Tarana J. Burke
Social Justice Activist · “Me Too” Movement Founder
For more than 25 years, activist, advocate and #metoo founder Tarana J. Burke has worked at the intersection of racial justice and sexual violence. Burke has created and led various campaigns to increase awareness of and interrupt sexual violence and other systemic inequalities, particularly for black women and girls, through increased access to resources for disproportionately marginalized people and communities. She is the founder of Just Be Inc., an organization committed to the empowerment and wellness of black girls; and is currently the senior director at Girls for Gender Equity (GGE), an intergenerational nonprofit based in Brooklyn, NY that strengthens local communities by creating opportunities for young women and girls to live self-determined lives. As a Time magazine 2017 Person of the Year, Burke has been dubbed a “silence breaker” and global leader in the evolving conversation around sexual violence and the need for survivor-centered solution.
Gender Violence Resister & Change Agent · Good Will Ambassador
As a survivor of female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced child marriage, Jaha Dukureh has been a lightning rod for change. Her successful campaign to have FGM and child marriage banned in The Gambia led to her nomination in 2018 for the Nobel Peace Prize. Dukureh has also gathered national grassroots support to call for the first national survey to determine the prevalence rate of FGM in the United States, where she lives when not in The Gambia. The survey inspired over 225,000 signatures and the attention of President Obama. The founder of the nonprofit organization Safe Hands for Girls, Dukureh is the subject of a documentary entitled Jaha’s Promise. In 2016, she was named one of Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World;” in 2017, New African magazine selected her as “One of the Most Influential Africans” and in February 2018, Dukureh was named the first UN Women Regional Goodwill Ambassador for Africa.
Dr. Pamela R. Edington /
Dutchess Community College
Champion, Educational Accessibility, Diversity & Civic Engagement
Pamela R. Edington became Dutchess Community College’s fifth – and first female – president in August 2014. Established in 1957, DCC provides transformative educational opportunities for students and community members. One of the most highly regarded community colleges in the SUNY system, DCC has a well-earned reputation for providing a quality, affordable, accessible education to the residents of Dutchess County and beyond.
Dr. Edington’s professional life has been dedicated to making a difference, particularly through higher education that is accessible, equitable and inclusive. She has distinguished herself as a leader gifted in creating linkages between people and organizations to leverage resources and facilitate positive change. Reducing barriers to post-secondary education, especially for adult women, has been a hallmark of her work.
In 2015, Dr. Edington worked with the campus community to collaboratively identify diversity as both a value and a goal, which resulted in successful efforts to recruit a more diverse faculty and staff, enhance outreach to underserved populations, and foster an environment that is inclusive and equitable for all. Dr. Edington’s vision has reduced barriers to post-secondary education, and, in the last four years, she has: led the development of paraprofessional-to-teacher certificate programs for working parents; paved the way for a local, off-campus neighborhood center to serve residents in need of English language skills; and launched an on-campus life and job skills program for young adults with developmental disabilities. Named a “Beacon of Vision, Hope and Action” in 2001 by the National Center for Community Engagement, her work continues to support Dutchess Community College as a leader in community engagement, working with local partners to leverage resources to achieve shared goals that enhance the quality of life in the Hudson Valley region.
Roberta “Robbie” Kaplan
Gender Equity & Civil Rights Advocate
Roberta (Robbie) Kaplan is founding partner of Kaplan Hecker & Fink, LLP, one of a handful of women-led elite litigation firms in the country. In front of the Supreme Court, Kaplan represented Edith Windsor in the landmark case United States v. Windsor, arguing that a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional. The ruling led to marriage equality nationwide. Ms. Kaplan also helped launch the Times Up Legal Defense Fund to provide representation to women who have experienced sexual harassment. Working with the non-profit Integrity First for America, Kaplan is currently suing two dozen neo-Nazis and white supremacists responsible for coordinating the violence that took place in Charlottesville, VA in August 2017. Kaplan has received numerous awards for her legal work and is the author of Then Comes Marriage: United States v. Windsor and the Defeat of DOMA, a Los Angeles Times best book of 2015 that was hailed by President Bill Clinton as “A riveting account of a watershed moment in our history.”
Honorable Albert M. Rosenblatt
Protector, Judicial Integrity & Ethics
One the most highly respected members of the New York State Judiciary, the Honorable Albert M. Rosenblatt has dedicated his life to public service, first serving the people of Dutchess County as an attorney and judge and later rising to the bench of the NYS Supreme Court. Described as a “people’s judge,” his opinions have been distinguished by their fairness and compassion as well as legal scholarship, and praised for their integrity and ethics. Known for his professional, intellectual and athletic pursuits, Judge Rosenblatt created such a friendly but dignified atmosphere in his courtrooms that well over 90 percent of his cases never had to go to trial. Some of his most notable contributions to judicial practice include creating the Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics; spearheading jury reform initiatives; and establishing the Judicial Commission on Minorities, the Permanent Judicial Commission on Justice for Children, and the Committee to Improve the Availability of Legal Services.
Genocide Chronicler & Human Rights Defender
The memoir, First They Killed My Father, about surviving the Cambodian genocide as a child, was written by activist, bestselling author and 1997 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Loung Ung and made into a critically-acclaimed feature film co-written by Ung and the movie’s producer and director, Angelina Jolie. The book, which received the Asian/Pacific American Librarians’ Association Award for Excellence in Adult Non-fiction Literature (2001), is widely taught in high schools and universities across the United States and internationally and frequently selected for community read programs. Ung also co-wrote Girl Rising, a groundbreaking documentary film directed by Academy Award nominee Richard Robbins, about girls attaining education against great odds. Ung’s other books include Lucky Child: A Daughter of Cambodia Reunites with the Sister She Left Behind and Lulu in the Sky: A Daughter of Cambodia Finds Love, Healing and Double Happiness. For 10 years, Ung was the spokesperson for the “Campaign for a Landmine Free World,” a project of the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation that co-founded the International Campaign to Ban Landmines.