sophea chrek

Activist, campaigner, researcher/scholar
Nationality: Cambodian
Living in: Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Fields of work: food systems and food sovereignty, women’s rights, labour rights, public policy and governance, people’s movement building

“Commitment and courage are essential values. I’m committed to fighting for socio-political and economic justice, with whatever capacity I have, and no matter where I’m at.”
— sophea chrek

“I am a feminist activist. I have been involved in socio-political and economic justice work and campaigning for almost 10 years. 

“My skills and knowledge have been gradually built and sharpened by my activism, by the work that I’ve been involved in, as well as through the privilege of being part of local organisations and people’s struggles and actions.

“I have been part of campaigns that aim to expose the harms and negative impacts of large-scale investment projects on people’s lives, the environment, and local economies. I have carried out critical analyses of governance, of inequalities of wealth and access, and of the capture of local people’s resources by elites, powerful politicians and corporations.

“I have provided support to local groups who are working to end the exploitation of the working class, and especially women; to farmers calling for fairer markets and for support from the government; to those fighting for the right to work, and campaigning to access adequate services at public hospital facilities. I have also written articles that highlight how current economic models have served to deepen inequality and injustice. 

“I believe that systematic change is possible when people’s power is exercised and consolidated.”
sophea chrek

Twitter: @sopheachrek

“What gives me hope? Courageous events that show that change is possible. One was the election of the Malaysian prime minister last year, with Malaysian people exercising their power to change their leadership. Another was the rise of new political parties in Thailand: one is led by young progressive entrepreneurs, and has had a transgender person and more women standing as a parliamentary candidates. Another party, despite having few human and material resources, has pushed through and put a grassroots people’s agenda in their political manifesto. 

I’m surrounded by courageous women, organisations and individuals. Even when I am fed up and exhausted, they inspire me to keep going. They always find a way to expose issues and challenge the system, whether through art, engagement with progressive politicians, or taking to the street. As long as we do not give up hope, progressive change is possible. We need to play our part in building movements. Even though change may not happen in our time, new generations will take it forward.”
— sophea chrek

Della Duncan

Founder, Upstream Podcast
Nationality: American
Living in: San Francisco, California, US
Fields of work: education, environment and sustainable development, media and journalism, economics, spirituality

“I try to effect economic systems change by operating in the realm of mindsets or paradigms. Knowing that our systems were made by the human mind and can, therefore, be unmade or remade by the human mind gives me hope for our just transition to a more equitable world. I stay curious about my beliefs and thoughts and how they relate to my actions and livelihood path. I also bring curiosity to my interactions with other people, to refrain from ‘othering’ and separating myself from others. Curiosity helps me to stay open, listen, and change my beliefs and mindset to support connection and collaboration.”
— Della Duncan

Della Duncan is a renegade economist based in San Francisco. She is interested in questioning and challenging mainstream economic ideology and contributing to systems change for a more equitable, sustainable and enlivened world. Her approach draws from heterodox movements including ecological economics, feminist economics, Buddhist economics, new economics and eco-socialism. 

After graduating summa cum laude from the University of California, Davis, with a BA in international relations and sociology, Della worked in the fields of sexual violence prevention and intervention, higher education and international development. 

Concerned about widening inequality in the San Francisco Bay Area and aware of more equal and solidaristic economies from her travels and studies, she set off on a livelihood path to try to understand economic challenges at their root causes and identify their systemic solutions.  

This led her to pursue an MA in economics for transition from Schumacher College, where she graduated with distinction. Since then, her work has taken many forms. She hosts and produces the Upstream Podcast, telling stories of alternative economic thought and practice through radio documentaries and interviews. She supports individuals, organisations and governments as a Right Livelihood coach, a Gross National Happiness trainer and an alternative economics consultant.

Della also facilitates courses around the world in the areas of alternative economics, Buddhist economics, the Work that Reconnects and financial permaculture. Her professional affiliations include Schumacher College, the Eurasia Learning Institute for Happiness and Wellbeing, Santa Cruz Permaculture, the Gross National Happiness Centre and the San Francisco Public Bank Coalition.

Twitter: @dellazduncan @upstreampodcast

“What gives me hope? Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wrote: ‘The line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.’ This concept reminds me that no matter how often I witness or experience the human capacity for harm and violence, I know that we also have the capacity for kindness and altruism. This understanding helps me view instances of violence and harm as opportunities to invite people instead into moments of reconciliation, kindness and love.”
— Della Duncan

Alon-Lee Green

National director, Standing Together
Nationality: Israeli
Living in: Tel Aviv/Jaffa
Fields of work: movement building, public policy, governance, grassroots organising

“Change is not something that will be created in an instant. It will not be the result of a single campaign or a sprint. Change happens when committed people create a thinking collective, working with a focused plan and a shared set of values.

It can be easy to lose hope, or to play the superhero who is all about the individual act. I have faced the choice of building myself as a politician or building the movement. I am proud to be part of a group, of a movement, committed to something larger than the individual.

I am happy to have worked for so many years for the public, knowing that it might take years more until we achieve change, but also knowing it will only happen if we work for it together.”
— Alon-Lee Green

Alon-Lee Green is the founding National Director of Standing Together, a progressive Jewish-Arab grassroots movement. Throughout his political and social years of activity, he has organised numerous campaigns against the recent wars between Israel and Palestine, and for a just peace and equality and social justice in Israel. 

As a teenager, Alon-Lee was active in organising Israel’s first trade union of waiters in a chain of coffee shops. As leader of the union, he led a six-week strike, was fired by management and returned to his job by court order, and eventually won the strike and signed the first-ever collective agreement in Israel’s restaurant industry. He went on to found Israel’s first National Waiters’ Union, and has appeared numerous times in the media speaking about young workers’ rights. 

In the summer of 2011, he played a prominent role in Israel’s social protest movement and convened some of its largest rallies. As one of the protest’s leaders, he appeared on media and at public events, underscoring the connections between social justice and peace, as well raising the question of who profits from social-economic structures.

Alon-Lee also worked for five years as a political and parliamentary adviser in the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, and was involved in the legislative process and the building of citizens’ campaigns that influenced parliamentary decisions. During that time, he was responsible for a few laws that are now on the Israeli statute books, including advances in the rights of workers, students and the LGBT community. 

Together with Arab and Jewish partners, Alon-Lee founded Standing Together in late 2015. It organises locally and nationally around campaigns for peace, equality and social justice, in order to build power and transform Israeli society. Since then, on a number of occasions and campaigns, Standing Together has mobilised more than 100,000 people, and has more than 1,400 members and 2,500 activists around the country. 

Twitter: @AlonLeeGreen

“The past year was a tough one in my country. Our government has never been so far to the right: attacking minorities, passing anti-democratic bills and bringing more and more discord to our society. In the past year it laid plans to deport all asylum seekers living in Israel, to institute the racist Nation State Bill and attack women’s and LGBT rights, to support the moving of the US embassy to Jerusalem and carry out attacks on the people of Gaza. All these steps were aggressive, violent and loud. 

But all of these steps have prompted vociferous public resistance, protest and solidarity. I find hope in the fact that we stopped the deportation of 40,000 African asylum seekers — even though the government had a solid plan and a concrete majority in parliament. I find hope in the massive Jewish-Arab demonstrations of more than 10,000 people against the Nation State law. 

Our reality is full of dangers, but also full of opportunities. It is full of fears, but also full of people with hopes and dreams. It gives me a lot of hope to see how we can harness the dialectical nature of our reality to create change.”
— Alon-Lee Green


Joan Jones

President and founder, The National LGBTQ Workers Center
Nationality: American
Living in: Chicago, Illinois, US
Fields of work: labour; the intersection of workers’ rights, LGBTQ rights and civil rights

“Commitment is one of the foundations of my activism. I have a fairly unshakeable belief that when people come together to make change, miracles can happen. But it does not happen overnight. A plethora of different strategies often have to be executed before we see change. Commitment, or as I often frame it perseverance, is essential to tackling the root issue of inequality.”
— Joan Jones

Joan Jones is a campaigner, advocate, trainer and labour organiser with more than 10 years’ experience of leading social justice campaigns across the United States. She attended the University of California, Berkeley, majoring in political science. As a student, she led UC Berkeley’s longest-running progressive political organisation, where every year she helped to elect progressive people of colour to student government.

After graduation, Joan joined the labour movement, and organised Spanish-speaking childcare workers. While an organiser with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 925, she coordinated a statewide campaign to organise workers, parents and politicians to keep migrant Head Start workers unionised when an outside federal contractor threatened to take away union representation. She also helped chair bargaining in several units, which improved wages and benefits for almost all workers in those units. Joan also helped to establish SEIU Local 925 Organizational Equity and Inclusion work that continues in the organisation to this day. 

Her work at the intersection of education, leadership development and organising led her to a job in Washington, DC, at SEIU headquarters, where she served for three years as the National Young Workers’ Coordinator. As director of this programme, she advised union staff and leadership on ways to build the next generation of labour leaders while helping to coordinate issue-based campaigns on student debt and Black Lives Matter with members of SEIU’s National Millennial Advisory Committee.  

Joan is Founder and current President of The National LGBTQ Workers Center, an organisation where LGBTQ workers can learn how to organise, stand up to workplace discrimination and fight for economic justice. Through education and issue-based organising, they work to ensure a world in which LGBTQ people have the skills, tools and resources necessary to defend their rights as workers. In her free time, Joan serves on the board of the New Leaders Council Chicago as Curriculum Co-Chair and enjoys spending time with her fiancée at their home in Joliet, IL.

“Mothers who work paycheque to paycheque in order to provide a better life for their children give me hope. In my experience, it was always low-wage mothers who, despite their lack of time, were most willing to give up their time to organise for better wages, better benefits and a better world for their children. Mothers like mine, immigrants and all working-class parents who see the importance of fixing this broken system of inequality. They give me hope.”
— Joan Jones


Liz Nelson

Director, Tax Justice and Human Rights,
Tax Justice Network
Nationality: British
Living in: Oxford, UK
Fields of work: tax justice, human rights, gender, financial architecture

“I am curious to understand why people think and act as they do. I nurture my curiosity by asking questions and listening to the answers. I know that trying to understand a different view can positively inform my thinking and help me design my work. Keeping my mind open to change, to difference, is an important basis for tailoring my practice.”
— Liz Nelson

“I have worked since 2010 with the Tax Justice Network (TJN), which is dedicated to high-level research and advocacy on global tax evasion and avoidance, and the role of financial secrecy jurisdictions, or ‘tax havens’. I lead a programme of collaboration between tax justice and human rights advocates in initiatives of practical application, with a network of regional and global researchers, advocates and campaigners who are interdisciplinary and international in scope. The programme focuses on opportunities for progress in the fields of tax justice and human rights, with an initial focus on gender and inequalities.  

“I represent TJN in the Financial Transparency Coalition, an international network of 12 civil society organisations, and I am an active steering group member of the Global Alliance for Tax Justice’s working group on tax and gender.

“I began work in Liverpool with a national volunteer service, supporting young people who had been excluded from school. I later developed volunteer projects in community and residential settings across the North West of England. I spent 17 years in supported housing roles including managing a residential supported housing service for young people who had finished short custodial and non-custodial sentences, and I developed, planned and evaluated service provision in consultation with service users. These experiences gave me an opportunity to challenge service inequalities, including opening access of provision to women and working with governing bodies to challenge discriminatory practices related to HIV/Aids and perceptions of risk. 

“From 2006 to 2010 I was Development Manager at the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Saïd Business School, Oxford. I worked with the Skoll MBA Scholars and the Business School team to promote social justice ethics and practice.

“In 2017 I designed a proposal and secured donor support to bring together international researchers, advocates and activists working on tax, women’s rights and gender justice to develop an action plan for progressive tax systems and financial transparency for women’s rights. The collaborative outcome was the Bogota Declaration on Tax Justice for Women’s Rights

“I gained an MA (Hons) degree in Victorian literature at the University of Liverpool in 1984 after studying English literature as an undergraduate. In 2014 I gained a postgraduate certificate in human rights development management, international human rights and development management from the Open University.”

Twitter: @zilhen

“What gives me hope? Opportunities to strengthen democracy, a concept that is under such attack in our time. It is why I believe tax justice is so important — because it can create opportunities for all people, especially women, to have choices, and for their voices to be heard.” — Liz Nelson
— Liz Nelson


Foluke Adetola Ojelabi

Social policy officer, UNICEF
Nationality: Nigerian
Living in: Lagos, Nigeria
Fields of work: poverty reduction, social inclusion, social protection, public finance analysis, public health

“Courage has been integral for me in maintaining the commitment to ensure that women and children, especially girls, get the opportunities and services necessary for a life of dignity. Starting as a teenage volunteer, channelling the course I have followed has required me to draw courage from within and strength from everything that can shine a light for positive change. It takes courage to be kind, and I constantly leverage kindness while staying motivated to also show kindness. The courage to remain committed to my vision often comes from moments when I take time for leisure (walking and enjoying nature). Even when taking the next step seems too daunting, courage finds me and I embrace it.”
— Foluke Adetola Ojelabi

Foluke Adetola Ojelabi was born and raised in Northern Nigeria and started her development experience with non-profit organisations as a teenage volunteer. She believes strongly that her life goal is to contribute to making positive change for women and girls, a spark discovered through her curiosity as a child about disparities of resource distribution and the experiences of girls and women in Kano city.

Trained in public health (epidemiology), Foluke joined the Nigerian office of UNICEF, the United Nation’s Children’s Fund, in 2016, where she currently serves as a social policy officer. She focuses on working for poverty reduction and social inclusion using innovative social protection interventions, and is passionate about promoting equity and access to services for girls and women. She has worked at community level, nationally and internationally in social policy, health advocacy and the implementation of development projects that aim for equity.

Foluke studied at the University of Ibadan and has an MPH in public health. She is an alumna of the Atlas Corps Fellowship in Washington, DC, and in 2012 was chosen as one of 100 young Commonwealth leaders for leadership training. From 2009-2010, Foluke initiated a health equity dialogue with traditional leaders in Northwestern Nigeria, where she engaged in Kebbi and Niger states with the emirs of Argungu, Koko-Besse, Jega, Tunga-Magajiya, Borgu and Lapai.

She has served as an ambassador in Nigeria for the Girl Rising global project, and was on the technical team coordinating the two-day Women and Girls Summit 2014 in Abuja, a collaborative project between Friends Africa, Nigeria’s National Centre for Women Development and the Office of the First Lady of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

A member of the Roll Back Malaria Communications Community of Practice and Malaria Advocacy Working group from 2013-2015, Foluke is currently a member of the Global Burden of Disease Study collaborative network.

“‘Hope comes from hearing’ is a principle that has guided my journey. Hearing that my work is making some difference, no matter how small or gradual, hearing that there is still more work to be done, and hearing good news like the opportunity to join the Atlantic Fellows!

Technology gives me hope because it has provided a platform for me to hear from far and wide about the inequalities that girls and women face. It has broken barriers and merged a vast global space. Technology keeps alive the flame of working to end inequalities in my lifetime, to pursue knowledge and exchange ideas, and to document what generations yet to come can learn from.

Technology gives me hope for the future that improvements can be realised and barriers can be broken. Through technology I hear a steady rhythm to keep working, keep reaching out, keep writing and most importantly keep up hope: this is the right cause to remain committed to!”
— Foluke Adetola Ojelabi


Crystal Simeoni

Head of Advocacy and Economic Justice lead, African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET)
Nationality: Kenyan/Italian
Living in: Nairobi, Kenya
Fields of work: gender, public policy, governance, macroeconomics

“Courage. It takes courage to question and challenge current macroeconomic models, especially from a Pan-African feminist analysis. Getting into spaces takes courage. Speaking truth to power takes courage. But for change to happen, we need to be audaciously courageous.”
— Crystal Simeoni

“In my current role, I serve as Head of Advocacy and lead on Economic Justice at FEMNET, one of Africa’s largest women’s rights networks, with over 600 members in more than 45 African countries. I lead our work to ensure that women from Africa have the capacity to articulate their issues through a Pan-African feminist macroeconomic lens and are meaningfully present in policy spaces. 

“My last role before FEMNET was as Policy Lead for the thematic area on international financial architecture at the Tax Justice Network Africa. My duties included policy and advocacy work at a Pan-African level with governments, donors and organisational members and partners on tax justice issues on the continent.

“I previously worked for Hivos - East Africa where I served as both Programme Officer and Programme Development Manager. While at Hivos, I worked in sub-national, national and regional policy and partner management across both my roles. This meant that I worked with private sector, government at all levels, journalists and researchers, as well as having a fundraising role. 

“My career has revolved around themes of inequalities, including economic inequality and gender inequality, and has also involved work around data.

“I have an MA in African studies with a focus on rural economic development from Dalarna University in Sweden, and a BBA in Business Management from Centria University of Applied Sciences in Finland. I currently sit on the board of the Institute of Public Finance (IPF Kenya) and I am a member of a number of reference groups related to gender and macroeconomic policy.”
Crystal Simeoni

Twitter: @crystalsimeoni

“Fighting for Africa at a global level is hard. Fighting for women’s rights in a patriarchal world is hard. Fighting for both of them together sometimes feels impossible. Despite this, the African women’s movement is never relenting and continuously fighting — clamouring through windows when doors are closed to them, and then opening the same doors for those who come after them. So many of these brave unrelenting women have gone before me; so many I see coming after me. I am in good company — and this gives me hope.”
— Crystal Simeoni

Amanda Young cafe 2.jpg

Amanda Young

Chief Executive Officer, First Nations Foundation
Nationality: Australian
Living in: Melbourne, Australia
Fields of work: public policy, governance, indigenous economic participation

“Kindness, curiosity, commitment and courage are four values of inestimable power when creating equality. Firstly, a non-judgemental framework and a curious mindset leaves you far more open and empathic to the experience of someone who is not thriving; commitment to change and the courage to act and advocate are what bring about the change. These resonate strongly with me personally, my life mission to help Indigenous people and my determination to effect change, whether I am standing up to governments, police forces, titans of the economy or the privileged.”
— Amanda Young

Amanda Young practised criminal law for eight years, which prepared her well for a career as an advocate and a public speaker. Keen to influence the change agenda, she then moved into government strategy and policy, where she worked across social and political initiatives including reparations payments for the stolen wages of Indigenous workers. It is a cause for which she feels particular affinity, as her people were brought to Australia as slaves, working under similar punitive regimes during the British colonisation of Australia. 

In social policy, Amanda has supported the creation of an organisation for the Stolen Generations (the name for Indigenous people forcibly removed from their families under assimilation policies) and tackled police misconduct relating to disempowered Indigenous people. She also drafted an amendment to her State constitution recognising Indigenous people. Reducing power imbalances is a strong feature of her work.

In 2012 Amanda shifted her focus to the economic concerns of First Nations people, becoming a mentor and business consultant to an emerging Indigenous entrepreneurship sector. 

Since 2015 Amanda has served as Chief Executive Officer of First Nations Foundation, which researches the financial position and wellbeing of its people, builds financial skills using traditional cultural values, and conducts outreach events in the most remote parts of the country to reunite Indigenous people with their retirement savings. In one 13-day initiative, the foundation reunited A$14 million with its Indigenous owners.

Amanda plans to shift the economic outcomes for First Australians dramatically, and close the wealth gap between mainstream Australia and its Indigenous population. There are strong macroeconomic forces creating opportunities for the latest generation of this 65,000-year-old culture which has given her people a home. 

Amanda completed a postgraduate law qualification, and has attended Harvard Business School’s Executive Education programme and Stanford Graduate School of Business. She has held board positions at an international professional coaching federation and an Indigenous architecture board. For Amanda, an Atlantic Fellowship is a deep honour, as she has always funded her own education. Only three generations ago her family were slaves; now she is hoping to help the disadvantaged to economic freedom.

Twitter: @ceo_fnf

“I have enormous hope for the future, and for the innate wisdom of people to do the right thing. I see signs everywhere: a millennial cohort who care about where they put their money, from ethical value chains to their retirement investments; a rapid increase in philanthropic funding; a discernible shift in education institutions towards equity; increased female economic participation; and a focus on supporting our environment and the ecosystem that sustains us.”
— Amanda Young


Asha Kowtal

General Secretary, National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights
Nationality: Indian
Living in: New Delhi, India
Fields of work: human rights, anti-caste feminism, leadership

“For activists from marginalised communities, it is powerful to be propelled by the rage we feel against injustice and inequalities. But we have to hold on to kindness as a quality for ourselves and our people, even as we learn from mistakes. I believe that politics without compassion is not ideal for social change.”
— Asha Kowtal

Asha Kowtal is an activist and development professional with over 15 years of broad and significant experience in Indian and global human rights work. She has been organising Dalit women’s movements in India for the past decade.

She is currently General Secretary of the All India Dalit Women’s Forum, which is part of the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR) in India. The forum works to promote and protect the rights of women subjected to caste and gender discrimination.    

Asha has worked in several capacities with private and public agencies, supporting a range of initiatives for accessing justice for vulnerable communities. Her focuses have included the development of structure, resources, teams, programme strategy and publications.

She has expertise in strategising for campaigns and advocacy, stakeholder management for large organisations, capacity building, policy analysis, research and documentation.

Twitter: @ashakowtal

“What gives me hope? Seeing young Dalit women from small towns and villages take up leadership, and envision a different future for themselves and their communities.”
— Asha Kowtal