2016 Common Cause Democracy Champions

 cornell

twitterq@CornellWBrooks

Cornell William Brooks is the president and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).  In 2014, he became the 18th person to serve as chief executive of the Association, whose members in the United States and worldwide are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities.

A graduate of Head Start and Yale Law School, Brooks considers himself  “a grandson, heir and a beneficiary” of the landmark decision Brown v. Board of Education argued by legendary NAACP litigator Thurgood Marshall.

Prior to joining the NAACP, Brooks led the Newark-based New Jersey Institute for Social Justice as president and CEO.  There, he directed the Institute’s successful efforts to win the passage of three landmark prisoner reentry bills in 2010, hailed by The New York Times as, “a model for the rest of the nation.”  Additionally, Brooks successfully led the passage of a precedent-setting “Ban the Box” statute, as well as laws combating foreclosures during the housing crisis. 

Brooks previously served as senior counsel with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), where he led efforts to increase financing available to small, minority- and woman-owned businesses through regulatory and industry initiatives.  Earlier as a U.S. Department of Justice trial attorney, Brooks secured the then largest government settlement for victims of housing discrimination based on testing, and filed the government’s first lawsuit against a nursing home alleging housing discrimination based on race.

His civil rights experience includes serving as Executive Director of the Fair Housing Council of Greater Washington and as trial attorney with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

  selders

twitterq@BishopJSelders

The Right Reverend Doctor John L. Selders, Jr. is an ordained minister serving in the United Church of Christ, the Organizing Pastor of Amistad United Church of Christ, Hartford, CT, Associate College Chaplain, Trinity College, Hartford, CT and one of the leaders of Moral Monday CT.  For 15 years, he served Executive Director of Zezzo House (an 18 unit housing project) in Hartford, CT. 

He is the loving spouse of Pamela and father of two, Alisia (daughter), Jay (son) and grand parent of one, Makenzie (granddaughter).  Bishop Selders has done his academic and theological reflection attending Life Christian Bible College, Webster University, Eden Theological Seminary and Anglican Divinity School.  In addition to being a talented award winning songwriter, musician and performer with local, national, and international credits, he is also the Bishop Presider of The Inter-Denominational Conference of Liberation Congregations and Ministries (ICLCM) and is the Co-Convening Bishop of The Sacred College of Progressive Episcopates (SCPE).  Bishop Selders is a founding member of Moral Monday CT, a grassroots statewide organization committed to a wide range of social justice issues.

Bishop Selders has exhibited extraordinary commitment and dedication to a number of efforts that have afforded him the opportunity to travel across the country speaking, lecturing and conducting workshops in the areas of race, oppression and reproductive justice.  He is a teacher, lecturer, workshop leader, an HIV/AIDS educator and activist with numerous citations for his work.  +John worked for 12 years as a Lecturer at Yale Divinity School in New Haven, CT., Adjunct Faculty Member in the Field Education Department of Andover Newton Theological School, Dean of Urban Ministry Track for The Anglican Divinity School and is an adjunct faculty member for The Seminary Consortium for Urban Pastoral Education.  He serves on a number of boards currently serving as the national Vice President of the Religious Coalition of Reproductive Choice and works with several organizations both locally and nationally whose work is ultimately concerned with the healing of humanity.

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twitterq@ChrisMurphyCT


Chris Murphy, the junior United States Senator for Connecticut, has dedicated his career to public service as an advocate for Connecticut families. Senator Murphy has been a strong voice in the Senate fighting for job creation, affordable health care, education, sensible gun laws, and a forward-looking foreign policy.

As a member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP) Senator Murphy has worked to make college more affordable and ensure that our public education system works to serve all students. Senator Murphy also led a bipartisan effort to reform our mental health system, working across the aisle to craft the first comprehensive mental health bill in the Senate in decades.
Senator Murphy has laid out a forward-thinking foreign policy vision for the United States. As a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, he has been an outspoken proponent of diplomacy, international human rights and the need for clear-eyed American leadership abroad.

Following the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school in 2012, Senator Murphy became one of the leading proponents of commonsense reforms to reduce gun violence. He has championed a number of bipartisan bills aimed at expanding background checks and keeping guns out of the hands of criminals.

As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Murphy has fought to increase investments in Connecticut manufacturing and promote procurement of world-class national defense products made in the state. He has fought to expand American manufacturing and create jobs through his Buy American initiative, which urges the U.S. government to spend taxpayer dollars on American-made goods. Additionally, Senator Murphy has worked in partnership with local city and town leaders to rehabilitate former brownfields and factory sites so that they can be developed into new community spaces and businesses.

Prior to his election to the U.S. Senate, Murphy served Connecticut’s Fifth Congressional District for three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. During his time in the House, Murphy worked to
improve access to housing for homeless veterans, foster job creation and advocate for affordable healthcare for all Americans. Murphy authored the Frank Melville Supportive Housing Investment Act to revitalize housing programs for people with disabilities. The bill was signed into law by the president in 2010.

Before getting elected to Congress, Murphy served for eight years in the Connecticut General Assembly where he was the author of the state's historic stem cell investment legislation and the state's workplace smoking ban. Senator Murphy grew up in Wethersfield, Connecticut, and attended Williams College in Massachusetts. He graduated from the University of Connecticut School of Law and practiced real estate and banking law with the firm of Ruben, Johnson & Morgan in Hartford, Connecticut.

He is married to Catherine Holahan, an attorney. They have two young sons, Owen and Rider, and a cat, Ramona.

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