2024-2026 Board Nominees

Massachusetts Peace Action directors serve for a 2-year term.  The following candidates have been nominated by the Executive Committee for election.  The election will take place on April 6, 2024 at the MAPA annual meeting.

New members running for election

Harris Gruman – Somerville (CD8)

Harris GrumanHarris Gruman is Executive Director of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) State Council.  He is co-founder and co-chair of Raise Up Massachusetts, a coalition of 150 organizations which successfully campaigned to raise the minimum wage to $15, enact paid family and medical leave, and pass the Fair Share Amendment, aka millionaire’s tax.   A veteran of decades of successful issue and electoral work in community and labor organizing, he is an astute political strategist.  A former executive director of the Neighbor to Neighbor Education Fund, he studied at Johns Hopkins University.  He  has been a featured speaker at two Massachusetts progressive conferences organized by Mass. Progressive Action Organizing Committee (MPAOC), is an organizer of the annual HONK! community festival in Somerville, and is a member of MAPA’s Ukraine: A Time for Peace campaign committee.

Tony Van Der Meer – Dorchester (CD7)

Tony Van der Meer

Tony Van Der Meer, PhD is a Senior Lecturer in the Africana Studies Department at the University of Massachusetts Boston.  He is active in Boston community organizations, and has served as President of the Boston Pan African Forum, the Black Political Taskforce, and as an advisor to the Boston Black Lives Matter movement. In addition to his solidarity work with Cuba, he has taken students and community groups on guided visits to Havana, Santiago de Cuba, Guantanamo, and Baracoa. He is Chair of the Board for the North Carolina Communiversity, a non-profit organization focused on leadership development for Black workers and the archiving of their narratives.  
Van Der Meer was selected for the 2024 Scholar Activist Award from Critical Educators for Social Justice (CESI), a Special Interest Group (SIG) of the American Educational Research Association (AERA). His field of study is in Leadership and Change, rooted in the African American freedom movement and African indigenous spiritual knowledge systems and its practice in Cuba and the United States.  Originally from Harlem, he attended Yonkers High School and studied at  Northeastern University, New Hampshire College, and Antioch University.

Candidates for re-election

These current Board members have been nominated for re-election:

Merri Ansara – Easthampton (CD1)  – CD1 District Coordinator; Cuba Subgroup Chair

Merri AnsaraMerriam Ansara has been a community activist and organizer since 1969.  Her political involvement began with a trip to Cuba with the Venceremos Brigade in 1969.  On her return she became active in the anti-Vietnam war movement and with the Black Panther Defense Committee.  From there she went on to community organizing in Jamaica Plain and from then on forward continued to combine community organizing work with international work, working with the Committee Against Apartheid in South Africa and with work to end the embargo against Cuba and normalize relations with Cuba.

In 1978 she co-founded with Mauricio Gaston Dos Alas, a committee in solidarity with Cuba and with Puerto Rico while continuing her work in school desegregation and other community organizing work in Cambridge and with the Communist Party USA.  From 1972 through 1974 she worked in Cuba for Radio Havana Cuba and the Voice of Vietnam, returning for a few years to the United States and working with the Center for Cuban Studies in New York and again in local community organizing in Dorchester, and then again in Cambridge.  She returned to Cuba in 1978 and 1979 to work at Granma International Newspaper.

Throughout the 1980s she worked with local organizing groups such as the Eviction Free Zone, the Simplex Steering Committee, and the homeless Tent City in Cambridge.   She worked as a typist, wordprocessor and typesetter, combining it with years of waitressing.  Attending and graduating from the College of Public and Community Service of U Mass Boston and with a Masters in Public Administration from UMass Amherst, she worked for a period of time at CPCS, at the Gaston Institute, as a freelance editor and typist, as a director of organizing at Coalition for a Better Acre in Lowell and as at Cooperative Extension Service where she was assigned to diversity outreach in a number of communities.

In 1991 she started Common Ground as a Cuba-US exchange on sustainable development, then from 1994  to 2015 Common Ground Education & Travel which sent 5,000 people to Cuba to see that alternative vision of community and of the social project was possible, and to see firsthand the realities of US foreign policy by breaking through the myths created around Cuba and the blockade.

In recent years she has worked with the Easthampton Community Coalition, the Raging Grannies in Northampton, Western Mass Code Pink, was a founder of The Resistance Center, and worked with Enlaces de Familia, a Puerto Rican group in Holyoke.   Merri started working with MAPA in 2020 and in addition to leading the Cuba subteam and representing MAPA in the National Network on Cuba (NNOC) and leading MAPA’s work in Congressional District 1, participates in the MAPA’s Fund Healthcare Not Warfare working group, Ukraine Emergency Committee, and Latin America/ Caribbean working group.

Shelagh Foreman, Cambridge (CD5)

rsz_shelaghsmShelagh Foreman was a founding member of Mass Freeze, the statewide nuclear freeze organization, which merged with SANE to form Massachusetts Peace Action. She has worked consistently on nuclear disarmament and focused on bringing Peace Action’s message to our elected officials. She studied art at The Cooper Union and Columbia University, taught art and art history, and is a painter and printmaker.  She serves on our executive committee, was program director of MAPA, chaired our Middle East working group, and was a member of our Foreign Policy for All working group. She  represented MAPA on the Political Committee of Mass Alliance, is a core group member of 20/20 Action, chairs MAPA’s Iran Task Force and is a member of our Executive Committee. She has 5 children and 7 grandchildren, lives in Cambridge and also spends time in Falmouth.

Joseph Gerson, Watertown (CD5)

Joseph Gerson

Joseph Gerson is President of the Campaign for Peace Disarmament and Common Security, Director of the American Friends Service Committee’s Peace and Economic Security Program, and Vice-President of the International Peace Bureau. He plays a leading role in building collaborations among U.S., Asian, and European peace and nuclear weapons abolition movements and was the lead organizer for the intersectional World Conference for nuclear disarmament, climate, peace and justice held in New York in 2015. He works closely with Asian and European peace and nuclear disarmament movements and a frequent keynote speaker at the World Conference against A- & H- Bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and other international and U.S. forums. He helped to launch the nuclear weapons freeze movement of the 1980s, led the successful opposition to construction of naval nuclear weapons bases in Boston, Rhode Island and New York, and was the lead organizer of international conferences and mass mobilizations on the eves of the 2010 and 2015 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference. His books include Empire and the Bomb: How the US Uses Nuclear Weapons to Dominate the World; With Hiroshima Eyes: Atomic War, Nuclear Extortion and Moral Imagination and The Sun Never Sets…Confronting the Network of Foreign U.S. Military Bases.  He is a member of MAPA’s Ukraine Emergency Committee.

Keith Harvey, Wareham (CD9)

Keith Harvey

Keith B. Harvey is the Regional Director for the Northeast Region of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), a position he has held since 1992. The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker Peace and Social Justice multi issue organization, working on Peace, Economic justice, Immigrant rights and Healing/Criminal Justice issues in the US and overseas. Keith has used popular education methodologies to facilitate many different workshops, such as non-violence trainings (Help Increase the Peace program), Criminal Justice history, and International Debt and the IMF/World Bank. Before coming to AFSC, Keith spent nine years in low and moderate-income property development and management. Keith recently sat on the Cambridge Friends School Board of Trustees, chaired the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute Board of Directors, sat on the Philadelphia Planning committee for the US Social Forum, and worked with the MA Poor Peoples Campaign coordinating committee.

Jared Hicks, Dorchester (CD7)

Jared was born in Dorchester and is a 26-year-old millennial. He volunteered for Bernie Sanders’ Presidential campaign and was a Bernie delegate at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. He is a new member of the Boston Democratic Ward 17 committee and is honored to serve the political revolution. He will forever feel the BERN and believes that the struggle continues. He is a founding member of Our Revolution Massachusetts (ORMA) and of Our Revolution Boston, and serves on ORMA’s Representative Council.  He is also active in Dorchester People for Peace and worked for the Massachusetts Nurses Association’s Question 1 in 2018.

Hayat Imam – Dorchester (CD7) – Fundraising Chair

Hayat ImamHayat Imam is an American-Muslim of Bangladeshi origin. She is a feminist-activist who has committed her life work to building global social justice movements in Bangladesh, Indonesia, the Philippines and the USA. Her efforts have been directed towards environmental protections, nuclear disarmament, renewable energy, and the economic empowerment of Women.

One of her earliest organizing efforts in the US was to redirect Nuclear Energy towards Renewables. She was active in Clamshell Alliance in 1977, and participated in the occupation of the Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant site to prevent its construction. After the accident at Three Mile Island, PA, in 1979, she co-wrote a book on the new parameters of parenting in the nuclear age, called Watermelons Not War – Parenting in the Nuclear Age. The book went into three printings. As Chair of the Board of Grassroots International for seven years, she led efforts to organize for international human rights to land, water and food.

Hayat was Direct Services Coordinator of the Boston based Elizabeth Stone House in the early 80’s. She wrote extensively on violence against women and the negative effects of globalization. She coordinated with the Coalition of Battered Women Service Groups to acquire State funding for services for women. She then carried on her work at an international level with a 1983 consultancy with BRAC, Bangladesh, one of the world’s largest and most successful NGOs. Her work for women continued in later years as a consultant for UNDP in Indonesia and the Philippines, and with the Women’s Crisis Center in the Philippines. She was a delegate to the World Conference of Women in Beijing in 1995.

During Neighbor to Neighbor’s campaign to pressure Congress to stop aid to the Contras in Nicaragua in 1987, she was the New England Regional Fundraiser for the project. Subsequently, as the Executive Director of the Boston Women’s Fund, she successfully organized a campaign to raise an endowment of $2 million, to undergird Grants to grassroots women’s social change projects.

Hayat is an active member of Mass Peace Action and Dorchester People for Peace.  She chairs MAPA’s Fundraising committee and participates in the Raytheon Antiwar Campaign.  As an immigrant to the USA from a Muslim country, she hopes to increase understanding and build bridges, by sharing the perspectives of people from distant shores. Hayat was one of the keynote speakers at the Boston Women’s March in January 2017. She has developed and offered a Course on Islam four times in the past few years, called UNDERSTANDING ISLAM: A Muslim Woman’s Perspective on the Essence of Islam, the Diversity of the Muslim World, and its Relationship with the West.

Jackie King, Cambridge (CD7)

Jackie KingJackie King was editor of the Mass. Peace Action print and electronic newsletters and is a member of MAPA’s Communications Committee. She holds a master’s degree in journalism and has worked as a reporter for local weekly and daily newspapers, including the Bay State Banner, Quincy Patriot Ledger, and Middlesex News. She was Press Secretary for Mel King’s 1983 mayoral campaign and Mass. Press Secretary for the Jesse Jackson presidential campaign. Jackie worked for the Department of Environmental Protection as a Deputy Director of the Bureau of Solid Waste Disposal developing and publicizing recycling programs. For years, she served as a Board member of the welfare rights organization Survivors Inc. and was periodically editor of its paper, Survival News. She worked with the Greater Boston Union of the Homeless and served on the Board of the Women’s Institute for New Growth and Support (WINGS), a temporary home for formerly homeless women in recovery. More recently, she worked for the National Center for Fair and Open Testing (FairTest) as Statewide Coordinator of the campaign to oppose the imposition of the high-stakes MCAS test, then served on the Board of Citizens for Public Schools and was co-editor of its newsletter, The Backpack. She is a Board member of the Cambridge Residents Alliance.

Jonathan King, Cambridge (CD7), Board Co-Chair; chair, Fund Healthcare Not Warfare working group; vice chair, Nuclear Disarmament Working Group

Jonathan King

Jonathan King is Professor of Molecular Biology at MIT where he has long taught biochemistry and directed biomedical research on protein misfolding and human disease.  He is past president of the national Biophysical Society, and former Councilor of the American Society of Virology and of the American Society for Microbiology. He is a recipient of the United States Antarctic Service Medal, a former Guggenheim Fellow, and a recipient of the National Institutes of Health MERIT Award. Prof. King chairs the Editorial Board of the MIT Faculty Newsletter and serves on the Technology and Culture Forum Steering Committee. He is a recipient of MIT’s M.L. King Jr. Faculty Leadership Award.

As a long time teacher of experimental method, Prof. King has been engaged with issues of science education and was an officer of the statewide Coalition for Authentic Reform in Education (MassCARE).  Prof. King serves on the Board of Citizens for Public Schools and is Vice-President of the Cambridge Residents Alliance, dealing with housing and public transit issues. In 2008 Prof. King chaired the Scientists for Obama Committee in Massachusetts.

Long involved in issues of science and society, Prof. King was a co-author of the Science for Peace Resolution of the World Council of Churches, calling for continuing nuclear disarmament, and a leader of the national campaign of biomedical scientists to press the Senate to ratify the Biological Weapons Convention, which culminated in the treaty’s ratification by the Senate in 1989.

Prof. King currently serves as Co-Chair of Massachusetts Peace Action and chairs its Nuclear Disarmament Working Group. This work also connects to the Poor People’s Campaign building on MLK Jr’s vision and the national People’s Budget Coalition that works with the Congressional Progressive Caucus on federal budget priorities.  King is married to journalist Jackie Dee King and has two sons, Aaron and Andrew, who live and work in the Boston area.

Prasannan Parthasarathi, Newton (CD4)

rsz_prasannanPrasannan Parthasarathi is Professor of History at Boston College and has a Ph.D. from Harvard University. A specialist in the history of South Asia, the British Empire, and labor and economic history, he recently published Why Europe Grew Rich and Asia Did Not: Global Economic Divergence, 1600-1850. Parthasarathi was a member of the Sustainable Defense Task Force, was a member of the steering committee of our Peace Economy Working Group from 2013 to 2015, and presently serves on our Middle East Working Group.

Steve Powell, Somerville (CD7)

Steve PowellSteve Powell is a graduate of MIT’s political science program, and has had a longstanding interest in people-to-people diplomacy. He is a member of the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES) and went to El Salvador as part of an accredited election accompaniment delegation in 2019. During January-February 2020, he also has worked as an organizer for MAPA Education Fund’s Elephant in the Room Project, which calls on Presidential candidates to speak about the Pentagon budget during the Massachusetts Presidential primary.

John Ratliff, Cambridge (CD7)

JohnRatliff.Smiling.100John Ratliff was political director of an SEIU local union in Miami, Florida, and relocated to Cambridge after his retirement in 2012.   He is a graduate of Princeton University and Yale Law School.  A Vietnam veteran and member of Veterans for Peace/ Smedley Butler Brigade, he is also a member of the coordinating committee of Massachusetts Senior Action’s Cambridge branch and a steering committee member of Massachusetts Jobs with Justice.  As Mass. Peace Action’s economic justice coordinator he leads our coalition work with Raise Up Massachusetts and against the Trans Pacific Partnership.  He is co-chair of the Latin America/ Caribbean Working Group and a member of our executive eommittee. 

Paul Shannon, Somerville, (CD7), chair, Ukraine: A Time for Peace campaign and Raytheon Antiwar Campaign

Paul ShannonBorn in Boston in 1947, Paul has lived all his life in the greater Boston area. For almost all of his adult life he has been an activist, writer, and speaker in various peace, union, prison reform, human rights, and social justice movements, particularly the United Farm workers’ union drives, the Vietnam anti-war and solidarity movements, the movement to end apartheid in South Africa, the 1980’s Central American and Cambodian solidarity movements, the Haitian solidarity movement, and the Afghanistan and Iraqi anti-war movements. He is past editor of the Indochina Newsletter and was director of the national film library of the New England American Friends’ Service Committee and part of its Peace and Economic Security Program until 2017, now retired. He has been teaching social science and history courses at a number of colleges and community education programs for 43 years. In the late 90’s, Paul helped organize a broad coalition for all day hearings to oppose the original sex offender registry and lifetime civil commitment legislation in Massachusetts, and in 2007 was a founder of the National Association for Reform of Sexual Offense Laws and now is board chairman of the organization. He is initiator and coordinator of the Raytheon anti-war campaign, chairs Mass. Peace Action’s Middle East Working Group, and belongs to its Peace and Climate Working Group.  He recently co-edited a new volume of Noam Chomsky’s writings, Internationalism or Extinction (Universalizing Resistance), and is working on a second book on Noam.

Michael VanElzakker, Somerville (CD4)

Michael is a research fellow in psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital, where he studies post-traumatic stress syndrome. He became fascinated by peace and justice through his study of neurology and science and is now a leading member of our Nuclear Disarmament working group, as well as an activist on MAPA’s work in relation to the Korea crisis. He is also a member of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA).

Nominating Additional Candidates

Any member may nominate him or herself or another member before April 1, 2024. See the procedures to follow or contact the office at 617-354-2169 or info@masspeaceaction.org for information.   To check your membership status, please go to this page.

Continuing Board Members

Because of staggered terms, current members Rosalie Anders, Rosemary Kean, Jeff Klein, Maryellen Kurkulos, Susan Mirsky, Valentine Moghadam, Kevin Peterson, Nick Rabb, Claire Schaeffer-Duffy, and Vernon K. Walker will continue to serve for another year before being eligible for re-election in early 2025.   

 Board members Avery J and Calla Walsh are not running for another term.  We thank them for their service!