ANNIE BANKS grew up on lək̓ʷəŋən and W̱SÁNEĆ homelands in so-called Canada, and got involved in organizing in her teens, with groups like Food Not Bombs, No One Is Illegal, a local free school, and local Indigenous nations-led land defense campaigns. Annie’s perspective has been shaped by Environmental Justice, Anti-Racism and Indigenous Solidarity, as taught by Indigenous, Black and Brown women, trans people and Two-Spirit people. She also organized queer dance parties, was part of a bicycle burlesque troupe, worked with youth in a youth detention facility, was a human rights advocate and worked against sexualized and gender-based violence. In 2013, Annie travelled to Ohlone lands to attend the Anne Braden Program where she also danced at the Lusty Lady, worked with the California Coalition for Women Prisoners and Californians United for a Responsible Budget. She then spent time up north at Unist’ot’en Village over the following years. She participated on the Leadership team of the Braden Program again in 2015 and was a co-coordinator with the Bay Area Solidarity Action Team (BASAT), and was one of the J20 Resisters. She then joined the coordinating committee of the Anti Police-Terror Project (APTP) and is also currently a member of Save the West Berkeley Shellmound, a co-founder of the Wet’suwet’en Solidarity Front Bay Area and The Indigenous People’s Day 5 Solidarity Coalition and a grassroots fundraiser for several frontlines. Annie is also a political printmaker and lives in Oakland (Huichin) on the homelands of the Ohlone, with her partner, James, and their two small children, Audre and Justice. No Justice, No Peace!
DONNA WILLMOTT’s political roots are in the militant, anti-imperialist organizations of the 1960s, working to end the war in Vietnam, supporting Third World liberation movements at home and abroad, and challenging patriarchy in its many forms. The movements for Indigenous sovereignty and self-determination for Black people have been foundational to her understanding of what it takes to build a truly transformative movement for social justice. Donna was incarcerated in the mid-90’s for activities in support of the Puerto Rican Independence movement. Since her release from prison she has worked to end the prison system and its devastating impact on families and communities, particularly communities of color. Most recently she was part of collective efforts to amplify the voices of California prisoners leading a movement to abolish solitary confinement. She continues to work for the freedom of political prisoners, many of whom have been in prison for 30 or 40 years. Building an intergenerational movement for collective liberation is a high priority for her. She was a mentor in the Anne Braden program for several years and was on the Braden Leadership Team in 2015 before being invited to join Catalyst’s collective.
ELISABETH LONG joins Catalyst Project after participating in the Philadelphia Anne Braden Program in 2016, Braden Leadership Team in 2018, and joining the facilitation team in 2019. She grew up in Kansas and Missouri on Kaw, Shawnee, Osage and Illini territories. Politicized by her experiences as a rape survivor struggling for justice and healing, Elisabeth was pulled into feminist anti-violence organizing. Her politics were developed by Women of Color feminisms that articulated a vision for the world she wanted to live in and the strategy to get there – a world where accountability, care, and pleasure thrive, free from sexual and gender violence and therefore free from prisons, policing, and all forms of domination. She has spent the last decade in anti-racist movements for prison abolition, anti-carceral feminism, LGBTQ anti-violence, and health justice with groups such as the Colorado Anti-Violence Program, Elephant Circle, the Trauma Center Coalition, and Prison Health News. Most recently, she organized in Philadelphia with the Coalition to Abolish Death by Incarceration and the No215Jail Coalition to end life without parole sentencing, jail expansion, and money bail. She values the opportunity to use her trauma-informed practice, harm reductionist approach, and transformative justice orientation to support the resilience of movements for collective liberation. Elisabeth is the daughter of a single mother, an incarcerated father, and the power and generosity of queer and feminist networks of care. She loves reading, musicals, hot springs, feral cats and collective study.
ELLEN BROTSKY 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.
LEE GARGAGLIANO joined Catalyst Project after serving on the Anne Braden Program Leadership Team in spring of 2018. Much of Lee’s political work has been focused in the struggle for justice for Palestinians. As an organizer with the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network based in Chicago and the Bay Area, Lee contributed to campaigns working to expose the settler-colonial nature of Zionism and its ties with US imperialism, as well as its cooptation of Jewish histories of oppression and resistance. He came to the struggle against Zionism after growing up in a radical, secular, Ashkenazi, Yiddishkite community that taught him to draw on those Jewish legacies that stand against oppression and with collective liberation.
Lee was an adult educator working with high school equivalency and English language students for 12 years, helping them to realize their educational goals and recognize their own capabilities.
Lee is a pizzabagel from Brooklyn who has strong opinions about both pizza and bagels. His politics were shaped by his parents who were politically active with People Against White Supremacy (PAWS) in the 1980s, and his mom was a part of Womansong, a feminist chorus. Lee is an avid soccer player and member/player of Left Wing FC.
MOLLY MCCLURE first became politicized through queer, feminist, and global justice organizing in the 90s in the Pacific Northwest, and spent most of the early 2000s teaching sex education in Philadelphia public schools. After organizing with Catalyst Project in post-Katrina New Orleans, Molly was recruited to join the Catalyst staff in 2006 to help develop and run the Anne Braden Program. Born and raised in the Bay Area, Molly works with Causa Justa :: Just Cause, an organization mobilizing working class communities of color against displacement, and was a key editor of the book Toward Collective Liberation. Molly has two young kids and likes to nerd out about anti-imperialist parenting, transformative organizing, and where to go on full moon hikes.
RAHULA JANOWSKI was born on a commune and grew up poor in rural, economically depressed Northern Vermont. They moved to California in the early 90’s and became involved in direct action organizing and activism, primarily with Food Not Bombs and Earth First! For most of the 90’s Rahula was involved in direct action, anarchist based organizing on the west coast. Following the global justice movement’s shut down of the World Trade Organization in Seattle, November 1999, during which they coordinated the legal support office, like many of their anarchist comrades Rahula sought to increase their knowledge and skills around anti-racist organizing. They participated in the Challenging White Supremacy workshops, and then, following the attacks of September 11, joined the Heads Up Collective, an organization of white anti-racists focused on solidarity with organizations of people of color and on supporting anti-racist development among white activists and organizers. As a member of Heads Up, Rahula focused on Palestine Solidarity work and developing Heads Up’s vision and strategy with an emphasis on developing and supporting white working class leadership. Rahula has worked closely with the Catalyst Project for years, in sibling organizations such as the Heads Up Collective and through supporting the Anne Braden program as a mentor to participants and as a member of the Braden Leadership Team. Rahula enjoys talking about race, power, and anti-racism in unexpected places, like their child’s school’s PTA, the grocery check out line, or in their spiritual community. They are a trained mediator and facilitator and enjoys group process and working collectively to engage and resolve conflict. They enjoy doing crafts with their excellent kid, reading liberatory speculative fiction, smashing the patriarchy, growing plants, and long walks on the beach.
ROCHELLE WATSON is a mother with 20 years experience as a community organizer. She currently serves as one of Catalyst’s paid staff. She previously worked as National Organizer for Friends of Sabeel North America, mobilizing Christians to act in solidarity with the struggle for Palestinian liberation and Project Director for the Rachel Corrie Foundation. Rochelle is passionate about food justice, decolonization, internationalism and indigenous solidarity. She has been shaped by her experience participating in indigenous led direct action to stop Line 3, in the direct action that led to shutting down the WTO Ministerial in Seattle in 1999 as well as an attempt to achieve similar goals during the G8 summit in Heiligendamm, Germany in 2007. Rochelle spent 7 months in Oaxaca Mexico during the 2006 People’s Uprising and has volunteered for the Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Center as a human rights observer in a Las Abejas community and in the Zapatista Caracol of Morelia. She co-founded the Olympia Rafah Sister City Project after her friend, Rachel Corrie, was killed by the Israeli military in 2003 while protecting a Palestinian home from being demolished. In 2010 Rochelle co-founded Olympia BDS, which led to Olympia Food Co-op becoming the first US Grocery store to boycott Israeli goods. She loves to garden, make pottery and wander aimlessly in wild places.
YSH SCHWARTZ grew up on Uypi and Aptos territory in what is now known as Santa Cruz, California. They are politically sculpted by their family’s poor, working class background and history of mental illness, as well as their lived experience as a fat and trans white person. Ysh joined movement work through the fossil fuel divestment movement, starting a divestment chapter at their school in 2014. For the past 7 years they have been primarily organizing in support of the Palestinian liberation movement as a member of Jewish Voice for Peace in the Bay Area, focusing on basebuilding, leadership development, and ritual creation. Ysh also deeply loves holding down logistical care work in movement spaces, such as food and security. As a participant in the 2019 Anne Braden program and member of the Braden Leadership Team in 2021, Ysh deepened their understanding of white Jews’ stake in dismantling white supremacy, as well as the importance of internationalism in every aspect of our movement work. They are brought into joy through communal cooking and food share, ritual as community co-regulation, and learning new TikTok dances.