Ronald Chisom is co-founder of The People's Institute for Survival and Beyond and a senior fellow of Ashoka's Global Academy, a program for men and women seeking solutions for the world's most urgent social problems. He has organized workers and poor people throughout the South for over thirty-five years. In the 1990s, he co-founded and was associate director of the Treme Community Improvement Association, which won several significant Louisiana victories in New Orleans. His legal suit, Ronald Chisom v. Charles E. Roemer, Governor of Louisiana et al., challenged the Louisiana Supreme Court to achieve equal representation for the predominately Black city of New Orleans.
Ron has served as an organizer, advisor, lecturer and consultant to a wide variety of community, legal, and church groups. He has led numerous workshops around the country on Undoing Racism®, community organizing, and leadership and strategy development. His networking and community organizing extends throughout the United States and South Africa. His many prestigious awards include: the Bannerman Fellowship, the Petra Foundation Award, the Pax Christi Bread & Roses, and the Tenant Resource Center Achievement Award. In 2006, Ron was selected as a senior fellow and inducted into Ashoka's Global Academy.
Ron has been married for fifty-one years to Jerolie Encalade Chisom. He has one daughter, Tiphanie Chisom-Eugene, a son-in-law, Cory, Sr. and is the proud grandfather of Jessica and C. J. (Cory Jr.).
David Billings has been an anti-racist trainer and organizer with The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond since 1983. Billings has worked with anti-racist organizing groups across the country, including AntiRacist Alliance and New York Education Equity Alliance. He currently consults with Citizens for Economic Equity in New Orleans.
Rev. Billings is an ordained United Methodist minister. He also is an historian with a special interest in the history of race and racism. Over the years, Billings’ organizing work has been cited for many awards including the Westchester County chapter of the National Association of Social Workers “Public Citizen of the Year,” the New Orleans Pax Christi "Bread and Roses" award; the Loyola University of New Orleans "Homeless and Hunger Award"; and the National Alliance against Racist Oppression's Angela Davis Award for community service. He was the Whitney Young 2006 lecturer at the Westchester County NASW symposium.
David Billings was born in McComb, Mississippi and grew up in Helena, Arkansas. He has a B.A. from the University of Mississippi, a Masters of Divinity degree from New York Theological Seminary, and a Doctor of Ministry (ABD) from the University of Creation Spirituality (now Wisdom University). He is married to Margery Freeman and has three children, Nathan and Noah Shroyer, and Stella Billings, and three grandchildren, Jonathan, Abigail, and Isaiah. David and Margery currently live in McComb, Mississippi.
Sheryl Boman spent 21 years organizing around sexism and gender issues, working in the battered women’s movement. She worked at the Women’s Coalition which is part of the Duluth’s “Coordinated Community Response “ a model used in many areas of the United States and internationally. Sheryl has conducted Undoing Racism® workshops around the country as a Core Trainer for People’s Institute. She has developed and provided presentations on internalized racial superiority and white privilege. Sheryl has provided training and technical assistance to community groups, schools, non-profits and social service organizations. .Sheryl is a founding member of the Clayton, Jackson, McGhie Memorial Board of Directors and is on the board of the local YWCA. She was a founding board member of Women’s Transitional Housing in Duluth. She is part of a Duluth group that has written a curriculum for whites, called “Cracking the Shell of Whiteness”. Sheryl is a member of the Duluth Human Rights Commission and a facilitator for Anti-racist Study Dialogue Circles, based in St. Paul, MN.
Dr. Kimberley Richards is an organizer and trainer with The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond. She holds a Masters’ in Education Administration from Westminster College and a doctorate in Policy, Planning & Evaluation from the University of Pittsburgh. Her graduate and post-graduate work centered on internalizing an anti-racist analysis within the fields of community-based organizing, program planning, development and evaluation. Her focus is how and where internalized racial oppression and superiority impacts communities of color and efforts towards social justice and equity.
She is an international consultant and serves on national boards including the Development Leadership Network, Crossroads Ministries, a Southern Grassroots Leadership Development Design Team, and the newly-developed Institute of the Black World in Atlanta, Georgia.
Dr. Richards’ home is Mississippi but she was raised in Farrell, Pennsylvania. Dr. Richards is an organizer in her Mississippi community and is the Co-director of Southwest Gardens Economic Development Corporation founded by her mother and Farell residents. The organization operates a home for men in recovery and a facility for women who are seeking permanent housing.
Margery Freeman has been an organizer and trainer with The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond for over 25 years, first in New Orleans and from 2004-2010 in New York where she worked with the Institute’s northeast regional office and the AntiRacist Alliance. The primary focus of her organizing has been with public and independent schools, human service agencies and social justice organizations, helping them incorporate anti-racist principles and analyses into their work.
Margery Freeman has been an educator for over 36 years, spanning the field from early childhood to public school and adult literacy education. During the 1980’s and early 1990’s, she worked with the National Council of Churches Child Advocacy office and directed a national church-related child care network. In 1995, Margery joined the adult literacy community and served for 10 years as executive director of YMCA Educational Services, the adult and family literacy branch of the YMCA of Greater New Orleans. From 2004 to 2007, she served as Regional Services Coordinator for ProLiteracy, an adult international literacy organization.
Margery is married to David Billings. They have three children and three grandchildren. David and Margery now live in McComb, Mississippi.
John Morrin (whose given ojibwe name is giniwogichada eagle warrior) comes from the miigizi dodem (eagle clan) of the Anishinabeg nation. He resides on the gichionigaming aki (Grand Portage Territory) of the Anishinabeg Nation. He presently serves as Vice-Chairman and Committeeman on the Grand Portage Reservation Business Committee/Tribal Council.
John has worked in the Minneapolis and Duluth Public Schools as a cultural teacher, social worker and student advocate. He has also been active in community organizing for 20 years on issues regarding Native American treaty rights, land claims, tribal government reform and undoing racism. John began doing full-time community to continue anti-racist organizing work. He was elected to the Grand Portage Tribal Council in 1998 and re-elected in 2002 becoming the Vice-Chairman at that time. John also works with the People’s Institute North with offices in Minneapolis, Duluth and Grand Portage.
John attended the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, with formal educational background in Criminal Justice Studies and American Indian Studies. He has extensive knowledge of treaty law and the history of Native & European-American relations and contributes much of his knowledge he has learned to elders and the many wise people he has been fortunate to meet. John is an excellent teacher, speaker and community organizer.
Diana Dunn is a core trainer and organizer with The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond. She has worked with the Institute since its inception in 1980 as one of its founding members. She was married to co-founder Dr. Jim Dunn, and worked with Jim for many years to see his dream of a training institute become a reality. For many years, she helped build the infrastructure of The People’s Institute. She now devotes her work to her first love, the organizing, training, working with people nationally and internationally and doing curriculum development.
Active in peace movements, the white women’s movement and community organizing since the late 1960s, Diana taught clinical microbiology and immunology at Wright University School of Medicine. Diana served as Director of Help Us Make A Nation, Inc. (HUMAN), one of the founding organizations of The People’ Institute, and is one of the founders of European Dissent, a local group that is seeking ways to break out of “gatekeeper roles” in this country’s institutionalized culture of racism. She is also one of the founding members and board president of the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center, and for a period, served as its interim Executive Director.
Diana now spends much of her time working with the health care institutions, providers, intern and resident programs, nurses and nursing programs, hospitals, clinic, medical schools and community groups, working to eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in health and health care. She is helping to bring grassroots innovative community organizing projects together with health care providers to understand and develop strategies to address health and health care disparities in the United States. Diana is the mother of Demian Robinson and Myisha Dunn, and grandmother of Moniqua and Mason Strum. She lives in New Orleans.
María I. Reinat-Pumarejo is co-director of Colectivo Ilé (Organizers for Consciousness-in Action), an organization committed to racial equity and social transformation in Puerto Rico and the US, which she co-founded in 1992. She has been organizing against racism and other forms of oppression since the early 1980s. Her passion, conviction, and vision are matched by her skill and knowledge in areas that include history, cultural studies, counseling psychology, spirituality, healing arts, transformative education, and organizational development.
María is also a Core Trainer with The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond, based in New Orleans, LA. She works closely with women’s organizations in Puerto Rico, the US, and internationally to support and join the leadership of other women of color. She is a member of the International Women’s Network Against Militarism, and speaks frequently to denounce the globalization of the “culture of imposition” in local, national, and international forums.
María worked as Youth Program Coordinator of the Peace Development Fund, a progressive national foundation, where she supported efforts across the US to teach young people about dismantling racism, sexism, ageism, and militarism, and to promote youth empowerment. She also worked in a number of key roles at Casa Latina, a Latino community organization in Northampton, MA. Her commitment to end militarism and colonialism has included civil disobedience actions to oppose the US Navy’s presence in Vieques, leading on two occasions to her arrest and incarceration. She has been nominated in 2005 for the Nobel Peace Prize as part of 1000 Women for Peace recognizing her anti-racist work.
Dr. Michael Washington, a Core Trainer since 1983, Dr. Washington is also a Professor of History at Northern Kentucky University where he designed and continues to direct the Afro-American Studies Program. He earned his docgtorate degree from the College of Education at the University of Cincinnati in 1984. In the early 1980’s, he and Rev. Daniel Buford co-founded Youth Against Militarism (YAM), which was the first antoracist youth organizing supported by The People’s Institute. He co-authored, with Ron Chisom, “Undoing Racism: A Philosophy for INternation Social Change” in 1996 and the second edition in 1997.
Michael continues to work with youth nationally and locally. He works closely with a student group in NKU’s campus called STAR (Students Together Against Racism) and SOAR (Students Organized ASgainst Racism ) on Tulane University’s campus in New Olreans. He hopes to maintain youthy involvement in the antri-racist community organizing process. Michael is the father of three sons: Michael JR. and Milo, who were both part of YAM and Chi’kah, who promises to be a very astute anti-racist organizer.