Click here for our complete agenda: Northeast Agenda and check out some highlights below


Friday, November 11 2016

We welcome guests to our conference with special activities including a Student Group Caucus, Local Group Caucus, Write for Rights Event, and a Resolutions 101.  Friday welcome activities take place from 6:00pm-9:00pm at the host hotel, the Hyatt Regency Cambridge.


Saturday, November 12 2016

Saturday events kick off with a musical performance at 8:30am by The Eastern Medicine Singers and closes at 6:30pm after a candlelight reading of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Throughout the day, you’ll find over 30 workshops, three panel sessions, and inspiring plenaries.  


Featured Speakers:

Jason Motlagh is an award-winning writer, photographer and filmmaker. Formerly TIME Magazine’s Afghanistan correspondent, he has reported from more than fifty countries and a dozen conflict zones spanning West Africa to Southeast Asia for The Washington Post,The Guardian, Economist andNational Geographic. In 2010, he won the National Magazine Award for News Reporting for “Sixty Hours of Terror,” a four-part VQR series on the Mumbai terror attacks. His essay, "The Ghosts of Rana Plaza," was a finalist for the 2015 National Magazine Award in Reporting and winner of the Overseas Press Club's Madeline Dane Ross award for best international reporting on the human condition, along with the Daniel Pearl Award for best reporting on South Asia.

In 2016, Jason was named the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting's first International Reporting Fellow. His photographs have featured in leading newspapers, magazines, festivals and global advocacy campaigns. He is the founder of Blackbeard Films, an Oakland, California-based company that produces news documentaries for Al Jazeera English, National Geographic, PBS Newshour and others. He is also an on-camera presenter for AJ+, Faultlines and SBS Dateline.


Featured Panels & Panelists

I Welcome: Why the global refugee crisis can not be ignored!

A dramatic increase of global conflict and persecution has forced a record 60 million people to flee their homes in search of safety.  


Being Muslim in America: Confronting Prejudice and Hate

Prominent American Muslims will discuss rising anti-Muslim hate in the U.S. and highlight the links between the politics of hate and fear and human rights violations including indiscriminate mass surveillance, Guantanamo and global war. 


Nadeem Mazen is an educator, entrepreneur, and community organizer. Mr. Mazen was elected to Cambridge City Council in 2013 after an energetic grassroots campaign, winning by just 6 votes - being returned to office in 2015 with the most votes across 23 candidates for City Council. Councilman Nazem is the first Muslim to hold elected office in Massachusetts.  In his first two terms, he has worked to make city government more accessible to the public and is building coalitions that address Cambridge’s most pressing issues. He has also focused on social justice issues and greater equity for all members of our community. Mr. Mazen first arrived in Cambridge to study Engineering at MIT. After graduation, he founded two businesses in Central Square: Nimblebot, a creative agency, and danger!awesome, a makerspace that brings creative expression and tools to the masses. He is a natural collaborator and problem-solver, dedicated to bringing fresh, progressive voices into community leadership. Over the past two years, Mr. Mazen has organized a team of volunteers and community organizers who are proving that a truly progressive Cambridge is possible.


Wardah Khalid is a writer, speaker, and analyst on Islam and U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. She most recently served as a Middle East policy analyst for the Friends Committee on National Legislation, a Quaker lobby in DC. There, she researched and presented nonmilitary solutions to ISIS in Iraq and Syria, educated Congress and the public on the importance of nuclear diplomacy with Iran, and urged them to help end the demolition of Palestinian homes in the West Bank, military detention and abuse of Palestinian children, and the blockade on Gaza. A Texas native, Wardah is the author of the "Young American Muslim" blog for the Houston Chronicle and she regularly speaks on television and in person on foreign policy, Islamophobia, civic and political engagement, and media. Her articles have been published in outlets including CNN, The Guardian, Salon, Al Jazeera America, US News & World Report, and the Huffington Post. Follow her on Twitter @wardahkhalid_ and view her work at


Shannon Erwin was one of four Muslim women who founded Muslim Justice League following federal announcements in 2014 of a “countering violent extremism” pilot program targeting Boston. She has been MJL’s executive director since 2015.  An attorney and printmaker, Shannon received her B.F.A. from the University of Pennsylvania in conjunction with Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts before earning her J.D. from Harvard Law School.  Prior to MJL, Shannon worked with the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute and later Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA), where she directed MIRA’s state and local policy campaigns.  Her advocacy contributed to advances in immigrants’ rights in education and health care access, and safeguards against unconstitutional impacts of federal deportation programs, as well as defeat of extensive nativist proposals in the Massachusetts Legislature.  Shannon previously served as president of the Board of Directors of the New England Muslim Bar Association and, following the Boston Marathon bombing, provided “Know Your Rights” education and government relations assistance to Massachusetts mosques in response to increased targeting of local Muslim communities.


Moderator: Rana Abdehamid is a longtime activist with AIUSA and is currently serving on the AIUSA Board of Directors. She has served on the AIUSA National Resolutions Committee, National Youth Action Committee and served as the Youth Delegate to Amnesty’s 2015 International Council Meeting. Rana is a Truman Scholar and a recipient of the UNAUSA Leo Nevas Human Rights Youth Award and the Running Start Rising Political Star Award. Rana also founded the Women's Initiative for Self-Empowerment (WISE) as a self-defense, leadership and entrepreneurship program for young Muslim women in New York City. She is currently pursuing a Masters in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School.


Kaija E. Schilde is an Assistant Professor at the Boston University Pardee School of Global Studies. Her primary research interests involve European and transatlantic security, the political economy of defense and security industries, and the role of private nonstate actors in national and international security. She has published articles in European Security and the Journal of Common Market Studies. Her book, Building the European Security State, is forthcoming with Cambridge University Press in 2017. It investigates the emergent state-society relationship between EU institutions and interest groups, with a particular focus on security and defense industries and markets. Her other research investigates the causes and consequences of military spending cuts; the relationship between military spending, innovation, and capabilities; defense reform and force transformation; arms exports under conditions of dependence and austerity; the governance of defense and security markets; and the international diffusion of domestic and border security practices. Professor Schilde co-directs the Pardee Initiative on Forced Migration and Human Trafficking at the Pardee School.


Moderator: Denise Bell is a Senior Campaigner for AIUSA’s Refugee and Migrant Rights.  Prior to joining AI, Denise was an Attorney Advisor on the New York City Immigration Court at the U.S. Department of Justice.  She graduated from Georgetown University Law Center, where received a Certificate in Refugees and Humanitarian Emergencies and won asylum for a Cote d’Ivoire national as a student attorney with the asylum clinic.  She is barred in New York and sits on the Immigration and Nationality Law Committee of the New York City Bar Association.  Before joining the Department of Justice, she worked on the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, where she organized a Congressional hearing on Sudan.  From 2007-2009, she was a campaigner on AIUSA’s Darfur Campaign, and since 2009, has been a Sudan Country Specialist for AIUSA.  From 2003-2007, Denise helped to found and grow the New York City literacy nonprofit, Behind the Book, as its first Director of Development.  In addition to serving on the Board of Advisors of Behind the Book, she sits on the Board of Directors of The Advocacy Lab, a human rights-education nonprofit organization working in New York City public high schools.


Defending the Rights to Life and Security of Person: Ending the Human Rights Crisis of Gun Violence in the United States

Gun violence in the United States is a human rights crisis that impacts everyone.


Ann Braden is the founder and president of GunSenseVT, a Vermont-based grassroots organization focused on keeping guns out of the wrong hands. Previously, she taught middle school social studies and earned her undergraduate degree at Dartmouth College. She lives in Brattleboro, VT with her husband and two young children.


Clai Lasher-Sommers was a victim of gun violence at the age of 13. She helped build the first Domestic Violence program in upstate New York, and the first Rape Crisis Center in upstate New York.  As an organizer/advocate she uses her skills to teach other victims to share their stories and work toward legislative change. She also works within communities to change the conversation surrounding gun violence and laws.  She has always believed that the intersection between guns and human rights was the real conversation to be having.  Clai is now the owner of a small organic farm in NH, where people of different cultures and backgrounds come to farm each season. The farm grows food for the local food shelves and is a Community Supported Agriculture farm.


Shante Leathers was born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts, where she is the Field Director for LIPSTICK which stands for Ladies Involved in Putting a Stop to Inner City Killing. She is a senior at Wheelock College earning her Bachelor’s in Social Work. Shante has worked with LIPSTICK since 2014, she works to spread the LIPSTICK message through community outreach, presentations, and leadership trainings. Shante has presented throughout Boston and surrounding communities the importance in saying “No” to buying, hiding, and holding guns. Shante understands that gun violence is a public health issue that is claiming the lives of many people, and tearing apart families. As a mom, Shante’s Priority is to create a safer community for everyone. Her heart for the city of Boston has led her to The Peace Institute where she is completing an internship as a Peace Fellow Intern.


Moderator: Margaret Huang, Executive Director, AIUSA


Conference Registration

Regional Conference registration is now available!


Contact Us

For more information on this year’s conference, please contact Cynthia Gabriel Walsh at [email protected] or 917.815.7118

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