Rights & Democracy Education Fund Board of Directors
(See our Rights & Democracy Project (c4) board members at radvt.org/board)
MARY GERISCH, Co-Chair (VT) - Mary is a retired human rights attorney and past President of the Vermont Workers’ Center. She is a task force member of the U.S. Human Rights Network (USHRN) International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and as the Co-Chair of the Universal Periodic Review task force for USHRN, and sits on their International Mechanisms Coordinating Committee. She sits on the board of the National Center for Law and Economic Justice, Healing Winds Pow Wow, the Turning Point Club of Bennington and Spirit Riders Equine Center, a therapeutic riding program. She is a representative on the Greater Bennington Interfaith Council, which has established and supports the Bennington Free Health Clinic, as well the Bennington Vermont Food Bank Distribution Center. She has been actively organizing for clean water in Bennington with RAD and Southern Vermont Water Warriors. She is currently the Chair of the Bennington Town Democratic Party.
Jan Schaffer, Co-Chair (NH) - Jan works for the national AFL-CIO. She is currently the Governance, Organizational and Leadership Development Coordinator for the Northeast. She works with State Federations, Central Labor Bodies and affiliated unions to assist with planning, governance, leadership development and training. From 1989 through 1997 Schaffer was the Political Director for the New Hampshire AFL-CIO. In the 1980s Schaffer was an organizer for the United Auto Workers (UAW) Technical, Office and Professional Workers Department, primarily organizing workers in the academic sector. She has been a member of the United Auto Workers and the American Federation of Teachers. Currently, she is a member of the Communication Workers. She lives in Warner, NH.
Traven Leyshon - Traven has been a long time supporter of independent working class political action. He currently serves as Communications & Community Engagement Coordinator for the Vermont State Labor Council (AFL-CIO), as President of the Green Mountain Labor Council, and as a member of the Vermont Workers Center. He hosts a weekly radio program, Equal Time, on WDEV that focuses primarily on questions of social, economic and climate justice. He lives in Middlesex, VT.
Ali Dieng - Ali is the Family Outreach Coordinator for the Burlington School District Extended Learning Opportunities. He is originally from Mauritania and grew up in Senegal. He studied law at University of Mauritania and then moved to Washington, DC before he came to VT with his family in 2008. He also serves on the School District Equity Council and is the manager and performer at Africa Jamono Drumming & Band Association. He lives in Burlington, VT.
Rev. Joan Javier-Duval - Joan currently serves as Minister of the Unitarian Church of Montpelier. Before responding to a call to ministry, she engaged in public service as a community and political organizer and nonprofit leader. Just out of college, she organized young voters with the State PIRGs in New Mexico. Joan then joined the Service Employee International Union in Boston as an organizer mostly working with nursing home workers and home healthcare aides, before moving on to work for a nonprofit based out of Washington, DC that trained progressive political leaders around the country. During that time, she volunteered with groups dedicated to advancing justice in the Asian-American community for women’s rights and immigrant and worker justice. In her ministry here in Vermont, has been active with Vermont Interfaith Action and have looked for ways to be involved with social justice issues in my role as a faith leader.
Andrea Polizos - Andrea is a retired middle school science teacher, a founding member of the Monadnock Progressive Alliance (MPA), a member of the MPA Leadership Team, and theHarrisville Community Action Group. She says: “I am new to the political scene. Along with millions of others, I began a period of soul searching and newfound civic engagement following the 2016 elections. Over the past year, I have found my voice and the courage to use it. With grit and passion, I take a new step out of my comfort zone everyday, knowing that every action is necessary to create the just world that I truly believe is possible. I am excited to work with the RAD leadership to continue to build and strengthen grassroots advocacy towards a true democracy.”
Phil Fiermonte - Phil has been at the forefront of social justice organizing for over 35 years. He has been an effective community, labor, and political organizer, and for 20 of the past 23 years has been the Outreach and State Director for U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders.In the 1980’s Phil was a community organizer with the Vermont Alliance and the King Street Youth Center in Burlington. In Burlington, the 5 neighborhood groups he organized, successfully fought for a number of neighborhood improvements and played a significant role in Bernie Sanders’ 10 vote Mayoral victory.As a labor organizer in the 1990’s and early 2000s, with the American Federation of Teachers, Phil led the effort to organize over 3,000 workers in Vermont at the state’s largest hospital and at the University of Vermont, as well as staff at the Brattleboro Retreat and the Vermont State Colleges.From 2000-2006 Phil served as an elected City Councilor in the City of Burlington, where he was the lead sponsor of the successful Livable Wage Ordinance, and was actively involved in successful affordable housing initiatives.Phil has led Senator Sanders’ Vermont state office and Vermont campaign organization for years, and is often referred to as “Bernie’s right-hand man”. Phil was able to help Senator Sanders built a strong grassroots operation in Vermont over many years, and was instrumental in helping launch his electrifying presidential campaign 2016.
Michelle Sanborn - Michelle is co-founder and president of Citizens of Alexandria Rights Effort (CARE Group), a grassroots local democracy group which organized for the right of the townspeople to determine a sustainable energy future and local self-governance for Alexandria, NH — successfully stopping a number of industrial developers that threatened to harm the people and ecosystems of her hometown. Working as the NH community organizer for Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) and serving as president of the NH Community Rights Network (NHCRN), Michelle's community organizing focus involves building a grassroots people's movement to amend the state constitution to recognize, secure, and protect the inherent and unalienable rights of all inhabitants of New Hampshire to economic, social and environmental justice. Michelle spends her free time with family and creating music.
Peri Stockinger - Photo and Bio Coming Soon!