Faith for a Fair New York 2016 Conference

New Yorkers of all faiths are compelled by our traditions to seek justice. How do we do so faithfully and effectively in a time of increasing inequality, poverty and ideological division?

September 25-27, join people of faith from across New York as we learn and reflect together on how to organize, educate, advocate, and agitate for economic and racial justice in our state.

Over three days of presentations, workshops, and small group reflection, we will:

  • Build connections with other justice-seeking New Yorkers from different regions and faiths
  • Build knowledge of issues and movements through a moral/faith-rooted lens
  • Build the capacity to do justice work through skills training and strategic reflection
  • Be energized and inspired to continue working for justice – or to get involved for the first time

Click here or scroll down to register!


Sunday, September 25 – 5-9pm:

  • Dinner
  • Music for the Movement – featuring Mark Emanatian and Amy Collins
  • Keynote: The call to work for structural change
    • Speaker: Onleilove Alston (Faith in New York)
  • Questions and reflection

Monday, September 26 – 9am-9pm:

  • Poverty and inequality in New York State –  The structural roots and impacts on rural and urban communities in New York
    • Speakers to include Ron Deutsch (Fiscal Policy Institute), Natasha Thompson (Food Bank of the Southern Tier), Rev. Kirk Laubenstein (CEJ-Buffalo)
  • Lunch
  • The Impact on the Issues: Immigration, public education, housing, and criminal justice
    • Speakers to include Rebecca Fuentes (Workers’ Center of CNY), Rosemary Rivera (Citizen Action), Marc Greenberg (Interfaith Assembly on Housing and Homelessness)
  • Skill trainings
    • Congregational Organizing 101 – Joe Paparone (FOCUS Churches)
    • Interfaith Organizing – Sahar Alsahlani (Stony Point Community of Living Traditions)
  • Dinner
  • Strategies and Tactics for social change – How does change happen? How do social movements succeed?
    • Speakers to include Seth Woody (Momentum)

Tuesday, September 27 – 9am – 1pm

  • Movement building in this moment – What is the current landscape of social movements in the US? What are possibilities and challenges of movement building in New York State at this moment in history?
    • Speakers to include Larry Cox (Kairos Center)
  • Public action with local partners
  • Lunch


onleiloveOnleilove Alston was born and raised in East New York, Brooklyn. Currently, she is the executive director at PICO-Faith in New York, where she leads a multiracial and multifaith faith based organizing federation of 70 congregations representing 80,000 New Yorkers who are working to Build the Beloved City – where all, not some, of God’s children can live in dignity. Onleilove is also a workshop facilitator, speaker, and writer.

After receiving her bachelor’s degree in Human Development and African-American studies from Penn State University, she completed a year of service with AmeriCorps Public Allies New York. In 2011, she received her Master of Divinity and Master of Social Work degrees from Union Theological Seminary and Columbia University School of Social Work, respectively.

She is a contributing writer for Sojourners magazine, The Black Commentator, Huff Post Religion and NPR’s Onbeing blog, as well as other print and online publications. Having experienced poverty and homelessness, she has developed a compassion for people fueled by her passion for justice, and knows that the gospel is truly “good news to the poor.” Onleilove serves on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Clergy Advisory Council, the board of directors for Sojourners, ALIGN and on the advisory boards for the Women’s Organizing Network for the Micah Institute at NY Theological Seminary. A womanist Onleilove writes and lectures on the implicit bias of colorism and its impact on African-American women and leads A Women’s Theology of Liberation for the PICO Network.

larry coxLarry Cox has been working for peace, justice and human rights around the world for more than four decades. A graduate of Union Theological Seminary, he is serving as Co- Director of Kairos: The Center on Religions, Rights and Social Justice. He is also a senior consultant at Public Interest Projects, serving a new collaborative fund, the Sunrise Initiative, supporting human rights work in the United States. Cox served as Executive Director of Amnesty International USA from 2006 to 2011. In assuming leadership of AIUSA, Cox returned to the movement he had helped to develop over 14 years in a variety of positions. In 1976 he joined the organization as its first press officer. During the next nine years he established the AIUSA Program to Abolish the Death Penalty, served as Communication Director, and Deputy Executive Director. He was then appointed Deputy Secretary General at Amnesty International’s world headquarters in London. In 1990 Cox became the Executive Director of the Rainforest Foundation, an international organization working with indigenous peoples in the Brazilian Amazon to protect their rights and environment. In 1995 Cox began an 11-year term as Senior Program Officer for Human Rights at the Ford Foundation. He initiated new programs on international justice, economic, social and cultural rights, and human rights in the United States. As part of the latter work, he co- edited and co-wrote the report Close to Home: Case Studies of Human Rights Work in the US. In focusing on human rights in the United States Cox came full circle to work he did in his early years to advance peace and social justice. Active in the anti-Vietnam war movement he did organizing against the war as a GI at Ft. Campbell, KY in 1970-71. He later became News Director of the NY Pacifica Radio station, WBAI.


ron deutschRon Deutsch is Executive Director of the Fiscal Policy Institute. He has been a tireless advocate for working families for over 20 years in Albany. He led the Statewide Emergency Network for Social and Economic Security (SENSES, a statewide anti-poverty advocacy organization) for 13 years and has been the Director of FPI’s sister 501(c)(4) organization, New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness for the past 8 years. Deutsch is a graduate of the State University of New York at Albany.

He also leads an all volunteer non-profit ( that works to help improve the lives of families in the Capital District, nationally and internationally.




rosemaryRosemary Rivera is the Organizing Director for Citizen Action of New York. She has been an organizer with Syracuse United Neighbors, Metro Justice, and SEIU 1199’s Healthcare Education Project before coming back to Citizen Action in her current role. She has sat on numerous boards and committees in her hometown, beautiful Rochester, New York.




kirkRev. Kirk Laubenstein is the Executive Director of the Coalition for Economic Justice (CEJ).  CEJ’s mission is to unite its member labor, faith, and community organizations to win campaigns that promote economic justice for all through building strong, diverse, sustainable communities. Laubenstein has been involved with social and economic justice issues while working with Common Councilmember David A. Rivera in the Niagara District.  There he led initiatives to reinvigorate the Grant-Ferry neighborhood by promoting local business through the Grant Street Stakeholders initiative. He has served as President of the Board of Grassroots Gardens of Buffalo, a founding board member of PUSH Buffalo, and has volunteered on many other boards. In 2011, Laubenstein felt called to attend seminary. He attended Chicago Theological Seminary and graduated in 2014 with his Master’s of Divinity. During seminary, he became involved in the UNITE HERE Hyatt hotel boycott and was convinced of the power of labor organizing to change people’s lives for the better.


Rebecca Fuentes is the Lead Organizer of the Workers’ Center of Central New York, a grassroots organization focused on workplace and economic justice. Through community organizing, leadership development, popular education and policy advocacy, the Workers’ Center of Central New York empowers low-wage workers to combat workplace abuses and improve wages and working conditions throughout the community.




NatashaBioPhotoNatasha Thompson is the President & CEO of the Food Bank of the Southern Tier in Elmira, NY.  She has over 18 years of experience in food banking and started her career as an Americorps*VISTA volunteer at the Rhode Island Community Food Bank in 1997.  Natasha holds a BA in Psychology & Religion and an MBA, both from the University of Rochester.  She is also the Chair of the Food Bank Association of New York State and a member of Feeding America’s National Council of food banks, representing the Eastern Region.  Natasha believes that food brings people to the table, both figuratively and literally, where conversations happen, relationships take root and communities are transformed.  She sees every opportunity to talk about the problem of hunger and food insecurity as a gateway to lead people of conscience to grapple with the foundational issues of social and economic inequality.


Rev. Andrew Wilkes - 1

Rev. Andrew Wilkes is the Principal of Wilkes Advocacy Group and an Associate Pastor at the Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral of New York (GAC). Reverend Wilkes is a bi-vocational minister and has built his career on a dual commitment to community development and economic justice. In 2015 he began his post as Executive Director of The Drum Major Institute (DMI), an organization founded by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., which carries forward the social change legacy of King by promoting economic justice, dismantling structural racism, and advancing civil rights. 

Reverend Wilkes is the 2016, Guy R. Brewer Distinguished Leadership Award Recipient, The 2015 recipient of The New York Theological Seminary’s Micah Institute Courage Award, the 2013 recipient of Reverend Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Push Advocacy Award, and the 2013 Frances Hesselbein Leadership Institute Next Leader of the Future Award. A public speaker and writer for outlets such as The Guardian, The Huffington Post and Sojourners Magazine; Reverend Wilkes is the convener of Stand with Black Women and Girls, a national public education campaign to promote the well-being of black women and girls through liturgy, policy options, public action, and digital engagement (#StandWithBWG). Reverend Wilkes is committed to “doing justice, loving mercy, & walking humbly with God.” 

Marc Greenberg, Executive Director of the Interfaith Assembly on Housing and Homelessness

Sahar Alsahlani, Community of Living Traditions, Stony Point Center


The conference will be held at Liverpool First United Methodist Church at 604 Oswego St in Liverpool, which is just north of Syracuse. The program will run 5-9 pm Sunday, 9 am-9 pm Monday, and 9am-12:30 pm Tuesday.

Lodging is available at the Holiday Inn Syracuse-Liverpool (a union hotel) at a reduced rate of $104/night (single) or $52/night (double). The hotel is 1.6 miles from the church and a free shuttle is available to bring participants back and forth in the morning and evening.

For those flying to Syracuse, there is a free shuttle between Syracuse Hancock International Airport and the Holiday Inn. For those taking the train, we will arrange for rides from the Amtrak station to the church and hotel on Sunday and Tuesday.


Click here or scroll down to register now.

Full registration (including dinner Sunday, lunch and dinner Monday and lunch Tuesday) is $125.

Early registration (by August 15) is $100.

Sunday only registration (including dinner) is $30.

If you prefer to pay by check, please call 518-213-6000, ext. 6348.

Financial assistance is available to those who need it. Please do not let a lack of funds keep you from attending! To apply for a scholarship please email with your name, phone number, a paragraph about why you want to attend the Faith for a Fair NY Conference, and the amount of assistance you are requesting.