Carmen Perez is the Executive Director of The Gathering for Justice, an inter-generational, inter-cultural social justice, civil rights organization rooted in history, spirituality and nonviolent direct action. Her record of accomplishments spans a decade of public service in the areas of national and international organizing, youth development, leadership enhancement, education and training, gender-specific program development for young women, policy advocacy, and she is most knowledgeable in the areas of juvenile and adult systems, and probation. Proposed advocacy project: fostering leadership among detained youth and strengthening ties with organized labor.
Carmen Perez has been an activist nearly her entire life. After the death of her 19 year-old sister when she was just 17, Carmen began to restore herself by dedicating her life to transforming the lives of young people. After graduating from UC Santa Cruz with a degree in Psychology in 2001, Carmen was dedicated to the pursuit of advocating for young men and women, and providing comprehensive leadership training and opportunities for individuals in and out of the criminal justice system.
Her work in Santa Cruz became well-known in the community and across the country. Carmen is the founder of the youth leadership group R.E.A.L. (Reforming Education, Advocating for Leadership) and Co-Founder of The Girls Task Force, which is dedicated to improving gender-specific services to better support all girls in our communities. She created and supported the “Youth Summit” concept where young people came together to discuss solutions on serious topics such as drug and alcohol reform, detention alternatives, gangs, and violence. Recommendations that came out of the group discussion were often presented and adopted by community and state-wide policy makers throughout California
In 2002, Carmen went to work for Barrios Unidos in Santa Cruz – an organization dedicated to providing non-violence training and re-entry services for the incarcerated, and establishing an Institute for peace and community development in Santa Cruz and across the country. In 2005, while working for Barrios Unidos, Carmen met the man who would influence the next decade of her life – Harry Belafonte. Mr. Belafonte was forming [The Gathering for Justice], and was organizing huge masses of marginalized communities in non-violent settings across the country – and he invited Carmen to be a part of it. Through her work at Barrios Unidos, and a member of The Gathering, Carmen served both organizations while continuing to build her own programs focused on young girls and youth justice. In 2006, Carmen went to work for the Santa Cruz County Probation Department as a bilingual Probation Officer. With an all-female intensive caseload, Carmen worked tirelessly to provide appropriate programs and re-entry services for young women in the juvenile justice system.
In 2008 Carmen became the National Organizer of The Gathering for Justice and in 2010 she was promoted to Executive Director of the organizer. As Executive Director of The Gathering, Carmen has crossed the globe promoting peace, interconnectedness, and alternatives to incarceration and violence while collaborating in national policy presentations. In 2011, after moving her base of operations to New York, Carmen was tapped to help develop Purple Gold, a young worker’ s program that engages and cultivates the membership of 1199SEIU’s 35-and-under members, while setting the future for the Labor Movement. For two years she directed Purple Gold’s operations and program development across the boroughs of New York City.
Carmen has been featured on several TV programs and in numerous articles, and is the 2008 recipient of United Way’s “Community Hero Award,” and Santa Cruz County Women’s Commission “Trailblazer’s Award in Criminal Justice.” She was presented a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition for Outstanding and Invaluable Service to the Community, and received the “Zaragoza Award” from the Committee for the Mexican Culture at D.V.I. Prison in Tracy, for her contribution and dedication to bringing hope to incarcerated men. In May of 2014, she had the opportunity to share her life’s work and delivered her 1st TEDx Talk inside Ironwood State Prison hosted by Richard Branson and produced by Scott Budnick. She has recently been accepted into the Women’s Media Center Progressive Women’s Voices Class of 2014.http://www.gatheringforjustice.org/staff-profiles/#carmenperez]</ref>
- Studied Psychology at University of California, Santa Cruz
- Went to Hueneme High School
- Co-Founder at Justice League NYC
- Works at 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East
- Executive Director at The Gathering for Justice
- Executive Director at Harry Belafonte
- Former Deputy Probation Officer II at Santa Cruz County Probation Department
- Former Community Organizer/Prison Project Coordinator/Executive Assistant at Santa Cruz Barrios Unidos
Dream Defenders Palestine Delegation
Dream Defenders Palestine Delegation toured "Palestine" and in Israel, early January 2015.Dream Defenders (Phillip Agnew, Ciara Taylor, Steven Pargett, Sherika Shaw, Ahmad Abuznaid), Tef Poe and Tara Thompson (Ferguson/Hands Up United), journalist Marc Lamont Hill, Cherrell Brown and Carmen Perez (Justice League NYC), Charlene Carruthers (Black Youth Project), poet and artist Aja Monet, Patrisse Cullors (Black Lives Matter), and Maytha Alhassen.
On a historic trip to Palestine, freedom fighters from Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago, New York, Ferguson, and Atlanta were able to witness firsthand the effects of Israeli apartheid and occupation, and to learn from the people who are actively resisting on the front lines. In Nazareth, the delegates decided to do a solidarity demonstration as a call for support of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign that was called for by Palestinian civil society in 2005.
This demonstration was coordinated by Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of #BlackLivesMatter, and features "Ella's Song" by Sweet Honey in the Rock, sung by Charlene Carruthers, National Director of the Black Youth Project 100 and Dream Defenders’ Executive Director Phillip Agnew; poet, artist, and New York Justice League member, Aja Monet; rapper and Ferguson/Hands Up United organizer Tef Poe, and Ferguson/ Hands Up United organizer, Tara Thompson. Dream Defenders Ciara Taylor, Steven Pargett, Sherika Shaw, and Ahmad Abuznaid, journalist Marc Lamont Hill, New York Justice League organizers Cherrell Brown and Carmen Perez, and Maytha Alhassen, a University of Southern California Doctoral Candidate, are seen preforming the debke, a traditional Palestinian folk dance.
9 day march
April 20, 2015, Linda Sarsour (Co-Founder of Muslims for Ferguson) and fellow marchers finished their 9 day march from New York City to D.C., where they will soon deliver a "justice package" demanding police accountability, an end to racial profiling and police militarization, and much more. They finished their 250 mile march but the struggle has just begun. As Linda said: "Many more journeys towards Justice to complete. We will travel as far as needed until our people are free."
Left Forum 2015
Ferguson to New York: Faces and Voices of a Movement
- Jim Vrettos, Chair ............................... John Jay College -- Sociology Department
- Immortal Technique ............................................................................... Viper Records
- Danny Aguilar ...............................................................Union Theological Seminary
- Reverend Osagyefo Sekou ............................ Fellowship of Reconcilliation
- Leslie MacFadyen ........................................................ Ferguson Response Network
- Tamika Mallory .................................Executive Director, National Action Network
- Carmen Perez ...................................Executive Director, The Gathering For Justice
- Sahaah Jordan
Matt Meyer June 4 2016;
- Tamika Mallory, Women’s March co-chair
- Carmen Perez, Women’s March co-chair
- Linda Sarsour, Women’s March co-chair
- Bob Bland, Women’s March co-chair