WHO WE ARE
The Coalition for Social Justice (CSJ) is a grassroots organization founded in 1994 to bring together people affected by and concerned about poverty to advocate for economic opportunity. We have developed a solid leadership core of dedicated activists who first joined the struggle for social justice through CSJ. We have developed a diverse organizing staff who started as volunteers that we met through our work, and who have been directly affected by our issue priorities.
We engage in ongoing outreach to people affected by poverty. This includes door-to-door canvassing to families in public housing developments and low-income neighborhoods outside of public housing. Our public housing and neighborhood outreach is conducted in multiple languages. In addition, we contact thousands of people throughout the community by phone, providing information about issues that affect their lives and organizing them to call their elected officials to have a voice on these issues.
We have played a leading role in campaigns on a wide variety of issues affecting struggling families. On each, we have mobilized our local base in Brockton, Fall River and New Bedford. We have expanded reach into Taunton, Attleboro, Southern Boston and Falmouth as well. CSJ is a founding member and co-chair of Raise Up Massachusetts.
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MEET OUR STAFF
Deb Fastino is a graduate of Bridgewater State University with a Bachelor of Science in Social Work. She has been organizing since 2000 and is currently the Executive Director of the Coalition for Social Justice (CSJ). CSJ is an economic justice organization focused on issue advocacy through grassroots organizing. She is also a Board Member of Family Values at Work (FVAW), a national network of 24 state and local coalitions working to expand access to paid sick days and family leave insurance as core labor standards at the state and federal levels. Deb is also a co-founder of Raise Up Massachusetts (RUM) where she serves as a co-chair. RUM is a state coalition committed to building an economy that works for all of us. Deb helped lead a successful statewide ballot for earned sick time in 2014 as well as the recent legislative victory on passage of Paid Family and Medical Leave in Massachusetts.
CSJ Board President/ Brockton Volunteer Organizer
Dan Gilbarg is a long-time activist dating back to the late 1960s. He is a co-founder of the Coalition for Social Justice. He currently serves as a Brockton Organizer and grant writer for CSJ. He moved to the Fall River-New Bedford area in 1969 when he was hired as a Sociology Professor at Bristol Community College, where he teaches a Race & Race Relations class. He retired in 2012 but still teaches part-time. He is married to Marlene Pollock and has 2 sons, 5 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild.
Diana started in March 2019 after volunteering with CSJ since 2013. Diana started her career in Fashion Design in Los Angeles. It was working in men’s clothing where she realized how social and class inequality were perpetuated when good people do nothing to help. This inspired her to go on for a second degree in Anthropology and became a passionate activist around women’s issues and in the fight against poverty. She’s worked at foundations supporting issues of economic development, and for electoral and issue campaigns around the country.
Marlene is a transplant from Cleveland, Ohio. She moved to Boston for graduate school, where she got involved in community, labor, and anti-war organizing. Marlene moved down to Fall River in 1971 and was co-founder of The Coalition for Social Justice. Marlene has two sons, Ben and Eric, five grandchildren and one great-grandson! Marlene is a retired Professor of History at Bristol Community College and continues to teach part-time. She was also elected twice to the New Bedford School Committee, from 2007-2015 thanks to the help of CSJ! She is a volunteer organizer in New Bedford and the Cape.
Dax W. Crocker is a social justice and racial equity activist. He immigrated from Guatemala in 1986 and engaged in ministry and missionary work until 2010. It was that year that a series of events changed the trajectory of his ministry from traditional clergy work to faith based community organizing: the State of Arizona had enacted SB 1070, the “show me your papers” law. This law was challenged at the Supreme Court as a racial profiling law. Dax witnessed how a group of minors who were U.S. citizens were left in foster care after their undocumented parents were deported to Mexico as a result of SB 1070. This experience rerouted Dax to seek education and training in faith based community organizing and eventually brought him full circle to New Bedford to work on behalf of the Guatemalan undocumented community here. Dax now lives in New Bedford.
Fall River Organizer
Sabrina is one of CSJ’s recent hires having joined our staff in January 2017. She began as an intern for BCC as a Human Services student in March 2013. Sabrina collected signatures for the minimum wage and Earned sick time ballot campaigns. After completing her internship, she continued to volunteer with the Coalition for Social Justice. Sabrina did regular phone banking and attended various CSJ events. Sabrina really stepped up on the No On 2 campaign where she trained volunteers to canvass door to door. She built leadership by training the experienced volunteers on how to train the new volunteers while also managing the field team and reporting data. Sabrina is now an organizer, in charge of the Fall River office and also runs the CSJ’s Fall River chapter of Indivisible.
Common Start Grassroots Coordinator
Anna Hueston has been a champion for children and families for over 20 years. Her current role as Grassroots Coordinator for the Common Start campaign follows her work as a legislative staff member, a consultant for early childhood education organizations, and an owner/operator of a large early childhood education center. Her volunteer work includes the Paid Family & Medical Leave campaign and she is an elected member of the Littleton, MA Planning Board. Anna has an MBA from Columbia University and a second master degree in Education Administration and Policy from the University of Denver.
Brockton North Grassroots Coordinator
Bri Nichols, also known as, Coach Bri is a speaker and activist with experience working with diverse populations in the nonprofit sector. Bri has a degree in Human Services and is continuing education in Communications at BSU. Bri has volunteered many hours organizing community events serving Brockton and the surrounding areas through Resilient Roses Respite as the Founder/President, as a Board Member for Brockton Interfaith Community, a Leader of DARRC Coalition, and more recently as a Political Candidate for City Council. Bri’s campaign was endorsed by CSJ, SEIU State Council, and supported by MassAlliance Rising Stars program. Despite not being elected, Bri has chosen to continue advocating for change and joined the Coalition as the Brockton-North Grassroots Coordinator.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Coalition for Social Justice Education Fund
Coalition for Social Justice, Inc
Dan Gilbarg, President
Marlene Pollock, Treasurer
Deborah Roher, Clerk
OUR WORK IS BASEDON THE FOLLOWING PRINCIPLES:
We are committed to building an organization that can bring together activists from varied segments of the community. We seek to unite welfare mothers, senior citizen activists, rank and file union leaders, and community activists in one organization. We recognize that this can be done only on the basis of mutual solidarity and respect. The principle guiding our efforts at building unity is “an injury to one is an injury to all.”
We also recognize the need to build a multi-issue organization that can add strength and support to the efforts of organizations that focus primarily on single issues based on the immediate needs of their particular constituency. Working in collaboration with progressive legislators and other social action groups around the state, we have developed a multi-issue agenda we call the “Campaign for Working Families” which offers a vision of social change that addresses such issues as revenue, tax reform, jobs, wages, child care, health care, housing, education, and the safety net. On a yearly basis, our particular issue focus varies, depending on shifting political opportunities.
POWER AT THE GRASSROOTS
Finally, we recognize the need to build a powerful, grassroots peoples’ movement for social change. In all of our work – whether it be building support for the initiatives of our constituent organizations or developing our own independent campaigns – we seek to build the capacity of ordinary people to have an impact on the social policies that affect their lives. Our organizing approach focuses both on developing the commitment and leadership of people new to social activism and on working with existing activists and organizations to enhance their strength and effectiveness. We recognize that the key factor determining our ability to make a difference in the community is the size and community base of our network of grassroots activists.