Facilitation for Liberation Fellowship
OPAWL’s Facilitation for Liberation Fellowship is a program that trains AAPI Ohioans to become grassroots political educators. Working together in a cohort, fellows learned to practice principles of popular education – a process which holds oppressed people at the center of the learning process and seeks to transform society – to raise political consciousness within OPAWL and their communities.
In the 2021-22 cohort, fellows were trained in theory, methodology, and practice, drawing from thinkers and educators including Antonio Gramsci, bell hooks, Myles Horton, and Paulo Freire. They developed their skills as facilitators by applying a range of transformative techniques for facilitating groups, and after the training sessions, are now taking their learnings to run workshops in a range of communities across Ohio.
Thanks to support from The George Gund Foundation, fellows were offered stipends to complete the fellowship and micro-grants to run independent workshops. Our fellows are rooted in many movements, including (but not limited to) environmental justice, immigration, anti-imperialism, tenant organizing, abolition, and racial justice.
Note: the training curriculum is adapted with permission from the School of Unity and Liberation, but the fellowship is not affiliated with SOUL.
Learn more about the F4L fellows and their projects below.
Kenza Kamal (coordinator)
Kenza is a coordinator of the Facilitation for Liberation Fellowship and member of OPAWL. She began her journey as a political educator by running peer programs building solidarity between college students and young incarcerated people, and has continued to facilitate workshops, trainings, and teach-ins ever since. She has been a member and leader of groups focused on building power for AAPI, Black, criminalized, and young people, and is a founding member of Eid Letters to Incarcerated Muslims (ELIM Ohio), working to turn the tide against the prison-industrial complex in Muslim communities. Kenza is also a policy worker with a research focus on qualitative and participatory methods and the intersections of race and class across the US and the UK. Informed by her studies in South Asian political economy and oral history, she sees the work of this fellowship as an anti-colonial practice, and is committed to grassroots education as a path towards what the Zapatistas call ‘a world where many worlds fit.’
Anjali Kapoor (coordinator)
Anjali Kapoor is a coordinator of the Facilitation for Liberation fellowship. She first experienced a taste of popular education in middle school, through a leadership development program which equipped its students with the vision and skills to change the world. Her ideas on what that change might look like were transformed when she volunteered at an inside-outside political education program run through a youth jail in rural Ohio, and has ever since organized through the framework of prison and police abolition. Since then, she has helped organize a state-wide decarceration campaign for drug offenses, conducted field research on the environmental justice movements in Uttarakhand, India, been an editor for OPAWL’s Quaranzine, and facilitated a year-long identity development program for APIDA students at OSU. Anjali is a community organizer working on creating a movement with strong decentralized leadership, and passionate about facilitation as a tool that enables that.
Maryam Abidi (she/her)
Tika Adhikari (she/her)
Tika is a Bhutan-born, Nepali-speaking woman from Columbus, Ohio. She has a background working as a campaign manager for a candidate running for an office. She is a former ENACT fellow at Ohio History Museum and she facilitated a successful women’s advocacy project during the fellowship. Tika has been a lifelong supporter of equality for people of all genders, races, and nationalities. Tika is ever-ready to facilitate workshops for fellow women around voting rights, women advocacy, and much more.
Suparna Bhaskaran (she/her/they)
Amy Breslin (she/her/hers)
Amy Kyung-Eun Breslin is a Korean American facilitator from Fairview Park, OH. Her background includes working with youth and community building. Amy is excited to use her skills from the fellowship to facilitate workshops for young people around water justice, environmental justice, anti-imperialism, intercountry adoption policy, and more.
Pearl Chen (she/her)
Pearl Chen is a 25-yr-old Chinese organizer who grew up in a Columbus suburb and currently lives in Cleveland. She works at a Central American human rights organization and organizes international solidarity efforts with groups across the US/Canada and in Honduras. She also organizes in the local environmental and housing justice movements. Pearl is passionate about cultivating spaces that prioritize collective care and radical, honest dialogue.
Kellie Chin (she/her)
Kellie Chin is a 26-year-old Chinese activist from Columbus, OH. She has a background working in carceral spaces from an abolitionist perspective as well as in radical birthwork. Kellie also works in the coffee industry, and is excited to apply what she has learned from the fellowship to political education in service industry spaces.
Liezl Dews (they/she)
Liezl Dews is a queer Filipina-American in Flavortown (Columbus), OH. They feel called to pursue liberation through the areas of early childhood learning and food/farming. In spare time they enjoy cooking, being outdoors, and admiring photography and design.
Jessica Elsayed (she/her)
Maya Yin Fahrer (she/her)
Maya Fahrer is a Brooklyn-bred Chinese-American student organizer at Oberlin College, working to revitalize the school’s Asian American movement. She also works as a sexual health educator and advocate and hopes to continue this work after graduating. Maya can’t wait to apply the facilitation skills she learned with F4L to unite her passions of community education and community organizing in her current communities and beyond.
Isabella Guinigundo (she/they)
Isabella Guinigundo is a 19-year-old Filipina organizer from Cincinnati, OH. She has background in grassroots activism and environmental justice campaigning. Isabella is excited to use her skills from the fellowship to facilitate workshops for other young people around climate justice, anti-capitalism, and more!!
Sharon Kim (she/her/hers)
Sharon is proud to be an active part of OPAWL and Asian American Midwest Progressives. She is currently imagining what a parents and caretakers caucus looks like for OPAWL and in movement spaces at large. She lives in Columbus with her husband and two young kids.
Ezra Mattaridi (they/them)
Ezra Mattaridi is an organizer and queer POC working and inciting change in Columbus, OH. They often combine their work in social justice and environmental equity with their professional background in data and mapping. They are eager to continue building their community by practicing facilitation in place-making workshops and discussions in Columbus.
Professor/Auntie Antoinette CHarfauros McDaniel (Gui’/Ña/Hers)
Profesót/“Auntie” Antoinette CHarfauros has long centered the struggle for liberation in her contentious journey through academe. As an indigenous CHamoru Feminist Scholar, the totality of her teaching and research has highlighted grounded forms of resistance in communities navigating intersections of colonization, militarization, white supremacy, misogyny, homophobia and global capital. In her new role as a Scholar-Community Organizer, she’s found true joy working with unapologetically progressive collectives including our own OPAWL and Masakåda, a CHamoru Famaloa’an (women) & Non-binary-centered group which addresses the over militarization of the Marianas Islands.
Meghan McKinley (she/they)
Maya McOmie (she/her/hers)
Maya McOmie is a biracial writer and poet currently in Ohio via the West Coast and Japan. She is interested in incorporating intersectional feminism into her work as a writer and instructor and in paying close attention to and encouraging others to notice white heteropatriarchical ableist structures within institutions, systems, language and media. She hopes to continue this work through her current practices and through facilitating workshops with like-minded socially conscious writers and educators.
Leah Ecaruan Mejia (she/her)
Leah Ecaruan Mejia is a 28-year-old technology consultant from Vancouver, Washington. She will bring the skills learned back to her work as a consultant to share equitable practices with business owners.
Lalitha Pamidigantam (she/they)
Aarti Raghavachari (she/they/he)
Aarti is a Tamil Indian learner now currently based in Minnesota. They advocate for and serve the needs within the South Asian diaspora in their new home. She particularly engages with and uplifts South Asian youth, LGBTQ+ and gender-expansive individuals in her work. Their current praxis and beliefs are highly informed by grassroots organizing, feminist international relations, BIPOC queer and trans liberation, survivor-based healing, transformative justice, and so much more.
Elaina Ramsey (she/her/hers)
Elaina Ramsey is a biracial Filipina who lives in Columbus and hails from the rural edges of Chillicothe, OH. She currently serves as the board chair of OPAWL and the executive director of Faith Choice Ohio. Elaina looks forward to honing her fellowship learnings to deepen political education around religion and abortion justice.
Nikki Banzon Siababa (she/her)
Nikki Banzon Siababa is third generation Visayan/Iloko currently based in Northern Kentucky. As she builds her understanding of decolonial history & activism in the Philippines and by Filipina/o/x Americans, she uses this knowledge to help shape her approach to social justice. Nikki is particularly interested in transformative justice, mutual aid, empowering/supporting BIPOC families & fostering both cross-racial and transnational solidarity.
Fariha Tayyab (she/her/hers)
Fariha Tayyab is a multidisciplinary artist working at the intersection of art, journalism, and community building. Her storytelling revolves around identity, belonging, and social justice focusing on untold stories utilizing her creative writing and photojournalism. She is passionate about working with young people, building literacy in institutions, and serving insecure housing populations. When Fariha is not creating her art or serving her community, she plans her next adventure, searching for the next fair-trade coffee shop or meditating after some poetry.
Danny Valero (he/they)
Danny is an artist and illustrator currently based in Oberlin, Ohio. They are currently in their fourth year at Oberlin College where they study studio art and sociology. Their work primarily focuses on the intersection of their Asian/Latino identity and queerness.
“Going through this training was incredibly empowering to me and helped me in some of my struggles with imposter syndrome. I felt incredibly supported by everyone I interacted with in this group . . . those connections and that support has felt really important and healing.”
“It was great to see the facilitators modeling how to receive and implement feedback each week. This created such a safe learning environment for folks to deal with conflict in healthy ways and practice constant learning (and unlearning imperfection).”
“Learning the difference between popular and political ed, and diving into ideological framework were very helpful elements, and have already impacted the ways in which I operate and approach my work with community. I previously had experience with leading classes, workshops, and programs with community members, so it was empowering to realize that I could utilize some of the skills I already possessed but more intentionally for organizing and movement. The sample curricula provide a strong framework for folks who are newbies to organizing, like myself.”
“The virtual environment brought the same challenges with zoom burnout since COVID, but I think the various engaging virtual tools used throughout the fellowship by the facilitators made the experience really successful! It felt like the virtual setting was used to the fellowship’s advantage.”
“[The most valuable things I got out of this training were] workshopping and practicing specific skills, scenarios, and situations around facilitation and problem solving; learning some basic principles and theory; networking/connecting with AAPI organizers, bonding over shared experiences and stories; and learning that I already have the skills and knowledge to facilitate to some extent and honing those skills further.”