Ed is a Professor Emeritus of La Roche College, where he served for 28 years in the History Department. He has been a member of the Merton Center since 1984 and has been a key activist especially around the wars in Central America during the 1980s and 1990s. Among his education achievements is a PhD from Rutgers University, an M.A. from Louisiana State, and a B.A. from Loyola College, New Orleans. He has authored many books on subjects related to Central American history.
Rob Conroy is CeaseFirePA’s Director of Organizing and the Thomas Merton Center’s Board President; he has been on the Board since early 2011 and chaired the Board’s projects committee from 2012-2015. Rob is also a lawyer/former prosecutor, a lifetime progressive, and a journalist who has published in numerous Pennsylvania publications, including ’The New People’, both prior to and during his Board service. He currently chairs the Thomas Merton Center’s Executive Committee and also serves on the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank’s Government Relations & Advocacy Committee as well as Vice President of the Spectrum Charter School’s Board of Trustees.
Neil Cosgrove became active with the Merton Center following his retirement after a 40 year career in teaching, including 27 year as a Professor of English at Slippery Rock University. Given his experience as a newspaper reporter and editor, and as a teacher of rhetoric and written composition, his main focus with the Center has been producing the monthly newspaper The NewPeople. His commitment to social justice has even deeper roots, as he has been a member of unions since college, including the United Steelworkers, the Brotherhood of Railroad Clerks, the Newspaper Guild, the Bahamas Union of Teachers, and the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculty. He served as shop steward at the high school where he taught in Nassau, Bahamas, as treasurer of his Slippery Rock APSCUF local, as member and acting chair of its Grievance Committee, and as strike chair and picket organizer during contract negotiations.
Mark Dixon is an award-winning filmmaker, activist, and public speaker exploring the frontiers of social change on a finite planet. After graduating from Stanford University in industrial engineering, he worked for start-up companies in Silicon Valley before turning to documentary filmmaking. His productions include “Your Environmental Road Trip” (YERT), a year-long “eco-expedition” through all 50 United States exploring environmental sustainability, and his latest film, “The Power of One Voice: A 50-Year Perspective on the Life of Rachel Carson.” In December, he crowdfunded a journey to Paris, France to attend and cover the United Nations Climate Change Conference – Conference of Parties (COP21) as credentialed press.
Michael has been an active member of the Thomas Merton Center since 1984 and a member of its Board off and on since then. He has been a member of the Anti-War Committee of the Center since its inception and is also a member of the Haiti Solidarity Committee. In the intellectual arena, he has worked as a Professor of Economics, Physics, and Literature at various universities in Kenya, the US, and the UK over the past 40 years. His passion is to help the TMC become all that it can be in the domain of advancing peace and social justice in the world.
Pat Fenton is the Deputy Executive Director at ACTION-Housing, where he first began working in 1991 after 20 years of ministry with the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh. At Action Housing he has had a wide range of responsibilities. Pat and his wife Ginny live in the Morningside section of the City and have 5 grandchildren. One of his favorite activities is biking on the Mon-Yough Trail. Pat currently serves at the Treasurer of the Thomas Merton Center.
Wanda is a longtime volunteer with the Thomas Merton Center and has served on the board of directors for the past 10 years. Her past campaigns have included children and families, poverty, ecumenical and interreligious initiatives. She is a Facilitator for Creating a Culture of Peace: a 20 hour community-based training for generating non-violent power, a 2015 GreenFaith Fellow, a mentor for Education for Ministry, a four year course offered by the School of Theology at the University of the South in Sewanee, TN. Wanda has spent the last 6 years organizing against fossil fuels and for resilient healthy communities and is dedicated the continuing study of eco theology. She serves on the Steering Committee of Pittsburgh 350 and Pennsylvanians Against Fracking.
Anupama Jain, PhD, is the founder and principal consultant for Inclusant (a small business which focuses on diversity, inclusion, and equity education) and a college professor. Her major publication is the book How to Be South Asian in America: Narratives of Ambivalence and Belonging (Temple University Press), which investigates storytelling and the American Dream from a social justice perspective. Since 2011, anu has focused on collaborative community organizing and public humanities initiatives in Pittsburgh, partnering with diverse local groups and designing original programming.
Ken is a recently retired attorney whose practice focused on real estate, particularly the development of affordable housing. He has a B.A. from St. John’s College (Annapolis) and a J.D. from Duquesne University. He has volunteered as a legal observer for the National Lawyers Guild at the protests in St Paul during the 2008 Republican Convention and for the ACLU on numerous occasions in Pittsburgh. He is a Cornerstone Sustainer of the Merton Center and has served on the governing bodies of other local and national nonprofit organizations. He sees the Merton Center as an important part of our community, a place where folks who are troubled by the violence and manifest injustice of our society can meet others and word together for change.
Anne Kuhn has been active in peace issues for many years. As former president of Freeport Peace Links and later Pittsburgh Peace Links, she worked with the Chinese peace groups, All China Women’s Federation and the Chinese People’s Association for Peace and Disarmament. Her background as a Quaker has also helped to keep her aware of our constant need to pay attention to justice and equality issues. She has 3 children and 6 grandchildren.
Jordan Malloy is a business management senior at Point Park University. She organizes for the incarceration rights group, Fight for Lifers West. Jordan grew up in Wilkinsburg with her parents and four siblings, where she experienced the reality of the institutional issues faced by communities which are most complained about in the nightly news. The undeniable realities of gentrification, geographical segregation, racist transportation policies, food desserts, school to prison pipelines, brutalization of black males, sexualization of black females, redlining, and the general economic, social, intellectual, psychological, and physical inequities are injustices she has seen and experienced since childhood. These injustices she cannot ignore, and tries to act on in intersectionality and in solidarity with movements representing those who are oppressed, because we all have the same enemy. That’s pretty much it.
Jonah is a long time activist member of the Thomas Merton Center, He is a founder of the TMC’s largest project Pittsburghers For Public Transit (PPT), which has successfully organized thousands of Pittsburhgers to defend and expand public transit. He was an active member of the Anti-War Committee and helped organize and was the co-ordinator of logistics for the People’s March to the G20, which drew some 8,000 participants. Previously Jonah worked on various demonstrations and projects of the AWC including a joint effort between the AWC and Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) the Pittsburgh Veterans Tour a speaking tour featuring local and national leaders of IVAW.
For 40 years, Jim McCarville worked with ports and waterways in the US and Latin America, but that is part of his story. He started in the Peace Corps in Brazil back in 1969-71. Upon returning to his home in Milwaukee, he helped the local Capuchin Order establish their first Justice and Peace Office. Upon retiring he has been very active in the Association of Pittsburgh Priests, where he serves on the Steering Committee, and in the Thomas Merton Center, where he serves on the Editorial Collective and the Board of Directors.
Joyce was Executive Director and co-founder of the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, which was born out of the Merton Center’s outreach to the needy and hungry in our city. Prior to working at the Food Bank, she served for 10 years as a staff person at the Merton Center in many capacities including the production of The New People. Her education includes a B.A. in Education from St. John’s College, Cleveland and an M.A. in Education from Dayton University, Ohio. She was a founding member of the Pittsburgh Haiti Solidarity Committee and is a member of numerous peace and social justice groups in the city.
Co-founder of TMC, staff organizer 1973-2006. Member, TMC board, New People Editorial and TMC 40th Anniversary Committees. In October I helped to organize the initial meeting of a Western PA. working group for a New Economy.
Tyrone Scales is the Project Assistant for the RAND Corporation’s PHRESH Plus Project in the Hill District and Homewood. He is a two term board member of the Thomas Merton Center and has been a member and volunteer since 2013 assisting with the project, development and membership committees. Tyrone holds an MSW from the University of concentrating on research and program evaluation. He has worked on research projects focused on addressing discrimination and abuses of power in the justice system, retention of students of color in higher education, assessing the colleges with the best diversity programs and raising awareness around issues faced by those with disabilities. In 2015, Tyrone presented his Transitions and Disabilities: A Rapid Review of Post High School Services study at Howard University highlighting the quality of programs available to students with physical disabilities in their transition from high school to college and/or the workforce.
M. Shernell Smith
Shernell presently works at CMU in the Office of the Dean of Students Affairs on Multicultural and Diversity Initiatives. Prior to her present position, she worked as Coordinator for Student Development and Housefellow Student Development also at CMU. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Biological Sciences at the University of Central Arkansas and her Master of Higher Education at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. She is already familiar to us at the Center for the invaluable help she provided in organizing the Merton Award Dinners of 2010 and 2011.
Antonia Domingo moved to Pittsburgh last year to work for the United Steelworkers. Prior to moving to Pittsburgh, Antonia was active in labor-student alliances, the immigrant rights movement, and housing justice struggles in Boston. Since moving to Pittsburgh, Antonia has become an active member of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, particularly in the campaign to reunite the Esquivel family. She also serves on the steering committee for the Pittsburgh Housing Summit and volunteers as a pro-bono attorney for the Protection from Abuse Project.
Nijah is currently in her final year at Duquesne University, studying as a biology major and biochemistry minor. She volunteers with a number of causes in both the Pittsburgh area, having volunteer experience in women’s health, public health, and community engagement/education. She has served as a Merton center intern, a Hillman Cancer Center intern, youth board president for Educating Teens About HIV/AIDS, social change committee chair for Three Rivers Community Foundation, has experience as a certified HIV tester and a trained doula, and has interned at both Complejo Hospitalario as well as a private clinic in Albacete, Spain. Having experience which ranges from using her skills in Spanish while volunteering with underserved populations to assisting patients in shadowing experiences to creating educational lesson plans to writing and evaluating grants, she hopes to make both scientific fields and the world at large more equitable. She is a member of the editorial collective, and is involved with Stop Sexual Assault in the Military (SSAM) at the Merton center. As a young adult who has been engaged in social change from a young age, she consistently encourages high school and university aged peers to become involved in order to better the world for posterity. She believes social justice helps the world at large learn from its negative history as per Maya Angelou, “History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again”.
W.D. Chrisner III, M.Ed./M.P.A.
W.D. (Bill) Chrisner, III has over 40 years of experience in social service and social justice work. He is currently serving as the Chair of the Pennsylvania Rehabilitation Council (PaRC). Mr. Chrisner was appointed to the Council by the Governor in 2011. He holds two master’s and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh – Master’s in Public Administration, Master’s in Education (Rehabilitation Counseling), and Bachelor of Arts in Sociology.
Mr. Chrisner has been recognized at the local, state, and national levels for his ongoing contributions to the Independent Living/Disability Rights Movement and was a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor and Licensed Professional Counselor. A 1991 graduate of Leadership Pittsburgh, he is a member of various consumer and professional organizations at the national, state, and local levels.