We are honored to have a dynamic group of speakers and performers representing a wide range of identities, organizations and experiences at this year’s march and rally!
Chali’Naru Dones is a United Confederation Of Taino People Rep and tribal member of the Iukaieke Guainia Taino Tribe. She is an active New England resident that focuses on educating and spreading awareness of Taino culture and practices in the East Coast. The United Confederation of Taino People (UCTP) is a Caribbean Indigenous leadership initiative and an “Inter-Tribal authority” inspired by ancient Taino and other indigenous confederacies as well as contemporary initiatives. Membership spans throughout the Greater and Lesser Antilles as well as the United States and beyond. The UCTP is dedicated to the promotion and protection of human rights, cultural heritage, and spiritual traditions of the Taíno and other Caribbean Indigenous Peoples for our present and future generations. In an effort to assist the citizens of the Taíno and other Caribbean Indigenous Nations in their social, economic, educational, cultural and spiritual development, THE UNITED CONFEDERATION OF TAINO PEOPLE (UCTP) has established an official population census and inter-tribal enrollment registry for our diverse communities throughout the Caribbean region and the Diaspora.
Tracye Whitfield entered the political arena in 2017 and became Springfield City Council Woman-at-Large in 2018. She is passionate about community involvement and engagement, public safety, workforce development and most importantly the wellbeing of individuals and societies. As the Co-Chair of the Mason Square C-3 Initiative, she works closely with residents, local organizations and police officers to improve quality of life. As the Director of Business Development for Training and Workforce Options (TWO), Tracye assists employers in developing custom training to strengthen incumbent employees’ skills and maximize their potential. Throughout a 20-year career Tracye has managed Springfield City budgets totaling over 34 million dollars, worked as data analyst for Springfield Technical Community College and an accounting specialist at MassMutual Financial Group, guided youth in advocacy and does a plethora of community service work. Additionally, she is the owner of TW Accounting Service, where her focus is individual and small business tax preparation and credit repair.
Kateri Walsh has been a Springfield City Councilor since 2003 and has previously served from 1987-1992. She is committed to moving the City of Springfield forward in economic development, decreasing the violence in our community, promoting first-class schools for our children, respecting our seniors, and supporting our veterans. She obtained a Bachelor’s Degree from Emmanuel College, and a Master of Education Degree from Springfield College. She’s a member of the Springfield Ten Point Coalition, the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women, the Springfield Women’s Commission, the Citizens Police Academy, and the Ward 6 Democratic Committee.
Denise (Estrada-Rosemond) Hurst was born and raised in the City of Springfield, MA. She is a graduate of UMass, Amherst, and Springfield College School of Social Work. Since 2009, Hurst has served as an elected member of the Springfield School Committee. She is currently the Secretary-Treasurer for the Massachusetts Association of School Committees, Inc and the former Chair of the Minority Caucus. With a career defined by community engagement, Hurst has been a policymaker and legislative advocate at the local, state and federal levels. Hurst’s path began as a social worker and clinician, ultimately rising to area director within the state Department of Mental Health. In 2016, Hurst was appointed by State Treasurer Deb Goldberg as regional manager of the Massachusetts State Lottery in Western Massachusetts. In December 2018, Hurst assumed the role of first ever, Vice President of Advancement and External Affairs at Springfield Technical Community College. Hurst is an inaugural graduate of Leadership Institute for Political and Public Impact, Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts, a member of the League of Women Voters, the Collective Majority, and a graduate of the 62nd Citizens’ Legislative Seminar, Massachusetts Senate. Most recently, Hurst was named 2019 Woman of the Year by the Professional Women’s Chamber.
Shanique Spalding is a native of Kingston Jamaica and current resident of Springfield MA. She is the Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of MA Western & Central MA Organizer. When she is not at work she wears many hats in her community: she’s a Commissioner of the Hampden County’s Women’s Commission, Female Vice Chair of Springfield City Democratic Committee and sits as secretary of the board of the Zonta Club, an international Women’s Organization that works to fight against violence against women globally. She is passionate about her community and she has spent the last six years committed to organizing around women’s, and people of color, social and racial justice issues. She believes that a life well lived is one spent giving back and helping those who have no voice, be heard.
Rhonda Anderson is Iñupiaq – Athabascan from Alaska. Her Native enrollment village is Kaktovik, and currently lives in Colrain, Massachusetts. Rhonda is most importantly, a Mother, as well as a classically trained Herbalist, Silversmith, and activist. She works as an educator within area schools, and when the occasion arises, an East Coast representative of Native Movement. Rhonda’s activism ranges from removal of mascots, lifting Indigenous issues of identity, presence, and Indigenous narratives, Water Protector, and protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from extractive industry.
Jax Padilla de la Rosa is a nonbinary Latinx leader in the Trans Asylum Seekers Support Network.
Juanita Batchelor is the founder the MORE Group, established to help by providing support networks, community education and therapeutic activities. We seek to advocate for MORE support, MORE resources, MORE unity and MORE justice in our community. Their mission is to embrace, encourage and offer hope to surviving families of homicide victims. To help them cope with loss, nurture their emotional well-being and support their healing by providing an environment where they can share and process their grief with others facing similar losses. They also seek to empower families to fight for justice for their loved ones in the community.
Zulmalee Rivera is a lifelong resident of Springfield, Massachusetts. Born into a family of community activists, leaders, and performers, it was only natural that Zulma grew to become a voice for people in her community. She has a passion for the performing arts and choreographs dance performances that depict social movements. Zulma joined Neighbor-to-Neighbor as the campaign manager for the first campaign of Springfield’s City Councilor Adam Gomez. As the current Springfield Chapter Organizer, Zulma has focused on building power and seeking economic justice for the poor and working communities.
Miranda Groux was recently made the Program Director at The Resistance Center for Peace & Justice in Northampton. Previously the Program Coordinator, Miranda conducted in-depth research exposing militarism in community–particularly our schools, while shining a light on the intersection of climate change and militarism. Miranda is also an active member of the Sunrise Movement– a national youth-led movement championing climate justice through the Green New Deal. As a member of Sunrise Northampton, Miranda helped create a coalition of Sunrise hubs in Western Massachusetts. In solidarity with Springfield No One Leaves and Arise for Social Justice, the coalition went on to organize the 12/6 Climate Strike in Springfield urging Rep. Richard Neal to sign onto the Green New Deal. Most recently, Miranda helped organize Northampton community’s rapid response to Trump’s dangerous escalation in Iran with vigils turning out hundreds of people.
Willa Sippel is a Senior at Northampton High school. Over the past few years, she’s focused on doing work in the climate movement, serving as co-hub coordinator and co-founder of Sunrise Northampton and co-leader of the Environmental Club at NHS. With those groups she’s helped organize multiple climate strikes, and co-drafted Northampton’s Green New Deal. Through her work, she is able to advocate for climate justice on both a community-action and legislative level. She’s also worked on other social justice initiatives, including speaking on a panel at the CLPP conference, working on the Northampton March for Our Lives, and performing music at the March for Our Lives and the Pioneer Valley Women’s March in 2018. For her work, she has been a recipient of the Hero for a Healthy Planet award from the Hitchcock Center and the Activist of the Year award from local High School Democrats.
Janell Smith is currently a freshman attending Bay Path University, double majoring in Business Administration and Marketing. She has previously volunteered for children youth advocacy groups during her time in high school and hopes to continue this work and expand during her time in college. Getting involved in the community and social justice movements because as a woman of color, she understands that the fight continues long after the march has ended.
Yolanda Cancel is a current Springfield resident and community organizer. She is the Founder & Director of Springfield Women Organize, a women’s social club for activists, organizers, philanthropists, business owners and community leaders in the greater Springfield area. She is the South End Citizens Council Board Director, the community outreach director for the Digital Boombox Network, a member of Neighbor to Neighbor, a Radio Personality and a co-host on The Natalia Muñoz show on WHMP 101.5 & 107.5 FM/ 1240 & 1400 am.
Cathy McNally is a trainer, speaker, coach, and stand-up comic who helps people “Say it better.” Her company, “Women Speak Up” helps women be more comfortable, confident, compelling speakers. She has also worked with activists, candidates, corporate clients, incarcerated women, and college students. Learn more at Womenspeakup.org.
Jeannette Rivera is the Regional Outreach Director for the Pioneer Valley Women’s March. She is a Community and Regional Field Organizer working for state election reform with Voter Choice for Massachusetts and the Equity, Inclusion & Diversity officer for the Chicopee Democratic City Committee. She is a proud member of Neighbor to Neighbor, The Boricua Solidarity Movement, Western Mass Medicare for All, and Our Revolution.
Gladys Natalia Franco Rodríguez is a community organizer and educational leader. She was born in Santurce and raised in Ponce, Puerto Rico. In 1992 she migrated with her family to Springfield, Massachusetts where she continues to reside with her daughters Natalia and Katalina. Gladys is the Chair of the Board of Directors of The Resistance Center for Peace and Justice, a non-profit organization that recognizes and addresses the ills perpetuated by a culture of militarism and economic oppression in the United States, and works towards a future based on peace and social justice in Western Massachusetts. As Clerk of the Migration Advocacy Committee, Gladys has focused on organizing community coalitions across the Valley in support of municipal legislation such as the Welcoming Community Trust Act and the Safe City Ordinance to protect the civil rights of migrants. Post Hurricane Maria, she mobilized colleagues at the Collaborative for Educational Services to send care packages to students and their families to the Angela Cordero Bernard Elementary School in Ponce, Puerto Rico. As Boricuas migrated to the Greater Springfield area, she organized family and friends to provide items of necessity to families staying in hotels or that had recently moved into new homes. In the summer of 2019, Gladys organized the Boricua Solidarity Movement to call attention and stand in solidarity with the protests against political corruption in Puerto Rico. The Boricua Solidarity Movement is a non-partisan movement of the people and for the people composed of a diversity of Boricuas, allies, and the support of community organizations all uniting to address the challenges affecting Puerto Rico and the diaspora. Gladys previously served as the vice-chair of the Board of Directors for the Puerto Rican Cultural Center in Springfield.
Nicole Nell AKA DJ Nicki Nell is the owner and operator of Visual Sound Productions.
Visual Sound Productions is an award winning entertainment company specializing in custom events.
Kae Price was born and raised in Boston. Since she was a young girl, she’s had a voice of an angel. She began to write her own music at the age of nine when she also became a part of the children’s choir at Berea Seventh Day Adventist Church in Boston. It was then she developed her skills and passion for singing. Kae is not only well known for her music and ambition in the Massachusetts area, but also in Connecticut and New York where she has performed at a number of events. She has won an award for “R&B Artist On The Look Out For” award along with the “Best Supporting Single Of The Year” at the Hip Hop Model Mayhem Awards in Connecticut. While on her continued musical journey, Kae continues to strive to make timeless music that will live on; using her heart, talent and experiences to do so.
The Red Rebel Brigade is part of Extinction Rebellion, formed in Western Mass in September, 2019 with dancer/choreographer Tyler Rai as the director. It was founded in Bristol, England only a year by the Invisible Circus Street Theater Company and since, has captured world wide attention in bringing awareness to the climate emergency. Since September, the Red Rebel Brigade has been moving together, building a repertory of gestures, and building ensemble, every two weeks. Dressed in blood red robes, faces painted white, they act, as they process, as the silent witness, the space holder, the Greek chorus, the calm center in the eye of the storm.