Meet the Candidates for PA's 2021 Board of Directors

Your 2020 PA Board of Directors is pleased to announce the slate of candidates and officers for next year’s board. Current PA members will have the chance to approve this slate at our December 13 membership meeting. Prior to that meeting, please take the time to read more about each candidate in the following personal statements and bios.

Adam Beyer

Bio: A Durham native, Adam Beyer (he/him/his) is passionate about furthering a progressive future and culture of inclusion in his hometown. Previously, he worked at the Hart Leadership Program at the Sanford School of Public Policy, where he focused on developing opportunities for students to get involved in their communities. In 2018, he served as an organizer on Sen. Jon Tester’s successful reelection campaign in Great Falls, Montana. He is currently a first-year law student at Duke University.

Personal statement:I want to join the board of the People’s Alliance because I see this organization as one of Durham’s best forces for pushing progressive policies that help improve the people’s lives. I’ve lived here practically my entire life. This city has raised me, and I feel deeply indebted to it. However, rising economic inequality (largely driven by the effects of racism), lack of affordable housing, and unsustainable suburban growth all pose major challenges to our future.

I want the PA to return to its feisty roots in activism and organizing — to be more than a group that makes electoral endorsements — in order to tackle these tough problems. We should hold our elected officials, business and NGO leaders accountable throughout the year to make Durham a model for North Carolina and the nation. 

Although we have a vindictive and domineering state legislature, that should not excuse our officials from getting creative and feeling emboldened to take strategic risks when necessary. As an organization, the PA should push our leaders to do good work and support them as they do it. We must also make sure that our efforts include leaders beyond those in elected office. Duke has incredible power in Durham and can be forced to respond to public pressure, for instance. 

Serving on the board would be an amazing opportunity to contribute to the work of an organization that has had an incredible impact on Durham’s past. I want to be part of shaping our collective future.”

Carl Rist

Bio: Carl Rist is an independent consultant located in Durham, NC, who focuses on asset-building and financial security strategies designed to benefit residents in low-income communities.  Previously, Carl spent almost 30 years at the DC-based think-tank, Prosperity Now (formerly the Corporation for Enterprise Development), working on a variety of strategies to expand economic opportunity and help lower-income households build wealth.  Carl is currently the board chair of NC Child, North Carolina's only multi-issue, child advocacy organization, and the vice chair of the Self-Help Federal Credit Union.  Carl earned an M.A. in public policy in 1991 from the Sanford Institute of Public Policy at Duke University. He also holds an undergraduate degree from Davidson College.

Personal statement: I have been a long-time PA member, having previously served on the PA board and having twice held the position of PA co-president.  Since I last cycled off the board to devote my time to the Economic Justice Action Team, PA has grown in size, strength and diversity.  I would like to bring the perspective of a long-time PA member and volunteer to the board to help strengthen the important progressive issues work that an exciting,  younger and more diverse board is driving.”

Italo Medelius

Bio: Italo Medelius is a first-generation immigrant from Lima, Peru, who came directly to North Carolina in 2003. A proud product of the North Carolina public education system, Italo is currently pursuing his Juris Doctorate at North Carolina Central University, a Historically Black University (HBCU). Italo has been a farm worker, labor organizer, recruiter, workforce development specialist, and equity and inclusion professional. He has developed workforce development initiatives for underserved Latino communities, including undocumented people, migrant workers, long-term unemployed workers, TGNC folks, and people living with HIV. Italo has worked across various specialties within labor advocacy, which includes mediations with bosses, organizing wildcat strikes, organizing workers, providing workers with media training, providing job placement services, and advocating for workers in front of local governments. Italo has also organized as a volunteer with political campaigns, including the 2016 Bernie Sanders Presidential Campaign and 2018 Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Congressional Campaign. Upon returning to North Carolina after a brief stint in New York, he joined the 2020 Bernie Sanders Campaign as an HBCU Organizer and Durham Victory Captain and, in his first election, was elected as a delegate to the 2020 Democratic National Convention representing NC's 4th Congressional District. He was then elected as a North Carolina Whip for the Sanders Delegation by his fellow delegates. Italo serves as Chair of the Durham County Boxing and Wrestling Commission and Vice Chair of the Durham Mayor's Hispanic-Latino Committee, where he currently serves on various subcommittees overseeing municipal response to COVID-19. He is also active in statewide initiatives, such as Equality NC's Political Action Committee, the Southern Workers Alliance, el Comite de 100 Latinos, the North Carolina Medicare for All Coalition, and the Poor People's Campaign.

Personal statement:People's Alliance is such a unique political space in Durham. There are many civic, progressive, issue-based organizations that are important spaces where community members strategize on pressuring those who hold political power, but PA has been able to create a space where the people, civic leaders, and political leaders are in the same room. I think that is such an interesting space that can facilitate a beautiful show of democracy; much like anything else it needs people-based, people-powered steering so that there is an equitable, grassroots, and democratic discussion and implementation of ideas. What better place to discuss huge ideas like a municipal universal jobs program as proposed by the City's Racial Equity Task Force, or municipal voting rights for our undocumented neighbors, or the nitty-gritty of policing reinvention? For all of these ideas to be discussed, dissected, and developed by the people, government, and civic leaders, we need to be open to diversity of thought, experience, class, political sentiment, and more. I hope to bring a perspective from my experiences as a first generation immigrant from Peru, a bisexual person, an HBCU law student, and younger millennial. Much like I try to do in the Durham Mayor's Hispanic-Latino Committee, I hope to create opportunities to uplift everyone's voice who may or may not share my same experiences and create a much more inclusive way to advance our local politics. I think PA is the perfect way to share those sentiments, have wonderful discussions, and learn from all perspectives at the table, but most importantly, help uplift voices that historically have not had a seat at the table.”

Mab Segrest

Bio: Mab Segrest is an activist, writer and teacher first moved to Durham from Alabama in 1972 to attend Duke grad school. She stayed for thirty years, joining the activist community in Durham and coming out as a lesbian. In Durham she worked with the Feminary collective on a lesbian-feminist "journal for the South" and in the 1980s organized with North Carolinians Against Racist and Religious Violence against Klan and neo-Nazi movements. She was one of six lesbians who Co-Founded Southerners on New Ground (SONG) in 1993. She moved to Connecticut in 2002 to head the Connecticut College Gender and Women's Studies Dept in New London, commuting frequently to Durham where her family lived. She retired in 2014 and after a sojourn in Brooklyn returned to Durham in 2017. She has been a member of, fellow traveled with, and followed the work of People's Alliance since the early 1970s. She volunteers with Durham Beyond Policing.

Personal statement: “When I was 21 I came to Durham from Alabama to attend Duke grad school and became deeply engaged in the Durham community as I finished my PhD. In fact, I spent the most formative years of my life here before moving to CT for a teaching job, then to NYC post-retirement. I returned to Durham three years ago because more than any other place it feels like home. I knew the work of PA from the "old days" and was very impressed with the organization's endorsements seemed to have changed the politics and the demographics of Durham elected officials. I would like to contribute more directly to the work of PA and to glean what I can learn about the city from my service. "

Millicent Rogers

Bio: Millicent Rogers, a Durham native, is a graduate of Appalachian State University. Millicent started her advocacy work in high school while attending Durham School of the Arts. She redirected her advocacy for a youth focus after the birth of her son, working with his school’s local PTA unit. It is through her PTA experience that she gained an understanding of the need for greater advocacy in Durham and across the state for all students. She currently serves as the Board Chair for Rebound, Alternatives for Youth and Action Team Co-Lead of PA's own Education Action Team. She has previously served as local PTA units’ President and Vice President. 

Personal statement: “I am interested in making sure that our board reflects a progressive vision for Durham.  I would like to see the vision of the PA Action Teams develop into a platform that the board can support through programming and events.”

Sendolo Diaminah

Bio: Sendolo Diaminah is an organizer, trainer, and strategist with experience in community and electoral organizing, as well as elected office. Sendolo is co-director of the Carolina Federation and was previously training director at Black Organizing for Leadership & Dignity (BOLD).

Personal statement: I believe that PA (and Durham) are at a turning point. If we are able to transform the way we practice conflict and the way we build organizations for racial and social justice, then I think we will be able to make huge breakthroughs in the next few years as our movements and elected bodies move to the Left. If we don't, I think the gains we've made over the last few years will be lost. We can create an environment where more people want to step into leadership and office -- especially people of color and working class people. Or we can head towards a Durham where our best people avoid leadership because what they expect is tokenism, personal attacks, and disdain rather than solidarity, courageous honesty, and support.

I want to serve on the board because I want to contribute practices and ideas for addressing race, power, leadership and organization. I want to help create courageous and authentic dialogue between PA and people of color-led organizations in Durham. I want to confront framings of race that disappear the experiences of working-class and queer Black people. I want to build an organizational culture that nurtures and unflinchingly challenges our leaders.

As the board enters into a strategic planning process, I also think I have something to offer around structures of leader and member development. I believe in membership organizations and I believe that building PA into a strong force for racial and other forms of justice means deepening engagement with the membership and building stronger pipelines to leadership.”

Returning board members

The following 2020 board members are returning to the board in 2021 for the second year of their term:

  • Ameshia Cooper
  • Dabney Hopkins
  • Elizabeth Simpson
  • Fredrick Farrington
  • Matthew Messena
  • Ricky Leung

2021 board officers 

The proposed candidates for next year's board officers are as follows:

  • Co-presidents: Elizabeth Simpson and Millicent Rogers
  • Secretary: Ricky Leung
  • Co-treasurers: Carl Rist and Matthew Messana

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  • Page McCullough
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