Sanctuary Restaurants: Feeding the Movement

Sanctuary Restaurants: Feeding the Movement

Session Type(s): Panel

Starts: Thursday, Aug. 2 10:00 AM (Eastern)

Ends: Thursday, Aug. 2 11:15 AM (Eastern)

On our panel today, we have Jelani Drew Kairos Fellow and campaigner from Fight For the Future, Steven Renderos from Center for Media Justice, Jess Morales from National Domestic Workers Alliance, Bex Hong Hurwitz from Tiny Gigantic, and Cayden Mak Executive Director of 18MillionRising to talk about the techno-optimism origins of the internet, what we can learn from Cambridge Analytica about influencing elections; efforts by other governments to stop Facebook’s algorithms; and how organizers are using the internet to pressure companies like Microsoft and Salesforce to end their corporate collusion with government programs like ICE.


Elisa Batista


Elisa Batista is the communications director for, the nation’s largest digital Latinx organization with more than 500,000 member-volunteers advancing social justice through technology, media and culture. She is currently writing a book with Presente executive director Matt Nelson provisionally titled, ¡Viva Latinx! How Organizing Power Wins (Routledge Press, 2018). She assists the organization in branding efforts, fielding press inquiries, drafting editorial pieces and e-mail outreaches to members, and communications messaging and strategies.

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Melissa Buchholz


Melissa is a Wisconsin native, UW-Madison graduate and 15 year industry veteran who currently owns and operates 2 restaurants in Milwaukee – Odd Duck and Little Duck Kitchen. She is also Executive Director of The PRAWN (Progressive Restaurants & Activists Wisconsin Network), a grassroots organization of restaurateurs advocating for employee rights. She is passionate about ethical business strategy, innovative employee development, creativity and collaboration in the restaurant industry, community involvement, gardening and her cat named Pig.

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Sheila Maddali


Sheila Maddali is the Director of Law & Organizing Department at the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, a national organization focused on improving wages and working conditions in the restaurant industry. As Director of Law & Organizing at ROC, Sheila uses an innovative combination of legal and organizing strategies to advance policy and workplace campaigns in restaurants throughout the country. She also focuses on leadership development so that those who are most affected have a voice in shaping the campaigns and policies that affect their lives. Sheila is the daughter of South Asian immigrants and has been involved in the struggle for economic, racial & gender justice for over a decade in a variety of roles, ranging from street canvasser to legal counsel. Sheila graduated from Rutgers Law in 2010. Prior to working at ROC, she practiced immigration law in Philadelphia and in Mexico City and organized around immigrant detention, prison expansion, and sex workers’ rights.

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Matt Nelson


Matt Nelson is the Colombian-born, Midwestern-raised Executive Director of—the nation’s largest online Latinx organizing group; advancing social justice with technology, media, and culture. He is a seasoned campaign strategist who has won hundreds of local and national campaigns and a skilled community organizer who has trained thousands of activists. Before his work at, Matt was the Organizing Director at and has co-founded several cooperative enterprises in multiple Midwestern cities. He is a long-serving community organizer who was featured in the first major book on the Ferguson Uprising, entitled, “Ferguson is America: Roots of Rebellion”. He also contributed to the book, “Welcome to the Revolution: Universalizing Resistance for Social Justice and Democracy in Perilous Times”, and is an editor of the recently released book: Turnout! Mobilizing Voters in an Emergency (Routledge Press, July 2020)

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