Steering Committee

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MimiBioPic.jpgMimi Abramovitz, DSW, MSW is a  veteran of the civil rights, trade union, and women’s liberation movements. Each shaped her worldview, teaching, research and activism.  She views URIP as extension of the anti-oppression goals embedded in the earlier social movements and a force for bringing this perspective into social work education, service provision, practice and organizing. Prior to the academe she worked as a community organizer and a trade unionist. She is a proud co-founder of URIP as well as the Welfare Rights Initiative (WRI) at Hunter College (a student activist organization)-- and remains active on the steering committees of both. Mimi is the Bertha Capen Reynolds Professor of Social Policy at Hunter College and The Graduate Center, City University of New York. With an MSW and DSW from Columbia University School of Social Work, NY, Mimi writes extensively about women, work, poverty, and social welfare policy using the intersectional lens of gender, race and class. She is the author of Regulating the Lives of Women: Social Welfare Policy From Colonial Times to the Present, the award-winning Under Attack, Fighting Back: Women and Welfare in the US and the co-author of The Dynamics of Social Welfare Policy and Taxes Are A Women’s Issue: Reframing the Debate. Mimi is writing a book: Gender Obligations: The History of Black and While Low-Income Women’s Activism Since 1900. Two articles (with Lisa Blitz) that examine how Undoing Racism Workshop (URW) alumni organize for racial equity on the job are under review by academic publishers. She is currently researching the impact of privatization on the human service workforce in NYC. Mimi’s research has appeared in major academic journals as well as the in popular press including the New York Times, Washington Post, MS Magazine, Women's Review of Books and Women’s enews. An activist and a scholar, She is regularly invited to present at national and international conferences; serves on numerous policy making, foundation and community boards; and is frequently interviewed by the print and broadcast media. She has been honored with awards from major professional associations including. The Council of Social Work Education and the New York City chapter of the National Association of Social Work. Most recently she was inducted into the Columbia University School of Social Work Hall of Fame.


SashaBioPicCropped.jpgSasha Neha Ahuja is a community organizer and advocate from New York City. She has organized at the intersections of migration and labor for almost a decade. Sasha has devoted her work to political education projects with South Asian and Indo-Caribbean youth, organizing for justice in the labor movement, policy formation that is driven by directly impacted communities, and social work practice from an accountable, anti-racist framework. Sasha currently serves as Deputy Director of the Policy & Innovation Division, within the Speaker's Office, at the New York City Council. She holds a BA from Hunter College of the City University of New York (free CUNY!) and a MS in Social Work from Columbia University, where she also served as President of the Student Union Executive Board (SUEB). Sasha interned with URIP during the 2010-2011 school year where she organized with fellow students to build a powerful voice of students of color across campuses in NYC calling for institutional change at schools of social work. Sasha firmly believes that social workers who are grounded in an anti-racist and anti-oppressive politic can be catalysts for racial, economic and gender justice.



Sharielle Applewhite is a community organizer and first generation American with roots proudly planted in the Caribbean twin islands of Trinidad and Tobago. Being a product of both forced and voluntary migration, cultivated her passion for working towards the actualization of human rights for descendants of the African Diaspora. As  a graduate from the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College, her career interests are organizing for educational and corporate institutions to create safe environments  and policies that promote anti-racism. Her desire to be a community organizer was affirmed  as an undergraduate at the University of Connecticut where she attended a global human rights conference in Rwanda. There she witnessed how community initiatives helped to rebuild a country post-genocide. That experience, along with her subsequent organizing against xenophobia in South Africa, served as a foundation for her 2013-2014 internship with URIP. Sharielle believes that URIP’s work is important because by trying to undo racism we honor the voices, including our own, that have been silenced by racism. Sharielle has seen student participation propel these movements forward, allowing for the creation of supportive communities that sustain each of us in this tough but possible mission of anti-racism.


SandyBioPic.jpgSandra Bernabei, LCSW, NYC metro area community organizer, private practitioner. She is a liberation psychotherapist and life coach doing the work of liberation from the tyranny of depression, anxiety and addictions. She has taught social justice and empowerment case management. at Fordham University, Graduate School of Social Service. Sandy is a founding member of the Antiracist Alliance, an antiracist organizing collective of New York City area human service practitioners. ARA is building a movement to undo structural racism in our lifetime and to bring an analysis of structural racism as outlined by the People's Institute for Survival and Beyond to social work education and practice. She has over 25 years experience in the field of addictions and has served as directors of Barnard College/Columbia University, Alcohol & Substance Abuse Prevention Program, the Council on Alcoholism and other Drug Dependence in Rockland County- New York, and the Chemical Dependency Training Institute for Addiction Specialist. She received the 2012 Social Worker of the Year Award for NASW Westchester Division. In January 2008 she received a recognition award at the 10th anniversary of the Rockland County Drug Court for her work as the founder of a grassroots community effort that established the drug court. In May 2008 she was the recipient of the NASW NYC Social Work Image Award. She is also the recipient of the 2007 WestCOP Community Service Award. The Westchester Community Opportunity Program mission is to advocate, mobilize and effectively manage resources that will help the low income and at-risk populations in Westchester and Putnam Counties become more self-sufficient. She served two terms as a member of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Social Workers-New York City Chapter and currently a board member for The Center for the Study of White American Culture, Vice Chair of WESPAC Foundation and a member of The People's Institute for Survival and Beyond, NYC leadership team.


CandidaBioPic.jpgCandida Brooks-Harrison, MSW, LCSW, New York based clinician and consultant, holds degrees in both social work and special education. Ms Brooks-Harrison is a lecturer and clinical coordinator for field practice at the City University of New York (CUNY) Brooklyn College Graduate Programs in Special Education since 2002. She currently serves as program head. She is the founding member of the Village Enrichment, PLLC which provides individualized and relationship based direct services for children and families, as well as individual and group reflective supervision for clinicians. Ms Brooks-Harrison is currently 1st Vice President and Co-Chair of the Diversity Committee for the National Association of Social Workers-New York City Chapter (NASW-NYC) where she is able to bring leadership and support to NASW’s policy positions and priorities aimed at keeping social work accountable to clients and to the professional roots of service, social justice and reform. In order to more effectively provide services for all clients, she asserts the professionalism of social work and advocates for appropriate funding and compensation for services as one measure toward recruitment and retention of highly qualified professionals. Ms Brooks Harrison is dedicated to increasing efficacy in working with diversity in education and health care toward ameliorating disparities across systems. As part of her interdisciplinary work, she is in her second year as the reflective practice and diversity consultant on the Achieving Diversity Initiative (ADI) at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst School of Nursing. She is a founding member of the AntiRacist Alliance (ARA), a collective of clinicians, educators, and organizers in the Northeast region. Utilizing the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond (PISAB) principles, the focus of the ARA is to develop capacities to understand the impact of structural racism and oppression on all of our lives and to integrate anti-oppression principles into all aspects of practice and practice settings. The Undoing Racism Internship Project (URIP) which organizes within schools of social work to effect curricula and organizational change in order to effectively prepare new professionals is part of the ARA-PISAB collective and is located at NASW-NYC. Ms Brooks-Harrison serves as a URIP steering committee member and former field instructor as part of her desire to mentor and develop emerging leaders and new professionals.



KalimaBioPic.jpgKalima DeSuze identifies as a first generation Queer Afro-Latina Black Feminist/Womanist Anti-Oppression Social Worker. As such, she realizes that she stands at the intersections of many identities that impact her personally, professionally, and politically and therefore, has been committed to reconciling and healing all the parts that make the whole.  Of lately, she has focused on reclaiming the divine feminine in her spiritual practice as a core theme to deepening her activist work. Activism is a major part of her process to live fully and authentically human.  Since her transition from the US Army, her life’s work has been dedicated to addressing the forces linked to structural oppression that most directly limit her pursuit of self-actualization, specifically, working to eradicate racism, gender-based violence, and environmental silence.  Her commitment to these efforts is reflected in many of her life’s choices. She has generously shared her talent and passion for grassroots organizing with Voices of Women Organizing Project (VOW), Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN), Girls Education and Mentoring Services (GEMS), and Black Women’s Blueprint (BWB). Ms. DeSuze is a past organizer for the Undoing Racism Project (2006-2007) and the current Field Instructor.



AmbuirBioPic.jpgAmbuir Henderson is an Black American community organizer and womanist from  Sacramento, California. Ambuir has been involved in various community organizing efforts in New Orleans, LA , including juvenile justice and education reform.  She is passionate about improving the mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health in black communities. As a Social Worker striving for social justice, she believes it is important to recognize and appreciate the humanity of all individuals by applying anti-oppressive and anti-racist principles to everyday life. URIP is important to her because she believes it is essential for each individual to understand the power they posses in creating an anti-racist and anti-oppressive world. She believes that in order to do this, we must first begin to educate ourselves, understand our individual and collective histories, and address the trauma and pain that we have experienced (due to oppression), so that we may shift to a place of healing within ourselves, our communities, and society at large. Ambuir received her B.A. in African American Studies and Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley, and her M.S. in Social Work from Columbia University. “Revolution begins with the self, in the self.... We'd better take the time to fashion revolutionary selves, revolutionary lives, revolutionary relationships. Mouth don't win the war.” Toni Cade Bambara.

KLBioPic.pngKris Kelsang Lipman was born and raised in Elmhurst, Queens, uses she/her pronouns, and identifies as bi-cultural, Bhutanese, Jewish, and mixed. She received her MSW from NYU's Silver School of Social Work and her BSW from Portland State University. She has clinical experience working with women living with substance dependence and co-occurring mental health diagnoses.  She currently works as a case manager at the Guardianship Project, a project of the Vera Institute of Justice, where she advocates for people who have a court appointed legal guardian.  Kris is an avid critic of the institutionalization of social work practice and its roots in white supremacy, imperialism, and capitalism. For this and many more reasons, she could not be more appreciative or proud of her work with URIP. 



CarletteBioPic.urip.jpgCarlette Marie Quinto, MSW ’15, identifies as a Queer Filipino-American woman born and raised in Los Angeles, California, and her preferred gender pronouns are she, her, and hers.Carlette received her Master's in Social Work from NYU Silver School of Social Work and is one of the 2015 Silver Social Justice Award Recipient. Carlette started doing ballet and dancing at the age of 2 and became a competitive figure skater for 11 years and she still enjoys dancing as a way to decompress. She received her Bachelor’s Degree from Antioch University Los Angeles with a Concentration in Psychology and a minor in Urban Community Environment. It was during her time at Antioch that she found her passion and interest in social justice and began to engage in conversations of racism in her classrooms. Through her studies at NYU Silver, and as a student organizer with the Undoing Racism Internship Project (URIP), she has been able to engage and organize (individually as well as with a number of social work students from various New York schools) in anti-racist and anti-oppressive social work practices, including: restorative justice, policy, research, advocacy and social work school curricula changes. Carlette believes conversations about race/racism and intersectionality are crucial to have in our classes, institutions, and everyday lives, and her hope is for social work students, and the social work profession as a whole, to continue engaging in these important conversations in order to best serve and provide to communities continually impacted by institutionalized racism. She also has expertise working with adolescents with co-occurring disorders including eating disorders, alcoholism, and substance abuse.

LizRossiBioPic.jpgElizabeth Rossi is a community educator, arts-based facilitator, and artist. She has facilitated trainings, workshops, and created curriculum around community organizing, sexual violence, Know Your Rights, and the prison industrial complex with a large emphasis on how women of color are affected by these issues. Elizabeth activism began with teaching arts-based workshops to youth in Rikers Jail with Blackout Arts Collective. This thee evolved to working in juvenile justice policy through the Vera Institute of Justice Center on Youth Justice. From there, her work shifted to focus on issues related to transformative justice and sexual violence. Elizabeth graduated from Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College, majoring in the Community Organizing, Planning, and Development method. With her masters, she focused on community organizing, feminism, and collective healing. Through Gallatin the School of Individualized Studies within New York University, she earned a Bachelor’s degree with a concentration in Structural Violence and How it Creates Identity and Activism. With this degree, she studied activism in communities of color, the prison system, and how identity is formed in the midst of oppression. Currently she is working as a teaching artist, community organizing educator, and gallery curator. She also continues to work on her art as a painter and poet.


BeatrizBioPic.jpgBeatriz Rivera is a recent graduate of  Columbia School of Social Work with a focus in Social Enterprise Administration.  She is a first-generation Salvadorian American from Los Angeles, CA where she received her BA in Psychology and Child Development. Beatriz was formally a Social Security case manager for two years at a nationwide law firm which exposed her to the government policies that successfully oppress low-income, disabled, communities of color. Beatriz realized while being a case manager, she wanted to change the system that is fueled by race and racism. As the 2014-2015 intern, Beatriz was able to cultivate her racial analysis and organize students from all over the city on anti-black racism and the Black Lives Matter movement. Beatriz believes that spreading URIP’s mission will allow other social workers and social services professionals to connect the communities they serve, to knowledge and power, and collectively start a people’s movement to end racism. Her preferred gender pronouns are “she,” and "her" and enjoys running, fried foods, and date night with her partner.



EleniBioPic.jpgEleni Malka Zimiles joined URIP as an intern organizer in 2013 before she transitioned to the Steering Committee. Eleni works at the cross-sections of social work, education and organizing, focusing on youth and racial justice issues in New York City, where she is from. Her personal history along with her work in schools, youth shelters, settlement houses and neighborhood organizing, grounds her commitment to transform the root causes of violence and exploitation. Eleni is a white, queer woman with Ashkenazi Jewish and Greek heritage, and sees these identities along with her class privilege and others, as crucial to her personal and community work in challenging domination and building authentic relationships. A writer and artist, Eleni has also completed work on conflict, historical trauma and youth identity politics. While receiving her MS in Social Work at Columbia University, she experienced how student organizing had the power to hold institutions accountable for having necessary dialogues around systems of power and oppression. Eleni sees URIP’s work as crucial in fostering critical self-reflection and active responsibility in order to dismantle oppression in our institutions, relationships and bodies.



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