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 and Falmouth as well. CSJ is a founding member and co-chair of Raise Up Massachusetts.


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Deb Fastino

Executive Director

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. 

Dan Gilbarg

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.

Maria Fortes

New Bedford Organizer

Maria is our New Bedford organizer who was hired in November 2014.  She was a long-term volunteer who was hired on as an Apprentice Organizer, in May 2014, to help lead the signature drive for the minimum wage and earned sick time ballot questions and then to help coordinate canvassing during the public outreach phase of the campaign for Earned Sick Time in Fall 2014.  She has a B.A. with a background in the Human Services field.  She is a trilingual Cape Verdean immigrant who has taken on responsibilities for leading our Indivisible Southeast MA campaign, coordinating public housing outreach, supervising interns and temporary outreach workers, phone banks and door to door shifts, organizing volunteers, and speaking to groups.

Marlene Pollock

Volunteer Organizer

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.

Anabel Santiago

Grassroots Coordinator

Anabel is CSJ’s newest staff and was hired in May 2017.  She worked on our canvassing project to defeat Question 2 in the 2016 election.  Following that, she came on as an active volunteer, engaging in regular phone banking and taking responsibility for speaking on behalf of CSJ in college classrooms. She has come onto staff with particular responsibility for CSJ’s Raise Up Massachusetts participation.  She is serving on statewide committees and is leading CSJ’s public speaking efforts to advance the Raise Up agenda.  She is also coordinating CSJ’s participation in Raise Up organizing in each of our areas.  Anabel is also working to be part of our multi-lingual outreach program as a Spanish speaker. She graduated from Bristol Community College Spring 2017 and is currently attending UMASS Dartmouth majoring in Economics.        

Sabrina Davis

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.


Coalition for Social Justice

Dan Gilbarg, President
Marlene Pollock, Treasurer
Deborah Roher, Clerk
Ron Rheaume
Irene Bulgar
Maggie Sheibley
Sandy Faiman-Silvia
Richard Drolet
Shirley Luongo

Coalition for Social Justice Ed Fund

Dayana Ocasio, Board President
Melissa Gilbarg, Treasurer
Irene Bulgar, Clerk
Janet Rapoza
Gotdry Mills
Erica Cruz


Zach Boyer
Irene Bulbar
Erica Cruz
Richard Drolet
Sandy Faiman-Silva
Dan Gilbarg
Melissa Gilbarg
Christine Lavault
Gene Lawton
Shirley Luongo
Alexandra Marceau
Gotdry Mills

 Dayana Ocasio
Erica Scott Pacheco
Brian Pastori
Joan Pingley
Marlene Pollock
Janel Rapoza
Ronald Rheaume
Deborah Roher
Sandy Russo
Maggie Sheibley
Jamie Thornton
Lou Turner



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.


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.