Facing Race would not be possible without the support of the local Host Committee. The local host committee is composed of local grassroot organizers, city residents and employees who live and work in Phoenix and surrounding cities in Arizona. The Host Committee is an integral part of the planning process for the Facing Race conference. They ensure that the conference upholds the community benefit agreements and is a true reflection of the lived experiences of BIPOC folks in Arizona.
Meet our team
Keisha Acton (They/She), BLM Phoenix Metro
Keisha is a Black queer femme organizer who since living in Arizona has been directly impacted by racism and the carceral systems that exist here in Phoenix. These experiences have shaped Keisha's analysis and have become the driving force behind the work they do as a social justice organizer, direct action activist and abolitionist. Keisha has been organizing with BLMPM since July 2020 as co-minister of BLM's Activism Ministry, leads BLM's security and has been an integral part of building out the strategy and security infrastructure with the We Keep Us Safe Initiative along with Tempe’s Alternative to Police Pilot Project.
Laura Medina (She/Her), Matriarch Ways
Laura Medina identifies as an Ojibwe mom and Matriarch from the Grand Traverse Band in what is now called Michigan. She was raised on Yavapai territory in Fort McDowell and currently resides on the unceded territory of the Yavapai andl O'odham. Laura loves serving her people through organized efforts and in particular the Indigenous Peoples Day Arizona annual event. In addition to organizing events she serves through community advocacy, land/water defense, developing curriculum and conducting relevant research for the community. Strengths of Laura include but are not limited to decolonization, Indigenous resistance and resurgence.
Host Committee Members
Percy Christian (He/Him) - BLM Phoenix Metro/Lead Organizer
Hi everyone. My name is Lee Percy Christian III, but you may know me just as Percy in the activism world. I grew up near Cleveland, Ohio, learning to love my community early; my dad attended an HBCU and played a critical role in ensuring I love and know my Black history. I found myself in Arizona about 10 years ago where I have since grown to see the hurt and pain in the community I identify with, and call home.
I began my outward activism journey in 2020, first screaming the names of George Floyd, Dion Johnson, and Breonna Taylor, right here in the streets of Phoenix. I quickly found my voice as a Black man, not just in the streets, but in research, planning, and organizing. I was politically persecuted, twice, for using my voice to say that we have been living in a world of injustice and inequality for too long, and I am tired. My lineage is that of Black slaves and sitting back was just not an option anymore.
I have since been a part of the foundational steps and organizing in major events, rallies, protests, meetings, community outreach, and presentations, all very similar to this one. I am now an organizer with BLM Phoenix Metro and sit on the board with Facing Race: A National Conference, and plan to continue my work with these organizations, helping lead the way to a future where the existence of Black, and Brown, individuals are not neglected. Thank you.
Denise Yvonne Sotelo Mejía (She/Her) - Poder In Action
Denise Yvonne Sotelo Mejía is a Community Organizer in the City of Phoenix. She currently works with Poder in Action, an organization whose mission is to build power to disrupt and dismantle systems of oppression and determine a liberated future as people of color in Arizona through our lived experience, leadership development and civic participation.
As a Phoenix Native, they live in the community they serve and fight for. Denise is the happiest when reading and creating poetry and wholeheartedly believes in the power of the people and the ability to create change with unity and of course, abolition!
Asia (She/Her) - Black Girl Brown Girl Collective
Asia is a dancer, community supporter, and humanitarian raised in sunny Phoenix, Arizona. One of her passions is to create environments that are safe spaces for those to express themselves through different forms of art. Her role as Treasurer for the Black Girl Brown Girl Collective Inc provides that opportunity to use her passion in creating platforms for expressionism. She is grateful for the opportunity to serve as one of the host committee members for the Race Forward Conference.
Roc (She/her) - Black Girl Brown Girl Collective
Roc is an author, poet and a community organizer based in South Phoenix. She has a love for bringing people together and focuses on providing art-related programming to communities of color. This is demonstrated through her current role as Co-Founder and President/CEO of the Black Girl Brown Girl Collective Inc, which is a domestic non-profit that aims to celebrate and create platforms for all women to share their art through organizing educational, cultural and arts events. She is honored to serve on the host committee for the Race Forward Conference.
Ernesto Lopez (He/Him) - One Arizona
Ernesto started organizing in Arizona around immigration in 2005 during Sheriff Arpaio’s raids and Arizona’s harsh immigration policies like SB 1070. He then received his Masters in Social Work from Columbia University specializing in Nonprofit management. He moved back to Arizona in 2016 where he was a field organizer for Bazta Arapio, the campaign that defeated Arpaio in 16.
Ernesto was also the Development and Finance Director for Puente Human Rights Movement in 2016 where Ernesto increased Puente’s revenues by 400% in 3 years and helped develop their Youth Justice Program. In 2019 Ernesto became the Development Director for One Arizona and Arizona Wins leading the AZ infrastructure in a historic year. Ernesto is also a local food blogger and knows all the best food spots.
Alejandra Pablos (She/Her) - Community Organizer
Alejandra Pablos is a reproductive justice organizer and storyteller at the intersections of mass incarceration and immigration. She shares her abortion story as an act of resistance to fight abortion stigma and bring awareness to abolition and racial justice.
Joel Cornejo (They/Him) - Semillas Arizona
I’m Joel Cornejo with Semillas Arizona. Semillas Arizona is a grassroots human rights organization. We are migrant people of color from el barrio actively organizing against racist and classist institutions like police departments, ICE and Prisons/Detentions with a focus on Migrant rights.
Xyra Flores (She/They) - Trans Queer Pueblo
Xyra Flores (they/she) is queer, trans, nonbinary, Mexican-American, a lover of Yu-Gi-Oh!, a novice of Dungeons & Dragons + Coyote & Crow, a viera in Final Fantasy 14, and a former prostitute of human experience. Xyra organizes with Trans Queer Pueblo as the JotiPolíticAZ (Queer Politics AZ) coordinator, to inform their membership about the political goings-on in Phoenix and Arizona. They lead the #ENDmanifestationLAW campaign to bring awareness to Phoenix’s anti-sex worker laws, distribute resources and create cycles of community power with other LGBTQ+ people, migrants, sex workers and people of color.
Deybeth Ruiz (He/Him) - Trans Queer Pueblo
Deybeth is happiest when he is dancing cumbias sonideras from his home town - Puebla. He migrated to the U.S. after suffering violence and death threats because of his trans identity. Now he builds trans migrant power and fights criminalization by supporting undocumented trans and queer migrants through the Community Legal Course and other programs in the Community Defense Project that he coordinates.
Diego (He Him) - MECHA
MECHA originally started in the 1960s as a Chicano student organization for promoting political and cultural unity and empowerment. The organization has gone through many changes since then. Today, you do not need to be Chicano or a college student to join MECHA.
MECHA can today best be described as an internationalist anti-imperialist political organization operating in Pee Posh and O'odham land aka the valley of the sun (phoenix metro area). Internationalist means that we believe cooperation between the nations and the peoples of the world is the best way forward for humanity. Anti-imperialist means we oppose competition and exploitation between nations. MECHA is the Spanish word for fuse or wick. We believe MECHA will be the spark that starts the revolution. MECHA furthermore believes in Marxism-Leninism, democratic centralism, and decolonization and opposes colonialism, capitalism, imperialism, cisheteropatriarchy, and white-supremacy. Our goal is the empowerment and liberation of all colonized and oppressed people.
The 3 main components of MECHA are education, activism, and community work. MECHA utilizes its book club, podcast, zine, and events to discuss revolutionary ideas. MECHA organizes and hosts protests in support of causes that lead to liberation and the end of our collective oppression. MECHA also has a community garden and participates in activities that contribute to the distribution of resources and build up of community power.
Jasmine Snipes (They/Them) - Black Phoenix Organizing Collective
Jasmine Snipes (they/them pronouns) is the Owner and Principal Consultant of Jasmine Snipes Consulting, LLC. They provide versed and thoughtfully designed support and education on race, justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion. They support institutions, groups, and individuals through base work, discovery, and action. Examples of the content of their work with organizations, schools and camps include anti-racism, dismantling white supremacy, anti-discrimination, anti-bias practices, and social themes/awareness. They have been in practice for more than 19 years and are deeply passionate about the work. Jasmine studied Communication and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Community Advocacy and Social Policy from Arizona State University.
Prior to launching their own company, Jasmine was the Operations Lead for Black Lives Matter Phoenix Metro. They previously worked in the Arizona State House of Representatives and Senate administrative departments, as well as Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs’ Communications Department. Jasmine currently partners with the Anti-Defamation League, ONE Community and other independent consultants to provide Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (J.E.D.I.) education and facilitation. They currently serve as organizing director for black phoenix organizing collective, KAC Consultants member, and an Anytown Leadership Camp board member.
Some of Jasmine’s previous volunteer commitments include serving as a board member, Governance Committee member, and Racial Justice Chair of one•n•ten. They are also a former Young Talent Advisor for the Center for the Future for Arizona.
Anshantia “Tia” Oso is a culture strategist and creative producer. Well recognized for her work as a leader in social justice, Ms. Oso has organized for over 10 years leading successful campaigns to mobilize thousands of advocates for issues ranging from migrant rights and racial justice to arts education. She specializes in using narrative, messaging, arts and culture to advance change. Projects include the NY Times featured Who Owns Black Art? exhibition at Art Basel Miami and influencer impact strategy for Mass Bail Out. Her creative consulting agency has merged her love of all things culture into effective programming and marketing campaigns which champion Black artists and creative brilliance.