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Kopkind 2015 Call for Participants

Kopkind, the magical retreat in Southern Vermont for media makers and activists is headed for its 17th summer, and is calling for people who are interested in attending to send letters of intent.

The political camp for journalists and activists will run from J. The deadline for applying for this camp is Saturday, June 13.

The project was started as a living memorial to the great radical journalist Andrew Kopkind. Since 1999 we have been bringing people together for a week-plus of political and cultural exploration, intellectual stimulation and rest, an experience of provocative ideas, delicious food and great company amid the pastoral beauty of Tree Frog Farm in Southern Vermont, where Andy spent twenty-five summers with his life partner, John Scagliotti, the documentary filmmaker and pioneer in gay media, who is Kopkind’s administrator. This project in Andy’s name follows in his spirit of thinking deeply, living expressively and extending the field for freedom, pleasure and imagination.

The political camp brings younger journalists, activists and other media makers together with political veterans, whom we call mentors, to consider the issues of the day, their own work and the larger question of justice – toward creating a world fit to live in – in light of a particular theme.

This year’s theme is Freedom to Be.

The latest death of a young black man in police custody—symbol of state repression and of more than 400 people killed by police since the start of the year—shouts out loud, again, that there is a struggle in this country for existence. But no one in the streets, from Ferguson to Baltimore, believes that freedom from a police beating or bullet is the outer limit of aspiration. What is being in the fullest sense? And might we think about the multiple assaults on it—and the multiple, seemingly distinct, rights movements—within the framework of a Freedom to Be? How are bodily integrity and the free flowering of the mind not only pleasant ideas but also concepts rooted in the freedom struggle against slavery and in the radical tradition, and how do they resonate now, in our time and place? Kopkind’s late alumna, board member and dear sister, Pamela Bridgewater Toure, worked at the intersection of race, reproductive rights, sexual freedom, internationalism, history and law. This year’s camp is inspired by her memory and by the recent uprisings of people in the streets.

We are thrilled to announce our two mentors: Angela Ards and Darnell Moore.

Angela grew up in Dallas, TX, and, as a journalist focusing on politics and culture for the Village VoiceEssenceThe Nation and other publications, was one of Kopkind’s earliest participants (in 2000). Now a professor of English at Southern Methodist University, she is passionate about how storytelling and language engages and shapes political thought. She has published extensively on African American literature and culture in the post-Brown v. Board of Education era, a historical moment that continues to demand recalibrated ways of thinking about black identity and struggle, and, thus, about America and the world. Her new book, Words of Witness: Black Women’s Autobiography in the Post-Brown Era will be published this fall.

Darnell, a writer and activist, grew up in Camden, NJ, where close acquaintance with the multiple oppressions facing black and brown queer youth helped shape his adult work and thought at the cross streets of race, class, sexuality, religion and social and economic justice. A senior editor at MicNews and co-managing editor of The Feminist Wire, he has written for numerous publications, from The Guardian to The Advocate to VICE and academic journals. He served as chair of the City of Newark’s LGBTQ Concerns Advisory Commission, was a member of the first US lgbtq delegation to Palestine in 2012, and currently organizes with Black Lives Matter-NYC. With Patrisse Cullors, he co-organized the national solidarity #BLM Ride to Ferguson last summer.


Program and Application:

Kopkind encourages young people to apply who have been at work for a few years as political journalists/media makers or activists/organizers (or hybrids) and who are committed politically and personally to this kind of work. Although the average age tends to be about 28, age is not a hard and fast category, except that for legal/insurance reasons we cannot invite people under 21.

Participants should come prepared to discuss, assess, explore their own work, political experience and ideas in relation to the theme.

The program is entirely free, including transportation. (The 25th and 2nd are travel days.) There are seminars every morning from 9:30 to 12:30; free afternoons for swims, walks, games, conversation, rest; and evening discussions sometimes with special guests, one of which is a free public event.

The emphasis is on interaction and group enjoyment. Internet use is, therefore, limited.

People must be able to commit to the full program.

Participants stay in individual cabin rooms. We arrange for travel, as well as transport from airport or bus/rail station to Tree Frog Farm, and for all meals.

Interested applicants should send a letter of intent, telling us a little about their work, themselves and their politics, and explaining why they would like to come this year in particular. They should also tell us how they heard about the project.

Letters should be sent to JoAnn Wypijewski, program director of Kopkind, at If anyone has questions, please don’t hesitate to email her or phone 646.498.5810. Letters of intent should include all the applicants’ contact information, phones and mailing address, and must be submitted by Saturday, June 13, 2015.

Murphy Scholarship Event: Diversity and Labor

On Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015, the Murphy Institute hosted the third annual Joseph S. Murphy Scholarship for Diversity in Labor reception and awards ceremony. The reception, which began with remarks from CUNY Chancellor James B. Milliken and Murphy Director Greg Mantsios, was followed by a formal program featuring three rising leaders in the labor movement: Shaun Francois, President, Local 372, DC 37 AFSCME, Dolly Martinez of the Retail Action Project, and Jonathan Westin of New York Communities for change.

Six students were then awarded full scholarships to attend Murphy programs: Adriane Hudson, Jack Suria Linares, Onieka O’Kieffe, Stacey Payton, Andrea Pluas and Nadya Stevens.

The program ended with a tribute to Arthur Cheliotes, the President of Local 1180, Communication Workers of America, who was presented with the Joseph S. Murphy Lifetime Achievement Award for his significant contributions to the Murphy Institute and to the workers of New York.

Congratulations to all the award recipients and to the growing Murphy community!

Labor, Accountability and Safety in the Global Era

By Karen Judd

At Thursday’s breakfast forum, Decent Wages and Accountability to Workers in the Garment Global Supply Chain, former New York Times Labor Journalist Steven Greenhouse, whose coverage of the Rana Plaza disaster put global sweatshops again on the front page, said: “Overseas sweatshops are the logical result of globalization and the race to the bottom.” He noted that it is shocking that, 114 years after the Triangle Shirtwaist fire, workers – predominantly women — are working in the same incredibly bad conditions, with no fire escapes or sprinklers, with infrequent inspections and with absolutely no voice for workers, concluding: “Things will not improve unless there is greater pressure from consumers and the media.”

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New York Immigrant Coalition Hiring Director of Outreach

Overview of the Organization
The New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) is an umbrella policy and advocacy organization for nearly 200 groups in New York State that works for justice and opportunity for immigrants and refugees.  The NYIC successfully brings together multi-ethnic, multi-racial, and multi-sector constituencies to pursue a common agenda, including:  improving immigrants’ access to quality health care and education; advocating for equitable immigration policies; ensuring immigrants’ civil rights; encouraging immigrants’ civic and electoral participation; and educating both newcomer communities and the public about immigration issues.  Over the past twenty-five years, the NYIC has emerged as the leading advocacy group in New York State on immigrant issues.


Position Summary
The Outreach Director will play a key role in supporting NYIC members and other immigrant-serving organizations in New York State.  A key element will be to ensure that these organizations have the tools necessary to support immigrants applying for Administrative Relief, including Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA).  The Outreach Director will also work closely with community-based organizations to strengthen their broader capacity, including leadership development and advocacy skills.


Key Responsibilities
The Outreach Director will:
  • Oversee NYIC’s wide ranging efforts to provide outreach to community-based organizations and immigrant communities.
  • Lead NYIC internal team on community outreach and education efforts related to administrative relief.
  • Develop and implement strategies to reach individuals who may be eligible for DACA/DAPA and connect them to services.
  • Work with team members to develop a strategy to engage groups and their staff and volunteers as Administrative Relief Community Navigators who can assist community members with non-legal case preparation and document collection.
  • Lead efforts to provide key leadership development, capacity-building and technical assistance for Mexican and Latino-led organizations involved in Deferred Action Project (Proyecto Acción Diferida).
  • Design and lead training programs.
  • Ensure that strong tools and materials are available; create tool kits as well as advocacy and community education materials that member organizations can adapt.
  • Provide support to strengthen capacity of and NYIC members and other community-based organizations. Design and implement Immigrant Leaders Fellowship program. Develop strategy for additional programs to strengthen capacity of member organizations.Contribute to efforts to fundraise for outreach efforts including drafting proposals, tracking outcomes, and drafting reports for government and private funders.  Maintain relationships with program funders.
  • Develop and manage budgets
  • Supervise outreach staff.
  • Proven ability to plan and direct programmatic activities.
  • 5 years of relevant senior management experience, including managing staff, budgets, planning, and decision-making.
  • Extensive knowledge of immigrant-serving community-based organizations and immigrant communities in New York State.
  • Exemplary record of working effectively with partner organizations, successfully navigating complex partnerships, and ability to connect with a wide range of diverse constituencies.
  • Proven experience with strategic planning, team building, and developing internal management capacity. Excellent time management skills and demonstrated ability to function in fast-paced, high-pressure environment.
  • Excellent communication, public speaking, meeting facilitation and writing skills.
  • Integrity, compassion, and principled leadership.
  • Knowledge of immigrant and immigration issues at a national, state, and local level.
  • Ability to multi-task and manage competing deadlines.
  • Bachelor’s degree in related field required. Advanced degree preferred.
  • Fluency in Spanish or another language preferred.
Salary:  Commensurate with Experience


To Apply: Please send a cover letter, resume, and a brief writing sample to with the subject line: Director of Outreach.  No phone calls will be accepted about this position.
Applications will be accepted until May 29, 2015.  

Creative Arts Night at Murphy, June 12th

Join the Murphy Institute for our first Creative Arts Night, to be held on the 18th Floor of the Murphy Institute, located at 24 W. 43rd St., on June 12th from 6-8pm.

Hosted by Murphy Institute Blog Arts & Culture Editors, the event will feature panelists Randal Horton and Matt Sedillo, whose work was recently featured on this blog — plus art installations, an open mic and more.

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Murphy Institute Briefs City Council on Labor in NYC

On Wednesday, May 20, 2015, the Murphy Institute conducted an executive briefing on labor in New York City for City Council members convened by Council Member I. Daneek Miller, Chair of the City Council Committee on Civil Service and Labor.

The briefing provided City Council members with an in-depth view of the role and status of organized labor in New York and the nation. It included presentations by Murphy Institute faculty, DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido, and New York Central Labor Council Political & Legislative Director, Anthony Thomas. Continue reading Murphy Institute Briefs City Council on Labor in NYC