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. We’ll be introducing you to the five finalists on the blog over the course of the next several days, but you can read about them all, and vote, by clicking here.
New York Communities for Change
As powerful as Occupy Wall Street has been, the ability to win concrete victories for working people was almost always dependent on the connections built between Occupy Wall Street and ongoing campaigns. Nowhere was that more true than with Jonathan Westin.
Jonathan is organizing director for New York Communities for Change, one of the largest community-based organizations in New York. He was instrumental in driving the millionaires’ tax campaign in New York and worked on the May 12 coalition that organized an occupation of the Capitol in Albany, N.Y. He went on to a 20,000-person march on Wall Street, where many of the original Occupy Wall Street organizers met.
Jonathan was able to work with various groups to help shape their work in relation to Occupy Wall Street. He worked with other community-based organizations and unions on the October 5 march to Zuccotti Park, an event that was vital for Occupy and for having the world see the left come together again. He was also involved in the billionaires’ march a week later that included Occupy and community organizations together taking on Wall Street.
Jonathan’s work also was pivotal to the success of the November 17 National Day of Action in New York, the largest national day of action the city had seen since the war protests.
He has been a conduit to supporting the Occupy movement from the community organization perspective while taking hits along the way.