Marshall Ganz sat down with Nisreen to explore her journey to leadership — from a young girl forced to leave Palestine with her family, to returning years later to advise the Palestinian team on peace negotiations with Israel and then discovering the power of organizing and committing herself to building new civic leadership across the Middle East.
Nisreen joined us for an online Faces of Change Live event on 30th October 2019 to show the impact of her and her organization’s leadership and organizing in the Middle East and how they are achieving it.
More about Nisreen:
For the past ten years, Nisreen Haj Ahmad has invested herself in enhancing organized collective action for justice and equality.
In 2012, she co-founded and became director of Ahel.org, a nonprofit that coached 16 campaigns and trained over two thousand people in organizing in the Middle East, namely Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon and Syria.
She was also involved in supporting the organizing of the BDS Movement and together with other women started its chapter in Jordan.
Nisreen is committed to creating learning and solidarity spaces that inform and sustain leaders and activists around the world.
In 2012, she coordinated the Leading Change Global Gathering, bringing together more than a hundred organizers from around the world, and in 2014 organized a similar gathering of the Network’s Affiliates in Serbia. Nisreen is an advisory board member of Beautiful Rising.
Trained as a lawyer, Nisreen obtained a law degree from the University of Jordan (1995), Masters in Law from Edinburgh University (1997), Masters in Public Policy from Harvard Kennedy School (2007), and most recently finished a research fellowship at the Ash Center at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS).
With Professor Marshall Ganz, Nisreen taught “Social Movements Today: Critical Questions for Critical Times” in the Spring semester of 2017 at HKS.
She has produced several publications, including a documentation of Stand with the Teachers Campaign for fair pay, published by the International Labour Organization, and her work is the subject of a Harvard case study.
Before entering the world of community leadership and organizing in 2007, Nisreen spent 6 years working as a legal advisor for the Palestinian team in the peace talks with Israel.
Marshall meets Art Reyes III, the Executive Director of We the People-Michigan, a statewide multi-racial community organization that is building people-power for social and economic justice in Michigan.
Their mission is to transform the politics of Michigan from the ground up, moving away from simply mobilizing around elections, but by embedding the organizing infrastructure needed for people to shape politics from their community up.
In Marshall’s conversation with Art, we learn how he was called to organizing at an early age, and is leading an innovative — and challenging — effort in one of the most segregated states in America.
We also hear how mastery of the organizing craft grows form sustained learning across diverse domains, issues and communities, and what it takes for people to mobilize the power they need to shape their communities, their politics and their state.
Marshall meets Mariali Cárdenas, co-Founder of Vía Educación, the trailblazing civil society and education organization that is combining community organizing and innovative education approaches to build the citizenship skills of children and young people.
Mariali and Vía Educación’s work on citizenship education is being implemented as part of Mexico’s national curriculum.
Mariali shares with Marshall why children give her hope for building the democracy project, how they’re doing it on the ground in Mexico and what called her to leadership.
Marshall Ganz sits down with Dyanna Jaye, Sunrise’s Co-Founder and Organizing Director, to chart the rise of a movement that has rocked the political establishment, and to learn about Dyanna’s own journey to climate justice leadership.
Dyanna shares Sunrise’s movement building ‘DNA’, taking us from the moment they were thrust onto the national stage after the high profile sit-in protest outside Nancy Pelosi’s Office with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, through to how they’re scaling a national movement driven by thousands of young people in local communities at this time of social distancing and deep uncertainty.
Dyanna and Marshall also explore the power of sustained learning for building powerful movements and how we can seize this very moment to create the change our communities want.