Opal Tometi, BAJI Executive Director
Opal Tometi is a Black feminist writer, communications strategist and cultural organizer. She is a co-founder of #BlackLivesMatter, the historic political project and leader-full network was launched in the wake of the murder of Trayvon Martin in order to explicitly combat implicit bias and anti-black racism and to protect and affirm the beauty and dignity of all Black lives. Ms. Tometi is currently at the helm of the country’s leading Black organization for immigrant rights, the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI), a national organization that educates and advocates to further immigrant rights and racial justice together with African-American, Afro-Latino, African and Caribbean immigrant communities.
As the executive director at BAJI, Opal collaborates with staff and communities in Los Angeles, Phoenix, New York, Oakland, Washington, DC and communities throughout the Southern states. The organization’s most recent campaign helped win family reunification visas for Haitians displaced by the 2010 earthquake. Ms. Tometi holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and a Masters of Arts degree in Communication and Advocacy. The daughter of Nigerian immigrants, she grew up in Phoenix, Arizona where she is a board member of the Puente Movement. She currently resides in Brooklyn, New York where she loves riding her single speed bike and collecting African art.
Tia Oso, National Organizer
Tia Oso is BAJI’s National Organizer. In her role, Tia coordinates BAJI’s flagship project, the Black Immigration Network (BIN) a national network of over 40 organizations, along with academics, activists and faith leaders in communities serving African-Americans and Black Immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean, where they buildin relationships, developing skills and advancing an agenda for immigrant rights and racial justice. Mobilizing thousands of advocates for various issues in the public interest, Ms. Oso is a dynamic social justice leader, organizing campaigns such as “PHX For Trayvon” and African and Black student Diaspora Dialogues with the Lost Boys of Sudan. An experienced community engagement professional specializing in social change initiatives, Ms. Oso is a firm believer in the ability of everyday people to become change-makers in their communities.
Carl Lipscombe, Policy Coordinator
Carl Lipscombe is BAJI’s Policy Coordinator and a Bronx-bred policy advocate, organizer, and attorney. Throughout his career, Carl has organized poor Black and immigrant communities; litigated on behalf of indigent criminal defendants and undocumented immigrants; and worked with grassroots organizations, worker centers, and unions to affect policy change on the local, state, and national levels.
Most recently, Carl worked with the National Guestworker Alliance where he provided research, policy development, and capacity building assistance to worker associations nationwide seeking to expand labor protections low-wage immigrant workers. Previously, at Right To The City, Carl coordinated policy working groups focused on affordable housing, environmental justice, and urban development. Carl began his career at Jobs with Justice, where, as organizing director, he mobilized poor black and immigrant community residents, low-wage workers, and students to support labor and economic policy campaigns. While at JWJ, he also led NY VOTE, a five year initiative that built the capacity of local grassroots organizations to engage voters in their communities.
In addition, Carl has worked as a trial attorney at The Bronx Defenders, where he represented over 400 indigent defendants in criminal and related proceedings and as a legal advocate at the Cardozo Immigration Justice Clinic, Carl won a successful challenge to an illegal ICE home raid, helped an undocumented immigrant obtain administrative relief, and wrote a guide for groups seeking to fight immigration detention centers in their communities, while working at Cardozo’s Immigration Justice Clinic.
Carl received a B.A. in philosophy from Brooklyn College, studied public policy at New York University, and received a law degree from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, where his coursework focused on criminal and immigration law.
Devonté Jackson, BAJI Bay Area Organizer
Devonté Jackson is the Bay Area Organizer for the Black Alliance for Just Immigration. Having grown up in Oakland, San Leandro, and San Lorenzo, he has grown passionate in addressing social and economic inequality in the Bay Area Community. Devonté received his education at UC Berkeley where he served as Party Chair of Cal Students for Equal Rights and a Valid Education (CalSERVE), Cal’s longest standing progressive multicultural coalition and intern for Cal’s Multicultural Community Center (MCC) where he gained experience in coalition building and cross-community organizing.
Recently, Devonté has organized with AFSCME Local 3299 and students across California on labor issues within the University of California System and he played an important role within the Students of Color Solidarity Coalition at UC Berkeley who organized for a more democratic University. Devonté believes that we can collectively make change through coalition building and practicing cross-cultural solidarity.
Benjamin Ndugga-Kubaye, BAJI New York City Organizer
Benjamin Ndugga-Kabuye is the local NYC organizer with the Black Alliance for Just Immigration. Ben’s commitment to building infrastructure for social movement stems from seeing how policies from past social movements aided his immigration journey from Uganda. This journey has included advocating for a range of community development issues impacting black communities in California, Washington, D.C. and New York City. Ben has continued this work with a degree in Criminology, policy fellowships, and he is currently working on his Masters in Public Policy at the New School.
Juwaher Yusuf, Operations Coordinator
Juwaher Yusuf is the New York City based Operations Coordinator with the Black Alliance for Just Immigration. Juwaher has a strong passion for community and youth development. A graduate from the University of Western Ontario, she holds a degree in Global Culture and Development Studies. Ms.Yusuf is also a CITY Leaders graduate from United Way Toronto and the University of Toronto. Juwaher was featured in the Huffington Post in an article entitled “Young People Making Waves in Toronto” for her role at the Eritrean Youth Collective.
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