Women's History Month Symposium

From the Roots to the Sky: Women, Organizing and Social Justice... Rejuvenate the Mind, Refresh the Soul, Nurture the Body

Date and Time: Friday, March 1, 2024, 8:30am - 2:30pm

Location: In-Person (UB, Center for Tomorrow, North Campus)

Registration: Please register here by Friday, February 16, 2024

Intended Audience: Faculty, staff, students, and community members of all genders

Please mark your calendars for UB’s inaugural Women’s History Month Symposium, From the Roots to the Sky: Women, Organizing and Social Justice, sponsored by the Office of Inclusive Excellence, Cora P. Maloney Center (CPMC), and the Gender Institute.

The symposium will consist of a dynamic plenary panel focused on activism, a keynote address focusing on social justice, and two workshops on organizing and self-care. The symposium will provide a unique opportunity for UB to come together with faculty, staff, students, and community members to discuss the important roles women hold as activists, organizers, and social justice advocates in society.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to reach out to us at vpix@buffalo.edu

Symposium Schedule

8:30am to 9:00am: Check In

9:00am to 9:15am: Welcome

Delivered by Dr. Seval Yildirim, Vice Provost for Inclusive Excellence, University at Buffalo 

9:15am to 10:30am: Plenary Panel: Women, Organizing and Social Justice

Karima Amin smiling in a red blouse and headwrap on a white background.

Karima Amin, Executive Director, Prisoners Are People Too, Inc

Karima Amin is a retired public school educator, published author, performing artist (storytelling and drumming), social justice advocate and community servant. She earned her B.A. in English/ Secondary Education and her M. Ed. In Urban Education/Curriculum Development from the University at Buffalo.

She has earned more than 70 honors and citations for 40 years of working in Education, the Arts, and the Community. This list includes Black Educator of the Year from the Black Educators Association of Western NY; the Community Leadership Award from the College of Education at Niagara University; the Distinguished Alumni Humanitarian Award from the University at Buffalo’s College of Arts and Sciences; the Outstanding Community Service Award from the NAACP; and the Zora Neale Hurston Legacy Award from the National Association of Black Storytellers.

Amin volunteers as a member of the Pubic Art Committee for the Albright-Knox Art Gallery; the Outreach Committee for the Buffalo and Erie County Pubic Libraries; a commissioner for the Probation Department’s Conditional Release Commission; and as a board member for the Partnership for the Public Good. In addition to storytelling with the Tradition Keepers: Black Storytellers of Western NY and drumming with the Daughters of Creative Sound, she is Executive Director of a non-profit, Prisoners Are People Too, Inc.

Karima Amin has a husband and three adult children who support her work. She is well-known for being diligent, conscientious and reliable.

Louisa Fletcher-Pacheco smiling in front of a bookshelf.

Louisa Fletcher-Pacheco, Regional Political Organizer, New York State United Teachers

Louisa Fletcher-Pacheco is currently the Regional Political Organizer with New York State United Teachers. She has been in multiple fields of organizing including community organizing, political organizing and now union organizing. Her Organizing career spans 24 years across the state from the Bronx to Buffalo. Her most important role, though, is being Oliver's mom.

Anyango Kamino smiling in a white blazer and black shirt sitting at a desk.

Dr. Anyango Kamina, Assistant Dean for Student Development and Academic Enhancement, University at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine

Anyango Kamina, PhD, is an Assistant Dean for Student Development and Academic Enhancement as well as the Director of the Natural Sciences Interdisciplinary Master’s Program at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. Dr. Kamina is a graduate of the PhD Program in Biomedical Sciences (PPBS) at the Jacobs School, where she received her doctoral degree in microbiology and immunology.

Yaide Valdez smiling in a blue blouse on a white background.

Yaide Valdez, UB Student and Executive Director, Student Voices at the State University of New York Student Assembly (SUNY SA)

Yaide Valdez (she/her/hers/ella) is in her fourth year at the University at Buffalo, studying Political Science with a minor in Education Leadership and Policy. She currently serves as the Executive Director of the Student Voices Team for the State of New York Student Assembly (SUNY SA). Yaide’s passion lies in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and is on a mission to make sure these principles become integral to educational policy. Beyond the classroom, she is actively involved in initiatives that champion social justice and equality. She dreams of a future where education is a beacon of equity for everyone, and is working hard to make that a reality.

10:30am to 10:45am: Break

10:45am to 11:45am: Presentation: A Journey in Divine Purpose, Service, and Legacy

Rahwa Ghirmatzion smiling in a green blouse sitting in a white chair on a white background.

Rahwa Ghirmatzion, Senior Policy Fellow, Just Solutions Collective

Rahwa Ghirmatzion is a Senior Policy Fellow at the Just Solutions Collective. JSC is a BIPOC-led, national, movement partner organization with a goal to broaden and deepen the understanding and implementation of equitable and effective climate policies and programs at a scale and pace that match the urgency of the climate crisis.

Ghirmatzion was born in Asmera, Eritrea in the middle of a civil war. She came to Western New York as a refugee at the age of eight with her family, after living in Sudan. She was educated in Buffalo Public Schools and the University at Buffalo.

Rahwa has worked with community-based organizations in Western New York that promote community development, climate justice, public health, and policy. She was previously the executive director at PUSH Buffalo, a community organization that works at the grassroots to create and implement a comprehensive revitalization plan for Buffalo’s West Side, focused in affordable housing rehabilitation, climate policy, solar installation, green jobs training, and Ujima Theatre Company, a multi-ethnic professional theatre company whose primary purpose is the preservation, perpetuation, and performance of African American theatre.

Rahwa currently serves on the New York State Climate Justice Working Group, a group created by New York’s 2019 climate law to identify disadvantaged communities on the front lines of climate change that will be a focus for state climate investment

11:45am to 12:00pm: Break

12:00pm to 1:15pm: Lunch/Keynote: Inspiring Inclusion through Identity and Intersectionality

My Journey Toward Social Justice, Service, and Legacy

Patrice Funderburg smiling in a black blazer on a black background.

Patrice Funderburg, Executive Director, The Center for Community Transitions

Patrice Funderburg uses over 20 years of corporate human resources experience to advance criminal justice systems change as the Executive Director at The Center For Community Transitions (CCT), a 2023 recipient of the Bank of America Neighborhood Builder award. CCT is a Charlotte-based nonprofit organization that creates reentry pathways for the justice-involved population in 3 ways: employment and training, social emotional wellness, and supporting alternatives to incarceration. Patrice served as the board Co-Chair for two years before becoming Executive Director in January 2020.

Prior to CCT, Patrice was the HR Chief of Staff and Director of HR Operations at Belk, Inc. In 2016, she created Educate To Engage LLC, a boutique consulting firm that develops people and organizations for transformational change through education, exposure and engagement. She developed a six-week community book club offering based on the book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, by Michelle Alexander. During the 2012 DNC Convention in Charlotte, Patrice served as the Deputy Director for business inclusion and procurement processes. She also held various positions at Lowe’s Companies, Inc., including Director of Supplier Diversity, Manager of Diversity & Inclusion, and Senior Corporate Recruiter. Between 1994-2003, Patrice served in various HR roles at UnitedHealth Group (Human Capital Consultant) and FedEx Trade Networks (Diversity & Inclusion, Recruiting & Staffing Representative, HR Generalist). She also served as Affiliate Manager at INROADS/Western New York.

Patrice represents the 1:4 people who had a sibling incarcerated. She is a member of NC Governor Roy Cooper’s State Reentry Council Collaborative, and she taught life skills classes and served as a mentor in the women’s programs unit at Mecklenburg County Detention Center. Patrice is a graduate of Leadership Charlotte Class 35. She was a fellow in the 2023 Allstate Foundation Executive Leadership Program and in November 2023, she received the Athena International Leadership Award.

Patrice attended North Carolina Central University (NCCU) where she studied business and joined Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Resource Management from The State University of New York at Buffalo and a Master of Science degree in Organizational Communication and Development from Canisius College. She relocated to Charlotte, NC with her family in 2006.

1:15pm to 2:15pm: Presentation: Prioritizing Self Compassion for Women

Dr. Amani Johnson smiling in a black turtleneck on a grey background.

Dr. Amani Johnson, Psychologist and Student of Color Specialist and DEI Coordinator, University at Buffalo Counseling Center

Dr. Johnson serves as a Psychologist and Student of Color Specialist and DEI Coordinator at the University at Buffalo Counseling Center. She obtained her doctorate degree in Counseling Psychology from the University at Buffalo and is passionate about bridging the gap between mental health resources and Communities of Color. In her work, she centers the needs of communities that are marginalized; challenging the status quo and creating an environment of empowerment. She believes that mental health and wellness is a foundation for you to become the best version of yourself. She also believes that centering the needs of those who are systemically marginalized will create a more just and equitable society for all.

Frankie Kraft smiling in a red blouse on a grey background.

Frankie Kraft, LCSW, Student of Color Specialist, University at Buffalo Counseling Center

Frankie Kraft is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker; she received her master’s in social work from the State University of New York, University at Buffalo. Frankie is currently working as the student of color specialist at University at Buffalo Counseling Center. Prior to that, she work as a hospital administrator and License Behavioral Health Specialist at Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center. Frankie’s professional interest includes multicultural/diversity issues, experiences of Students of Color, family of origin concerns, crisis and de-escalation, grief, outreach, and social justice.

2:15pm to 2:30pm: Closing Remarks

Delivered by Dr. Victoria Wolcott, Director, University at Buffalo Gender Institute 

Symposium Planning Committee
  • Dr. Christy Garrison-Harrison, Distinguished Visting Scholar, Department of History
  • Jacqueline Hollins (Co-Chair), Associate Vice Provost for Inclusion and Student Success, Academic Affairs
  • Dr. Danielle Johnson, Director of Social Justice Initiatives, Cora P. Maloney Center
  • Amber Melvin (Co-Chair), Assistant Vice Provost for Inclusive Excellence
  • Dr. Kyla Tompkins, Chair, Department of Global Gender & Sexuality Studies
  • Jodi Valenti-Protas, Staff Assistant, Office of Inclusive Excellence

                                      Rejuvenate the mind, refresh the soul, nurture the body