Catalyst is thrilled to announce that our collective is now larger than it has ever been! We are bringing in two long-time organizers with deep roots in international solidarity. After having had the privilege of working with David and Ellen on the Braden Leadership Team, we are eager to bring them into the fold along with their decades of experience!
David was a participant in the 2018 Braden Program and served on the Leadership Team for the 2019 Oakland program before joining the collective in September. David grew up on Susquehannock Territory in rural Pennsylvania, where he attended his first protest at the age of five, joining his parents and neighbors in defending their farms against flooding from a proposed hydroelectric dam. David’s early politicization was rooted in his opposition as a teenager to the US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and his experiences growing up queer in an overwhelmingly conservative Christian community. He started organizing in York and Lancaster, PA in 2007 as a member of Students for a Democratic Society and Food Not Bombs before moving to the Pacific Northwest, where his commitment to feminism, queer liberation, anti-capitalism, and anti-racism deepened through his involvement in the DIY/punk scene and as a volunteer with a radical childcare collective supporting parent-led welfare and economic justice organizing.
For the last five years, David’s work has focused on cross-border organizing aligned with anti-imperialist social and environmental justice struggles in Guatemala as an international human rights accompanier, grassroots fundraiser, and national coordinator for the Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (NISGUA). Working alongside indigenous and campesino environmental activists and survivors of US-backed genocide in Guatemala has been deeply instructive to David’s approach to social change work and his desire to contribute to internationalist movement building at the intersections of indigenous sovereignty, climate, racial, and immigrant justice. David enjoys writing, cooking and eating, spending time with his cat, watching horror movies, doing music, and putting his body in the nearest body of water.
Ellen joins Catalyst Project after serving on the Braden Leadership Team in 2018 and 2019. Born and raised in a secular, Jewish, left-wing family in San Francisco, she has always lived on Ohlone land in the SF Bay Area. From her family she learned 3 important lessons that have served her well in life: capitalism is bad, Never Again means Never Again for Anyone, and don’t talk to the FBI. While in high school, Ellen organized a student union, visited Cuba with the first Venceremos Brigade in 1969, and participated in demonstrations against the Viet Nam war and in support of ethnic studies at SF State. These experiences deepened her commitment to anti-imperialist organizing and to fighting racism and capitalism. Her 20’s were spent organizing with communist organizations where she experienced how racism, patriarchy and sectarianism worked against building mass movements and sustainability. While raising her children, she primarily organized in the schools and in the community. Israel’s 2014 attack on Gaza motivated her to focus on political organizing again. She was thrilled to re-enter a left movement that had radically changed and which had so much to teach her about the centrality of white supremacy and racial capitalism, about gender oppression in all its forms and about settler colonialism in the US and Israel.
Ellen joined Jewish Voice for Peace in 2014, where she organizes Jews in solidarity with the Palestinian people and to transform Jewish community into one not tied to Zionism. She is passionate about helping Jews understand that safety from antisemitism comes through solidarity and shared struggle for collective liberation, not through Zionism and a settler colonialist state. Ellen organized with the coalition that successfully ended Alameda County’s racist Urban Shield swat team training and is proud to have participated in disruptions of both Jewish Zionist and Christian Zionist gatherings. Ellen loves baseball and cats, enjoys reading novels and hiking, and loves spending time with her grandchild.