Speaker Info

Dr Gajendran Ayyathurai

Dr. Gajendran Ayyathurai earned his PhD at Columbia an anthropologist and a historian based in Göttingen, Germany. Before going to Göttingen University, Dr. Gajendran taught at Columbia University, City University of New York, and William Paterson University, USA. He has published on the culture, memory, and history of the casteless Tamils/Indians in Tamil, English, and German. And he has initiated a new subfield, Critical Caste Studies, with scholars from India, Europe, and North America.


Ms. Crystal Calhoun

Crystal Calhoun was born in Texas in 1956 and grew into her family’s activism as they resisted the racism directed at their community.  She marched with her grandparents demanding racial justice and equality. 

Ms. Calhoun went to an all-black school till grade 5, and as a young student in a segregated school, she found that “separate but equal” translated in practice to using 10-year-old school textbooks! After the state of Texas was forced in 1965  to integrate its schools, Ms. Calhoun attended an integrated school only to find herself subjected to abuse at the hands of the white principal of the school. Later, as a parent raising her three sons in California, Ms. Calhoun worked with school teachers, principals, and counselors to ensure that the black students of the school had an opportunity to get an equal and fair education. 

In 2020, the murder of George Floyd led Ms. Calhoun to get involved with the San Jose Unified Equity coalition which works to ensure that students of color in the San Jose Unified school district have access to a good education.  


Dr. Balmurli Natrajan

Dr. Balmurli Natrajan is an anthropologist working at the intersections of the material and the symbolic, of the biocultural and political economy, and of culture, cognition, and practice.  His key research and teaching foci fall into three domains: group formation & inequalities (caste, race); culture, identity, practices (community, variation, transmission); and development (sanitation, domestic work, indebtedness, livelihoods). 

Dr. Natrajan is a Professor of Anthropology in the Department of Community and Social Justice at William Paterson University of New Jersey, USA.  His publications are here, https://balmurlinatrajan.com/publications/ 


Dr. Samina Salim

Dr. Samina Salim is an American academic scientist. She obtained a Ph.D degree from India and conducted postdoctoral studies at the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden, and the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. She is the author of more than 80 peer-reviewed publications, with an accomplished record of scholarship and professional service. She currently serves as a Fulbright Specialist, plays an active role in student mentoring activities, and has mentored a number of graduate and undergraduate students, who have all moved on to have successful careers. 

In addition to her scientific pursuits, Dr. Samina has authored more than 30 Op-Eds. She serves on the advisory board of many non-profit organizations. She is the founding President of AligsCare, a Texas-based 501(C)(3) non-profit organization that delivers cancer support to underserved communities in India.  More details about Dr. Samina: https://uh.edu/pharmacy/directory-home/pps-faculty/samina-salim/


Ms. Grace Deehl

Ms. Grace Deehl (she/they) is a SanFrancisco-based Technical Solutions Consultant at Google and a member of the Alphabet Workers Union (AWU). After earning a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Florida Int’l University, they have spent the better part of a decade working in various capacities across software engineering, information technology, and product management. They’re currently focused on advocacy education in the areas of workplace organizing and DEI initiatives within the ad-tech ecosystem.


Ms. Peggy Elwell

Peggy Elwell is a mother and grandmother, as well as a semi-retired librarian, having worked for 22 years at the Biblioteca Latinoamericana Library in San Jose. She is on the Steering Committee of the South Bay Progressive Alliance and has been involved in the fight for single-payer universal health care for 20 years.  She was co-founder of the Low-Income Self-Help Center in San Jose. She is a member of the League of Revolutionaries for a New America.