Thursday, July 27 – Evening Plenary: Peace Activist Panel
Peace, Protest, and Policy: Women Waging Peace

The military is the #1 user of fossil fuels, #1 producer of air, land and water pollution, and #1 contributor to global warming that creates extreme weather and harms people and Mother Earth. Our panelists will discuss “next steps” following the women-led initiative at the United Nations for a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons of mass destruction and the June 17 Women’s March and Rally to Ban the Bomb, in New York City. They will inspire us to consider short- and long-term sustained strategies and actions to take at this critical time to change direction toward a peace economy and peaceful world.

Phyllis Bennis
Director, New Internationalism Project, Institute for Policy Studies

Phyllis BennisFellow Phyllis Bennis directs the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies, working as a writer, activist and analyst on Middle East and UN issues. She is also a fellow of the Transnational Institute in Amsterdam. In 2001, she helped found and remains active with the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights. She works with many anti-war organizations, and writes and speaks widely across the U.S. and around the world as part of the global peace movement. She has served as an informal adviser to several top UN officials on Middle East and UN democratization issues.

Phyllis has written and edited eleven books. Among them are:

  • Understanding ISIS & the New Global War on Terror: A Primer
  • Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict
  • Before & After: US Foreign Policy and the War on Terror
  • Challenging Empire: How People, Governments and the UN Defy U.S. Power

Leah Bolger
Coordinating Committee Chair, World Beyond War

Leah BolgerLeah Bolger is a national and international peace and justice activist. She serves as the Chair of the Coordinating Committee of World Beyond War. She retired from the U.S. Navy at the rank of Commander after twenty years of active duty service. She was elected as the first female President of Veterans For Peace (VFP), and in 2013 was selected to present the Ava Helen and Linus Pauling Memorial Peace Lecture at Oregon State University. She is the Chair of the VFP working group on drones, and is the Coordinator of the Drones Quilt Project. She founded the Corvallis Branch of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF US) in January 2014. She is also a Board member of the War Prevention Initiative.

Kathy Kelly
Co-Coordinator, Voices for Creative Nonviolence

Kathy KellyKathy Kelly is a Chicago-based peace activist, pacifist and author, one of the founding members of Voices in the Wilderness, and currently a co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence.

During each of her 25 trips to Afghanistan as an invited guest of the Afghan Peace Volunteers, Kathy lived alongside ordinary Afghan people in a working-class neighborhood in Kabul. She and her companions in Voices for Creative Nonviolence believe that "where you stand determines what you see.”

From 1996 – 2003, Voices for Creative Nonviolence activists formed 70 delegations that openly defied economic sanctions by bringing medicines to children and families in Iraq. Kathy traveled to Iraq 27 times, during that period. She and her companions lived in Baghdad during the 2003 “Shock and Awe” bombing. They have also lived alongside people during warfare in Gaza, Lebanon, Bosnia and Nicaragua.

Kathy has joined with activists in various regions of the U.S. to protest drone warfare by holding demonstrations outside of U.S. military bases. In 2015, for carrying a loaf of bread and a letter across the line at Whiteman AFB, she served three months in prison. During April of 2017, she was part of a 6-day fast, urging UN members to use diplomatic tools to end the blockade of Yemeni ports and stop Saudi and U.S. airstrikes against Yemen, a country facing conflict-driven famine and alarming outbreaks of cholera.

See Kathy’s recent article, “Feed the Hungry. Treat the Sick: A Crucial Training.

Ellen Thomas
Co-Chair, WILPF US Disarm/End Wars Committee

Ellen ThomasEllen has been co-chair, along with Carol Urner, of the Disarm/End Wars Committee since 2008. For 18 years, 1984-2002, Ellen maintained a round-the-clock vigil for global nuclear disarmament north of the White House. In 1990, she was a co-founder of the Proposition One Campaign for a Nuclear Free Future, the only bill in Congress calling for global abolition of nuclear weapons that also provides funding for conversion of the war industries to provide for environmental restoration and clean-energy conversion. Ellen was co-founder of Peace House in Washington, D.C., 2002-2011, and Former Chair of the Washington, D.C. Peace Center Board, 2007-2008. Now living in Tryon, North Carolina, Ellen spends weeks on her “Nuclear Free Future Tour” speaking at WILPF US Branch meetings and sponsored events on the urgency to convert military spending to human needs.

Friday, July 28 - Morning Plenary
Labor and Democracy: You Can’t Have One Without the Other

Larry Spivack
President, Illinois Labor History Society

Lary SpivakLarry Spivack is President of the Illinois Labor History Society, perhaps the most distinguished organization of its kind, as it is the holder of the deed and steward to the Haymarket Martyrs’ Monument, in Forest Park, Illinois. The Monument, a National Historic Landmark, is where the Haymarket Martyrs are buried and is considered the most important labor site in the world. A former educator, Larry is also the Regional Director of AFSCME Council 31 in Illinois. He has worked as a union leader his entire adult life, active in union organizing, collective bargaining and staff development. Larry believes the labor movement is the most successful mediating institution in society: it helps to speed our progress toward a better quality of life and social justice, end discrimination, and promote democracy and peace. For this reason, he encourages everyone, especially teachers, citizens and activists to learn from the lessons of labor history. Larry gives labor history tours and is proud that the Illinois Labor History Society helped to obtain National Landmark Status for the Union Stockyard Gate in Chicago and the Mother Jones Monument in Mt. Olive, Illinois. The Haymarket Memorial in Chicago, Illinois, dedicated every year on May 1, was built due to the perseverance of 30 years of advocacy from the Illinois Labor History Society.

Friday, July 28 – Evening Plenary: Chicago Activist Panel
What Has Peace Got to Do With It? Chicago Standing Up!

Olga Bautista
Community Organizer, Southeast Environmental Taskforce

Olga BautistaOlga Bautista is a life-long resident and community organizer of Chicago’s Southeast Side, an aging industrial corridor between the Calumet River and Lake Michigan. She is Treasurer of the Southeast Environmental Taskforce (SETF) and a founding member of Chicago’s Southeast Side Coalition to Ban Petcoke to stop the Koch Brothers from stock-piling this toxic by-product of oil refining in this area. Often the air is so polluted, residents can’t enjoy the outdoors and many suffer from asthma and respiratory illnesses. Olga and her Southeast Side community activists are leading the way to a shift from dirty fuels and heaving industry that pollutes their environment to clear energy, sustainable businesses, and restored natural environment. Petcoke: Tracing Dirty Energy, was created through a partnership with SETF and other organizations and was exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago.

Mary Dean
Organizer for World Beyond War, WILPF US Member

Mary DeanMary Dean is an Organizer at World Beyond War. She worked previously for various social justice and antiwar organizations, including leading delegations to Afghanistan, Guatemala and Cuba, and human rights delegations to war zones. She has done volunteer accompaniment in Honduras. Mary has organized and participated in various nonviolent direct actions and has gone to jail several times for civil disobedience to protest nuclear weapons, end torture and war, and shut down Guantanamo, including six months for nonviolently protesting at the U.S. Army School of the Americas (known in Latin America as the School of Assassins). In 1992, Mary “walked for peace” with 300 international activists in Palestine and Israel. Then, in 2008, Mary walked 500 miles with Voices for Creative Nonviolence from Chicago to the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis to protest war. As a paralegal, Mary worked in 2016 for prisoner rights, initiating a bill in the Illinois state legislature to limit the use of solitary confinement in correctional facilities.

Jeanette Hernandez
Longtime Active Member of AFSCME Local 1989

Jeanette HernandezJeanette Hernandez is a longtime active member of AFSCME Local 1989 at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago where, since 1991, she has been a member of the administrative staff in the Department of World Languages and Cultures. She received her B. A. in Philosophy (1997), a B.A. in Sociology, and a M.A. in Political Science (2010) at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago.

Pam Smith
Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Addie Wyatt Center for Nonviolence Training.

Pam Smith is Executive Director and Kingian Nonviolence trainer. She is a public historian and long-time Chicago consultant for nonprofit organizations.  Her team conducted the feasibility study that set the stage for the Chicago Freedom School.  Pam has worked with many youth groups in the city and served as a senior press aide to Jesse Jackson in his 1988 presidential bid and to Barack Obama in his primary campaign for US Senate.  Pam teaches U.S. history at community colleges and is coeditor of The Chicago Freedom Movement:  Martin Luther King Jr. and Civil Rights Activism in the North. 

Saturday, July 29 – Afternoon Plenary
Women Labor for Equal Pay for Equal Work, Stefanee Parks-Asche
Jane Addams: From Imagination to Action, Mary Hanson Harrison

Stefanee Parks-Asche
Director, Illinois Labor History Society

Stefanee Parks-AscheStefanee, Director of the Illinois Labor History Society, is a third-generation union member and a graduate of Purdue University Calumet (Hammond, Indiana) with a BA in History. She lives in Griffith, Indiana, where she is also a precinct committeewoman for the Lake County Democratic Party. She is a former organizer and member of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 142 in Gary, Indiana, specializing in school bus campaigns. Her husband, Rick, is also a Teamster with Local 142. They have two children: Julia is majoring in accounting at Indiana University and John is a member of UFCW Local 881. Stefanee built her career from experience in a variety of roles and industries – mostly in small companies – and is known as not only the “go-to-girl,” but also the gatekeeper, technology whiz, bookkeeper and marketing guru. In her spare time, she attends rallies for labor and social justice and is an avid Chicago Blackhawks and Chicago Cubs fan.

Mary Hanson Harrison
President, WILPF US

Mary Hanson HarrisonMary Hanson Harrison is currently president of Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, US Section. Her life’s work began on an Iowa dairy farm, learning the importance of building community life and perseverance through difficult times. The ensuing years led her to peace activism and community service in diverse urban communities on the East and West Coast. Raising three children along the way and earning and Honors BA in History at the University of Iowa and MA in Literary Criticism and Theory at Northwestern University (Evanston, Illinois), she continued in her academic work focusing on feminist criticism with publications and presentations. Her teaching led back to working in nonprofit organizations advocating for the urban underserved, immigrants and refugees, teaching ESL and grant writing. Meanwhile, she is continuing her advocacy for women’s rights in agroecology and building a global grassroots ecofeminist movement. She also served on Jane Addams Peace Association Board and currently on the board of Stop the Arms Race (STAR*Pac).