Over the last year, our country has repeatedly witnessed the devastating effects that gun violence has on America’s youth. In the aftermath of mass shootings like the ones at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, Santa Fe High, and the Las Vegas music festival, young people have spoken out, and mobilized for change. Young people understand that gun violence is intricately tied to criminal justice reform, and any solution to the gun violence epidemic must also address issues of criminal justice. Recognizing the leaders of today, Generation Progress is excited to announce the 2018-2019 #Fight4AFuture National Leadership Council for Gun Violence Prevention and Criminal Justice Reform.
At a time when gun violence has surpassed motor vehicle accidents as a leading killer of young people, our generation is taking action in bold and holistic ways. Young people are the leaders of the gun violence prevention and criminal justice reform movement, and Generation Progress will continue to uplift the voices of young people as they organize in their local communities, and at the national level.
In 2014, Generation Progress and the Center for American Progress hosted the inaugural, first-of-its-kind national summit on gun violence prevention and America’s youth. That first summit resulted in the formation of the Generation Progress Gun Violence Prevention and Criminal Justice Reform Netowork, now comprised of over 5,000 young activists nationwide. The FNLC will lead this diverse coalition of voices by building on a movement both inclusive and sensitive to the needs of communities impacted by gun violence and the criminal justice system.
Alina Amkhavong, Seattle, WA
Alina Amkhavong is a recent graduate from the University of Southern California where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in NGOs and Social Change with a minor in Occupational Science. Although born and raised in Seattle, she currently lives in south Los Angeles where she serves as a Volunteer Program Coordinator and Coach for a youth football program specifically for youth impacted by gang violence. She also works at USC’s Program for Environmental and Regional Equity and the Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration, both research centers focused on environmental justice, regional equity, and immigrant integration within California. Her personal experience with incarceration, gangs, and poverty has shaped and deepened her passion for gun violence prevention and criminal justice reform work. Alina hopes to return to her home community to pursue a Master of Public Health and continue advocating for an end to gun violence.
Anthony Robles, Los Angeles, CA
Anthony Robles is an organizer with the Youth Justice Coalition in Los Angeles. Previously, he worked on his college campus to create the Migrant Liberation Collective, an immigrant detention visitation and pen pal program. He also served as vice president of the Student Homie Union, a campus organization that helps and advocates for formerly incarcerated students. His passions for ending both gun violence and mass incarceration stem from his personal experiences. Anthony has witnessed two close friends killed by gun violence and has faced incarceration himself. To end both mass incarceration and gun violence, Anthony believes that creating grassroots people power, holding the state accountable, and practicing transformative justice are essential.
De Nichols, St. Louis, MO
De Nichols is a civic entrepreneur, lecturer, and arts organizer who mobilizes changemakers nationwide to design creative approaches to social, civic, and racial inequities that matter most to them and their communities. Because of her works such as the Mirror Casket (2014), United Story (2015), Sticky Note to Self, and FoodSpark, Nichols earned the St. Louis Visionary Award for catalyzing community impact through the arts and was named a 2017-2018 Citizen Artist Fellow with the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington, DC. De additionally serves as the youngest member of the Board of Directors for Forward through Ferguson—a non-profit developed to hold the St. Louis region accountable to racial equity following the Ferguson Uprising and 2014 murder of Michael Brown. She is a lecturer at Washington University in St. Louis and engages communities nationwide as a keynote speaker and facilitator of conversations regarding the intersections of race, urban design, and social innovation.
Emilio Lacques-Zapien, Los Angeles, CA
Emilio Lacques-Zapien grew up in Mid-City, Los Angeles and has over ten years of movement-building and grassroots organizing experience. As an undergraduate student at UCLA, he served on the United States Student Association Board of Directors for three years, organizing students across the country for educational justice. Locally, Emilio is a community and media justice organizer with the Youth Justice Coalition. The YJC is a youth-led grassroots non-profit organization based in South Central Los Angeles/Inglewood that works to end the mass incarceration, criminalization, deportation, and police violence, of and against youth and people of color across Los Angeles county and beyond. Emilio is presently focused on passing legislation in California that will help keep black and brown youth in school and out of prison, as well as organizing families affected by gun violence in the form of police brutality.
Karissa Anderson, St. Louis, MO
Karissa Anderson loves people, tacos, and music— in no particular order. She also has a keen interest in people-centered politics, macro-level social work, and traveling. With training in organizing, social work, and advocacy, Karissa uses her skills to try and make the world a better place. She studied communications at Southeast Missouri State University and earned a Master of Social Work from Saint Louis University. During the day she leads student-centered advocacy programming at The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis, where she gets to work with the most dope college students around. In addition to her day job, she works to build black and brown political power in St. Louis with the ultimate goal of building self-governing communities. Karissa comes to gun violence prevention work after the murder of her uncles James and Steve in 2014. Born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, an area that consistently has some of the highest murder rates in the country, gun violence has always been prevalent in her life. Karissa values community building, young people, and authentic relationships.
Kenneth Halt, Middletown, OH
Kenneth Halt is a first-generation college student on his father’s side and is slated to be graduating from Miami University of Ohio in the spring of 2019 with a bachelors in both Political Science and Urban & Regional Planning. He spent the first 19 years of his life living in Pittsburgh, PA, with the first nine of those years being spent living in the North Side before moving with his family to the South Hills. Moving from the North Side, a primarily black region of Pittsburgh that was plagued by poverty and gun violence, to the South Hills, where he’d eventually graduate from the same nearly exclusively white high school that billionaire Mark Cuban did, exposed him to the reality of the extreme racial inequalities in this country and the role that the ignorant words and beliefs of his white peers played in perpetuating gun violence in black communities. Kenneth hopes to use his education in urban planning and political science to push for social justice and prevent gun violence via community development that is inclusive. He also hopes to one day run for public office. In the meantime, he can be found using his life experiences and privileges to try to change the minds of his extremely conservative white-collar classmates, and blue-collar co-workers, on the topics of racism, sexual assault, and men’s mental health, through everyday interpersonal conversations.
Jaylan Scott, Macon, GA
Jaylan Scott is a passionate and savvy social media and political strategist with experience working with local, state, and national progressive campaigns. Either as a volunteer, staff member, or consultant, Jaylan has worked on major campaigns including Michael Blake’s campaign to Democratic National Committee Vice-Chair, and Stacey Abram’s historic run for Governor of Georgia. At 18-years-old, Jaylan serves as Executive Director of Black Youth Network, a member of the executive committee for the Macon-Bibb Democratic Party, Middle Georgia Regional Director for the Young Democrats of Georgia, Deputy Finance Director for the Young Democrats of America, and a former member of the Macon-Bibb County Youth Commission.
Jordan Madden, Stevens Point, WI
Jordan Madden is a 21-year-old from Stevens Point, WI and a recent graduate of the University of Wisconsin at Madison where he graduated with a bachelor’s of Political Science and Sociology Statistics with an emphasis on healthcare policy and criminal justice reform. Jordan was Wisconsin’s Harry S. Truman 2018 scholarship winner. He hopes to pursue a legal degree in public service. During his time as a college student he worked to politically organize young people on issues of gun violence prevention through campus advocacy and the Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort. He helped organize students to protest gun violence and was outspoken in campus-based initiatives like March for Our Lives and Cocks Not Glocks. He served on his school’s student government for two years championing progressive leadership on a variety of issues including reproductive healthcare and financial allocations. In the past, he’s also worked in Washington, DC in the office of Milwaukee’s U.S. Representative conducting legislative research. He hopes to one day earn a J.D. to legally advocate for the civil rights, healthcare, safety, and justice, of his community.
Joshua Till, Tahlequah, OK
Joshua Till got an early start in politics by interning for U.S. Representative Dan Boren while pursuing his political science degree at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, OK. He found his home in politics working on elections across the country and within the tribal nations. Joshua grew as a person during his race for congressional office which opened multiple doors for him; from being elected President of the Young Democrats, to organizing a grassroots campaign for several State Questions, to his work for the Oklahoma House of Representatives. Joshua knows firsthand the dangers of gun violence when in 2013 his family became the victims of one of the nation’s many mass shootings. Four women were murdered, and four children were shot. Many of those that lost their lives were members of his family. It was there that he knew a change had to be made. He has worked closely with Mom’s Demand Action, helped organize the Oklahoma charter of Students Demand Action, participated in organizing the Oklahoma City March for Our lives event, and worked diligently to kill SQ 1120 in Oklahoma which would’ve made the state a permit-less carry state. With Generation Progress Josh hopes to usher in a new era of a safe and responsible society.