Staff, Volunteers and Interns

Emma Burke

Emma Burke
Development and Membership Coordinator

Born and raised in Providence, Rhode Island Emma proudly finds her roots beneath the banner of Hope in the nation's smallest state. Emma is interested in borders, labor, and the geographies of power that shape our world. She holds a BA in International Studies with concentrations in Political Science and Geography from Vassar College. Emma enjoys spending time in her backyard with her loved ones


Dennise Hernandez

Dennise Hernandez
Freeman Intern

Dennise Hernandez is a young activist whose social justice work has primarily encompassed advocacy for Latinx, immigrant, and migrant communities. Dennise holds a BA in Government and Public Policy from Dartmouth College. During her time there she directed the Dartmouth Coalition for Immigration Reform, Equality, and DREAMers, one of very few immigrant rights organization in the Upper Valley. Additionally, she has past experience with the Bernie Sanders campaign, and the New York State Supreme Court. A New Yorker through and through, she enjoys visiting the city’s museums, reading, baking anything but brownies, and fiddling with her fountain pens.


Ali IssaAli Issa
Field Organizer

Ali Issa is is originally from Iowa - among other places - and is co-coordinator of WRL's campaign to end police militarization, Demilitarize Health and Security. He holds a Master's in Arabic Studies from the University of Texas at Austin and is the author of Against All Odds: Voices of Popular Struggle in Iraq (2015). Ali is also a member of the community funding committee of the North Star Fund, a foundation that provides grants to grassroots community groups. He likes playing the trumpet and lives in Brooklyn, New York.


Tom Leonard
Bookkeeper

Tom is the former Fund-raising Director for CISPES, the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador.  In addition to keeping the books together and the bills paid at WRL and other peace and social justice groups, Tom continues to work for economic and social change in El Salvador.
 


rustie... ready for his closeupRaul Ramos
Communications and Development Associate

Raul's passion for intersectional social justice work began at his alma mater, Syracuse University, where he held a work-study position at the LGBT Resource Center. He quickly became involved in campus organizing and outreach, and worked toward creating a more inclusive campus community for folks with marginalized genders and sexualities. Through programming, editorial, and his resilient voice preaching queer liberation, racial justice, and sexual empowerment, he demanded space for a queer person of color within a predominantly white institution fixated on athletics and Greek Life. Raul received a B.S. in Advertising and upon graduating, dabbled in the corporate world and came to find that it hurt his soul. He comes to War Resisters League with strategic communications skills and a yearning for creating impactful change. When he's not at WRL, you can find him pouring a subpar rosetta at Joe Coffee, loitering at the dog park, or searching for the hoppiest IPA.


rustie... ready for his closeupRustie
Beloved (former) Office Cat

Rustie reminds us that as we work to end war and violence, we need to remember to eat, sleep, and play:
"I spent many years as a spokespersons for cats against militarism and all forms of domination at 339 Lafayette, and now have earned retirement in a Baltimore home with my good friend Ellen Barfield. If I could do it all over again, you know I would."

Read about Rustie's predecessor, A.J.
 


Joanne SheehanJoanne Sheehan
New England Regional Office Staff

joanne [at] warresisters.org

Joanne Sheehan has been on the staff of the New England Regional Office of WRL since she co-founded it in 1985. She as been a nonviolence trainer/workshop facilitator since the 1970s. She had worked with the Catholic Peace Fellowship and the Community for Nonviolent Action. Joanne has been active with War Resisters International (WRI) since 1983 when she was elected to Council and served as WRI Chair from 1998 to 2006. She is an editor and contributor of WRI's  Handbook for Nonviolent Campaigns.

Believing that nonviolent social change needs to include constructive program, Joanne has been involved in developing community land trusts and organizing for economic conversion in her military dependent community of Southeastern Connecticut. She is an organic gardener and loves being a nana.


Tara Tabassi
National Organizer

Tara comes with a background in community organizing with queer and trans youth of colour communities and BDS movement building in food cooperatives and LGBTQ spaces.  Tara is Iranian-American, raised in the Hague, the Netherlands. Tara holds a BA from the Evergreen State College in Gendered Human Rights and an MA in Conflict, Reconstruction and Human Security from the Institute of Social Studies, Erasmus University in the Netherlands. Tara likes political art-making, plant-medicine, as well as growing, cooking and eating food.


Linda Thurston speaking at the July 2007 WRL National Committee meetingLinda M. Thurston
Office Coordinator

With over 30 years experience in peace, social justice and human rights movements, Linda has worked as Fundraising Coordinator at the Brecht Forum, Program Officer at the Funding Exchange and Education and Communications Coordinator at the Center for Constitutional Rights. She served as the Director of Amnesty International's Program to Abolish the Death Penalty and National Director of the American Friends Service Committee Criminal Justice Program. She has worked with Critical Resistance, Prison Book Program, and continues to work with the campaign to free political prisoner and journalist Mumia Abu Jamal. A key part of her work against war, the death penalty and the prison industrial complex is finding ways to make new technologies serve social justice organizing. A large part of her work at WRL is keeping all the computers working and keeping the website from crashing.


Liz ProfriedtApril 29, 2016
Elizabeth Proefriedt, sister, friend and activist PRESENTE

It is with many tears and mourning hearts, that we announce the passing of our dear friend Sister Liz Proefreidt, longtime peace activist. Liz was a dynamo of love, generosity, faith, commitment to peace and justice, music, poetry, and service, a courageous inspiration to all who knew her.

As Area Coordinator for War Resisters League's Stop the Merchants of Death Speaking Tour, she overcame illness, distance, and the danger of the stairs at 339 Lafayette to support War Resisters League time and again, by doing administrative work that is relatively un-romantic but absolutely necessary. Even more, her organizing and participation in demonstrations exemplified her commitment to peace and justice, where she would take greater risk through direct action for peace. Liz also volunteered at Pax Christi Metro New York, was a member of the Srs. of Joseph Nonviolence Group and a member of the Kairos-Plowshares resistance community.

Liz Proefreidt was a "retired" Sister of St. Joseph, but involved full time in peace and justice work. Most of all, she showered love and dry humor wherever she went. 


Ralph DigiaRalph DiGia
Dec. 13, 1914 - Feb. 1, 2008

When Ralph DiGia got his notice to report to the Army for induction after Pearl Harbor, he went to the U.S. Attorney's office to say he wasn't reporting because he was a conscientious objector. The U.S. Attorney sent him to a WRL lawyer for advice, but in those benighted days, the armed services did not recognize conscientious objection that was not religiously based. Ralph therefore spent the war years in Federal prison, going on work strikes to integrate the prison dining hall (an effort that succeeded). When he got out of prison, he headed straight for WRL. In prison, Ralph and other WWII resisters had become determined practitioners of nonviolent civil disobedience. However in those days, many older pacifists believed that civil disobedience was going too far in the quest for peace. Over the years, civil disobedience has become a taken-for-granted element of the pacifist repertoire. Ralph worked in the WRL office from the end of WWII onward. He was Office Manager for years, finally "retired," and and then worked for many years more as a volunteer -- allegedly half-time. If Ralph had been paid staff, he'd have cost us a lot of overtime! Ralph handled a wide range of office tasks: the finances for our work with War Resisters’ International and the financial records for our endowment fund, WRL, Inc.; the portion of WRL contributions that come through monthly pledges; and a lot of our retail orders, particularly those for the yearly Peace Calendar. Finally, like most (not quite all, despite the stereotype) longtime pacifists, Ralph is a Mets fan.