Ohio (Disciples of Christ), and as a member of the Higher Educational Leadership Ministries (HELM) national team. She is proud to be a community organizer, organizing in the greater Cleveland area, with groups such as the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) & the Student Farmworker Alliance (SFA), Witness Against Torture (WAT), Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT and ECAP Colombia), Ecumenical Advocacy Days (EAD), Tree of Life Education Fund (Israel/Palestine), the Asociacion de Trabajadores del Campo Nicaragua (ATC), Refugee and Immigration Ministries (RIM) and others.
Dominique is an organizer based in St. Paul, Minnesota. He has been involved with SOA Watch since 2009, at a grassroots and national level, as a popular educator, activante, and SOAW Youth Collective member. He has been a member of the SOAW Council since 2016, and represents for the Great Lakes region. He has a passion for writing, enjoying, and sharing music, as well as writing prose, poetry, and non-fiction. His activism in the Twin Cities focus on confronting the school-to-prison pipeline, resisting Islamophobia, and environmental justice. Dominique would like to be a resource for those attending the Border Encuentro from the Midwest United States. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Maha Hilal
Dr. Maha Hilal is the inaugural Michael Ratner Middle East Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C. She is also an organizer with Witness Against Torture and a steering committee member of the DC Justice for Muslims Coalition. Additionally, she serves on the board of the DC chapter of the National Lawyer’s Guild. Dr. Hilal earned her doctorate in May 2014 from the Department of Justice, Law and Society at American University in Washington, D.C. The title of her dissertation is “Too damn Muslim to be trusted”: The War on Terror and the Muslim American response. She received her Master’s Degree in Counseling and her Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has worked at a number of human rights/social justice organizations including the Center for Victims of Torture, the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, and the Government Accountability Project. Maha was previously a Christine Mirzayan Fellow at the National Academy of Sciences as well as a recipient of the Department of State’s Critical Language Scholarship for Arabic study in Morocco.
Kate Speltz is a member of the council representing the Northwest, living in Seattle where she works for county government, and is part of local efforts to end homelessness. She became involved with Latin American solidarity work in the 1980s; working with Central American refugees and the sanctuary movement. Kate has been involved with SOAW for more than 20 years. She first started with SOAW and the vigil at Ft. Benning in the 1990s, was privileged to participate in the SOAW Encuentro in Venezuela in 2010, and has served on the council since 2011. Kate continues to be inspired by the work of the SOAW staff, council and grassroots members, an is proud to work alongside you all to close the SOA/WHINSEC, confront militarism and root causes of migration, and to build a culture of peace.
She grew up in the beautiful land of lakes and volcanoes, Nicaragua. However, the neoliberal political turmoil that raged her country forced her family to become political and economic refugees. Their new reality as a working class migrant family in Miami, Florida was very formative for her; it instilled her passion for justice and a determination to fight inequality, particularly for low-wage exploited workers and undocumented immigrants like her family. The struggle to close the SOA is personal to her. Some of her family members were torture by SOA-trained military. She believes we cannot allow SOA/WHINSEC and the egregious human rights abuses committed by its graduates to continue. She is honored to be part of the council and support the work to end US economic, military and political intervention in Latin America and militarization of the Mexico-USA border.
Mike Tork is an active member of Veterans For Peace and helps organize rallies and many direct actions on the East Coast. Mike is currently the liaison between SOAW and VFP.
Mike is on the Board of Directors, and Treasurer, of Centro de Intercambio y Solidaridad (CIS), a non-profit in El Salvador. Over the last 12 years Mike has made many trips to El Salvador as an Election Observer, Delegation Member, and Work Brigade participant. Mike has many friends in El Salvador and has helped raise money for the construction of dignified homes and schools.
Born in Nicaragua and grew up in both Nicaragua and Guatemala, from a young age, she has been committed to political action on behalf of the excluded by serving the poor and underprivileged. Her own mixed background – Nicaraguan Miskito Indian and white North American – has allowed her to commit to the long-term struggle for social justice, challenging unfair economic and criminal systems that affect the immigrant communities. She also has a keen understanding of the intersecting patterns of exclusion along dimensions of race, ethnicity, language, gender, immigration-status, and class. Rebeca has served as a translator and interpreter providing humane and culturally aware services to people in need. Rebeca has been an active member of the Louisiana Language Access Coalition. She currently lives in Denver, Colorado, where she serves as the director of the Denver Justice and Peace Committee, a grassroots organization that advocates and educates for human rights in Latin America.
Rebecca Wilson Bretz
Rebecca Wison Bretz (Becca) is a council member representing the Central Region and it currently residing in Chicago, IL. Becca joined the council in 2017. She grew up in Colorado and moved to Chicago several years ago to pursue her undergraduate degree at DePaul university in Sociology and Criminology. Becca’s primary passion is prisoner’s rights but she has been involved with SOAW for over three years now and feels very strongly about the importance of this movement!
Theresa Cameranesi is the Council member representing the Western Region. Theresa joined the Council in 2007 and is active in the SOAW Legislative Working Group. She lives in San Fransisco, California. In San Fransisco she also works with the Bay Area Latin America Solidarity Coalition and with St. John of God’s Sanctuary Committee. As a nurse, she has worked in a rural Paraguayan health post for 28 years, and as a Nurse Practitioner at several migrant farmworker clinics on the West Coast. She speaks English, Spanish, and Guaraní.