Panel I:Breaking Boundaries & Laying New Ground
Ms. Talamante’s family migrated from Mexico in the early 1960’s to Gilroy, California, where she and her family worked in the farm fields for several years. She became active in the farm workers and Chicano student movements of the 60’s. She is widely respected for her community activism and leadership in the Chicano, Latin American solidarity, LGBT and progressive political movements. She was recognized as one of the most influential Hispanics in the Bay Area by the SF Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the SF Business Times, and most recently she received the Latino Heritage Community Award from the City of San Francisco.
Steeda Mcgruder is the Founder of Sisters That Been There, a mentor program for women recently released form incarceration. Steeda, released a couple of years ago, stepped out of Elmwood jail with a dream to not forget about the women she left behind those bars– women like herself who’ve come a long way. Upon her release, she joined Silicon Valley DeBug and immediately immersed herself in criminal justice work. In collaboration with the County of Santa Clara, her program became a reality. Moving forward from a life of substance use and prostitution, Sisters That Been There gives her a chance to now work alongside women in breaking the cycle of incarceration: motivating women in finding their dreams, and to live their dreams, despite having come from the worst walks of life.
When members of AFSCME Local 101 in San Jose went on strike for pay equity in 1981, Joan Goddard was part of the backbone of that effort. Her union’s efforts resulted in “women’s work” salary improvements, and she was later elected president of the San Jose Municipal Employees Federation union and of AFSCME Local 101. Joan’s three-decade library career included supervision of San Jose Public Library’s Vietnamese materials collection as well as branch library manager assignments and state and national library association work regarding prison libraries and pay equity for library employees. She is founder and co-chair of the regional Coalition for Equal Pay and a founding board member and secretary of the local Cardea Center for Women. She enjoys a hobby of helping people get to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival plays in Ashland.
Rowena M. Tomaneng is currently the Associate Vice President of Instruction at De Anza College. She began her career in Higher Education as a faculty member teaching English, Asian American Studies, and Women’s Studies and in both her faculty and administrative roles she has led De Anza College in several campus-wide initiatives: Multicultural Education and Student Equity, Community and Civic Engagement, and Developmental and Readiness Education and Student Success. From 2002 to 2011, Rowena has also served as a Community Organizer/Advocate for the Filipino Community in Santa Clara County, supporting Immigrant and Workers Rights campaigns.
Panel II:Forging the Future, Reshaping Possibilities
Deepa Sharma currently serves as the Political Director of the South Alameda County Young Democrats. She is a lifelong Democrat, born and raised in the city of Fremont, and attended UC Berkeley, where she studied Political Science.
Deepa was elected as the Nor-Cal Outreach Chair of the California Democratic Party Asian Pacific Islander Caucus, and was elected to serve as a delegate from the 20th Assembly District to the Democratic State Central Committee, where she was the top female vote-getter in 2011. She has also served as the Assistant Campaign Coordinator for the Ohlone Area United Democratic Campaign in 2006, and has proudly worked to get local Democrats elected.
Deepa has served as a Senior Field Representative for Assemblymember Bob Wieckowski, and Campaign Manager for Assemblymember Jim Beall’s campaign for State Senate in the Silicon Valley. Deepa is committed to bringing young voters into the decision-making process and to get involved.
Aiko is a pillar of the California Hip Hop community, having represented as a b-girl, dancer (with Quick Style 1983), artist, promoter, teacher and youth advocate for more than a few decades. She has nurtured the scene with such contributions as starting the first Hip Hop youth program in San Jose, CA (1993) and serving as a crucial member of the Fifth Element (2002), an organization dedicated to creating a safe space for young women to participate in Hip Hop culture. Often referred to as the “mother of South Bay Hip Hop,” Aiko has received numerous awards from across the country for her support of women and youth empowerment through Hip Hop and still performs with her dance group “Jam Patrol” to this day.
Megan Fluke Medeiros
Megan Fluke Medeiros is a local environmental leader who is not afraid to speak up for causes she is passionate about. She graduated with a degree in Environmental Studies from San Jose State University in 2008 and has worked for the Sierra Club Loma Prieta Chapter since 2009 as the Conservation and Development Manager. In her role, she supports grassroots teams of volunteers working to make their communities more climate-friendly on the local and regional level, namely through improving land use & transportation planning, conservation of our natural places, energy efficiency, and reduced waste. In fall 2012, Megan was trained to give Al Gore’s new presentation, “Climate Reality” and is giving talks to community groups all over the Silicon Valley.
Professor Gerami is director of Women’s Studies at San Jose State University. She holds a law degree from the University of Tehran and Ph.D in Sociology from University of Oklahoma. Her research and activism has involved work with the United Nations and NGOs on issues of Afghani refugees in Iran. She has written on Muslim masculinities, and conducted comparative research on gender and fundamentalism in Iran and the United States. Her research on gendered religious fundamentalist movements culminated in a book titled Women and Fundamentalism: Islam and Christianity, published in 1996 by Garland Press. In 1995, she participated in the United Nations’ Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China. She has collaborated with the United Nation’s High Commission for Refugee in Iran conducting need assessment of Afghani refugee families resulting in publications and presentations.
PhD Candidate in Education, UC Santa
Melissa-Ann Nievera-Lozano describes herself as: mother, woman of color, and believer in storytelling as healing. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Education at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her research builds from theories of coloniality and women-of-color epistemologies, to understand how the life histories and experiences of racism, classism, and gendered heteropatriarchy among critically engaged Filipino American scholars inform their work. Since moving to San Jose in 2008, Melissa has participated in various community-based projects, including the impending installation of a mural at the Milpitas Library commemorating Filipino American farmworkers.