Rosa is a native of Honduras who became involved in immigrant rights in 2010 after witnessing the injustice of detention and separation’s impact on her own family. Her family’s separation was documented in “Colussus,” the film. Rosa’s advocacy work started at Friends of NJ & NY, where she worked for almost nine years supporting community members in detention. Rosa joined Envision Freedom Fund in 2020 as the Bond Director, where she continues to help detained community members secure their freedom through bond posting. Rosa serves as the Detainee Advocate at the Hudson County Jail and a member of the Civilian Task Force at the Essex County Jail.
Patricia Vogler, second-generation Beacon Unitarian Universalist Congregation member, recently retired after a thirty-seven year career as an attorney with the New Jersey Office of the Public Defender. During that time, Pat worked to protect the rights of adults and children charged with criminal offences and, for the last fifteen years, as a legal advocate for abused or neglected children. Her experiences provided first-hand knowledge of the systemic racism that plagues our justice and child welfare systems. For the past twenty years Pat also serves on the board of directors of The Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless, an organization which strives to meet the needs of individuals and families in Union County who are in crisis due to homelessness, while also advocating for housing equity and seeking to address the root causes of homelessness. Pat lives with her husband, Joe Colicchio, in Cranford.
In 2017, Joseph “Joe” B. Parsons retired after 38 years of experience in private and public finance and operations. Most recently, Parsons was executive vice president, chief financial and chief operating officer of Capri Holdings (formally Michael Kors Holdings Limited), a global fashion brand. Parsons is a member of Beacon UU Congregation in Summit, NJ and is currently a member of the Finance Committee and previously had a number of leadership positions including President of the Board of Trustees. Parsons is on the Board of Trustees of the ACLU of NJ and the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC).
Charlene is a New Jersey native and a powerful woman of faith with a consistent record of fiercely advocating for racial, immigrant, economic, and social justice. She challenges leaders and institutions to better unite our social movements and to work towards dismantling systems of hate and oppression. As a firm believer that justice begins at our intersections she reminds us of the need for Black, Brown, people with different abilities, youth, and poor communities to work closely together to build more power to win on the pressing issues that support the families of New Jersey. Charlene’s unique upbringing empowers her to connect with people from all walks of life. She sees the enormous capacity for love people have and values their inherent worth and dignity; motivating those she engages with to take on active roles in the community and political process. Charlene is actively cultivating the leaders of tomorrow who will lead the state of New Jersey and United States to build the Beloved Community; one of hope, justice, fairness, opportunity and love.
Wanda M. Akin, Esq.
Wanda M. Akin was formerly the Managing Attorney for Chubb & Son, Inc.’s, New Jersey House Counsel firm, Scanlon & Akin, and a Senior Trial Attorney and Of Counsel to Podvey, Sachs, Meanor, Catenacci, Hildner & Cocoziello (Podvey Meanor). She now maintains her private practice in Newark, NJ and is an Adjunct Professor at Seton Hall University School of Law and at Seton Hall University’s School of Diplomacy & International Relations. Notably, Akin taught in the Seton Hall Law/American University at Cairo, Egypt. Her 40 years of experience as a trial lawyer span a wide variety of controversies including criminal defense (in US and International Courts), complex product liability, property claims, catastrophic personal injury, employment/labor, trademark and copyright, and other complex litigation. She is a member of the List of Counsel, qualified to represent accused and victims before the International Criminal Court (ICC) and represents victims of the Darfur Crisis at the ICC in the Darfur Situation as well as in the case against Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir. Wanda served as Defense Counsel at the Special Court for Sierra Leone in the “Blood Diamond Trial.” Akin was a member for 15 years of the New Jersey Supreme Court’s Committee on the Rules of Evidence, was a Trustee of the Trial Attorneys of New Jersey, a Master in the Seton Hall Law School Alumni Association Inn of Court and a Presidential Appointee to the New Jersey State Bar Association’s Committee on Judicial Administration. She was awarded the 2009 NAACP Newark Unit Freedom Fund Award for her work as co-founder of the International Justice Project, a nonprofit for the promotion of international justice & human rights. The YWCA Bergen County (eliminating racism, empowering women) Awarded Wanda with its Beacon of Light Award at their Walking the Talk Gala 2018. Get to know Wanda through the YWCA Bergen County @ https://bit.ly/2K62312 . Ms. Akin is a periodic commentator on Court TV/TruTV, MSNBC, CNN, Inside The Law (PBS); NJN (New Jersey Network); UPN 9 News and CN8 It’s Your Call. She has appeared on the TODAY SHOW, Good Morning America, Larry King Live, Entertainment Tonight and New York’s NewsChannel 4.