Lead Organizer: Kalin Callaghan grew up amongst artists and activists in Rockaway Beach. She studied fine art and children’s studies at Brooklyn College, and has worked as an artistic instructor for the Rockaway Artists Alliance for 10+ years. Although peripherally involved in political activism since her teen years, the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy thrust her into purposeful community organizing on a larger scale. The destruction of her hometown, and rebuilding and redevelopment efforts to follow, compelled Kalin to work to ensure that her community would both lead and benefit from the recovery process. She is raising two boys in the Rockaways.
Organizer, Fundraiser: Virginia Deer is a 26 Year old wife, mother of 2 and community organizer with Rockaway Wildfire. She earned a BA in Psychology from Hollins University. Following the tardiness of governmental response after Super Storm Sandy, along with the promptness of the Occupy Sandy network, she began to take a strong interest in re-developing her community’s sense of power. She has been an active participant in Rockaway Wildfire since it’s inception and is presently a part of the coordinating team. She currently resides in Arverne, NY and works through her church which is located in Far Rockaway, NY.
Organizer, Ally: Tamara Shapiro: is co-creator of the InterOccupy network, which has facilitated democratic, interactive conference calls that have led to regional and national actions, conferences and multi-city events. Later, Tammy helped initiate Occupy Sandy and now works on two projects that grew out of that network: Rockaway Wildfire, and Worker Owned Rockaway Cooperatives (WORCs) a worker owned coop incubation project with residents hit by the hurricane. She also works for the Murphy Institute for Labor Studies.
Organizer: Andrew Smith worked in the inthe Middle East, focusing on Iraqi refugee resettlement for 4 years before coming to NYC for Occupy Wall Street. Cutting his teeth in the revolutionary classroom of OWS Andy moved on to many different projects. Initiating Occupy Sandy, and then offshoot organizations Respond and Rebuild and Rockaway Wildfire, Andy hopes to continue building these types of revolutionary movements for years to come.
Outreach Coordinator Ciro Timmons. I’m from the Rockaways and I started organizing in the late eighties. I stopped because I felt it wasn’t necessary, but after Hurricane Sandy I realized that noone cares about the poor so I found a way to change that through Rockaway Wildfire.
Organizer, Ally: Ileia Burgos is a Wildfire core trainer and an ally organizing residents in the Rockaways around disaster preparedness and a community-led recovery from Hurricane Sandy. Ileia began as a youth environmental activist-artist at The Point CDC and later worked as an education organizer at Mothers On the Move in the South Bronx. She has worked as an organizer for MoveOn, field manager for the Fund for Public Interest Research, and as an anti-discrimination trainer with LGBT youth at Project Reach. Ileia is part of a number of the Without Walls Educators Collective and teaches at high schools throughout New York City.
Organizer: Kadeem Joseph is our youngest coordinator. He has been a Bayswater resident since the late 90’s. After graduating from Howard University and returning home, he experienced the devastation of Hurricane Sandy firsthand when his home was flooded. Since working with his family to get his home back inorder, Kadeem has been organizing in his community with Rockaway Wildfire. This work has deepened his sense of neighborhood empowerment. Kadeem brings organizational and technical skills and fresh ideas to the group.
Faith and Outreach Organizer: Gary Hilliard is a life long resident of the Rockaways, who grew up in Red Fern Houses. Gary works, like so many Rockaway residents, at St. John’s Hospital, where he is an 1199 Union Delegate and Contract Negotiator. He has extensive organizing experience working on campaigns for John Kerry, Hillary Clinton and many other local elected officials.
Outreach Coordinator : Alexis Smallwood is a Rockaway Wildfire coordinator and organizer, with a focus on land use advocacy. She hails from Harlem, and grew up in the NYC foster care system. Alexis’ professional background consists of home health aide, medical assistant and customer service. She also worked with Sustainable South Bronx, where she was trained in green building techniques and assisted in the installation of cool roofs. After a stay in a city shelter, Alexis and her son secured housing in Far Rockaway, which she now deeply considers home. Her struggles and life experiences have committed her to youth and housing justice, and anti-gentrification work.