The five finalists for the Sixth Annual Maria Leavey Tribute Award have been announced, honoring the person in the progressive movement whose behind-the-scenes work and selfless service has made an invaluable contribution to social justice. The public is invited to vote for their favorite , and the winner will be announced at the June 18-20 Take Back the American Dream conference -- click here to register.  You can read about all the finalists, and vote, by clicking here.  Balloting closes TONIGHT 11:59 PM ET!
Jay (Jhatayn) Travis
Kenwood Oakland Community Organization
Jay has accomplished a great deal as a leader, an organizer and an advocate for the rights of working and low-income families in Chicago and around the country.
In 2000, she became one of the youngest executive directors in Chicago when she took the helm of the storied Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (KOCO) . She has trained a core of strong male community organizers and led the organization from the brink of closing to being an organizing force in Chicago.
KOCO under Jay's vision and leadership has achieved several significant organizing victories. Among them, KOCO:
* Stopped a plan to close 20 out of the 22 schools in KOCO's area in 2004, the first arm of what became known as Renaissance 2010.
* Formed a multiethnic coalition called Communities for an Equitable Olympics and won a community benefits agreement from the City of Chicago in anticipation of the 2016 Olympics, which guaranteed jobs, affordable housing and resources for neighborhood schools.
* Helped to form Communities for Excellent Public Schools, a national coalition of 35 community-based organizations and four national networks that was successful in pushing the U.S. Department of Education to include parent and community engagement in the Education Blueprint and in grants to local school districts.
Jay has overcome sexism and racism to become a formidable leader in Chicago. She is humble, principled, courageous and brilliant. KOCO has prospered under her leadership and she is respected nationally for what she brings to the table.