Kathy Engel

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Kathy Engel "is a poet, a communications/strategic planning consultant, a producer for social justice, peace and human rights organizations, and the mother of two daughters. For 25 years she has been a full-time advocate/organizer/consultant/producer/writer engaged in building social justice organizations and campaigns. She has worked extensively as a bridge between organizations and individuals who may not ordinarily work together or engage in dialogue with the purpose of building multi-racial/cross-class progressive institutions and projects and maximizing the effectiveness and creativity of progressive efforts. Her work is based on a commitment to breaking boundaries, and infusing the imagination and thinking of the artist and the intellectual into the strategic planning for grassroots community, national and international media efforts.

"In 1983 she founded the women's human rights organization MADRE and was the executive director for five years. Before that she worked at the Academy of American Poets, New York Mobilization for Survival and was the executive director of the Fund For Open Information and Accountability. She co-produced and conceptualized cultural/political projects such as No More Witch Hunts in 1980 (a national day of resistance involving artists and activists to Ronald Reagan's efforts to implement domestic repression while escalating intervention in Central America), MOVING TOWARDS HOME in 1982, (Palestinian, Israeli, Lebanese and American poets in performance and publication, which was then brought to Washington and Detroit by Congressman John Conyers), "Talking Nicaragua" in 1983,(a dramatization of testimonies and history of the U.S. war against Nicaragua), the cultural component of the massive June 12, 1982 march for disarmament and human needs in NYC.

"In 1989 she co-founded Riptide Communications, a public relations consulting firm set up to service progressive organizations. During her partnership at Riptide, her clients and efforts included the Center For Constitutional Rights, work in support of Haitian refugees and to change U.S. policy towards Haiti, The Media Project for Peace in the Middle East, The Palestine Solidarity Committee, Amnesty International and the NAACP LDF's death penalty project on behalf of death row inmate Gary Graham, The Nation Magazine, the Ms. Foundation for Women, The Fund for Democratic Elections in South Africa, Racism in the Post Modern Era conference, MADRE, 1199 the Health and Hospital Workers Union, The W.E.B. Du Bois Foundation and the campaign to stop NAFTA, among many others. At her time at Riptide, the company publicized the "exoneration" of Alger Hiss, which made front-page news around the world; the efforts to prevent the execution of Gary Graham, which ended in a temporary last-minute stay-of-execution; and the attempt to free Haitian refugees held on Guantanamo, which included a civil disobedience involving Rev. Jesse Jackson, Director Jonathan Demme and actor Susan Sarandon. Ms. Engel and Center For Constitutional Rights attorney Michael Ratner were the only people who were consulted by Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins before making their statement about the Haitian refugees at the Academy Awards, prompting immediate response to Michael Ratner from the government.

"She now works as an independent consultant. Clients in recent years have included Shared Interest (support for community development in South Africa), Center For Constitutional Rights, MADRE, Unicef, the Ms. Foundation for Women, Responsible Wealth, Hand to Hand (a Palestinian/Israeli school in Israel), Center For Community Change, The Correctional Association of New York and Pacifica Radio. Among the events she has co-produced, produced and conceptualized in recent years are The William Moses Kunstler Memorial Celebration and the first two William Moses Kunstler Racial Justice Awards (honoring, among others, President Jean Bertrand Aristide, the Attica Brothers, Danny Glover, Harry Belafonte, Juan Gonzalez, Lorelei Decora, Marlo Thomas and Phil Donahue)and including performances by, among others, Ulali, Billie Jean Young, Cyril Neville, Tiye Giraud and Alexis De Veaux); and "who's gonna be there?", a dramatic dialogue about mentors with Danny Glover and Roy Scheider (directed and co-written by Belvie Rooks!). She was creative consultant for the Center For Constitutional Rights tribute to Susan Sarandon, January 2000 at The Supper Club, hosted by Tim Robbins with presentations by Giancarlo Esposito, Bill T. Jones, Sister Helen Praejan, Ruben Blades, among others.

"In December 2001 she co-produced and conceptualized "Mother Courage Imagining Peace", a dramatic reading to benefit women and children in Afghanistan, sponsored by MADRE. In 2002 she was project consultant and co-conceiver of Stand With Sisters For Economic Dignity, a political theater and media project of the National Campaign For Jobs and Income Support. In August 2002 she convened the East End Women in Black, a weekly vigil in support of peace in the Middle East and against a U.S. war against Iraq, and helped initiate East Enders United For Peace & Justice, a coalition of Black Baptist Churches, the local NAACP, local educators, Women in Black and individual artists and community members on the East End of Long Island. She worked on "The World Says No To War" in February 2003, NYC, and served as one of four Emcees for the rally.

Currently Kathy Engel is a consultant with United For Peace & Justice and The Women in Prison Project of the Correctional Association of New York, and is working on a new collection of her poems and essays, and working on voter registration and emergency support for the people of Haiti.

"She is a co-founder of a progressive, multi-cultural alternative school in Suffolk County, New York, the Hayground School. Her work has taken her to Nicaragua, Cuba, El Salvador and Palestine." [1]

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  1. Bio, Women Shaping the World, accessed July 19, 2007.