Meet our Local Leaders

I was first drawn to CODEPINK because as a women-initiated and led organization, I felt that the group had a unique perspective on issues of war, peace, and social justice—a much needed element in the peace movement.

I could not have been more right on. Since joining CODEPINK I have been privileged to organize around challenging militarism and its ugly friends with the support and encouragement of a community of inspiring, creative, and daring women from all walks of life.

Together—in PINK—we work to give a voice to our communities who desperately want to end U.S. funded wars and advocate for more sustainable, life-affirming possibilities here at home.

— Cristina Castro, New York City, New York

Desperate to find others involved in ending the war on Iraq, I searched online and found a thumbnail photo of women vigiling in pink at the White House. I vowed to get involved locally with the fledgling chapter in Fort Worth, TX. Soon after, I realized that vigiling on the streets of Dallas/ Fort Worth and protesting George W. Bush from the ditches of Camp Casey or marching in major mobilizations in DC were not going to be enough to end the war. I had to do more.

When the opportunity arose for me to take on more responsibility I jumped at the chance to help manage the CODEPINK activist house in Washington DC. Leaving my home and my teaching job, I believed that together women could bring an end to the horrors happening to the families of Iraq. After almost two years as house "mama" working alongside superactivista, Liz Arizona, I moved to nearby Arlington, VA to work as a children's librarian by day and activist "by night". Currently I am involved in local affordable housing issues, an anti-drone resolution, and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. I would like to do more around counter-recruitment as well. Mujeres unidas jamas seran vencidas! Women united will never be defeated!

— Desirée Fairooz, Arlington, VA

Here on The Farm we started PeaceRoots Alliance in October right after 9-11-2001 because we saw that Bush & Co would love the firework display of a bombing war. Then Medea came to The Farm to talk about what was happening in Afghanistan and I will never forget the eyes of the children in the pictures she brought. We had a project started by Judy Meeker called More Than Warmth, and Medea said she would take to Afghanistan some of the quilts put together by school kids in Tennessee. Then when we heard about the action in front of the White House before the Iraq attack, Judy went to DC and fasted and huddled under plastic in the rain until they found a room for awhile. I stayed in Tennessee and coordinated the info and kept people informed. We had some folks come to the Farm for R&R during that winter and so we were right there at the beginning.

I have always considered CODEPINK and PeaceRoots as sister organizations. Judy and I started to organize Mothers' Day: A Call For Peace in honor of Julia Ward Howe's call to women to come out for peace and held a couple of Mother's Day events in Nashville and The Farm, and then asked CODEPINK, “Why not have a national CODEPINK Mothers' Day?” …and you know the rest.

— Eliz Barger, Tennessee

Originally from Denver and New York, in 1996 I took up residence in Berlin, where I'd previously been an exchange student 1965-72 and had worked with GIs against the Vietnam War. After the invasion of Iraq some of us started a new project to support GI resistance on US bases in Germany, and that's what brought me to the 2005 Veterans for Peace convention in Dallas, where I first heard Cindy Sheehan speak and also met Ann Wright. Which is how I wound up camping in the sweltering fields near Crawford, Texas. The most amazing women, all dressed in gorgeous pink and armed only their cell phones, were winning the battle for hearts and minds and clearly having fun doing so -- summoning virtually all the major news outlets to cover the story of a mom.

European peace movements tend to be more hierarchic and patriarchic, and have much to learn from CODEPINK, I feel. So after I returned to Germany that fall, I stayed in touch.

My respect for CODEPINK has deepened over the years. PINKs have been on the cutting edge of so many issues and know how to "tell the story," with impact all over the world: for example, German friends called me, sobbing, after seeing the newspaper photo of Desiree with bloody hands extended to Condoleeza Rice. I was in Cairo with a German delegation on Gaza Freedom March, with participants from 42 countries: this was another path-breaking CODEPINK project that helped jump-start BDS here in Germany.

Almost every week I try to share a PINK initiative with activists here, and I also represent CODEPINK on the International Coordinating Committee (ICC) of No To NATO. Hand-to-hand and heart-to-heart and step-by-step, women around the world are key to stopping the waste, madness, and downright unfairness of war.

Elsa Rassbach, Berlin

I joined CODEPINK in late spring 2003, heartsick over the horrific US attack on Iraq and the degrading, violent occupation. I had been a "lone activist" in San Francisco, and was one of 5 women who stood in protest of the US bombing of Afghanistan in fall 2001.A year and a half later, I went to my first CODEPINK meeting, connected with some lively, funny, good-hearted women, and started wearing the pink and turning out for the actions.

The last 8 years of activism have been agonizingly frustrating and enraging as the wars of plunder and imperial power have ground on in Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Pakistan. Going to DC, networking with allies, keeping in touch with local group coordinators, speaking and singing with all my heart at rallies, doing interviews and sharing great online resources from CODEPINK have kept me sane and engaged from the shock of Bush II and Crew to the weary-but-still-standing "Bring Our War $$ Home, You Can Keep the Change!" Obama Era. I believe in the wisdom of the "common woman" in the words of Oakland poet Judy Grahn, and I have found my voice as I have listened to, laughed and wept with, and cheered on many other women's voices.

— Janet Weil, San Francisco

I found CODEPINK’s Gael Murphy and Medea Benjamin as they were tabling in DC’s Dupont Circle after an antiwar march. They invited me to the office for a party and later to talk about organizing with them. I was then a MoveOn organizer but was looking for more autonomy and consistency in goals.

I suggested that CP participate in the upcoming Take Back America Conference and wanted to organize a march to the White House after Senator Obama’s final speech to the Conference. Ann Wright said that was fortuitous because she had been asked by Cindy Sheehan to do some action to commemorate the 2500th military death that was sure to happen during the Conference period. During the conference Ann and the other wonderful CP women gave out slips of paper with the number 2500 and asked attendees to put them into their badge holders and to attend the march to the White House on the last day. By the end of the Conference almost everyone had the slip of paper in their badge holder and, if they didn’t, they were coming to the table to get one. The march went off well with 25 flag-draped coffins and Ann setting up a military honors ceremony on the street in front of the White House.

What so amazed me then and now was the trust and openness CODEPINK gave me so quickly and warmly. I felt immediately useful and at home and this feeling continues today. Now, after so many actions, rallies, protests, seminars, speeches, prop making, laughter, dancing, singing, and working together to create a movement to end the wars, bring freedom and autonomy to Palestinians, to stop the use of drones, and so many other issues, I continue to be awed by the courage, creativity, warmth, and energy of the women (and men) of CODEPINK and am proud to be with them.

— Joan Stallard, Washington DC

I was appalled at the "shock and awe" strategy that was shown to the American public via national television in March of 2003. … I am an artist and a musician and love the fact that CodePINK relies on color and eye catching venues as well as music and sometimes even dance to attract the attention of those we are trying to reach. I also love that fact that CODEPINK sisters (and sometimes brothers) are not afraid to speak "truth to power."

I have used my artistic abilities to create many signs that we use weekly while demonstrating at a busy intersection in the heart of Daytona Beach. By the way, we have been demonstrating on this corner for the past five years.

— Kathy Bracewell, Dayton Beach, Florida

I am a 53-year-old mother, grandmother and peace activist. I am an active member of CODEPINK, Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign, Veterans for Peace and Ground Zero Center for Nonviolence. I work as a Massage Therapist and am a volunteer Firefighter/EMT in Quilcene, WA. In addition to promoting peace and social justice I spend time with my family and grow organic food.

I am particularly passionate about peace and justice in Palestine. I have been to Gaza five times in the last three years with CODEPINK and other peace organizations working with doctors, farmers and children's groups. I was in Cairo, Egypt for the Gaza Freedom March in January 2010 and in Tahrir Square during the Egyptian Revolution in January 2011. I have also participated in the last two Gaza Freedom Flotillas, the Audacity of Hope in June 2011 and the Tahrir protests in November 2011.

— Kit Kittredge, Seattle

My first encounter with the CODEPINK was in 2005 at Camp Casey, outside of Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas. Having never as much as put a bumper sticker on my car before that, I was thrilled to find a community of peace and justice activists from all over the country, including the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. I became fast friends with seasoned activist and rabble rouser, Rev. Diane Baker, who eventually convinced me we had to go to DC to participate in direct actions there.

As soon as we arrived, CODEPINK welcomed us into the fold. They took us into what was my first senate hearing, where “pink women” donned orange t-shirts, each with one big letter, and stood up in the middle of the hearing, spelling out “NO TORTURE!” As Arlen Specter groused while news cameras clicked away and congressional staffers absorbed it all, I realized that this was sending a bold message to Capitol Hill and the public that We The People didn’t have to sit back idly while atrocities were being committed in our names and with our tax dollars.

Whether it be through satire, song, art, workshops, congressional visits, banner drops, aerial photography, international peace-keeping delegations, that special pink brand of visually wonderful street theater, or any of the myriad other creative endeavors they undertake, the amazing women – and men – of CODEPINK are always raising awareness to the highest level. I am constantly in awe of the skill, energy, tenacity, creativity, courage and compassion of these feisty, dedicated activists, and honored to have the opportunity to learn from them and be part of their journey towards peace, justice, and sustainability.

— Leslie Harris, Texas

My New England grandmother had a couple of sayings that have stayed with me.

Fools' names and fools' faces are often seen in public places" is one. "Pretty is as pretty does" is another. I want to get my picture in the paper wearing my towering hot pink wig. It's happened before, with the result that people stop to ask me: "Why do you do that? Why are you standing there, dressed up in so much pink?"

I want them to notice that I am witnessing for peace. I want my grandma to realize that pretty is a tool, not a goal. Acting pretty would mean acting out of love, on behalf of the people who the government uses my tax dollars to kill. Children sleeping in their beds while an unmanned drone fires smart bombs at their village would not care if I was pretty. They would care if I was speaking up for their right to live, fear free, in the world as we know it.

— Lisa Savage, Maine

I watched with interest news stories that showed CODEPINK members in Senate Hearings with signs and with red painted hands. We (in Tucson) were emboldened to start leaving peaceful messages in chalk along the way to and from the University of Arizona. My friend Jhan and I decided to make banners to contribute to the Peace Ribbon project... and we got others involved in knitting squares for a tea cosy for the White House fence for Mother's Day. We contacted Jacque Betz about the Peace Ribbon and found how easy it was to schedule a visit to Tucson, where we have an annual All Souls Procession around the Day of the Dead.

Meeting Liz Hourican (of CODEPINK Phoenix) really gave us a shot in the arm - what vivacious and fun energy she emanates! ... And each action strengthened my resolve to do more to push for peace. Now we're bridging with other peace-loving groups to collaborate on messaging opportunities. We just had a big celebrity Valentine's Day wedding on the UA campus mall where brides married corporations - the Raging Grannies sang and Women's International League of Peace & Freedom were among the brides & guests. Knowing we aren't all alone in our quest is refreshing. I like getting the updates and when I got a personal note from Medea Benjamin, I was thrilled! The You-tube videos that update us on what is happening elsewhere help solidify the attachment I feel to the courageous women on the front lines.

— Mary DeCamp, Tucscon, Arizona

In 2007 Medea Benjamin came and spoke at the Alliance for Peace and Justice in Manhattan , Kansas. I was there, and I bought a CODEPINK T-shirt from her. I wore it often, and in June 2011, I decided to wear it again when I went to rally in Leavenworth, Kansas alongside hundreds protesting the unjust jailing of Pfc Bradley Manning. There were some CODEPINKers there, and they decided to adopt me and my T-shirt. I spent the day with the CODEPINK contingent, and I’ve since decided that it was karma calling in Kansas. The government decided to put Bradley behind bars in the middle of America’s rural heartland, and I decided to make some noise about it and let it be known that even though we might live in a state often described as “flat as a pancake”, our voices demanding justice for America’s son, Bradley Manning, are anything but flat.

So come on Kansans! Jump on the bandwagon of truth and justice, and let’s make it clear both to him
and to the war machine that he is not lost and alone out here in the plains, and that we will not give up
until he is free.

Check out:

We Are All Binayak Sen—and We Are All Bradley Manning: Parallel Lines of Dissent, By Priti Gulati Cox, CODEPINK Kansas Coordinator, August 2011

— Priti Gulati Cox, Salina, Kansas