2018 Winter Conference Program

Friday, February 16th, 2018

 

7:00 PM - Toward a Socialist Future 

St. Stephen's Church, 1525 Newton St NW

Friday night we will be welcoming attendees with a reception in D.C. You'll have the chance to register, review the full program for the weekend, and get to meet YDSA & DSA leaders from around the country. Speakers from the YDSA National Coordinating Committee will help kick off the event with a remarks to kick of the weekend. Food and refreshments will be provided. 

Please note that you can only attend this event if you have both registered for the conference and reserved a free ticket. Instructions on how to reserve a ticket should be in your email. If not, please email abonomo@dsausa.org.

 

Ajmal Alami is one of the two YDSA national co-chairs. He grew up right outside of Washington D.C. and currently organizes in Appalachia where he attend school at Virginia Tech.

Michelle Fisher is a Junior at Wesleyan University and currently serves as National Co-Chair of YDSA, where she leads the National Coordinating Committee of YDSA, chairs the Winter Conference Planning Committee, and represents YDSA on the National Political Committee of DSA. She has been a DSA member since her first Winter Conference in 2016, during which time she has been actively involved in all national DSA and YDSA gatherings, helped plan the Summer 2016 YDS Convention, served as Co-Chair of Wesleyan Democratic Socialists, and chaired the Socialist Feminist National Working Group's committee to create and implement a national grievance policy.

Sanjeev Rau is a student organizer in Bloomington, Indiana and at-large member of the YDSA National Coordinating Committee.

Saturday, February 17th, 2018

 

9:00 AM - Check-in and breakfast

American University Washington College of Law, 4300 Nebraska Ave NW


10:00 AM - The Activist Agenda - Democratic Socialism's Strategy for Trump's Second Year

AUWCL, Grossman Hall

Trump and his administration enter year two, and their policy of unhinged class warfare against working people has become clear. While the Republican Party seems determined to force their agenda of corporate greed, there remain areas of struggle where democratic socialists can make an impact. Here speakers from a variety of areas will discuss exciting campaigns around issues such as Medicare for All, socialist electoral politics, and the labor movement.

Amirah Sequeria is the Legislative Advocate for National Nurses United, where she is working to win single payer healthcare, nurse to patient ratios, a financial transaction tax on wall street, and other progressive policies. She is a longtime healthcare and HIV/AIDS activist. Previously, she worked as International Campaigns Director of the Health Global Access Project, and as the National Coordinator for the U.S. based Student Global AIDS Campaign.

Bianca Cunningham has worked at Verizon Wireless call center and retail stores for six years before helping her coworkers at all seven stores in Brooklyn form a union and join the Communication Workers of America in 2014. As a member of the bargaining team, she helped secure a contract after a forty-nine day strike. She was fired for her activism and her case is currently at the DC circuit court. She joined the Democratic Socialists of America with her union brothers and sisters in CWA and the NY State Nurses Association to form the NYC-DSA Labor Branch in 2016, which she currently chairs. She also sits on the steering committee for NYC-DSA’s Racial Justice Working Group, and is the co-founder of the DSA AfroSocialists and Socialists of Color Caucus.

Jacquelyn Smith is the former campaign manager for Lee Carter and a member of the Metro DC DSA Steering Committee. She firmly believes in the Dictatorship of the Teen.


12:15 PM - Workshop Block #1


Anatomy of Successful Campus Labor Work

AUWCL, Room Y116

Speakers from across the labor movement and campuses will talk about challenges and tactics for building effective campaigns and solidarity on your campus.

Elliott Geary attends the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga where they have worked on numerous campaigns advocating for the rights of workers and have worked directly with and for labor unions. They are also serving on the YDSA National Coordinating Committee.

Becca Tasker is a current undergraduate at the University of Pittsburgh studying anthropology and legal studies. She is the current Pitt YDSA Socialist Feminist Chair, is currently interning with both Summer Lee and Sara Inamorato's campaigns for PA State Rep, and is passionate about labor rights and prison abolition.

Chance Walker


Medicare for All: From Demand to Reality

AUWCL, Room Y402

Medicare for All is a demand which has captured the imagination of activists and working people across the country. Organizers wil discuss the opprotunies and challanges of this campaign and how we can make it a reality.

Liz Drinkwater is a junior at Smith College studying Government and Public Policy. She is a member of Smith College YDSA and recently completed a six month internship program in DC where she interned for DSA and wrote a major research paper on the development of global healthcare policy.

Dustin Guastella serves on the National DSA Medicare for All Campaign Committee and the Steering Committee of Philly DSA.


Democratic Socialism on the Ballot

AUWCL, Room Y401

Democratic socialists were swept into offices across the country in 2017. This coming year will pose even more opportunities for socialists to win big at the ballot box. 

Christian Bowe is on the National Political Committee where he helps lead our national electoral work and has consulted many winning campaigns. Prior to the NPC, Bowe chaired Central New Jersey DSA.

Chris Riddiough is a member of the DSA National Political Committee and of the Medicare for All and National Electoral committees of DSA. She has been a member of DSA since it's founding in 1982 and has been involved in electoral politics since the 1960s.


Education is a Right: Free and Fully Funded College for All

AUWCL, Room Y403

Education should be a human right for all, not a privilege for a few. Organizers will discuss how this fight intersects with socialist's vision for a radical future and how it can be won.

Xander Berenstein is a senior at the University of Oregon and Co-chair of UO YDSA. The resolution Xander wrote endorsing College For All was approved by the 2017 YDSA Convention.

Javier Miranda is a YDSA member from Iowa State University, where he heads the housing justice working group for his local YDSA and DSA chapters. He is also a student organizer for Student Action and on their policy research team for Free Higher Education.


Not For Sale: Housing Justice for All

AUWCL, Room YT17

Organizers have been able to make a huge impact on housing justice in cities across the country. We will hear from activists helping to lead these campaigns and how we can fight for justice on and off the campus.

Margaret McLaughlin is chapter chair of Metro DC DSA and a budget analyst for a local municipality. Since joining DSA, she has worked on solidarity actions alongside migrant workers, launching the chapter's successful anti-eviction campaign (Stomp Out Slumlords), and working to make the chapter more accessible and inclusive.

Chloe Santiago is a senior at the University of Wisconsin Madison and the chair of their YDSA Chapter. Her activism focuses on housing justice and prison abolition.


1:45 PM - Lunch

Lunch will feature a number of breakout sessions for students including: 

  • High School Student Breakou
  • Community College Breakout
  • Persons of Color Breakout
  • Women/Gender Non-Conforming Breakout

2:45 PM - Capitalism Is The Crisis

AUWCL, Grossman Hall

Our analysis of capitalism as a political system is a fundamental part of our perspective as socialists. Our speakers will talk about the capitalism, how does this system destroy lives, manipulate our political system, and drive down huge sections of people in society. Understanding how this system works and effects us can help us overcome it. 

Matt Bruenig is the founder of People's Policy Project, a crowdfunded think tank of the left.

Sarah Leonard is Features Editor at The Nation and editor-at-large at Dissent. She is co-editor of The Future We Want: Radical Ideas for the New Century.

Senowa Mize-Fox has a background in labor, racial, and climate justice organizing. She spent the last three years in Burlington, VT working with her labor union United Electrical Radio and Machine Workers of America helping to build strategies around just transition. Through this work she was connected with organizations such as the Vermont Workers’ Center, Migrant Justice, Trade Unions for Energy Democracy, and Black Lives Matter VT. Senowa currently does operations work for the Climate Justice Alliance (www.climatejusticealliance.org) and resides in Baltimore, MD.

David Thurston is a DC-native who makes his living as an arts organizer. David is a poet, street artist, and organizer on the leadership team of Resist This, No Justice No Pride, and the DMV's Movement for Black Lives steering committee. David uses he/him pronouns and identifies as an Anarchist and as a Marxist. David's poetry and art is accessible at www.byporevolution.com.


4:30 PM - Workshop Block #2


Left Beat: Using the Media Effectively

AUWCL, Room Y403

The media can be an effective tool for social and economic justice. We will hear from experienced organizers to talk about how media can be used in a variety of ways to support our political work.

Max Crema is a student at Georgetown University Law Center. Previously, he worked in the ACLU's communications office and served as communications officer for a NYC-based trade union. He assists DSA's leadership with the organization's press strategy and, along side a team of talented volunteers, coordinated press coverage of the recent National Convention in Chicago.

Michael Malloy is a DSA member, student researcher at UC Merced, and host and producer of Discourse Collective.

Katy Slininger was in Boston DSA from October 2016 to April 2017 and co-founded the Quiet Corner organizing committee in Northeastern Connecticut. She graduated from the New School with a master’s in Media Studies.


A Socialist World is Possible: Fighting for Environmental Justice

AUWCL - Room YT17

The climate crisis that capitalism has created is ravaging our planet and our economy. How would democratic socialism address the climate crisis and what can we do today to make this possible?

Sarko Sarkodie is the branch organizer for the DC branch of Socialist Alternative and has been with the organization since December 2016. She works in HIV clinical research and also serves as a core member of the DC divestment campaign DCReInvest.

Brian Doyle is a rank and file Metro DC DSA member and current co-chair of Metro DC & National DSA Climate & Environmental Justice Working Groups. Here to emphasize the fact that a non-ecological socialism is a dead-end, y'all.


The Struggle for Justice against the Alt-Right on Campus

AUWCL, Room Y402

As the alt-right moves onto campuses to recruit and spread hate, organizers will discuss how we halt their progress and turn the tide toward an inclusive democratic socialist vision of society. 

Lauren Croteau is a co-chair of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's YDSA chapter. They have worked on and led various campaigns on campus including the opposition of outsourcing university jobs and organizing against the far-right.

Austin Gonzalez was born in Richmond, Virginia of Puerto Rican descent and is the current co-chair of Richmond DSA.


No Human Is Illegal: Immigrant Justice in the Trump Era

AUWCL - Room Y401

The Trump Administration came to power on a platform of intolerance toward immigrant families and workers. Now more than ever we must be prepared to struggle and win to protect our communities.

Kristian Hernandez is serving her second term as co-chair of DSA North Texas. She is also currently the Vice President of a local immigrant rights group, the North Texas Dream Team, which focuses primarily on Know Your Rights, Family Preparedness, and DACA workshops.

Maria Svart is DSA's National Director and has roots in YDSA, where she was a rank and file member at the University of Chicago and later a co-chair of the YDSA National Coordinating Committee. Between college and working for DSA she was a union organizer for eight years.


Against Apartheid: BDS Activism and Democratic Socialism

AUWCL - Room Y116

Organizers from within the region will discuss the nature and history of the Israeli colonization of Palestine and how students and activists in the US can work with the BDS movement to bring justice for all.

Chip Gibbons is a journalist who has contributed to The Nation, Jacobin, and The Henry Kissinger Files (forthcoming, Verso Books). He is a member of Metro DC DSA and helped to draft the BDS resolution that was passed at the national convention. 

Fathi Nimer is a Palestinian educator and activist currently serving on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) and the Right to Education committees at Birzeit University in Ramallah, Palestine. He is also a member of the Birzeit University Union of Employees and Professors that fights for better working conditions for the university at large.

Rawan Tayoon is a Palestinian college student and organizer currently serving on the National Coordinating Committee of Young Democratic Socialists of America. Additionally, she serves as director of both the Young Democratic Socialists of America and the Students for Justice in Palestine chapters at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.


8:00 PM - One Struggle, One World

St. Stephen's Church, 1525 Newton St NW

As socialists our struggle is fundamentally international. We will hear from a variety of international speakers talking about the struggle for workers rights and socialism across the globe.

This event will be open to the public.


Erick Andrade student and militant in Juntos and part of the black movement in Brazil. Dedicated to Black Freedom and youth power in all the world.

Shelly Asquith is a Political Advisor for Unite, the UK’s largest labor union and Labour Party affiliate. She was Vice President of the National Union of Students 2015-2017 and worked on Jeremy Corbyn’s successful leadership campaign.

Xiangzi Chen was a labor activist in China, and is currently a graduate student of Labor Rights at Penn State. He has been engaged in labor movement since 2011, and mainly provides strategies and bargaining support for striking workers, and mobilizes student alliances to support workers' strikes. Because of his activism, he has also faced much harassment and pressure from the authorities in the past few years.

Fathi Nimer is a Palestinian educator and activist currently serving on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) and the Right to Education committees at Birzeit University in Ramallah, Palestine. He is also a member of the Birzeit University Union of Employees and Professors that fights for better working conditions for the university at large.

Sunday, February 18th, 2018

 

10:30 AM - Democratic Socialism: A Radical Vision for a New Society

AUWCL, Grossman Hall

What would a democratic socialist society look like? Our speakers will talk about their vision for democratic socialism and how our political, cultural, and economic lives be changed through this vision for a different world.

Jack Suria Linares was born and raised in Los Angeles. Having participated in YDSA coordinating committee for two consecutive years, he learned about the need for political education and is now supporting high school seniors in their transition to college as well as focusing on changing education policy in California.

Ella Mahony is a member of DSA's National Political Committee and works as assistant editor at Jacobin magazine. She graduated from Brooklyn College in 2015 and holds a Certificate in Labor Studies from CUNY's Murphy Institute for Worker Education.

Sanjeev Rau is a student organizer in Bloomington, Indiana and at-large member of the YDSA National Coordinating Committee.

Joseph M. Schwartz is a Professor of Political Science at Temple University and a member of the DSA National Political Committee. Lon


12:15 PM - Lunch


1:30 PM - Workshop Block #3


Running & Planning a Meeting

AUWCL - Y402

There are some fundamental skills that organizers return to again and again in their lives. Being able to plan and run an effective meeting is a basic but critical skill for our work whether you are new to organizing or not. 

Julian Epp is the Co-Chair of YDSA Bloomington and a student at Indiana University

Zack Maril is a software engineer interested in politics and technology and how they both affect the other. He's been a DSA member since November 9th, 2016 and has been active locally and nationally ever since.


Recruiting & Doing One on Ones

AUWCL - YT17

Our movement grows through our relationships to one another. Organizers will discuss how to build our one by one through discussion and recruitment.

Jessica Collins started YDSA Loyola and is the interim chair of the chapter. They have been dedicated to supporting union fights on campus, most notably graduate students and adjunct professors.

Bianca Cunningham has worked at Verizon Wireless call center and retail stores for six years before helping her coworkers at all seven stores in Brooklyn form a union and join the Communication Workers of America in 2014. As a member of the bargaining team, she helped secure a contract after a forty-nine day strike. She was fired for her activism and her case is currently at the DC circuit court. She joined the Democratic Socialists of America with her union brothers and sisters in CWA and the NY State Nurses Association to form the NYC-DSA Labor Branch in 2016, which she currently chairs. She also sits on the steering committee for NYC-DSA’s Racial Justice Working Group, and is the co-founder of the DSA AfroSocialists and Socialists of Color Caucus.

Hannah Allison is DSA's National Organizer. She is from rural North Carolina but her love of organizing comes from the four years she spent in Saint Louis, MO as a member of Jobs with Justice and an organizer for Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment. Fighting to raise the minimum wage, stop home foreclosures, and prevent giant companies--like Monsanto and Peabody Coal--from getting tax breaks taught her that when we struggle together to take power from the capitalists and make our lives better, we can win. She is also a Social Worker and teaches as an adjunct at Fordham University. Last fall, she and her fellow adjuncts organized a union and won their election by 16 to 1.


Growing Leaders in Your Chapter

AUWCL - NT07

The bigger we get, the more work needs to be done, and the more leaders we need to take on this work. Being able to grow and empower new leaders to share in this work is essential to our success as a movement.

Natalie Midiri is a community and labor organizer from Philadelphia currently serving on DSA's National Political Committee. She's worked on the Fight for $15 campaign, at the Philadelphia Unemployment Project, and is currently lead organizing staff for HealthCare 4 All Pennsylvania.

Spencer David Potts comes from Southeastern Pennsylvania, organizing with YDSA Arcadia University as well as building a statewide network of socialists in PA. He loves Marx and SEPTA.


Power Mapping Your Campaign

AUWCL - NT08

In any campaign you need to know who your enemies and allies are. Here we will discuss how to plan our work in order to run effective campaigns.

Chris BD is a recent graduate of the University of Maryland College Park, where he studied economics. He founded a chapter of the Student Labor Action Project as a freshman, organizing campaigns to raise the campus minimum wage and win collective bargaining rights for student workers, among other endeavors. As a student, Chris also was active with the United States Student Association, UNITE HERE, DSA, and other DC-area organizations. He currently works at the Metro Washington Council, AFL-CIO, in the communications department. Chris loves cats, jazz music, and more cats.

Arielle Cohen is the current co-chair of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Democratic Socialists and the Operations Manager for One Pennsylvania. Cohen also was involved in bringing the International Women’s Strike to Pittsburgh last March. She laid the grassroots groundwork for the development of a campus sexual assault policy—a lead which, in 2014, was picked up by Governor Cuomo, resulting in the adoption of a policy for the entire State University of New York system. That policy was adopted by the SUNY system in 2014. She also was active in Occupy Wall Street and Barack Obama’s reelection campaign in New Hampshire. Since she was a student, she has sought to build an open and empowering spaces. She founded a feminist organization on our campus, FORTH, which grew rapidly, earning a record high budget for a new organization.


3:15 - Young Democratic Socialists of America, Then and Now

AUWCL, Grossman Hall

YDSA has a rich history that some of our most dedicated and committed leaders have come out of. We will close our 2018 conference by hearing from some of these leaders so we can plot a course for our future.

Femi Agbabiaka is a member of Chicago DSA’s Southside Branch.

David Duhalde joined DSA at Bowdoin College in 2013 and has served as both the organization's Youth Organizer and Deputy Director. He currently serves as the Senior Electoral Manager of Our Revolution.

Michelle Fisher is a Junior at Wesleyan University and currently serves as National Co-Chair of YDSA, where she leads the National Coordinating Committee of YDSA, chairs the Winter Conference Planning Committee, and represents YDSA on the National Political Committee of DSA. She has been a DSA member since her first Winter Conference in 2016, during which time she has been actively involved in all national DSA and YDSA gatherings, helped plan the Summer 2016 YDS Convention, served as Co-Chair of Wesleyan Democratic Socialists, and chaired the Socialist Feminist National Working Group's committee to create and implement a national grievance policy.

Maria Svart is DSA's National Director and has roots in YDSA, where she was a rank and file member at the University of Chicago and later a co-chair of the YDSA National Coordinating Committee. Between college and working for DSA she was a union organizer for eight years.