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. Besides promoting antimilitarism, she has previously worked in movements for environmental justice, land reform, and farmworkers' rights. Emma believes in the power of grassroots fundraising to resource movements for collective liberation, and likes making noise on her bucket drum.

Yuni ChangYuni Chang
Field Organizer

Yuni (she/they) is a New Jerseyan with roots in Korea, and a lifelong student of Black studies and ethnic studies. She brings experience as a youth educator, an archive rat, an angsty poet, and a student organizer for ethnic studies and against community deportations. She loves libraries, cooking, theater of all kinds, tv, and working with young people.


Amani Nijem smilingAmani Nijem
Bilezikian Intern

Amani is an organizer born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. She recently graduated from Temple University with a B.S. in Natural Science. She spent her years at Temple organizing in Students for Justice in Palestine. Advocating and spreading awareness for Palestine is in her blood. Not only does she love organizing but she enjoys a good cup of coffee, cats, and photography. Amani is super excited to join WRL on the airwars campaign and promoting antimilitarism this summer.

Heath RuddHeath Rudd
Bilezikian Intern

Heath (they/them) is a community organizer, farmer, and lover. Originally from Bethesda, Maryland, they have moved all over the United States, having called states like Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia home. They recently graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor of Science in Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences, and spent their eight years in Texas organizing for LGBTQ+ rights and researching future applications for theories of harm reduction. Like many other folks in the staff collective at War Resisters League, they enjoy a good cup of joe and dreaming of ways to continually resist militarism. They’re absolutely stoked to have moved to New York City to work directly with organizations like the Sylvia Rivera Law Project and WRL, while gardening to pass their free time.

Joanne SheehanJoanne Sheehan
New England Regional Office Staff

joanne [at]

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 to 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.

Tory SmithTory Smith
National Campaigner

Tory (they/them) is an organizer and researcher raised in the DC area. A student activist during the lead up to the Iraq and Afghan wars, Tory was a part of the student anti-war movement in from 2003. Tory was a part of the National Students for Justice in Palestine Steering Committee, and continues to organize and support for a liberated Palestine from their position in the US. Tory also occasionally cooks far too much food keeping with their Italian roots, struggles to keep up with their Arabic, and dances till late in the evening with the nearest queer cuties.

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.

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.

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.