The Advisory Committee plays an important role in the oversight of The Social Justice Fund. The goals of the Committee are to:
- Provide feedback on the Fund’s guidelines and processes to ensure that the Fund is responsive to the needs of the social justice community.
- Assist in the design of the learning and networking sessions that will be offered to grantees and help Foundation program staff to be aware of issues pertaining to this field of work.
- Serve as ambassadors, helping the community to better understand The Social Justice Fund.
Advisory Committee Members
- Christina Acuna Castillo
Christina Acuna Castillo is a woman from the Quechua people in Peru who has been residing in Pittsburgh for the last 5-and-a-half years. She was raised by her grandmother in Peru and by her family in New York. She finds a home in both places.
Currently, she co-teaches Latinx youth in Pittsburgh about ways to support, protect and preserve memories/realities of our cultures and of each other. Christina is also a translator for recently resettled Spanish-speaking refugees in Pittsburgh, and is a part of ongoing campaigns to fight for undocumented immigrant rights in Pittsburgh.
Christina also plays the antara and makes art for various organizations in Pittsburgh who strive for racial and economic justice.
- Dustin Gibson
Dustin Gibson is a community builder who develops [heart]work to undo ableism and racism, while operating through a framework of Disability Justice. Alongside community members and grassroots organizations collectively, he aims to support low/no income communities and end all forms of violence inflicted upon people with disabilities. He has worked with all three Centers for Independent Living in the Pittsburgh region and holds positions with both of the national Independent Living organizations.
He is also a co-founder of the disability-led organization, Disability Advocates for Rights and Transition, where he works to end the incarceration/institutionalization of people with disabilities. Through efforts such as the Harriet Tubman Collective, Dustin stands on the shoulders and beside of a long list of black and disabled and/or deaf revolutionaries.
- Jasiri X
Jasiri X is the first independent hip-hop artist to be awarded an Honorary Doctorate, which he received from Chicago Theological Seminary in 2016. This recognition grew out of the spiritual/political urgency and artistic vision he shared on songs like “Justice For Trayvon” and “Strange Fruit”, which documented the unjust police killings of young blacks in the millennial generation. Likewise, he has been deeply involved with the national Movement for Black Lives, working with organizations like The Gathering for Justice, Blackout for Human Rights, Justice or Else, BYP100 and Sankofa. He remains rooted in the Pittsburgh-based organization he founded, 1Hood Media, which teaches youth of color how to analyze and create media for themselves.
His album, Black Liberation Theology (2015), has been recognized as a soundtrack for today’s civil rights movement. He has performed his music from the Smithsonian to the Apollo Theater and has discussed his views on hip-hop, race and politics at leading institutions across the nation, including Harvard University, the University of Chicago, NYU, Yale and Stanford among others.
Beyond his work nationally, Jasiri’s focus on social change has also touched the global arena. In 2016, he was commissioned by The Open Society Foundation to travel to Columbia to create a film, War on Us, with Grammy Award-winning hip-hop artist Rhymefest, that highlights the international effects of U.S. drug policy in South America.
As an important political voice of his generation, in 2017 he received the Nathan Cummings Foundation Fellowship to start the 1Hood Artivist Academy. Jasiri is also a recipient of the USA Cummings Fellowship in Music and the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Artist as Activist Fellowship.
- Instagram: @jasiri_x
- Facebook: http://facebook.com/jasiriofficial
- Medina Jackson
Medina Jackson, M.S.W., is the director of engagement for The P.R.I.D.E. Program (Positive Racial Identity Development in Early Education), an initiative out of the University of Pittsburgh School of Education’s Office of Child Development, whose mission is to help young African American children ages 3 to 8 understand and embrace their race, ethnicity and heritage with dignity and love. With P.R.I.D.E., Medina oversees community, parent and arts engagement strategies including the popular PRIDE Pop-Up Mini Arts Festivals. She is an advocate of culturally relevant and socially practical educational models and approaches that effectively engage youth, families and communities and has worked on a variety of projects in that area.
Medina (artistically known as “I Medina”) is also a spoken word and Hip Hop artist, blogger, mama, community educator and 2017 Pittsburgh Magazine 40 Under 40 honoree. She is currently working on her second album, Minimalist Mob Music: A Spoken Word Hip Hop Hybrid, and her first book of poems and perspective, "Affirmations of a Brown Suga from Berkeley."
You can see the performance of her four-poem spoken word set "The Renaissance of HER" in several venues in Pittsburgh. She is a proud advisory board member of the Heinz Endowments Transformative Arts Process and The Pittsburgh Foundation’s Social Justice Fund.
Originally from South Berkeley, California, Medina moved to Pittsburgh in 2001 to obtain her masters degree in social work with a concentration in community organization and social administration concentration from the University of Pittsburgh and has been committed to this city ever since.
- You can find her on Facebook.
- Read her blog: Refined and Fly
- For booking inquiries, email her: medinajackson78 [at] gmail.com.
- Adeniji Valerie Williams Lawrence
Adeniji Valerie Williams Lawrence is a Yoruba Priestess, an avid reader who has amassed over 1500 titles in her personal library, and a poet, playwright and creative writer.
She is stirred by the brilliance of Morrison, Gaines, Okri, Cooper, Baldwin, Hurston, Hopkinson, Penny, Wilson and many others. Her poetry collections include “What’s Your Hair Like After U Wash It?,” “Bring Back the Drums” and “Southern Skies Cry,” all published by Magnolia Press. Her poetry has appeared in numerous publications including Shooting Star Literary Journal, Catalyst, The Pennsylvania Review and Beijing and Beyond.
Her plays have taken life on the stages of Kuntu Repertory Theatre, The Children’s Festival of Pittsburgh and in community and educational settings. She passionately embraces the rich legacy of African culture represented throughout the diaspora and in the voice and genius of its elders and promise of its children.
Her creative work explores the struggles, spirit and success of African American families living in America, particularly the deep south, which sometimes seems indistinguishable from ‘up south’ states. She aspires to create literary work that is transformative, restorative, transmitting messages of hope, self-determination, strength and beauty for African peoples, which by Africans being the mother and father of human civilization, makes her work universal. Her knowledge, talent and scholarship are informed by reading; travel throughout North America, West Africa, Asia, Europe and South America; and through academic achievements, which include baccalaureate studies in nursing at Dillard University; bachelor's degree in communications, master’s degree in organization and leadership transformation, and doctoral studies at the School of Business at Capella University.